18th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Speaker (Hon. J. S. Rosevear) took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.
Petitions in relation to banking in Australia were presented as follows: -
By Mr. HARRISON, from certain electors of the division of Wentworth.
By Sir EARLE PAGE, from- certain electors pf the division of Cowper.
By Mr. ABBOTT, from certain electors of the division of New England.
By Mr. ARCHIE CAMERON, from certain electors of South Australia.
Petitions received and read.
– This morning I received letters from 62 young women who reside at the Young Women’s Christian Association Hostel, Woodville, South Australia, a building which was purchased by the Commonwealth Government and extended during the war and ‘ has since been conducted by the Young .Women’s Christian Association as a hostel for young women, including a number of ex-servicewomen, university students, and workers in factories in the district.
– The honorable member has sufficiently explained the nature of the building. He must now proceed with his question.
– Can the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction say whether it is correct, as reported, that the Government intends to dispose of the building? If so, will he endeavour to make arrangements to provide these young women, with suitable accommodation.! -
– I do not know anything about the hostel to which the honorable member has referred, but I assume that it was conducted by the Young Women’s Christian Association on behalf of the Department of Munitions during the war. I cannot see that this matter is connected in any way with the Department of Post-war ^Reconstruction, but as I represent the Minister for Munitions in this House, I shall ascertain the true position from him and let’ the honorable member know as soon as possible.
– In view of a report that the president of the Scientific Research Board in the United State’s of America has emphasized that “American science must be geared for another, war, can the Prime Minister confirm or deny, a report that Australia faces a long ‘delay in the construction of atomic power plants? If the report be correct, what is the reason for the delay? Will the Prime Minister comment upon a. London report that the cheeseparing policy of the British Ministry of Supply in regard. to scientists’ salaries has brought disaster to the British rocket project ?
– The honorable member may not debate the issue by quoting a London report.
– Then I should content myself by asking whether the Commonwealth Government is in touch .with the British Government in regard to this matter, and whether he can confirm or deny the report?
– The development of atomic energy is a different matter from tho construction of atomic bombs. The honorable member must know that the Governments of the United Kingdom and the United States of America entered into thi agreement regarding the manufacture -of atomic bombs, but I do not think, the -agreement extended to the development of atomic energy. The scientist’s who are engaged in this branch .of research say that it is a matter for political decision tbv the nations of the world whether this great new power is to be used for offensive and destructive purposes in the form of bombs, or in the development of atomic energy. The scientists with whom I have discussed the matter gave me to understand that the Government of the United States of America has made considerable progress in the development of atomic energy - just how much progress I do not know, but I believe that lie work involves very complicated industrial technique. I do not think that I am at liberty to discuss the activities of the British Government in this respect, but I can say it has played a very important part in the development of certain aspects of this branch of physical science. Just what oan be ultimately done in the way of developing atomic energy as a source of power for industrial purposes is a matter for further investigation. We have been kept informed of developments in the United Kingdom, but we are not informed of the progress which has been made in the United States of America. The Minister for Post-war Reconstruction, through his department, has kept in close touch with the British authorities, and when Professor Oliphant was in this country he discussed the subject with members of Cabinet.
– Has the attention of the Prime Minister been drawn to a cablegram from New York published in’ the Melbourne Age of’ Friday last purporting to outline the views of the Australian delegation on matters now before the General Assembly of the United Nations ? The cablegram contains the following statement : -
The Australian delegation is said to think that, in any circumstances, the nain burden of carrying the Palestinian solution will fall on the British Forces, and it is not outside the realm of possibility that even Australia may he asked to contribute troops.
Does that statement represent the considered view of the Government? Have’ any instructions been issued to the Australian delegation regarding the attitude it is to adopt in the event of the General Assembly deciding to send troops to Palestine ?
– I have not seen the article mentioned by the honorable member. The statement he has quoted has no foundation in fact. No such instructions have been given to the, Australian delegation. I and the Minister for External Affairs, who’ is the leader of the delegation, understand quite clearly what the views of this Government are regarding Palestine. As the honorable member knows, this is a very delicate and difficult subject. Great Britain has been carrying the burden in the policing of Palestine. For that it has received little thanks; in fact, it has received considerable abuse. Although a great deal of advice has been tendered to the United Kingdom as to how’ it should do the job nobody else has been anxious to provide either men, or money, to carry out the task. I have discussed with the Minister for External Affairs the position in Palestine as it affects Australia, and the committee of the United Nations which is now considering this problem will, I presume, give consideration to all suggestions that may b< made to the Assembly. One thing that I can tell the honorable member is that, so far as this Government is concerned, no Australian troops will b( sent to Palestine. Of that, the honor able member can be completely confident and, in addition, he can rest assured that we will be making no contribution to the work of administration in Palestine.
– I draw the atten tion of the Minister for Immigration to the following statement attributed to him in the Sydney Morning Herald of the 24th September last: - “ For Mr. Randolph Churchill to take a brief look at Australia and then tell us we could not house 70,000migrants to-morrow is a foolish evasion of other relevant factors.”
I am not saying whether I agree with that statement or not. Can the Minister tell the House how many migrants, approximately, he expects to arrive in Australia before the end of this year, and from what countries? In view of the Government’s inability to house thousands of Australians, many of whom are exservice men and women who have been waiting for homes for many months, will he state specifically how it is proposed to house the migrants coming to Australia?
– I appreciate the tacit agreement of the honorable member with at least some phases of the Government’s migration policy, because he declined to indicate whether he agreed, or disagreed, with Mr. Randolph Churchill’s observation. I shall obtain as accurately as I can the number of expected arrivals in Australia for the remainder of this year and the total that has already arrived. I shall give as clearly as I can a picture of the migration position for the whole of 1947. I shall also indicate the countries from which such people are coming, and the numbers from each country. I am not the Minister for “Works and Housing and therefore I cannot give any figures in regard to the housing programme of the Commonwealth. Housing is primarily a State responsibility and I am not in a position to say just now how the State governments are proceeding with their programmes. We have, by arrangement with the British Government, and indeed as a condition to the provision of certain ships, made Fremantle the terminal port for the arrival of many people in this country. Asturias arrived a few days ago. Before I left
London I arranged that as many intending settlers for Western Australia as possible should be taken on Asturias in order to reduce the numbers of persons to be sent to the eastern States by rail, air or sea transport. In that action I was I believe, benefiting Western Australia and not harming it. If the honorable member thinks that the Commonwealth’s immigration programme is militating against the housing of the Australian people all I can say is that we have to take some risks to break the vicious circle in regard to housing in order to provide some workers to go into foundries and other distasteful forms of employment to supply the baths, sinks and stoves necessary for the housing programme. Finally, the immigration scheme which I have the honour to be carrying out has been approved by several conferences of Commonwealth and State Ministers. All States and all Commonwealth departments are associated in this co-ordinated effort to do something for Australia’s labour problems and for the future defence of this country.
– Has the attention of the Minister for Immigrationbeen drawn to the fact that the Federal Council of the Graziers Association, and other bodies interested in primary production, have advocated the inclusion of rural workers in the official list of approved migrants and suggested that they be given preference in transportation? Can the Minister inform the House of the position of rural workers whom it is desired to bring to this country, and of any plans the Government has made?
– The method by which the Commonwealth and State authorities discharge their joint responsibility in regard to the selection, transportation and settlement of desirable immigrants has long since been settled and has been in operation for some time. The State authorities are responsible in the first place for receiving nominations from employers, groups of employers or individuals for persons whom it is desired to bring to this country. The State authorities determine the order of priority to be accorded each nomination, and the applications are then submitted by the States to the Commonwealth authorities, within the appropriate priority indicated in each case. The Department of Immigration then transmits the lists to London, for attention by selection officers and the officers responsible for the provision of shipping facilities. The policy of the Government is to carry out the desires of the State3 in their entirety. If a State government intimates that it requires nurses as a number one priority, nurses are accorded first priority in the migrants transported to that particular State. I shall be glad to assist graziers and individual farmers to secure the services of rural workers because I realize that there is an acute shortage. I suggest to the honorable gentleman that he advise the Graziers Association and other bodies interested to communicate with the appropriate State authorities and ascertain what priority is accorded to rural workers. If the State governments intimate that they desire the immigration of farm workers the Government will do its best to secure them. In any event I shall be glad to receive representations from the Graziers Association indicating exactly what type of migrants it desires, at what times their arrival would be of most value, and any other information which the association thinks will be of assistance to immigration authorities. In the meantime my officers will discuss the matter with State immigration officers to ascertain whether anything can be done to obtain the services of additional rural workers, because the Government appreciates that the country’s greatest need to-day is increased production.
’ “Wyatt Earp “ Expedition.
– In response to representations I made to the AttorneyGeneral’s Department regarding the inclusion of a film unit of the Department of Information on the Wyatt Earp expedition to the Antarctic I was informed that there was insufficient space on the vessel. A photographer appointed by the Government of Tasmania, Mr. Laird, is, however, going as far as Macquarie Island. In view of the importance of this expedition and the value of a comprehensive film of the activities of the party to schools, libraries, and the patrons of picture theatres, will the Minister for Information indicate whether there is still any likelihood of such a unit going south with the expedition?
– I shall discuss with the officers of my department the suggestion of the honorable member that the matter of sending a film unit to the Antarctic be re-opened. I am sure that if space can be found on the vessel - and space is one of the great difficulties surrounding an expedition of this kind - my department will be sufficiently enterprising and its officers sufficiently adventurous to take part in the expedition.
Exemption of Scholarship Allowances
– In the last sessional period, during the debate on the Income Tax Assessment Bill, I raised the question of exempting travelling scholarship allowances from income tax and was successful in obtaining a promise from the Treasurer that he would look into the matter to ascertain what could be done to lift this burden. I have now ascertained that in certain cases the Deputy Commissioners of Taxation will make substantial exemptions, which has the satisfactory result of reducing the incomes of certain students below the taxable limit. These exemptions apply particularly to scholarships from the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, the Sydney University, and. by previous decisions, the Nuffield, Rockefeller, Carnegie and Rhodes scholarships. As many other scholarships besides those that I have mentioned are involved, will the Prime Minister in his capacity as Treasurer ensure that a statement shall be issued by him or by the Commissioner of Taxation extending this concession to all travelling scholarships?
– Following the discussion on this matter during the last period of the present session, I examined the whole question fully. As the honorable member has said, certain relaxations were found possible. Further concessions, however, would involve considerable difficulties, and so far I have not been able to see my way clear to recommend to the Government any additional relaxation. I assure the honorable member that the matter will be given further consideration, and that I will provide him with a full statement of the reasons for the Government’s decision not to extend the concession.
– Is the Prime
Minister aware that the Prices Commissioner has been approached in order to have room rents paid by about 280 persons living in premises at Surry Hills, New South Wales, raised by 3s. and 2s. 6d. a week ? If so, does the right honorable gentleman know that many of the persons involved are old people and pensioners who cannot afford these extra impositions? As I have had a number of urgent appeals on this matter, last week and again this week, will the Prime Minister authorize a stay of proceedings pending an invastigation of the proposed increases ?
-Thematterreferred to by the honorable member for Bourke has not been brought to my notice, but if she will supply me with the details I shall arrange to have an investigation made. I gather from what has been said that shared accommodation is involved in some cases, and that, of course, presents great difficulties. I shall endeavour to have the matter examined as early as possible.
– As. Dr. E. P. Dark was recently elected vice-president of the reconstituted branch of the Australian Labour Party, will the Prime Minister say-
– Order ! The constitution of a branch of the Australian Labour party has nothing whatever to do with the Prime Minister or his Ministry. Consequently, the question is out of order.
Mr. ABBOTT.Thereisanadditional portion of the question that is in order.
– I have ruled that the question is out of order. Does the honorable member understand that?
– I think it is grossly unfair.
– Order ! The honorable member will withdraw that statement and apologize to the Chair. I am carrying out the Standing Orders.
– I withdraw and apologize.
Marine Engineers’ Strike
– I ask the Prime
Minister whether the Government proposes to take any action to bring about a settlement of the marine engineers’ dispute which is reported in to-day’s press to be responsible for the tying up of 101 coastal ships within the next ten days. As a dislocation of shipping would seriously affect the supply of goods to Queensland, will the Prime Minister take some steps to provide alternative forms of transport in the event of the dispute lasting indefinitely? Is the Prime Minister aware that a breakdown in shipping services between the southern States and Queensland would cause acute shortages in Queensland of salt, matches, dried fruits, pickles, breakfast foods, tea, toilet soap and soap powders, wire and wire-netting, galvanized iron and other building materials, thus leading to further unemployment in that State?
– Every effort has been made to prevent the dispute as it affects fie Marine Engineers Institute. The difficulty has existed for months concerning which discussions have been proceeding. Quite recently the matter was referred to the Arbitration Court. Judge Kelly made no order on the ground, I understand, that it did not involve a dispute between employer and employee. No doubt His Honour was correct in taking that view. As the honorable member is undoubtedly aware, the tie-up is the outcome of a direction given by the Maritime Industry Commission. In the last five or six days discussions have been proceeding continuously with various people in search for some way out of the deadlock. The Minister for Supply and Shipping has gone to Melbourne this morning for further discussions. The Government fully realizes the interruption of the economic affairs of the nation that can result from the tie-up. The latterpartofthehonorablegentleman’s questionrelatedtowhatcouldbedone toensuretheavailabilityofsuppliesin theeventofthedisputecontinuing. Everythingpossiblewillbedonetomeet thesituation.Ihope,however,that common sense will prevail and that a solution will be found at a reasonably earlydate.Thehonorablemembermay rest assured that the matter is being giventheclosestattention.
-IasktheMinister representingthePostmaster-General whetherthereisanylikelihoodofthe Postmaster-General’sDepartmentsoon overcomingtheshortageoftelephones, whichisallegedtobeduetolackof parts?
Mr. CALWELL. ThereisnolikelihoodofthePostmasterGeneral’sDepartmentbeingabletomeetthedesiresofall personsinthecommunitywhohave appliedfortelephones.IthinkIsetout thepositioninawrittenreplyonbehalf ofthePostmasterGeneraltothehonorablememberforMoretonyesterday.
Mr. CALWELL. ThelatestinformationinthehandsofthePostmasterGeneral’sDepartmentwillbesuppliedto thehonorablememberforBatman. Everythingthedepartmentcandoto supplytheneedsofthepeopleintelephonicservicesisbeingandwillbedone. ThefactisthattherearephysicaldifficultieswhichevenabrilliantPostmaster General cannotovercomeveryquickly.
-AstheMinister fortheInteriorknows;thereisgreat uneasinessonthepartofex-servicemen’s organizations,particularlytheRatsof TobrukAssociation,owingtothe reportthattheunveilingceremonyatthe TobrukMemorialnextJanuarywillbe performedbytheAustralianHighCommissionerinLondon;Mr.Beasley.The Ministerdisagreedwiththatstatement whenitwasmadeyesterday,butInow directhisattentiontoalettersentby his department to the general secretary of theReturnedSailors,Soldiersand
Airmen’sImperialLeagueofAustralia, Mr.Neagle,whichdoesnotagreewith hisstatement.Mr.Neagleinformsmethat onMondayhereceivedaletterfromthe DepartmentoftheInteriorstatingthat CabinetdidnotfavourtheoriginalproposaloftheRatsofTobrukAssociation tthatadelegationoffiveshouldattend theceremonyandthattherewouldbea delegaionofthreeconsistingoftheAustralianHighCommissionerinLondon,a representativeoftheAustralianBattlefieldsMemorialCommitteeandajoint representativeoftheReturnedSailors, SoldiersandAirmensImperialLeague. ofAustraliaandtheRatsofTobruk Association.Inviewofthatletterfrom anofficeofhisdepartment,willthe Ministerhaveafullinvestigationmadeof thematterandgiveanassurancethatthe variousorganizationsconcernedwillbe consultedbeforeadecisionismadeasto whoshallperformtheunveiling ceremony?
-TheanswerthatI gavetoaquestionaskedofmeyesterday inconnexionwiththismatterwastrue ineverydetail.Thepositionisthata proposalwassubmittedtoCabinetatits lastmeetingastheresultofarecommendationfromtheAustralianBattlefields MemorialCommittee.Theproposalwas discussedbyCabinet,anditwas suggestedthatitmightbepossible tomakearrangementsfortheunveiling of thememorialatTobruk on the lines set out in the letter whichwassenttoMr.Neaglebymydepartment.AsIexplainedtotheHouse yesterday,Cabinetdidnotarriveata decisionbutrecommendedthatIhavea furtherdiscussionwiththeBattlefields MemorialCommitteewithaviewtohavinganewrecommendationprepared.The factsarethattheGovernmenthasnot madeadecision,andthatthecommittee willre-examinetheposition;havingthe viewsofCabinetbeforeit,andwillsubmitafurtherrecommendationtoCabinet.
Mr.Francis.-WilltheMinistersay thathehadavisitfromthepresidentof theRatsofTobrukAssociation?
-Ireceivedavisit fromthepresidentoftheassociationlast night,andheistomeetmeagainto-day. Ibelievethatmyexplanationofthe matterwasacceptedbyhim,althoughhe mentionedthatheandhisorganization favouramuchlargerdelegationeven thanthatrecommendedbythecommittee.
Mr.SHEEHAN.-IasktheMinister representing the Ministerfor Supply and Shipping whether it is a fact that officers ofCommonwealthandStatedepartments areattendingauctionsalesconductedby theCommonwealthDisposalsCommission forthepurposeofbiddingforequipment andmaterials.Isitafactthatgovernmentdepartmentshaveapriorclaim onallmaterialsandequipmentwhich are available for disposal? If so, can he saywhetherpublichospitalsalsoenjoy thatpriority?
-I do not know whetheritisafactthatofficersofthe CommonwealthandStateGovernments attendtheseauctionsales,butitwas alwaysunderstood,fromthebeginning oftheworkoftheCommonwealthDisposalsCommission,thattheCommonwealthandStateGovernmentswould haveapriorrighttomakeanapplication foranymaterialswhichthecommission offeredforsale.Ifhospitalauthorities desire to make application for certain materialswhichtheCommonwealthDisposals. Commission proposes to sell, they shouldmakerepresentationstotheState authority which controls them, and I amquitesurethattheStateauthority will ensure that a bid is submitted on their behalf.
Departmentalaccommodation at Henty House Melbourne.
-Yesterday, I asked the Minister for Civil Aviation whether the Governmentintendedtoacquirecom pulsorily the warehouse of Parbury HentyandCompanyProprietaryLimited asofficesfortheDepartmentofCivil Aviation,andifso,whatwastheprice thattheGovernmentproposedtopayfor thepremises.Thehonorablegentleman supplied some information, butomitted to mentionthe price. I ask him again tosupply the figure, or to inform me whetherthedepartmentproposestorent the building? In addition, willhealso explainwhatwillhappentothenumerous tenantsofthebuilding?WilltheGovernmentfindforthemotheroffice accomodationinMelbourne?
Mr.DRAKEFORD. -The acquisition of Henty House will be undertaken by the Department of the Interior, which performs this function on behalf of Commonwealth departments.
-The Department of the Interior is acquiring Henty House on behalf of the Department of Civil Aviation.
-The position is that we have made a request that the premises be acquired inorder to accommodate in one building all the activities of the Department of Civil Aviation. At present, those activities are conducted in three buildings. I named them yesterday. The amount which will be paid for the premises is a matter for negotiation, which is being conducted, not by the Department of Civil Aviation, but by the Department of the Interior. I hope that we shall be able to obtain Henty House at a reasonable price. If the Department of Civil Aviation vacates three separate buildings, some accommodation will become available for the present tenants of Henty House. As I explained previously, the department has not sufficient accommodation, in the three places which it now occupies, to cover its increasing activities.
-I do not remember having received a specific requestfrom the Graziers Association for any postal concessions, but no doubt I have received one, because that organization is continually making requests for concessions. The Government has received representations from a number of sources for the abolition of the halfpenny surcharge, but to date, has not considered the matter.
Dame ENID LYONS.WilltheMiniser for Works and Housing inform me whether it is a fact, as has been represented to me, that a war widow, although able to provide the necessary deposit, is ineligible to obtain a war service home unless she is in receipt of an income in excess of her war widow’s pension?
– The statement is not, necessarily correct. Under the War Service Homes Act, the director must assure himself that a widow has an opportunity to fulfil the contract into which she may enter. However, the act also contains a provision applying to a widow who has a war service home or was occupying one during the life of her husband. We allow many of these widows to continue their occupancy of the premises. They have complete security of tenure, and some are asked to pay as little as1s. a week. The department is at present considering the possibility of designing a house suitable for occupation by a widow and one child, the cost of which would be such that the widow would eventually be able to purchase it.
Sale of Meat Works
– Can the Minister for the Interior inform the House whether it is a fact that a. small meat works situated about ten miles from Katherine in the Northern Territory has been sold to Bovril Australian Estates Limited? Is it a fact that a contract has been entered into between that company and the Government which provides that the company is to demolish the existing meat works and re-erect the structure in the town as a boiling-down works? If that is so, can the Minister inform me whether any covenant has been inserted in the contract to provide that the company shall carry on the work of boiling-down ?
Has provision been made for the location of the proposed boiling-down works at a suitable place in Katherine, having in mind the fact that the boiling-down works may create a nuisance in a town which has only recently been planned?
– A sale was successfully negotiated with Bovril Australian Estates Limited for the purchase of the Mambaloo Meat Works, and their removal to a site near Katherine.
– Were tenders called?
– Tenders were called. Much consideration was given to the matter of the site. It is claimed that the location of the works will not interfere in any way with the town of Katherine. The reason for the removal of the works from Mambaloo to Katherine was that railway facilities were available at Katherine but not at Mambaloo. I have recently been advised that a contract has been let by the company for the removal of the works, and I understand that that operation will be commenced almost immediately. The works are not exactly boiling-down works. The company expects to utilize them for the purpose of meat extraction. It is recognized by all who are associated with the Northern Territory that they will prove a very valuable asset to the adjacent stations.
– I ask the Minister for the Army whether any action has been taken in regard to the request that war widows shall be paid a pension at least equivalent to the basic wage?
– The Minister for Repatriation stated in this House last week that an increase of the pension payable to war widows had been granted. I shall have a copy of that statement sent to the honorable member.
– During the last sessional period, I asked the Minister for the Army a question concerning the payment of certain allowances to members of the Rabaul garrison. The Minister decided that certain of these allowances should be paid. It is understood that permanent military force members ofthe heavy artillery made superannuation payments throughout their period of service, whereas other members of the permanent military forces had their payments made by the Government. Further, the friendly society dues of servicemen were not collected except in respect of the Rabaul garrison. Will the Minister undertake to investigate and rectify these injustices?
– I shall have the matter investigated, and shall advise the honorable member of the result as early as possible.
In Committee of Supply: Considera tion resumed from the 30th September, (vide page 331).
Department of External Affairs
Proposed vote, £1,032,000.
.- I was very glad to hear the Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley) say last night that he was reviewing the position in regard to Australian legations overseas, in order to determine whether the cost could be reduced. I agree that personal contact with representatives of other countries is probably more essential to-day than it has ever been previously. By this means, we can establish a tremendous amount of goodwill which, as the right honorable gentleman said, cannot be measured in terms of pounds, shillings and pence. But the expenditure on three of the legations is outstandingly heavy, and we can query whether the goodwill that we are building up can be held to justify it. The total expenditure has been: £26,000 on the legation in Brazil, £31,000 on the legation in Chile and £39,000 on the legation in Russia. I have selected those three countries because our trade with them is small, in some instances almost negligible; yet on them we are expending £96,600 a year. The Department of Commerce and Agriculture has trade representatives in Brazil and Chile. Surely those officers could build up and foster the goodwill which we all agree is necessary, probably as effectively and at considerably less cost than is involved in the maintenance of large legations ! Those three legations are glaring examples of heavy expenditure which is not warranted.
– I support some of the remarks that have been made in regard to expenditure by the Department of External Affairs in countries such as Brazil and Chile. However, I wish it to be understood that I do not agree that our representatives overseas, in important areas which affect Australia, should be asked to “ make do “ on a small sum. In places where it is important to have representation I believe that it is equally important that our representatives should be well provided for, so that they can move easily in the diplomatic colony to which they are accredited ; but, in respect of such places as Brazil and Chile, I find it difficult to understand why any money at all should be expended there at the present time. I have an idea that a job was found in one of those countries for a certain man, but that is not a justification for expending public money. If we had any real trade with those countries it could be done through consuls or trade representatives. I do not know on what basis it is contended that Australia has diplomatic interests in Brazil or Chile at the present time.
Considerable sums have been expended by the Department of External Affairs to cover the cost of trips overseas by Australians. On page 50 of the budget papers there is mention of £38,000 to cover the cost of representation at the International Labour Conference, £36,000 contribution to the International Labour Organization, £10,000 for representation at minor conferences, and £40,000 to meet the expenses of representatives at the International Conference on Trade and Employment. Those items constitute only a small part of the total cost of sending people overseas, or of meeting the expenses of Australians while overseas, whether they are doing anything for Australia or not. The Parliament is entitled to a detailed statement of the expenses incurred in connexion with various trips overseas by Australians. I agree that there are occasions when substantia] delegations should go abroad, but I am convinced that many of the items of expenditure which have been incurred are unjustified. One matter which I hesitate to mention - and yet I believe that it ought to be mentioned - is the growing practice of persons sent abroad on behalf of the Government taking their wives or members of their families with them, at the taxpayers’ expense. Previous governments would not have dreamed of saying that a man should not go overseas unless accompanied by his wife or some other member of his family. This growing practice should be stopped. The public is entitled to know the cost of sending delegations abroad.
– And the reason why some of them went abroad at all.
– Yes. If we know what these visits cost, we may then ascertain why the delegations were sent, and the functions that they discharged. No detailed information concerning these* matters can be gleaned from the Budget Papers. They are grouped under some general heading such as “Representation Abroad “. To get a complete picture honorable members must study miscellaneous items under the various departments. On other occasions I have drawn attention to the fact that the Parliament no longer controls the country’s finances. Honorable members may criticize what is done, but their criticism has no effect. Indeed, even criticism by the AuditorGeneral is ignored by the Government. Some of these items may not represent large sums, but in the aggregate they amount to a great deal. One significant aspect of this expenditure is that it has a tendency to increase, rather than diminish. I ask the Treasurer to supply to the committee before the debate closes a statement’ of the cost of sending representatives abroad during the last twelve months, and the cost in each case.
– Does the honorable member desire information regarding departmental officers as well as Ministers and members of the Parliament?
– For a. number of years the Minister for External Affairs (Dr. Evatt) has been spoken of as the defender of human rights and liberties of the peoples of the world. When the Atlantic Charter was drafted, the right honorable gentleman was one of the most brilliant exponents of the inherent rights of the peoples of the world to enjoy the “Four Freedoms” which were incorporated in the Charter. In his advocacy of a court of human rights he spoke of the necessity of defending the rights of the people in all nations. At the present time we see liberty and freedom being denied to many millions of human beings without the Australian Government making any protest. I refer particularly to a happening which must be abhorrent to every believer in a free democracy, namely, the recent execution of the great peasant leader of Bulgaria, Nikola Petkov. I have not read anything sadder than an article in the Sydney Morning Herald of the 27th September, written by Ivan Orlov, a Russian-born Australian journalist who was a personal friend of Nikola Petkov. In it the writer said -
The following day Nikola Petkov published an article entitled “Australia - ^Democracy of the South”. The same night he was arrested, and warned that any future articles “disparaging “ to Bulgarian State affairs would be punished by deregistration as a journalist.
Nikola Petkov was without fear. In spite of police persecution, he resolutely defended the freedom of the press and freedom of speech in a country ruled by arrogant petty tyrants. . . .
Nikola Petkov was the idol of the Bulgarian common mini. Wherever he went in pre-war days he was acclaimed by crowds of the peasantry. . . . Petkov had been arrested for conspiracy against the Reich in Bulgaria.
The arrest was for conspiracy against the German occupation army in Bulgaria. Orlov goes on to say that Petkov escaped in 1944 and joined the Bulgarian underground movement against the Gormans, and that months later he wrote to Petkov complimenting him: on his courageous stand for freedom of the press in Bulgaria, and asking him for a brief statement of his policy. He added that Petkov replied to him - “. . . I can but echo the words of G’oethe: I can do no other ‘, I see my duty and I shall do it to the end.”
His letter continues and. it is almost as if it was his last Testament to the- free people of the world -
All that I ask is this -
That Soviet Russia cease its policy of dominating the Bulgarian people and. subjecting it to a terrible tyranny, unheard of in its infamy. 2; That the concentration camps: throughout Bulgaria be emptied of their thousands, whose only crime it is to resent communist tyranny.
That a non-party police force be set up in place of the Communist party’s People’s Militia. 4.. That a democratic parliamentary regime be established.
That freedom of speech and of the press be allowed, as granted by the constitution. (i. That an independent judiciary be restored.
That elections be honest and not tampered with.
Orlov concludes by saying that Petkov fought to the end. fie was judicially murdered. He was tried by a judge, presumably without a jury, and he was hanged. His one sin was that he defended liberty, that he stood for the freedoms which the Minister for External Affairs has so often extolled in this House. Yet the Government has made no protest to Bulgaria. What is the policy of the Government regarding freedom in the world to-day? In the Sydney Daily Telegraph of yesterday there was published a statement by Dr. E. P. Dark, of Katoomba-street, Katoomba, in New South Wales. Dr. Dark is the vicepresident of the recently reconstituted branch of the Australian Labour party in Katoomba, which is one of the largest branches in the electorate of the Prime Minister.
THE CHAIRMAN (Mr. J. Clark).- 1 should like to know what connexion this has with the Department of External Affairs.
– I propose to quote a statement of policy by Dr. Dark, and I want to know what is the policy of the Department of External Affairs on these matters.
– The committee is now considering the administration of the Department of External Affairs, which has nothing to do with Dr. Dark.
– I wish to refer to Mr. Vishinsky’s second accusation before the United Nations against the democracies of the world, and particularly the United States of America. Mr. Vishinsky said that American actions were war-like, and Dr. Dark’s comment was that this was not without foundation. Having regard to the fact that Dr. Dark occupies a prominent position in the Labour movement in the Prime Minister’s own electorate, I want to know whether his state ment represents the views of the Prime Minister himself. Recently, there took place in Bulgaria the murder of Nikola Petkov, who was a friend of freedom, and who gave his life for the freedom of his fellow men just as Christ gave his life on Calvary for their salvation, and there is not a murmur of protest from our Government, although the British Government has protested. The Prime Minister has not stated publicly whether or not the Commonwealth Government supports the protest of the British Government. Could not the Australian Government have also protested? Instead, we find a prominent Labour supporter in the Prime Minister’s own electorate coming forward as the defender of Vishinsky and of the Soviet Government. An attempt was made by the Fascist Government of Germany to murder Petkov, and now he has been murdered by another form of totalitarian government, the Bulgarian Government, dominated by Soviet Russia.
– The Red Fascists.
– Yes, the Red Fascists. The time has come when this Government should make it clear on which side of the fence it stands - whether it supports Soviet tyranny or the free democracies. I ask the Prime Minister to make this point clear to the committee and to the people of Australia.
– As I stated last night, the expenses of certain overseas establishments have been the subject of discussion between myself and the Minister for External Affairs (Dr. Evatt). There were very good reasons why we should have maintained close contact with Chile and Brazil during the last two years.
– Let us into the secret.
– There is no secret about it. The matter has a bearing on the work of the United Nations Assembly and of the Security Council.
– And now that the elections are oyer it does not matter?
– It has nothing to do with any elections. The honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Spender) asked for particulars regarding the cost of various overseas delegations. I am not quite sure whether he wanted information only about the expenses of parliamentarians, or whether he wanted those of officials included also. In reply to a question asked in the Senate some time ago a reply was given setting out the total expenses incurred by all delegations, and there will be no difficulty in bringing that information up to date.
– In the reply, were the expenses of individual members of delegations dissected?
– As far as that was possible that was done. I do not know whether the honorable member wants particulars of the expenses of officials.
– I want the total cost of the delegations, and particulars of the individual expenses of members of Parliament.
– An effort will be made to obtain that information. As for the officials, the fact is that many of them have been subject to great strain through having to go abroad so often, and they would have been better pleased not to have had to go. Men like Mr. McCarthy, of the Department of Commerce and Agriculture, have been under great strain. Mr. McCarthy has had no home life at all for a considerable time.
– I am not saying anything about such men as that, but I want particulars of the expenses incurred by members of Parliament.
– I will ascertain what can be done. . Reference has been made to the cost of cables despatched from Moscow, and the reason for the increased cost. Previously, diplomatic representatives in Moscow had the benefit of a low cable rate, but within the last year or so this diplomatic privilege was withdrawn and every one has had to pay at the same rate.
– And do we charge the Russian representatives in this country the ordinary rate?
– I think there is a special rate for diplomatic representatives. I have found upon examination that about 85 per cent. of the expenditure by the Department of External Affairs on telegrams, cables, radio communications, &c., was incurred on behalf of other departments. The honorable member knows that the Department of External) Affairs is responsible for the despatch overseas of all cablegrams on behalf of all departments.
– That arrangement must have existed last year also. What is the reason for the very substantial increase?
– Over 60 per cent. of the cablegrams and radiograms despatched overseas by the Department of External Affairs originate in other departments. It must be remembered that in respect of all legations, and indeed, all departments, salaries have been steadily increasing. That has been happening every year. I believe that all honorable members who visit the United States of America and other countries will find, as the honorable member for Warringah has found, that the cost of maintaining our legations on a proper basis has increased enormously. In China, for instance, what has been happening to the Chinese dollar is, apparently, nobody’s business. No one can deny that there has been a general increase of costs. Indeed, in the past the Government was criticized because of the low salaries paid to highly qualified persons engaged by the Department of External Affairs and such bodies as the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research. Some attempt has been made to rectify that position generally.
In reply to the honorable member for New England (Mr. Abbott) I point out that with respect to the execution of Petkov, the leader of the Bulgarian Peasant party, we have not all the details which the United Kingdom Government possesses. We are satisfied, however, that the United Kingdom Government when entering its protest had full particulars of what it believed to be a grave injustice; and we support the British Government in that matter.
– Why did we not say so?
– I said yesterday that in that matter the Government believed that the United Kingdom spoke for all freedom-loving peoples of the world, and, certainly, for all members of the British Commonwealth of Nations. The United Kingdom Government has full details of that matter. I suspect sometimes that when the honorable member for New England talks about how Petkov was loved by the poor-
– I did not say that; his fellow journalists in Bulgaria said that.
– I know of persons who, because they were loved by the poor, were regarded by conservative elements in the community as agitators. I have seen that in this country.
– The right honorable gentleman would smear a dead man’s name.
– That is having a “crack”atus.
– And smearing a dead man’s name.
– I have known of many persons who, when they were fighting for the poor, were not applauded by the conservative elements of the world. In this case, I believe, from the information available, that a grave injustice has been done. I confess that I have not had all the details. They are available to the United Kingdom Government which has direct representation in Bulgaria. No statesman in the world to-day has a greater regard for justice, humanity and freedom than the present Prime Minister of Great Britain. On whatever grounds Mr. Attlee may be criticized I believe that everybody recognizes his outstanding qualities in that respect.
– Everybody knows the wonderful job he did in the East End of London.
– That is so ; whatever criticism may be levelled against him on other grounds, it is generally recognized that he takes a broad, tolerant view in matters of this kind. His Government, possessing full details of this matter, has expressed its judgment upon it; and we endorse that judgment.
With respect to expenditure incurred in. the maintenance of our representatives overseas I arranged for Mr. Dunk, the chairman of the Public Service Board, to visit all of our establishments when he was abroad last year with a view to effecting economies. I have found, however, andI believe that other honorable members who have been abroad recently will agree with me, that it is very difficult to maintain our legations adequately on the provision previously made available to them. Honorable members opposite may hold the view that we should not be associated with all these world organizations, and participate in the conferences now being held. So many conferences are being held and so many committees have been appointed by these organizations that on a number of occasions lately we have found it very difficult to make available sufficient representatives to meet the demands entailed. Honorable members who were members of the Australian delegation to the San Francisco Conference, including the honorable member for Indi (Mr. McEwen), realize that an enormous number of committees spring up in connexion with all these conferences. One result of this has been that public servants engaged on them have been hopelessly overworked.
– Is that why the honorable member for Martin (Mr. Daly) was overseas for five months?
– The honorable member for Martin can deal with that subject himself. I have been asked to obtain a report from him dealing with his investigations abroad. I knowthat he is anxious to make such a report, and when he does so the honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. Harrison) can deal with that subject.
The honorable member for Warringah referred to the visits abroad of the wives of Ministers. I have given consideration to that matter. So far as I can remember all governments have acknowledged the right of a Minister to take his wife with him when he goes abroad on official duties.
– That is the firstI have heard of that practice. Are they also allowed to take their families with them ?
– I do not know of any case of a Minister who has taken his family with him at the expenseof the Government. However, in view of the implication in the honorable member’s interjection, I shall examine the matter. It is true that a Minister, who is a widower, was allowed to take his daughter with him, bat her full expenses were not paid by the Government. Looking over the records for the last 25 to 30 years, I find that Ministers were always given the privilege of taking their wives with them.
– If that were so, they did not exercise it.
– As a matter of fact, that right was often exercised. It is also true, as the honorable member knows, that iri some cases when officers, particularly heads of departments, have been called upon to go abroad frequently and have given great service to this country, certain concessions have been granted to them. For instance, the Government has paid part of the fare of their wives. Personally, I have always been a bit “ touchy “ on this subject. I know that that practice can be abused, although I do not believe that it has been abused. I do not know of any case of a Minister who has taken his family with him at the expense of the Government.
– Ministers have taken their daughters with them as their secretaries.
– That, too, has been done before. The honorable member for Warringah, and honorable members generally, can rest assured that, my own ideas about that sort of thing are of the frugal kind. However, there was a time when honorable members on this side of the House were accused by members of the Opposition and the press of being a party which has no knowledge of the world. One would have thought that we had never been outside the limits of the boundaries of our own States.
– The right honorable gentleman may take it that we now withdraw that allegation.
– It should not only be withdrawn but also an apology should now be made for its utterance. One of the charges levelled against the Government by honorable members opposite is that its members have no knowledge of the affairs of the world. If that was ever true surely honorable members will now agree that Ministers and their supporters must be very much wiser to-day and therefore much more capable of expressing opinions on world affairs. The committee may rest assured that I am most anxious that expenditure on foreign travel be kept to an absolute minimum. I realize that the man in the street can be very critical of expenditures of this kind. I have discussed with theMinister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Holloway) the cost of delegations to the International LabourOffice which have been met by all governments since that body was first instituted. I assure the committee that the travelling expenses of delegates will bc examined, very carefully.
.- The Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley) has referred to the strain placed upon certain high officials as the result of their constant travelling abroad and to the problem which confronts the Administration because of the relatively few men available for employment on these missions and for engagement in the affairs of the innumerable committees which form a part of international conferences. I agree with what the right honorable gentleman has said. Being a comparative! j’ small nation, hithertowithout a career diplomatic service, this country suffers from a noticeable shortage of officials suitably equipped to accept office as the representatives of Australia abroad, or to take part in the deliberations and negotiations at international conferences. That is a disadvantage which must be faced, but surely the moral to be drawn from it is that we should make the best and most economic use of the comparatively few well equipped men to whom we can entrust these negotiations or appoint as our representatives. One wonders why we should be apparently so bent upon dispersing to the corners of the earth such men as are available to us. When one examines the list of Australian representatives abroad one wonders by what ill-judgment we have allocated some men to the most remote countries in which we appear to have very little first-rate interest.
It will be observed that this department is termed the Department of External Affairs, and not the Department of Foreign Affairs in accordance with the customed observed in other countries. The nomenclature of the department constitutes a recognition of the fact that its- prime function is not the encouragement of diplomatic relations with foreign countries but the achievement of closer relations with and better understanding between the nations which above all
Withers matter to us, namely, the nations of the British Commonwealth. I should feel very much happier if the public statements of the Minister for External Affairs (Dr. Evatt) and the Prime Minister revealed a much greater awareness of the fact that the well-being and destiny of Australia will be affected very much more by the integration of our relationships with other British nations than by the exercise of any influence we are likely to be able to bring to bear on foreign nations. I do not know that we can exercise any influence at all upon many of the small nations, and I do not suppose it matters very much whether we do so or not. I am convinced, too, that Australia will not be able to exercise any influence on the diplomatic course taken by the great Soviet Union. I am sure that the influence which the United Kingdom is able to exercise in shaping the history of the world is likely to be diminished if the members of the British Commonwealth embark on different foreign policies. What we need is a recognition, of the plain fact that this country cannot mould the course of world events but that it is our great fortune to be a part of a great aggregation of nations which, through the ages, has played its part in shaping world events. The only way that Great Britain can continue to play the role which it has played in the past is for the British dominions to adhere to a common diplomatic and international policy. To the extent that we divert from such a common policy we reduce the strength and authority of the British Empire in world affairs. It is obvious to every one that whatever lip service be paid to the principle of equality among the nations, there is to-day no recognition of such equality. It is obvious that in the General Assembly of the United Nations, where every nation is entitled to be represented as a sovereign state, no decisions can be made nor was it ever intended that they should be made. It is merely an assembly where the representatives of so-called equal sovereign nations may meet and discuss matters affecting them. The only organization in which real decisions are made with respect to international affairs is the Security Council from which many of the small nations are excluded. The Security Council is limited to eleven members, three of whom, Great Britain, the United States of America and the Soviet, possess the right of veto, which means in effect that all but the three major nations have no real authority there. The great concentration of power has been arranged in such a way as to be placed in the possession of Great Britain the United States of America and the Soviet. Great Britain is recognized as a great power because of its historical background, but the real thing that marks a country as a great power is its military and economic strength and the military and economic strength of Great Britain does not compare with the military and economic strength of the other two great nations to which I have referred. Great Britain will remain a great power only as long as it is recognized as speaking for the whole of the British people and all the things for which the British Commonwealth stands. This country is doing a dis-service to itself by pursuing a policy embodying the measure of separateness that has characterized its recent actions in the international sphere. Our record in this attempt to display our individuality to the world has not been glorious. Take, for instance, the diplomatic representation of this country in Soviet Russia. What has been our record in that country, and what have Ave achieved ? Russia is one of the most powerful nations in the world to-day, but one would have to look with a microscope to discover what we have achieved by our diplomatic representation there. Our first act in that field was to posture as the representative in Moscow of the Polish Government. But the Polish Government crumbled under our feet, and we found ourselves representing something that did not exist. That action by this country did not display particularly good judgment. Then we appointed an Australian Minister to Moscow and chose as our representative a Minister of the Crown of Victoria, but it was not long before ill health required this gentleman to leave Russia and to return to Australia. However, his ill health apparently was not of such a measure as to prevent him from resuming his ministerial portfolio and performing all the onerous duties of a senior Minister in the Victorian Government. A man would be a fool if he did not realize that Mr. Slater walked out of Russia. He was replaced by Mr. Maloney. As I do not know this gentleman I make no comment upon his capacity; but how long was it before he left Russia? I am not sure why Mr. Maloney returned from Moscow but there was some excuse. Perhaps he, too, suffered ill health. At any rate, he came back to Australia and gave the amazing performance of speaking at public meetings in denunciation of the nation to which he had been accredited as the representative of Australia. What chance has any subsequent representative of this country in Russia in view of the actions of this gentleman? That i3 a shameful record and it holds this country up to ridicule.
– It is significant that no other Labour man succeeded Mr. Maloney in Moscow.
– One may draw one’s own conclusions from these events. The Australian diplomatic net has been spread widely. Our representation has not been confined to Russia and the United States of America. I assume ‘that the reason for Australian representation abroad is to acquire some knowledge of the various countries concerned, and, above all, in the traditional diplomatic manner, to exercise some influence upon and gain some advantage from those countries for ourselves. But what have we done? We have appointed representatives to the British Dominions including New Zealand; but in. my own opinion, we have attempted not only to gain a more intimate knowledge of New Zealand, but also to convert that country into a minor satellite of the Australian nation. One notable result of this policy has been that on whatever matter our Minister for External Affairs has spoken in the international arena, his words have been instantly echoed by New Zealand’s representatives. But if Australia appears to have achieved the support of New Zealand’s vote in international councils, we have paid for it. We have been told that Australia is against secret international diplomacy, yet we have made ant economic deal with New Zealand which I am not prepared to say was not related to the diplomatic activity of tying together the Australian and New Zealandnations. This deal has necessitated theinclusion in this budget of provision toextract an additional £2,000,000 a year from the Australian taxpayers as a present to New Zealand. From my examination of this matter I draw theinference that this is the price that the Australian people are paying.
The CHAIRMAN (Mr. Clark).Order! The honorable member is not entitled to refer to that matter on thisproposed vote.
– My conclusions arethat we can expect a continuance of New Zealand’s support on appropriate occasions in international affairs at an annual price of £2,000,000.
– Order ! The honorable member is defying the Chair.. The matter now under discussion is the proposed vote for the Department of External Affairs, and the honorable member may only discuss the administration of that department.
– I rise to order. 1 submit that the honorable member for Indi (Mr. McEwen) has not referred to the manner in which the figure of £2,000,000 that he mentioned has been arrived at, and that he is in order in dealing with that question in a debate on international affairs.
– The Chair has ruled that the matter referred to by the honorable member is entirely outside the scope of the proposed vote now under discussion.
– I bow to your ruling,. Mr. Chairman, and turn now from New Zealand to South America. I find it difficult to perceive instantly any obvious or constant ties between Australia and that continent; but we have diplomaticrepresentation in Chile and Brazil which, costs this country £600 and £500 a week respectively. It is not an answer to say that we have commercial interests in those countries because if one turns to the estimates for the Department of Commerce and Agriculture one finds that there are additional amounts set aside for commercial representations. Therefore, the proposed vote now under discussion is solely for diplomatic representation and has nothing to do with buying coffee or nitrates, or selling wheat. If there is one nation of the South American continent with which we have a great deal in common it is Argentina. But there is no suggestion that this country should spend a penny in providing diplomatic liaison with Argentina in order that we may be able to obtain some knowledge of its activities, policies and purposes. No! We go to Brazil at a cost of £500 a week and to Chile at a cost of £600 a week. But to war widows we give five “ bob” a week. The whole thing is cock-eyed and ridiculous, and I believe that, upon genuine analysis, a tremendous proportion of the expenditure, which is rising at a meteoric rate - a few years ago it cost a thousand a year and to-day a million - will be revealed as having been spent to build up the international stature of the Minister for External Affairs. I say that with full consideration. I invite the Government to say what there is in Chile and Brazil, outside commercial needs, for which provision is- made under the Department of Commerce and Agriculture, to justify the expenditure of £1,100 a week on representation there. It is not good enough for the provision for so important a department as the Department of External Affairs to be cast off with a few small words from the Prime Minister. I acknowledge that, there is need for expenditure in international representation. It is inevitably costly. We should have it on the highest plane. [ am doubtful, though, whether our representation in China is of much value. But I am not saying we should not be represented there. The Government should explain, because I am sure that I am not the only member of the Commonwealth Parliament or citizen of Australia who is bewildered in endeavouring to understand the importance of pouring out our treasure in some foreign countries on representation the advantage from which none of us .can discover. It is a paradox. Mr. Paul Hasluck, an extremely capable man, resigned from the department in the circumstances discussed earlier. Mr. Macmahon Ball, a gentleman of good standing and unquestioned integrity and capacity, also resigned, saying, “ I cannot, work with this man “. Somewhere, surely, there is a nigger in the wood-pile ! Cannot we be told or are we to make speeches about ending secret diplomacy and yet practise it? If there is an explanation for this far-flung representation, I do not understand it, and it must be a secret. I protest, and demand something much more explanatory than we have heard so far.
– I rise to speak on one small matter raised by the honorable member for Indi (Mr. McEwen). Intentionally or unintentionally, I think he cast a slur on Mr. William Slater.
– I certainly did not intentionally.
– The honorable member said that Mr. Slater walked out of Russia.
– I repeat that.
– He then proceeded to say that since Mr. Slater had been able to resume his duties in the Victorian Cabinet, he could not have been very ill. I think that is what he said.
– That is substantially right. .
– Those of us who know Mr. Slater well esteem him as a man of high integrity. He served in World War I. and, as the result of that experience, he inherited a certain disability, the consequence of which is thai he has to be extremely careful of the type of food he consumes. The real reason for his leaving Russia was that, in the circumstances there, it was impossible for him to eat food of the type that agreed with him. He was really ill. That is the sole reason why he came back to Australia. I thought it was due to him that I should make that explanation to the committee of the circumstances in which he resigned his position in Russia.
.- I suppose we are asked to believe the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction (Mr. Dedman) when he says that the sole reason why Mr. Slater left Russia concerned his health. I do not believe it any more than I believe that Mr. Maloney left Russia for any other reason than that he could not stand it and that he felt that he had. no job to do there and that Australia’s representation there at that time was fruitless. Indeed, he came bacl; and said so. Mr. Slater did not say so. He has been silent since his return.
– Mr. Slater is a great friend of mine and am I not likely to know more about him than the honorable gentleman?
– Yes. We ought to be clear. I make no reflection on Mr. Slater any more than the honorable member for Indi (Mr. McEwen) did. All 1 say is that people with reasonable common sense ure entitled to their own contusions when two Ministers in quick succession found it necessary to resign. [ rose primarily to comment on the inflated expenditure of the Department of External Affairs which in 1946-47 reached the very high figure for this country of 7,000,000 people of £S66,000odd. In the Estimates for 1947-48, which we are now discussing, the provision is for more than £1,000,000.
– That is only a part of it.
– Yes, as I am reminded, that is only a part of it. With the exception of Canada, and, perhaps, one or two other countries where we have representatives, there has been a striking rise in expenditure on our representation. It is said that that is necessity because living expenses are higher and are increasing. That is partly true, certainly, but it seems to be regarded by the Government as the entire excuse for ignoring the very high figure. In Russia we have diplomatic representation of the status of a minister with a counsellor, an attache, a first and a third secretary and so forth. I believe that it is good for Australia to have a Minister in Russia. It may be thought that he can do very little good in the present state of
Soviet opinion, but at the same time, it is wise for Australia to have diplomatic representation at the seat of government of one of the most powerful nations in the world - & nation with a population of about 200,000,000. The Minister’s salary in 1947-4S is to be £2,500. I do not quarrel with that, or with the Prime Minister’s statement that it is very hard for a representative to live in a foreign country, especially a country such as Russia, without adequate pay and allowances. I therefore agree with the allowance that is granted to him to carry out his important duties. I take the view that the present representative in Russia is probably the best man that we have sent there. With him, as with every other officer who is worthy of his post, I believe heartily in paying a substantial salary and proper allowances. Our representatives overseas should be enabled to live without fear or anxiety and in a way which permits them to uphold the dignity of their positions. However, when we turn from Russia, a country to which in my view we ought to send a diplomatic representative, we find that we are represented in many countries where there is no possible justification, on any ground of commonsense, for the establishment of diplomatic offices. Two of these countries in particular have been mentioned by other honorable members. One is Brazil and the other is Chile. In Brazil we have a Minister with the same diplomatic status as our representative in Russia and who receives the same salary of £2,500 a year. Our representative in Chile is on a similar basis. We are asked to believe that these positions are just as important as that of our representative in Russia and deserve the same status and the same remuneration. The proposition is ridiculous. There could never have been any valid reason for sending diplomatic representatives to Brazil and Chile. Most of us on this side of the House thought that the appointments had something to do with nuts or coffee. However, the Prime Minister let the cat out of the bag by saying, very vaguely and mysteriously, that there was a special reason having regard to the United Nations why Australia should send plenipotentiaries to Brazil and Chile.
– The appointments did not work out too well.
– I agree with the honorable member. We are asked to believe that the Government sent Ministers to those countries at great public expense in order to “ square-off “ with the Governments of Brazil and Chile and make us appear as good fellows in their eyes at the United Nations. Because of this policy, Australian representatives were hobnobbing very enthusiastically with representatives of several of the South American republics a year or two ago, when this Government was busily engaged at the United Nations in throwing stones at some of the major countries of the world, including our own Mother Country and ally, Great Britain. However, things have not worked out well, and the warmth of the Government’s enthusiasm for the South American republics seems to have cooled since then. The change has been so marked that I gather, from a hint dropped by the Prime Minister, that the Government may even reconsider the positions of our representatives among the nuts and coffee in Brazil and Chile. If that is the basis upon which Australia sends representatives to other countries, the situation is both ridiculous and shameful. There is no justification for the Government to try to “ square-off “ with other governments by sending diplomatic representatives to places where they are not needed. I want to know whether, if the Government wants to “square off” with Patagonia, Guatemala, Venezuela, Peru, Haiti or Portugal, it will send representatives to those countries too. Is this a proper basis for diplomatic representation abroad ? It is so silly and cynical that I was surprised to hear the Prime Minister even suggest it. Where is this policy to end? I suppose next we will hear that we are to send a Minister plenipotentiary to Liberia, or perhaps to Monaco where, after his diplomatic duties end each day,, he can adjourn to the casino and supplement the income provided for him by the Australian public, if he is able to do so. The conclusion to which we are driven, in view of the extraordinary number .of diplomatic representatives that we have abroad and the countries- to which they have been sent, is that the Government, is not concerned so much with keeping peace in other parts of the world and promoting international goodwill as with a policy of swelling a particular department, irrespective of Australia’s needs. That may suit the Minister for External Affairs, and it may suit the Labour Government, but it does not suit Australia and the taxpayers who have to foot the bill, and who see themselves being made ridiculous by this unnecessary representation abroad. . Certain officers associated with the Minister for External Affairs may suffer from delusions of grandeur and therefore be delighted to see their department swelling in this way. My comment is that, whatever they may think, the policy is not good for Australia, and that is the only issue that we in this Parliament ought to consider.
I also support the statements of the honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Spender) about the representation of Australia on various international organizations. What I have . to say on this point is partly a personal matter, but it mast be said.. Recently I asked a wellintentioned and factual question concerning that amiable young gentleman who happens to be the representative in this Parliament of the electorate of Martin concerning his recent peregrinations. I was immediately assailed by members of the Labour party and accused of making a personal attack, although I had ‘ endeavoured to avoid doing so when I framed the question. The extraordinary proposition is that if a member of the Parliament, one of whose responsibilities to the electors is to act as a watchdog on public expenditure, ever asks a question which happens to involve another member of the Parliament, he is accused of being personal. All that I wanted to know, as I and my colleagues still want to know, was why the trip abroad by the honorable member for Martin was justified. If justification be given to us, well and’ good ! I wanted also to know what public money was spent on the honorable member’s trip and what countries were visited by him and by other honorable members who have been abroad.
– Those chickens will come home to roost.
Air. BEALE. - They will come home to roost at the next elections. I am positive that Australians have had enough of this sort of thing and will no longer tolerate the spectacle of unlimited trips abroad by members of the Parliament. I believe in the dignity of the Parliament and therefore in maintaining the dignity and standing of its members. I consider that they should be properly treated and looked after in, all matters pertaining to their office and that their work should be made not only tolerable to them but also as easy as possible. If that involves public expenditure, I shall support it, because unless we maintain the high quality of our representation and make it so attractive that the best men will be anxious to serve their country the quality of the Parliament will progressively decline. I am entirely in favour of Ministers going abroad, when necessary. In the long run, the cost will be justified, because foreign travel and personal contact with the representatives of other countries will assist them in performing their duties. If the Government can justify sending private members abroad for the purpose of attending conferences, I shall ako be in favour of it; but I want to know, and the people want to know whether private members are sent abroad to benefit Australia or whether their trips are in the nature of consolation prizes to keep them “sweet” with the party. That is the whole issue.
– That is nonsense.
– If this trip can be justified, then I shall enthusiastically agree with the decision of the Government. But I am obliged to ask questions in order to find out what the justification is. E most enthusiastically hope that it will be proved that the honorable member for Martin was doing his country a service when he was sent abroad and that his trip was of great benefit to Australia.
– Why does not the honorable member for Parramatta be honest and say that he would not believe any report which I submitted?
– The honorable member makes it difficult for me to believe him, but I do hope that his trip will be found to have justified itself. However, I want to know about not only his trip but also the trips of other honorable members. There is a cynical attitude on this mat.er. Even expensive trips are justified if they serve the interests of Australia. But if the trips are only made, as some of us suspect, to placate particular honorable members, the principle ‘ is wrong and should .be denounced.
– I, in common with other honorable members on this side of the chamber, and, I am sure, the community generally, will be worried at. the reply which the Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley) gave to our requests for an expression of the Government’s opinion about matters such as the murder of the leader of the Bulgarian Peasant party, Petkov, and the general attitude of the Communist party in countries which Russian troops have overrun. The Prime Minister again seemed to adopt the pose, which has become rather common with him, of side-stepping any direct question referring to the activities of the Soviet, particularly when those activities art against the interests of the British Empire, including Australia. On this occasion, he did not say that .Petkov was not all that had been claimed and that he was not the leader of the Bulgarian Peasant party. What he did say was that many people sometimes claim to be the leaders of particular groups, and to have the support of the peasants, when, in reality, they did not have it. I say, however, that Petkov was elected and proclaimed leader of the Peasant party in Bulgaria, and after his death he was mourned by the people of that country. His murder was deplored by the governments of the United Kingdom, the United States of America and half-Communist France. He has been declared a martyr who died for the welfare of the poorer classes and those who were determined to establish democratic government within Bulgaria. I cannot understand, unless 1 come to certain conclusions, why the Prime Minister always makes excuses for the activities of the Communist party when they are opposed to our own interests. I do not desire to be unfair to the right honorable gentleman in this matter, but we know that the British Foreign Secretary, Mr. Bevin, speaking in the House of Commons, strongly condemned the murder of Petkov and that the Leader of the Labour party in the House of Lords, Lord Pakenham, stated that the reply of the Soviet Foreign Minister, M. Molotov, to the representations of the British Ambassador on behalf of Petkov was that the British people were interfering in the internal affairs of Bulgaria. That was in answer to very early protests against his arrest and trial.
Sitting suspended from 12.J/.5 to 2.15 p.m.
– Prior to the suspension of the sitting I was dealing with the unsatisfactory reply made by the Prime Minister. Whenever attacks are -made on the Soviet Government,.or on the Communists of this country, there always seems to be a disposition on his part to excuse the Communists. In this case he indicated that there was some reason to doubt the sincerity of Petkov’s representation of the peasants of Bulgaria. However, Mr. Bevin has stated repeatedly in the House of Commons, and has been supported by Lord Pakenham, the Foreign Office representative in the the House of Lords, that the British Government appealed to Moscow in the name of fair treatment and in the interest of the democracy, which was promised to the people of Bulgaria by the international agreements reached at Yalta and other places, but that the Soviet Commissar for Foreign Affairs, Molotov, declined to entertain the British representations, insisting that Great Britain was endeavouring to interfere in Bulgarian affairs. When asked for information regarding this matter, the Prime Minister said in the House to-day that his Government had not the means to collect reliable information regarding the situation. But the Government has the means of collecting information, at least, so far as the Soviet Government is concerned, because it maintains a legation at Moscow, which costs this country approximately £40,000 a year, [f the British Government can communicate with the Russian Government in regard to the affairs of one of Russia’s satellite countries, surely the Commonwealth Government, which has a direct representative in Moscow, could obtain sufficient reliable information. The Governments of the democratic countries concerned should at least have some knowledge of what is going on. But we know that all too frequently the Prime Minister leans to the Communists’ side; and I repeat what I said previously in regard to his recent visit to Mackay, namely, that he had a secret meeting there with the leader of the Sydney waterside workers, a professed’ Communist. After that meeting, that gentleman said publicly that the matter of Dutch shipping was not discussed ; but we found out what was discussed, because as soon as the Prime Minister returned to Canberra he took action to submit the Indonesia dispute to the United Nations.
– The Prime Minister himself informed the honorable member that there is not a word of truth in that, allegation.
– Does the Minister suggest that the Prime Minister did not submit the Indonesian dispute to the United Nations.
– The Prime Minister informed the honorable member that he met the gentleman concerned for three minutes at the place mentioned, but he assured the honorable member that the meeting took place in the presence of other people, that there was no secrecy surrounding it, and that it had nothing to do with the Indonesian dispute.
– The Communist gentleman concerned stated, according to a report in the Brisbane Telegraph of the 24th July last, that he did have a conference of the kind I have described with the Prime Minister. I do not deny that that particular Communist’s friends could have also been present. It is also a fact that he is the secretary of the Sydney branch of the Waterside Workers Federation and that he is a Communist. However, nobody would believe what the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction (Mr. Dedman) said after the recent exposures of the stuff which he puts over, and I am more inclined, on this occasion, to believe what the Communist said than what the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction now states. I repeat that
Immediately after the Prime Minister returned to .Canberra he referred the Indonesian dispute to the United Nations. In doing so he was taking the side of the so-called Republican ‘Government of Indonesia, a body of pro-Japanese rebels. Tire <nae country in the world which was really anxious that this matter should be submitted to the United Nations was the self-titled Japanese appointed Government of Indonesia, and in that attitude it had the enthusiastic support of the Government of Soviet Russia. In fact, the Russian . Government had demanded that the matter should be submitted to the United Nations, and “we know that, unfortunately, the Communists who control the Australian waterfront also demanded that the Government should submit the matter to the United Nations. Undoubtedly, the Australian Communists were acting at the direction of Communists overseas; and the Australian Government played into their hands, and into the hands of Soekarno, in doing so. Soekarno, incidentally, was never elected President of Indonesia, and no such republic was ever created except by the Japanese. The fact is that two days before they capitulated the Japanese proclaimed Soekarno president of the new republic. Soekarno had not only sided with the Japanese from the very moment of their landing in his country, but during their occupation he did everything he could to inflame the sentiments of his people against Great Britain, the United States of America and the Allies in general. This is the man who personally complimented the Japanese Air Force, exhorted it to fight on to final victory, and later declared war against the Allies.’ He is the man with whom Australia has now sided - a man whom 90 per cent, of the Indonesians reject. Soekarno was not the leader of any political party before the war; he was simply selected by the Japanese, over the heads of other party leaders mostly faithful to the Dutch, who have been their benefactors for 300 years, and placed in authority. At .a press conference at the Central Council in Batavia this so-called “ doctor “ .said, “ We participated in this war and assisted Japan only because we sided with justice and truth, not because of any principles based on opportunity”.
This man cabled and, in fact personally met the Emperor <of Japan, proclaiming the allegiance himself and the people of Indonesia to the Japanese Empire. His broadcasts reveal him as one who harboured sentiments of violent enmity to the Allied Nations during the waT, and as one who conceived a profound admiration for the Japanese. Of course, at the time he was making these broadcasts he was unaware that our Allies, the Dutch, had established listening posts at Broome and Carnarvon on the north-west, coast of Australia, from where they were intercepting the broadcasts of the traitor Soekarno, affirming his GO-operation with Japan. Those intercepted communications furnished unmistakable proof of his treachery to the Dutch and of his hatred of Great Britain and the United States of America. To-day he stands condemned not only by the Dutch Government, but also by the Governments of the United States of America, Great Britain and every other decent country in the world. Yet notwithstanding all this we find the Australian Government taking his part and making representations to the United Nations to save him. The Australian Government intervened in order to halt the laudable efforts of the Dutch Government to preserve law and order, to save lives and property, and to prevent the wanton destruction of huge stores of food and other valuable commodities. ‘The police action taken by the Dutch authorities had to be stopped at the dictates of the Communist-con trolled Australian Waterside Workers Union, notwithstanding that it had already succeeded in restoring order in .two-thirds of the country, preserving property and re-opening schools, because this Government saw fit to side with the Indonesians in securing the intervention of the United ‘Nations. The Australian Government was the only Government that was prepared to instigate the United Nations to stop that police activity, which was designed to restore order and give to the Javanese .an opportunity to secure in 1949 the benefits and concessions which Queen Wilhelmina had made it possible for them to secure. That action resulted in the release of those rebels and Japanese admirers. The Prime Minister, -after having a conversation with a leading
Communist- in Mackay, returned to. Canberra and pledged our Government to support these rebels, who had sided with the Japanese, during the war and had declared war on Britain, the United States of America, and Holland. Anything’ but a compliment was bestowed on Australia when it was named by Soekarno and his crowd as their representative on a committee to mediate in the affair. Neither Britain, nor the United States of America would accept such a position. The Prime Minister seems to want to “ trim his sails “ on all occasions according to the wishes of the Communists, whether they be Australian waterside workers, those who were responsible for the murder of the leader of the Peasant party in Bulgaria, or Soekarno and his crowd, who are rebelling against an authorized, government of 300 years standing, and are determined to help- to rid Asia of white people. We know that Soekarno was- offered native troopsfrom the mainland of Asia if they could, be transported to Indonesia to rid them of the white race. Britain was the nation which, after the cessation of hostilities was selected by the Allied’ Command to land troops in Indonesia. Soekarno and his. crowd did all that they could, to hamper the landing of those troops. During the war, Indonesians were taken to Tokyo, and there trained. Arrangements were made under which 200,000 Indonesian troops were trained to resist an allied landing. What is to prevent the transfer, now that the war is over, of 200,000 or 300,000 Japanese technicians to Java, there to build up in that new Japan, among a population of 74,000,000 natives, a powerful war plant. Such a venture, if undertaken by a country not governed by a treaty of friendship and not subject to any peace terms, might some day menace Australia, because the matter would be one over which we would have no control.. The position in Indonesia is of great concern to this country. E regret, therefore, that the Prime Minister on all occasions seems to side with the policy of the Communists, whether in Indonesia or on our waterfront. That policy must prove detrimental to the people of this country, because under it the transport of our products is prevented. The present shipping dispute, which may- result in 1101 ships being laid idle,, is the work of Communists, and is against the interests of not only Australia, but also the British Empire as a whole.
– I had no intention of engaging in this’ debate, and would not have done so but for the attempt by the honorable member for Wide Bay (Mr. Corser), who lias just resumed his seat, to create a false impression in the minds of honorable members and the people of Australia generally, by making a statement which he knows quite well is entirely untrue, in regard to an alleged happening in Mackay.
– I ask for a withdrawal of that allegation. I do not know that my statement is untrue, nor do I believe that it is.
– The honorable member a few days ago, apologized’ for having made it, and said that it was untrue.
– Nothing of the sort.
– I -resent the allegation of the honorable member for Herbert, and desire the withdrawal of his deliberately untrue statement.
– I did not make the statement blindly. I propose to repeat the- words which the honorable member used.
– I’ ask for a withdrawal of the statement to which I have objected-.
– Does the honorable member regard the statement as offensive to him?
– I do.
– Then I ask the honorable member for Herbert to withdraw it.
– With due deference to the Chair, I withdraw it. But I point out that the honorable member made in this House only a few nights ago the same statement as he has made this afternoon. The Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley), who was in his place at the table at the time, rose and refuted the statement of the honorable member, who then apologized to the Prime Minister for having made it.
– I did not.
– I have no intention of discussing either the merits or the demerits of the Dutch-Indonesian dispute, or any other features of foreign policy. Every body who knows me, and who has heard speeches that I have made, is aware of what my attitude is towards the activities of the Russian leaders and of the people who support Russian ideology in this country. If there is any danger emanating from the extreme left, it is no greater than that which can emanate from the extreme right. I am quite happy to proceed along a middle course, and to keep away from either of them. What caused me to rise was the statement of the honorable member, made for the second time in this chamber, that the Prime Minister of this country had met the general secretary of the Waterside Workers Federation in Mackay, had discussed with him the Dutch-Indonesian dispute, and soon afterwards had made a statement on behalf of the Government in regard to that dispute. The honorable member alleged that Mr. Healy had flown to Mackay to discuss this matter with the Prime Minister. I was in Mackay while the Prime Minister was there, and was present when the right honorable gentleman had a discussion with Mr. Healy. Some six or seven other people also were present. The discussion lasted for approximately three or four minutes. The Prime Minister told the honorable member for Wide Bay, and all other honorable members, that the matter discussed was the loading of sugar at Lucinda Point. The right honorable gentleman said that he had not discussed the Dutch-Indonesian dispute at any time with Mr. Healy. In reply to the honorable member’s statement that Mr. Healy had flown to Mackay to have this discussion with the Prime Minister, I point out that Mr. Healy was in Mackay before either the Prime Minister or I reached that city, and remained there until after we had left. He did not fly to Mackay. He was in that city as a member of the Stevedoring Industry Commission. Mr. Healy was at Mackay because the Stevedoring Commission was meeting there. I should not have risen except to try to deal finally with the allegation that Mr. Healy flew to Mackay to discuss the In donesian dispute with the Prime Minister and did, in fact, discuss it, following which a pronouncement of Government policy was made. I am astonished that the honorable member for Wide Bay, who is usually fair in his statements, should have acted as he has done. It is not to his credit that, having heard the Prime Minister’s refutation of the allegation, and after he had apologized to the Prime Minister for making it, he should rise in his place the second time and repeat the statement. I hope that this will put an end to the story that the first . citizen of the Commonwealth went to Mackay to discuss a matter of policy affecting Indonesia with Mr. Healy or any other individual.
– I desire to make a personal explanation. The honorable member for Herbert (Mr. Edmonds) said that he objected to my repeating a statement after I had apologized to the Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley) and withdrawn what I had said. I shall read from Hansard what I did say.
– That should be a fair report of what the honorable member said.
– That is so. In my personal explanation I said - and this is supposed to be my apology -
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 ot 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 did not say that the Prime Minister went to Mackay to meet this man.
– The honorable member said that Mr. Healy went to Mackay to meet the Prime Minister.
– My remarks on that occasion continued -
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 waterside workers. The gentleman who met the Prime Minister in Mackay was Mr. J. Healy, secretary of the Waterside Workers Federation, who is a wellknown Communist.
In the light of that personal explanation, it is unfair for the honorable member for Herbert to say that I apologized to the Prime Minister and withdrew my words. I have quoted my remarks from an uncorrected “ pull “ of Hansard.
– Which the Standing Orders say shall not be done.
– I have not apologized to the Prime Minister, nor have I withdrawn what I previously said.
.- The cost of Australia’s representation at International Labour Conferences is set down as £38,000, for this year. The sum of £19,233 was expended for a similar purpose in 1945-46, and in the following year the expenditure under that heading was £31,338. It will be seen that last year’s increase over the vote for the previous year has been further increased by approximately £6,000 for the year 1947-48. Among those who went overseas was a gentleman to whom reference has been previously made in this House, but I shall confine my remarks to one aspect of his activities while abroad. The committee is entitled to know what kind of representation ofAustralia is given by those who are sent abroad at the taxpayers’ expense,. what they say in other countries, and, generally, what effect their representation has on people overseas. I refer to the recent visit to other countries of Senator Amour. I refuse to accept the proposition that no names should be mentioned in this connexion. I am concerned, not with the personal activities of Senator Amour whilst abroad, but only with his public pronouncement whilst he was in Eire. I have before me a newspaper published in Eire, dated the 2nd August, 1947, which purports to give a full report of an interview with Senator Amour. As his expenses were paid by the Australian taxpayers, the committee is entitled to know what he said in the interview.
– Was the International Labour Conference meeting in Eire?
– A good many people Gould like to know why the honorable senator was in that country, whether he had any public duties to perform there and whether his views expressed the mind of the Government. I draw special attention to a statement which I regard as serious; and so that it may not be said that I have misrepresented the honorable senator’s remarks, I shall quote the exact words as printed in the newspaper report. No doubt it will be said that the honorable senator was incorrectly reported, but to enable the issue to be raised, I shall read the newspaper report. This is the statement of a man who can only be taken as representing the opinion of the Government and of the people of Australia. He is reported to have said -
Unlike the British, who are quite reserved with strangers, they readily enter into conversation with them. Strange to say, although our people are mostly of British descent, they have no particular liking for the British or Americans. The Irish are popular with us and make good citizens.
I desire to cast no reflections upon the Irish, whether they come from the south or from the north, but I am concerned that a man on public duty overseas should reflect uponthe British people, and misrepresent the opinion of Australians in regard to them. The statement is renowned for a number of peculiar features. However, I am persuaded that there maybe some misstatement in the report, because, referring to the honorable senator, the article states -
All this ran through my mind when I was introduced to Senator L’ Amour, a Labour member of the Australian Upper House, who has just been paying us a visit. Were it not for that strongly marked Australian accent of his, he would easily pass in one of our towns or cities as a native of the soil, a sturdily built, genial man in the middle-fifties, but vigorous as befits one who has travelled far o’er land and sea and by air also in his time.
I have not time to go through all the misstatements, but I pick out some of them here and there. Take this one for instance - “ The population of Sydney is- “ and the
Senator stopped for a moment while his eyes flashed me a question.
A million “, said I, hazarding a guess. “ Two million “, said he. “ That is the present population of Sydney “.
I must confess that I was astounded.
We oan almost see that flash of his eyes all the way from here.
– With what item of the Estimates has all this to do ?
– The committee is Considering the vote for the Department of External Affairs. On the bottom of page 17 of the Estimates there appears a statement showing the actual cost of the Department of External Affairs. In the Widget papers there is shown an amount of £31,000, which includes the cost of Senator Amour’s trip overseas. Therefore, I am entitled to draw attention to the way in which the money was expended. The article goes on -
I must confess that I was astounded when I reflected on two million of a population in a city that, according to books, had only a few thousand inhabitants a hundred and fifty years ago. Ennis in six centuries had not grown at that rate. Will it now? 1 wondered.
Discussing the famous battle of Sydney Harbour, he is further reported as having made this statement, which appears in bold black type -
The Jap submarines got into Sydney Harhour and left it almost without a ship.
I do not know how much a word this cost the Commonwealth. The statement continues -
There was quite a hullabaloo in Parliament sifting the means to be used in the defence of Australia from then on, and Australians were more determined than ever to fight with greater tenacity.
That was when the Labour party took over, he points out. I cannot see what purpose is served by spending money to send a man overseas to make statements quite inconsistent with those of the Prime Minister he supports. In the budget speech it was pointed out that there was a grave shortage of dollars, and that we in Australia, like others overseas, were suffering as a result. On this subject, however, Senator “L’ Amour” said -
Australia does not face a ‘’ Dollar Question “ through having its own monetary system-
I think he probably obtained a few notes from the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction before he left. However, the continued - and being self supporting as regards the necessities of life.
Now listen to this one -
During the waT they paid off quite a considerable amount of the loan owed to Britain and would have paid it off in full but the British for some reason of their own preferred that a portion of it should remain outstanding.
Of course, if the honorable senator was correctly reported - and ho will have an opportunity to say whether he was or not - the statement contains the obvious implication that Great Britain, for reasons of its own, wanted to keep Australia in financial bondage. The statement admits of no other interpretation. But Ave have not yet finished with this extraordinary pronouncement of Marco Polo. He spoke of motor cars that were to be manufactured in Australia, and sold on the market here for £350. I let that one go, because it is of little consequence, but referring to the. textile industry he said -
Take the Australian textile industry, which lacks only additional workers and more machinery to supply all their wants. As things stand it is doing quite well. A good suit of clothes can be sold in Australia as low as £5 10s.
It is fantastic that a man should issue a report of that kind. I assume that, as lie went overseas as the representative of the Government to the meeting of the International Labour Organization, he must realize that, as a government nominee, what he says is of supreme importance in conveying to the people of other countries, a picture of what is happening in this country. The honorable senator also had something to say about our agricultural development, something which I am sure will be of great interest to country representatives on the other side of the House. He is reported to have stated -
The position of agriculture in Australia is quite favorable. Owing to irrigation the produce of the soil -has improved beyond expectation. Where it took. 10 acres of land to feed a single sheep, more than forty sheep can now be supported by a single acre.
I happen to know that that statement is wrong.
– It is not wrong.
– It is not wrong that land which formerly fed one sheep to 10 acres can now carry 40 sheep to 1 acre? Well, Ave will assume that the honorable senator was correct in that statement. If so, it is the first correct statement so far. Here is another one -
The Australian farmers have learned how to tin the fruit growing on their own farms., rendering possible the development of the fruit industry on a much larger scale . . There is electricity in almost every home in Australia.
Now for our social outlook -
The social programme of the Government gives special attention to the youth. They have a scheme in operation-
If that is so, it is the first time I have heard it - by which children from the interior are given a holiday each year at the seaside.
The honorable senator concluded by referring to the charm of Australians and their friendliness towards strangers. He then said - and I regard this as an unpardonable statement if it were made - that although most Australians are of British descent they have no particular liking for the British. One honorable member opposite asked what has this to do with the budget. It has a great deal to do with the budget-
– What has it to do with the truth?
– I know that it will be said by some that Senator Amour made a clear statement, but that the man who took it down, seeking to get him a decent press, made all the mistakes, and that Senator Amour made none. That calls into question the proposition : What was Senator Amour doing in Eire? If he gave a statement to the press in what respect was it right ? Then we shall know in what respect it is wrong. This matter is of supreme importance to the committee because - it is only pure fiction - we are supposed to be the custodians of the public purse. When a Government spokesman goes overseas, and - if this statement be correct - gives such balderdash out to the people of another country, we are entitled to know why the Government is wasting money in that way. It has been said on more than one occasion inside and outside the Parliament that one should never mention any one else’s name. That, of course, has no bearing upon a matter such as this. I am concerned only with this man’s public utterances which can have a very vital bearing upon how the people of Eire regard us. This gives a very wrong picture - again, I say, if the statement is correct - of the economy of Australia and what is taking place in Australia. It is unquestionably un-British; and I believe that the great majority of the people of this country, and I should hope the great majority of the members of the Government of this country, should resent such a picture of Australia being given to the Irish people - that we have no liking for the British, and, indeed, to’ show how we regard them we were prepared to pay off our whole indebtedness to Great Britain, but for some sinister reason of its own, Great Britain would not let us do so. This matter calls for a reply. I realize that I cannot speak in the Senate. I can speak only in this chamber. I am not making any charge. I am not charging that these statements were made. I am drawing attention to the fact that a responsible journal in Eire, purporting to report the exact words used by Senator Amour, has, not in one instance, but in a number of instances, published complete misstatements of fact in respect of the actual position in Australia. It cannot be suggested that I am quoting from a document which I am not prepared to produce. I ask leave to incorporate the whole of the article in Hansard.
– Will the honorable member indicate the length of the article ?
– The article is in single column, about 18 inches long. I submit, Mr. Chairman, that this is an important matter.
– The article is a lie.
– How does the honorable member know?
– I have never heard of the journal.
– It is called the Clare Champion and the article is printed on page 7 of the issue of Saturday, the 2nd August, 1947. Of course, when attention is drawn to anything of this kind honorable members opposite cry, “It is a lie”. I ask for leave to incorporate the full article in Hansard, because I do not want it to be said, as is often said in similar cases of members reading from articles, that I am quoting things out of their context.
– Is leave granted?
Government Members. - No
Leave not granted.
Opposition Members. - Read it all.
– I shall read all of the article, because I shall not have it said that I am quoting things out of their context. This is the article-
– I rise to order. In what way is this article related to any item appearing in the Estimates under consideration ?
– I myself raised that point earlier and, after hearing the honorable member’s explanation, ruled that it is connected with one of the items before the Chair.
– I table the document.
– The honorable member is not entitled to table a newspaper.
– I have not sufficient time left to read the whole of the article. I shall ask another honorable member to read it.
.- The honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Spender) having been prevented from incorporating in Ilansard this momentous statement made by Senator Amour in Eire, I believe that it is my duty, as the next speaker, to ensure that it does appear in Hansard. Although I have more important matters to discuss, I shall take up the first few minutes of my time by reading what the honorable senator said in Eire. The journal is named the Clare Champion, and the date of this issue is the 2nd August, 1947. The article reads -
Progress Unimpeded by War Crisis. Most Clare people have a warm corner in their hearts for Australia. Ties of blood bind them to it as there was a considerable tide of emigration from our County to Australia half a century ago. Different Australian governments of the time gave assisted passages to emigrants, and for a number of years a good many of our young people, who otherwise would have gone to America, went to Australia instead.
We welcomed one or two of them to this chamber, I believe. Under the subheading “ A Legislator “ the article continues -
All this ran through my mind when I was introduced to Senator L’Amour, a Labour member of the Australian Upper House, who has just been paying us a visit. Were it not for that strongly marked Australian accent of his, he would easily pass in one of our towns or cities as a native of the soil, a sturdily build, genial man in the middle fifties, but vigorous as befits one who has travelledfar over land and sea and by air also in his time.
– That is so. The article continues -
I took to him at once, as who would not. given the opportunity of meeting him. Taking advantage of the occasion I asked him many a question about how things fared with the people living beneath the “ Southern Cross “. As memory serves me, 1 write of them as he told me. This great big land, he told me, is scarcely a tenth populated as yet. Australians number but a bare eight millions at the moment. In spite of that, the cities have large populations, more particularly Sydney and Melbourne. “ The population of Sydney is “ - and the Senator stopped for a moment while his eyes flashed me a question. “A million” said I, hazarding a guess. “Two million “ said he, “ That is the present population of Sydney. “
I must confess that I was astounded when I reflected on two million of a population in a city that, according to books, had only a few thousand inhabitants a hundred and fifty years ago. Ennis in six centuries had not grown at that rate. Will it now? I wondered, but Senator L’Amour continued: “ That will show you how we have made progress, though we would have wished for a wider distribution of our population. As you know, geographical and other factors determine such matters and we have to put up with them whether we like it or not. Our land is going ahead all the time, that is the thing that matters: going ahead with accelerated pace every decade that passes over us “.
The next sub-heading is “ Wartime Problems “, under which the article proceeds -
Asked if the war halted progress, he said no. That war, he said, was a war the people of Australia did not want to get entangled in for they are a peace-loving people, but once in the war there was no way out, the Australians realized, but to fight it through to the bitter end.
The Jap submarines got into Sydney Harbour and left it almost without a ship. There was quite a hullabaloo in Parliament sifting the means to be used in the defence of Australia from that on, and Australians were more determined than ever to fight with greater tenacity. Then, in a political change, the Labour party took over control in the Federal Parliament under the late Mr. Curtin. There was a threat of the Japanese landing at Port Darwin and it took some tremendous work to make roads and airfields and to rush troops to positions in the north to its defence.
There was no conscription in Australia because Parliament reflected the views of the average Australian to respect the rights of the individual citizen to act as he sees fit. Did Australia lose by that? No, not one bit. The Australians are a patriotic people and they answered the call to arms like men. The women did their share nobly and well, too.
The senator proceeded to illustrate that Australia had come well out in the post-war period in more ways than one. The war was followed in a short time by an extension of Australian status internationally. Up to then the British Government had reserved the right to appoint the Governor-General of Australia, and recently, on the nomination of the Australian Government, a native-born Australian was appointed to the position.
I hope I am not on tender ground here -
This leads to Australia appointing diplomatic representatives abroad, which is a very important step. These things mean much to a people conscious of their importance in the world order of affairs.
The next subject he touched upon was sound finance in respect of which he is reported to have said -
Australia does not face a “ Dollar question “ through having its own monetary system and being self-supporting as regards the necessities of life. They fi iia need the war by raising internal loans. During the war they paid off quite a considerable amount of the loan owed to Britain and would have paid it off in full but the British, for some reason of their own, preferred that a portion of it should remain outstanding. Recently they gave to Britain a present of £23,000,000 to help them out of the “ fix “ they arc in. Only a country in sound financial condition could afford to do a thing of the kind. Australia preserves a balanced economy as the industrial position is quite good.
As an example of the progress being made industrially, Senator L’Amour pointed to the recent agreement made by the Australian Government with the American General Motor Company, by which this particular firm binds itself to manufacture in Australia full motor requirements. As Australia has one of the biggest steel plants in the world, there will he no difficulty in regard to supplies. Outside competition can be placed at a discount inasmuch as Australian-made cars will be put on the market as low as £350.
The black marketeers of second-hand motor cars are surely due for a slump in their activities -
Again, take the Australian textile industry, which lacks only additional workers and more machinery to supply all their wants. As things stand, it is doing quite well. A good suit of clothes can be sold in Australia as low as £5 10s.
The next subject dealt with was agricultural development. The article proceeds -
The position of agriculture in Australia is quite favorable. Owing to irrigation, the produce of the soil has improved beyond expectation. Where it took ten acres of land to feed a single sheep, more than 40 sheep can now be supported by a single acre. The growth of clover and lucerne has completely transformed the situation as far as the sheep industry is concerned.
The Australian farmers have learned how to tb the fruit growing on their own farms, rendering possible the development of the fruit industry on a much larger scale. Such butter as is exported is the very best. The Government has taken steps to increase still further all agricultural production. They are promoting legislation to break up the larger ranches, a policy initiated away back in 1884 by the New South Wales Government of that time.
That was before the Australian Labour party was born -
Increasing population demands ever greater agricultural productiveness. In many things they are somewhat ahead of Ireland and Britain. There is electricity in almost every home in Australia.
He should go to some of the country districts in Australia to see how false is that statement -
The social programme of the Government gives special attention to the youth. They have a scheme in operation by which children from the interior are given a holiday each year at the seaside. Parents get 7s. 6d. a week for the second and each subsequent child born to them, and it is the intention of the Government to extend the grant to the first child also. “We are “ striking oil “ as we proceed. The report continues -
They have a good pension scheme for workers, the sums received varying with the amounts contributed by the workers themselves.
A graduated contributory scheme I take it - a good idea and one about which I believe I have heard the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies) say something in this chamber.’ The article proceeds -
On the whole, the social legislation com- pares favorably with that in operation in other countries. “ One of the charms of Australian life is the friendliness of the people,” Senator L’Amour went on. “ Unlike the British, who are quite reserved with strangers, they readily enter into conversation with them. Strange to say, although our people ;are mostly of British descent, they have no ^particular liking for the British or Americans. The Irish are popular with us and make good citizens.
I hear no comment from honorable mem.bers on the -other side of the chamber on that statement -
We have now an infant Australian literature native to the soil. Formerly we were dependent on British-born writers who had settled in Australia, such as Nat Gould and Adam Lindsay Gordon, for hooks dealing with Australian’ life”.
The interview concludes -
This genial man was emphatic that Australia is coming along and will cut a much bigger figure in the world in the years to come. They have certain problems at the moment, including certain shortages of coal and of shipping. There is no doubt but they would welcome additional workers from Great Britain and also from Ireland; more particularly textile workers, and once the shipping difficulty has been got over, little doubt is felt but that (hey will come along to Australia. - S.O’H.
The report is signed “ S.O’H.”. Apparently these are the initials of the reporter who interviewed Senator Amour, so, if there is any doubt about the accuracy of these statements, I suggest that honorable members opposite should write to “ S.O’H.”, c/o the Clare Champion, Eire, and verify them. I regret that I have been compelled to read the article at length because of the lack of courtesy shown to the honorable member for Warringah by certain honorable members opposite. The request made by the honorable member for permission to incorporate the report in Hansard should have been acceded to graciously. I have had to devote fifteen minutes of my time to establishing the right of honorable members to have relevant matter included in Hansard. Honorable members have enjoyed this privilege in the past.
– Order ! The honorable member must confine his remarks to the proposed vote now under discussion. He has enjoyed considerable liberty but he must npt proceed any further on his present line of argument.
– I do not intend to devote any more of my time to Senator Amour’s ramblings in Eire or elsewhere. What I have to say is related to a much more important matter. We are being asked to agree to a proposed expenditure of £1,032,000 by the Department of External Affairs. In 1936-37 this department cost the taxpayers £63,000; in 1937-38, £5S,000; in 1938-39, £70,000; in 1939-40, £117,000, and in 1940-41, £141,000. So, the expenditure has- grown from £141,000 in the first year of the war to more than £1.000,000 in the current financial year. However, itis interesting to try to discover just what we are getting in return for this money. If it could purchase goodwill for Australia, ensure to this country an opportunity to play its part in the establishment of world peace, or guarantee increased security to every Australian for many years to come, £1,032,000 would not be too much to pay. But we find that the foreign policy of Australia is being enunciated by its Minister for External Affairs in such a way that practically no other nation can trust us or rely upon our delegate to remain consistent for two consecutive weeks. In these circumstances if expenditure by the Department of External Affairs were eliminated entirely, the security of this country would be much greater than it is to-day. The most important aspect of Australia’s international relationships is that concerning the countries of the Far East. Although we may have some interest in what is happening in Russia, Bulgaria and Rumania, and in European affairs generally, Australia’s real interest is in developments in Japan, Indonesia and other neighbouring countries that may he our friends in the future, or may be our enemies as Japan has been. Therefore, the major portion of Australia’s foreign policy should be concerned with events in the Far East that are likely to affect our status and security. It is now two years since Japan signed the instrument of surrender on the American battleship, Missouri, in Tokyo Bay. For seventeen months, until quite recently, Australia’s representative in Japan was Mr. Macmahon Ball. Not only was this gentleman the representative of Australia, but also, for the latter part of his stay in Japan, he was the representative of the entire British Commonwealth of Nations. For the seventeen months he was in Japan he applied the policy that he was directed from Canberra to apply, that policy being, in effect, that there should be imposed upon Japan what is commonly referred to as a hard peace. That was the alleged policy of the Australian Government and its Minister for External Affairs. For example, when General MacArthur, who is now in control of Japan, wished to grant the Japanese concessions in respect of whaling in the South Seas, it was the Minister for External Affairs who raised his voice loudest in Australia in protest, and that protest was carried to the Allied Control Council in Japan by Mr. Macmahon Ball. When it was suggested by General MacArthur’s administration that the Japanese be permitted to mine phosphate at Anguar Island, that was again opposed by the Minister for External Affairs, and his opposition was transmitted to the Allied Control Council by Mr. Macmahon Ball. For the seventeen months of his service .he carried out faithfully the policy that he was required to carry out by the Australian Government and the Australian Minister for External Affairs. Soon I will examine whether that policy is the correct one or not, but first I wish to trace events to show how topsy-turvy is the policy of the Minister in respect of Japan. Its topsyturviness is characteristic of the right honorable gentleman’s dealings with almost every matter he has handled in this Parliament. He went to Japan a little while ago. When ho arrived, from the available evidence, which I have not time to go through now, his first step was to congratulate Mr. Macmahon Ball on the very fine job he was doing. Those conversations have been reported. Within two days of his arrival he had somersaulted on the policy that he had forced Mr. Macmahon Ball to adopt and that gentleman was compelled by decency and self-respect to tender his resignation, as he could no longer carry on under the conditions that had been imposed upon him by the Minister for External Affairs. We heard before the Minister for External Affairs went to Japan about naming t he Emperor of Japan as one who should appear before the tribunal trying alleged Japanese war criminals.
– As a war criminal.
– Yes. Within a week or so of the departure from Japan of the Minister for External Affairs, General MacArthur’s administration was able to announce that the Emperor of Japan had been practically exonerated, with not one word from the Minister for External Affairs! What is the correct policy for Australia to adopt towards Japan? Is it to be hard, or are we to accept the Japanese at their own face value, and believe that they are now democratic, have repented and very greatly regret, not because they were defeated but because of the immorality of it, their aggression against other nations. Either the first is right or the second is right. We must be eitherhard or soft with Japan. Which is correct - the policy that Australia applied! through the seventeen months of MrMacmahon Ball’s stay in Japan or tha new policy adopted by the- Minister for External Affairs? Mr. Macmahon Ball, who spent seventeen months there, shows in a statement he made in Australia recently in which he said two or three things in particular that he had no doubt as to the right policy. The first was that he believed the Japanese were not repentant and the second that they were only biding their time and would take any opportunity presented to them to take advantage of the differences that exist between Russia and the United States of America and the rest of the western democracies. Thirdly, he said that within the first month or two after the end of the Avar the first consideration of the Japanese was to try to please General MacArthur. but that their attitude had generally changed, and that they were trying to qualify for benefit under the Marshall plan. But there is no doubt in Mr. Macmahon Ball’s mind: the Japanese are still at heart the same potential aggressors as they were in 1941. What the people of Australia and the rest of the world are entitled to know is the policy of the Commonwealth Government as enunciated by the Minister for External Affairs. Is it, as the people of Australia were led to believe it was a few months ago, that we should deal stringently with the Japanese, or is it that we are prepared to accept another role ? I am not concerned at the moment with what is the right role, because I am not competent to express a complete opinion on the subject. I am aware, however, of what Mr. Macmahon Ball said and what the Minister for External Affairs has done. Correspondents of British newspapers in Tokyo, a day or two after the arrival of the Minister for External Affairs, when faced with his reversal of policy, cabled their newspapers concerning their bewilderment. It is common property, and it can be Substantiated without any difficulty, that when the Minister returned to Sydney, he got in touch with the executives of some Australian newspapers and alleged that the highly reputable correspondents who had criticized his inexplicable change of policy were “ troppo “. That is the word he used about correspondents of such reputable newspapers as the London Times and the London Daily News, who had cabled to their respective newspapers the story of his changed attitude. Australia should know exactly what our policy is. Is it to be one thing to-day and another to-morrow? Is it to be changed a few moments after the arrival of the Minister for External Affairs at meetings of the United Nations, in Washington, London or elsewhere as it was changed soon after his arrival in Tokyo, or is it to remain a consistent policy with the general security of Australia its foremost objective? I should not mind how many people were sent abroad or at what cost if they were doing a real job in developing goodwill between Australia and other nations. In the final analysis, a foreign policy for Australia should mean that in a time of crisis Australia should be able to know its friends and where they are. That is the objective of a foreign policy, not one what is “being made for Australia by a, forgive my use of the word, posturer like the Minister for External Affairs. He is more concerned with being president of the United Nations Assembly and acclaimed in the world press than with the real good that he might do for this country. A thorough examination ought to be made of the whole subject of Australia’s foreign policy, especially in respect of the Ear East. In the last sessional period, I was one of those who consistently asked the Minister at question time whether he would constitute a parliamentary committee to go into the subject of the peace settlement with Japan. He evaded the subject every day, but, when the Parliament had risen, he constituted such a committee and with complete affront to the leaders of the party-
– Order ! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- 1 should not have risen but for the fact that we have heard from two ex-Ministers now in Opposition speeches which did no credit to the Parliament of Australia. First of all, the honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Spender), who at one time was Minister for the Army-
– And a colonel, too!
– I am not worrying about his rank. He went overseas, on one occasion when the situation in the battle for North Africa and the battle for Britain was very serious. He stayed at a hotel at Gaza, 35 miles away from the battle of .Bardia, and then returned to Australia and said that he had won the battle.
– That is quite untrue. I rise to order, Mr. Chairman. I do not mind any attacks made in this chamber even by some-
– I rise to order, Mr. Chairman. I. draw your attention to the fact-
– Order ! The honorable member for Warringah is entitled to state his point of order.
– The point of order is two-fold. First, it is not competent, in debating an item of the Estimates, to engage in a personal attack on any person.
– What is the honorable member’s point of order? He is not entitled to make a speech when speaking to a point of order.
– Unless the remarks of an honorable member have a bearing on the item of the Estimates before the committee, they are inadmissible. Secondly, on a point of personal explanation-
– Order! The honorable member is not entitled to make a personal explanation at this stage.
– I take exception to a mis-statement of fact by the honorable member for Lang (Mr. Mulcahy), which be knows to be-
– Order ! The honorable member is trying to make a speech. I ask him to state his point of order.
– The point of order is that the remarks of the honorable member for Lang have no relevance to any item of the Estimates.
– I think the honorable member’s remarks have been as close to the murk as were those of the honorable member fo’r Warringah when he spoke.
– I am connecting an item of expenditure in the Estimates now before the committee with an item that appeared when the honorable member for Warringah was Minister for the Army. A great deal has been said about the Australian delegation that attended the International Labour Conference and about the movements of Senator Amour, who has no right of reply in this chamber. If the honorable senator were in a position to reply here, the honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Spender) and the honorable member for Richmond (Mr. Anthony) would have been more careful of their statements. The honorable senator has a very fine war record. He was permanently disabled in World Wai- I.
– That has nothing to do with what I said about him.
– The honorable member started “ slinging mud “. He has no right to belittle the honorable senator in this chamber. The honorable member referred to some statement by Senator Amour that is supposed to have been reported in some country newspaper in Eire of which I have never heard. Perhaps this newspaper is like some of those conducted by the Australian Country party, which misrepresent the Labour party. At all events, a great portion of the reported statement quoted by the honorable member for Warringah does great credit to Australia. Recently, the honorable member for Warringah went abroad “ under his own steam “. He made statements overseas with which I, and many other people in Australia, did not agree. I have not heard of any speech made by him overseas that would do any credit to this country. I know that the honorable gentleman went to Buckingham Palace, and he did a lot of “ crawling “ to get there, too. The honorable member for Richmond, after his usual fashion, took advantage of the immunity conferred upon members of this chamber and used language which was personally offensive to somebody. He took up the cudgels for the honorable member for Warringah. He did himself no credit, because Senator Amour has a war record which neither the honorable member for Richmond nor anybody else in this chamber possesses. Senator Amour would never say anything to decry either Australia or the British Empire. Whatever statements he made overseas were a credit to him. He belongs to a party that did not put over 700,000 unemployed people on the streets of Australia. Only after Senator Amour and others like him were elected to this Parliament were we able to bring the people of this country back to a state of semi-prosperity in the days preceding World War II. I shall not say more about this regrettable affair other than to express the hope that this will be the last time that former Ministers of the Crown will rise in this chamber and set a very bad example to others.
– In the latter part of his speech, the honorable member for Richmond (Mr. Anthony) raised a question which is of vital interest to the Australian people and the Australian Parliament, namely, the circumstances in which the representation of Australian and British interests has been carried out in Japan since the war with that country terminated. At present, we know that there has been a quarrel, or at any rate a rift, between the Minister for External Affairs (Dr. Evatt) and his former accredited Minister in Tokyo. However, before I discuss that affair, I should like to know in what circumstances that appointment to Tokyo was made. First, I shall make a comparison. When relations between Australia and Japan were at a difficult stage before the outbreak of war in the Pacific, the Australian . Government at the time decided to become diplomatically represented in the Japanese capital. The man selected for appointment was a man of experience, a statesman in the best sense of the word - the then Chief Justice of the High Court. I believe that he did an excellent job on behalf of Australia in Tokyo. At the conclusion of hostilities, Australia was called upon, in its own interests, to be properly represented at Genera] MacArthur’s headquarters. I remind honorable members that our representative at Tokyo to-day is associated not with the Japanese Government, but with the head-quarters of the general who is in charge of the occupation of Japan for the time being. Our association with the Government of Japan will not occur until ;such time as peace between Australia -«nd Japan is formally concluded. I -understand also that the British Government was represented at General MacArthur’s head-quarters. First, I should like to know in what circumstances and on what grounds the appointment of Australia’s Minister was made. I have put this question to many persons in various parts of Australia : “ Had you ever heard of our representative before he was appointed to Tokyo ? “ and to date, I have not met a person who could admit to having known anything about him. I am speaking of him personally, but I contend that, in the circumstances which confronted, us in relation to Japan at the conclusion of the war, the interests of Australia demanded that a first rate, front ranking man should have been sent there to represent s, the more so because by some means, the mechanics of which are at present secret to us, our man was soon selected for, or was projected into the position of, representing all British interests in Tokyo. I am not surprised that some rift developed between the Minister for External Affairs and his representative in Japan. Any surprise on my part is that such an appointment was ever made, because, despite searches, I could not find any justification whatsoever for such an appointment. That statement goes also for a number of overseas appointments that the Minister for External Affairs has made. If we are to be represented overseas, there are many walks of life in Australia from which men of firstclass capacity and with excellent records could be selected. In too- many cases, the men selected appear to have no recommendation other than that they are acceptable to the Minister for External Affairs. That is not everything in these matters.
I point to another interesting item, which relates to our representation in the United .States of America. So that there shall be no doubt as to what I am saying, I have checked up with documents in the library, including the Year-Booh and the Foreign Office list. In the United States of America, we are represented by one ambassador, one minister, one counsellor, one first secretary, three second secretaries and three third secretaries. The point which I want to make is : Why should we have in the United States of America an ambassador and a minister? In very few instances is the British Foreign Office represented by two men in any foreign capital city. No doubt, we have a certain volume of business of a diplomatic; character to transact in Washington, but I cannot by any stretch of the imagination, believe that the business which we have in Washington is to be compared with the business that the United Kingdom, France or Russia transact there. Yet it appears that in top ranking men at any rate, we are determined to paint the lily, and be over-represented. Last night, I had a good deal to say about the estimates of this department. If we were to examine them from beginning to end, no doubt we could spend a week in discussing them. Let us consider our consular representation. This matter’ comes under the Department of External Affairs. I should like some information, though I doubt whether it will be forthcoming, regarding consular representation overseas. At the outset, we should ascertain the various duties of our representatives. I heard a discussion here last night and again this morning which leads me to believe that certain honorable members think that a part of the duty of a diplomatic representative is to be a trade representative. I have always understood that diplomacy and commerce were kept as far apart as possible. The only time that the diplomat comes into commercial matters is when, as the diplomatic representative of his country, he is obliged to sign a trade treaty. In proof of that, I point out that we have in the United States of America and other countries a diplomatic staff in addition to our trade staff and consular staff. I have always understood that the duty of the consul in a foreign country is to look after the individual personal interests of his nationals in the country to which he is accredited. As the trade representative comes under the Department of Commerce and Agriculture, I can only refer to this matter in passing at this stage; but I inform honorable members that a trade representative is engaged in different activities altogether from those which the diplomatic representative undertakes. Our diplomatic, consular and trade representation is spread over the world. Australia is represented in New York, the Philippines, the Netherlands East Indies, San Francisco, Siam, New “Caledonia, Portugese Timor, and Shanghai. For some reason which I do not understand, some of our trade representatives are not listed in the Estimates. Whether they are drawing salaries, I do not know. However, trade representatives have one distinct job to do. If the consular representatives are engaged on trade representation, these items in the Estimates are under the wrong heading, and furthermore, the consuls are engaged in duties which are not normally the activity and function of consular representatives. Before we go further in our representation abroad, we require a clear-cut statement from the Government as to what it considers to be the respective duties of its various representatives overseas.
Last night, I pointed out to the Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley) - I did not get a reply from him - that all our high commissioners with the exception of one, come under the Department of External Affairs. The exception is the High Commissioner accredited to His Majesty’s Government in the United Kingdom, and he comes under the Prime Minister’s Department. I should like to know why such a distinction should be drawn between the activities of our High Commissioner in the United Kingdom, and our high commissioners in South Africa, India or Canada. Why is one responsible to the
Prime Minister and the others- to the Minister for External Affairs? These are questions which, to my mind, require sorting out. To date, we have been singularly uninformed about them. The Minister for External Affairs is absent from Australia, fixing up the affairs of this world, and probably of the next world if he can arrange inter-planetary travel. However, his department has a man-sized job to explain to this Parliament the matters which I have raised. Personally, I believe that the department is hopelessly overgrown and overstaffed, and it is becoming the greatest “Meddlesome Mattie “ and mischief-maker that the Commonwealth has ever produced. That is saying a good deal.
.- The honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Spender) directed attention to the utterances of Senator Amour in Eire. The honorable member pointed out that while the honorable senator was abroad, he is alleged to have made public statements which are untrue and damaging to Australia. He made those statements in his capacity as a representative of Australia, and he made them in Eire, a country in which Australia is represented by a Minister, whose expenses and emoluments of office appear in the Estimates. What I want to know is, what control does the Minister exercise, or purport to exercise, over statements made by visiting supporters of the Government when they reflect on the people of Australia - as they did in this case - and create, a false and damaging impression of this country?
That leads me to inquire, what is the function of a diplomatic representative abroad, and, in particular, of one in Eire? As the honorable member for Warringah pointed out, our representation in Eire has nothing to do wilh trade. All the Ministers who have been mentioned- are holding diplomatic positions, and their functions do not concern trade. For the purpose of promoting trade we maintain consuls and trade commissioners in certain countries. However, the gentleman who occupies the position of Australian High Commissioner in Eire is not a commercial agent, nor are his functions of a commercial nature. I should have thought that one of his functions was to effect an exchange of views between the two governments on matters of high importance, to preserve peace when peace between the two countries is endangered, and, generally, to represent Australia on matters of high political importance in the best possible way. The country to which he is accredited is a comparatively small one, having an area of only 17,000,000 acres, compared with Australia’s area of about 2/100,000,000 acres. Its population is less than 3,000,000 which is considerably smaller than our limited population of 7,500,000. It has an industrial potential which is trifling compared with that of Australia, although even our potential is small by some world standards. Eire is, in fact, a small country, and is, in world affairs, a very unimportant one. No doubt, in the eyes of the people who live there it is very important, just as Australia appears important in the eyes of Australians. Eire must be ranked as one of the least important countries of the world, and yet Australia has sent there a representative who costs the taxpayers of this country approximately £10,000 a year. The salary paid to our representatives in the United States of America, Russia, France, and Canada, is £2,500 per annum each. I mention those countries to indicate a few of the more important ones in which we are represented. They are all large and powerful nations, and yet it costs us no more in salary to be represented in those countries than it does to be represented in Eire. I suggest that this proposed vote is altogether out of proportion, and that the ambition which some people have to expand Australia’s representation abroad, irrespective of its needs, is quite unjustifiable. The gentleman who occupies the position of High Commissioner to Eire is one who might be said to- be quite undistinguished, but he was, of course, a very good and faithful member of the Australian Labour party. He receives a salary of £2.500 a year, he has an expense allowance of an additional £2,500, entirely tax free, and he occupies a mansion which cost the taxpayers of this country approximately £9,000 to purchase. All this expenditure is incurred for representation in a country which I have endeavoured to explain, without any offence to it, is a very small and unimportant one. I said previously that T believe .that a diplomatic representative has nothing to do with trade, but is mainly concerned with the preservation of peace “between the countries concerned. Is peace endangered between Eire and Australia? I should have thought not; I should have thought that notwithstanding the traditional temperament of the Irish people there is no danger to peace. On the contrary, good relations have always existed between the two countries - indeed, if one is to believe the newspaper account which was read in this House a short time ago, the happiest relations exist between the two countries. Needless to say, I hope, and we all hope, that that relationship will continue. What I am pointing out, however, is that on no reasonable basis can this appointment be justified. Another purpose of a diplomatic representative abroad is to effect the exchange of communications on matters of vital importance to the countries concerned. What are the vital issues affecting Eire and Australia? What are the matters on which the two countries desire to exchange views on a high political level? The maintenance of a diplomatic representative in Eire costs this country more than £10,000 a year, but I can ascertain no reason to justify that expenditure. Certainly, since I have been a member of this House I have not seen, heard, or read of anything which could justify it. I say that there are no matters likely to arise between the two countries which require the presence- in Eire of a diplomatic representative, and that if any should arise communication could be effected by telegram, or - unless it is repugnant to Kiri - by correspondence between the United Kingdom, Eire and this country.
– It is only a job !
– The honorable member says that it is only a job, and that is no doubt partly true. I have tried to express myself temperately, and I say that the real reason for these appointments is the desire to create jobs, coupled with the fetish for expanding a department and affording its representation overseas, whether that be necessary or not, so as to blow ourselves up and make ourselves appear big when we are. in fact, really only small. How is the public to regard this matter? “Will they say, and we, as their representatives, say, “ It is a good thing to send people to Eire and elsewhere, whether we need them or not”? If they, and we, do accept that viewpoint the Government will take advantage of it to make appointments to all sorts of tinpot places abroad, countries at which Australia has no real reason to be represented. I believe that the whole matter of foreign representation should be scrutinized, not from the point of view of what pleases the vanity of Australians, or from the standpoint that it might be a very nice thing to have a big department costing £75,000 a year and employing 100 representatives abroad, but from consideration of the actual number of people needed to preserve peace and to afford dignified representation abroad. For the reasons I have indicated, I believe that the appointment of a High Commissioner to Eire is utterly unjustifiable, that the expenditure of £10,000 a year which is involved is unwarranted, and that the same criticism applies to two other appointments abroad which involve the expenditure of £13,000 and £25,000 a year respectively.
.- I agree completely with the idea of preserving friendly relations with other countries, particularly as I believe that our public relations generally in the past have been notably bad. Much has been said about the excessive costs of the legation staffs in Brazil and Chile, and with that I thoroughly agree. I can see no real justification for maintaining staffs in Brazil and Chile while getting no results from them. The honorable member for Calare (Mr. Howse) was quite right when he said that we should cut down those staffs. But I also agree with the statement of the honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Spender), that where the legations and trade representatives are producing effective results they should not be beggared for finance. The real objection is that nothing whatsoever is being done in Argentina, which is one of our great trade competitors. It produces a vast quantity of meat and wheat, and is now threatening to become a competitor of ours in the realm of fruit. That is a country in which we should establish a legation, as well as, definitely, a trade representative, so that we may be kept closely informed on those matters. The money that is being expended in Brazil and Chile might well be expended in Argentina.
I certainly agree with the principle of sending members of Parliament overseas, because I believe that in many instances those members are afterwards better people f or having travelled abroad. The travel broadens their minds, and in the long run has a most beneficial effect on the country. But I cannot quite agree with the idea of Ministers and members being accompanied by their families.
– What Minister was accompanied by his family?
– The Minister for Air (Mr. Drakeford).
– One member of his family was a part of his staff.
– That member of his family was appointed to his staff only just before he left. The Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley) should give us the details of those visits; they might be very interesting.
My last point relates to the Bulgarian Peasant party leader, Petkov. The Prime Minister has said that he has no details of this case upon which he could justify a statement to the country, but that the British Government has them. Why can he not get them from the British Government, and then make a statement to the world in general, showing exactly where Australia stands in this matter?
– Or where Britain gets its information from.
.- I rise at this stage of the debate only to stress an aspect which I believe has not been mentioned so freely by honorable members who have spoken, as has been the matter of undue expenditure on legations and consular establishments in various countries throughout the world. We all are troubled by the growth of the expenditure of this department, and members have rightly asked whether Australia is securing results commensurate with the increased costs. But that aspect is not the one which concerns me most. The aspect pf the ^conduct of the Department of
External Affairs which troubles me is the dissipation of effort by ,the Minister (Dr. Evatt), and by those who ,are closely associated with him in the work of the department, because of Australia’s membership of so many international organizations. I had something to say on (his subject last week, when we were debating the statement on foreign affairs that had been tabled by the Minister. I desire now to add a few words to what I.’ then said.
The Minister has shown a great deal of energy, which might ,be described as commendable had his vision gone somewhat further beyond the work of creation and had extended to the objectives of the task, of which the establishment of “legations and the appointment of representatives to those various organizations represent only the first steps. In the result, I believe that Australia, which, prior to 1940, had a very meagre representation abroad, now has, in terms of mechanics, a very complete representation Abroad. We are represented in seventeen countries by consular or diplomatic officials, and I understand that we have representation in four countries to deal with the special post-war problems that are arising there. I refer to Japan, Malaya, the Netherlands East Indies, and Germany. In addition, we are represented on at least 21 international organizations. As I mentioned last week, the objectives of those organizations are eminently worthy. One does not quarrel with their objectives, with their titles, or with the principles to which they subscribe. But in the result, we are finding that many really serious problems, which are of great concern to Australia and to the British Commonwealth generally, are being ignored, because of the concentration of effort on what are, in the main, matters of debate and procedural content rather than matters of great principle.
The closest and gravest problem which faces Australia, at any time is the maintenance of our trade and diplomatic relations with Great Britain. No one could fairly claim that our trade or diplomatic relations with Great Britain have been, assisted in recent years by the work of the Department of External Affairs. There has been a great deal of work. Tn- evitably, a tremendous volume .of detailed and organizational work .must .be associated with those international conferences. There has ,been recognition by .the Prime Minister of New Zealand, Mr. Frazer- reported, I believe, only last week, or certainly in very recent times - pf the fact that there are far too many conferences, and that they are becoming a burden which cannot indefinitely be carried. Work is being done in those conferences; but the results - with which, after all, we are primarily concerned - are not, I believe, such as can be said to justify all the effort and expense that are being put into them. If we consider, for example, the situation which exists between Australia and Great Britain we shall realize that vast possibilities for trade are not being fully developedGreat Britain is maintaining trade barriers against Australia, just as Australia is maintaining similar barriers against Great Britain. Those barriers have not been erected as the result of debate in this Parliament, or in the House of Commons; they are arbitrary barriers set up for various purposes by government departments. I believe that far better resultS would be achieved from one conference between the various members of the British Commonwealth of Nations than from a number of international gatherings. The menace implicit in the present situation is that, instead of dealing with problems as they arise between ourselves and other parts of the Empire, and our trade friends such as the United States of America and France, we are relying upon international agencies to find solutions for us. Instead of acting for ourselves, we are hoping that out of this welter of discussion solutions will evolve. I do not believe that the results of the negotiations in respect of diplomatic and trade issues which have taken place during the last few years can inspire the hope that we may look with confidence for a solution of our problems in that way. M.7 prime criticism of the work of the Department of External Affairs, and of the Minister for External Affairs is that, instead of dealing closely and immediately with the problems which directly affect Australia - and the Indonesian situation is typical of them - we are looking to others to solve those problems for us.
Although we should give such support as we conveniently” can give to the various international organizations which have been established, our prime concern must be the solution of our own problems and the maintenance of the closest relations with those countries whose welfare is so intimately wrapped up with our own.
– I rise mainly to voice the protests of in any electors who have asked me to insist, on the floor of the Parliament, that details of the expenditure associated with the visits of members of Parliament overseas shall be supplied. I am aware that the Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley) has given an assurance that the information will be forthcoming, and I appreciate that in the aftermath of war more visits overseas are necessary than in prewar years, and, therefore, I do not quibble about visits being made by Australian,? to vital conferences. I also realize that the expenditure of the department must be higher than it was. Nevertheless, I voice the protests of those who demand details of the costs incurred in connexion with such visits, particularly by private members. I am reminded of the story of the dog which was being consigned from one place to another, but had chewed its label so that no one knew its destination. The analogy between that dog and some members who have been overseas is rather, striking. I have in mind particularly the meanderings of the honorable member for Martin (Mr. Daly). For five months he was absent from Australia, and no one seemed to know where he was. Australia did not know, the House did not know, and apparently the honorable member himself did not know. Detailed information concerning his movements should be given to the commit’tee. To what conferences was he a delegate; why was he away for five months? It would appear that the honorable member for Martin had chewed his label, and as a result wandered around the world at the expense of the taxpayers of Australia.
In the light of the remarks of the honorable member for Wide Bay (Mr. Corser) some photographs which I have with me are so interesting as to justify incorporation in Hansard if the committee so desires. In any event, I offer them to the Department of External Affairs in order that the Japanese writing on them, may be .deciphered. The first photograph shows Soekarno shaking hands with Tojo on the occasion when the former was decorated for the assistance g: veil by him to the Japanese when Australia was at war with Japan. The second photograph shows a number of Indonesians burning effigies of President Roosevelt and Mr. Churchill about the same time. 2 have no idea what the Japanese writing on the photographs means, but I do know that the action of the Government supporting the Indonesians against the Dutch, who proved faithful allies in the recent war, is worthy of condemnation. The third photograph appears to be one showing Soekarno delivering a. broadcast speech. I offer these photographs to the Parliament for incorporation in Hansard, if honorable members are sufficiently proud of Australia’s activities in support of the Indonesians to agree to that being done. As I have said, I should welcome ari interpretation of the Japanese writing on them so that I may know more of the meaning of these pictures. I pass the photographs to you, Mr. Temporary Chairman. The ex-serviceman who brought the original photographs from the Netherlands East Indies still has them in his possession. The photographs in my possession are copies taken by a local photographer. Duplicate copies can be supplied to honorable members who desire them. The remarks of the honorable member for Wide Bay concerning the disloyalty of Soekarno and his confederates are deserving of support. We should be critical of any assistance given by the Government to those who proved disloyal to the Allies and the cause of freedom for which so many Australians fought.
– One would expect, at a time when the world seems to be bordering on war. if one can judge by the challenges being issued by one great power to another, that the discussion on the Estimates of the Department of External Affairs would have been regarded as of sufficient importance to ensure a full attendance of honorable members. But what do we find ? I have sat in the chamber all day, and honorable members on the Government side of the chamber have been conspicuous by their absence. As I speak, only seven Government members, including Ministers, are in the chamber.
– I rise to order. Is it in order for the honorable member for Wentworth to reflect on the number of Government supporters in the chamber when, in addition to himself, there are only four Liberal members on the Opposition benches?
– I rise to order. The honorable member for Martin (Mr. Daly), following his custom, has made an incorrect statement. There are eight Liberals in the chamber.
– There is no point of order.
– There are fourteen members of the Opposition present. One would have thought that supporters of the Government would have participated in the debate, if only to try to justify the expenditure of the taxpayers’ money on a department which purports to lay down the foreign policy of Australia. The vote for the Department of External Affairs shows a considerable increase compared with the expenditure in previous years. I immediately ask myself, as should any honorable member concerned to watch the expenditure of money and the interests of the people, what results we are obtaining from present expenditure, and what we expect to gain from increased expenditure. Surely the primary function of the Department of External Affairs should be to cultivate peaceful relations with those countries in which Australia is likely to have an interest, and which are likely to be interested in Australia. I exclude for the moment the greater pattern of Empire representation, because, after all, we are an integral part of the British Empire, and our foreign policy should be closely linked with that of the United Kingdom. One would expect our foreign policy to be such as would cause satisfaction to the people of Australia, as well as to those of the United Kingdom and of the Empire generally, but is that so? Are the people of the United Kingdom satisfied with the results? Has any satisfaction been expressed by the people of Australia with our foreign policy? As we all know, the contrary is the fact. The lack of interest shown by honorable members opposite in this debate points to the fact that the foreign policy of Australia is determined by one man, and one only. Honorable members opposite sit and listen silently to criticism of their Government’s foreign policy. Why? Because one man determines the foreign policy of this Government, and he is nearly always absent when a debate on foreign affairs takes place.
– The honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. Harrison) was compulsorily absent during the greater part of the debate.
– The Minister for ! Defence (Mr. Dedman) has got himself into so much trouble lately that it would be better for him to keep quiet. He is now sticking his neck out again, and I suggest that he should withdraw it. If we examine what has been done by the Minister for External Affairs, we find that, instead of trying to bring about peaceful relations between Australia and other countries, he has just done the reverse. He has alined himself with the small nations against those countries which alone can ensure the peace of the world. .He is stirring up discontent against those nations whose friendship we should cultivate, and he is doing this in the hope that he might get an extra paragraph in the newspapers, that he might be hailed as a great Australian, one who is bringing a fresh point of view to bear on foreign affairs. The fresh point of view which he is bringing to bear cuts across the traditional policy of the Empire, and is at variance with Australia’s own policy of the last 150 years. His behaviour at the United Nations Assembly and in Japan has created a position of danger for Australia. It was intended that we should strip the Japanese of their armaments, curtail their economic development, and purge those Japanese who were associated with the promotion of war against the Western democracies.
Australia had a representative in Japan, Mr. Macmahon Ball, who was qualified to state fairly the opinion of the people of Australia and Britain. While the Minister was in Australia, thousands of miles away from the scene of action, he was ready to commend Mr. Macmahon Ball for what he did, but it wa3 different when the Minister went to Japan itself. The J apanese are quick to seize upon the possibility of friction among the powers in control there. They know that Russia occupies the greater part of Korea, and certain islands which bring them close to Japan itself. They know that Japan must be protected against Russian aggression, either by the western nations, or by the Japanese themselves, who, in that case, would have to be permitted to establish their own defences. The Japanese will try to play off one nation against another. Although they are due for a hard peace, they knowthat, because of the present international setup, the western countries may be forced to concede them an easy peace, so nhat they will be a buffer between the Communists in the north and other peoples to the south. There has : been a strong tendency on the part of the United States of America to exploit the position in Japan, and Mr. Macmahon Ball was strong enough to stand up for the interests of Britain and of the Empire. Then the Minister for External Affairs flew to Japan and, instead of supporting our representative, ha<d an audience with General MacArthur, and almost immediately afterwards our representative, who only a few days before had earned the Minister’s encomiums, resigned. Why ? Because he could not work with the Minister; because he found that the Minister would not “ stay put “ in regard to matters of policy from one hour to another. That was the result of Australia dabbling in matters in which it had no experience, of cutting across the policy of the British people as followed for decades.
According to the Estimates, it is proposed to expend £22,000 on Australian representation in the Netherlands East Indies, an increase of £8,2S2. As I have said, the first function of the Department of External Affairs should he to preserve peaceful relations with those countries in which we are represented, but I wonder whether the Dutch people will consider that our behaviour in regard to the Netherlands East Indies is likely to promote friendly relations. Australia’s action in this regard is an indictment of the Department of External Affairs. This Government, which purports to have a foreign policy, has had the power taken out of its hands by a batch of waterside workers. It is they who determine whether Australians should load Dutch ships, or whether medical and other relief supplies should be sent to the people of the Netherlands East Indies. It is they who determine whether peaceful relations will be maintained between Australia and our erstwhile allies, the Dutch. They, and nobody else, determine those things. And what do we find ? The Government, when faced with the proposition whether it should allow military sanctions to be imposed upon the Dutch - because the prohibition actually amounted to military sanctions - or whether it should exercise its right as a government to maintain peaceful relations with another, showed itself too weak to resist the pressure of the supreme economic council spoken of so glibly at the congress of Australian trade unions held in 1921. We saw in action in the banning of Dutch ships an authority of the very kind which the right honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Soullin) proposed should be established to take the place of Parliament.
– 1 ask the honorable member to relate his remarks to the question before the Chair.
– My remarks relate directly to the proposed vote of £22,100 in respect of Australia’s representation in the Netherlands East Indies. It is my duty to point out whether that expenditure is being used to maintain peaceful relations between Australia and the Netherlands East Indies. I am also pointing out that the determination of Australia’s foreign, policy insofar as the Netherlands East Indies is concerned has been taken out of the hands of the Government, and that such a development is part and parcel of the plot evolved at the conference of Australian trade union* held in 1921.
– I ask the honorable member not to proceed along those lines. He must confine his remarks to the items of the Estimates now before the Chair.
– These Estimates are in respect of the Department of External Affairs. If the Minister who controls the department is not prepared to exercise his right through the Parliament to implement Government policy, but allows some outside body to determine the Government’s policy, the committee should refuse to agree to the proposed vote of £22,100 in respect of our representation in the Netherlands EastIndies. It must be obvious that if we are expending money in the Netherlands East Indies to preserve peaceful relations with that country, we should not allow anybody who is not responsible to the Australian people to impose military sanctions on that nation. The right to apply military sanctions, or sanctions of any kind, is the very essence of the foreign policy of any government. However, military sanctions have been applied against the Netherlands East Indies and honorable members opposite who have spoken in this debate have made it quite obvious that the Government is prepared to abdicate that field. One cannot wonder at that, when the arch-priest, the Minister for External Affairs himself, has gone so far to contribute to the unrest of the world as to challenge directly the major powers and set one against the other by supporting other countries who may, or may not, be in any other bloc, and who do not play any important part in the maintenance of world peace. When we find the Minister so recreant to his trust, and not prepared to foster the peace of the world, but preferring to seek limelight out of some new venture and sacrificing those who speak on behalf of the Empire, whilst at the same time under pressure from a band of militants, the Government abdicates its right to determine foreign policy, all of the money sought under these Estimates should bo refused by the Parliament until the Minister explains of what value this expenditure will be to Australia.
.- As previous speakers have pointed out, the cost of maintaining the Department of External Affairs has skyrocketed to fantastic heights. I do not believe that Australia is receiving any worthwhile return for the money being expended under this heading. The Minister for External Affairs (Dr. Evatt), who has gone overseas on so many occasions that we are almost inclined to forget that he is a member of this Parliament, has used his opportunities as our representative overseas merely to try to put himself on the map as a world figure. He has not been prepared to consider the interests of this country, or those of the Empire as a whole. Before attending overseas conferences, the Minister should have consulted with the British Government and the governments of other dominions, with a view to coming to agreement” with respect to policy. Instead, he has endeavoured to be the leader of the small nations. He has endeavoured to be the leader of some of those South America]) “ shows “. I would not call them anything else. Their representatives are only showmen, and very poor showmen at that. They are of the type one sees at circus sideshows. The Minister for External Affairs has used those people for his own personal aggrandizement, and in some cases to defeat proposals put forward by the British Government, supported by the major dominions.
The Government’s policy in relation to Indonesia has been determined at the behest of certain communistic members of the Waterside Workers Union. It is a disgrace for any country to support the Indonesian republicans. It is doubly a disgrace that Australia should do so when we consider that but for the protection of a section of the Dutch fleet, supported by a very small number of Australian vessels, a force of Japanese would have landed in Australia in the recent war. That Dutch fleet, which was led by a Dutch admiral, sank half a dozen Japanese transports, each of which carried not 300 or 400, but from 3,000 to 4,000 Japanese troops. That Dutch admiral went into battle knowing that he was going to his death and that his force would be destroyed; but he thought the cost worth while. Every Dutch ship engaged was sunk. On the other hand, how did these brave Indonesians treat our servicemen who managed to reach their shore? They murdered them in cold blood, or tortured them ; and handed over survivors to the master torturers, the Japanese. When some of our service nurses struggled ashore after their hospital ship had been torpedoed on the coast of Java, what did these brave Indonesians do to them. They ravished and murdered about half of them, and handed over the remainder to the Japanese for even worse treatment. Those are the people whom Healy and his waterside workers are defending to-day. Those are the people whose part this Government has taken, and whose case it has brought before the United Nations. The Government practically ordered FlightLieu.tenant MacDonald, of Victoria, to go back to Java, where he had carried ou,t a very fine job in trying to discover what had become of certain members of our Army, Navy and Air Force and a number of our Army nurses. Two other gallant officers, Captain McKenzie, of the infantry, and Squadron Leader Burchell, were sent back to endeavour to find out what had happened to those personnel. They knew there would be very little chance of finding any of them alive, but they did their best to ascertain what had happened to them and if possible to bring the criminals to justice. They were promised safe conduct by the Indonesians, but were ambushed, murdered and torn to pieces, as no Malayan tiger would tear its kill, by the people upon whose behalf this Government is so solicitous. These are the people who, to-day are described by honorable members opposite as members of a wonderful race. If Dutch troops were withdrawn from Indonesia .tomorrow there would be as great a bloodbath in that country as is now taking place in India. The Minister for External Affairs urged the British Government to withdraw its troops from India and Egypt, and I have no doubt he is now doing his utmost to encourage it to withdraw British troops from Palestine. If the British Government and the people have ever done anything to merit their destruction it has been the withdrawal of British protection from India, leaving the millions of innocent people there to be slain by the murder gangs operating throughout that country. Some 60,000,000 “untouchables “ who have never carried arms have been left as helpless as sheep handed over to the slaughterer. The Minister for External Affairs has allied himself with men like Lasky, the Austrian-Jewish president of the British Labour party, and other Polish professors in demanding the withdrawal of British troops from. India. God knows we ha;ve had enough of professors.
– God did not stand for racial discrimination.
– The Minister has always preached the White Australia policy, and if there be any greater racial discrimination than that I do not knowit. In common with other British nations we have a responsibility for the plight in which India now finds itself. We should have played no part in this cowardly withdrawal.
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN I ask the honorable member to confine his remarks to the vote for the Department of External Affairs.
– I should think that any one would understand that this matter of the withdrawal of British troops from India and Egypt touches the administration of the Department of External Affairs. Mr. Winston Churchill, the greatest statesman the Empire has seen in the last generation, said that he was not prepared to take any part in the liquidation of the British Empire. Notwithstanding the fact that many a good Australian and many a brave Britisher has given his life to uphold British rule in India and Palestine, the people of those countries are being abandoned by the United Kingdom Government with the full approval of the Minister for External Affairs. That men like Laski and Shinwell are traitors to their country is evidenced by the statements they made during the war of 1914-18 and since.
I cannot understand the need to establish legations in countries like Brazil and Chile, little “ one-horse shows “, whore Australia’s interests could very well be served by a trade representative. Very soon we shall find similar legations established in Honduras and Panama. Undoubtedly a great portion of the tremendous cost of Australian representation aboard is being incurred in an attempt to build up the Minister for External Affairs as a world figure.
– No one would question the soldierly valour of the honorable member for
Bendigo (Mr. Rankin). For his soldierly qualities we all respect and admire him, but his reckless and foul attacks this afternoon, not only on the Minister for External Affairs (Dr. Evatt), but also on the people of many countries in the world, can only be described as of the lowest and most contemptible nature. The honorable member asks why did not the Minister for External Affairs consult with the British Government in regard to the attitude he has taken on important international problems.
– And with the representatives of the other dominions.
– I inform the honorable member, and I am sure the honorable member for Indi (Mr. McEwen) will concur, that at the conference of the United Nations at Ran Francisco in 1945 the right, honorable gentleman’s discussions with representatives of the British Government and ‘of the governments of the British dominions were not only frequent but also most friendly. The practice of free consultation has been followed throughout. The honorable member stands condemned as a purveyor of falsehoods and an instigator of foul attacks on a man who in the sphere of interRational affairs has distinguished himself as greatly as has the honorable member for Bendigo on the field of battle. The honorable member referred to Brazil and Chile as “ one-horse shows “, apparently regarding the inhabitants of those countries as beneath his contempt. The Australian Government has sent its Minister for External Affairs to the general assemblies of nations, not because of any particular desire on the part of the Minister, but as the result of the statesmanship of Churchill, Roosevelt and Stalin, who, realizing the tremendous sacrifices that were being made on the battlefield, were determined that a gigantic effort should be made ‘ to save the youth of future generations from a similar catastrophe. To this end, there have been conferences of representatives of all nations regardless of their size or their responsibility in world affairs. As such gatherings were conceived in the brilliant minds of Churchill, Roosevelt and Stalin, surely it is only fitting that Australia should be represented. I have never before heard. such an outburst of unchristian platitudes - and I have listened to a good many - as that indulged in by the honorable member for Bendigo to-day. To those members of this Parliament who may be inclined to laugh at such serious matters, I say that if a world war should again break out, a contributing factor will have been the intolerant utterances and stupidity of individuals like the honorable member for Henty (Mr. Gullett) and the honorable member for Bendigo.
The honorable member for Bendigo referred to Australia’s attitude to the Indonesian problem. The fact is that the best efforts of this Government and of the Minister for External Affairs have been directed towards reaching a solution of the differences between the Indonesians and the Dutch. I assume that the honorable member for Bendigo, in World War I., and the honorable member for Henty, in World War II., believed that they were fighting for the principles for which the Churchills, the Roosevelts and the Stalins stood and amongst which was the right of smaller nations to guide their own destinies. The efforts of the Minister for Externa] Affairs and of the Government to bring peace to Indonesia are to be applauded. I could repeat what, was told to me about the Indonesian situation and the background of the contending parties by a man who visited the Netherlands East Indies and who unfortunately has since lost his life, but it is wiser, at this stage, that I should not do so. We can only hope that the efforts of the Minister for External Affairs and this Government to bring about peace in that country will be successful and that honorable members opposite will show evidence of a greater sense of responsibility than they have exhibited in the making of reckless statements in the past. I trust that the Indonesian problem will be solved, not only to the satisfaction of the native inhabitants, but also of the race that has co-operated with the Indonesians and developed their country in the past 300 years. I feel that my remarks on this matter are fully justified in reply to the intemperate utterances of the honorable member for Bendigo.
– The Minister for Commerce and Agriculture (Mr. Pollard) has worked himself up into a frenzy, but I am sure that he himself does not believe one iota of the unrealistic nonsense that he has uttered. He is fully aware that in the event of a war the small nations, on whose behalf he made a plea, would be protected once again by the Anglo-Saxons as they have been since time immemorial. From the point of view of defence, they are not worth a “ bumper “. The Anglo-Saxon race has held its place in the universe, not only because of its sound ideology, but also because of its ability to keep its powder dry and to protect the small peoples against the inroads of powerful nations that have endeavoured to dominate world affairs. I hope that the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture, who I am sure is world-minded, because of his visits abroad, will be able to exert his influence upon other members of the Government.
I wish to refer now, in a geographical sense, to the allocations of money that are being made for Australian representation overseas. First, there is South Africa. Undoubtedly we have a right to representation in that country. To our far north lies China, and I am pleased to see that the sum of £60,500 has been provided for the Australian Legation at Chungking. I regard our diplomatic representation in China as being second in importance to that in the English-speaking countries. I do not think anyone will quarrel with the proposal to maintain our contacts with the Chinese people, and I congratulate the Government upon taking this matter seriously. For Shanghai, the lesser sum of £4,000 is being provided. I am pleased also that Australia is to have representation in the Netherlands East Indies, which to-day is a most troubled land. Conflicting ideologies are creating serious problems, and unfortunately the Australian “ commos “ have alined themselves with the more violent faction. It is deplorable that Government supporters have so little geographical sense that they have participated in this debate only when a member of the Opposition has lifted a scab or dug down to a fistula: ls this a robot government? Are the measures that have been advocated by the Opposition for the defence of Australia and for the preservation of peace in the
Far East generally not worthy of consideration? Have we been speaking in an un-Australian manner or is the robot government too ashamed to reply, or too intent upon vote-cadging for the next elections? Is the Government afraid of the Opposition?
Great Britain has walked out of Egypt and transferred its interest to South Africa. That is an example that we could well follow from a defence point of view. Our silly external policy is hunting good Australians out of New Guinea. They are going to Tanganyika to help to establish the defence quadrilateral from Africa across to China and down to the Netherlands East Indies to Darwin and across to the Solomons. ‘ Australia will not be able to go down on its knees to the United States of America next time as it did last time for help. As 1 see it Australia will have to look after itself. So we should seriously consider what the Government’s ideas are about. Japan. Honorable members on this side have exposed the variance between the Minister for External Affairs and some senior members of his department like Mr. Macmahon Ball and Mr. Paul Hasluck, whose disagreement with him has led them to resign. There is no need for me to recapitulate that story, for it is known all over Australia. I do not wish to be unduly critical of the Minister for External Affairs. I pay him the compliment that he entered the Commonwealth Parliament with an idealistic outlook, but his ideals have now run away with him, and he does not know what ideology he sponsors. The disagreements he has had with senior officers of the department and the way he is acting generally, compel me to say that the only word that describes him is “ enigma “. We do not know what he is going to do next. The Parliament is not consulted. It is paradoxical that this man of high attainment and education is putting his genius to such queer use. The young representatives that we send to Japan come back with mixed views. No wonder I They have never been under the Japanese. They were sent to Japan after the war to form their opinions. To learn the opinions of the Japanese one must be taught by those who have been under them. I fear that we are on the wrong course if we treat the Japanese as civilized. They are barbarians. It will be 200 years before they will have been able to assimilate our way of life, our democracy. No white man can. get inside the Japanese mind. Not even the Indians could, and they got nearer to it than we did.
It disturbed me to see the photographs produced by the honorable member for Maranoa (Mr. Adermann). Our friend Dr. Soekarno is a mongrel. He collaborated with the Japanese. Yet he is the man that the Australian “ commos “ are supporting. But he is not the man that the Australian Parliament - should support. He and his Indonesian gangsters are trying to hunt the white man out of the Netherlands East Indies. It does not make sense that he should receive the least encouragement from any Australian. That he has been allowed to receive encouragement is a reflection on the Government. It lacks intestinal fortitude. The photographs that the honorable member for Maranoa produced prove that the wise course for the Australian Government to follow lies in supporting the Dutch, certainly not the Indonesians, who murdered our men captured in Java. It was announced recently that Judge Kirby was to go to the Netherlands East Indies to try to influence a settlement between Mie Dutch and the Indonesians. He is to be a member of a committee appointed for that purpose. That committee will not be complete unless a former prisoner of the Japanese accompanies it. Brigadier Blackburn should be chosen. Let Dr. Soekarno, the collaborator, be confronted by him. The former prisoners of war will be insulted if they are not represented. I know that their numbers are small, and that their cause is apt to be overlooked, but it is high time that it was espoused in the Commonwealth Parliament and taken seriously by the Government. Brigadier Blackburn was a prisoner in Java and it is the duty of the Government to send him back there with Judge Kirby. If it does not it will be ever to its shame. There are 70,000,000 Asiatics in the Netherlands East Indies. That is the area to which our foreign policy should pay closest attention. We should not wander all round the Pacific sending representatives to countries like Chile that are more or less foreign to us. I hope that the Prime Minister will see fit to send Brigadier Blackburn to Java with Judge Kirby to confront the man who collaborated with the Japanese against us and murdered our “ cobbers
.- I donot intend to go over the ground, already covered, but the Estimatespresent our annual opportunity of directing attention to what we regard asextravagances and mistakes in policy. A great deal of heat has been engendered in the discussion of the proposed vote for the Department of External Affairs. Brickbacks are as numerous as bouquets, naturally. There is a lot to admire in the Minister for External Affairs (Dr. Evatt), but many things happen that we cannot admire. I consider that the Department of External Affairs is on the right ground in training young men so well for the Australian Diplomatic Service, but a survey is needed of the number of legations that we have dotted around the world like post offices in capital cities. Some, particularly those in Brazil and Chile, are of questionable importance. If there is no trade for us in those parts, there is little diplomatic activity. Had a committee been set up as we have suggested time and time again, representing all political parties and both Houses of the Parliament, the External Affairs policy would not have got into such a state of unbalance as it has. The Government ought to give definite instructions to the Minister for External Affairs as to its policy in respect, of the Netherlands East Indies, because, within a day’s flight of Australia, misery, murder and torture are rampant. It is not so much the miseries of India and Europe that should concern ns as the situation in a country close to Australia’s shore. The attitude taken up by the Government has given great hurt to the Dutch. Australian waterside Communists, during the war, consorted with Indonesian Communists, and, suddenly, they brought their power to bear upon the Government, which has utterly failed to take proper action against them. I have seen Dutch ships sail from Australia without pilots. Dutch ships have had to be loaded and unloaded by Dutch evacuee children. In Java, Indians and
Chinese are being. tortured and slaughtered. T.he Dutch authorities aase trying to give a form, of selfgovernment to the. Indonesians, the majority of whom are loyal to the Dutch. They are striving to keep order., but lawless bands are creating disorder. The Dutch are the nearest white foreign friends that we have in the Pacific. They are our neighbours. They have been in the Netherlands East Indies for 350 years. Their record in colonization is as good as our own, or better if placed side by side with the way we treated the aborigines. They should not be treated in this scurvy fashion. While the Minister for External Affairs is attending the world’s councils there is work for him nearer home. There are some matters for him to investigate and some too for the Minister for the Interior (Mr. Johnson). Australian officers sent to Java to make investigations some time ago were murdered by the Indonesians. I do not know that their dependants have even been compensated. That matter was raised by the honorable member for Indi (Mr. McE’wen).
– They have not been.
– Those officers had splendid war records. They were murdered by the Indonesians. The Government seems, to have more considera- tion for the disloyal Indonesians than for the dependants of Australian officers murdered by them. Does the Minister for the Interior know that a ship called at Wyndham recently and that Indonesian members of its crew remained in that vicinity for nearly a month and helped themselves to whatever they wanted before they left ? I want to know all about that incident.. I have heard echoes of it and I know some of the facts, but I may not have heard all of them. lt seems that Indonesians have found that they can do just as they like in north-western Australia. I warn honorable members of the possibilities of this situation. The Minister should investigate the report immediately and obtain full information about it. There are teeming millions of people in Java,, but in New Guinea, the great rich territory which is our charge and which is being sadly mismanaged by this Government, there are only a few thousand white resi dents, about 2,000^.000 natives, in Australian, territory and an approximately equal number - no census has been taken there - in Dutch territory. There is nothing to prevent the Javanese from swarming into New Guinea and overflowing into Australian territory. These are problems which the Government should face. Instead of doing so, however, it audaciously sends its representatives to the other side of the world to say what ought to be done in Spain or in Brazil. There is more urgent work nearer home.
I am sure that the Minister for External Affairs believes that, in dotting Australian legations all over the globe, he is enhancing Australia’s- prestige. Nothing could be further from the truth. Older nations are mot impressed by such window dressing. Until recently, Great Britain carried out consular work in other countries on behalf of Australia without charge. If this Government is setting out to show other nations that it does, not admire Great Britain and that there is no close tie between it and Great Britain, then it- is succeeding only in injuring Great Britain and Australia and. far from gaining prestige,, is losing it. Here is a definite task for the Minister for External Affairs.. Let him salvage Australian! prestige with the Dutch in the Netherlands’ East Indies.. The headquarters of the Dutch Empire was trampled underfoot during- the- war. The heart was bombed out of Rotterdam, and Dutch colonies were occupied by enemy forces. Dutch women and children all know the effect of war. Nevertheless, this, Government has collaborated with Communist waterside workers in holding up ships carrying medical supplies and food that would have been distributed to both Indonesian and Dutch had the vessels been allowed to proceed. It. has allowed the. boycott to continue for about two years.. Honorable members should look at this matter apart from party politics. There should be no party limitations in respect of matters, of external policy. Australia should have continuity of foreign affairs policy such as exists in Great Britain. In the Mother Country, Conservative governments have given way to national governments, and national governments have given way to Labour governments, but the nation’s foreign policy has continued more or less unaltered. That should be so in Australia. We should consider Australia’s prestige above everything else. The prestige of some political party should not be allowed to dominate our policies.
The Minister for External Affairs should investigate Australian legations overseas and eliminate all those that are not necessary. He should send our best men to the most important places and confer with, the British Government on all matters of foreign policy so as to ensure a united Empire front in international affairs. If he does so, the Empire will be strengthened, Australia will be strengthened, and the whole world will benefit.
.- 1. believe that Australia should have full diplomatic representation abroad so long as we get full value for our money and full information from our representatives. It is necessary for us to have the most informed sources of information at our disposal for the benefit of our Ministers and our public servants. This situation can be brought about and a traditional foreign policy for Australia established only if we have continuity of service in our diplomatic corps. What is the situation within the Department of Externa] Affairs to-day? An examination shows that many representatives sent overseas by this Government remain at their posts for only a short time and then resign. Many of our representatives have not been appointed from the Public Service; they are not career diplomats, and frequently they disappear suddenly from the stage. Having done so, they make no reports to the Parliament or to the public at large. For instance, Mr. Slater returned after representing the Commonwealth in Russia, but made no statement to the general public. Mr. Maloney also failed to report to the Parliament on his return from Russia. I asked several times that he be allowed to report to all members of the Parliament because of his intimate knowledge of Russia and because of the circumstances of his return from that country, but he was allowed only to address caucus. That was not right. Surely the Parliament was entitled to hear what information he had to offer!
The taxpayers of Australia provide themoney for our diplomatic services, and therefore they are entitled to have all available information on international affairs. I object to the present policy of sending a man to a diplomatic post and then placing him in such an impossiblesituation, by means of contradictory orders, as happened with Mr. Paul’ Hasluck and Mr. Macmahon Ball, that he retires and returns to private life, with the result that his experience and knowledge are lost to the country. We have not the slightest chance of securing continuity of policy on international affairs while such administrative procedure ispermitted. It is of vital importance for the Government and the country to havethe full benefit of the services of such experienced officers. How can they supply us with the information to which we are entitled if they are not allowed to communicate with members of the Parliament or with the general public, either through the Government by means of reports or through public expressions of opinion? The Government would be well advised to canalize the activities of its external affairs authorities. It is more important to secure first-class information from a few important sources than to acquire virtually valueless information from unimportant places in all parts of the world. Owing to the way in which the Government is acting at present, a great deal of money is being wastefully expended on representation overseas.
The estimates of the Department of.” External Affairs for 1947-48 provide f oran expenditure of £1;032,000, which exceeds expenditure in 1946 by £270,000. We are to have diplomatic representation in the Philippines, Siam, New Caledonia, Portuguese Timor and Shanghai. The Department of Commerce and Agriculture is sending representatives to all of the places mentioned in the estimatesfor the Department of External Affairs,, but the whole cost of this service is estimated at only £150,000 for this year. I know that the Department of External’ Affairs is anxious that all of its representatives abroad should have special status and important titles. Nevertheless, I believe that Australia would be better served if the Government concentrated on combining diplomatic and commercial representation in places like
Siam, the Philippines and New Caledonia. Should we have a commercial representative or a diplomatic representative in New Caledonia? Is there a sovereign government there to which a diplomatic representative can be accredited ? Surely trade is of greater importance than diplomacy in such places!
Our commercial relations with the Philippines, for example, have not been properly developed. The honorable member for the Northern Territory (Mr. Blain) has repeatedly asked the Government why we do not send Australian cattle to the Philippines. However, despite our failure to take advantage of commercial opportunities in such territories, I find that the Government has wiped out all provision for commercial representation in the Philippines. The amount allotted for this purpose last year was £500. This year- the only allotment in respect of the Philippines is an amount of £4,000 for diplomatic representation. Which would give us a greater return - diplomatic representation or commercial representation? The diplomatic and trade representation abroad should be amalgamated in the interests of economy and efficiency. The majority of the commercial representatives of Australia overseas have been specially trained for their task. They have a thorough knowledge of Commonwealth departments, and the experience which they acquired abroad is invaluable to Australia in its dealing with other nations. Therefore, I am amazed to discover, for example, that no provision has been made for our commercial representation in Portuguese Timor. What country controls Portuguese Timor? Obviously, it is Portugal! What is the use of Australia having a diplomatic representative in Portuguese Timor? A better idea would be to have a diplomatic representative in Lisbon, where he could get the ear of the Prime Minister of Portugal. What our diplomatic representative in Portuguese Timor can do towards determining high matters of policy is almost worthless. During the war, high matters of policy affecting Portugese Timor were determined in Lisbon.
If we are to have efficient and adequate representation abroad, we must be prepared to pay reasonable salaries which will attract first-class men. When we send those representatives abroad, we should not starve them in the matter of allowances. They should not be asked to accept a grade inferior to that of other diplomatic entourages. If we concentrate upon being represented in the places that really matter, we should be able to manage that. What are the places that really matter? They are in the other British Dominions, the United States of America and certain other countries such as France. The most important of all are in the other British Dominions and the United States of America. Between the United Kingdom, the United States of America, South Africa, Canada and New Zealand, we should have a constant exchange of officers. The prospects of preserving peace during the next 50 years will not be bright if there is discord between the British Commonwealth of Nations and the United States of America. Therefore, we must devise a policy upon which we all can agree. Various aspects of that policy should be discussed when the policy is still fluid. As the Prime Minister stated, we were not consulted about the decision of the British to leave Palestine. We were merely informed of it. I believed that Australia had emerged from this “swaddling clothes” stage.
For many years we have asked to be consulted before decisions were made, and our requests were successful during World War II. Our opinions were sought at a stage when the policy was still fluid. That is the only time when our voice can really carry any weight. All our efforts should be devoted to putting into operation the system which 1 have advocated. During World War II. we were obliged to consolidate the whole of our resources, reserves and forces. In the United States of America, various authorities, such as the War Production Board, were established to make decisions regarding supplies of food and war materials. Australian representatives in America were in constant contact with Commonwealth Departments here, and we were able to influence decisions. If we were to adopt a similar policy in peace-time, the proposed huge expenditure, which is set down under “Miscellaneous” for the Department of
External Affairs to meet the cost of Australia’s representation on the International Trade organisation, would not he required. The present problems would have been ironed out in early discussions. There would only have been need for ministerial -consultation on five or six major matters of policy on which agreement ha9 not been obtained. Our representatives have attended the International Conference on Trade and Employment for approximately eight, months. “When they originally left Australia, we prophesied that their mission would not succeed. In the interval, they have stated that they were not able to give to us .any information about the discussions because nothing of any importance had happened. The present deadlocks will not be overcome unless the interested parties meet in conference at a time policy is being moulded. If we are unable to do that we shall not be able to agree upon a common policy.
Time is running against us. The longer the world remains in its present chaotic condition, food is withheld from Europe and war-disorganized countries are not rehabilitated, the stronger will grow the menace of communism. The difficulties of the democratic countries in fighting a war against those controlled by Communist despotism will be increased. For these reasons, I urge the Government, to examine this matter of co-ordinating, wherever possible, our diplomatic and commercial representation, especially in smaller countries where there is no sovereign government. In the other British dominions and the United States of America, every opportunity should be grasped to obtain a continual interchange of public servants who will know about policy proposals in the fluid stage. These men would enjoy the confidence of the Government, One of the public servants whom Australia sent abroad during “World “War II. is Mr. McCarthy, the permanent head of the Department of Commerce and Agriculture. He is held in the highest respect in America. His judgment and counsel are trusted absolutely by American officials, simply because they know him from his constant contact with them. That system must be expanded.
– I agree so wholeheartedly with what has just fallen from the right honorable member for Cowper (Sir Earle Page) that I would not occupy the time of the committee by discussing the matter if it were not for one fact, namely, that the representation of this country in the other British dominions and the diplomatic representation of Australia in foreign countries both began during the time of my own Prime Ministership, so that I do not speak as a critic of the system. But it is necessary for me to make a few observations about what has happened to the system so established. First of all, the Government, very properly in my opinion, has completed, or is in the process of completing, our representation, by high commissioners in other British dominions. That ‘is something of which I entirely approve. It was my own privilege to make the first of those appointments in the case of the High Commissioner to Canada, and it is a good thing that the process has continued. It has .been a very old thesis of mine for many years thai more and more attention should be paid to the mutual relations of the Dominions as among themselves. For a long time a great deal of energy was devoted to the solution of problems which arose between the United Kingdom and the several Dominions, and it is a good thing that we should now devote a little more time than we have in the past to discussing and arranging the relations between the Dominions themselves. Indeed, I should like to see the process go further; I should like very much to see established in each Dominion a small secretariat, embracing representatives of the other Dominions, so that we might always be in a position to exchange views on the spot.
– The right honorable gentleman suggests the establishment of an Empire secretariat? .
– The body which I have in mind would not be quite an Empire secretariat because, as the honorable .member appreciates, some of the Dominions - two in particular - are apprehensive of the idea of an Empire secretariat for the reason that they fear that there would be too much authority concentrated at the centre. I do not share that apprehension, but we must have regard to it. Bearing that in mind, I suggest that there should be some form of representation in the Dominions, one with another; and I believe that the establishment of such organizations would result in additional cohesion and strength to the Empire structure.
However, the policy to be adopted in regard to relationships with foreign countries requires very careful thought. One has only to look at the Estimates for the current financial year to realize that such consideration is now overdue. It may very well be that ono of the penalties which we suffer from the frequent absences abroad of the Minister for External Affairs (Dr. Evatt) is that there has not been sufficient ministerial control of the department as an organization. That, of course, is intensely difficult to achieve if the Minister is abroad, either necessarily or otherwise, for long periods of time. But when we decided in the first place to establish legations in foreign countries, what we had in mind - or, speaking personally, what I had in mind ‘at that time - was that we should establish legations in those foreign countries in which we had primary interests, not secondary, or derived interests. Speaking of the period beginning in 1940, it was quite obvious that there were certain nations at whose capital cities we should be represented ; -they were the United States of , America, Japan and China, with, possibly, some form of representation in relation to the Netherlands East Indies, either directly or indirectly through the Netherlands itself. And, as honorable members know, we appointed Ministers to the United States, Japan and China. Those are countries which lie in the Pacific basin, and -are ones in which, quite obviously, we should have diplomatic representation. It is perfectly obvious, for example, that at some future time we shall have, once again, to establish a legation at Tokyo. The time must come when the countries of the world will resume some form of international relationships, and if there is justification for diplomatic representation at Chungking, there will be justification for similar representation at Tokyo. However, putting aside, for a moment, those countries as ones by which our interests are primarily and immediately affected-
– Why leave out India?
– I am speaking of countries in the Pacific basin in which we have primary and immediate interests. Then there are countries in southern and south-eastern Asia, notably Pakistan and Hindustan - two countries which, if the present arrangements proceed satisfactorily, as we all hope, will become, and continue to be, British dominions - and will come within the scope of what I have already said concerning the exchange of high commissioners between British dominions. But there are other countries like Burma and Malay Peninsula in which we have a primary interest and in which we should maintain some direct contact. However, when we turn away from those countries in which our interests are primary and immediate and consider those in which our interests are secondary, or derived, we confront a very difficult problem.
With regard to the South American countries, let me say at once that of all those countries the one which I should have thought would have the biggest impact on international affairs and the greatest effect on our economic problems is Argentina. Yet, for some reason which I have never even faintly understood, we have established diplomatic representation in Brazil. I say quite plainly that I do not see even the beginnings of common sense in that. If there is to bea legation in Brazil, why should there not be -a legation in Argentina? If there is to be a legation in Chile, why should there not be one in Peru? Why should there not be one in Paraguay? How are we to discriminate -between one community of a few million people and another, particularly since we have very little commercial contact with any of them, nor with any of them do we encounter anything which has a really vital bearing on the problem of our peace and security? Therefore, my view is that wemust regard any legation opened in South America as merely a prestige legation. And we do not attain prestige by opening a legation in Chile without. losing prestige through failing to open one in Peru, or in Equador. The moment we enter into the realm of “ prestige “ we base our policy on an unsound foundation, because “ prestige “, in these matters, is a consideration so nebulous that we might as well disregard it. In a country of only 7,000,000 people we cannot afford to expend large sums of money for the sake of prestige, except where that consideration really matters. And, reducing the problem to terms of common-sense, what really matters is that when we do establish a legation - for good reasons and in the right place - we ought to do it well. We ought to pay and provide for our representatives abroad on such a scale that they can really maintain the prestige of their country among the other diplomatic representatives and in keeping with the standards of the country to which they are accredited. Therefore, I believe that there is no justification for the establishment of legations in the republics of South America.
– Not even if they request it?
– No. Because if the establishment of legations abroad is to depend on the receipt of requests from other countries we shall be committed to the establishment of legations anywhere and everywhere ; and, in any event, we must retain our own- right to decide where legations shall be established.
I said something about the expenditure involved in diplomatic representation. I should like to amend my remarks, because E do not think that expenditure is by any means the biggest factor. The most important factor in establishing diplomatic relationships is the difficulty of securing the right men for the right jobs. After all, the Department of External Affairs is, relatively speaking, a very young department. It contains a number of young men of ability and promise, but it can hardly be said that it has yet, in the course of the few years in which it has been in existence, been able to produce in the few legations established overseas, any great number of men with sufficient training and experience to fit them for appointments as ministers or consuls at legations. Those posts require very long training, as any officer of any diplomatic service can testify. So, in my opinion, we are spreading ourselves too thinly and we are putting too great a strain on our limited resources of trained, competent man-power by attempting to do too much. As I say, that is a more important aspect than the mere expenditure of large sums of money.
The only other matter on which I wish to touch is the establishment of legations in Europe. Europe is immeasurably more important to us from the point of view of diplomatic relationships than the republics of South America. We have had ample experience, even in our own lifetimes, of the way in which wars emanate from European countries. For myself, I have always entertained the belief that, having a high commissioner in London, we might have done very well in the European theatre by making an arrangement with the British Foreign Office whereby Australian diplomatic officers could be attached to British embassies and legations in Europe for training. By that means we should have had, in addition, the benefit of a continuous source of valuable information . through the British intelligence organization. In other words, we should do well in Europe were we to fit into the British diplomatic structure rather than to set up one of our own. But it has been decided, as we know, that we shall have a legation in Paris and at The HagueI suppose that that inevitably means that in due course we shall have a legation or an embassy in Berlin and Rome. And if we had a legation at The Hague as well as our direct representation in the Netherlands East Indies, what would be the answer to requests from Denmark. Norway, Sweden and Belgium that we should establish legations in those countries? They are quite comparable countries. And going beyond that again : If we are to establish in all of those countries our own legations, completely independent, having no connexion with the “ firm next door “, are we in due course to refuse to establish legations in places like Turkey, Irak or Iran, which have an immediate significance for us, mark you, far outweighing the significance of some of the countries to which already we have accredited representatives? In other words, if we just drift along in this process we shall find ourselves endeavouring to maintain a diplomatic structure all over the civilized world, in every country that is perceptible, if one may use that expression, on a map of the world. I believe that that would be extremely foolish and unnecessary. Let us concentrate our resources of trained and competent men for diplomatic work upon those countries with which our diplomatic association is essentia] from our point of view, and let us, as far as possible, fit ourselves into the general British structure in other countries, so that we may have sources of information open to us. The British would co-operate with us with the greatest willingness in the world, and we should not be going into this business of trying to maintain an independent establishment in a country in which our best interests would, in reality, be served - as the right honorable member for Cowper has just said - by establishing an effective trade representation upon the trade representation level.
I venture to say that this country can afford to establish diplomatic representation abroad only for reasons of utility, for reasons which are vital to our security, and not merely for reasons of prestige; because reasons of prestige could lead us into a perfectly mad career of establishing diplomats all over the world, with results which would be imperceptible on the profit side, and might, in certain instances, prove extremely embarrassing to us. .
.- I intend to refer very briefly to one or two matters, and to reply to the attack that was made on me by the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture (Mr. Pollard) who said that I had made “ foul and intemperate remarks “. I do not know whether that is parliamentary language; however, the Temporary Chairman saw fit to allow the honorable gentleman to proceed. I leave it to the judgment of the committee as to whether a more intemperate speech than that of the honorable gentleman has ever been heard in this chamber. He has the reputation of being rather a good fighting man. If he became as wild in the trenches when he was opposing the Germans, 1 can understand why they ran away, because he completely lost his temper, and was responsible for what I should describe as “a very poor show “ by a man who is a member of His Majesty’s Government.
– I do not oppose visits to overseas countries by members of this Parliament, but rather encourage them, because the experience increases their efficiency, and probably makes them more sympathetic in relation to our own requirements. Nor do I consider that any honorable member has reason to complain of the young intelligence officers who have returned to Australia after discharging duties of various kinds in foreign countries during, and particularly since the end of, the war. Probably, however, some comment is needed in regard to Government policy statements that have been made, and actions that have been taken, in connexion with major countries, such as the control of Japan and the activities in that regard of the United States of America. In view of the position that exists in Japan, and particularly that which is likely to arise when an attempt is made to finalize a peace treaty with that country, Australia should work in the closest collaboration with the control that is being exercised by General MacArthur. I am not giving away any secret when I express some dismay in regard to the agreement that was made at Yalta, concerning which statements have appeared in the press since the British Commonwealth conference was held at Canberra, as well as some of the statements that have been made by honorable members, in this chamber. I refer particularly to that section of the Yalta agreement, under which Russia was to be given important key positions, which enable it to control Japan’s destiny and its food supplies, as well as, particularly, the possibility of its again engaging in military operations even in self-defence. I mention, first, the important gift of Sakhalin and all the Japanese islands north of Japan, as well as the territory and the port of Port Arthur. We know that, as Britishers, we are prepared to honour agreements. Nevertheless, we cannot overlook the reports of protests by Great Britain and the United States of America against the activities of Russia in that part of Europe which is under its control at the present time. The Yalta agreement contained a number of conditions to be observed by the parties to it, but as Russia is not honoring its obligations itis for us to consider whether, in justice to Australia and other countries, the concessions to Russia under the agreement should be given effect. I am confident that when the people of the United States of America and China,as well as of Australia and other countries bordering the Pacific, realize the magnitude of the concessions granted to the Soviet Union, they will be amazed and disturbed. Russia has occupied large areas of country, and appears to be resolved not to carry out the terms of agreements it has entered into.
Russia’s actions in Korea are an outstanding example of that country’s lack of good faith. According to the intelligence authorities of the United States of America, Russia actually now has organized in that portion of Korea under its control, an army of 500,000 Koreans and others, with the object of preventing Korea from gaining the independence for which it had fought for 40 years. Russia’s administration of the northern portion of Korea compares most unfavorably with the actions of the American authorities of southern Korea. It is reported that last February officials of the United States of America State Department discovered aSoviet master plan to organize a Communist rebellion against the American military authorities who occupy southern Korea.Russia undertook to establish local government in the portion of Korea under its control ; but, instead, it has brought to Korea a dictator from Moscow, and in other ways has shown a determination not to carry out agreements entered into. Once theDutch have been driven out of Indonesia, as seems probable, Australia will have an even more vital interest in what happens in the Pacific. So serious is the position in Russian-occupied Korea that General Hodges, of the United States army, was recalled to Washington, where he is reported to have said that all attempts on the spot to carry out the mission entrusted to him had failed because of the refusal of the Russian authorities to establish local government in Korea. He went on to say that the matter would have to be discussed in the highest diplomatic circles. Since then, unsuccessful attempts have been made at the highest diplomatic levels to induce Russia to co-operate with the Koreans as the American authorities have done in southern Korea. Russia’s behaviour has forced the United States of America to raise and maintain an army in Korea to protect the local inhabitants. For that action the United States of America is in danger of being described as a warmonger. I could say a good deal more regarding Russia’s policy, as, for instance, Russian actions in Manchuria, and Russia’s dominance of certain waters absolutely necessary to Japan for supplies of fish for food, but I shall conclude by saying that in our own interests we should work in the closest co-operation with General MacArthur’s forces. Such matters as food supplies for Japan and Japanese whaling expeditions to Antarctica must be viewed in the light of possible Russian reactions. By cooperating with the American authorities we shall not only help ourselves, but we shall also influence the terms of the peace with Japan.
Sitting suspended from 6.2 to 8 p.m.
.- The committee is considering the Estimates for the Department of External Affairs, and is exercising its time-honoured privilege of examining the proposed expenditure of the Government in order to determine whether supply should be granted to the Government. This gives all honorable members an opportunity to discuss its administration. I have noted, particularly during the discussion on the vote for the Department of External Affairs, that the occasion has been taken to attack a particular Minister with a degree of spleen which, E confess, I have not previously observed since I have been a member of this Parliament. We have listened to a verbal display by amateur international authorities who could, not, despite such control as they sought to exercise over their language, disguise the venom of their attack on the Minister for External Affairs (Dr. Evatt). This display of venom has been described as jealousy, but in my opinion real jealousy is an emotion that can properly be felt only by people who feel that they have been displaced ; in other words, having regard- to the matter under discussion, by people who feel that they are more capable than the Minister for External Affairs of filling the position which he holds to-day. However, as I listened to some of his critics, I wondered who among them would be capable of filling his shoes. It is true that a prophet is always without honour in his own country, but when I compare the achievements of the Minister for External Affairs with those of his critics I am convinced that he must appear as a whale among minnows. It has been said that the Department of External Affairs is a one-man show. That has been denied from time to time by responsible Ministers who have shown that when any matter is under consideration which affects their own department, a matter which must find its ultimate expression through the Department of External Affairs, they have always been fully consulted. But even if we accept the view that the foreign policy of this Government is determined by one man, I put forward the proposition that such a state of affairs is preferable to the babel of tongues from the ill-informed critics who are attempting to pull him down.
We claim with some justification that, as a result of the 1914-18 war, we won the right to nationhood. I ask the critics of the Minister for External Affairs what they did, during their long term of office, to establish necessary diplomatic contact with other countries. We now witness the spectacle of tie Minister being acclaimed throughout the world in diplomatic circles, and only in our own country do we find men of lesser political stature trying to pull him down. He lias sought to establish in the councils of the nations the right of Australia to be consulted in world affairs, and even his most carping critics will not say that he has failed in this. These critics have sought to defame him whenever he has tried to advance the position of Australia among the nations. In fact, their view is, apparently, that Australia should be relegated to the position of a crown colony. This criticism of the Minister for External Affairs, under the guise of criticism of the expenditure incurred by his department, could not be more illtimed than now. Whether or not we agree with the views of the Minister on international affairs, the fact is that to-day he is the sole representative of hi3 native country in the councils of the nations. Critical discussions are taking place in the Assembly of the United Nations, and the present meetings may well determine whether the United Nations organization will survive. Nevertheless, we have the sorry spectacle in this National Parliament, of men, who claim to be the responsible representatives of the people, trying to belittle our representative overseas - and let us make no mistake that even in the councils of the nations our representative will have his opponents. His critics here are feeding to the enemies of peace abroad propaganda to defeat the spokesman of Australia.
It has been claimed by the right honorable member for Cowper (Sir Earle Page) and the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies) that they established diplomatic contacts abroad. That is true, but the Department of External Affairs, under their regimes, was a very minor portfolio. It is true that they established diplomatic relations with Canada, United States of America, China and Japan, but I remind honorable members that the eminent ex-politician who represented Australia in Japan did not stay there very long, and when he came hack to Australia he gave us an assurance that there was no possibility of war with Japan. That was the kind of representative which was sent overseas in those days.
– It is not true that he gave such an assurance.
– I say that it is true, and those who know u9 both can assess where the truth lies. The right honorable member for Cowper said that we should make a choice of countries in which we are to be represented. Is there any evidence that such a choice was not made? What argument is there to support the suggestion that we appointed diplomatic representatives willy-nilly without any regard to the countries to which they were sent? The right honorable member for Cowper emphasized the importance of food in relation to the politics of Europe, and I emphasize it also. Food will determine the politics of Europe, whether we like it or not. Pump what money you like into Europe, and send there what armed forces you will, but the stomachs of the people of Europe will, in the final analysis, determine their politics, and the issue will not be resolved to our liking by wheat at 16s. a bushel. The Leader of the Opposition discussed the subject of diplomatic appointments in a very temperate way, .although I take leave to disagree with his views and conclusions. He pointed out that diplomatic representation began during the regime of his Government. That is admitted; but as Uriah Heep said, “ Only in a very small way “. The right honorable gentleman wants some sort of a secretariat set up. I was not quite clear what kind qf secretariat he had in mind, but he made it clear that he did not want an Empire diplomatic secretariat. That seems to indicate that he is going a long way along the road which the Minister for External Affairs has taken in that, to a degree, he has discarded the diplomatic policy of Whitehall which previous governments adhered to without question. Previous governments in this country have been marionettes in diplomatic policy dangling at the ends of strings manipulated by the twiddling fingers of Whitehall; but, to-day, we have established ourselves as a nation, claiming the right for which the men of this country fought to be recognized as a nation in the councils of the world, and we are sending our representatives far and wide. I should like to know, in the absence of an Empire diplomatic secretariat, what kind of secretariat could he set up, and what effect it would have in world diplomatic relations.
The Leader of the Opposition went further and said that we should establish legations in countries where we have a primary interest. Again, I entirely agree with him ; but on the basis of our primary interest in South .America he made a very unfortunate choice. He could not discover why we had fixed diplomatic representation in Chile and Brazil before we established it in Argentina.
– I did not quite convey my point in that respect; I did not suggest diplomatic representation _ in Argentina. I suggested trade representation in that country.
– Let us have a look at the population aspect, because it is important. We cannot altogether dissociate our diplomatic relations from our trade relations. The Department of Commerce and Agriculture, I understand, nominates our trade representatives, whilst the Department of External Affairs chooses our diplomatic representatives; but they go forward hand in hand. Where would our primary interest be in South America? We have set up a delegation in Brazil, the population of which is 43,250,000, whereas the population of Argentina is less than 14,000,000. That is to say, we have set up trade and diplomatic representation in a country which has three times the population of the country to which the right honorable gentleman gave first preference.
Let us look at another aspect referred to by both the Leader of the Opposition and the right honorable member for Cowper, namely, the question of where our primary interest lies from the point of view of international trade. Argentina is one of our keenest world competitors in all the primary products upon which this country places so much reliance; and, in my view, our primary interest would be to try to establish trade relations not with that country, but with other countries, such as Brazil, which has a population of over 43,000,000, and competes with Argentina for the markets available. Those are two substantial reasons why the Department of External Affairs chose to establish representation in Brazil and Chile. Another very strong ‘reason is that in the mixed politics of South America the politics of Brazil and Chile are much more in tune with the democratic conceptions of the people of Australia. Thus, from the political point of view it was advantageous to us to prefer those countries, whilst from the trade point of view it was infinitely better to look for markets in a country with a population of over 43,000,000 than in a country with a population of less than 14,000,000, which also has for sale goods of the kind we wish to market. That is the position from the point of view of trade.
Let us look at the matter from the political point of view. There were substantial reasons why Australia should not appoint diplomatic representatives to Argentina at the time we appointed our representatives to Chile and Brazil. First, Argentina was a straight-out collaborator with our ex-enemies, the Axis powers. It was the main link through the Allied blockade of Germany, and it harboured Nazis after the war; I fear that we have them here. At the time we appointed our diplomatic representatives to Brazil and Chile relations were strained between Argentina on the one hand and the United States of America and Great Britain on the other; and it would have been an international affront to our primary allies, if we put it that way, to have appointed new diplomatic representatives to a country whose relations with Great Britain and the United States of America were strained. And last but not least, when the United Nations unanimously condemned the Franco regime in Spain, the very next day Argentina, in defiance of world opinion, appointed, for the first time, diplomatic representatives to Spain. Yet in spite of the fact that Argentina collaborated with the Axis powers, afforded to Germany a link through the Allied blockade, collaborated with the
Franco regime in Spain following the condemnation of that regime by the United Nations, and affronted countries which were our allies in the recent war, that country is the No. 1 pick among the South American republics of honorable members opposite as the country to which Australia should appoint diplomatic -representatives. When honorable members are forced to such desperate resorts that they have to pick on a country with the political set-up of Argentina, with its anti-democratic record during the war, as the No. 1 country to which we should send diplomatic representatives, they are pretty hard-pressed for arguments. They’ also criticize the fact that the Government has sent representatives to Geneva.
We are either associated’ with, the United Nations, which has taken over the responsibility of the League of Nations, or we are not. There is no middle course. The international labour conventions are a relic of the League of Nations. They have gone on unimpaired despite the fact that the League of Nations failed as a medium of preserving international peace. The International Labour Office at Geneva has performed an outstanding service to the workers of the world in at least endeavouring to improve their working standards, lt had the blessing of the League of Nations with which we were associated and to which we were a contributing party; to-day it has the blessing of the United Nations to which we are also a contributing party. There is no alternative open to the Government; it either adheres to the organization or it does not. If it adheres to -the organization it must from time to time send representatives to Geneva to deliberate with representatives of the working and employing classes of every other member country upon the important problem of international workingclass standards. I am wondering whether, if the Government were changed to-morrow, the policy of sending representatives from Australia to the International Labour Office would cease. I am wondering what the workers, who look to this international organization as the one ray of sunshine to brighten their hope of betterment of working-class conditions throughout the world, would think of a government which, being associated with the League of Nations and its lineal descendant, the United Nations, abandoned the possibility of levelling up working-class conditions in the world generally.
This debate has been made a vehicle for an attack upon Senator Amour. There have been previous attacks on the honorable senator, but they have been made under the cover of parliamentary privilege. The people who have made them sheltered in a coward’s castle, deliberately making their attacks for the purpose of giving the press something to publish that the press was not “ game “ to publish before the allegations were made in this chamber.
– Does the honorable member remember some of the speeches he made when he was sitting in this chamber as a member of the Lang group?
– Yes, I remember them very well. If ever the Vicar of Bray were reincarnated he is present in the honorable member for Indi (Mr. McEwen), who in politics has always been all things to all men. The attack was made on Senator Armour because of an article in an Irish newspaper, the Glare Champion. The honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Spender) was so anxious to place the newspaper story on record that he moved that it be incorporated in Hansard. The committee, however, determined that he should read it, and because he did not have time to do so, he called upon the poor, unfortunate, political neophyte, the honorable member for Richmond (Mr. Anthony) to do so. I do not believe that the honorable member for Richmond had seen the article before he read it to the commit:ce. The real fact of the matter is that the reporter who wrote the article says in it that he was writing from memory, and we all know what defective memories there are in this world.
– The honorable member’s defective memory will not get him out of it.
– I have a fairly good memory. I remember, for instance, that if the honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. Harrison) is again suspended for contravening the Standing Orders he will be “ out “ for a month.
– I rise to order. I should like to know, Mr. Chairman, whether you in your capacity as Chairman of this committee permit such intimidation.
– The Chair has no knowledge of the matter to which the honorable member refers.
– The article appeared in a newspaper published in. a remote part of Eire. Nobody knows whether or not it is considered to be a responsible journal, but everybody knows from the statements contained in the article that the reporter wrote it from memory. He did not claim it to be a verbatim report of Senator Amour’s remarks. He wrote the story following conversations he had had with the honorable senator. In any event, I venture the opinion that there was very little in the article at which any decent Australian would cavil. Senator Amour was representing the Australian Government and he spoke as an Australian. Nothing in what he said could be cavilled’ at by any leal “ dinkum “ Australian.
– Is it then the Government’s policy to defame Great Britain?
– Order! The honorable member must not tempt the Chair.
Mi1. Menzies. - So it has come now to a matter of tempting the Chair.
– I am not so sure that, since the reporter was writing from memory, the article was a correct interpretation of what was said. He might have given an Irish twist to what was said. At all events, it was rather refreshing that an Australian abroad representing the Australian Government should speak for his country in such eulogistic terms. Despite all its “ knockers “, Australia is still the best country in the world and it was refreshing to find that, although Senator Amour was 13,000 miles away from home, he spoke so well of his country when here, at the very centre of government, we have some of the greatest “ knockers “ in the world.
– I confess to being a little disappointed. When Mr. Speaker (Mr. Rosevear) comes down from the Chair to take part in a debate in committee he usually breathes fire and brimstone.
– I did not come down; I was here in my place during the committee proceedings.
–! direct the attention of the honorable member to the fact that interjections are disorderly, and that if they are repeated he will be named. My disappointment arises entirely from the fact that there was so little fire and brimstone in his speech to-night. He criticized members of the Opposition for having directed a certain amount of their attention to the Minister in charge of the Department of External Affairs. As, in. the course of my extremely moderate and detached remarks this afternoon I had no occasion to refer to the right honorable gentleman, I can, perhaps, say something about, this in an equally detached way. I direct the attention of the. honorable member to the fact that if the Minister for External Affairs is noi, present when the annual Estimates are being debated that cannot involve the proposition that the right honorable gentleman and his administration are to be immune from criticism. I emphasize that this is the only opportunity which honorable members possess of discussing the Commonwealth departments, and they have seized this comparatively rare chance of discussing the Department of External Affairs and of making a series of extremely pertinent criticisms of its general set up. I shall not repeat what f said about these legations this afternoon except to say that I offered a perfectly fair and objective series of criticisms of what had been done. To say that in these circumstances strong criticism, indeed occasionally heated criticism, of the Minister or of his doings is out of order, is to deny the authority of this committee and the responsibility of Parliament. I shall not say ‘anything about Senator Amour, or “JJ Amour”, according to the name that was used from time to time this afternoon. What has been said on that matter has been said; but I must confess to a somewhat wry smile at hearing the honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Rosevear) rebuke honorable members on this side of the chamber for using Parliament as a coward’s castle from which to make attacks. I speak as one who can rightly say that he has never said anything in this chamber that he has not said outside of it ; but I have been on many occasions the victim of attacks in this chamber of a gross and personal kind, and I’ have seen Mr. Speaker sit silently by while these attacks have been made.
I turn now to the matter of substance dealt with by the honorable member for Dalley. He said that I, for one, had selected in my argument Argentina as a place where Australian diplomatic representation should be established. I took the opportunity of interjecting to correct that impression because, as honorable members who were present this afternoon know, I made no such suggestion; but the honorable member came back to it, and having discussed, apparently with some inside knowledge of the Australian mind, why Argentina was selected, he went on to indicate that, although Argentina had been an arch collaborator with the Axis countries during the war, the Leader of the Opposition had chosen that country for preferential treatment in the form of diplomatic representation. Therefore, it, becomes necessary for me to say that at no time did I suggest diplomatic representation in Argentina.
– Trade representation is not provided for in this vote.
– I shall come to that. I suggest that the honorable member forDalley should not look pleased too soon. The whole of my argument was directed to the proposition that there was no case for establishing diplomatic representation in South America at all. That case is either right or wrong, but it cannot be answered by falsifying it.
– The honorable member did not say that.
– I did, and if the Minister had been present he would remember it. However, the record will stand. . The industrious scribes of Hansard recorded it all, and when the Minister reads the report in due course, ho will see exactly what I did say. My argument was directed to trade representation. I shall be asked, no doubt, “ What are we going to sell to them ? They are our competitors “. But surely there is a great ease for having commercial representation in a competitor country. In any event, what do honorable members opposite suggest that Australia will sell to Brazil in competition with Argentina? Meat, or fresh fruit? The whole point about Argentina is that that country is a competitor of ours - a very serious competitor in many lines. That is the strongest reason why we should have competent and skilled people on the spot so that we may know what our competitor is doing and how he is doing it, because that is a very good way of becoming effective competitors ourselves. But the honorable member for Dalley rejects this. He would not send trade agents to Argentina for a variety of reasons, and one of them, forsooth, is that Argentina was an arch collaborator during the war. I remind the honorable member that the Government of which he is a supporter has recently authorized an expedition of trade agents from Australia to Japan. “Was Japan not an arch-collaborator during the war? Apparently, it is all right to send business men to Japan - the very fount of our troubles in the Pacific - to solicit orders; but when one suggests sending a trade representative to one of the most active trading nations on the South American continent, whatever its population may be, the answer is to raise holy hands and say, “You can’t do that. They were collaborators during the war “. I shall be interested to see whether the colleagues of the honorable member for Dalley in the Government will maintain that point of view for very long. Perhaps on the occasion of the presentation of the next annual Estimates we shall have a few more words to say about this matter.
.- It is a long time since a committee of the House has had the benefit of two speeches by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies) in connexion with one matter.
– We stung him to-day.
– Yes. He has been stung to the quick by the replies that he and his henchmen have been given by honorable members on this side of the chamber. It is not unusual for the right honorable gentleman to use his legal skill and verbal artistry to confuse the com mittee and the country. He has said that money is being provided in the Estimates for the Department of External Affairs for the establishment of trade relationships with Brazil. Of course, it is apparent to those who have studied the matter under discussion that two specific provisions are made for representation under the auspices of the Department of External Affairs. One is for diplomatic representation, which is the establishment, and maintenance of legations in various foreign countries, and of the offices of the high commissioners in the member States of the British Commonwealth of Nations ; the other, an entirely separate vote, is for consular representation, which is commercial representation besides the completion of necessary formalities in connexion with the witnessing of documents and the like. The reason for the right honorable gentleman’s attempt to confuse the committee is obvious. He sought to make some point out of the fact that Brazil trades in nuts, and said that it was undesirable for Australia to have representation of a commercial character in that country. I do not know what the department’s reason is, but one very good reason that occurs to me for representation in Brazil, a country which we are told by the honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Rosevear) has a population of 43,250,000, and in Chile, which has a population of 5,250,000, is that among the South American countries represented in the United Nations Assembly there is an extraordinarily strong diplomatic bloc. That is a bloc that I understand can wield a voting power of twenty in the deliberations of the United Nations Assembly. Provision for the expenditure of small amounts of £26,400 in Brazil and £31,000 in Chile, a total of less than £60,000, for diplomatic representation in countries that, with their neighbours, can wield a powerful voting weapon in the Assembly of the United Nations does not seem improper. The Leader of the Opposition, it is true, did not say in words that we should have either diplomatic or commercial representation in Argentina, but he did canvass the possibility. His anxiety to assist actively a nation whose object is the restoration of fascism shows that he is a person whose politics would not be welcome to the great majority of the
Australian people. The right honorable gentleman also referred to our sending trade representatives to Japan. I was in Japan recently. Any one who knows conditions in Japan, even setting aside the Allied Control Council, the Far Eastern Advisory Commission, General MacArthur or any other authority that has determination of Japan’s policy and will fix the levels to which Japanese trade may rise, would know that Japan is incapable of being a serious competitor. Japan is politically hamstrung and its political set-up is in no way comparable with that of Argentina or Spain. The right honorable gentleman punctuated his first speech - honorable members will appreciate the need for me to refer to his first speech and his second speech, because he made two - with a great deal more use of the pronoun “ I “ than usual. He projected his ego into the speech in such a manner that the only inference is that he was speaking in a way that exhibited his personal hatred and jealousy of the Minister for External Affairs.
– Rubbish !
– The honorable member for Gippsland (Mr. Bowden) may regard it as rubbish, but I gave the Leader of the Opposition a second opportunity, and he again demonstrated his personal jealousy of the Minister for External Affairs. He said that the Minister could not expect immunity from criticism in “ this annual survey of the work of his department “ because he was physically absent from the Commonwealth.
– What is wrong with that?
– Nothing. But we all know that not merely on the Estimates, but whenever the subject of foreign affairs has been debated, every opportunity has been seized by honorable members opposite to criticize the Minister for External Affairs, whether he has been here or not, and to say that the Estimates present the only opportunity annually for criticism of the Minister, from which he could not ask immunity, is to make a political manoeuvre of which the Leader of the Opposition is a past master.
Complaint has been made that the proposed vote of £1,032,000 for the Department of Externa] Affairs is excessive, but, if we examine the Estimates, we see straight away that it is less than £ per cent, of the proposed expenditure of the Commonwealth this financial year. That is to say that the budget provides for the receipt and expenditure of £400,000,000 and that the proposed expenditure on the Department of External Affairs is only about £1,000,000, of which at least one-third is to be expended for other departments. It must be r&membered that the Department of External Affairs is the sole channel of communication with governments overseas for all the departments. .So, if the Department of Civil Aviation wishes to communicate with the United Kingdom or elsewhere by cable or otherwise, it does so through the Department of External Affairs. So the proposed vote for that department must be reduced by £300,000 or £400,000 that it will spend on behalf of other departments. Moreover, the proposed expenditure on the Department of External Affairs of about £1,000,000 represents only about 2s. a head of the population of Australia. That is little enough to spend, having regard to the fact that many industries in this country have dealings, the value of which exceeds £1,000,000 a year. I could name a dozen of them. The proposed expenditure is little enough to maintain relations even inside the British Commonwealth of Nations, to say nothing of relations with other countries. Furthermore, the staff of various legations and consulates overseas is less than 100. So there is no great waste of man-power. In the legations in Chile and Brazil, the two most complained about foreign countries in which we have representation, I understand there are only a minister and a secretary to inform, the Commonwealth Government from time to time of effects of announcements by the governments of the United States of America and other countries on the rather phlegmatic governments of South American countries. So the proposed vote for the department is indeed reasonable.
In adding to the confusion generally on the matter of diplomatic representation as against commercial representation, not one speaker opposite whom I have heard to-day - and I have been here most of th*> time - correctly stated the amount provided in the Estimates for expenditure on the establishment of a consulate in Indonesia. The correct figure is £5,000. It appears in division 32 on page 23. The figure cited was that of £22,100 for the Australian legation in the Netherlands. That shows clearly that honorable gentlemen opposite are incapable of drawing a “ distinction between diplomatic representation and commercial representation and are incapable of reading with understanding the figures placed before them.
In his first speech, the Leader of the Opposition mentioned a proposal that can only be described, from Australia’s viewpoint, as absolutely monstrous. He suggested that we should abandon our endeavours to establish our own representation in European countries and tie ourselves, lock, stock and barrel through the medium of liaison officers or some other such officials, to the British consulates in those countries. It has been made abundantly clear that Australia is a nation which, in its own interests and in the interests of many hundreds of its citizens who are located in other countries, should have a purely Australian service. Furthermore, to suggest that we tie ourselves to the British consulates would not earn us ‘the thanks of the British authorities. Those authorities have their hands full already with many problems which are quite distinct from those which Australia has to solve in other countries.
The proposal, of course, would involve reversion to the old system that was in force when the Leader of the Opposition was Prime Minister and under which Australia submerged its identity and accepted whatever was handed out from Whitehall. The whole of the first speech made by the Leader of the Opposition was devoted to what, in his opinion, ought to have been done in 1940. Acceptance of that speech would involve ignoring the great change that has since occurred throughout the world. We have successfully concluded a war since then, and the nations have once again established a virile international assembly. Indeed, if I wished to draw attention to any other factor in connexion with that change, I need merely say that the posi- tion of Great Britain itself in relation to the rest of the world has changed vastly. It would be an extremely bad move if the Minister for External Affairs were to accept the blueprint which the Leader of the Opposition claims to have drafted as long ago as 1940. At that time, although the Leader of the Opposition was not the Minister for External Affairs, he had two “ stooges “ who successively occupied the office. One was Sir Frederick S : .. a rt. the former representative of the electorate of Parramatta, and the other was the persent honorable member for Indi (Mr. McEwen). What these men knew about external ‘affairs could have been inscribed on the head of a pin. That fact makes apparent to me, as an impartial observer in these matters, that the whole field of external affairs was dominated by the then Leader of the Government who now, as Leader of the Opposition, charges the Minister for External Affairs with the same offence. The Estimates for the Department of External Affairs are conservative and proper, and I urge the committee to approve of them without delay.
.- Like other honorable members, I very much enjoyed hearing the honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Rosevear) favour the committee with a speech this evening. It is not very often that he does so, and honorable members on this side of the chamber appreciate his addresses more than do his colleagues, because we know from experience that he seldom rises unless the Government lacks an answer to charges that have been laid against it by us. The scarcity of speakers on the government side of the chamber in this debate has been remarkable. One would have thought that, with all the fartravelled members on the government side of the chamber, there would have been no lack of speakers willing to rise in defence of the Minister for External Affairs (Dr. Evatt) and the policy which he has continually advocated. After all, those honorable gentlemen have had the advantage of travelling abroad and seeing conditions in other countries. The fact that they have remained silent is not without a certain amount of significance. They have visited other countries; I think that the experience has changed their ideas. If not, why do they not speak? An extraordinary feature of the debate is that only one of the Government supporters who have returned from abroad recently has taken part in it. I refer to the honorable member for Watson (Mr. Falstein), who, of course, went not ou government business, but on some mysterious private affair of his own. Whilst the others who have been abroad have refused to speak, so also have most of those who remained in Australia. Indeed, those who have so far failed to “ draw the marble “ have maintained a noticeably moody silence. It seems that their attitude could be summed up in these words, “ Well, we did not get a trip abroad. Let those who went overseas defend the Minister, if they can “. Not until this evening, which is an excellent broadcasting time as honorable members know, did any member of the Government, apart from one solitary Minister, take the trouble to join in the debate.
The thing that I want to accent is the responsibility of the Government for imposing some form of policy on those who go abroad and speak in its name. Recently many people have gone overseas in official capacities, and their public utterances outside Australia have done nothing but very considerable harm to this country. I refer first of all to the Minister for Transport (Mr. Ward), who went to Geneva.
– Where is he now?
– I do not know. He went first to England, and his observations there are worth repeating. He said that conditions in Great Britain were disgraceful. Looking about him, he said that the hard conditions which the British people had been forced to accept, had weighed heavily only on those in the lower income groups, whereas those in privileged positions had merely taken advantage of severe post-war conditions in order to improve their own situation and live in greater luxury and ease than ever before. That is a very nice contribution for an Australian to make in Great Britain in the midst of that nation’s present troubles! We know that whereever the Minister goes in Australia he loses no opportunity to express this poisonous class doctrine, and we are accus tomed to his outbursts. But it a different matter for an official representative of the Government to go to Great Britain at this time and make such extremely unpleasant and untrue statements.
I turn now to some of things that the Minister for Information (Mr. Calwell) said during his recent tour abroad. This honorable gentleman -has returned to Australia bringing no promise, of a greatly increased flow of migrants,, despite the purpose of his journey. Howeve]1, few of us expected that he would; succeed. We ought to demand of representatives who go abroad with government sanction that they bc responsible for their statements while overseas. I refer honorable members to remarks which the Minister made while in Great Britain as they were reported in the Melbourne Herald. The item appeared under these headings : “ Calwell Tells the British. Not Using Their Land Well. Flays Australian Press Too.” The report then stated -
In an astonishing conference for the British and Australian press in London to-day, Mr. Arthur Calwell. Minister for Immigration -
Attacked the Australian people Tor their attitude to immigration.
Blamed the British Ministry of Transport for failing to provide ships.
Accused Britain of failing to make proper use of her land to grow food.
Attacked the Australian press in general and the Sydney press in particular on grounds of distortion and “ stunting “.
The Minister for Immigration, who is a responsible member of the Government, could not do anything while he was abroad hut make remarks about England which must bring us into discredit. His remarks on British agriculture are worth repeating.
– The Minister’s remarks about British agriculture have no reference to the Department of External Affairs.
– The Minister went abroad as a member of the Government, and the impression which he left is surely of great importance.
– His travels are not covered by the Department of External Affairs.
– I am prepared to leave that subject, and shall now make a brief reference to the travels of Senator Amour. The honorable member for Dalley referred not only to the extremely foolish remarks which the honorable senator made to a newspaper reporter in Ireland, but also to the charges made against him by the honorable member for New England (Mr. Abbott). I certainly do not desire to go into the truth or otherwise of that story.
– The honorable gentleman would be wise, as a young member of this chamber, to keep out of the mud.
– I agree. I doubt very much whether that story is true. If it is true, the honorable senator behaved in a disgraceful manner. If the allegations are not true, the Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley) can easily prove it. After all, the honorable senator travelled by an aircraft controlled by an airline which operates under government charter. A member of the Commonwealth Public Service was aboard that aircraft, and the Prime Minister could easily get a full report of any incident which may have taken place.
– He could obtain the pilot’s log of the flight.
– Certainly. The Prime Minister should take an early opportunity to obtain the report, which should either clear Senator Amour or substantiate the allegations against him.
A good deal has been said about our representation in Brazil, Chile, and other countries. It appears to me that the only matter of interest to honorable members, when the Estimates are being discussed, is whether these legations bring any benefits to Australia. Several honorable members opposite have spoken in support of the legations, but none of them has been able to point to one penny by which this country is better off as the result of having legations in Brazil and Chile. The honorable member for Watson said that the legation in Brazil was not a large establishment, as the staff consisted of the Minister and his secretary. If that be so, I must direct the attention of honorable members to some items in the Estimates, because I notice that the estimated cost of postage, telegrams and cablegrams for 1946-47 was £5.000. That is not “bad going” for two men. The amount is nearly as much as the Post master-General’s account for the Department of the Interior. This characterizes the whole of the expenditure of public money in the Department of External Affairs. Wherever it takes the fancy of the Minister to establish a legation, he proceeds to do so regardless of the expense.
I shall now refer briefly to Indonesia. I am not interested primarily in the rights or wrongs of the Dutch, or the Indonesians - the participants in .the present quarrel - but it is worth reminding honorable members that many speakers have talked about the “ poor Indonesians “ - this nation, they described it, although it is a collection of vastly different peoples - and we are asked to picture them as battling for freedom against the oppressive Dutch. What is the truth ? There are 40,000,000 native inhabitants of the Netherlands East Indies, and a maximum of 100,000 Dutch people and only 20,000 troops. If there was a shadow of popular support for the Indonesian movement and if one-tenth of the people supported it, they would sweep the Dutch out of the land into the sea in five minutes. The truth . of the matter is that a handful of agitators and. Communists are heading this revolt against the Dutch in Indonesia, so called at the present time. Whether our sympathies lie with the Indonesians or the Dutch, no one can pretend that our interests lie with the Indonesians. The Dutch are the only European power besides ourselves in this part of the world, and if the Dutch leave the Netherlands East Indies their place will be taken by those whom we term the Indonesians - a people who cannot possibly be favorable to Australia and its White Australia policy.
The same point was raised in regard to Argentina. A previous speaker said that Argentina has a form of government which is not acceptable to us who believe in democracy. That really is not the purpose of foreign relations. It behoves the’ Minister for External Affairs and the Government to carry on the relations which are most advantageous to this country, and never mind the spread of tho.3e doctrines and the encouragement of those governments which happen to believe in the same things as this Government does.
.- The honorable member for Henty (Mr. Gullett) complained that comparatively few honorable members on this side of the chamber had taken part in this discussion of the estimates for the Departmen of External Affairs, and he expected those honorable members who have been overseas to present to the Parliament reports about their missions. Earlier today, an honorable member opposite remarked that members of the Labour party had apparently become dumb. I have been a member of this Parliament for four years, and never in that period have I known a debate to descend to such n low level as the honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Spender) and the honorable member for Richmond (Mr. Anthony) dragged it to-day.
– They are two good men.
– That is the opinion of the honorable member for New England (Mr. Abbott), but never in my four years’ experience of this Parliament have [ known the chamber to be turned into the circus which those honorable members created here to-day. The Estimates show the finance -which has to be provided for a service without which the country cannot function. The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies) stated that the Minister” for External Affairs (Dr. Evatt) is not immune from criticism because he happens to be absent from the country. I do not think that any supporter of the Government takes exception to criticism of the Minister, but it is my conviction that members of the Opposition made an organized .attempt this afternoon to attack the Minister and to vent their spleen upon him, quite regardless of the magnificent job which he has done for this country. The Department of External Affairs is doing a fine job in training ‘its young officers to fit them to fill important posts overseas, and, furthermore, I believe that this is the first time that Australia has had a coherent foreign policy. The Leader of the Opposition claimed - and rightly so - that he was instrumental in bringing this department into being ; in other words, he claims that this is his baby and that no one else has the right to nurse it. I reiterate that the criticism uttered of the Minister was animated by personal jealousy on the part of members of the Opposition who do not possess the stature in world affairs of the right honorable gentleman.
Like the honorable member for Henty, I do not desire to discuss the merits of the Indonesian question, hut I intend to comment on the fact that the Government has again been criticized for the part it played in bringing hostilities in Indonesia to an end. Instead of condemning the Government for its action, the Opposition should commend it for its successful efforts to prevent the Indonesian situation becoming another blood-bath. My mind goes back to 1914 to the comparatively small incident which precipitated the world into the greatest war it has ever known. I do not think that any one could seriously deny that in attempting to bring hostilities in Indonesia to an end the Government did a great job for humanity.
– The House has witnessed .a somewhat unusual spectacle during this debate. As honorable members know, it is customary for a Minister to be in his place in the House to answer any criticism levelled at his administration when the activities of the department which he administers are being examined. The Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley) is the Acting Minister for External Affairs, but although the debate has proceeded all day, the right honorable gentleman has, with one exception, been conspicuous by his absence. The single occasion was when the honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Rosevear) entered the House after the dinner adjournment and made an attack on members of the Opposition. That circumstance is interesting, because the honorable member for Dalley made certain charges against members of the Opposition regarding the concerted attack which he alleged had been made against the Minister for External Affairs (Dr. Evatt). The honorable gentleman fairly lauded the Minister, and spoke of him as one who has left his mark on international affairs. But I remember very well a time before the honorable member attained the august position which he now occupies, when he sat on the corner benches and was a most bitter critic of the Minister whom he now seeks to laud, I remember him criticizing almost every action of the Minister for External Affairs. He criticized him in the corridors, in the party room, and wherever and whenever he could. I wonder what pressure was brought to bear on him to induce him to enter the debate this evening in order to “ eat the leek “ and apologize for the attacks which he has made in the past! One wonders, because it is very seldom that the honorable member goes back on an opinion which he once held. And so he becomes yet another “ yes man “ of the Minister for External Affairs; he has “eaten the leek “, he has made his apology for the attacks he formerly made upon the Minister, and, I daresay, he is now back in the good graces of that gentleman, who is also Deputy Prime Minister and deputy leader of his political party. He has paid the price - there is always a price to be paid for rewards; and, undoubtedly, the reward will follow.
It is a notorious fact that the Minister for External Affairs will brook no interference in the foreign policy of this country. The Minister does not require men of individual thought and capacity for action, as the appointments which he has made indicate. I say nothing with regard to the capacity of the present Secretary of the Department of External Affairs, who is a man of considerable ability. However, the fact remains that he was private secretary to the Minister, that he did learn to jump when he was told to, and that he has now become Secretary of the department. Mr. Hasluck, who is a man of individual thought and of great capacity, resigned from the department because he would not become a “yes man” to the Minister. Then we find Mr.’ Macmahon Ball, another man of outstanding capacity, and one capable of representing Empire opinion in Japan, tendering his resignation because he would not become a “ yes man “ to the Minister. Every appointment which the Minister has made shows that he will not countenance any one who is not prepared to agree completely with him. That is also the reason why no supporter of the Government has been game to say anything with regard to external affairs. They know that the Minister will not permit it; he- is- the personification of the external affairs policy of this Government.
Recently a committee was appointed to advise the Government on the terms to be included in the Japanese peace treaty. The history of the appointment of that committee is interesting, because the Minister, after making a promise to the House that such a committee would be appointed, adopted an attitude that he, and he alone, would choose the personnel of that committee. Against the committee itself I offer no criticism, beyond saying that, at the opening meeting, I asked whether it was empowered to make recommendations or suggestions which, would be acted upon, as would those of any other committee of equal standing, and I was told by the chairman that it had no power to make recommendations, that it might merely make suggestions which ultimately would come bef ore the Minister or Cabinet. In every instance, this Minister has adopted tactics which prove conclusively that he will brook no interference.
Let mc refer again to the observations of the honorable member for Dalley, who bitterly attacked the Minister before he was elevated to the august position of Mr. Speaker, and who to-night “ ate the leek “ and apologized for all the nasty things he had said about the Minister on other occasions. In his observations to-night, he again revealed that extreme anti-British bias which characterizes honorable members opposite. He said that we who sit on this side of the chamber, when in office, had been merely marionettes of Whitehall, that the <t: twiddling fingers “ of Whitehall had dictated the foreign policy of this country before the advent of this great champion of the smaller nations. But for those “ twiddling fingers’ “’ of Whitehall and the policy emanating from that quarter, we, with our .White Australia policy, would have had no protection, and would not for long, have remained a nation. It ill becomes the honorable member for Dalley to criticize British imperial policy in relation to foreign affairs, because under that policy Australia has been protected for many years. The tendency of the Minister for External Affairs to badger and “ pull by the ears “, those who have protected us, is calculated to do Australia a greater disservice than would be done by any action of Whitehall.
The honorable member for Dalley criticized the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies) as one who was in favour of Argentina, and implied that the reason for that lay in the fascist policy that was being pursued by that country.
– I did nothing of the kind.
– The honorable member referred to Argentina as a nation of collaborationists. He knows full well that no less a person than the Minister for External Affairs sponsored Argentina’s entry into the United Nations.
-That is not true.
– It is true. He voted for the admission of Argentina. Did. he depart from form in that connexion? Of course not; because, as the Leader of our party has pointed out, he agreed to send a trade delegation to Japan. There is no need for me to enlarge on that point, because it has been expounded sufficiently by my Leader ; but f do ask: If the Argentinians can be described as collaborationists, what is to bc said of the Indonesians? They were arch-collaborationists in the .Pacific, against Australia and the other democratic countries of the world. Yet what attitude has been adopted by the Minister towards them? He has submitted to intervention on their behalf. It was members of this nation who murdered Australian men. Photographs produced by the honorable member for Maranoa (Mr. Adermann) show Dr. .Soekarno shaking hands with the high war chief of Japan, and congratulating him on the work he was doing against the Allies. Yet the Minister for External Affairs had no hesitation in allowing Australia’s foreign policy in relation to Indonesia to be taken out of his hands by a bunch of Communists. He was afraid to prevent them from directing the policy of this country in regard to Indonesia.
The honorable member for Dalley also referred to Senator Amour. I say nothing about Senator Amour, other than to associate him with the article which appeared in the Clare Champion. The honorable member for Dalley claimed that the honorable senator was speaking on behalf of the Government, and’ said that it was refreshing to find one who was prepared to stand up for Australia and say that it is still the best country in the world. I remind honorable members of the observation of the honorable member for Dalley in regard to the “ twiddling fingers “ of Whitehall, which was a slur upon Empire policy. I also point out to the honorable member that Senator Amour, in his remarks, defamed flip British Empire and the people of Britain. I am entitled to ask whether that is the policy of the Government. The honorable member for Dalley occupies a high place in the councils of his party. He is no less a person than the Speaker of the House. Therefore, when he says that “Senator Amour spoke on behalf of the Government, he must accept responsibility for the statements which Senator Amour made, and unless the Government’s policy be that of defaming the British Empire, of speaking slightingly of the British, and of doing everything possible to destroy any feelings of friendship towards Britain which might exist in this country, then his championship of Senator Amour was in very ill taste. When I find that an honorable gentleman who, before his elevation to the august position of Speaker of the House, was the bitterest critic of the Minister for External Affairs, humbly “ eats the leek “ in the presence of a full gathering of the members of his party, I want to know the nature of the pressure that was brought to bear on him. We found the Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley) entering the chamber for the express purpose of hearing the apologies of the honorable member for Dalley for all. the nasty things he had said about the Minister.
I believe that what I have said proves conclusively that the honorable member for Dalley descends from his lofty position only when the Government has no case, and when the Prime Minister is not prepared to defend his own estimates. The honorable member is called into the breach to try to divert attention, or to set up a straw man so that he might knock it over. His heart was not in the job to-night. He failed to make the impression which I have no doubt he was asked to make, and I venture to believe’ that he will try to recover the ground he has lost by making a second speech this evening. I hope that he does a better job than he did in the first instance. I look forward to hearing a further apology from him almost immediately.
.- Mr. Temporary Chairman-
– I rise to order. Are you in order in calling on the honorable member for Dalley for .a second speech on these Estimates when other honorable members on the same side of the chamber who have not yet spoken also rose?
(Mr. Hadley). - I was expecting the Deputy Leader of the Australian Country party (Mr. McEwen) to rise, but, unfortunately, he was not within sight of the Chair.
– Order ! I inform honorable members that the call rests entirely with the Chair, and that I have given the call to the honorable member for Dalley.
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.Order ! The honorable member for Balaclava will resume his seat. He must not reflect on the Chair. The honorable member for Dalley is not lecturing the Chair.
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.I have given my ruling. I have given the call to the honorable member for Dalley.
– One wonders that one can create so much disturbance among honorable gentlemen who for days have been tearing the Minister for External Affairs (Dr. Evatt) to pieces. Immediately any one champions him - very deservedly–
– There was a time when the honorable member for Dalley tore the Minister to pieces.
– I shall tear the honorable member to pieces unless he is careful.
– The honorable member has already tried to do that from his exalted position in the chair.
– While honorable members opposite have challenged my right to speak, and have, indeed, dared me to speak, they have taken a particular interest in some other member on this side of the chamber who, they say, should be given preference over me. If challenges are worth anything, I am prepared to meet them. Whenever I hear foolish statements from the Opposition benches I no longer wonder that the parties opposed to Labour are in Opposition. I shall refer to stupid statements made by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies) and his deputy, the honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. Harrison), who merely echoes his leader’s remarks. They have said that I have stepped down from the chair. That statement is completely untrue. Those who listen can hear the rather raucous laughter of the intelligentia on the Opposition benches. It does not do them much credit. Lacking intelligence, they repeat a statement until they almost believe it themselves, and so they say that I have stepped down from the chair to take part in the debate. Every one who knows the procedure of this chamber is aware that the Speaker is perfectly entitled, as the representative of his electorate, to speak in committee on every bill which comes before the chamber, should he desire to do so.
– The Speaker of the House of Commons has that right, but he does not exercise it.
– That was a most unfortunate remark for the ill-informed honorable member for Richmond to make.
– The Speaker of the House of Commons does not show bias as does the honorable member for Dalley when in the chair.
-I shall deal, first, with Speakers in this Parliament. I challenge contradiction when I say that the last three Speakers elected from parties now in Opposition took part in debates in committee. Next, I shall deal with the noisy and ill-informed member for. Richmond (Mr. Anthony), who said that the Speaker of the House of Commons does not take part in debates. In refutation of what the Leader of the Opposition once said to the press, I pointed out that, on. more occasions than one in this chamber, Speakers of the House of Commons have taken part in committee debates, and that one such Speaker actually moved a vital amendment to a bill in committee which resulted in the measure being abandoned by the Government. I advise the honorable member for Richmond to stick to the growing of -bananas. I am exercising my right, as the member for Dalley, to speak on the Estimates. Nothing prevents a Speaker from doing so. One thing that has impelled me to participate in the debate is the amount of drivel to which I have been forced to listen on the sub jeer of foreign affairs. For the information of honorable members generally, I repeat that there is nothing unusual in a Speaker taking part in debates in committee; and I shall exercise that right whenever I feel so disposed. The honorable member for Wentworth faithfully and unthinkingly follows his ‘leader, and so he repeated the misstatement of the right honorable gentleman, and then went on to say that I had “ eaten the leek “. I do not -know how he connected his remarks with the proposed vote under discussion. It is true that I was in the corner party on two occasions, but at those times the present Minister for External Affairs was not a Minister, and consequently I could not have criticized his work as a Minister.
– What about the honorable member’s remarks when he sat in ano’.her portion of the chamber?
– If the honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Holt) can give one instance of my criticism of the Minister for External Affairs, I shall submit. He knows that he cannot do so. The honorable member is just as vacuous and as empty-minded as is the honorable member for Wentworth. Summing up, we have had an exhibition of pettiness merely because I indulged my right to speak- in committee. The honorable member for Wentworth said that the Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley) was in such dire straits that he sent for me. The committee can accept my assurance that, so far as I am aware, the Prime Minister did not know that I intended to speak.
– He would not he so silly.
– Only the honorable member for Fawkner would think such things. I have been criticized because I took the Leader of the Opposition to task for his earlier speech.’ As a matter of fact, I made no attempt to besmirch the right honorable gentleman’3 character. I took him to task on what I considered a fair point of debate. That it was an effective point of debate was proved by the fact that, at the earliest opportunity, the Leader of the Opposition took the floor again in order to reply. He made great play on the subject of Argentina and Japan. As a matter of fact, there was so close a relation between what he had to say about the diplomatic establishments he had set up and those which exist to-day that no one, unless he were provided with a microscope, could discover any difference between them. Clearly, the right honorable gentleman tried to convey the idea that there was nothing wrong with ‘ appointing diplomatic representatives, or trade representatives, if you like, to Argentina. I am prepared to accept the challenge on the level of trade representatives. Argentina has a population of about 14,000,000, and the economy of the country rests upon exactly the same things as our does, namely, the production of beef and wheat. I challenge the argument that the first place to which we should send a trade representative is to a country which produces the same things as we do. What does the right honorable gentleman suggest an Australian trade representative in Argentina should do? Is it suggested that he should encourage Argentina to sell us its beef, while’ we sell our beef to Argentina, or that we should sell our wheat to that country and take wheat from Argentina in return? That would, indeed, be like the people who lived by taking in one another’s washing. I was charged by the right honorable gentleman with misconstruing his statements. His i d en was that we should give first preferon ce in overseas appointments to a country that has the same things to sell as we have. My point is that we do not appoint trade representatives to other countries for the specious reasons which he advanced. He said that we should send trade representatives to other countries in order to find out their trade secrets - how, in the case of Argentina, ir sells its wheat and meat. My idea is that Ave should send trade representatives abroad in order to discover the countries that require the things which we produce, and which produce the things that we need.
The Leader of the Opposition made another point, and at the appropriate time he received the applause of his supporters. He said that, while I spoke against Australian representation in Argentina as a priority over other representation, we were sending trade representatives to Japan. This induced loud applause from His gallery, but what are the facts? When Argentina was collaborating with the enemy and harbouring Nazis, when it. constituted the break in the Allied blockade, and when it was defying world opinion by standing behind Franco in Spain, Australia, while the war was still raging, sent representatives to Brazil and Chile. Now, after the war is over, we are sending representatives to Japan. To-day, we are sending trade representatives to Japan because it is realized that if Japan goes to the wall it will, in a commercial sense, be calamitous for the other Pacific nations. T challenge the Leader of the Opposition to declare before the Chamber of Manufactures or the Chamber of Commerce, as he has declared here to-night, that because we did not send representatives to Nazi Argentina we should not send them to Japan. During the war, we sent representatives to Brazil ‘and Chile, and if we now fail to send representatives to Japan we shall be excluded from trade with that country. It is true that Japan was, during the war, one of the Axis countries, but we are now viewing trade with Japan as a post-war problem, whereas we viewed trade with Brazil and Chile as a war problem. 1 regret that the honorable member for Henty (Mr. Gullett) spoke as he did. He is young in politics, and there is no reason why he should follow older members in the throwing of mud. However. I was pleased to note that he skated away from the Amour incident, about, which the true story has not yet been told. There might be a lot of burnt fingers and charred carcasses if honorable members opposite had the intestinal fortitude to say outside this chamber what they have said inside it.
– Would the honorable member support the holding of a Government inquiry into the matter?
– If the honorable member for Fawkner, who is a legal man, is prepared to repeat outside the chamber what has been said here, let him do it. That is the real test when a man’s reputation is at stake. I pass on to one other charge, namely, that made by the honorable member for Henty regarding a statement alleged to have been made by the Minister for Transport (Mr. Ward) in London. That article was broadcast through the press of the world. It was repudiated by the Minister. That fact, of course, does not mean much, because very often when a statement is reported in the press, whether it is a distortion or not, if it is an uncomfortable statement it is usually repudiated; but the outstanding fact in this case is that the newspaper which originally published the article publicly apologized for publishing it. That fact strengthened the Minister’s repudiation of it. These facts could not have been unknown to the honorable member for Henty, and I put it to him as a gallant gentleman that, after all, if he is going to tear to pieces the reputation of any person, he should inform himself of the facts before he attempts to do so. Prom my knowledge of the honorable member, I am sure that when he becomes aware of the repudiation of the article by both the Minister and the newspaper concerned, he will readily apologize for what he has said.
The statements of honorable members opposite with respect to my attitude in the past are all astray. On two occasions, f was a member of what they would call a “ corner party “ in this chamber, arid on neither of those occasions could T have done what they alleged I did.
– But the honorable member criticized the honorable member for Barton.
– If what the honorable member says is correct he, with all his facilities for research, would not have the slightest hesitation in quoting me from Hansard to support his statement; but the fact is that he cannot substantiate his allegations. I adhere to my original contention, namely, that the whole of these Estimates are being used by honorable members opposite for the purpose of defaming a man whose critics, politically, are not fit to clean his boots.
.- Usually, to the honorable member who happens to follow the honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Rosevear) falls the responsibility of replying to effective points made in debate. It falls to my lot to follow him this evening, but he made no point in his self-defensive speech which would warrant further reference. I have never heard him at a greater disadvantage than I heard him to-night. His speech was nothing but muddled sniping and sharpshooting at the Opposition in a debate which should be directed to issues arising in respect of External Affairs. Whatever may be remembered of the honorable member’s record in this chamber, nothing will be remembered of his contribution to this debate. That observation applies also to the speeches made by other members opposite. The honorable member for Boothby (Mr. .Sheehy) and the honorable member for Watson (Mr. Falstein merely attempted to attack the Opposition for its very effective criticism of this country’s external foreign policy and the gentleman out of whose mouth that policy fall?. The first speech made by the honorable member for Dalley in this debate was a plain, unvarnished “hands off Evatt “ speech. Apparently, honorable members opposite believe that in the House of Commons it is quite proper for Mr. Churchill to attack the British Government’s foreign policy, or for the Labour party, when it was in opposition in that Parliament, to denounce British foreign policy when it was under the ministerial direction of Mr. Anthony Eden; but in this Parliament honorable members opposite say, “No. We have some one who has a halo around his head, who has been canonized - at least by himself - and he must not be criticized “. I do not accept that view at all. If there is one subject which this National Parliament is justified in debating more than any other it is foreign affairs. And, when we have no real foreign policy but only a Minister who makes speeches about foreign policy, it is inevitable that there must be associated with the Opposition’s criticism of foreign policy reference from day to day to the man who manufactures it. Some things are processed from day to day, such as, sausages and bread; and it seems to me that foreign policy, as far as Australia is concerned, is now a perishable product, manufactured from day to day.
– Tell us about your war policy when you were Minister for External Affairs.
– I was Minister for External Affairs for a brief period of only six, or eight, months. I left that office, as is known, to take over the portfolio of Minister for Air, following the death of Mr, Fairbairn. In that comparatively brief period I did not attempt to become a world figure, or to posture on the stage of. this country; but, at least, I devoted my attention to my duties with respect to the foreign policy of this country. While I was Minister for External Affairs, my Prime Minister knew what I was doing and what my policy was, and I knew what he was thinking and what his policy was. That is more than can be said of the relationship that exists to-day between the present Minister for External Affairs and his Prime Minister. The present Minister is conducting his department to a substantial degree with the aid of staff who were brought into the department during the brief period I was Minister for External Affairs.
I also inform the honorable member for Watson (Mr. Falstein) that during that period I appointed, with the approval of the government of the day, the first Australian Minister to Japan; and I remind the honorable member that when that Minister returned to Australia - Japan not then being a belligerent - he did not go on to a public platform and attack the country to which he had been accredited, as did a gentleman whom the present Minister for External Affairs appointed Australian Minister to Russia. Instead, my appointee, upon his return from Japan, addressed members of both Houses of the Parliament, a courtesy which has never been extended to the Parliament on the part of any representative accredited by this Government to a foreign government. During the time I was Minister for External Affairs I established the practice of consultations between Australia and New Zealand concerning their respective policies on issues arising particularly with respect to Pacific affairs. I should not have referred to it had not the honorable member for Watson made an insulting reference to myself by describing me as a “ stooge “ of the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies). At that time I appointed the first Australian representative in Portuguese Timor. Though they were dire days we were not yet at war with Japan, but it was acknowledged by those who understood the situation that the possibility of war with Japan was very great. I recognized that in the eventuality of war with Japan, and in the circumstances that then existed, Australia was in a most vulnerable position by reason of the fact that New Caledonia was then occupied and controlled by a VichyFrance administration which was working hand-in-hand with the Axis powers. On my own initiative I went to the then Prime Minister, the present Leader of the Opposition, and proposed a course of action which he approved, the upshot of which was that a Frenchman, selected by myself and supported by the forces which I had arranged without involving Australia was landed in New Caledonia and replaced the pro-Axis Vichy administration by one giving allegiance to De Gaulle. The new administration entered into a military arrangement with Australia for the eviction of the pro-Vichy and pro- Japanese officials who were expatriated to French Indo-China. That act, which was performed without any public revelation, and without any posturing on the stage, resulted but a few months later in the avoidance of a bloody campaign in which thousands of Australians and Americans, would have lost their lives fighting to take New Caledoni a as they fought to recapture Guadalcanal.
– You and “ Percy” won the war.
– I recount this incident merely to show that it is possible for a Minister to perform the duties of his office without posturing as a world figure. What are the responsibilities of the office of the Minister for External Affairs ? The functions of the Department of External Affairs have evolved as an arm of government for the prime purpose of safeguarding Australia and ensuring its survival. Unfortunately that function appears to have been forgotten in recent times. It can be performed without public gyrations on the part of the Minister. That responsibility should never be lost sight of and should never be made a. secondary consideration to the Minister’s personal advancement. It is right that the Minister for External Affairs, or for that matter any Minister, should make his contribution to the betterment of mankind, to the improvement of the standards of life and the status of human beings, and to the betterment of international relations, and that he should acknowledge, as I readily do, that the prime responsibility of his office is to concern himself with the safety and security of his own nation as affected by international relations and not to take advantage of the incomparable opportunity presented to him for securing his own personal aggrandisement. How can the Minister for External Affairs or the international- affairs policy of the Government contribute to the safety and security of this country? We know that the authority which attaches to any country in the councils of the nations varies in importance and weight according to its economic and military strength, which, in turn, is vastly affected by its geographical position.
The cold fact to-day it that we live in a world which rests upon an uneasy peace and that only three great powers can contribute substantially to the peace, good order and comity of nations. It is no exaggeration to say that every other sovereign State is inevitably drawn into the orbit of one or other of these three great powers. It is tragic and disillusioning but not the less true that, although the world has just emerged from a catastrophic war, we are already living tinder conditions of an uneasy peace. Apart from the three great powers no nation would be able to wage war to-day other than on the most localized and restricted scale. It is an unhappy fact that none of these three great nations is disarming. There is increasing evidence of distrust by Russia of the western democracies ‘and of mounting feeling in the United States of America that the possibility of war with Russia is not a figment of the imagination. This is the kind of world in which Australia has to compose its foreign policy. What are the fundamentals upon which we should build our foreign policy? The only world organization capable of making decisions vital to our very existence is the Security Council: of which Australia is not a member. The only recognized voices of authority on that body to-day are those of the three great powers, the Soviet, the United States of America and the United Kingdom. This situation emphasizes the teachings of history that the greatest weight is given to the voice of the nation which has the greatest military and economic strength. Let us consider the strength and force of the Australian voice in the international arena vis-a-vis the other powers with which we sit in council. Judged by the measuring stick of military and economic strength, Australia with a population of not quite 8,000,000 people is a very minor power by comparison with the great powers of the world. By the measuring stick of population we are far down the list from China with 450,000,000 people, India with more than 300,000,000, Soviet Russia with 200,000,000, the United States of America with 140,000,000, our ex-enemy countries, Japan with 73,000,000 and Germany with 66,000,000, and our great sponsor, the United Kingdom., with 47,000,000. In terms of population the United Kingdom itself is scarcely comparable with the United States of America and Soviet Russia ; but when one adds to the strength of the United Kingdom the populations and military and economic strength of the separate parts of the British Empire, one finds a great world power indeed, potentially capable of mustering at least as much strength as the other great powers of the world.
That brings me to the only point that I wish to make in relation to international affairs - the only point that really matters - and that is that the destiny and safety of this country are bound up inextricably with the maintenance of our complete identity within the framework of the British Commonwealth, the maintenance of the complete solidarity of the British Commonwealth, and the maintenance of a state of affairs in our relationships in which, in the councils of the nations, the voice of the United Kingdom shall be accepted by all nations of the world as the voice of the British people. Any act that contributes to the establishment of a state of affairs in which the other great powers realize that the voice of the United Kingdom in the world councils is not the voice of the whole British people, will be fraught with dire consequences for us and our destiny. If these conclusions based upon the undeniable facts that I have mentioned are not sound, there is immediately .revealed the only hypothesis upon which we can compose and practise a foreign policy, and that is that everything else must be regarded as of secondary importance to the maintenance of the solidarity of the British people by the process of consultation between Empire nations, resulting in a capacity for one voice to speak for the entire British people. I admit a point that the Minister for External Affairs himself has made, namely, that in certain areas and spheres the United Kingdom may speak for the whole of the British people, hut that, by agreement, in other arenas it may be that a dominion will speak for the British people. I concede that readily. In fact, I have worked on those lines myself. But to proceed with our foreign policy along lines that enable us to parade ourselves as a completely separate country, able to stand on our own feet and to make our own way through a world that is the equivalent of a forest filled with wolves, is to court ultimate disaster for this country. It is a matter of history that the first world war probably would not have occurred had the German Ambassador to the Court of St. James not reported to the Kaiser and his Government that Great Britain would not fight upon the invasion of Belgium. History is now revealing that Hitler would not have made his decision to precipitate the second world war had not von Ribbentrop, in his capacity as Reich Minister in London, reported that, in his opinion, Great Britain would not fight upon the invasion of Poland. Nothing could contribute more to the likelihood of a third world war than that some advice should be given to a country by its foreign representatives that the British Empire had divided into its component parts. I say to this Government that every time its Minister foa- External Affairs publicly reveals disagreement with the United Kingdom, he is playing with dynamite, and that we are in no condition to have our representative abroad juggling with dynamite. This country is in much more need of security than of world publicity for one of its sons.
– Can the honorable member give a specific instance of disagreement?
– If the honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Beazley) reads the annals of the San Francisco con- ‘ference, he will find not only one instance, but many.
– On trivial questions like trusteeship.
– On. quite important issues and on very important issues. Could any issue be more important than the veto?
– Yes. That is not a question of substance, but of procedure.
– I suggest that the honorable member should make a further study of the work of the San Francisco conference. I repeat that this country is in much more need of a guarantee of safety than of personal publicity for one of its sons, no matter how brilliant he may be. Much of the important work in the realm of international affairs could be performed without any public posturing at all.
– Something has been said by honorable members opposite about Ministers and members on this side not having played much part in this debate, but the committee will recollect that only the other week we debated a ministerial statement on international affairs, and that many of the matters raised on the Estimates were then considered. I think it can be said the Opposition did not get any change in that debate. I set out in my contribution to it to show that there was no foundation whatever for saying that the Department of External Affairs was run by one Minister. I said then that the policy decided by the Department of External Affairs and enunciated by the Minister for External Affairs (Dr. Evatt) was the collective responsibility of the Cabinet. I repeat that. Charges have been made in this debate that the proposed vote for the Department of External Affairs has been unduly inflated because the Minister for External Affairs has appointed ministers and representatives to a far greater number of countries than Australia can afford to have representation in. Every decision to appoint a representative in any country has been made by the
Cabinet. It has also made the decision as to who should represent Australia in those countries. So it cannot be said that this is merely ‘the responsibility of the Minister for External Affairs. These decisions are taken by the Cabinet. Criticism has been advanced that we ought not to have appointed ministers in Brazil and Chile. I think some honorable members opposite said that we should not appoint any one at all to South America, and that others said that rather than have appointed them in Brazil we ought to have appointed them in Argentina. The honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Rosevear) has effectively dealt with that point. If honorable members look at the countries to which Australia has appointed representatives, they will find that the representation has been spread effectively from the geographical point of view. It would surely be utter nonsense to appoint all our representatives to Europe or North America and none to South Amenca or Asia. Our diplomatic representation has been spread all over the world. That is as it should be.
Surely one cannot ignore that there is in the- aggregate a very large population in South America, and that there are several countries there that in the councils of the world play a considerable part. I think it would be ridiculous to suggest that if we decide to take part in international affairs we should leave out of consideration the opinions and political motives of large numbers of people in an area as large as South America. So, looking at the countries in which we have representatives, I say that the Minister for External Affairs has made excellent recommendations to Cabinet, all of which have been adopted by it. I desire to add something to what has been said by the honorable member for Dalley on the matter of a choice between representation in a country like Argentina and a country like Brazil. The honorable member pointed out that the population of Brazil was more than 43.000,000 and of Argentina was less than 14,000,000. He also pointed out, as I would have had he not, that, all other things being equal, we should seek representation in countries with economies complementary to ours rather than competitive. There are considerable prospects of trade between Brazil and
Australia. I have taken part in certain trade negotiations at Geneva.
– You did not do much.
– The honorable member has not heard yet what has been done at Geneva, and when he has heard it will be time enough for him to criticize. He purports to be interested in the wool industry of Australia. Brazil is .an importer of Australian wool. Evidently that is of no interest to him. As with wool so it is with a number of other commodities. I tell the honorable member for Wakefield that I anticipate that Brazil will be one of the countries that will enter a multi-lateral agreement as a result of the Geneva trade negotiations. So trade with Brazil ought certainly to be much more important to Australia than trade with Argentina.
– Tell us something about Chile.
– I am dealing with Brazil. The honorable member can have his say when he likes. I now propose to answer certain remarks made by the honorable member for Henty (Mr. Gullett). I regret he is not present. The honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Rosevear) answered him effectively. Certain statements appeared in the press of Australia as allegedly having been made by the Minister for Transport and Minister for External Territories (Mr. Ward) in London. I was in close touch with, him all the time he was in Great Britain and at Geneva, and he made available to me the exact text of any statement he made while I was there. I duly reciprocated.. I was surprised when I received reports from Australia that he was alleged to have said certain things. I know that he sent to Australia the exact text of a statement he made and that he is in possession of, and probably may produce in this chamber, an apology from the newspaper that printed the statement. So the honorable member for Henty was talking about something of which he knew little. Because of his inexperience he ought to think twice before making charges such as those he made. I turn now to certain remarks made by the honorable member for Indi (Mr. McEwen). He has endeavoured to belittle the work done by the
Minister for External Affairs. He said: “ When I was Minister for External Affairs this is one of the things I did. I would not have mentioned this, only it is part of my argument “. He said he was responsible for assisting in having the Governor of New Caledonia changed from a pro- Vichy one to one who would collaborate with the Allies. If that is all the honorable member can claim to his credit, he has very little to be proud of. L was a member of the War Cabinet from the time that Japan declared war, immediately after which we met grave difficulties in New Caledonia, and the governor, in whose appointment the honorable member for Indi takes pride, had to be changed before the Americans could get any co-operation there. So much for the boast of the honorable member for Indi, about what he did in New Caledonia. That is all I wish to contribute to this debate. I said most of what I wished to say on the debate on the ministerial statement on International Affairs. I merely repeat that my colleague, the Minister for External Affairs, has done a wonderful job. For the first time in our history it is evident to the rest of the world that Australia has a foreign policy. That was never so before. I completely repudiate the idea put forward by the honorable member for Indi that Australia should do nothing other than echo the voice of the United Kingdom on every matter that comes up for consideration at international conferences. I believe that 95 per cent, of the people of Australia would support me in doing so.
– That is a characteristic distortion of my statement.
– It is not a distortion at all. It is exactly what the honorable member said. He said that it would be disastrous if Australia did anything other than back up the United Kingdom on every matter which came up for consideration at international conferences. This Australia of ours, having achieved the full status of nationhood during World War I., has a complete right to put its own point of view in the councils of the nations. What does the honorable member for Indi suggest that we should do if we found ourselves in disagreement with the point of view of the United
Kingdom on any matter? Does he suggest that our representatives should sit dumb and do nothing? Australia is entitled to express its point of view. The very fact that the Minister for External Affairs has always done so on behalf of the Australian Government, whether he has been in disagreement with some other country or not, is one reason why the right honorable gentleman has made such a success of external affairs policy for Australia.
.- It. is not my intention to traverse the whole field of international affairs, because we had a debate on that subject last week, :*nd I spoke fully then. However, statements which have emanated from the Government side of the chamber to-night impel me to raise my voice in protest. The Minister for Post-war Reconstruction (Mr. Dedman), who recently had charge of Australia’s economic destiny at an international conference at Geneva, seems to entertain some viewpoints that are alarming to me. He indicated to-night that population should be the criterion for diplomatic representation . and said that because Brazil has more people than Argentina, diplomatic representation of Australia in that country is more important than such representation in the latter country. According to the same reasoning, we should say that China and India are more important from a diplomatic point of view than either of those two countries, or even Great Britain. To what was Australia committed by the Minister at Geneva? The honorable gentleman, spoke of a multilateral agreement with Brazil. There are great dangers in multilateral agreements. Australia made many agreements with other countries during the period in which I was Minister for Trade and Customs, and, in the light of my own knowledge and experience I say that, unless we adhere to preferential trade within the Empire and make that a permanent policy, we shall lose the substance for the shadow. If we have peregrinating ministers visiting Brazil, where the nuts come from, or Argentina, Uruguay, or Paraguay, in the hope that they will be able to force trade between Australia and those countries, and if we overlook Great Britain, with a population of only 44,000,000 people. but nevertheless with the greatest influence in the- world, we shall find ourselves in grave economic difficulties. Great Britain has kept Australia prosperous over the years by taking over 50 per cent, of this country’s exports - even as much as 90 per cent, in some instances. If we neglect the Mother Country now we shall find, when we emerge from the present period of bounding prices - and I remind honorable members that the sellers’ market is now becoming a buyers’ market - that our market there is lost to us because that country has perforce gone elsewhere.
I refer now to statements that were made by the honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Rosevear), who is not very happy when talking from the floor of this chamber about trade. For all the honorable gentleman’s shortcomings in his capacity as Speaker, I prefer to see him in that position. He spoke of Argentina as a place to which Australia could not sell anything. Apparently his historical knowledge of commerce is very limited. I remind him that Australia was a large exporter of agricultural implements to Argentina. That trade has disappeared. Admittedly, we do not approve of the kind of government now in office in Argentina. It is not the democratic sort of government to which English-speaking communities are accustomed. Nevertheless, I have this to say on behalf of the Government of Argentina - that when the Commonwealth Government failed to make a gift of food to the United Kingdom last Christmas, the alien government of Argentina did so. Twelve months ago I suggested such a gesture to the Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley). The right honorable gentleman said that he would consider the suggestion, but when I reminded ‘ him that I had in mind Christmas, 1946, not Christmas, 1947, he mumbled something to the effect that the Government did not approve of my suggestion, although British newspapers had led their readers to believe that a gift of food would be made by Australia. It was then that Argentina made a substantial gift of meat to the United Kingdom. This gift was sufficient to provide the British people with extra food for their dinner tables at Christmas time. I have repeated my suggestion to the Prime Minister this year. However, the right honorable gentleman has informed me that I have made the proposal in ignorance of what the Government intends to do. What does the Government intend to do? The Prime Minister has been consorting with Lord Addison, and apparently some great scheme is afoot. I remind the right honorable gentleman now that the British people would appreciate food more than a gift of £25,000,0OO, which merely amounts to freezing some of our funds already overseas.
I hope that the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction, having spoken about trade as he has done to-night, will study the history of Empire preferential trade since 1908. If he does so and acquires the correct perspective, which he now lacks, he will realize that a group or regional agreement between the nations of the British Empire is no more anomalous than the fact that the republics within the Soviet Union trade with one another, as also do the States of the United States of America. We must not allow Empire trade preferences to be broken down. Great harm can be done at international trade conferences if Australia’s delegates are not fully informed of the facts.
There has been a great deal of merging of the diplomatic with the economic in to-night’s debate. The Government should be indicted for the way in which it has appointed representatives to other countries. I refer not to diplomatic appointments in Brazil, Chile and other countries, but to trade appointments in various parts of the world. I have particularly in mind major appointments, such as that of a representative in Ceylon. 1 have tried to find out the exact nature of the Australian representative’s joh in that country, to which the former representative of the electorate of Franklin in this Parliament, Mr. C. W. Frost, has been appointed. Apparently the post carries with it some diplomatic responsibilities in addition to trade responsibilities, and Mr. Frost, therefore, holds a semi-ministerial post of a nebulous character. After his defeat at the last elections by the gallant member who now graces this chamber, he went to Ceylon without having any knowledge at all of the task which he was required to undertake. He is in communication with the democratic government of Ceylon and, in that capacity, he has many perplexing problems to handle. I say that he is not qualified to solve them. I hold the same view regarding Mr. J. P. Breen, the former representative of the electorate of Calare, who also was defeated at the last- elections by a young and gallant gentleman who now sits on this side of the chamber. Upon his defeat, Mr. Breen was appointed immediately, without training, as a senior official of the Australian Government in the Middle East. Both of the appointments which I have criticized were made in spite of the superior claims of ex-servicemen, although the Government went through the motions of observing the law in relation to preference. Neither Mr. Frost nor Mr. Breen is an ex-serviceman and, in fact, Mr. Breen was not even an applicant for the position to which he was elevated.
– That is not true. He was an applicant.
– It is quite true. The Government sent both of these men to jobs which could have been filled more satisfactorily by eminent men with excellent service records. I shall say no more on the trade issue. However, I have a suggestion to make to any Minister who will take the trouble to listen to me. If necessary, I shall wait until the Ministers now on the front bench are ready to listen.
– Order ! The Standing Orders do not compel a Minister to give attention to an honorable member’s remarks.
– I should know from experience that Ministers do not listen to what honorable members say. However, I praise the Government for the schooling which it is giving to the young men who have been appointed to Australia’s diplomatic service. Experience and training are just as. necessary for that service as they are for members of the armed forces. The training should be long and arduous.
We have some promising material, but I make a suggestion for the improvement of the men after they have graduated. Provision should be made for the attachment of these men to the diplomatic services of the British Empire. The British Foreign and Colonial Office employs many prominent Australians. For example, Mr. Leeper is His Majesty’s Ambassador in Greece. Mr. Yencken was the adviser to the British Government regarding Spain. Unhappily, he was killed shortly after the conclusion of World War II. in an aircraft accident. Mr. Garran, son of Sir Robert Garran, a former CommonwealthSolicitorGeneral, did an able and distinguished job in Yugoslavia and Portugal. Mr. Jordan, a member of the first Australian Imperial Force, was a prisoner of war in Turkey and is now charge d’affaires at Ankara. Mr. Greenwood is the British Government’s adviser in Persia. Those ‘are eminent Australians who are employed by the United Kingdom. Others are employed in the Trade Commissioners Service. Some are interchangeable, and are transferred on occasions to consular positions.
Honorable members opposite will realize, if they rise above party political considerations, that my suggestion is most laudable. I know that young Englishmen employed in the diplomatic service would like to transfer to posts in Australia - in other words, to “ swop “ with Australians - as the armed forces exchange personnel. I have spoken to our patrol officers in New Guinea. They have learned the hard way, and are most valuable officers and excellent public servants. But what do they know of conditions in West Africa and Kenya ? If provision were made for an exchange of our officers with their “ opposite numbers “ in other parts of the British Empire, we should become better informed. The officers concerned would become better advisers to the Government, and Australia would derive advantages from the interchange. Even more important, my suggestion, if adopted, would promote closer Empire unity. The population of the United Kingdom is approximately 44,000,000 persons, and the British Empire has about 70,000,000 white inhabitants. The corporate voice of Great Britain and its dominions must be heard in the world, in the interests of trade and economics generally, and our own security. If necessary, scholarships should be provided to enable young Australians to study abroad. At present, Rhodes scholars from Australia, the other dominions and the United States of America go on to Oxford, and many have distinguished themselves in later life. In the same way, Colonial Office scholarships should be provided, and opportunities should be created to enable Australian public servants to transfer to positions in Great Britain and the other dominions. From such an exchange, Australia would greatly benefit. Our public service must be efficient - we do not criticize it - and should be of the smallest possible dimensions. However, public servants must travel and be well informed. They cannot be well informed if they have no experience of working in other countries. Some exchange and circulation of public servants throughout the British Empire is essential, and I hope that the Government will sympathetically consider the proposal.
– The chamber to-day has heard speeches from the honorable member for Indi (Mr. McEwen), the honorable member for New England (Mr. Abbott), and other members of the Opposition, which were very critical of the Minister for External Affairs (Dr. Evatt) in an extremely personal manner. The Estimates for the Department of External Affairs have been used as a vehicle for a personal attack on the right honorable gentleman. I make no complaint of that, except to say that I have not yet heard any specific instances in which his foreign policy was deemed to have erred. Criticism has not been voiced of the general line which Australia adopted at the United Nations on the series of questions which have come before that organization, and especially at the time when the Commonwealth was represented on the Security Council. It would be absurd to pretend, ii nd I have no intention of pretending that the foreign policy of the Minister for External Affairs has been an endless summer of success, but I should like to hear of any specific instances of serious failure.
The honorable member for Indi spoke st length about the Minister’s ego, and then claimed credit for the incidents in New Caledonia in 1940, when an administration sympathetic to the Vichy Government in France was expelled. He conveyed the impression that, by his own manipulations, colonial rebellion had been created. Every one knows that the history of the French colonial empire at that time was full of similar incidents; that a rebellion existed in the territory at the time of the French capitulation; and that quite independently of any activities of the honorable member for Indi when he was Minister for External Affairs, although I do not desire to take any credit from his achievements, the economic interests of New Caledonia had been so identified with Australia that there was no difficult problem in Australia’s relations with it.
However, I do not desire to speak ai great length on that particular matter. I propose to direct’ my remarks to a subject which has been the crux of the Opposition’s criticism of the Minister for External Affairs for a. period. I refer to the situation which has developed in Java as the result of World War II. It is high time that the assertions of Dutch virtue on the one hand and of Communist claims of Indonesian virtue on the other, were replaced by something approaching a scientific analysis of the situation in Indonesia. At the cessation of hostilities, the South-East Asia Command entrusted the British with the occupation of Indonesia, and British forces under General Christison entered Java. The situation which they found was that a government claiming to be the Government of the Republic of Indonesia was in being, and General Christison issued orders to the British troops that they were to take no action against a display of nationalist flags by Indonesians, that they were to take no armed action against those whom the Dutch characterized as rebels, that in the dispute between the Dutch and the Indonesians the British forces were to be entirely neutral, and that the Indonesian Government, which was the de facto government of some areas of Java, was to be held responsible for the safety of British, Dutch and other internees there. That, of course, was flattering the Indonesian Government because it is an obvious fact that it was incapable of being responsible for the safety of any one. However, that was the policy of the British Command. Let us clear our minds of some of the cant that is talked about the Indonesian nationalist movement. First, I shall approach the subject from the conservative point of view. There is the suggestion that the Indonesian nationalist movement either was a product of Communist action or came into being only as the result of the Japanese occupation. As far back as 1.910, a powerful Indonesian nationalist movement, which was known as Bo edi Otomo, or “ Glorious Endeavour “, was in being. It had a membership of 10,000 Western-educated Indonesians who had derived their ideology from Western education, just as many of the Indian leaders derived what one might term a “ democratic, ideology “, professed if not practised, and a nationalist sentiment from their contact with the West. By 1927 that Indonesian nationalist movement was capable of staging a major rebellion against the Dutch, go that the chief fact about the Indonesian nationalism is that it antedates the Japanese occupation, and it certainly was not created by Communist action. Every observer that Australia has had in those areas, including naval officers, have commented on the significance of Communists in the Indonesian nationalist movement as being merely chat of merchant seamen who moved from island to island and provided a means of communication between the various nationalist groups. That is the situation h,s far as the history of the Indonesian movement is concerned. Dr. Soekarno and Dr. Sjahrir gave certain guarantees to General Christison at a time of trouble that they would ensure the safety of those who had been formerly interned by the Japanese. But as their movement is not really a coherent one, and since it could more properly be described as an anarchic movement, their guarantees were worthless. In point of fact, when Brigadier Mallaby was going to meet their representatives, in order to devise a scheme to safeguard the internees, he was murdered. The Indonesian leaders disclaimed responsibility for that action, and I have no doubt that they were not responsible, but the incident indicates, at least, that they were incapable of control.
I think that a great deal of the cant that is talked about the existence of a united, coherent movement for nationalist independence should be debunked. There are many elements in the Indonesian nationalist rising, and their only common characteristic is their opposition to Europeans, and, of course, to the Dutch. There are feudal sultans, there is Sarikat lslam, an essentially Indonesian movement, and eastern Javanese movements which take no notice of either Soekarno or Sjahrir.
What are the objective facts of Dutch Indonesia? The first fact is that Holland cannot exist without the products of its Indonesian empire, and the basie reason for Holland being in Indonesia is simply expressed in those words. A European population of 8,000,000 could not be maintained in an area only half the size of Tasmania unless the products of the Dutch colonial empire were coming in to sustain it, and the fact is that the imports of Holland before the war were financed by the sale of commodities from the Indonesian empire. That is the basic reason why the Dutch wish to remain there. We may discuss our interest in their remaining there, or not remaining there, but, at least, let us clear away the junk.
The Dutch interest in Indonesia is economic. I do not denounce them for it, or praise them for it; I merely say that if we are to discuss foreign policy intelligently we must start with a basis of objective fact. The Dutch were dissatisfied at all times with the attitude adopted by the British occupying force towards the Indonesian nationalist movement. The continued tenor of British advice to the Dutch was to make a compromise with their colonial people, and the Dutch expressed their dissatisfaction with British policy in that regard. Meanwhile the Dutch were not pursuing a continuous policy, as the repudiation of Dr. van Mook by the Dutch Government showed ; and their policy towards the Indonesian rebellion was not consistent. The Indonesian leaders had just cause for complaint at certain stages of the negotiations because of the vacillations of Dutch policy and because they were unable to ascertain definitely who was speaking authoritatively for Holland.
The situation which developed in Indonesia afforded an opportunity for the utmost co-operation between Great Britain and Australia; and since one of the criticisms levelled at the Minister for External Affairs is that he has not coordinated his policy with that of Great Britain, I suggest that we should look briefly at the policy Great Britain followed in Indonesia. The whole trend of British policy was towards securing a compromise. I think that the British authorities were wasting their time, because their philosophy was the product of mature British colonial experience and it was not a viewpoint likely to find acceptance in Holland. The British Empire itself has been developed by a series of compromises, most of which cannot be defended in terms of academic logic but are susceptible of defence as representing practical solutions of difficult problems which have arisen from time to time. The British approach to the problem in Indonesia was to induce the Dutch to drop the Germanic logic, which they possessed to such a degree, and to come to a sensible compromise, the sensible compromise being expressed in the Cheribon agreement.
Sir Archibald Clarke Kerr’s policy was at all times directed by the British Government, which acted in close collaboration with the Australian Government, which was, of course, most interested in the situation. What are our interests ? I maintain that the interests of Australia were well and truly expressed in the Cheribon agreement. In the first place that agreement proposed to establish a Republic of Indonesia, and Java and Sumatra were to comprise that republic. The Republic of Indonesia was to become part of a greater entity. The outlying islands, which are not rebellious, were to be federated with the Republic of Indonesia in what was to be called the United States of Indonesia. The United States of Indonesia was to have the King of Holland as its sovereign, but the Republic of Indonesia was not to recognize him as its sovereign. Just how that situation could be explained in logic I do not know ; but a formula was devised which satisfied both the Indonesians and the Dutch and certain defensive positions which the Dutch had in Indonesia were to be safeguarded to them. I do not believe that the Dutch ever intended to keep that agreement, and equally, I do not believe that the Indonesians are capable - at all events, at present - of keeping the agreement in all respects. However, for the moment I intend to concentrate my remarks on Holland’s actions with regard to that agreement. If the British Government had promised to withdraw its forces from India, as it did last year, and had then commenced to pour in troops, one would say that there was, at least, superficial evidence that it did not intend to keep its promise. The fact is that throughout these negotiations the Dutch increased the number of their troops in the Netherlands East Indies from nil to 100,000. Honorable members might say that that was a perfectly correct policy, and that the “police action” taken by the Dutch against the Indonesians was perfectly justified, and I should respect that point of view although I do not. agree with it. However. the agreement entered into by the Dutch shows that they professed themselves agreeable to the creation of a new entity, namely, the United .States of Indonesia, and undertook to respect its independence. That is briefly the factual story of the situation which developed in the Netherlands East Indies.
How did the Cheribon Agreement meet the interests of the Commonwealth of Australia? I believe that the political situation at present existing in the Philippines is the ideal, one for the islands to the north of Australia. The western power, in that case the United States of America, has the right to maintain fortified positions. On the other hand, it has given complete independence to the native peoples. The result is that the fortified positions, which are really maintained in our interests as well as those of America, are not surrounded by a hostile population. If Dutch sovereignty is restored in Indonesia by military action, which would involve the complete suppression of the Indonesian revolution, we should not imagine - whatever we may think of thai possibility - that it is an acceptable solution of the problem. Our experience of fortified positions which are surrounded by a hostile population, teaches us that those fortifications will last only about as long as they did in the Netherlands East Indies in 1941, when they lasted about five days. Therefore, when Australian foreign policy was directed towards the consummation of the Cheribon agreement it was directed towards leaving Europeans in certain fortified positions, conserving certain economic rights, and yet, at the same time, conferring on the native peoples democratic rights. That is a policy which afforded a reasonable prospect that the native peoples ‘would not become hostile to the European force maintained in their country. I believe that in time the situation would have improved. However, that was not to be, and the Dutch took other action. In foreign policy, since one cannot control other nations, one can only work towards the achievement of a settlement which is in one’s own interests. Since the Minister for External Affairs worked towards the maintenance of the Cheribon agreement, I say that, for the reasons which I have outlined, he worked towards a settlement which was entirely in the interests of Australia; and the fact that his attitude was not subsequently adopted by either the Dutch or the Indonesians does not invalidate the soundness of his approach to the matter. The Cheribon agreement provided that, should there he a dispute between Holland and .the Indonesian Republic, an independent arbitrator should be called in. It was an independent arbitrator, Sir Archibald Clarke Kerr, who achieved that sensible compromise, which bears every mark of similar sensible compromises which have been achieved by the British throughout their colonial history. When the dispute broke out, it should have been referred to an independent arbitrator. That was not done. Yet the Dutch had promised that Indonesia would -be an independent republic. On that ground, the Australian Government suggested that the dispute should be referred to the United Nations. Its attitude was sound, and won the general support of liberal opinion all over the world, as well as of the nations of which the Security Council is composed. Consequently, I consider that on those issues the foreign policy oi the Minister for External Affairs has been entirely sound.
Some play has been made upon the criticisms of the’ Minister expressed by Mr. Paul Hasluck in a speech that he made in the University of Western Australia. His words have been seized upon. Anybody can give us a spate of emotional words. In the course of his address, Mr. Hasluck, for a considerable period, outlined quite objectively what had taken place in the Security Council of the United Nations. He then said that there was a strain of larrikinism in Australian foreign policy; that we “ threw stones at lights because they were bright “. I do not know exactly what the reference means, but I take it to mean that undue criticism of other countries has been expressed by the Minister for External Affairs. I shall not be impressed by that statement while it remains a generalization and not a specific .statement. In all the newspapers which have published cartoons, I have not yet seen what are the specific instances in which there has been undue criticism. When these are given, I shall be prepared to be impressed by Mi-. Hasluck’s statement. If they are not given, I shall not be prepared to be impressed. Although that generalized statement was made by him in two columns of matter, no specific instances were given.
The other point seized upon was the complaint that the Minister controls his department. That is a very touching reversal from the usual press complaint that Ministers are run by bureaucrats. When Ministers run the bureaucrats, that, too, is wrong. We should like, to know from Opposition members what exactly is the situation in a department which they want to produce. We have not heard of it so far, and I doubt whether we shall.
The Minister has also been criticized because of his consistent campaigning against the exercise of the veto. I suppose that it is a criticism of him to say that he has taken the United Nations seriously. He may be quite wrong in doing so. But many people have believed that it was desirable to make this international organization work, and the veto, as it has been used by several great powers, has prevented the United Nations from working. So the Minister’s campaign against the exercise of the veto in the initial stages was, I consider, quite sound.
I take the strongest exception to the speech of the honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. Harrison), because it contained an unjustified smear concerning the Advisory Committee on the Japanese Peace Settlement. There was a very strong suggestion in the honorable member’s speech that the committee was designed to. reflect the Minister’s own ego, and was virtually a useless committee because it was not empowered to make representations or recommendations.
– Does the honorable member know the conditions under which the committee was appointed ?
– Order !
– I am well aware that the Minister appointed the members of it. It was not an all-party, committee, but a committee of outsiders who are experts in their several spheres.
– Including the honorable member.
– Order !
– I shall deal later with the parliamentary members of it. At the moment, I am referring to the outsiders. . Sir Douglas Mawson was appointed to the committee because he is an expert on Antarctic affairs. There is no better expert in Australia on those affairs, and the subject of Japanese whaling rights being one which probably would be raised at the peace conference, his presence on the committee was desirable. Brigadier Blackburn, V.C., as a lawyer, has taken part in war crime trials in Japan, and has an expert knowledge of such matters. Miss Duncan lived for many years in Korea before the war, and has been in Korea since the termination of the conflict in connexion with the work of Unrra. She has a knowledge of the situation vis-a-vis the Russian occupying forces and the American occupying forces in Korea. Professor MacDonald is Professor of International Relations at an Australian university. Mr. McDonald, the representative of the Australian Legion of Ex-Servicemen, is particularly interested in the matter of reparations as they might effect ex-servicemen who had suffered at the hands of the Japanese. Professor Sadler is Professor of Oriental
Studies at the University of Sydney. Sir Frederic Eggleston has held diplomatic appointments abroad. Professor K. H. Bailey is an expert on international law. Mr. Clarey represented the point of view of the trade unions. Mr. Wilkins represented the view of the Associated Chambers of Commerce.
Mr. Anthony interjecting,
– Order !
– To suggest that those persons, putting on one side the parliamentary representatives on the committee, had nothing to contribute, were bad appointments, or were selected by the Minister merely to be reflections of his own ego, is gratuitously to insult them - an insult as slovenly as it is contemptible. I throw it back in the teeth of the honorable member for Wentworth.
Mr. Anthony interjecting,
– Order !
– As for the parliamentary representation, I understand that the Minister selected certain members of the Opposition. The Opposition objected, and selected its own members, with which selections the Minister agreed. I do not believe that the honorable member for Corangamite (Mr. McDonald) and the honorable member for Wide Bay (Mr. Corser), whom the Minister selected, were unworthy to be members of the committee, because ultimately the Opposition selected one of them.
Mr. Anthony interjecting,
– Order !
– Do you not yourself interject sometimes?
– Order ! I name the honorable member for Richmond for insolence to the Chair.
– I ask that I be given the reason for having been named. I made only one interjection at that moment.
– Order ! The honorable member has been called to order on. several occasions for persistently interrupting the speaker.
– I was not persistently interrupting the speaker.
– Order ! The Chair is the judge of that. When I called the honorable member to order, he made an insolent reference to the Chair, and it was for that that I named him.
– I. rise to a point of order. The imposition of the penalty of suspension on the honorable member for Richmond would be a very serious punishment for what, at the worst, was quite a slight offence. The honorable member merely said : “ Do you not yourself interject sometimes ? “ I am sure that he had no intention of reflecting on the Chair. I ask, if I may, whether you will not follow a custom which obtained in this Parliament for many years, of giving to an honorable member an opportunity to withdraw a remark that he had made.
– The Chair will insist upon silence being maintained when silence is ordered. The honorable member for Richmond is a persistent interjector, but he must obey the Chair. If he is prepared to apologize to the Chair for his action, I shall overlook his offence.
– I regret if I have appeared to disobey the Chair.
– The work of the committee to which I referred was to discuss every question which was likely to come before the peace, conference. The discussion was reported and made available to the Minister for External Affairs as a fruitful field of suggestion to him. It would be belittling the committee to suggest that the contributions of the outsiders to the discussion - I say nothing of the members of Parliament who were members of the committee - were of no value. They were of the greatest value. £ believe that the reflections on the committee by the honorable member for Wentworth were quite unwarranted.
A poor feature of this debate was the personal attacks on Senator Amour, who baa indicated that when the Senate meets he will reply to the charges concerning him. It was stated that he gave a press interview in Clare, Eire. Senator Amour denies that he was in Clare and that he gave a press interview in Eire at all. One of the points made in this debate was that the Minister for Transport (Mr. Ward) made press statements which the newspapers concerned retracted and apologized for afterwards. Now we have the same kind of statement emanating from the Opposition about Senator Amour.
The budget debate has been made the vehicle for a personal attack on the Minister for External Affairs. We have not heard much of foreign policy, but mere assertions by the honorable member for New England (Mr. Abbott) as to vanity being the characteristic of the Minister and a good deal of time-wasting by the honorable member for Henty (Mr. Gullett), who also made a personal attack on the Minister.
– Order ! The honorable member’s time has expired.
– I rise to make a personal explanation. There seems to be a tendency on the part of some honorable members who have spoken in the debate to be misrepresented by following speakers from the government benches. To-night I have been misrepresented by the honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Beazley). I made no reflection whatsoever on the non-parliamentary members of the committee. I said thai on the opening day of the conference 1 had asked whether the committee was empowered to make recommendations, and had been informed that it had no such powers. I cast no aspersions on members of the committee, who were men of capacity and experts in their several spheres. The honorable member for Fremantle spoke disparagingly of me, imputing to me words I had never uttered, as the records will show. If the honorable member has any decency, he will withdraw and apologize.
– I, too, rise to make a personal explanation. The’ honorable member for Wentworth has given an assurance that he cast no aspersions on the members of the Advisory Committee
– Is the honorable member making a personal explanation?
– It is my intention to apologize to the honorable member for Wentworth, because I accept his assurance that he did not criticize the nonparliamentary members of that committee. I took the statements of the honorable member for Wentworth to be couched in general terms, and I did not believe that my inference was unfair. However, if it was unfair, I now apologize.
– The honorable member knows that it was unfair.
.- In discussing the Estimates for the Department of External Affairs, I utter the strongest protest against the lack of courtesy displayed by the Minister acting for the Minister for External Affairs in not being present to hear what has been said. I say that realizing that the Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley), who is at present administering the department, has many and onerous duties to perform and that he could not be expected to remain in the chamber during the whole of the debate. F suggest, however, that if this growing practice of Ministers absenting themselves from the chamber during important debates affecting the departments under their control is to continue the Parliament will become merely a shell of a democratic institution.
– I ask the honorable member to connect his remarks with the proposed vote under discussion.
– I am discussing the Estimates for the Department of External Affairs, and have expressed the view that the Minister temporarily in charge of the department should be present during the discussion.
– According to the Standing Orders, only the Chair is compelled to listen to debates.
– According to the traditions of this Parliament, Ministers are expected to be present when matters affecting their administration are discussed. In the absence of the controlling Minister, the committee cannot get information on points raised in debate - information which I suggest would be beneficial to, not only the members of the Opposition, but also supporters of the Government. Whether or not the policy of the Minister for External Affairs (Dr. Evatt) is also the policy of the Government - and on that point I accept the statement of the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction (Mr. Dedman) - I have strong reasons to believe that that policy is not known by many supporters of the Government in this chamber. I also suggest that the debate on the Estimates would be curtailed substantially if information sought by honorable members were given promptly. During this debate no help at all has come from any member on the Government benches excepting the honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Rosevear).’ I frankly admit that he delivered a carefully reasoned speech. I do not know whether the honorable gentleman expressed the policy of the Government.
– Why worry about that ?
– I have reason to believe that the honorable member for Dalley is not a member of the Government, Whether or not it is the practice of the Government to inform only its own supporters of its policy, I was under the impression that under our parliamentary system all honorable members are entitled to receive information on subjects in which they are interested. I hope that in future discussions about the various departments we shall have the benefit of a reply to advice tendered to the Minister. The honorable member for Dalley tried to answer some of the criticisms of appointments made to the diplomatic service by this Government. I admit that he concentrated on those matters regarding which he believed he could make out a logical case. When discussing representation in South America, he confined himself to Brazil. There has been some confusion between diplomatic and commercial representation. The honorable member for Dalley did not support the appointment to Brazil on diplomatic grounds at all, but on economic and commercial grounds. The amount of trade between Australia and Brazil does not justify Australian representation in that country. For the year 1944-45, that trade was so small that Brazil is not even mentioned in the Year-Booh as a buyer of Australian products, while Chile and Peru are lumped together as importers of only .62 per cent, of Australia’s exports. Thus, on the score of trade, none of those countries has much to recommend it for representation, either diplomatic or. commercial.
The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Menzies) offered some very trenchant criticism, and some constructive suggestions, regarding those countries in which Australia should be represented. We were given very little assistance on this point by the Prime Minister, who said that our diplomatic appointments to Brazil and Chile had something to do with the United Nations organization. We are entitled to some more specific information than that. I had hoped that, before the debate ended, we should be told why Brazil and Chile were chosen for special treatment.
Reference has been made to the attitude of Australia to the Netherlands and the Netherlands East Indies. The honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Beazley) offered some comments on Australia’s policy towards Indonesia, but we have received no assistance from the Prime Minister or any other Minister on that subject. Surely what happens to Indonesia is of some importance to Australia. I should lite to know whether the Government is actually in control of Australian policy towards the Netherlands East Indies. We have in that country a consul and also a trade representative, and I am convinced that both those gentlemen must be very embarrassed by what has been happening in Australia. We know that action has been taken by certain sections in Australia, action which must bc most harmful to our relations with the Netherlands. We oan only assume what is the Government’s policy from what has happened, and what is happening. Recently, the waterside workers decided that they would not load or unload any Dutch ships. Under this edict Dutch ships, many of them carrying mercy cargoes, were held up - not by an order of the Government, but by the direction of the waterside workers.
– Of Mr. Healy.
– I believe that Mr. Healy is the gentleman who calls the tune, and he seems to be much more powerful than the Government. At this stage the Prime Minister rook a hand in the matter, and I am happy to say that, as a result of his talk or appeals, or sup- plications, the waterside workers agreed to lift the ban on Dutch ships arriving in Australia from Europe: From that we can only assume that the Government is in complete accord with the ban on Dutch ships travelling between Australian ports and the Netherlands East Indies - otherwise the Prime Minister would have repeated his previously successful efforts to have the ban lifted. I believe that the Government is behind the waterside workers in their ban on Dutch ships. Now we have the extraordinary position that Australia has bought into the argument officially - against the advice of Great Britain, 1 suggest - by attempting to sponsor the case of Indonesia “in an impartial fashion “. Impartiality - after what has occurred in Australia in recent years. The Dutch did not take that view. They believe that our sponsorship of the Indonesian republicans is biased.
– An unfriendly act.
– Yes. When we were considering the statement of the Minister for External Affairs, the Prime Minister said that he believed that SO per cent, of Australians supported the Government’s sponsorship of the Indonesian republicans. I do not know whether the Prime Minister is accurate in his assessment of public opinion at any time. Does he believe that 80 per cent, of the Australian people approve of what is happening at present on the waterfront? If he does, he is completely out of touch with public opinion. The Parliament is entitled to a statement on this very important matter because our relations with the Dutch are of primary importance to Australia at present, and will he equally important in the future. However, up to date, not one word has been said on behalf of the Government on this matter. I hope that even at this late stage the Prime Minister, or some other spokesman for the Government, will explain to the Parliament exactly what is the Government’s policy towards the Netherlands East Indies.
Much has been said in this debate concerning our representation in Russia, and Russian representatives in Australia. I should like to know whether our representatives in Russia are afforded facilities to obtain information in respect of Russian politics, industry, commerce and social life equal to those afforded to Russian representatives in Australia. Unless our representatives in Russia are given free access to such information we are merely being deluded by appointing a minister to Russia. In such circumstances, we should not be justified in approving the expenditure of £39,200 in respect of our representation in Moscow, where our representatives are, in fact, behind barbed wire. It has been said that former representatives of Australia in Russia, who, apparently, were not satisfied with conditions in that country, gave very little information upon their return to this country. Our first representative, Mr. Slater, gave no information at all about Russia to the people of this country. I do not know what he reported to the Government, because those reports have been kept a close secret. However, his successor, Mr. Maloney, upon his return from Russia, not only reported to the Government - and that report also has been kept secret - but also made very important statements to the public of this country. The only inference that could be drawn from those statements was that our representatives in Moscow were not given any opportunity to carry out their diplomatic duties. If that be so to-day, the Parliament and the people are entitled to be told the full facts. “We should not toleratea mere facade of diplomatic representation in Moscow, which is a snare and delusion. The Parliament is entitled to full information on this matter, and unless the Prime Minister, or one of his colleagues, is prepared to give that information, it is a mere sham to have the Parliament discussing estimates of expenditure for purposes about the usefulness of which we are not given any facts at all. I hope that in respect of these matters the Government will supply full information, and that when the committee is dealing with estimates in respect of other departments, Ministers will supply full information concerning their respective departments. The Parliament will thus be fully informed, and the period of the debate will be greatly curtailed.
The following papers were pre sented : -
Census and Statistics Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1947, No. 126.
Commonwealth Bank Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1947, No. 131.
Commonwealth Employees’ Compensation Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1947. No. 132.
Commonwealth Public Service Act - RegulationsStatutory Rules 1947, Nos. 122, 134.
Defence (Transitional Provisions) Act - National Security (Economic Organization) Regulations - Order - War service land settlement - Victoria (dated 29th August, 1947).
National Security (Prices) Regulations -Orders- Nos. 3030-3034, 3036-3078.
National Security (Rationing) Regulations - Order No. 141.
National Security (Shipping Coordination) Regulations - Orders - 1947, Nos. 44-47.
Regulations - Statutory Rules 1947, No. 128.
Naval Defence Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1947, Nos. 130, 135, 136.
Sales Tax Assessment Acts (Nos. 1-9) - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1947. No. 133.
War Gratuity Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1947, No. 127.
Wireless Telegraphy Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1947, No. 129.
House adjourned at 11. 38 p.m.
The following answers to questions were circulated -
e asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The information is being obtained and will be supplied as soon as possible.
n asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : - 1, 2 and 3. The information relating to the trading banks is shown in the attached table. So far as the Commonwealth Bank is concerned, net profits for the year ended 30th June, 1947, were £1,141,109; profits paid to the National Debt Sinking Fund totalled £525,373; while the nut profit as a percentage of capital and reserves was6.3 per cent. As this last figure represents, in effect, profits without any allowance for taxation, it is not com parable with the dividend figures of the trading banks. These figures do not include profits of the Note Issue Department amounting to £3,942,384, which was paid to the Treasury and credited to Consolidated Revenue or profits of the Commonwealth Savings Bank amounting to £880,694, of which £440,347 was paid to the National Debt Sinking Fund.
l. - On the 25th September the honorable member for Darling (Mr. Clark) asked the following question: -
I ask the Minister representing the PostmasterGeneral whether experiments have yet been carried out in connexion with the radiotelephone service and, if so, what has been
The Postmaster-General has supplied the following information : -
The present position in connexion with the proposal to carry out experiments with radio telephone services in the Broken Hill district is that the building, which is required to house the base station at Broken Hill, is now nearing completion and, unless any unforeseen difficulties arise, it is expected that the installation of the radio equipment will be commenced towards the end of October. It is estimated thatthe equipment will be ready for use about two months after the building is available and the provision of the radio units fit the outstations will also be effected within the same period. It is therefore anticipated that the experimental tests under actual working conditions willbe commenced early in 1948. The honorable member may rest assured that everything possible is being done to expedite the installation of the apparatus in order to bring the radio-telephone service into operation it the earliest date practicable.
n asked the Minister for Immigration, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
2 and 3. These matters fall within the jurisdiction of the Minister for Works and Housing who has been requested to furnish a separate reply.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 1 October 1947, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1947/19471001_reps_18_193/>.