18th Parliament · 2nd Session
TheClerk. - In the unavoidable absence of Mr. Speaker (Hon. J. S. Rosevear) the Chairman of Committees will, under Standing Order 22, take the chairas Deputy Speaker.
Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. J. J. Clark) thereupon took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
Motion (by Mr.Chifley) - by leave - proposed -
That the Chairman of Committees shall, on each sitting day, during the absence of Mr. Speaker, take the chair as Deputy Speaker, and may, during such absence, perform the duties and exercise the authority of the Speaker in relation to all proceedings of the House and to proceedings of Standing Committees and Joint Statutory Committees to Which the Speaker is appointed.
– I do not oppose the motion. I regret to hear of the absence of Mr. Speaker which, I presume, is due to illness. If so, I hope that he will have a speedy recovery.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– I inform the House, although no doubt honorable members are aware of it, that my colleague the Minister for External
Affairs (Dr. Evatt) is absent abroad on an official mission. The Minister for Health (Senator McKenna) will be Acting Attorney-General, and I shall act as Minister for External Affairs until Dr. Evatt’s return to Australia. The Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Holloway) will represent the Acting Attorney-General in the House of Representatives until the return of Dr. Evatt. to Australia.
Motion (by Mr. Chifley) agreed to -
That the House, at ite rising, adjourn to to-morrow, at 10.30 a.m.
– Oan the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction indicate to me whether any progress has been made with the land settlement of ex-servicemen in New South “Wales? In particular, can he say whether the Gunningrah and Khalassa estates in the Bombala district are likely to be compulsorily acquired?
– The honorable member has previously made representations to me in relation to these estates. I am happy to inform him that last week I approved of the compulsory acquisition of the estates he has mentioned, for the further land settlement of exservicemen. The estates are of approximately 5,300 acres. The land settlement of ex-servicemen is proceeding fairly satisfactorily in New South Wales and, on behalf of the Commonwealth, I have approved of the compulsory acquisition of over 4,000,000 acres of land for that purpose.
– In view of the reported warning on the food situation by the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture published in the Sydney Morning Herald on the 28th February supporting an earlier statement by the President of the Liberal party, Mr. R. G. Casey, that unless undeveloped and underdeveloped lands were resumed and brought into more intensive production by subdivision into economic areas under the control of individual owners, Australia would be compelled to import essential foodstuffs when its population reached 10,000,000-
– Order ! What is the honorable member’s question ?
– I am asking the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture whether he was correctly reported as having said -
It is unthinkable that expansion of food industries should be restricted by selfish individuals who will not voluntarily relinquish reasonable areas of their large holdings for subdivision.
They are aggravating centralization of population and industries in capital cities. This is unsound economically and from a defence point of view.
– Order ! Perhaps the honorable member should have obtained leave to make a statement. He must ask his question.
-I bow to your ruling, Mr. Deputy Speaker. The Minister is reported as having said that this was a matter for the States. I ask, therefore, whether it is true, as stated by Mr. B. J. McDonald, federal president of the Australian Legion of ExserviceMen and Women, that the Commonwealth has had power to resume land since 1945, quite apart from its authority under the Lands Acquisition Act 1926. As the Government has committed itself to a land settlement scheme for ex-servicemen, how does it propose to give effect to its plans unless it exercises its right of resumption instead of extending certain Northern Territory leases until 1984? How does the extension of those leases conform to the Minister’s statement? Further, as an officer of the Bureau of Agricultural Economics of the Department of Commerce and Agriculture has just visited the Northern Territory, does the Minister propose’ to rescind the decision to extend leases until 1984? If the Government is not prepared to exercise the right of resumption which it has held since 1945, or to invoke its power under’ the Lands Acquisition Act 1926, will the Minister invite the Premier of South Australia, Mr. Playford, to visit Canberra to explain to the Government the 1944 South Australian legislation dealing with power to resume underdeveloped and undeveloped leases, and the more stringent legislation passed in that State last year to ensure that potential food-producing land shall be developed to its maximum capacity by increasing settlement? Finally, if the Government’s intentions are as stated by the Minister, will steps be taken to ensure that pioneer landholders in the Northern Territory shall be permitted to retain for all time at least one-quarter of their original holdings ?
– Had the honorable member given the matter some thought, he would have realized that the press statement that I made referred exclusively to States in which land suitable for the settlement of heroes is available. Unfortunately certain State governments have been obliged compulsorily to resume land for soldier settlement. That could have been avoided had the land-holders concerned shown a more generous spirit and voluntarily relinquished part of their large holdings. Some land-holders, of course, did act in this generous manner. However, I was not referring to the Northern Territory over which, it is true, the Commonwealth has certain powers. Considerable survey work will be necessary in the Northern Territory before suitable leases can be made available to ex-servicemen. That work is in hand at present. If it be determined finally that the Northern Territory is suitable for soldier settlement and ex-servicemen are found who are willing to go there, I have no doubt that land will be made available for them.
– I address a question to the Minister for Air. What is the reason, if any, for depriving serving Royal Australian Air Force aircrew of the hard-won legitimate Pathfinder badge award? In case the Minister is unaware of this decision I quote from Air Board Order No. N2/4:9, which reads -
The Pathfinder badge, wearing of which was authorized by A.B.O. A.160/44, will no longer be worn and members wearing the badge are to remove it from uniforms.
– I thank the honorable member for bringing this matter to my notice. I had not previously heard of the order. I shall ascertain the reasons for the issue of the Air Board order which the honorable member has quoted. As soon as I obtain the information, I shall be glad to furnish it to the honorable member.
– In view of the recent statement by the Minister for Immigration that ships on the Panama register are not engaged in the immigration traffic, is the honorable gentleman aware that the Panamanian vessel Continental arrived in Sydney on Monday last with British and Italian migrants and also migrants of other nationalities? Is the Minister further aware that British passengers on the vessel claimed that some of the alien migrants had been engaged in black market operations in dollars and that the officers of his department would not allow reporters and photographers to board the vessel ? Is he further aware that the British and American maritime unions have condemned the practice of vessels registering in Panama in order to defeat the international maritime code and current award governing wages and conditions? Is the honorable gentleman further aware that British and American union leaders have described many of these ships as coffin ships? Does the Australian Government exercise any supervision over vessels on which nominated and assisted passage migrants are brought to Australia? Will steps be taken to see that no assistance is given to migrants unless their passages are booked on ships sailing under conditions approved by representatives of the British and Australian maritime unions?
– In hia series of questions the honorable member has shown that he is hopelessly mixed up.
– It is the Minister who is mixed up.
– Oh! Has the honorable member for Warringah returned? Some vessels engaged in trade with Australia through the International Refugee Organization have been placed temporarily on the Panamanian register. That action was taken last year because of the difficult international situation in Germany. On all such ships award rate;= are paid and better conditions apply titan on most other vessels trading throughout the world. Such is the high standard insisted upon in the charter of these vessels. I am not concerned about what persons travelling on ships say about other passengers being engaged in black-marketing, or other activities. There may have been some blackmarketing on these vessels. A good deal of black-marketing is indulged in in Australia and some of those who make profits from black-marketing subscribe to weekly newspapers which seek to bring about the downfall of this Government. On investigation, many stories of black-marketing cannot be substantiated. The officers of my department have no right to stop any persons from boarding or leaving vessels provided that such persons are in possession of passports. The question of who may board a vessel is the prerogative of the agents of the vessel. If newspaper reporters were prevented from boarding the vessel to which the honorable member has referred - this is the first I have heard of it - responsibility for their exclusion rests on the shipping company concerned, and I have no doubt that such action was taken for a good and sufficient reason. I have a retentive memory, but I cannot remember the remainder of the questions which the honorable gentleman has asked. If he will place them on the notice paper I shall try to furnish him with a. written reply. In conclusion, I extend to the honorable member for Warringah a welcome back to the Parliament.
– Order !
– Will the Minister for Immigration inform the House whether he is aware that a number of immigrants who arrived in this country recently complained that they were subjected to racketeering in connexion with their personal affairs by foreign agents? In view of the fact that the Minister is going overseas shortly, will he undertake to investigate this matter with a view to preventing such practices in the future ?
– An act passed during the last sessional period will enable the Australian Government to supervise and regularize the activities of agents engaging in work connected with migrants coming to this country. That legislation will soon be proclaimed. Although we cannot, of course, directly affect the activities of people who operate from overseas, there are means by which we can influence their actions and perhaps stop their nefarious practices. We have already tried to do that. Whilst it is true that some complaints are still being received, there are less grounds now for complaint than there were some time ago. We are watching the position very closely and shall do all possible to see that people, particularly intending migrants, are not fleeced by unscrupulous persons. The story that I am about to go overseas shortly is like the account of Mark Twain’s death; it is greatly exaggerated.
– According to press reports the Minister for External Affairs (Dr. Evatt) has received the Grand Cross of the Legion of Honour, which is the highest French civilian award. In view of the Minister’s acceptance of that honour, in defiance of Labour party traditions, will the Prime Minister reconsider its rejection of post-var recommendations for the bestowal of titles and appropriate honours upon Australians who risked their lives for their country and are deserving of such honours?
– The Government has never attempted, as the honorable member has suggested, to prevent the bestowal of appropriate honours upon people. On the contrary, it has made numerous recommendations that honours be awarded to men who earned distinction while on active serivce in the defence of this country.
– What about American decorations ?
– It is perfectly true that we have not been prepared, as a general principle, to recommend the bestowal of what might be termed certain foreign decorations, and we do not propose to depart from that practice. The honour conferred on the Minister for External Affairs to which the honorable member has referred was conferred on him not as a member of the Australian
Government. but a? a recognition of his work for the United Nations.
– Is the press report correct that the Prime Minister issued yesterday a statement in which he said that competitive bidding for labour and scarce materials has already caused an unhealthy rise of costs in some industries? Do figures released yesterday by the Commonwealth Statistician show that of a total gain of employment in Australia of 8,500 individuals in December last, 3,800 or approximately 45 per cent, of the total, were recorded in respect of governmental employment? As governments have now become the highest bidders for labour in the Commonwealth, will the right honorable gentleman, in order to avoid the unhealthy rise of costs to which he referred, take urgent and appropriate action to reduce the volume of governmental activities?
– In reply to the speech just made by the honorable member, I shall ascertain whether the statement which I made yesterday on the matter to which he has referred was correctly reported in the press. I have not yet read the morning newspapers. I was glad that the honorable member referred to employment by governments. The Australian Government has no control over employment by State governments or local government bodies.
– The right honorable gentleman is not suggesting-
– Order ! Mr. SPENDER.- The Prime Minister is elaborating on the question.
– -As I do not wish to elaborate unduly upon the subject, I shall supply a written reply to the question.
– Last week, during the debate on the financial statement, the honorable member for Parkes said that the Government had a plan for increasing production. Will the Prime Minister inform me whether such a plan exists? If it does, will the right honorable gentleman reveal some of the particulars of it?
– The Government has a plan, and I shall write to the honorable member on the subject.
– I ask the Minister for Labour and National Service whether, in relation to the basic wage case now before the Arbitration Court, it is not a fact that many unions fear that some of the parties to the proceedings are engaged in an organized policy of delay. Can the Minister say whether the court can prevent what might be regarded as unnecessary delays in the hearing of the case ?
– Some people are concerned about the possibility that the hearing will be protracted by adjournments, resulting in endless delays, but so far, there is no evidence that such a policy will be followed. The court could, li it so desired, prevent obvious delays by placing a time limit on the discussion. I am sure that should the occasion warrant it, the court would do so.
– There can be no adjournment except with the approval of the court.
– The case opened last Tuesday, and was adjourned until the 7th March. Nobody will complain about that adjournment. The court dealt with preliminary matters, such as whether it would hear the case in one or two parts, whether it would give a temporary decision and conduct a much wider examination afterwards, and whether it would permit counsel to be engaged by the parties. The court gave decisions on two or three matters, and adjourned the hearing until the 7th March. I have read the minutes of the proceedings of the first sitting, and I believe that the court has already in its mind the need to fix a definite date for the conclusion of the hearing, so that the case will not continue, as did the 40-hour case, for many months.
– Last Thursday, the Melbourne Herald published a news item from Adelaide to the effect that, whilst many families in South Australia could not obtain houses, plant which could help to build homes quickly and efficiently was lying idle. The basis of that report was a statement by Messrs. Harry and Nigel Oliphant, who are brothers of Professor Marcus Oliphant.
– Order ! Will the honorable member ask her question ?
– Did the Minister for Works and Housing see that report? Will he have the matter investigated so that no plant such as that which has been described in the report, shall be allowed to remain idle while there is such a tragic shortage of homes throughout the Commonwealth?
– I have not seen the report to which the honorable member has referred, but I shall have the position examined in order to ascertain whether any machinery that can be utilized for the construction of homes is lying idle. I shall be astonished if the position is as the report has stated. Almost every month, we call for tenders in South Australia and negotiate with any one who, we consider, is able to erect groups of war service homes. Whilst the Commonwealth Department of Works and Housing is so engaged, the State housing department in South Australia, which is under the administration of the Playford Government, is also calling for tenders continually for group construction in that State. However, I shall examine the report, and inquire into the matter.
– Has the Minister for Works and Housing read a press article by Mr. R. G. Casey, in which he criticized the housing programme in the following words : -
Housing is a national problem, and is squarely on the door-step of the only government in Australia with financial ability to cope with it - the Commonwealth Government.
Can the Minister say whether the writer of that article is the same Mr. Casey who, as a distinguished member of the Lyons Government which, in 1934, promised to advance £10,000,000 to the State governments to commence a programme of housing for the workers ? Is it true that the Lyons Government’s pre-election pledge was never, honoured on the pretext that the Commonwealth did not have the constitutional power to assist the States in the manner indicated? In view of the splendid housing programme that has been carried through by the Commonwealth and the States since the war, will the Minister supply figures in rebuttal of the assertion that the Commonwealth is not pulling its weight in regard to housing?
– The article referred to was handed to me only a little while ago by the honorable member for Grey, and I have not yet finished reading it. I can say, however, that the writer of the article is the same Mr. R. G. Casey who, during the administration of the Lyons Government, in which he was Treasurer, made an election promise that £10,000,000 would be made available to assist the housing programme of the State governments. It is also true that not one house was built under that proposed scheme, although thousands of unemployed artisans were walking the streets, and plenty of material was available. The excuse of the Lyons Government that it lacked the necessary constitutional power has been shown to be unjustified, because the Curtin and Chifley Labour Governments have advanced to the States £40,000,000 for home-building. The peak that was reached before the war in the construction of houses was 40,000 in one year, although over a period of ten years the average rate of construction was 27,000 houses a year. During the last twelve months 48,000 houses were constructed in Australia.
– Has the Minister for Works and Housing seen the report that certain Bait workers were assaulted by Communists at a stop-work meeting in Canberra yesterday because they would not vote as the Communists desired? Is that report true, and if it is, what steps is the Government prepared to take to protect newly arrived workers from that kind of intimidation?
– A stop-work meeting was held on Capitol Hill in Canberra yesterday. A departmental officer, who was in attendance, has reported that a fight did not occur. When a division was taken on a certain motion, some of the Baits became -confused and some of the comrades tried to take them by the arm. At the same time, other persons present also tried to take them by the arm. The result was that they voted against the comrades.
– During the past twelve months the Minister for the Navy has several times indicated that the Royal Australian Navy is to have two aircraft carriers. As both of the vessels are of much greater draught than any vessels now on service in the Royal Australian Navy, I ask the Minister whether there is any dock in Australia, apart from the Garden Island dock, which is capable of accommodating them? Is it the intention of the Government to establish any other docks capable of handling large naval vessels? In particular, is it the intention of the Government to establish any docks on the western const of Australia in the Indian Ocean?
– It is true that the only dock capable of accommodating either of the two aircraft carriers is the Captain Cook Dock in Sydney. Representations have been made on this matter by the honorable member from time to time, and, when I visited Western Australia in 1947, I received a deputation which requested that a dock should be constructed in the Fremantle area. When I returned to Melbourne after that visit, I investigated the position in order to ascertain the probable cost of a new dock and also to find out whether the matter had been investigated previously. I found that a previous government had brought an expert to Australia from Great Britain in order to investigate a proposal to build a dock at Fremantle. That expert had not been able to give an estimate of the cost because of the terrain in Western Australia. The Department of the Navy has investigated, from time to time, the possibility of building a dockyard in Western Australia. I do not mean that an active investigation is proceeding, but the department is bearing in mind the possibility of providing alternative dock accommodation for large naval vessels in Western Australia at some future date.
– I direct a question to the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction based upon reports that have appeared in newspapers during the past twelve months that negotiations are taking place between the Australian Government and the United Kingdom Government upon plans for increasing the production of meat in Australia in order that supplies to Britain may be increased. The plans are reported to have particular relation to northern Australia. As this matter is of great public interest, can the Minister make a statement, either now or on some later convenient occasion, which will inform the public where responsibility lies for failure to agree upon plans that will lead to an increased production of meat in northern Australia?
– This matter has been under consideration by the Government for some time, but it is not one that can be settled in a short while. Intensive investigations have to be made in the Northern Territory to discover what will require to be done there to ensure that greater quantities of meat can be produced. I paid a visit to the territory three or four months ago in order to see the industry at first hand. The conclusion that I reached was that at the present time the industry is being conducted on a very inefficient basis. Without some guarantee as to future prices it is impossible for this Government to make a definite decision on what steps will need to be taken to increase the production of meat in the Northern Territory. It has not yet been possible to arrive at any agreement with the United Kingdom authorities regarding an increased price for meat to compensate for the capital expenditure that will have to be incurred in the Northern Territory if the production of meat in that area is to be increased.
– Has the Minister for the Army seen in a recent edition of the Sydney Daily Telegraph an article, written by a former war correspondent, entitled, “Darwin. Where the Aussies Ran”? If the Minister has seen the article, will he say whether he considers that it is likely to give any lift to our morale at the moment ? Is the honorable gentleman aware that, as a result of the publication of the article, a controversy has arisen in the correspondence columns of the newspaper? In the circumstances, will he release, for the benefit of the Australian community, any information that he has regarding the situation in Darwin at that time?
– I have not seen the article to which the honorable member has referred.
– It purports to be a story that was censored during the war.
– I shall obtain a copy of the article and examine it. “When T have done so, I shall give consideration to the request contained in the latter portion of the question.
– I direct the attention of the Minister for Civil Aviation to the fact that Essendon airport, Melbourne, is not considered to be an international airport, with the result that passengers who arrive by air from overseas have to go through customs formalities in Sydney and, if they wish to proceed to Melbourne, to travel by interstate airlines. Will the Minister say what is the reason for this state of affairs? As all necessary facilities could be made available at Essendon, will he take steps to ensure that that airport, having regard to its great importance as an air terminal, is recognized as an international airport?
– I think that the honorable gentleman’s question arises from the fact that articles have appeared from time to time in newspapers, particularly in those controlled by the Murdoch press in Melbourne, agitating for Essendon to be made an international airport. In nearly all countries the airport at the first point of contact from overseas is an international airport. That is the position in Australia at Darwin and Sydney. In consequence, there is no need for Essendon to be declared an international airport. It is true that the runways at Essendon would permit aircraft of international class to land there, but if it were decided to make Essendon an international airport it would be necessary to station customs and quarantine personnel there and to provide buildings and equipment for them. I am not convinced that it is essential to do that. When the time arrives for it to be done, I shall be glad to consider the matter.
– I preface my question, which is addressed to the Minister representing the Minister for Social Services, with a statement that I have received a letter from Mr. Cavanagh, the organizer for the Australian Workers Union in the Ingham district of North Queensland, pointing out what appears to be neglect on the part of certain officers of the Social Services Department. Workers in that district, who became unemployed approximately seven weeks ago, have not yet received the unemployment benefits to which they are entitled. The workers have been told that the matter is not the responsibility of the Ingham office and that they must obtain the benefits from Townsville, but the officers of the Social Services Department in Townsville have not yet sent the necessary cheques. Will the Minister raise this matter with the Minister for Social Services so that instructions may be issued for these payments to be made immediately ?
– I shall certainly do as the honorable member has suggested. Payments become due seven days after notification.
– I ask the Prime Minister whether current reports, that a further increase in the price of petrol of approximately 2d. a gallon is imminent, are correct ? Having regard to the vital importance of cheap motor transport to Australia, I ask the Prime Minister whether, when financial arrangements for the coming financial year are under review, he will consider granting a reduction of duties on petrol equivalent to any increase that may be permitted ?
– The New South Wales Minister for Labour and Industry, Mr. Finnan, who is chairman of the committee of State Ministers which deals with prices control, discussed with me a week or two ago an application that had been made by the oil companies for an increase in the price of petrol. The Minister did not discuss that question with me on the ground that the Commonwealth had any direct connexion with the fixation of petrol prices, which is a matter that is entirely in the hands of State governments. The Minister then raised the question that the honorable member for Deakin has now raised and asked whether consideration might be given to a reduction of the duties on petrol. He also asked whether the Australian Government would seek what information was available concerning the possible future price of petrol overseas. That matter is being investigated following some fall in price in certain overseas countries. The matter of a reduction in duties to offset any price increase will be given consideration.
– Will the Minister for Information consult with his colleague, the Minister for Shipping and Fuel, to ascertain where the Liberal party obtained large quantities of petrol for transport that was used in connexion with political meetings held for a certain purpose throughout Victoria ? Will he ascertain whether the petrol so used was obtained on the black market? If excess rations are in existence to such a degree, will he see that petrol allowances are withdrawnfrom “ Collins-street farmers “ and made available to genuine farmers?
– I shall be glad to consult with the Minister for Shipping and Fuel to ascertain where the Liberal party obtained the petrol for transport used in connexion with political rallies in Victoria. I suppose that itwould be necessary first to ask the pressmen who wrote the reports, whether their reports are true. One report stated that one gentleman travelled 300 miles by car to a meeting, while a ferry bus service that served another meeting operated over a route of 82 miles from Melbourne to Scoresby. The use of a great deal of petrol was thereby involved and there has been, apparently, much waste in view of the present petrol and dollar position. In the final analysis waste of petrol in such a manner means a waste of dollars. I consider that the honorable gentleman has discovered something worth while investigating and I shall consult with the Minister for Shipping and Fuel to see whether the Government can ascertain how much petrol is being wasted on political rallies, whether it is coming from the black market and whether it could be used better than at the present time, when it is being wasted by what the honorable member has called “the Collins-street farmers “.
– Has the attention of the Minister for Immigration been drawn to a press report to the effect that the United States embassy in Paris has referred to Washington for decision an application by a Mr. H. C. Williams, who is an Australian member of the World Federation of Democratic Youth, for a vise to enter the United States? If so, did the Minister notice that the reason for the action taken by the embassy is reported to have been basedupon Williams’s known activities for Several years past and the fact that the Organization which he represents is known widely as a “ Communist front “ ? Did the honorable gentleman approve of the issue of an overseas passport to Williams or to any other Australian members of the organization mentioned? In view of the publication of the statement attributed to the United States embassy, which again throws a bad light upon Australia, will the Minister investigate the matter and make a statement to the House?
– I shall answer the question. Some portions of it, about which I have heard nothing previously, involve alleged happenings overseas, and would take a considerable time to answer. However, the main portion of the honorable member’s inquiry seemed to be directed to the issue of Australian passports to individuals to proceed overseas, and I shall have inquiries made concerning that matter.
– I direct a question to the Prime Minister who is acting for the Minister for External
Affairs. My question is prompted by press reports of the measures taken by the Government of India to deal with the serious Communist infiltration of that country. Can the right honorable gentleman say whether the Government agrees that what is occurring in India and throughout Asia to-day is of prime significance to British power in the Indian Ocean and Pacific Ocean spheres, and, ultimately, to the security of this country? If he agrees that that is so, will he undertake, in view of the extraordinary omission of the Minister for External Affairs to say anything whatever about those areas, that before the Parliament goes into recess he will make a statement to the House of conditions in Asia, particularly in connexion with Communist penetration of China? If he will not furnish such an undertaking, will he indicate, when the Parliament may hear from the Government on those matters? Must we wait until the Minister for External. Affairs deems it advisable to return to Australia?
– Apart from press or wireless reports that have come to my notice of action taken by the Government’ of India to deal with Communists and Communist organizations, I have no detailed knowledge of what has occurred in that connexion in that country. The honorable member mentioned that during the debate that took place on international affairs there was no discussion of happenings in certain portions of the globe. One of the reasons for that apparent omission was that some members of the Opposition, who had been clamouring for a long time for an opportunity to- discuss external, affairs, and appeared to be particularly anxious’ to do so, were not sufficiently interested to attend the House during the debate.
– That is no reason for withholding the information.
– When, the debate commenced both the Minister for Ex, tern al Affairs and’ I intended,, had the discussion continued for a week-, to deal with certain aspects of international affairs. As honorable members are aware, a broad, canvas would be required on. which to paint am adequate picture. of the entire relationships existing between various countries, and to do so would occupy many hours of the time of the House. The honorable member referred to China. I could speak at considerable length on the position in that country.
– Tell the House something about it.
– I could say much about the present position in China, and about what has happened there during the last five or six years, but I do not think that it would be at all helpful to the present Chinese administration. I understand that a provisional government of some kind is being set up to replace the administration of Chiang Kai-shek. If I were to discuss the situation as fully as I could I might say something that would be embarrassing to the new administration. I could also discuss certain aspects of the situation in India and Burma, but I do not think that by doing so I should be helping to improve international relations. The honorable member for Warringah asked whether’ an opportunity would be provided for a further debate on international affairs.
– I asked for a statement on the subject’.
– Recently honorable members were provided with a full week in which to debate international affairs, and’ that should be adequate for the present sessional period.
– Honorable members were told nothing about the position in Asia.
– Order 1 The honorable member’ for Warringah asked1 a question, but he is now persistently interrupting the Prime Minister-, who is giving, him an answer.
– If I think that a statement upon international affairs will give information of value to the House or further the cause of peace, I shall make it; -otherwise I shall not do so.
– Will’ the Prime Minister, inform the- House whether, in view of the- alleged confessions of Protestant clergymen’ in Bulgaria and Roman Catholic prelates in Hungary, which, because of the religious convictions of those concerned, could only have been obtained by diabolical torture and duress, the Government proposes that any action shall be taken in connexion with this matter by the United Nations, the Charter of which guarantees freedom of religion? Has the Government made any protests to the governments responsible for these actions, and has the United States of America arraigned Bulgaria for a breach of the peace treaty? Has Australia the same standing in the matter of arraignment as the United States of America ?
– The two matters raised by the right honorable gentleman have previously been discussed in this House. In addition, it has been intimated officially, and unofficially, through the press, that certain representations have been made to the United Nations with the object of rectifying any injustice that may have been done in those countries. Details relating to both of the trials to which he has referred will be placed before the United Nations, and our views in relation to those matters have already been indicated. We shall certainly do everything possible to ensure that complete freedom of worship is guaranteed to all peoples of the world.
– Does the Prime Minister recollect the Minister for Repatriation stating last year that Cabinet would sympathetically consider the provision of motor cars free to limbless exservicemen, on the lines approved by the British Government? Has that matter yet been considered? If so, what action has been taken? Will the right honorable gentleman also undertake to confer with Viscount Nuffield, who is at present in Australia, concerning a reported statement that the first 1,500 motor cars to be supplied to British disabled ex-servicemen will be Nuffield products ?
– I distinctly remember such a question being directed to the Minister for Repatriation last year. The Minister undertook to make inquiries about the provision of motor cars for disabled ex-servicemen in England, and to consider whether it would be possible for a similar scheme to be introduced in Australia. 1 know that the Minister is causing inquiries to be made overseas, and whilst a report on this matter has not yet been submitted to Cabinet, I understand that the Minister has certain information on this subject. When I saw Lord Nuffield on Saturday last we only discussed cricket. I do not know whether I shall see him again while he is in Australia, but if there is an opportunity to do so I shall discuss this subject with him.
– Will the Prime Minister inform the House whether he has seen the terms of a joint resolution of the Congress of the United States of America which relates to the provision of a national theatre and a national ballet and opera ? Has he seen the plans which relate to that resolution? Will he ako inform the House what progress has been made with the proposal to establish a national theatre in Australia ? Is it a fact that Mr. William Tyrone Guthrie, a famous producer on the British stage,, is coming to Australia? If so, when is it expected that he will arrive? Will facilities be made available for bin* to interview people interested in the development of a national theatre in Australia ?
– Although thematters that the honorable member has mentioned directly concern the Department of Post-war Reconstruction, certain representations have been made to me with relation to the visit to Australia of Mr. William Tyrone Guthrie. I have made arrangements for him to discuss the national theatre movement, in which he is interested on behalf of the British Council, with several people in Australia. I understand that he is expected to arrive in this country very shortly. Arrangements have been made for him to discuss with me personally any proposals that he might have. As the honorable member knows, Mr. Wilmot is the representative of the British Council, and is coming here at the instance of that body. Mr. Wilmot, who is the representative in Australia of the British Council, is also actively interested in these matters. I understand that Mr. Guthrie intends to discuss this matter with representatives of some of the State governments, including that of Queensland. Mr. English is very closely associated with the national theatre movement in that State,
And I have made arrangements for Mr. Guthrie to interview Mr. English when he is in Brisbane. I shall pass on to the honorable member any further information that comes to hand.
Debate resumed from the 15th February (vide page 250), on motion by Mr. Dedman -
That the bill he now read a second time.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and reported from committee without amendment or debate; report adopted.
Bill - by leave - read a third time.
Debate resumed from the 15th February (vide page 257), on motion by Mr. Chambers -
That the bill be now read a second time.
.- This bill, affecting as it does not only the future of Papua and New Guinea but also those territories as a strategic outpost of Australia which might control our destiny, is of the greatest importance. The bill is entitled “A bill for an act to approve of the placing of the Territory of New Guinea under the international trusteeship system, to provide for the government of the Territory of Papua and the Territory of New Guinea, and for other purposes “. From the first two lines of the bill it will be seen that its principal purpose is to seek the authority of the Parliament for the action of the Minister for External Affairs (Dr. Evatt) in placing this territory under the custody of the Trusteeship Council of the United Nations. I do not know how Australians feel about that proposal. I do not think that it has been sufficiently discussed by them. It certainly has hot been debated in this Parliament. Such a debate should have taken place long ago, because more than two years have elapsed since the Minister for External Affairs took the action for which approval is now sought. A bill in a slightly different form from that now before us was introduced by the Minister for External Territories (Mr. Ward) on the 18th June last, fittingly enough on the anniversary of the battle of Waterloo, but it was not proceeded with. On the 11th November last I addressed the following questions to the Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley) -
In the absence of the Minister for External Territories, 1 address a question to the Prime Minister. In June last the Minister for External Territories introduced a bill relating to Papua and New Guinea. The principal purpose of the measure which was of some importance was to merge the administrations of Papua and New Guinea. I asked the Minister at the time whether there had been any opposition to the proposal at the meeting of the Trusteeship Council of the United Nations, particularly by Russia, as had been stated in this House. The honorable gentleman replied -
The Soviet view was that it would bc impossible to envisage independence when all aspects of administration were refused and the plan would in practice inevitably prevent New Guinea obtaining self government or independence.
I shall have something to say later about the discussions in the Trusteeship Council. I continued -
I observe that the bill has been withdrawn from the notice-paper. As the Russian representative at the meeting of the Security Council of the United Nations was so well informed, will the Prime Minister state whether representations were made to him by the Minister for External Affairs to drop or to postpone the bill? Were any representations made by the Soviet Embassy in Australia in relation to the bill ? If not, what is the reason for not proceeding with the measure? Will the measure be reintroduced?
In reply, the Prime Minister said -
The bill was not dropped because of representations made by any outside country.
And listen to this qualification which I now read -
Before the bill was introduced I examined its conditions carefully with the Minister for External Affairs. It was intended to proceed with the measure during the present sittings of the Parliament but in the meantime some charges were made at the meeting of the Trusteeship Council for which there was no justification.
I asked whether such charges had been made by Russia, and the Prime Minister replied -
T believe that they were made by other representatives as well as by the representative of Russia. It was suggested that the proposal might he referred to the International Court of Justice.
The right honorable gentleman went on to say that it was the intention of the Government to bring down a bill during the following session of the Parliament. Is it not extraordinary that Russia should take such a great interest in this territory ? The Russians are surprisingly well informed about it. In order to understand the effect of this proposal thoroughly one needs to know something of the historical background of the territory of New Guinea. New Guinea is the second largest island in the world. It is almost unpeopled, but it has great possibilities for development. It is a bastion of Australian defence, and if we are weak and do not defend it, it may be used by an invader as a stepping stone in a plan for the conquest of Australia, as wa9 done in World War II. As long ago as 1883, because of a belief that Germany was about to seize New Guinea, and because of the activities of the Dutch and French peoples in the Pacific, Queensland despatched to Papua a small expeditionary force which annexed that territory on behalf of Australia. That action was opposed by the British Government of the day, but later British opposition was withdrawn and the annexation was approved. The territory annexed was called British New Guinea. After federation Australia formally took over the territory by an act which was proclaimed in 1906. From then onwards we controlled the southern part of New Guinea, which was then called Papua. Meanwhile, the Germans had landed on the northern part of the island and had taken a number of contiguous islands. In 1914 it was feared that German New Guinea might be used as a base for operations against Australia, and an Australian expeditionary force was despatched to New Guinea. The force captured Rabaul and took over German New Guinea by force of arms.
Although in 1938 some honorable members in this House strongly urged that New Guinea should be fortified, the terms of the mandate did not permit us to fortify that part of the territory which had been entrusted to us by the League of Nations. We did what we could, and fortified Port Moresby in the southern part of the island. It was a pity that the terms of the mandate did not permit us to fortify the whole of the island, because its unpreparedness to resist invasion enabled an enemy to obtain a foothold on the island and to menace Australia. How close to invasion Australia was in those days we all know only too well. New Guinea has been the battle ground for Australians and the graveyard of many of our men. Yet, part of this territory has lightly been given away to the Trusteeship Council by the Minister for External Affairs. South Africa did not permit such a thing to happen in connexion with its mandated territory of South-west Africa. South-west Africa, which is adjacent to the Union of South Africa, and which had been captured from the Germans in 1914, was absorbed into the Union. Despite the lessons of two world wars, and nothwithstanding that New Guinea is on our foremost defence line, the Australian Government has blithely handed a portion of the area over to the Trusteeship Council. Already Russia, which is a Pacific power as well as a world menace, has taken an almost sinister interest in what we are doing there. In the issue of Current Notes on International Affairs of December, 1946, will be found a report regarding the Trusteeship Agreement in relation to New Guinea which reads -
The sub-committee did adopt a modification to Article IV. of the New Guinea agreement, which contained a provision that the territory would be administered as an integral part of Australia. The modification added the phrase, “ insofar as this does not conflict with the terms of the present agreement and with the Charter of the United Nations “.
Some discussion took place around the phrase referring to the administration of territory “as an integral part” of the administering authority, which it waa claimed might be a basis for future annexation. The phrase, however, was adopted, but the Rapporteur was instructed to note that the phrase was not to indicate any annexationist tendencies.
Thus we have been rather fettered in our control of this outpost, where Australia’s battles have been fought. Over a term of years we have applied a commendable policy of development to this wealthy territory which is our trust and in respect of which we have done much in caring for its native people. Yet, it is now proposed to throw away our asset there. So much for the aspect of trusteeship.
The measure provides for a form of local government which is commendable and in line with that set up by the Lyons Government before World War II. Then Papua and the Mandated Territory of New Guinea each had a distinct administration. We must not forget that the white settlers to whom every encouragement was given formed a solid buffer against the Japanese invader. Properties expropriated from the Germans were made available to Australian ex-servicemen. During the debate which took place in this House in 1945, when the Government sought to apply its former policy with respect to the civil administration of the territories, Mr. Bryson, the former member for Bourke, the honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Haylen) and the Minister for External Territories (Mr. Ward) made scathing comments about the planters in the territories. Those comments evoked strong protests from servicemen in New Guinea. The Minister who is now acting for the Minister for External Territories recently visited the territories. If be visited Bulolo he would have seen the graves of many white planters who died when serving in the New Guinea Rifles or as coast watchers, in which roles they gained valuable time for us when the enemy was launching his attack. Therefore, I hope that the honorable gentleman will deny the statements that were made by his colleague at that time, because he must know now from the experience he has recently gained at first hand in the territories that what was said was not correct. All is not right in the Territory of New Guinea to-day. I speak about things of primary importance to the people who live in the territories. Honorable members will recall the numerous debates which have taken place in this House on those sub jects. I remind them that nearly two years ago, as a private member, I moved -
That a Joint Select Committee be appointed to inquire into and report upon the following: -
the inadequacy of the administration which has been set up under the New Guinea Act;
the failure of the administration to maintain production of essential commodities;
the lack of a policy for the economic development of the Territories which could proceed hand in hand with a progressive native policy;
the unbalanced native policy and its adverse effect upon the natives and upon economic development; and
the unrest which exists in the Public Service in the Territories due to unsettled conditions and the failure of the Government to provide suitable living conditions, adequate classification, and to deal with the high cost of living.
Those views were supported by other members of the Opposition parties. On that occasion we placed before the House the contents of numerous letters written to us by white planters in the territories. I do not intend to speak at length at this juncture, but I shall again quote a typical letter to show how serious is the present position in New Guinea and how little the Government has done to ameliorate it. Although I do not intend to refer to the timber rights case - I should not bein order if I attempted to do so - I must discuss the Minister’s administration of the territories. I knew nothing of the events which are now being investigated by a royal commission when I placed before the Parliament the various matters regarding conditions in Papua and New Guinea that I referred to when I submitted my motion. The honorable member for Richmond (Mr. Anthony), the honorable member for Barker (Mr. Archie Cameron) and the honorable member for Corangamite (Mr. McDonald) and other honorable members have, on previous occasions, submitted to the House a mass of evidence which revealed an unsatisfactory state of affairs in the territories which had resulted from the facts that the territories were being run from Canberra and that the Minister had taken up a dictatorial attitude. A letter typical of many that I have received from planters in New Guinea reads as follows : -
The New Guinea branch of the Returned Soldiers League views with alarm the proposed restricted period of indenture for native labour in New Guinea.
In actual fact employers always fed and housed their native labour on a high standard and the suggested increase in wages causes no concern.
If the Government enforces the period of indenture to one year the effect will be that employers will be obliged to engage at least double the number of their pre-war strength.
That refers to the fact that the Government, although, perhaps, it believed that it was doing something which would prove beneficial to the territories, reduced the term of indenture of native labour from two years to one year. That change caused a great deal of trouble for planters generally, particularly the small planters. There is a tendency for some supporters of the Government to believe that a man who goes to the tropics to battle for a living must be an exploiter. Such honorable members forget that the British peoples have given a striking lead to the world in colonization, and that one of the brightest examples of our record in that respect is the administration of New Guinea from the time of Sir Peter Scratchley, the first administrator, who died there, to that of Sir Hubert Murray, who always placed the welfare of the natives first, and proved himself to be a great humanitarian and anthropologist. However, this Government has failed in its administration of the territories mainly because of its refusal to consult with the residents of the territories on the spot. I shall quote from a report published in the Sydney Bulletin, which deals with the opinion expressed by Mr. Robson, who is editor of the Pacific Islands Monthly. Incidentally, for a period of years Mr. Robson was not permitted to visit the territories, although, he is regarded as an expert on them. That was because the Minister hung a bureaucratic iron curtain around the territories, and no one could get behind it without his permission. Although good reasons may have existed for some such restrictions, the Minister could very well have permitted persons with interests in the territories to visit them. However, he placed obstacles in their way to such a degree that many settlers have been obliged to give up in their unequal* struggle against the Government. The article which I have mentioned reads -
Economic results of Wardism have been” pithily summed up by R. W. Robson in a. letter to “ S. M. Herald”:- “ Normally New Guinea produces 75,000- tons per annum of copra, now worth £30 a ton. Because the New Order has virtually banned native labour and crippled the plantations, copra production is not now 10,000 tons a year. Mr. Robson observed that although i a year. Mr. Robson dryly observed that although ladies and other theorists, anthropologists and the like, were on the panel of socalled experts to advise Mr. Ward, not one experienced planter, gold miner or trader was consulted”. Of course, as a Sydney “Labour”’ politician with an ineradicable RussiaIsAlwaysRight bias, Mr. Ward could not seek the advice of those whom he branded as”exploiters”, many of whom added to theiroffences by serving in the “ imperalist war “. Before the Japanese struck at New Guinea, hesneeringly said that the “ exploiters “ should, defend it themselves, and made this the subject, of a Defence Act amendment.
Honorable members can verify that statement by reference to Hansard. When I and my colleagues drew the attention of the Government to the inadequate defences of New Guinea the Minister (MrWard) retorted that so-far as he was concerned those who lived in New Guinea; could defend it themselves. I repeat that the Mandated Territory of New Guinea isour trust and responsibility. We should not abdicate to a Trusteeship Council, which, no doubt, will have its headquarters at Lake Success or someother distant centre where it may decide to interfere in our domestic affairs. Thearticle continues -
Defend New Guinea they did, to the best, of their ability, and in the process won golden opinions from the American and Australian’ armies, as scouts, guerrilla fighters and recruiters and trainers of his “ Fuzzywuzzy angels “, only to be reviled as bolters by Mr. Bryson, then “ Labour “ member for Bourkeand now ministerial secretary to Mr. Chambers, Mr. Forde’s successor as political head of theArm,y, who supported the Bryson slander.
I do not wish to rub salt into woundsthat have been inflicted upon the plantersin New Guinea as the result of wild statements made by Government supportersin this House in the past. Now, theMinister for External Territories hasbeen relieved of his portfolio, and hissuccessor has a great responsibility in: administering Papua and New Guinea. I urge him to examine carefully all the- matters that I have raised. He must also study the point of view of the white settlers on the plantations. Speaking of indentured labour, the manager of Koitaki plantation is reported as having said -
In Papua alone the one-year period means that 10,000 natives have to he moved to and from their villages every year, and continual recruitment of fresh labour is necessary.
The grave lack of coastal shipping makes this an absolute impossibility, he added. The biggest problem, however, is the disinclination of the natives to work.
Inland where thousands of native villages were destroyed during the war, natives say they want to rebuild their villages before they will come to work.
That is understandable. In previous debates, I read telegrams that I had received from the associations representing public servants in Kew Guinea and Papua. They asked for greater consideration. Those civil servants are doing a good job in the tropics.
The setting up of local government under this legislation, is a progressive move, and the territory will revert to what may be described as the “ old order “. In other words, the dictatorial period is passing, and the territory will come, not altogether within the custody but under the constant surveillance of an international body. That change is not to the advantage of Australia. I can quote many other instances of maladministration in the territory. A protest was voiced by Monsignor Hannan, who stated that in Bougainville, one of the Solomon Islands which is a part of the Kew Guinea mandate and will come under the international trusteeship, natives had died as the result of malnutrition and neglect. A satisfactory explanation of that protest has never “been given. Monsignor Hannan is a ;missioner. I pay a great tribute to the missions of all denominations because they have done unfailingly good work. The Government should give them a great deal of consideration when it is setting up the local administration. The proposal that some of the natives should be appointed to the Legislative Council of Kew Guinea emanated from Russia, and -originated in their suggestion that we must not completely annex the territory. It was also suggested that at some time the natives should be given their independence. However, the island is compara tively unpeopled at present, and if we are to develop its resources, we must give consideration to certain factors. With or without a base at Manus Island, Papua and Kew Guinea must be Australia’s first line of defence against any Asiatic aggression. The western powers are banding together in the north Atlantic pact, and we should be a party to a Pacific pact. Russia, which is the only potential enemy of any civilized nation to-day, is interested in the civil wars in Burma, Malaya and China, and in doing its best to eliminate the Dutch from Indonesia. Russia is also taking an interest in the island of Kew Guinea, approximately onehalf of which is Dutch territory. Large numbers of Indonesians or Asiatics could infiltrate into Kew Guinea, and, in such an event, we should have great difficulty in stopping them. That possibility presents a problem of the first magnitude for Australia, and we must ensure that the territory is adequately defended. Splendid airfields were laid in various parts of the island during the war. On a number of occasions in this House we have debated the strategic importance of Manus Island. Before Japan had been defeated, the United States of America had established a strong base there at a cost of many millions of dollars, but we have allowed it to fall into disuse, and installations have been overgrown by the jungle. Recently we sent naval parties to Manus Island to restore the base somewhat, but we need to do much more than that.
If the Territory of Kew Guinea is to be an effective front line of defence for us we require a healthy, intelligent, and loyal native population, and a permanently resident white industrial population with a stake in the country and the capacity to direct native effort. Unfortunately, the white settlers have been checked in every way. Before the advent of the Labour Government, the Lyons Government encouraged the production of rubber in south-east Papua and ensured that all of that commodity was sold at a reasonable price. At that time, the planter’s greatest difficulty was to obtain sufficient native labour. Although hostilities ceased in 1945, this Government has discouraged the opening of additional country suitable for the production of rubber. Had that country been made available, it would have given an opportunity to many splendid young Australians, including exservicemen who had been in New Guinea, to earn a livelihood in the territory, and give a lead to the natives. It is useless for the Government to think, as some Ministers are inclined to do, that by adopting the present policy, it is abolishing slavery. Nothing of the kind! Indentured labour is no more than an apprenticeship.
– We adopt a similar policy towards immigrants to-day.
– That is so. Displaced persons, such as Poles, come to Australia under contract to the Government for two years. In New Guinea the natives are primitive. Their loyalty to us during the war proved that they had been well treated. The reduction of the period of indenture to one year only handicaps the settler. We should encourage the white planters. The natives in that great territory are not sufficiently numerous to develop it, and it would be a kindness to them to increase the settlement in the island. We do not need to alienate the land, but could make agreements with the paramount chiefs to lease a proportion of it for a long period, and use it for developments purposes.
– I do not understand the honorable member’s statement that the Government will not permit the production of additional rubber.
– I had considerable correspondence with the Minister for External Territories on the subject of expanding rubber production in the Koitaki region of south-east Papua, but I could never obtain a satisfactory explanation. The policy may be described as “stand still”. If that policy has been changed, I shall be most gratified. By allowing the reopening of the rubberproducing areas, the Government will encourage more white people to settle in the territory.
– There is no hold-up in that respect.
– There has been a hold-up. I interviewed the Minister for External Territories several times, and exchanged correspondence with him, but nothing was done. I am aware that experiments have been conducted in the growing of tea. Before the Labour Government took office, we had given bounties for ten years to cover a probable war period in order to encourage the production of coffee, cocoa, vanilla and many other commodities. We also guaranteed the sale of copra. When the price of copra fell, we introduced a sliding scale of payments in order to keep the producers solvent. The Government should not think that the white settlers are exploiters. Life would be easier for some of them if they left the territory and worked in Sydney or Melbourne. We should encourage them to remain in the territories.
– Reasonable people do not regard the white settlers as exploiters.
– When the Minister replies to the debate, I should like him to explain why the Government is not allowing the planters the benefit of copra prices, and why it is retaining £8 or £10 a ton. I remind the Minister that there is supposed to be a stabilization fund. World parity for copra is about £60 a ton, but the producers are lucky to receive £40 from the Production Board, which the Government has appointed, and in addition, they have all the shipping difficulties to overcome. I have questioned certain appointments that have been made. For example, I read a statement in this House about the appointment of the Controller of Shipping at Port Moresby. That appointment was unpopular, but the officer in question happened to be a friend of the Minister. The inter-island shipping services are not satisfactory, the planters are not getting a fair price for their copra, and their difficulties have been increased by the one-year indenture system. I believe that the Minister will investigate all the problems that I have mentioned. He has already shown his earnestness by visiting the territory. His predecessor fobbed off everybody. People wrote to him, and others even came to Canberra but he refused to meet them. His dictatorial attitude gave rise to a strong feeling of resentment both against himself and against the Government as a whole. To crown everything, the Government, through the Minister for External Affairs (Dr. Evatt), who is obsessed by matters relating to the United Nations, has made the administration of the territory an international affair. The United Nations, like the former League of Nations, has arisen from a grand concept. It may eventually bring good to the world, but up to the present it has been merely a sounding board for the propaganda of Russia, whose’ representatives engage in general vituperation and exercise the veto freely. The Government was unwise to throw the future of New Guinea into the lap of other nations represented at the trusteeship council. Australia should have retained the territory, as South Africa has retained its territories. New Guinea should be an integral part of the Commonwealth. In the present situation, I fear that we’ shall be subjected to constant interference from Russia and other nations which have no proper understanding of the difficulties’ involved in the administration of the area. We all know how the Australian Government has interfered very unwisely with the Dutch administration of Indonesia. It has revealed’ its ignorance of that region, and in. the same way Russia and other nations will show their ignorance’ of New Guinea. For all of the reasons that I. have stated, tha Government should not press for’ the enactment of this measure-. The subject; should, be referred to a select committee of the Parliament. Therefore, I move - That, all words after “That” he left out, with a view to insert in lieu, thereof, the following words : - “ the bill be withdrawn and referred to a select committee for report as to whether the bill meets’ the requirements of the Territories concerned, and to seek advice, upon the best methods for restoring local government and civil administration for the. welfare of the native population and for the economic development of Papua and New Guinea “’.
.- This discussion, of the trusteeship agreement, in relation to New- Guinea is very much like’ conducting a post-mortem examination of. a patient.. Nothing that: this Parliament, can do is likely to alter the effect of what has already been- done by the Minister for External. Affairs: (Dr. Evatt) in handing over to the custody of an international organization a territory which many people in Australia, including particularly members of this Opposition, consider to be vital to the security and wellbeing of our Commonwealth. The die has already been cast as a result of the actions of the Minister for External Affairs at conferences of the United Nations at San Francisco and elsewhere. I propose to compare what has- been done what should have been done in order to demonstrate how the interests of Australia have been sacrificed to the aggrandizement of the. Minister as an individual. In the first place, I shall make a brief, study of the history of New Guinea. The territory should have been made an integral part of Australian territory long before World War I. occurred. In fact, it would have been incorporated but for the negligence of the United Kingdom Government as long ago as 1873. At that time, the various colonies of Australia initiated a movement to annex New Guinea as a British territory. The responsible British Minister of State at that time, Lord Derby, resisted the representations that were made by the governments’ of the colonies. In those days) of course, there was no federation. The Australian colonies feared the steady expansionism of the Germans in the Pacific region. German trading companies’ were, operating actively and. Germany was showing: itself to be ambitious in world affairs. If became obvious that’ the’ German flag would ultimately be hoisted on some of the islands contiguous to Australia. Eventually, in 1884, the Premier of Queensland, Sir Thomas’ Mcllwraith, took the bit between his teeth and had the Australian flag planted at Port Moresby. That action was repudiated: by the British Government, but, a few months, later, the very thing that, the Australian, governments had feared! came- to pass;: the Germ am flagwas hoisted at Rabaul and in the Bismarck. Archipelago. On the 19th December, 1884, the. Premier of Victoria despatched a noteworthy telegram to the British Colonial Office.. His message stated: -
At last the end has come. The German flag has- been- hoisted. We’ protest in the name of the present: and’ future1 of Australia. The danger and disgrace of what has been’ permitted will not die out in this generation.
Not until 1914 did an opportunity come to Australia to establish, its rights overthis neighbouring territory. New Guinea became the scene of the first Australianaction in. World’ War I., when Australianlives were lost in the battle at Rabaul..
The blood and treasure that the people of Australia have poured into the territory of New Guinea give them the right to assert complete authority over that part of the world - authority at least as great as that demanded by the United States of America in its trusteeship proposals for the former Japanese Marshall, Caroline and Mariana Islands. I shall endeavour to show that the Australian Government, through the Minister for External Affairs, has given away on behalf of Australia securities which it had no valid right to surrender. During World War II., Australia paid a terrible price in the struggle to retain possession of New Guinea and Papua. I have here a list of the numbers of Australians killed in that conflict. I obtained the figures only yesterday from the Department of Defence, in Melbourne. They were not obtainable in Canberra, and I believe that this is probably the first occasion on which they have been made public. They are as follows : - New Britain: Killed and died of
More than 5,000 Australian lives were sacrificed, so that after the war we might consolidate our claims to that highly important strategic area. The sacrifice of those Australian lives was the price of our nationhood and of our title deeds to New Guinea. Our rights there have been whittled away by the Minister for External Affairs, who has granted to the Trusteeship Council certain powers in respect of what should be Australian territory. The right honorable gentleman had no right to do that until he had consulted this Parliament. Although the New Guinea Trusteeship Agreement was signed on the 13th December, 1946, over two years ago, it is only now that it is being discussed by this Parliament. Long after the pass was sold the repre- sentatives of the Australian people, among whom are the relatives of the men who gave their lives in New Guinea, have been given an opportunity to express their opinion upon the matter. It is too late. New Guinea has been vested in the Trusteeship Council, and there is little that honorable members can do now other than to register a protest against what has been done. It may bc asked what alternative we had as a nation to’ vesting New Guinea in the Trusteeship Council, as a token of our faith in international co-operation. Only a few nations have so far vested mandated territories in the Trusteeship Council. France has followed that course with the Cameroons and Togoland, the United Kingdom with Togoland and Tanganyika. Belgium with Ruanda-Urundi, which if in Central Africa, New Zealand with Samoa, and ourselves with New Guinea. That is the complete list. The Government of the Union of South Africa has refused to vest South- West Africa in the Trusteeship Council. It is worthy of note that the act of vesting a territory in the Trusteeship Council is a purely voluntary one. Australia could have refrained from so doing in regard to New Guinea, just as the Union of South Africa did in regard to South- West Africa. If it was necessary for us to show our good faith in international co-operation, we could have adopted another alternative and followed the example of the United States of America in respect of its claim to the trusteeship of the Caroline Islands, the Marshall Islands and the Mariana Islands. Prior to the last war, those islands were administered by the Japanese, under a mandate from the League of Nations. During the war, the United States of America, with its allconquering army and navy, took possession of them. The United States Government then announced to the Security Council and the Trusteeship Council that it had no intention to vest those strategic areas in the Trusteeship Council on the same terms as those on which Australia had vested New Guinea in the council.
– I assume that the honorable gentleman is not suggesting that the United States of America annexed those territories.
– I shall state what actually happened. I shall give the facts, which are that, under Article 88 of the Charter of the United Nations, a nation may, if it so desires, declare a particular area to be a strategic area. If that is done, the Trusteeship Agreement in respect of that area contains certain conditions which make it very different from an ordinary trusteeship agreement. Is there any country which has an area of land close to its shores that can be considered to be more important to its security and well-being than the territory of Papua and New Guinea is to Australia? That territory is vital to our defence against aggression from the north and the east. The events of World War II. proved that if we had not had control of that territory and the Japanese had been able to establish a base at Port Moresby, they would have been able to invade Australia. It was only because we held Port Moresby and Papua that we were able successfully to defend Australia at that time. Although the area is vital to our defence, defence considerations have been brushed aside by the action of the Minister for External Affairs in delivering to the Trusteeship Council our right to control the territory in the way in which we are entitled to do. Honorable members may ask what difference there is between the Trusteeship Agreement of the United States of America in regard to the Marshall Islands and the Australian Trusteeship Agreement in respect of New Guinea. There is a difference in regard to fortifications and defence measures. Under the terms of our Trusteeship Agreement, we are entitled to erect defences for the protection of the territory concerned, but the United States, under the terms of its Trusteeship Agreement in respect of the Marshall Islands, which have been declared to be a strategic area, is permitted not only to build defences for the protection of the islands but also to construct bases there from which to operate elsewhere. What is more important is that the United States of America can at any time close th? islands to representatives of other nations which are members of the Trusteeship Council. The United States of America can order the representative of any power that it suspects of wanting to obtain information in respect of, for example, the defences of that area to keep out. Under our Trusteeship Agreement, however, we must permit representatives of Russia, India, China, Peru or of any other nation which happens for the time being to be a member of the Trusteeship Council to inspect what we are doing in New Guinea. It is of interest to know the countries to which we have to render an annual report in respect of our trusteeship. They are the permanent members of the Security Council, who are also members of the Trusteeship Council unless they happen to be mandatory powers. The other countries are Belgium, China, Mexico, Iraq and New Zealand. Some of those countries could create great difficulties for us from time to time. I propose to refer to some legitimate criticism of this measure by the Russian delegate on the Trusteeship Council. I remind the House that the bill was brought down first in July, 1948, and that it was withdrawn because the Government thought that it should first submit the proposals contained in it to the Trusteeship Council.
– That is not quite correct. The Parliament was prorogued and all unfinished business lapsed.
– If the Minister acting for the Minister for External Territories (Mr. Chambers) studies the Government reports in regard to this matter, he will find that what I have said is correct. It is stated in a number of the reports which I have examined fully that in deference to the claims of the Trusteeship Council, the measure was held in abeyance until the council could be given an opportunity to examine its provisions.
– No. We took advantage of the intervening period to forward it for examination.
– Well, it is very strange that the only bill affected by the prorogation of the Parliament was that now before the House. It is strange too that the Trusteeship Council, consisting of the nations that I have mentioned, hae proclaimed that the bill was withdrawn because the Commonwealth Government did not wish to proceed with it until the council had examined it.
– The Prime Minister admitted that in answer to a question that I asked in this chamber.
– I am afraid that I cannot agree with the Minister’s statement because the facts do not bear it out. This bill is of course substantially the same as that introduced in 1948. There are, however, one or two notable omissions from this measure. They will be dealt with fully by the honorable member for Barker (Mr. Archie Cameron), with whom I compared the two bills line by line. Certain provisions of this measure have already produced adverse criticism by Soviet officials. For example the bill provides for a legislative council of 29 members, of whom sixteen are to .be appointed by the Administrator. In addition, there are to be three non-official members representing the electors, three representing missions, three native members and three others. Therefore, including the Administrator himself, there will be seventeen official members out of 29. In addition, of course, the Administrator will have the right to nominate some of the others, which will probably increase the official side of the council to twenty out of 29. Finally, the Administrator will have complete power to veto any ordinance or recommendation to which he is opposed. That was more than even a Soviet official could stomach and things must be bad indeed when a Russian -official starts preaching to Australia about the need to observe democratic principles. I mention this matter because it reveals the weakness of the arrangement requiring Australia -to submit to the representatives of countries such as Iraq, Russia, Mexico and China, reports on how we are managing the affairs of a land, which by virtue of our war-time sacrifices should be regarded as our own territory. When this bill was submitted by the Department of External Territories to the Trusteeship Council, the Soviet representative, referring to the proposed Legislative Council, said -
For that reason, the bill cannot be considered as appropriate and acceptable for New Guinea, -and the unification of the Trust Territory of New Guinea and the colonial Territory of Papua should be considered as inconsistent with the Charter and the trusteeship system. “He continued -
The village councils, which will be created by the Administering Authority, could not be considered as organs of self-government because they cannot make any decisions. The same can be said concerning the advisory councils, which are also not organs of selfgovernment.
So, we have the delicious situation in which a representative of the Soviet Union is telling a country such as Australia that it is acting in an undemocratic manner. There was no need to submit the people of Australia to such humiliation. In fact, there was no need for the Australian Government to submit the territory of New Guinea to the custody of the Trusteeship Council. That was a purely voluntary act. Any nation administering a mandate could decide for itself whether the territory under its control should be submitted to the Trusteeship Council. When the League of Nations finally ceased to exist, a couple of years ago, territories administered under mandate from the league came under the absolute control of the administering countries, and submission to the Trusteeship Council became entirely voluntary. For instance, the Government of the Union of South Africa has .refused, except under certain conditions, to surrender its complete authority over the former mandated territory of German West Africa. Australia could have adopted a similar attitude. All it had to say was, “ This territory is so important to our defence strategy that we do not propose to permit anybody else to meddle m its affairs “. Alternatively, Australia could have taken the intermediate course, as the United States of America has done with the Marshall Islands, and said, “ Yes, we shall place this territory under a certain form of trusteeship, subject to limitations “. Under Article 88 of the United Nations Charter Australia could have designated New Guinea as a strategic area and thus while .agreeing to carry out our obligations to the native population, and to provide for the defence of the territory in accordance with the Charter, we could have refused to submit reports to any .outside authorities which had no right or interest in New Guinea, and reserved to ourselves the right to close that territory to inspection by any other nationals. Probably that is the closest that we could have gone to annexation without actually annexing the territory, but it would have satisfied the conscience of the Minister for External Affairs (Dr. Evatt) in respect of his pleas for world peace. It would have enabled Australia to enter the trusteeship bond having made the necessary reservations for the defence of this country. But we have failed to do so because the Minister for External Affairs has been more concerned with demonstrating his good faith in respeot of international concord. In doing so he has virtually given away Australia’s most vital territory.
A good deal of the remainder of the bill is domestic in character and I do not propose to speak at length upon it at this stage. There are nearly 80 clauses as well as six schedules, and the proper time to discuss them undoubtedly will be at the committee stage of this debate. I desire to say only that I register my protest, first, that the Parliament was not given an opportunity to discuss the trusteeship of Kew Guinea until the trusteeship documents had been delivered to an outside organization. Such an action should never have been taken without the approval of this Parliament given after a debate on the matter. Whether such a debate would have altered the decision of the Minister is perhaps doubtful, but at least the people of Australia, who are so vitally concerned, should have been able to register through their representatives on the Opposition and, I hope, on the Government side of the House, also an opinion about what ought to be done regarding this territory. I shall quote here a statement that emanated from the Prime Minister’s Department after the Australian expeditionary force had occupied German New Guinea during World War I. I remind the House that the former German New Guinea is the subject of this debate. When we speak about New Guinea we usually mean the former German territory and not Australia’s possession, Papua. After Rabaul had been occupied by Australian troops in the first world war, the Prime Minister’s Department said - -
When the Australian naval and military expeditionary force took possession of the German Colonies of New Guinea, Australia came into what she had always believed to be her own.
This ex-German territory is now Australia’s own. Five thousand, eight hundred Australian lives have been given to support our claim to it. Yet, despite all that valour and the blood and treasure that have been poured out by this country, the results of the effort and the sacrifices that have been made have been virtually thrown away because of the action of the Government in handing over, without a struggle or a debate in this Parliament, Australia’s most strategic area.
.- The honorable member for Richmond (Mr. Anthony), in his long statement on the trusteeship of New Guinea, has from first to last evaded the issue. It would have been much better, from his own point of view, had he been honest and said that mandates mean nothing to us, that Australia should have annexed that territory, as South Africa did with South-West Africa. Such views are not supported by the Australian people, including many of those who served during the last war in New Guinea. The honorable member uttered a lot of rambling nonsense about our rights to that territory. I remind him that at the time of the declaration of the last war the then Prime Minister of England said -
We are not fighting a war for selfaggrandisement, but for the preservation of democracy.
– It is for the preservation, of ourselves now.
– Inferentially, there were to be no territorial “ cut ups “ after the war such as, amongst other things, caused the tragic repercussions after World War I. that led to another world war. It was the ire of the German people concerning their lost colonies- amongst other things that caused the friction and tensions that led to World War II. Early in the last war Mr. Churchill himself went on record to say that after the war had been concluded there were to be no vast redistributions of territories. He said that it was not a war of conquest but of preservation. It was a war of preservation of the sacred ways of democracy, a war in which there were to be levels of sacrifice followed by levels of understanding and benefit when the war was over.
There is no justification for saying that we should have done what South Africa did regarding South-West Africa; that the Americans had taken a different view concerning the islands adjacent to Japan that had been held by Japan under mandate from the League of Nations from what we have taken concerning New Guinea; and that we had gone to the Trusteeship Council and needlessly surrendered our mandate in New Guinea. To begin with, the New Guinea mandate came to us from a world organization. One of the major complaints of the honorable member was that we had to submit a report to the Trusteeship Council on our trusteeship. The representatives on the Trusteeship Council might or might not include Russia. In this instance they do. But we have always submitted reports regarding territories held by us on trust. Under the League of Nations mandate we submitted reports to the League year after year, and I say to the members of this Parliament that some of the finest things that ever came out of New Guinea were the reports submitted to the League of Nations by administrators, patrol officers, district magistrates, anthropologists, and other officials. Any one who desires to find the literature of New Guinea will find it in the reports of these officials. They also tell the story of the fair deal we have given to the natives.
– The reports were worth nothing unless we had good administrators.
– We have been lucky in the matter of administrators in both the Territory of New Guinea and the Territory of Papua. Because of their reports the world knew what we were doing with our mandate and also obtained a good deal of information about the potentialities of New Guinea. The truth of these reports was apparent to the whole world. They showed that New Guinea is not another Java or spice island. It is scarred with erosion; it has precipitous mountains, inaccessible areas, flooded valleys and much infertile land. The reports dissipated in the minds of the European nations, at least, the idea that New Guinea was a pearl in the ocean being mishandled by the Australian Government, whose experience in colonial administration up to that time was limited. Yet the tortuous development of New Guinea as a whole produced administrators like Sir Hubert Murray in Papua, and others who did a tremendously good job. We were able to report to the world the true conditions there, and also that we had endeavoured to raise the standards of the native population. The Opposition seeks to give the impression that something terrible has happened because we have changed our New Guinea mandate into a trusteeship. One result of the change will be that, under the trusteeship system we shall have the right to fortify the territory, which we did not have under the mandate. We shall be able to protect the airfield? and harbours of the territory.
– We have nothing to protect them with.
– I am speaking merely of the trusteeship provisions. When it is necessary to provide the means of defence for the territory the provision will undoubtedly be made.
– Not by this Government.
– When the Japanese administered the islands adjacent to Japan which they had received as mandates after World War I. they treacherously and completely mismanaged, mishandled and subverted their mandate. In the years immediately following World War II. the Americans, in accepting the position of trustees of the former Japanese mandates, took the islands over as strategic areas because of the needs of post-war defence. It should not be used in criticism of the United States of America. I am convinced that the average Australian never for a moment believed that we should annex New Guinea merely because we had exercised a beneficial control over it, first under mandate, and later under trusteeship, and had finally fought for it under war aims which precluded our annexation of any territory after the war. I remind honorable members that the French Cameroons, British Togoland, Samoa and other small areas that were acquired as mandates, were all part of the spoils of victory over Germany that were distributed after World War I. The people of most of those territories have submitted to a re-alinement because the League of Nations has gone and its place has been taken by the United
Nations. Most of those countries are now administered under trusteeships instead of mandates.
Mr. Archie Cameron interjecting,
– 1 am sure that the honorable member for Barber (Mr. Archie Cameron) will agree that the administration of New Guinea under a trusteeship is taking place along developmental lines. The mandate system had to cease because a new world organization had been created. 1 do not believe that there has been any trickery on the part of either the Minister for External Affairs (Dr. Evatt) or the Minister for External Territories (Mr. Ward), nor do I believe that departmental officers concerned in the administration of New Guinea have resorted to any subterfuges. We should bear in mind that those officers who administer the territories under mandate are confronted by most complex difficulties. I have already pointed out that the reports submitted to international bodies showing the progress made in New Guinea indicate that Australia has done a very good job. In reply to the honorable member for Richmond (Mr. Anthony), who seemed concerned that the Russians have criticized the Government’s proposals for New Guinea, I point out that there is no valid ground for such criticism.
– Nevertheless, the Russians still criticize Australia.
– They have a right to criticize, but there is little validity in their criticism, and I do not think that the honorable member for Richmond should be disturbed by it. The accusation that we have “ alienated “ certain territory in the South Pacific is not altogether a disturbing charge ; and, after all, it is merely a gibe. Australia has nothing to fear from an inquiry by any nation into the administration of its trust in New Guinea. It has a great record at the International Labour Office for its handling of dependent territories.
The constitution of the proposed Legislative Council provides for the appointment of twenty-nine members. Although the Government has been criticized because of its proposal to appoint sixteen official members, exclusive of the administrator, who is to be an ex officio member, I do not think that there is any ground for criticism of the proposals merely because Government members will be in a substantial majority. The bill provides for mission representation and for native members. Surely members of the Opposition do not suggest that the natives of Mount Hagen should be given autonomy before we have induced them at least to remove from their noses the pieces of bone with which they disfigure themselves. A great deal has yet to be achieved before the natives of New Guinea will become sufficiently enlightened to co-operate in the government of New Guinea. A lot of idealistic nonsense has been talked about the improvement of the natives’ lot. It should be borne in mind that the principal task of the administration is to feed the natives. We utter generalities about the paramount needs to develop New Guinea for the defence of Australia, and members of the Opposition have indulged in vapid talk about the necessity for improving the industrial potential of the natives. I remind them that we must be careful, first of all, to discharge our primary obligation, which is to ensure that the natives shall be properly housed and rehabilitated. We must ensure that their forward progress, which was initiated, not while they were under military control, but when the civil administration was solely responsible for that area, shall continue in accordance with the plan that was prepared long before the war. For that reason, apart from any other, the amalgamation of the territories should be welcomed. When they were administered as separate entities complete harmony between the respective administrations was not achieved. However, I am confident that the establishment of a single capital and the proposed centralization of administration will result in Australia receiving as high praise in the United Nations for its administration of these areas as it did in the former League of Nations.
The important point which members of the Opposition omit to mention - no doubt, purposely - is that New Guinea is receiving a new deal. I shall never assert that New Guinea is a planter’s paradise, although there are opportunities for exploitation, nor shall I assert that it should be left entirely to the black man, because the utilization of the world’s resources is something that concerns all the peoples of the world. An important feature which has characterized the administration of New Guinea and Papua, and which I stress-, is the humanitarian approach, not only of the present Government, but also of preceding governments. The enlightened approach was first manifested when Sir Hubert Murray became Administrator of the territory. He gave to the world a fine example of modern, beneficent, colonial development. Sir Hubert was not so much concerned with those who came to New Guinea to grow rubber or farm copra; his main concern was that the natives who supplied the cheap labour by which wealth wa9 accumulated should receive an increasing share of the profits from their labours. Sir Hubert was determined that the natives should not be compelled to work for the “white man boss “ for ever without obtaining some improvement of their lot. In seeking to provide a fair deal for the natives and to implement an enlightened policy for their benefit, I emphasize that the present Government is merely carrying on the good work begun by preceding administrations many years ago. It has fallen to the lot of the present Government to implement some of the most important of the plans that were formulated when official consideration was first given to the welfare and future development of the natives. One of these plans which the present Government is seeking to implement is the abolition of indentured labour. When slavery, as such, was formally abolished throughout the civilized world, new methods of enslaving native races were devised. In the West Indies the method adopted was euphemistically termed a system of “ apprenticeship “. Later the world became familiar with the “ immigration “ system. In the South Pacific, where the Polynesians and Melanesians were exploited, the system of enforced labour became known as “ indentured “ labour. If an observer from any continental nation,- including Russia, who witnessed the operation of that system and saw something of the vast profits that accrued therefrom, were to charge us with a breach of the idealistic charter of human rights, he would undoubtedly present a case for us to answer. However, past strictures and impositions on the native peoples in New Guinea are being slowly but surely lifted by the present administration, under the inspiration of the Minister for External Territories, and the Minister for the Army (Mr. Chambers), who is now deputizing for the honorable gentleman.
The matters that I have mentioned are important, and should not be lost sight of in any consideration of our future trusteeship of New Guinea. After all, the term “ trustee “ is a noble one, implying the repose of trust in some individual or body. For the reasons that I have set out at some length earlier in my remarks, I am convinced that the Minister for External Territories, his departmental officers and the Administrator and his staff in New Guinea are entitled to claim that they have conscientiously discharged their duty as trustees. One of the principal objectives of the trusteeship is to ensure that there shall not be any employment of forced labour in future. The subject territory, which sustained more war damage than any part of Australia did, is entitled to thorough rehabilitation. The detribalization that took place, which involved the compulsory movement of natives from their tribes and villages, and the splendid service which so many of them rendered with Angau during the desperate military operations of World War II., when they became known, because of their courage, loyalty and devotion as the “ fuzzy wuzzy angels “, contributed substantially to their present impoverished condition, and entitle the natives of New Guinea to claim our most sympathetic consideration. Incidentally, I emphasize that the motive which underlay their devoted service was not so much a spirit of loyalty to the military authorities - and, in saying this, I do not desire to be unfair to the military authorities or to make undue distinction or discrimination between their conduct and that of the civil authorities - as of faith in the return of the civil authorities, in whom they had learned to place unbounded trust. On all the occasions when I have made contact with the natives of New
Guinea, I have been impressed by their earnest desire that the civil administration, which they had known so well before the war, should return to care for them. It is abundantly plain to any observer in New Guinea that many of the natives are proud to co-operate with the administration. For one thing, they feel that they can confidently appeal to their immediate civilian superiors for the rectification of injustices. The more enlightened of them believe that the chains of enforced labour are being slowly struck from their ankles. They realize that the subject of detribalization is bound up with the utilization to the greatest advantage of man-power. An observer must realize how greatly the natives of New Guinea are suffering from the effects of war in their island because of the virtual disappearance of their villages, gardens and plantations. The native women, to whose lot fell the tending of the gardens during the absence of their menfolk on military duties during the war, became too weak and ill to attend to them. The supply of natural foods for the natives has become so short in consequence that the Administration has been compelled to remove some of the conglomerate races which make up the black population of the island to more fertile areas. Action of the kind had to be taken, and the trusteeship arrangements authorize the taking of necessary action. However, before doing so, the Government obtained the advice of anthropologists and other experts in native welfare. “We realized that we were largely responsible for the state of affairs in which the natives found themselves after the war, and we determined, to employ the most efficient remedial measures. Apart altogether from other enlightened measures that were adopted, we embarked on a scheme for training the natives in elementary medicine so that they could cure tropical ulcers, detect the symptoms of approaching malaria and safeguard their health against many other maladies which menace them. By adopting such measures we are repaying part of the debt that we owe to the natives. The bill provides for the continuance of such rehabilitatory and progressive measures. Because of the progress that has been made since the war I am not opposed to observers from any nation examining the record of Australia’s administration of New Guinea.
In the past one of the weaknesses of our control of Papua and New Guinea was undoubtedly the existence of a dual administration, which led to a certain amount of pin-pricking and administrative overlapping. The present measure aims to streamline the entire administration of the island. In future, it is intended that all parts of the island that are under our control will have the benefit of the same administration. All parts of the island within the ambit of the administration’s authority will enjoy similar facilities, improvements and amenities. Henceforth the dwellers in one portion of the territory will not have to tolerate conditions inferior to those provided in another part. There is nothing very wrong with that. I agree with the honorable member for Richmond that this is a committee bill, and that some cf the most important parts of it must be discussed during the committee stage. For that reason, I shall not deal at length with the domestic provisions of the bill. The Minister, in his secondreading speech, upon which I congratulate him because of the wide survey he made of the subject, referred to the slow building up of the copra plantations, where production is still much below the pre-war standard. He also touched upon the subject of shipping. Quite frankly, I admit that I have changed my ideas about reparations, and I now believe that Japan should be made to replace the fleet of small ships which formerly traded round the coast of New Guinea. This seems reasonable enough, when one remembers that the Soviet Government has sent a collecting force to Genoa and Naples to pick up Italian warships, including dreadnoughts, cruisers and destroyers, which were assigned to Russia as reparations under the peace treaty, and to take them through the Mediterranean into the Black Sea, where, no doubt, they will become a source of further anxiety to other nations with interests in the Middle East. In view of that action, even though we may still detest the general idea of reparations which can be responsible for sowing the seeds of future wars, it must be conceded that certain claims may legitimately be made, and one such claim should, I suggest, be in respect of the small ships of New Guinea which were destroyed by the Japanese, and have not yet been replaced. The Dutch have claimed reparations from Japan, and the British have claimed, and in part received, reparations for damage done by the Japanese in Burma. Therefore, I believe that Australia would be justified in claiming from Japan the cost of replacing the small trading ships which used to ply along the New Guinea coast from port to port, carrying on the trade which is vital to the country’s economy. Perhaps it is not yet too late to make a claim.
It is agreed, I think, that a trusteeship is not a bad thing for a young country. We have no desire to be an imperial nation, and we do not want a permanent colonial administration. This responsibility was thrust upon us when the first world war broke out, because of the proximity of New Guinea to Australia. The honorable member for Richmond said that we are now getting a bit of our own back, but I do not know what he meant by that. Any one who is acquainted with the history of our association with New Guinea must know how reluctantly the British Government agreed to the annexation of Papua at the request of Sir Thomas Mcllwraith, then Premier of Queensland. After the first world war, we were assigned a mandate over New Guinea. Now we have a trusteeship over New Guinea, but it would be pure sabrerattling to talk of annexing that territory. Honorable members opposite say that we have no sabre to rattle. Well, let us then administer the trusteeship through the United Nations. A great deal of nonsense is talked about our association with New Guinea, both by the old wiseacres who have inhabitated the place for years, and by the new elite. The best form of administration is a trusteeship. If we do the job that has been assigned to us, we need fear no criticism from the rest of the world. For Australia, it is not a question of territory, but of doing what is right by the natives who did so much for us. We must . seek to develop the system of village councils and advisory councils, and the fact that natives will be on those councils, even though nominated to the positions, is a forward move. The men of the stone age have leapt ahead in the last 60 years under wise administration. We must tell the world that New Guinea is not just a place to despoil, and that the first products of the land shall go to the natives. We are trying to re-arrange the tribes, to defeat disease, to teach the natives useful trades and how to grow money crops so that they will not be at the mercy of unscrupulous traders ; so that they may remain in their villages, and not be starved out and have to work for the white man. New Guinea is a hungry isle, as one can see from the air by looking down on the scored valleys among which our soldiers fought so bravely. We must justify black New Guinea by white Australia’s treatment of it, by our commonsense approach, and by the development of the natives into useful citizens under our domination. If we do that, our trusteeship can have nothing but the best effects.
There is one other thing which we might consider, although it is somewhat apart from the bill. New Guinea has been one of our harshest battle grounds, but so far as I know, there is no memorial there apart from those local memorials which are being so rapidly obliterated by the weather and the kunai grass. I suggest that the Minister should, when he has an opportunity,-consider the proposal that the whole of the Kokoda Trail should become a. national park in the same way as the Gettysburg Park in the United States of America has been made a national park, studded with monuments which mark the stages of the Gettysburg campaign. Thus, in future years, visitors from Australia, from Britain and from the United States of America who visit the area will learn how hard was the trail over the hills that our young soldiers followed in the campaign against the Japanese. It would be hard to establish a fitting memorial in any other way. If the proposal is adopted, the epic character of the Kokoda battle will be marked by a memorial which will parallel in national significance the famous Gettysburg Park in the United States of America. I make that suggestion to the Government with great earnestness. That would draw the attention of the people to New Guinea. I return to the bill: There is no danger for Australia in this measure unless we, as a democracy, fear the judgment of other democratic nations. I repeat that it is absurd and sinister to talk of annexation. Let us go on as we began. Let us prove that we can look after a black nation with distinction to ourselves and benefit to the people who have been placed in our charge. Let us assume this trusteeship with a good spirit.
– “We have before us the second edition of a bill the purpose of which is to prescribe the form of administration of New Guinea and Papua. As the honorable member for Balaclava (Mr. White) pointed out, it is interesting to recall that this is the only bill that was left over from the last session. On the 11th November the Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley), referring to the previous measure, said -
Before the bill waa introduced I examined its conditions carefully with the Minister for External Affairs. It was intended to proceed with the measure during the present sittings of the Parliament but in the meantime some charges were made at the meeting of the Trusteeship Council for which there was no justification.
– By Russia?
– I believe that they were made by other representatives as well as by the representatives of Russia. It was suggested that the proposal might be referred to the International Court of Justice. The Australian representatives made a strong protest against any such appeal.
The Minister for Externa] Affairs discussed these protests with me personally, and not with the Minister for External Territories - I do not think he was here then - and I decided that in view of what had been said it would bc far better for the Minister for External Affairs to deal with the objections at a later meeting of the Trusteeship Council. The right honorable gentleman agreed to do so. I am satisfied that the objections voiced at the meeting of the Council were made by people who were completely uninformed about the position; and I considered that it would be best to allow the matter to be settled in the Council. It is the intention of the Government to bring down a bill during the next session of the Parliament.
That shows conclusively why that bill was not gone on with during the previous session. The honorable member for Richmond (Mr. Anthony) referred to the fact that he and I had studied these two bills yesterday, line by line and word by word. There are one or two significant alterations with which I shall deal later. We must have a very good look at the relation ship that the occupation of New Guinea bears to the defence of the Australian Commonwealth. The honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Haylen) has just stated that the Marshalls, the Carolines, the Marianas and other islands that the United States of America has taken over from Japan, are of strategic value to the United States of America. I say that those areas have not the strategic importance to the United States of America that New Guinea has to Australia. They are minor matters in the strategy of the United States of America. The occupation of New Guinea is a major and vital matter to us ; it would be of extreme danger to Australia if it were occupied by people unfriendly to us. Any move on the part of the Australian Government to depart in the slightest degree from the completest and fullest overlordship of New Guinea would be absolutely fatal to the defence of Australia. This Government is guilty of that departure. When the war ended in 1945 I believe that there was only one logical course to pursue. Instead of being led astray by the United Nations and all the bag of nonsense that goes on over there, we should have done as South Africa did with relation to former German South-West Africa. As the honorable member for Richmond has said, we have won this area by blood and sacrifice and we should stick to it. A select committee should be appointed to go into this matter fully. One of the aspects that should be thoroughly examined is the reception that the Australian delegate to the United Nations Trusteeship Council received when he last attended that council. Although certain information relating to the proceedings of the council is available in foreign publications, no report on its activities has been submitted to this House. There is no report in the library relating to the territory of New Guinea of more recent date than the 30th June, 1940.
– A recent report was available in the library yesterday.
– It was not available when I inquired last week. I understand that if everything that transpired at the Trusteeship Council was written, we should have about a woolbale of foolscap to wade through. What we do in the Territory of New Guinea is our business. It must be remembered that Mexico is a member of the Trusteeship Council. The internal administration of that country is one of the worst in the world. It is therefore fantastic and stupid that Australia, which stands in the front rank of democratic states, should have to make reports to countries such as Mexico and Peru, which are the ragtag and bobtail of modern civilization. I do not think that honorable members on the government side of the House will challenge that statement. Why should the people of those countries be the judges of whether our administration has been right, wrong or indifferent? Added to that is the everlasting fact that so long as the United Nations remains, it is only necessary for Mr. Molotov of Russia to say “ no “ to a proposal and that is the end of it.
At this stage I wish to pay a tribute to the right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes). As a generation is growing up which knows not William Morris Hughes, it is well that that generation should have some idea of what he did at Versailles in 1919. It should not be forgotten, at least while he lives. Let it not be forgotten that had it not been for the activity of the right honorable gentleman the history of New Guinea between the two world wars would have been very different from what it was.
– That is perfectly true.
– I am glad the honorable member for Parkes supports that contention. The honorable member for Balaclava has proposed that this bill be submitted to a select committee. Very few members of this House have had an opportunity to visit New Guinea to study, on the spot, the problems of the people and the administration that has been established in that territory. Let us remember that, whatever the conditions were in 1939, those conditions have been changed vitally as a result of war. Many people who were responsible for the administration of that territory before the war were killed in its defence. A new set of circumstances must now be faced. There are so many problems that require the personal attention of a committee that the wisest and best course for the Government to adopt is to accept the amendment of the honorable member for Balaclava and refer this bill to a select committee. In the course of its inquiries, the committee may discover some things which have not been covered by this measure. So many problems arise from time to time that a first-class investigation of what ought to be the administrative establishment in Papua and New Guinea would, be an advantage. As I have said, I have studied the measure carefully with the honorable member for Richmond, and there are one or two aspects that should be brought to the notice of the House. In the original bill of 1948, which failed to receive legislative sanction, there was provision for the establishment of provinces. No such provision appears in the present bill. Apparently the only subdivision of the territory that could be made under this legislation relates to administrative areas for native purposes. I note that a Government Gazette is to be printed in New Guinea. It should be an advantage for a printing works to be established there, if the printing requirements of the territory are not to be as far behind the times as in Canberra, as honorable members will have noticed when perusing Hansard.
In my opinion, Part II., relating to the trusteeship agreement for the Territory of New Guinea, should not be endorsed. At this stage we should tell the United Nations to mind its own business, take over the territory ourselves, and administer it to the mutual advantage of the natives of New Guinea and the Commonwealth of Australia, which would be primarily responsible for its defence and protection in the event of any trouble arising. Part III. of the bill deals with the administrative union of the Territory of Papua and the Territory of New Guinea. In the earlier measure no reference was made to the Territory of Papua as being a possession of the Crown. I am pleased to notice that in this new bill the Territory of Papua is so referred to. The provision for the establishment of administrative provinces, which was contained in clause 11 of the earlier measure, is omitted from this bill. If this bill becomes law apparently there will be no subdivision of the territory into provinces for administrative purposes. When the bill is in committee we may be told just why that provision was deleted.
– Administrative provinces may be established in Papua or New Guinea but not in areas the boundaries of which lie in both territories.
– The Government has apparently adopted the arbitrary boundary line decided upon at the conference of Berlin as the line of demarcation between what was then German Hew Guinea and British New Guinea. Not one of those responsible for that decision had visited the territory or had any intention to do so. They sat in conference and arbitrarily determined the boundary, merely drawing a line on the map, as did those responsible for the delineation of the boundaries of the Australian States. This Government, having a chance to rectify the positon, has refused to do so. It slavishly follows the decisions of others just as it accepts the boundaries of the Australian States as they were defined so many years ago.
Part IV. of the bill deals with administration. Division 1 defines the powers and functions of the administrator. The administrator will be a most important person, for he is to be clothed with all the powers that Mr. Molotov now exercises. There is to be no act, administrative or legal, which he may veto. For instance, if he does not like a decision made by the Executive Council, which is to consist of nine officers of his own administration, he may veto it. If he does not like a decision made by the Legislative Council, he may veto that, too. Not only is he to preside over the Legislative Council and the Executive Council but also he is to be the court of appeal from the decisions of every judicial body in the territory. Under the powers vested in the administrator by clause 73 he may grant to any offender convicted by a court exercising criminal jurisdiction in the territory a free or conditional pardon, or vary the sentence as he pleases. A lot of time might be saved if instead of giving him the right to vary or remit any sentence of the court, he himself were made to do the work that the court has to do. The administrator is not to be a representative of the Crown; he is to be a civil servant of the Commonwealth of Australia. He will in no sense be a viceregal personage. When dealing with administrators of territories of the Commonwealth on other occasions I reminded the House of one famous administrator of the Northern Territory who insisted that “God Save the King” should be played as he began his day’s work. It might have been more appropriate had he selected “ See, the Conquering Hero Comes “, or “ The Watch on the Rhine “.. As the administrator of Papua and New Guinea is to be clothed with very wide powers, the Government will be well advised to select for that office a person capable of discharging the responsibilities that will be entrusted to him. The Executive Council is to consist of no fewer than nine officers of the territory who are to be appointed by the GovernorGeneral and to hold office during his pleasure. Although, like the administrator, they are to be appointed by the Governor-General, they will not be able to prevail against the administrator should his views not coincide with theirs. Notwithstanding that the members of the Legislative Council are to be appointed by the Governor-General, no proposal for the expenditure of money may be introduced into the Legislative Council except by the administrator or unless such proposal has been expressly allowed or directed by him. Clause 22 provides -
The Administrator only shall be entitled to submit matters to the Executive Council, but if the Administrator declines to submit any matter to the Council when requested in writing by any member so to do, that member may require at a meeting of the Council-
And, incidentally, the term “meeting of the Council” was not contained in the appropriate clause in the earlier measure - that his written request, together with the answer of the Administrator thereto, be recorded in the minutes, and the request and answer shall be recorded accordingly.
All this goes to show that the administrator is to be a man of some “ tonnage “. I should have thought that after dealing with the Executive Council the draftsman would have proceeded to deal with the legislative council; but not so. He took a trip in another direction altogether. Division 3 of Part IV. provides for the establishment of advisory councils for native affairs and native village councils. Apparently the bacteria of democracy with which the veins of the natives have been inoculated as a result of the presence in their country of the army of occupation, are multiplying very rapidly and henceforth we are to establish in each area a native village council to manage native affairs. From these village councils are to be selected certain outstanding gentlemen of New Guinea who will form the advisory councils for native affairs. The functions of these advisory councils are set out in clause 26, which provides -
We assume that the members of the advisory council may draw the attention of the administrator to certain matters which affect the natives in their own areas. Whether or not they may tender advice in respect of matters that extend beyond their own areas I do not know. It looks to me as though each area is to be too much of a water-tight compartment. At any rate the advisory councils may consider and advise the administrator on matters submitted from the native village councils. That may be all to the good. Clause 29 provides -
A Native Village Council shall have such functions as are provided by Ordinance in relation to the peace, order and welfare of natives In the area in respect of which it is established.
That seems to be a good provision, but how it would work out in practice the Lord only knows. Part V. of the bill deals with legislation. Division 1 relates to laws. T am not so concerned about laws as I am about the methods under which they are made. Division 2 provides for the establishment of the legislative council. Here again the Government is following the pattern of earlier legislation of this kind, notwithstanding that the official policy of the Australian Labour party declares the party to be opposed to legislative councils, this is the second provision made by this Government for the establishment of a legislative council, and in both instances the councils, are to consist in the main of nominated persons. In this respect the
Legislative Council for the Territory of Papua and New Guinea is to be very much worse than is the Legislative Council of the Northern Territory, which was recently established by this Government. In the latter there are seven nominee representatives and six elected representatives. The Legislative Council of the Territory of Papua and New Guinea is to consist of 26 nominated and three elected members. Before long we shall witness this Government appointing a legislative council of 50 members of whom 49 will be nominated by the Government. Let us consider the powers that are to be vested in the Legislative Council of Papua and New Guinea. As I have said, the administrator is to be clothed with powers as wide as those exercised by Molotov. In addition to his right to veto the decisions of the Legislative council, he is to become your counterpart, Mr. Deputy Speaker, in that he is to preside over the proceedings of the council. He is not to he called “ Speaker “ ; I think the term invariably applied in such instances is “President”. In any event, he will be the “ king pin “. ‘ He will preside over the Legislative Council and will have power to veto any decision of the council. He will run the whole “ show “. No expenditure can be incurred without his approval. It is, also provided that the membership of the council shall include “sixteen officers of the Territory, who shall be known as official members “. All of those members will be members of the Public Service. Under the next heading we find, “ three non-official members possessing such qualifications as are provided by Ordinance and elected, as provided hy Ordinance, by electors of the Territory “. It is interesting to note that “ elector “ is not defined clearly in the bill. One cannot ascertain from the measure who shall qualify as electors, or by what method members of the Legislative Council will be elected. We are not told whether the qualification for the franchise will be on the basis of ownership of property, education, length of residence in the territory or merely agreement with the Government’s administrative policy. Any of those qualifications may be prescribed with the greatest of ease, but the National Parliament is left entirely in the dark on this point. The membership of the Legislative Council shall also include “ three non-official members representing the interests of religious missions in the “Territory”. The previous measure provided for “ three nonofficial members representing the interests of Christian missions in the Territory “. Why has the term “ religious “ been substituted for “ Christian “ ? I do not know whether this change has resulted from our membership of the United Nations; whether, as a member of the United Nations, Australia has been instructed to provide for, say, Mohammedan, or Bhuddist, missions. I am perturbed to find the Australian Government running away from the term “ Christian missions “. Why does the Government turn down the term “ Christian missions “ ? So far as my knowledge goes, all existing missions in the territory and adjacent islands are Christian. I have a feeling that in the disturbed state of the world to-day it would be a very good thing if the governments of countries professing to be Christian stood up to non-Christian governments on matters of this kind. This is a matter entirely for our own decision, and the Australian electorate would not be happy if it were told that as the result of the trusteeship agreement it was quite possible that before long we should have Mohammedan missions established in the Territory of Papua and New Guinea. That is the conclusion to be drawn from this alteration. I do not agree with it, and I trust that if the measure is not referred to select committee the word “ religious “ will be struck out and the word “ Christian “ substituted therefor.
The membership of the Legislative Council is also to include “ three nonofficial native members, and three other non-official members “. The last bunch appears to be the most completely nondescript provided for in the measure. No one knows who those members are to be, who or what they will represent, or how they will be elected. They are to be simply three other non-official members. So much for the Legislative Council. I should very much prefer that some other method of establishing local government in Papua and New Guinea were evolved. If this measure were referred to a select committee of competent members of the Parliament they would evolve a much better system of establishing a legislative council for the territories. The other point with regard to representation that occurs to me is that the Government has not indicated its preparedness to grant direct representation to residents of Papua and New Guinea in this Parliament as has been done in respect of the Northern Territory and the Australian Capital Territory. The residents of these island territories should be given direct representation in this Parliament. I admit that in adopting’ such a course we should be following colonial representation as portrayed by France rather than that practised by Great Britain; but existing world circumstances and our special relationship with Papua and New Guinea fully justify referring matters of this description to a select committee. Although this matter has been raised on many occasions, the Government, apparently, has not had time to decide one way or another on that aspect.
The matters which the Administrator shall reserve for the Governor-General’s pleasure form an interesting list. For instance, the Legislative Council cannot pass any ordinance relating to divorce unless such ordinance be referred to the Governor-General. I do not see any reference in the bill to marriage laws in the territory. Whether such a thing is out of order I do not know. I can understand the wisdom of refusing complete power to the Legislative Council to pass ordinances dealing with a matter such as defence. However, matters pertaining to the employment of natives can best be settled by the local authorities on the spot. Such matters are not likely to be settled in Canberra to the satisfaction of the people living in the territory. In this connexion, I refer also to the grant and disposal of land. If the local administration does not know how to handle such matters it will not receive much help from officials in Canberra whose knowledge of such matters will be exactly nil. I notice also that there appears to be no provision for appeals to the Privy Council by any resident of the territory.
– Except upon banking.
– The High Court of Australia is the highest tribunal to which the residents of the territory may appeal. It appears that cases can be submitted to that court, but they must be submitted in writing. Apparently, counsel or witnesses will be allowed to appear in such instances before the High Court. I have always understood that in these appeals there is such a thing as men meeting face to face and being questioned with respect to the “ whys “ and “ wherefores “ of their claims.
Clause 71 is one of the most interesting provisions of the measure. Sub-clause I provides -
The slave trade is prohibited in the Territory.
I did not know that the slave trade had been carried on in the territory. I have not heard any reference to it in this House, and I know of no reference having been made to it before the now defunct League of Nations. This is a useless and rather offensive provision, because it suggests a state of affairs in which the slave trade exists or may break out at any moment.
– The provision assumes that the slave trade exists in the territory.
– I do not believe that the slave trade exists in the territory, and neither does the Minister believe such a thing. Article 8 of the Fourth Schedule, which lays down certain conditions with respect to the control of the natives of the territory, reads -
The Administering Authority undertakes that in the discharge of its obligations under Article 3 of this agreement:
it will co-operate with the Trusteeship Council in the discharge of all the Council’s functions under Articles 87 and 88 of the Charter ;
Article 87 of the Charter, which deals with the powers and functions of the Trusteeship Council, reads -
The General Assembly and, under its authority, the Trusteeship Council, in carrying out their functions, may:
Consider reports submitted by the administering authority;
Accept petitions and examine them, in consultation with the administering authority;
Provide for periodic visits to the respective Trust Territories at times agreed upon with the administering authority; and
Take these and other actions in con formity with the terms of the trusteeship agreements.
That is one provision of the bill to which I object absolutely.
Sitting suspended from 6 to 8 p.m.
– Article 8 of the Fourth Schedule, which contains the Trusteeship Agreement for the Mandated Territory of New Guinea, also states that the administering authority will, in accordance with its established policy -
take into consideration the customs and usages of the inhabitants of New Guinea and respect the rights and safeguard the interests both present and future of the indigenous inhabitants of the territory;and in particular ensure that no rights over native land in favour of any person not an indigenous inhabitant of New Guinea may be created or transferred except with the consent of the competent public authority;
I suppose that the Minister, when replying to this debate, will tell us that the substitution of the term “ religious missions” in this bill for the words “ Christian missions “ in the first bill is in compliance with the terms laid down by the Trusteeship Council. That is another reason why I consider that we should not place the Territory of New Guinea under the Trusteeship Council. The sole responsibility for it should be in our own hands.
The Parliament should be clear about two or three matters. The first is that the Parliament, as a whole, and very few members individually have a proper appreciation of the conditions with which we are. faced in the administration of either Papua or New Guinea. Therefore
I am firmly of opinion that the only sensible course for the Government to adopt is to refer this bill to a select committee iri order that all the provisions of the legislation, and the contentions advanced in this debate, may be properly investigated by competent men, who will report to this House. I am sure that such a committee would radically alter many of the provisions of the bill. I have carefully studied the measure, and have demonstrated its weaknesses. I have shown many of the impossible provisions in it, and have also revealed that, from the stand-point of defence, we are in not so good a position by any means as that in which the United States of America stands in relation to the Marshall Islands, the Caroline Islands and other islands which are not nearly so necessary to its strategic’ welfare as New Guinea and the adjacent islands are to the welfare of Australia. Honorable members have a big responsibility, and we shall not fulfil it properly by allowing all sorts of waifs and strays amongst the nations of the world to dictate to us what should be done there. Being the people on the spot, we should know and determine the best thing to do. We shall not be in a position to do so if we remit our responsibilities to this collection of ambiguities commonly known as the United Nations. If it were not for the work of the right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes) at the Versailles Peace Conference in 1919, we would not be discussing this subject to-night.
. -I shall not endeavour to follow the remarks of the honorable member for Barker (Mr. Archie Cameron), who has covered a good deal of ground with which I am fairly familiar; but as one who had the honour to represent Australia at the assembly at which the mandate was granted, I may perhaps be permitted to say a few vord3 about the events that led up to it, bearing in mind that trusteeship is another name for mandate. It may interest honorable gentlemen and the country to know that before World War 1”. ended in 1918, the Imperial Cabinet, then sitting in London, unanimously decided that the German colonies in the Pacific and South Africa should become integral parts of the dominions contiguous thereto. But the armistice, which came upon the world suddenly, was based upon President Wilson’s fourteen points. As, under those fourteen points, annexations and indemnities were prohibited, this involved some re-adjustment. The old names disappeared and new ones were substituted for them. Annexations became mandates, indemnities became reparations. The freedom of the seas, about which President Wilson was greatly concerned, was, unhappily thrown overboard. The fight for the New Guinea Mandate was prolonged and bitterly opposed by the distinguished man who was then the President of the United States of America. Although President Wilson accepted under protest the idea of Mandates, he was bitterly opposed to the mandate being granted to Australia, and it became my duty, as the representative of this country, to endeavour to iron out the differences between us - in which I failed utterly - and to persuade him and the representatives of the other nations of the justice of our claim. As I saw it, the full control of New Guinea was vital to the security of Australia. I looked upon New Guinea in the hands of a hostile power as the people in feudal countries regarded the frowning castle of the baron or the prince that overlooked them, and it became perfectly clear to me that is was essential to the safety of this country that we should control New Guinea. The mandate was granted in the end after a prolonged and stormy conference in which, finally, the President of the United States of America was left to himself, and the representatives of all the other nations supported Australia, South Africa and New Zealand. This mandate, as I shall repeat again and again, is vital to the existence of Australia as a free nation. We could only live on sufferance as a free people if New Guinea were held by a hostile or weak power. As all honorable members know, the United Nations differs only in name from the League of Nations. Substantially, its objective is the same. That objective is the preservation of peace, the substitution of reason and the rule of law for brute force. It is unhappily true that the League of Nations failed to preserve the peace of the world. It yet remains to be seen whether the United Nations will prove to be more effective. So far the omens are not auspicious. “We look around the world and see on every side wars and preparations for wars. There is no peace in this world, but we have to live in it. The spotlight is turned upon us. Although we were led to believe that at the conclusion of war there would be peace and tranquility and that men of all nations would enjoy the complete control of their affairs that is promised to them under the Charter of the United Nations, we find ourselves to-day in a world which is shaken to its foundations.
The mandate was never regarded as an adequate defence policy. Its purposes were to create, as it were, a buffer between us and the aggressor which would hamper and delay his attack upon our citadel and to prevent strategic bases within striking distance of Australia from falling into the hands of a potential or actual aggressor. This it has done. If the mandate had not been given to Australia, if I had agreed to the insertion in the Covenant of the League of Nations of a provision for a policy of racial equality, as I was strongly urged to do so, New Guinea would long ago have swarmed with Japanese, who, at the outbreak of World War II., would have poured into this country. I think that I ought to make some reference to the racial equality provision because, as honorable members know very well, there has been much talk lately from an awakened East about the White Australia policy, and it behoves one who, like myself, helped to put that policy on the statute-book of this country nearly 50 years ago to couch a lance in its defence. I believe in a White Australia, but I believe, too, that, in the administration of our policy we should refrain from causing offence to our coloured neighbours. The White Australia policy is not a gesture of defiance. It is a policy of defence. There is no other alternative for this country than this policy of rigid exclusion of unassimilable elements. But this does not mean that we regard coloured peoples as inferiors. It has been my happy fortune to be brought into close contact with representatives of India and China. Dr. Wellington
Koo, whom I knew very well, was a man of high intellectual gifts and of great learning. Sastri, a Brahmin of the highest class, who represented India at the Peace Conference, was a distinguished scholar and a man of great administrative ability. I should regard it as a very great compliment to be thought fit to stand on a footing of equality with such men. But the motives of men are mixed. One may recognize people as equals, but still not desire to live with them. Australia is a country whose geographical location places us in close proximity to the people of Asiatic communities. We live in a glasshouse and must so order ourselves as to avoid giving offence to our neighbours, and that, I hope, we have always tried to do. At the same time, it is necessary that we should give effect to our White Australia policy if we believe in it. If we only pay lip service to it, then all that I or any man may say will count for nothing.
It is important to note that this trusteeship over New Guinea covers, not the whole of New Guinea, hut only a part of it. The remainder of New Guinea is held by the Dutch. In view of all that has come and gone lately, I think that I should say a word for the Dutch. They have been, during the years between the two world wars, our very good friends. Their occupation of Dutch New Guinea, so far from limiting in any way our powers and our control of that part of New Guinea that is included in the mandate, has strenghtened our hold of it. I am looking at trusteeship from the stand-point of defence, of course, because that ig what matters most to the people of this country. I leave aside all of the advantages - and they arc very obvious - that come to us from the unfettered control of those great territories that are comprised in what is known as the mandate. Those territories extend over the mainland of New Guinea, New Britain, New Ireland and many of the smaller islands reaching down nearly to Guadalcanal. The Dutch position in New Guinea has not been in any way affected by recent events in Indonesia, because New Guinea is quite outside the Indonesian dispute. The Dutch occupation of this territory has provide!! us with the same protection as that which would have been secured to us by our own occupation of it and, in addition, our expenditure has been lessened. Our protection has in fact been increased, because the Dutch have acted as a buffer between our citadel and a potential or actual aggressor. The Dutch occupation of Indonesia, which was unchallenged until quite recently, has existed for nearly 350 years, and during that time they have governed so wisely and well that the population of Indonesia has increased from approximately 8,000,000 to 72,000,000. In the last war the Dutch were not only our friends but also our allies. I propose to show the inconsistency of the Government’s advocacy of the White Australia policy and its attitude in the struggle between the Dutch and some of the natives of what is called Indonesia. Are we for a White Australia, or are we only paying lip service to it? For nearly 50 years we have nailed to the mast this policy of White Australia. We have slammed the door on the coloured races of the world. The population of the world has increased greatly, and in some countries it is still increasing at an alarming rate. Last year the population of Japan increased by 2,000,000. In the same period, the population of Australia, u country the area of which is 2”> times us great as the area of Japan, increased by approximately 130,000 from both natural increase and migration. We cannot be for a White Australia and at the same time champion the cause of the Indonesians who are grouped behind Dr. Soekarno, the president of the so-called Indonesian Republic. It is necessary to remember and to realize what the Republicans in Indonesia stand for. Quite recently the Australian Government, declaring that it was not a government that listened with its ear to the ground to what other people were saying and then said the same thing, startled the people of this country by voting for the admission of Indonesia to the Economic Council for Asia and the Far East at the conference at Lapstone. The Australian delegates voted for the Indonesians and against the Dutch and Americans. I do not see how the Government can reconcile that policy with its championship of a White
Australia. Under which banner does it stand? Is it for the white race or for the coloured races? I trust that we shall never see this world divided into two hostile camps on the ground of colour, but if it is to be so divided then I shall be for the whites. As 1 understand it, every member of this Parliament and nine out of every ten people in Australia share my view. The . Government has championed the cause of the Indonesians and denounced the Dutch. Then it has declared, through its various mouthpieces, that it is on the friendliest of terms with the Dutch. The Dutch, therefore will say : “ It may have been right to dissemble your love. But why did you kick us downstairs?” The Government does not tell us that; it takes its own line.
Let me now say a word about the Indonesians. In the sweeping advance which followed upon the sinking of Repulse and Prince of Wales and the fall of Singapore, the Japanese came along to our very doors. They overwhelmed the Dutch and after the battle of Leyte in 1942, Dr. Soekarno, the president of the Indonesian Republic, said -
On behalf of the national freedom, the Indonesian people fight a life and death struggle together with Japan in order to smash and destroy America, England and the Netherlands. We hail the success of Japan in the victory at koh ami in the Bay of Leyte. May. this victory bring in the final victory.
That is W at the stooge of Japan said when we were within an ace of destruction, and when, but for the victory of the Americans in the Coral Sea, we should have been overwhelmed. But the Government has alined itself on the side of the Indonesians. Honorable members opposite say that the Government does not go about the country listening to what other people say, but that it takes its own lino. This is its line. The position confronting us to-day must cause the people of Australia grave concern. We are menaced on the one hand by communism, which threatens us as it threatens every peace-loving nation with the destruction of our country and the loss of everything that we value and cherish. On the other hand, we see the population of Asiatic countries so far outstripping the available means of subsistence that for millions of people the only alternative to starvation is migration. And where in this world are those millions to find a country to which they can migrate? Where can they find a country at once so attractive and so vulnerable as Australia? What are they to do in order to be saved ? I speak now not of things that may happen, but of things that must happen. The population of Japan is increasing by 2,000,000 each year. The victory of the Communists in China has greatly weakened America’s position in the Pacific. General MacArthur has said that America will not abandon its hold on Japan or on the Pacific, but to retain that hold may be a difficult task in the face of an emergency. Let us suppose that the surplus millions of Asiatics come to us with arms in their hands, and that we are left to our own resources. How shall we repel them ? The developments of modern warfare are such that we must .rely mainly on air power, but it is admitted that the Air Force of this country is 5,000 below even the very moderate target fixed by the Department of Air. We see published in the daily news papers attractive advertisements calling for enlistments in the Navy, Army and Air Force; but our young men do not respond to those appeals. The population of the East is growing at such a rate that emigration is necessary, not only for the survival of the surplus millions, but also for the economic life of the countries in which they live. No country can bear indefinitely the burden of a huge surplus population. An outlet must be found, or the country must go down. We held Australia for 160 years sheltered under the broad wing of the British Navy. So complete was that protection that some of us regarded ourselves as being immune from the vicissitudes and the disasters that overtook less fortunate people. But that day has gone. Had it not been for American aid in World War II., we should not be sitting here to-night as masters in our own household. America, of course, has the atomic bomb, but America may be reluctant to use it. If the boot were on the other foot and Russia had the atomic bomb, the first that we should know of it would be the destruction and desolation of our cities. Immigration, although a most desirable objective in itself, must never be regarded as a substitute for an adequate defence policy. I have always, believed it to be the duty of every citizen of a free country to prepare himself to defend his country. I am referring not now to the training, and equipping of men for overseas’ service but to the plain and inescapable duty of every able-bodied man to defend his country. For 30 years or more, compulsory training for home defence was a plank of the Labour party’s platform, but that plank has now been jettisoned. Our young men shake a free leg and go their way unheeding the imminent danger that threatens them. Their country is menanced by the Communists within our own borders who have declared quite openly that they will fight for Russia and against us and our allies in the event of war with the Soviet Union. Those men wait only for the signal to destroy everything that we value and cherish.
I shall not dwell on this matter at any greater length. It is sufficient for me to point out that situated as we are to-day, there is only one policy for us to pursue. I have asked what we could do should the surplus millions of Asiatics come to our shores with arms in their hands. Unaided we could do little or nothing; but let us consider the alternative. Supposing they appealed to the United Nations, what reply would they receive? What would the world say? Here is a country with 7,500,000 people, a stagnant birth-rate, and almost unlimited resources awaiting development. Millions of people are clamouring for the right to enter this country to assist in that development. Supposing the United Nations agreed that those people should be admitted, how could we be saved ? We must prove our right to continue to occupy this country as a free people by increasing the birth-rate and by pursuing a vigorous policy of migration. The present Minister for Immigration (Mr. Calwell) has adopted and is applying such a policy and I, for one, couch a lance on his behalf. But it seems extraordinary that this Minister who, on the one hand, cries for more migrants for Australia, on the other couches a lance for the Indonesians, not one of whom would he permitted by him to enter this country. When I hear trade union leaders talking about the rights of the Indonesians, I cannot help thinking that if an Indonesian applied at the wharfs of any Australian port for a job he would have a better chance of jumping to the moon than he would have of getting one. The attitude of the Government and the trade unions to the Indonesians is canting hypocrisy. Are we or are we not for the White Australia policy? We must mend our ways, raise the birth-rate, and adopt a policy that will ensure that every young man in this country who is of military age shall be trained and disciplined. Discipline is what this country requires, discipline and again discipline!
As I stated at the outset of my speech, a trusteeship is only a mandate under another name. The United Nations is only the League of Nations under another name. A mandate, whatever it may be called, is something to which we have been accustomed and that we must continue to support. But that, in itself, is not enough. We must prove by our acts that as free people who wish to remain free we are prepared to do our duty by the world, to populate our country with people that can be assimilated and to develop the almost illimitable resources of Australia that yet remain untouched.
.– By courtesy of my colleague, the Minister for Air (Mr. Drakeford), I spent almost a week in the Territories of Papua and New Guinea some years ago. At that time, although there were still many pockets of Japanese combatants in these territories, the Americans, by a process of islandhopping, had reached a point north of the territories and consequently T was able to see a considerable part of the area. Ever since then T have taken a very great interest in the claims of my colleague, the Minister for External Territories (Mr. Ward) about the development that had taken place in those territories. I took also a good deal of interest in that part of the discussions at the San Francisco conference that concerned the establishment of the Trusteeship Council. I believe that the criticism of this bill by honorable members opposite can be put in this way : Instead of entering into an agreement with the Trusteeship Council by which the former Mandated Territory of New Guinea became a trust territory, they contend that we ought to have taken possession of the territory by annexation and that we should exercise the same powers over it as we exercise over the Territory of Papua.
– We believe that, because of the strategic value of the Territory of New Guinea.
– It is rather late in the day for the Opposition to start making such criticisms.
– The Opposition is making them now because the Government did not bring in the present measure until three years had elapsed.
– I shall deal with the honorable member for Parramatta (Mr. Beale) in a moment. I say that if these criticisms were to be made they should have been made in the first place during the debate in this Parliament on the United Nations Charter, because all the papers relating to the structure of the United Nations were laid before the Parliament and were the subject of debate.
– The Opposition voiced criticisms at that time.
– That is perfectly true, but honorable members opposite did not oppose the Charter on the particular grounds that they are bringing forward in this debate. In any case, were honorable members so decisive in their opinions about this matter that they would have failed to ratify the United Nations Charter merely because they took exception to the establishment of the Trusteeship Council? Whether honorable members opposite view trusteeship as a good system or not, not one of them would have said during that earlier debate that Australia should not have ratified the Charter.
– The Minister should consult the records of the debate that he has mentioned.
– That debate provided the opportunity for honorable members apposite to voice the criticism that they have raised to-night. The honorable member for Parramatta has stated that it has taken three years for this matter to be placed before the House.
– The Minister should look lit clause 6 of the bill.
– Order ! The honorable member for Parramatta (Mr. Beale) must not interject.
– The honorable member for Parramatta stated that this is the first opportunity that this House has had to debate this particular matter.
– I did not say that.
– Order ! The honorable member is out of order in interjecting.
– Honorable members opposite ought to have taken previous opportunities to raise the matters that they are raising to-night. The agreement in relation to the Trusteeship Council was tabled in this House on the 26th February, 1947. I shall quote the words of the Minister for External Affairs (Dr. Evatt) on that occasion to prove that this Parliament was given an opportunity to debate this matter then. On that occasion the Minister for External Affairs said, inter alia -
Before I conclude my statement I shall tabic documents on various subjects, namely, the United Nations: the Trusteeship Agreement for New Guinea as approved by the United Nations Assembly; a statement on India and the text of the Netherlands Agreement.
Mr. Archie Cameron interjecting.
– Order ! The honorable member for Barker (Mr. Archie Cameron) has made and concluded his speech on this measure.
– If the honorable member for Barker and the honorable member for Parramatta do not believe me, I refer them to Hansard for the period 26th to 2Sth February, 1947, at page 159. Later the Minister for External Affairs tabled the text of the actual agreement. That text is to be found reproduced on pages 176 and 177 of the same number of Hansard.
– That is long after the charter of the Trusteeship Council was accepted.
– Quite so. On at least three previous occasions members of the Opposition could have made the criticism of the trusteeship agreement of which they have said so much during this debate. The first occasion was the introduction of the measure to ratify the United Nations Charter; the second occasion was on the 7th August, 1946, when the Government’s proposals for New Guinea were placed before the House and honorable members were given the opportunity to debate thu matter ; and the third occasion was on the 26th February, 1947, when the Minister for External Affairs tabled a document in the House to ratify the trusteeship agreement. In reply to the contention of members of the Opposition that, instead of agreeing to the creation of a trust for the area of New Guinea now under consideration, Australia should have taken possession of it, I declare unequivocally my total disagreement with that point of view. At this stage of civilization I am not in favour of the annexation of foreign territory by Australia or any other nation.
– New Guinea is our own territory. We should not be annexing it. from any other nation.
– The honorable member is simply trying to confuse the issue, because he knows that New Guinea never belonged to Australia. Before World War I. it was German territory. After the end of that war we obtained a mandate for its administration, and after World War II. that mandate continued to be exercised. Of course, it could not, continue in force indefinitely and some arrangement had to be made between Australia and the new United Nations organization to authorize Australia to continue the administration of that pari, of New Guinea which we occupied. Thu only other alternative open to us was to annex the territory. As I have already emphasized I am absolutely opposed to the annexation of territory. I remind honorable members that one of the famous “ Fourteen Points “ proposed by President Wilson during the peace negotiations after World War I. was that the United States of America did not desire any territorial aggrandizement whatever and his announcement was accepted by the peoples of the world with acclaim.
– That is also what Hitler said!
– The fact remains that that particular statement of President Wilson was appreciated and acclaimed by people all over the world. Now that World War II. has ended 1 feel proud that we are able to say, with sincerity, that Australia has no desire for territorial aggrandisement. Had the Opposition endeavoured to persuade the Government or the people at the end of World War II. that Australia should annex territory in New Guinea it would have encountered my most determined opposition.
– That would not have mattered.
– Neither does it matter very much what the honorable member thinks.
– The Minister does not speak for Australia any more than does any other individual.
– The present Government speaks for the people of Australia. Let me remind honorable members opposite that the Australian people were made quite aware of Labour’s intentions in regard to New Guinea if it were returned to office at the general election held in 1946. The people returned it with an overwhelming majority.
Mr. Gullett interjecting,
– Order ! I ask honorable members to preserve order. The Minister is entitled to be heard in silence, and the honorable member for Henty (Mr. Gullett) must cease interjecting.
– I have not been interrupting, sir.
– Order ! I. shall not give the honorable member for Henty an opportunity to speak in the debate if he does not behave himself.
– I have, therefore, no apologies whatever to make for the decision of the present Government to enter into an agreement under the auspices of the Trusteeship Council of the United Nations. Honorable members opposite appear to consider that Australia is at a great disadvantage because it has assumed responsibility for the area in question as a trust in preference to annexing it as part of Australia’s territory. However, they have not indicated in what way Australia will be at a disadvantage. The honorable member for Balaclava (Mr. White) interjected that by expropriating portion of New Guinea we should not have been seizing the territory of any other nation.
Mr. White interjecting,
– Order ! The honorable member for Balaclava must cease interjecting, otherwise I shall ask him to leave the table.
– The honorable member for Balaclava has just interjected that for strategic reasons we should have annexed this territory and not have entered into a trusteeship agreement. In the trusteeship agreement for the Mandated Territory of New Guinea that was approved on the 13th December, 1946, provision is made for Australia to take the necessary steps to defend that territory, and in defending that territory we shall, of course, be defending Australia. Article 4, which is contained in the Fourth Schedule to the bill, is as follows : -
The Administering Authority will be responsible for the peace, order, good government and defence of the Territory and for this purpose will have the same powers of legislation, administration and jurisdiction in and over the Territory as if it were an integral part of Australia, and will be entitled” to apply to the Territory, subject to such modifications as it deems necessary, such laws of the Commonwealth of Australia as it deems appropriate to the needs and conditions of thiTerritory.
The honorable member for Balaclava probably has not even taken the trouble to peruse the Fourth Schedule. That Article makes it perfectly clear that if, in the opinion of the Government of Australia, it is necessary to take certain measures for the defence of what was formerly the Mandated Territory of New
Guinea, the Australian Government is at liberty to take any such steps. For that reason I cannot understand why we should be at any disadvantage because we have placed the territory under the Trusteeship Council. Furthermore, I remind the House that members of the Opposition have not advanced any concrete arguments in support of their assertions that we shall be in any worse position from a defence point of view than we should have been had we annexed the territory. To conclude my remarks on that portion of the bill, I repeat that T wholeheartedly approve of the Government’s action in placing the territory under international trusteeship.
The bill, which is comprehensive, deals with a number of other matters, and whilst I do not wish to be unduly critical of the administration of previous governments formed of the present Opposition parties in the years between the two world wars, I must express my firm belief that the implementation of this measure and the guidance of a Labour government will enable the Mandated Territory of New Guinea to make far more progress than it ever did during non-Labour administration.
– At least the nonLabour administration’s handling of New Guinea was free of scandal.
– Order ! If the honorable member for Henty desires to leave the House he may do so, but if he remains here I again warn him that he must not interrupt.
– Long before the recent war ended the Government decided, on the grounds of efficiency and economy, that the Mandated Territory of New Guinea and the Australian Territory of Papua should be amalgamated in order that they might be placed under a united administration. The bill proposes to establish such an administration, and I do not think that any honorable member opposite could fairly quarrel with that proposal. In fact, such arguments as have been advanced by members of the Opposition indicate that they agree with the Government’s proposal to place the two territories under a single uniform administration. Again, I point out that since this Government has been such a strong supporter of the United Nations, it would have been wrong for it to refuse to accept a trusteeship from that organization over the Mandated Territory of New Guinea.
In providing for the setting up of a united administration for the two territories, this bill marks an important step forward in the direction of efficiency and economy. The bill also provides that the administration shall be on terms acceptable to the United Nations Security Council. Australia undertakes to spend on the Territory of New Guinea at least as much as it raises from it in revenue. Non-Labour governments failed to spend in New. Guinea enough money to provide for its development. Had they done so, we should have been able to check the advance of the Japanese in that area at a much earlier stage. The bill provides that an administrator shall be appointed, and to assist him there is to be set up an Executive Council which will consist of nine officers appointed by the Governor-General for such terms as he pleases. Its duty will be to advise and assist the administrator. The administrator shall summon the council, and preside. He may override a majority of the council, but if he does so he must advise the Minister of the fact, and of his reasons for doing so. The bill also provides for the setting up of a legislative council to assist in the administration of the territory. It is true that, before the war, there was a Legislative Council in Papua, but there has never been one in New Guinea. The council is to consist of 29 members, whose advice should be of the greatest assistance to the administrator in developing the resources of the territory. It is provided that the council shall come into existence before the expiration of twelve months from the date of the proclamation of the act. The administrator is to summon and prorogue the council, and he alone will be authorized to submit money ordinances. He will give or withhold assent to ordinances passed by the council, or reserve them for the Governor-General’s pleasure.
The bill also provides for the setting up of advisory councils on native affairs, and of native village councils. This represents a progressive step far in advance of any taken by non-Labour governments. I .believe that, with the setting up of an executive council, a legislative council, advisory councils and native village councils, we shall have the beginning of a form of democratic government that will eventually lead to the emancipation of the natives, and the development of their capacity to govern themselves. It will probably be many years before the stage of full selfgovernment is reached, but that is the objective which we should set before ourselves for all backward people, both in the islands adjacent to Australia, and in other parts of the world. As soon as native peoples are sufficiently educated, they should be encouraged to set up their own form, of democratic government. Insofar as this measure represents a step towards the achievement of that objective, it has my full support.
Provision is made in the bill for the setting up of an administrative structure, and the establishment of a public service, the conditions of which will be denned by ordinance. A school of administration is to be set up under the general jurisdiction of the Department of External Territories, to train young Australians for the New Guinea public service. It is not an easy matter to administer a territory like New Guinea where the people are backward and, for the most part, illiterate. If the members of the public service are to be qualified to deal sympathetically and effectively with the many problems which will arise in the territories, it is essential that they should We properly trained.
It is also proposed to establish a judicial system, including a Supreme Court from which there will be a right of appeal to the High Court of Australia. It is proposed, under the new administration, to develop the natural resources of Papua and New Guinea. It is true that, before the war, something had been done to develop the primary industries and that the copra industry had reached a high degree of efficiency. However, if the territory, is to be properly developed, and if it is to become politically and economically independent, greater development must take place, and this will involve the expenditure of money. Already, investigations have been made by the Department of External Territories over the whole field of primary production, and efforts have been made to induce the natives to become economically independent and self-sufficient. The Department of Post-war Reconstruction has been assisting the Department of External Territories in teaching a large range of subjects to the natives of Papua and New Guinea, although it was not possible to develop the scheme of reconstruction training there on the same lines as on the mainland. Nevertheless, with the assistance of the Director of Education, we have developed in the territories a number of training courses, which are being made available to all natives in the territories who, either directly or indirectly, assisted us in the war effort in those territories, or who suffered in any way as a result of the war. Amongst the main courses that are provided for them are courses in carpentry, boat-building, clerical work, dressmaking and motor maintenance, and domestic science for women. In addition, training is provided for both male and female medical orderlies, and it is of interest to note that two or three natives of the territories have been selected for training as doctors. Training is also provided for rural occupations. Over 2,000 natives in the territories are at “present receiving training benefits. It is estimated that the cost of providing these training facilities will amount this year to approximately £100,000. That is an indication of how seriously this Government accepts its responsibility in connexion with the development of these territories.
I believe that the placing of the Mandated- Territory of New Guinea under the Trusteeship Council was a wise move, because that is the only way in which a united administration for the territories of New Guinea and Papua could be achieved. This bill makes provision for the natives of those territories ultimately to undertake the government of their own country when they are trained sufficiently for that purpose. In my opinion, the bill contains the foundation for subsequent measures to provide for the development of the natural resources_ of those territories, which will result in the standard of living of the natives being raised. I commend the measure to all honorable members.
.- The principal significance of the speech that has just been delivered by the Minister for Post-war Reconstruction (Mr. Dedman) lies in the fact that he is also Minister for Defence, and, as such, is senior to the Ministers for the Navy, the Army, and the Air Force. He has spoken to the House, amongst other things, on the subject of defence, and the significance and strategic importance of the Territory of Papua, and the mandated territory that is now to be placed under a trusteeship. He assured us on his own behalf, and on behalf of the Government, that we need have no fear that anything contained in this measure will impair the capacity of Australia to defend the country which was so recently the nearest toe-hold of our most deadly enemy.On the Minister’s assurance, apparently, we are to rest quietly in our beds. I remember, however, that during the final stages when the world was drifting towards World War II., and when it was becoming increasingly evident to every one that we should be extremely fortunate if we escaped another world war, the government of the day introduced legislation relating to those territories. That was the only legislative foundation on which Australia could defend the territories of Papua and New Guinea. I point out that our capacity to defend ourselves is legally rooted in either the Australian Defence Act or in special war-time legislation to provide for expeditionary forces such as the Australian Imperial Force or the Empire air training scheme, from which the major portion of the Royal Australian Air Force was drawn. I think that it was in July, 1939, with war virtually in sight, and when there was no legal entitlement in existence to permit of the transfer of Australian defence forces to Papua or New Guinea, the government of the day, which was composed of honorable members now sitting in Opposition, amended the Australian Defence Act to enable Australian citizen forces to be transferred legally to defend those territories. Where did the present Minister for Defence stand then? On the very eve of war, by his voice and his vote with his Labour colleagues, he opposed the’ application of the Australian Defence Act to the territories of Papua and New Guinea.
– I was not a member of this Parliament on the eve of the commencement of World War II.
– Yes, the Minister was.
– The Minister may have become a member of the Parliament a few months later, but all of his colleagues were here.
– That is not right.
– It is on record that at that time every member of the Australian Labour party under the leadership of the late Mr. John Curtin, opposed with his voice and his vote, the application of the Australian Defence Act to the territories of Papua and New Guinea. It was proposed that we should equip ourselves by means of the Australian Imperial Force and the Empire air training scheme. Honorable members who have told us in this debate that we should rest content because they will attend to the defence of New Guinea, opposed the establishment of the Australian Imperial Force at that time. The honorable member for Wannon (Mr. McLeod) who is now yapping, was one who spoke and voted against that being done.
– I was not here.
– They opposed the defence estimates.
– Of course they did. The honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) who, unhappily, is engaged on other business and is not with us to-night, is primarily responsible for the administration of these territories. In connexion with the matter to which I am now referring he is reported in Hansard, volume 157, at page 1149, as having said -
It is amusing to hear people say that we shall not give up New Guinea. To those people I would say that if it should become necessary to our Mandated Territory, they should defend it themselves.
Those are the words of the honorable member who now administers - or at least, draws salary for administering - these territories, and yet leaves it tothe Minister for Post-war Reconstruction (Mr. Dedman) to speak here, and to carry on that administrative work. I say that without hesitation, whatever merit there may be in this legislation-
– That is another lie. The honorable gentleman is not drawing salary as Minister for External Territories.
– Is he drawing any salary at all?
– The honorable member has just made a false statement-
– Order! The honorable member for Indi must ignore interjections and address the Chair.
– I shall do so, Mr. Acting Deputy Speaker, but I trust that you will be able to control the Minister for Defence (Mr. Dedman), who apparently is unable to control himself. I am not influenced in the slightest degree by the assurances of the honorable gentleman that these territories will be defended. This legislation contains two main provisions, first, to legalize the placing of what was formerly known as the Mandated Territory of New Guinea under the international trusteeship system, and, secondly, to provide for the joint administration of our own sovereign area of Papua and the trustee area of New Guinea. I shall deal presently with the proposal to bring under the trusteeship system what, for convenience sake, I shall refer to as the recent mandated area, but first I shall deal with the other and more simple proposition that a joint administration should be established for the two territories. If the latter were the only proposal contained in the bill, and if it could be divorced from other implications, I should regard the bill as a normal administrative proposal to adjust the ordinary mechanics of administration. I should characterize it as merely an evolutionary proposal to grant n measure of self-government to the residents of the territories concerned. By providing for the establishment ofa legislative council consisting of 29 members of whom only three are to be elected and the remainder nominated, the Government is merely erecting a facade of self-government. Although this is a poor pretence of local government it is a step in the right direction for which no credit is due to the Government.
It is a normal evolutionary step in British colonial development to transform the government of the territory from absolute government by the sovereign power to some measure of local control. By providing for the appointment of a large majority of nominee members the Government has virtually retained control. That system of establishing a measure of self-government has been followed by the United Kingdom Government in various places. It is an evolutionary process by which a great many of the American States finally achieved complete self-government. The Government’s action in this respect is in line with its decision to establish a legislative council in the Northern Territory. Such a step was due to be taken in New Guinea. The Government, however, would have inspired a great deal more confidence on the part of the residents of New Guinea had it not proposed to restrict to three the number of elected members of a council, which is to consist of 29 members. However, I offer no particular criticism to that proposal. It can be accepted as a more or less routine proposition. Incorporated in the measure are certain provisions covering not only the mechanics of administration, but also the progressive development of the people of the territory. The bill contains provisions for the establishment of advisory councils for native matters and native village councils of which I approve. The important element in this bill was highlighted by the Minister for Defence. It deals with an area which, above all others, is of supreme importance to Australia. The strategic importance of Papua and New Guinea must be considered side by side with the implications of the proposals to place the recent mandated territory under trusteeship. The idea of trusteeship over certain areas, which is the brain child of the Minister for External Affairs (Dr. Evatt), is incorporated in the Charter of the United Nations. The provisions for the establishment of the Trusteeship Council and the mechanism which enables that body to operate constitute the only provisions of importance in the United Nations Charter which was not included in the draft charter signed at Dumbarton Oaks. The proposal for the establishment of the Trusteeship
Council and all its implications was first submitted to the General Assembly of the United Nations at San Francisco by the Minister for External Affairs and brought the right honorable gentleman into prominence in the headlines of the newspapers of the world. I gladly give him such credit as may be due to him for that proposal. If one views the proposition of trusteeship as an abstract proposition to uplift backward people, to raise their standards and to aid them along the path of economic and social development and, finally, to a measure of self-government, the theory of trusteeship is unassailable. I should be the first to admit that, just as I am prepared to admit that considered as an abstract proposition the White Australia policy may be assailable. We are, however, not living in an abstract world ; we are living in a cold, ruthless and tough international world which by no means can be compared with the world which drafted the Charter of the United Nations at San Francisco in 1945. At that time all the nations believed that the world was on the threshhold of a long era of peace. Most people then hoped that the world was on the threshold of eternal peace as represented by an absence of military conflict. It was in those circumstances and to that end that the Charter of the United Nations was drafted. But to-night, as we debate this measure, does any honorable member feel confident, as millions did in 1915, that after thousands of years of organized conflict the human race we can look forward with certainty to eternal peace? He would be a bold man who would say to-day that he looked forward confidently to peace even in his own time. On that point I express myself in no uncertain terms. I look forward to peace, not with certainty, but with hope. I am prepared to pray for it, but I see no outward and visible sign that would give me any confidence that the human race has come to the end of organized conflict. It is the responsibility of legislators in a national parliament to bear in mind their first responsibility, and that is to concern themselves with the continued survival of their own country and of their own people. It is our high duty to concern ourselves to do the proper thing by our own country and our own people and by any race, or group, which comes under our authority. It is our high responsibility to try to uplift the standard of our own people and that of sub-standard peoples such as the people of New Guinea who are under our authority; but all the theorizing and planning to that end will be purposeless if we lose our own country. The present atmosphere forced upon us by one of the great nations of the world compels us to lay our plans against the background of the possibility of again having to defend our own country. If ever again circumstances should arise to make it necessary for us to defend Australia, the area which we are now discussing would be of supreme importance. That is why I am unable to deal with this legislation without bearing in mind constantly, as I see it to be my responsibility to do the possible military implications of the transference of this area to a trusteeship or any other alteration in its governmental set-up.
What is to happen ? Papua is our own sovereign territory. The mandate of New Guinea includes New Britain, New Ireland, the Admiralty Islands and part of Bougainville, which are to he joined in one administration, half of which is to be held under a trusteeship. This trusteeship business means that we are to pledge ourselves to do certain things. We are to pledge ourselves to do the decent thing by the natives in those areas. We British people do not need to pledge ourselves to do the decent thing by native peoples. The British nations have a record of leading the world in doing the decent thing by sub-standard peoples. Having conquered South Africa, the British nations did not need this trusteeship idea to lead them to hand that country back to the South Africans. Similarly, having conquered Canada from the French, the British did not need this trusteeship idea to lead them to hand Canada back to the French. The same applies to India; the British did not need any trusteeship proposals to lead them to raise the status of that country to a dominion, or a republic, as the Indians chose for themselves. The British abolished slavery more than 100 years ago. Yet, to-night, we are to vote on legislation whereby we undertake that there is to be no slavery in New Guinea. What a fantastic and degrading proposal ! It is a proposal which lends itself to deception on the part of those who oppose us in that they can report that to-night the Australian Government is undertaking that there shall be no more slavery in New Guinea. Gould more potent propaganda be placed in the hands of our enemies? What fool wrote that provision into this legislation? What malicious person permitted this provision to be incorporated in this measure? We are solemnly to undertake to-night that there shall be no more slavery in New Guinea.
In order to make sure that there shall be no more slavery in New Guinea we are to place ourselves under the supervision of a group of other countries. We British people who, above all other peoples in the world, have learned the business of colonial government and have practised faithfully the business of aiding and uplifting backward peoples, are now to vote upon legislation whereby we admit that we are not to be trusted to do what we and our forefathers have done through the years. We are to show our good faith and our distrust of ourselves by undertaking to report upon our responsibility to Soviet Russia. China, Iraq, Costa Rica, Mexico and the Philippines. We are to engage ourselves to report annually to those and other countries that we have not practised slavery, that we are doing the decent thing and are advancing the interests of the backward peoples in these territories. And, if we are not capable of doing that in a proper manner we are to be aided by Costa Rica, Iraq, Mexico and the Philippines, which, incidentally, do not hold permanent seats on the Security Council of the United Nations. In due course, instead of reporting to Costa Rica, we shall report next year to, say, Guatemala, and the following year to Haiti, and in subsequent years to Cuba, Venezuela, Peru and Ecuador and other countries that we British people are doing the decent thing by these native peoples whom we have undertaken to hold no longer in slavery !
This is a diabolical bill. It presents Australia in a completely false position. The Government which introduces such legislation and so arraigns the Australian people before the world ought to be ashamed of placing us in such a position. This proposition whereby we acknowledge the authority of central American republics in this business of colonial government is fantastic and silly. It places us in a completely wrong position before the world. But perhaps it is not dangerous. However, that is not the end of the proposition. Those other countries are to be given the right of entry and of inspection of conditions in these territories. I do not believe that any one will contradict me when I say that we can no longer be completely confident that we shall not be engaged in war again. Should we become engaged in war again, against whom would we fight? Would it be the United States of America, Belgium or the Philippines? No; it would be Soviet Russia. We know that much; we know how the Soviet’s tentacles and agents are in every country in the world to-day; yet these territories, which are of vital strategic importance in the defence of Australia, are to be opened to the entry of representatives of the Soviet Russia and its satellite countries. That is, to use the mildest expression, a most dangerous thing to which a government can commit itself. Can honorable members have any doubts in visualizing the process of a third world war? Is it not completely clear already that the ideology of Soviet Russia has been spread by its agents into eastern Asia, including China? Does not that ideology exist to an alarming degree in Burma, and the Netherlands East Indies? Should a conflict occur between Soviet Russia and its satellites, and the western democracies, the obvious plan for immobilizing the not tremendous but nevertheless important striking strength of Australia, as exemplified in two world wars, would be to turn upon us the communised Asiatics who are contiguous to those areas which, under this bill, we propose to transfer to a toothless United Nations.
Some time ago, I advised the Parliament, in good faith, to ratify legislation to approve Australia becoming a member of the United Nations. I should not desire to alter that advice, but when I expressed my opinion to the House, I believed that the United Nations would have some force of its own for the purpose of preserving peace. Bearing in mind the employment of the veto, and with a knowledge of the deliberations of the United Nations, does any one to-day think that, as far ahead as we can see for decades, an international force will be established to maintain peace? I do not believe that such a force will be formed, and I do not consider that any realist will disagree with me. We must rely upon our own capacity, with the help of our friends, to defend ourselves. Despite this need for self-reliance, we propose to open our most important strategic area to supervision and investigation by the agents of our possible enemies. Is similar action taken by any other country on the other side of the fence? Soviet Russia holds eastern Germany technically in trust pending the conclusion of the peace treaty with Germany, if such a treaty is ever concluded. Does Soviet Russia allow us to advise it on the proper methods of administering eastern Germany? Does Soviet Russia report annually to us on its administration of that area? Will Soviet Russia allow us to investigate what it is doing in eastern Germany? Honorable members know the answers to those questions. And will Soviet Russia allow any member of the United Nations, including the United States of America or any member of the British Commonwealth, to know what happens in its puppet state of northern Korea, which could well prove to be another tinder box? Of course it does not. It is we who are the fools in this matter. Our only potential enemy will not allow us to know of happenings behind its iron curtain, but we solemnly agree to throw down any protective barriers that we may possess in New Guinea. I realize that provision is made in this legislation, or in that section of the United Nations Charter relating to the Trusteeship Council, under which we are entitled to take measures for the defence of that territory. Probably that provision means that we can establish an aerodrome or install some guns at Rabaul.
– Mr. Molotov may veto that.
– He may do so, but if he does not, some of his agents, motivated only by their humanitarian desire toinspect the manner in which we aretreating the natives of New Guinea and Papua, will be able to inspect the provision that we have made for the defence of that territory ! In the existing international atmosphere, the mere idea that weshould be asked to pass this legislation is completely unrealistic. Australia, and other members of the British Commonwealth will be placed in a completely false position in the eyes of the world if we, as a Parliament and a nation, solemnly agree to act upon the advice and under the direction and supervision of small and inexperienced South American States, such as Costa Rica, Guatemala and Venezuela. When I make that statement, I do not reflect on those States. However, we, ourselves, have a proud record of administration in New Guinea. Sir Hubert Murray will long be remembered as the man who set a standard in colonial administration. So also have Major-General McNicol, the administrator of the mandate, and Mr. Chinnery, who is accepted as a leading anthropologist with a specialized knowledge of Polynesians and Melanesians. We have nothing to be ashamed of in our administration of our territories, and I am certain that we have nothing to learn from those countries on the Trusteeship Council that are to advise us.
During this debate, not a word has been uttered by the Minister acting for theMinister for External Territories or any government spokesman to indicate that the social and educational standards of the natives of New Guinea can be advanced by any process other than that of appointing some public servants. Whilst I realize that public servants must be appointed to carry out the administration, I contend that no people can be advanced socially or to a stage at which they can be given self-government, without a measure of industrialization. It is implicit in our programme for uplifting the native people that we shall establish certain industries in the territory. We shall begin with primitive primary industries, progress togoldmining, fishing, planting and livestock, and develop into agriculture upon a large scale. Upon that foundation, more specialized industries may be built. The Government has given no indication whatever that it recognizes that as the very core of development of those primitive people. They can never be raised to the stage of self-government until they have some industries and some organization of their own. But they cannot be taught how to engage in gold-mining, commercial fishing, timber milling or any other enterprise merely by sending civil servants to the territory. That can be achieved only by encouraging Australians to go there and start industries. Natives employed by white people can learn new techniques and gradually develop the capacity to begin for themselves in a primitive fashion, . and from that stage progress until they are able to conduct their own industries. Then, and only then, will they be on the road to advancement and self-government. But anything like that is regarded by this Government as exploitation. To own a gold mine ot a plantation is to be an exploiter of the natives in the eyes of this socialist Government. It is imperative for the Government to realize that it must allow Australian industrialists to go into Papua and New Guinea, subject to all the supervision for which this bill provides, and get on with the job of developing the country. But never at any stage must we forget that the first responsibility of this Parliament in that area, or in any other area, is to ensure that we shall not leave open any loophole that may weaken our capacity to defend ourselves in a world in which it may become necessary at any time, and at very short notice, for us to defend ourselves again.
.- The Minister for Defence (Mr. Dedman) threw down his pearls of wisdom before this House and then left the chamber. An examination of those “ pearls “ shows, however, that they consist of misrepresentations and half-truths. He said, for instance, that the Government which preceded the Labour Government had failed in its administration in New Guinea. I imagine that that was perhaps the all-time high of fantastic statements, having regard to the stench which at present is rising to heaven from the administration of New Guinea by the present Government and the Minister for External Territories (Mr. Ward). The Minister also talked about defence and declared that whereas there had been something wrong with the policy of thu previous Government, this Government was doing something definite to provide for the defence of New Guinea. In that connexion, it is interesting to note what the honorable gentleman said in this Parliament after Australia had been at war for two years with a desperate enemy, and was fighting for its very existence. On the 3rd July, 1941, he said-
I should not have risen at this late hour but for a matter which I consider to be of supreme importance. Certain constituents of mine, members of the Militia Force, have received notice that they will be required for continuous military duty for the duration of the war.
That was for home service, to defend their country, which was fighting to the death. He continued -
I have not made any bones about whereI stand in regard to conscription. I am opposed to conscription for home serviceas well as for service overseas. I am opposed to it on religious grounds, because I do not believe that any man or any government ought to force any individual to take up the art of killing his fellowmen.
That was the declaration of the gentleman who now tries to convince us that his Government and he, as Minister for Defence, are doing more for the defence of the Territory of New Guinea by means of this peculiar bill and otherwise than anti-Labour governments had done. I am reminded of a verse written by Thomas Moore in 1804 concerning a little place called Dead Man’s Isle in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, which was alleged to be a menace to navigation.
To Dead Man’s Isle in the icy blast,
To Dead Man’s Isle she speeds her fast,
By skeleton shapes her sails are furled,
And the hand that steers is not of this world.
The hand that is steering the ship of state in Australia as far as defenceis concerned is the hand of Dedman, and I say that a similar fate is likely to overtake Australia if that hand should remain at the helm very much longer. So much for pleasantries!
Many criticisms could be directed against this bill, but most of them can probably be voiced more appropriately during the committee stage. The bill is to approve the placing under international trusteeship of the Territory of New Guinea and to provide for the government of the Territories of New Guinea and Papua. One could say, as I hope to do in detail during the committee stages, that many clauses of the bill will lead to bottle-neck administration, that everything will have to be done as it is being done at present from Port Moresby. As at present there will be .a community of civil servants girding at the administration under which they suffer. The bill contains a fantastic proposal to have native representatives on the government councils. Those natives, according to all the anthropologists, are in a pre-tribal state of civilization and therefore are quite incapable of serving usefully on councils of that sort. One could elaborate upon many features of the bill that are absurd and which must, in the long run, injure the territories of New Guinea and Papua. I went to New Guinea some time ago and when many of the residents heard that I was a member of Parliament I was besieged by hundreds of them from all walks of life. It would be of no use for supporters of the Government to say that they represented the planting interests or the goldmining interests. They did not. They included civil servants and all sorts of people. The almost universal chorus of criticism of the administration which came to me as a private member was to the effect that the Government at Canberra did not seem to know what was necessary for the advancement of New Guinea. The situation in the territories is well summed up in the words of Dr. W. E. F. Stanner, who is well known as a broadcaster and a student of Pacific Affairs in this country and was engaged by the International Secretariat of the Institute of Pacific Relations to present a report upon Papua and New Guinea. He produced a long, illuminating, learned and sound report. I should like to quote a great deal of it, but I shall confine my quotation to one of his conclusions dealing with the provisional administration at the end of 1947. These comments are relevant to the bill, because most of the features of the provisional administration are to be perpetuated by it. At paragraph 320 of his report, Dr.. Stanner stated -
It can be seen, however, that the policy which the Provisional Administration is seeking to implement is still in a highly experimental and developmental phase. It contains,, in addition to principles of the highest status,, many elements of real confusion. Some of the fundamental concepts require much closerstudy. This is particularly true of those concepts which could be operated in practical, daily administration only if they were perfectly understood by the native community; if the native response could be expected to beuniformly rational; if the cultural objectivesset up were also shared by the natives; if in the absence of consent and co-operation by the natives the administration were willing’ to use disciplinary methods; and if the social context stood still. An acquaintance with the history of administration in Papua and New Guinea shows that the first three of theseconditions cannot be relied upon, except in thecage of a few localities’ and a handful of natives, and the present policy is specifically against the fourth. It is important that policy in a colonial territory should reflect the higher aspirations of the period, but it is even more important that it should pay regard to local realities.
That is the real criticism, not only of the provisional administration, but of thepresent administration and of the principles that are “embodied in this bill.
– Where is Dr. Stanner now?
– I do not know. I know that his words are words of wisdom. I also know that they have been consistently ignored by this Government and by the present Minister for External Territories, who, to the misfortune of Australia and of this territory, has had charge of the territory for the last few years.
My real reason for speaking to-night is to deal with clause 6 of the bill, which reads as follows: -
Approval is given to the placing of the Territory of New Guinea under the International Trusteeship System by means of, and upon the terms of trusteeship embodied in, the Trusteeship Agreement.
I do not think that I shall be challenged as being a person who lightly disregards international agreements or treats lightly the dream of world peace that all of us in Australia have shared since the League of Nations was formed, when I say tha! I believe that the Territory of New Guinea should never have been placed under international trusteeship by the Minister for External Affairs (Dr. Evatt) in 1946. If one loots at Current Notes, volume 17, No. 12, a document that was published by this Government in December, 1946, one will see on page 790 a summary of what took place when this territory was submitted for trusteeship. The passage to which I refer reads as follows: -
The sub-committee did adopt a modification to Article IV. of the New Guinea agreement v. bich contained a provision that the territory would be administered as an integral part of Australia. lt is apparent from that that even the Minister for External Affairs said that t 1/ is territory should be administered as “ an integral part “ of Australia. However, when certain pressure was brought to bear, when the Trusteeship Council, to use a colloquialism, “ jacked up “ on that suggestion, the Australian representatives climbed down. The passage continues -
The modification added the phrase “ insofar as this does not conflict with the terms of the present agreement and with the Charter of the United Nations”.
Somebody took his courage in his hands in the first place sufficiently to say that, although the territory was being submitted for trusteeship - in my opinion, that should never have been done - the Australian view was that it should be “ an integral part “ of Australian territory, words that were taken from the proceedings of the Versailles Conference in 1919. Later, he climbed down.
– Is the honorable gentleman in favour of annexation of the territory?
– I am in favour of making the territory completely and absolutely the territory of the Commonwealth of Australia. Let there be no mistake about that. 1 am completely in favour of annexation, if honorable members like that word, because I believe that the good of Australia is the supreme law in this matter. I believe that anything less than annexation will place Australia in peril. I believe that this territory should never be the subject of trusteeship, but that it should be territory of Australia, in precisely the same way as the great Field-Marshal Smuts has said that
German South-West Africa is to be the territory of the Union of South Africa. I say that when the Minister for External Affairs attended the meeting of the United Nations in 1946 he betrayed the vital interests of Australia by offering the Territory of New Guinea to the United Nations as a territory to be placed under trusteeship. It is a public scandal that three years elapsed before the Parliament was given its first opportunity to give lawful sanction to the Minister’s action. It is rubbish for the Minister for Defence to say that we had a chance to discuss the matter in 1946, when the Parliament was considering the Charter of the United Nations. I was not a member of the House at that time, but my colleagues have told me that some of them did, in fact, draw attention to this matter. That is by the way. That was not an occasion when the Parliament was re- , quested to give lawful authority and sanction to these proposals. There was then no agreement. This is the first occasion on which the Parliament has been asked to approve of what has been done. It is now too late, because we have been presented with an accomplished fact. The. territory has been handed over to the United Nations and we cannot retrace our step3. Three years after the event we are asked to ratify the Minister’s action. That is not only an impertinence, but also a scandal of which the Australian public should take due notice at a later date.
This matter depends upon a principle that has recently been elaborated. It may be described in the phrase “ the international frontier “. I am indebted for that phrase to a man whose name is not unknown to honorable members of this House. He is Mr. H. Duncan Hall, a distinguished graduate of Sydney University and of the University of Oxford, a scholar of Baliol College, Oxford, a man who has held professorial rank as professor of history, and has held office in the League of Nations, and is at present holding high office in the Carnegie Endowment, in America. Mr. Duncan Hall, whom we all remember also as a writer upon imperial matters, has recently written a book entitled Mandates, Dependencies and Trusteeships. In it he has elaborated what is quite clear to all who read it, although probably it would not occur to them of their own volition. It is the idea of the international frontier, whichhe has described in the following words: -
The international frontier is formed by the zones where great-power interests come together in conflict. It is the main line of structural weakness in the earth’s political crust - the main fissure where wars break through. The powers are constantly at work on the frontier trying to patch upthe peace by international arrangements of various kinds.
The conception of the international frontier cannot bo stated in a sentence. It will emerge from the analysis that follows. But broadly speaking, it is the zone in which the great powers, expanding along their main lines of communication to the limits of their political and economic influence and defence needs, impinge upon each other in conflict or compromise. It is the debatable no man’s land into which the interests and policies of more than one great power penetrate, in which they compete for power and influence but in which no one power is supreme.
Before the war, the Territory of New Guinea was essentially a part of the international frontier, as were the Rhine, the Ruhr, Poland, Egypt and the territories that were placed under mandates. At the Versailles peace conference, the mandate system was devised in an attempt to avoid difficulties in the areas of the international frontier. Every nation that has had its own welfare and security at heart has attempted, where practicable, to make certain of these international frontiers its own frontiers in order to increase its national security. That was the duty of Australia. That is why William Morris Hughes, not knowing that phrase, because it had not then been coined, but truly understanding this matter, at the peace conference of 1919 fought like a tiger-cat to make New Guinea a part of the Australian national territory. The right honorable gentleman realized that that international frontier ought to be Australia’s own frontier. Those people who are actuated by wishy-washy sentimentalism or cling to the idea that the United Nations will be able to preserve peace, although they know perfectly well in their own hearts that it is not an effective instrument of peace at the present time, have ignored the realities of the present world situation. For that reason I say that Australia’s interests demand that New
Guinea shall be Australian territory. Speaking in this House in 1946, the Minister for External Affairs advanced another principle when he said -
The future of native races is the subject of legitimate international interest.
That was the very phrase he used, and it was on that basis that he justified handing over the Territory of New Guinea to international trusteeship. I wonder why he did not hand over Papua as well. If the future of native races is the legitimate subject of international interest, why did the right honorable gentleman stop at New Guinea? Why did he not hand over Australia itself, because of its aboriginal population? I shall not make any personal accusations because I dislike their intrusion into a debate, but whatever reason may have actuated the Minister for External Affairs, his approach to the problem was utterly false when he said that we must hand over this vital territory of New Guinea to international trusteeship because the future of nativeraces was the legitimate subject of international interest. I draw the attention of the House to the fact that Australia’s administration of Papua has been pretty good, as has its administration of New Guinea.
– Until recently.
– Yes. I thank the honorable member for the suggestion. On page 61 of Mr. Duncan Hall’s book appears the following statement: -
But if mandated New Guinea has on the whole been a successful and’ satisfactory administration, so also has Australian Papua, which Sir Hubert Murray set out in 1907 to make a “ model administration “ based on the highest ideal of the “ sacred trust “.
Sir Hubert Murray did that very successfully, and I think it may be fairly stated that after the Versailles Treaty, Australian governments generally did a first-class job in their administration of New Guinea in accordance with the ideal of a “ sacred trust”. But the fact is that the present Minister for External Affairs handed our Territory of New Guinea - I say “ our “ territory because it is a territory strategically necessary to Australia - to the United Nations in 1946. I am not concerned about motives. The right honorable gentleman may have been actuated by pure idealism. He may, on the other hand, have been actuated by personal motives. I do not know, and it does not matter, but I ask these questions, “ Was it necessary ? Was there any obligation upon him to take such action? Was there any obligation on Australia to do it?” The answer is “No”. The League of Nations had gone. It was as dead as a dodo. This bill itself states that the League of Nations is dead. That being so, the Australian mandate over the Territory of New Guinea was dead, too, because Australia held that mandate only as long as the league existed. Not only was there no legal obligation but also there was no moral obligation upon Australia to hand over New Guinea, to the United Nations. Field “Marshal .Smuts took the view that there was neither a legal nor a moral obligation on his country to continue to hold German South- West Africa under mandate and he gave notice to the United Nations that he no longer intended to do so. Is it to be said that Field Marshal Smuts was immoral; that this elder statesman of the Empire - perhaps the greatest of his generation - was without regard for moral principles? Surely even the more reckless tongued honorable members opposite would not say that of Smuts. He recognized that German Southwest Africa had to become part of his own country. That was a vital necessity. He also knew, because he had attended the Versailles Peace Conference in 1919, that in reality it was intended ultimately that certain mandated territories should become parts of mandatory countries. Is it to be said that delegates to that conference who discussed this matter were without any sense of moral obligation? The Americans who attended included Mr. G. L. Beer, Chief of the Colonial Division of President Wilson’s delegation. Speaking of German South- West Africa and New Guinea specifically, Mr. Beer expressed the view that annexation, not a mandate, was the best solution of the problem of the future of those territories. Mr. Beer, I remind the House, was an American, and was an adviser to President Wilson. Although Wilson himself was in love with the mandate idea, Beer, his right-hand man, claimed that it was a matter of strategic necessity fundamental to the defence of the Union of South Africa and Australia, that the ex-German colonies of SouthWest Africa and New Guinea should belong eventually to the mandatory powers. Is it to be said that Mr. Beer was immoral and lacking in a sense of international obligation? Is it to be said that Mr. Duncan Hall, too, is a man without any sense of obligation? Mr. Duncan Hall is a widely read and learned man, and I am sure that nobody could make such a charge against him. Is it to be said that Sir Donald Cameron was also without a sense of moral obligation when, speaking of Tanganyika in 1926, he said-
– Who wrote this book?
– If the Minister for Immigration (Mr. Calwell) would take the trouble to come into the chamber and have his mind improved occasionally, he would know who wrote the book. Sir Donald Cameron said -
There is no provision in the Mandate for its termination or transfer. It constitutes in fact an obligation, and not a form of temporary tenure under the League of Nations.
I make this statement with the full authority of His Majesty’s Government. And let this not escape the notice of all who hear it or may read it. . . . Tanganyika is a part of the British Empire and will remain so.
Was that gentleman also lost to moral principles? Of course not. In the light of the extracts from various debates as well as reports of the discussions at Versailles, it is clear that it was ultimately intended that “ C “ class mandates, especially South-West Africa and New Guinea, should ultimately merge into the territory of the mandatory power. “ C “ class mandates were those of territories containing people in a pre-tribal state of civilization. The two principal “ C “ class mandates, German South-West Africa and New Guinea, were in a special position in relation to the mandatory powers. It is clear that even President Wilson himself, who was a fanatical supporter of the mandate system, and, as the right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes) has said, opposed the British delegation which had agreed at an earlier
Imperial conference that New Guinea should he annexed by Australia, seems to have been driven to the conclusion that ultimately those territories would be integral parts of the countries which held them under mandate as a matter of “ natural union “. I think that it was the honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Haylen) who said that there were no disadvantages from New Guinea being placed under international trusteeship. I should like to examine that claim in detail because it is the most foolish fallacy of all. But before I do so I shall refer to what did actually happen at Versailles, some of which has already been adverted to by the right honorable member for North Sydney. I shall refer to it in more detail than the right honorable member did. I quote again from H. Duncan Hall’s book -
The Dominion Prime Ministers neither lost time nor spared plain speaking in presenting their case. Mr. W. M. Hughes became famous at the conference as a pungent and picturesque realist who got on splendidly with M. Clemenceau and not so well with President Wilson. A clue to his realism and temper is given in the words he used in 1930 at Canberra when congratulated by the writer for seeing and saying - even at the cost of his seat in the Cabinet - that it was not much good to impose sanctions against Italy without being prepared to go to war if necessary : “ It’s easy for me to see such things “, he replied “ I’m a Welsh tribesman “. Living as a tribesman on the frontier and convinced that League or no League this was not the last of the wars, he saw the mandate system as putting a possible enemy in an Australian frontier area. Moreover, he was expressing the views of the Australian Parliament, both houses of which had resolved in November, 1918, that New Guinea should be annexed by Australia, which for SO years bad regarded it as vital to national security.
I suspect that all the Labour members of that Parliament also thought that New Guinea should be annexed by Australia. I consider that what I have quoted clearly shows, not only what the temper of Australia was in 1918, but also what the temper of all members in this House, irrespective of their party was, at that time. But a compromise prevailed and a form of words called a “ mandate “ was set up. In Australia’s case it was a “ C “ class mandate, which was intended ultimately to take a polite form of annexation. With that background in mind, can it be said that Australia would have done the wrong thing at the time of the collapse of the League of Nations if it had asserted a realistic proposition and said: “ We have been administering this territory for 25 years and it is increasingly obvious that, as we nearly perished in the last war because of the vulnerability of New Guinea, that country must be ours “ ? I believe that all sensible Australians irrespective of their creed or politics would have given three loud cheers if our leaders had had the courage to do that. But instead of that, for some reasons of their own, some of which appear very dubious, those leaders carried the question to the United Nations to be made a football of international politics as it is at present. I propose now to answer the honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Haylen).
What are the disadvantages from which Australia is suffering because it has brought this territory under international mandate? The first disadvantage is that at the United Nations Australia becomes the “AuntSally” of every hostile power and of every petty power that wants to throw bricks at us. We have already had experience of that, as has been stated during this debate. The Russians have been criticizing Australia for its administration of the New Guinea mandate. But it is worse than that, because when one examines closely the words of the Trusteeship Agreement one realizes the full implications of what the Government has done. Articles IV. and V. of the agreement declare that it is subject to the basic objectives set out in Article 76 of the Covenant. What are those objectives? They are all the usual “ hifalutin “ sentiments of these flatulent international agreements that get one nowhere. Article 76 says that they are -
Was not Australia doing that before in Papua and New Guinea? The Minister for Immigration (Mr. Calwell) has roared out “ No “. Why does henot sit in the chamber and listen and find out the truth ? Article 76 continues -
Wore we not trying to do that also? The articlecontinues-
That is, equal rights with ourselves for Guatemala and Paraguay, and also Russia. If that paragraph d of Article 76 does not open the flood-gates, if it does not expose Australia to all sorts of claims for equality of treatment and claims from other nations to come in and snoop around, I do not know what words mean because its terms are as wide as a barn door and as high as a church steeple. This document, in effect, compels us to hold thiscountry according to the will and whim of any member of the United Nations, large or small. That is the answer to the honorable member for Parkes.
I am not willing that my country should be placed in that position. I am concernedhere with only one question, which is, “ What is best for the interests of Australia ? “ I do not believe that there is any legal principle bindingus to hold the territory of New Guinea as trustee for the United Nations, nor is there any moral rule so binding us. There is only one rule tobind us, and that is that the safety of the Australian people is the supreme law. I could have expressed it in Latin, but the Minister for Information (Mr. Calwell) would not understand me. I repeat, the safety of the people is the prime law and I earnestly believe that this action of the Government regarding the territory of New Guinea will put this country in the most deadly peril.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Holt) adjourned.
The following papers werepresented : -
CommonwealthBankAct-Appointment - A. G. Elliott.
Commonwealth Public Service Act - Appointments Department-
Commerce and Agriculture- W. D. N. Johnson.
Post-war Reconstruction - D. H. Case.
Lands Acquisition Act - Land acquired for - Defence purposes -
Wagga Wagga, New South Wales.
Postal purposes -
Blighty, New South Wales.
Seat of Government Acceptance Actand Seat of Government (Administration)Act - Ordinances - 1949 -
No. 1 - Fish Protection.
No. 2 - NursesRegistration. Regulations- 1949-
No. 1 (Apprenticeship Ordinance).
No. 2 (Education Ordinance).
House adjourned at 10.28p.m.
Thefollowing answers to questions were circulated: -
t asked the Minister representing the Minister for Shipping and Fuel, upon notice - 1: What is the number and aggregate tonnage of merchant ships owned by the Commonwealth Government?
– The Minister for Shipping and Fuel has supplied the following answers : -
The administrative staff of the board consists of 124 persons. Ships’ crews, waterside workers and other casual workers are employedas required. 4. (a) Orders have been placed with the Australian Shipbuilding Board by the Australian Government for nineteen ships, nine of which are in course of construction. Two of these vessels are for subsequent sale to the Union Steamship Company of New Zealand and no decision has been reached on whether the remaining vessels will be operated by the Australian Shipping Board or sold to private companies. (b)£9,000,000.
n. - On the 11th February, the honorable member for Bourke (Mrs. Blackburn) asked a question suggesting that the delay in the turn-round of ships in the Port of Melbourne is often occasioned by an order from the shipping companies to the working gangs to “ take their time “.
The Minister for Shipping and Fuel has supplied the following answer : -
The honorable member has evidently been misled by the use of the expression “ take their time “. This phrase is one which is used when a man is dismissed. In such circumstances the man will be told by the foreman to put in his time “ and the timekeeper on the job will be instructed to “ take the man’s time “. It is, of course, necessary to have the man’s time of ceasing work recorded for the purpose of computing the wages due to him. With regard to the transfer of gangs, this is a matter which lias been under consideration by the Waterside Employment Committee in Melbourne for some time. It is hoped that the matter will be settled in the near future and that a greater mobility of labour will he achieved as a result.
t asked the Minister for Defence, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
Navy. - Structural materials for destroyers under construction, also machinery spares and general electrical stores on order both, locally and abroad.
Army. - Clothing ordered locally and armament, signalling equipment and tanks on order from abroad.
Air Force.- Certain aircraft from local production, communications equipment and reserve stocks of aviation petrol and oil.
The year 194G-47 was a transitional year following the termination of hostilities. The five years defence programme did not commence until 1947-48. Both sets of figures include expenditure on outstanding war commitments.
n asked the Minister acting for the Minister for External Affairs, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
d. - On the 17 th February the honorable member for Balaclava (Mr. White) asked me a question regarding press reports that certain aircraft owners had obtained permits to bring migrants to Australia by air, and that some of the aircraft that left Australia for this purpose had not returned. The aircraft referred to in these reports -were Lockheed Lodestar VH-BFZ owned ; by S. V. Godden and Lockheed Hudson VH-BIH o wned byC. R. Penny. In neither case did the aircraft leave Australia for the purpose of carrying migrants on the return journey. They were to be used for the purpose of carrying the owners overseas for their own business purposes. Godden’s aircraft left Australia for Rome in August, 1948, and no information is available as to its present whereabouts. Godden was asked for this information and for advice regarding his plans for its return flight when he returned to Australia late last year, but he has not replied to letters from the department. Penny’s aircraft departed for Rome in October, 1948. Penny also returned to Australia without his aircraft, and, in reply to a similar request for information, advised the department that the aircraft is disabled in Tel Aviv with a wrecked engine. It is not a fact that either of those persons has been given a permit for two more Hudson aircraft to leave Australia. Godden left Australia last week as a nonpaying passenger on one of two aircraft which are owned separately by a father and son and which were flown to India for the purpose of exploring the possibility of engaging in charter business in India and Pakistan. There is no evidence that Godden has any control over the movements of these aircraft.Further inquiries are being made regarding the aircraft owned !by Godden and Penny.
Ainslie St. Aubyn Kingsford,
Mr.Chifley. - On the 24th February, the honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Holt) asked me a question as to whether inquiries had been made by the AttorneyGeneral’s Department into the circumstances surrounding the alleged disappearance of Ainslie St. Aubyn Kingsford.
Honorable members will be aware that the responsibility for tracing the whereabouts of persons reported to be missing is a matter for the State police. However, through the courtesy of the Commissioner of Police., the police reports in connexion with the disappearance of Ainslie St. Aubyn Kingsford have been made available for perusal by the Com monwealth Investigation Service. These reports show that the first message respecting Kingsfords disappearance was received from Mosman, New South Wales, at 10.5 p.m. on the 30th January, 1948. Subsequently, it was ascertained by the Mosman police that Kingsford had been missing from his home since the 28th January, 1948. The facts of his disappearance and his description were circulated in the Police Gazette. It is known that the Police Department is still active in its efforts to trace Kingsford, and I am able to inform honorable members that it was only within the course of the last few days that a rumour had been circulating in Sydney that Kingsford had been seen in a certain country district in New South Wales. The report was investigated immediately by the Police Department and proved to be groundless. I am assured by the Police Department in New South Wales that the inquiries made in connexion with this case have been extensive, and I feel it is only fair to add that Mrs. Kingsford is reported to have been most helpful to the police authorities in coming forward with suggestions which may have had a bearing on her husband’s present whereabouts.
Auxiliary Power Plants.
y. - On the 25th “February, the honorable member for Calare (Mr. Howse) asked me a question on the subject of liquid fuel for auxiliary power and lighting plants.
Further to my oral reply to the honorable member on that date, I wish to state that the Minister for Shipping and Fuel (Senator Ashley) and Iconferred on the 28 th February with the Controller of Liquid Fuel, Mr. J. B. Cumming, and State Liquid Fuel Board representatives regarding the matter of liquid fuel for auxiliary power and lighting plants. It was decided that, because of the necessity to conserve dollars, it was not possible to grant unlimited quantities of fuel for emergency plants when there are power breakdowns or coal shortages. Hitherto, some quantities have been made available to operate emergency plants installed by manufacturers and this will be continued, subject to strict control and the registration of
Users with the State Liquid Fuel Boards.
Persons or firms registering must give information of the purpose for which the plant is required. Details will be announced shortly. No fuel will be made available to persons installing new emergency plants, except in cases of essential production. Any applicants should first approach State Liquid Fuel Boards to ensure that fuel will be made available. Even in the case of existing auxiliary plants, the fuel position does not permit of supplies being made available for purposes such as shop-lighting, interior lighting show case display or “ white ways at times when the normal electricity supply ib not available. Primary producers with plants installed ore not affected ‘by this decision.
– On the 1st December, 1948, the honorable member for flinders (Mr. Ryan) asked me a question regarding the employment of temporary officers in the Commonwealth Public Service.
Further to the oral reply furnished in the House on the 1st December, the Commonwealth Public Service Board has advised me that it is true, as reported by the honorable member for Flinders, that almost 60 per cent, of the Commonwealth Public Service consists of employees on a temporary basis. A high proportion would be ex-servicemen, but the actual numbers are not known. At the 30th June, 1948, the Service comprised -
The main categories of temporary and exempt employees are -
The remainder are distributed throughout the departments and include draftsmen and ‘ other technical personnel, clerks, artisans, ‘ labourers and general groups such as cleaners, watchmen, storemen. The chief reasons for the high number of temporary and exempt employees are that all permanent peacetime establishments have not yet been finally determined and many temporary employees have not -been able to satisfy the. educational, medical and other conditions of permanent appointment: In any case, because of fluctuations in the volume of work as e.g., constructional work, a margin of temporary employment must always be maintained; taking all departments this can reach a substantial total. The whole position is under continuous review ‘by the Public Service Board and action has been, in train for some time to reduce the proportion of temporary to permanent employment. Permanent positions are created when the Public Service Board is satisfied that they are required for the discharge of permanent functions placed on the Service by the Parliament or the Government. .Some permanent positions are vacant for want of suitable applicants, but the board and the departments have for some time been endeavouring to fill these by improving pay and conditions, overhauling the examination system and publicising the career opportunities offering. Since a proportion, of temporary employment is unavoidable, the conditions of these employees have been improved by increased pay and the grant of eligibility for furlough and superannuation.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 1 March 1949, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1949/19490301_reps_18_201/>.