20th Parliament · 1st Session
Mk. Speaker (Hon. Archie Cameron) took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.
– In view of reports that have appeared in the press from time to time since the Prime Minister last made a statement in this House on the future of Trans-Australia Airlines, will the right honorable gentleman inform honorable members whether the Government’s intentions in regard to this enterprise have altered since that “time?
– It is true that there has been press speculation from time to time, but no new decision has been made by the Government.
– Can the Minister for the Army say whether it is true that compensation benefits payable in respect of a member of the Citizen Military Forces who is killed or injured during training differ from those payable in respect of a member of the Australian Regular Army? Is the compensation payable to an injured member of the Citizen Military Forces, or to his dependants should he be killed, subject to a means test? If the answers to those, questions be in the affirmative, will the Minister consider extending the repatriation, medical, and compensation benefits to which members of the Australian Regular Army are entitled to members of the Citizen Military Forces while on training?
– The answer to the first question is “ No “. All members of the Citizen Military Forces and of the Australian Regular Army, other than those on active service, come within the provisions of the Commonwealth Employees’ Compensation Act, and are entitled to the same benefits. The answer to the honorable member’s second question also is “ No “. All members of the Citizen Military Forces who are injured while training are entitled to the compensation payments set out in the schedule of the Commonwealth Employees’ Compensation Act in respect of the nature and extent of the injury sustained. I direct the honorable member’s attention to section 9 of that act which is the relevant provision. In the event of the death of a member of the Citizen Military Forces, his dependants are entitled to compensation in accordance with the schedule. In view of the answers that I have given to the first and second questions, I do not think that there is any need for me to deal with the third question.
– I ask the Minister representing the Minister for National Development whether work on the Snowy Mountains project and the Kingsford Smith Aerodrome, Sydney, has been considerably curtailed, with the result that considerable unemployment has been caused? If so can the Minister give any reason for the curtailment of these projects and explain how such action can be reconciled with the Government’s alleged policy of pressing on with urgent defence preparations and fostering essential industries?
– I am not entirely up to date on the two matters that the honorable member has mentioned, hut I shall ascertain the facts and advise him accordingly.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture. I understand that industries which manufacture certain products that are urgently needed by primary producers, although limited broadly by the amount of steel that is allocated to them, could manufacture greater quantities of such products as wire, wire netting, galvanized iron and piping if they received a larger tonnage of zinc. Will the Minister inquire into the present method of zinc allocation with the object of having larger quantities of zinc provided for those industries?
– It lias never been ‘put to me previously that industries which manufacture such essential items as the honorable member has mentioned are limited by a shortage of zinc but, in view of the honorable member’s statement, I shall investigate the matter immediately. The general position is that, by arrangement between the zinc producers of Australia and the Australian and State governments, a total quantity of 52,000 tons of zinc has been made available to Australian manufacturers annually during the last two years. That tonnage has been specified by the International Materials Conference as the appropriate quantity for Australia to retain for domestic purposes. Nevertheless, the Australian Government firmly holds the view that no ruling of any outside organization shall limit the quantity of any Australian product that is allocated for Australia’s essential needs. Zinc allocation is controlled by a special committee. I shall examine the matter that the honorable member has raised and see to it that there is no limitation of the production of such essential commodities due to a shortage of zinc.
– I ask the Prime Minister whether the meagre payment that is made to social services recipients, which forces them to live on the very verge of starvation, is the Government’s scientific counter to the ability of medical science to prolong human life, which, in the words of the right honorable gentleman, creates one of the greatest social problems in history. If not, will the Prime Minister consider the appointment of an impartial committee consisting of Mr. Justice Nicholas as chairman and his two colleagues to report on all aspects of social services and to recommend the amount that pensioners should bo paid in order to enable them to maintain a proper standard of living?
– I gather that the question is facetious.
– I ask the Minister for Health whether it is a fact that under the Government’s health scheme the Hospital Benefits Association of Victoria will not enrol anybody over the age of 65 years who wishes to become a contributor for the purpose of securing financial benefits as an inmate of a hospital. Is it also a fact that the approved friendly societies in Victoria, which will accept members over the age of 65 years for the purposes of the scheme, require a certain standard of medical health before they grant membership to applicants? If those are facts, will the Minister take steps to correct this anomaly, which is perpetrating an injustice upon many worthy Australian, citizens?
– The first essential of any insurance scheme is that it shall be solvent and able to discharge its obligations. That is the reason why various organizations of the character of friendly societies that have been established in the past have insisted on certain conditions in respect of age and chronic or pre-existing diseases before they grant membership to applicants. The Government’s proposal is to deal with those chronic and pre-existing diseases and to make benefits available to persons who suffer from them. Negotiations are in progress with hospital insurance organizations throughout Australia with a view to dealing with such cases as soon as possible by extending the age limit and taking in persons suffering from those diseases.
– Will the Minister for Health state why compulsorily retired miners, who are in receipt of a pension, are not allowed to come under the Commonwealth’s free medicine scheme in the same way as are age and invalid pensioners? Retired miners have to pay fi ls. a quarter for the services of a medical adviser. Those whose wives are sick in hospital have to pay for them out of their meagre pensions.
– Retired miners are State pensioners. The free medicine scheme has been extended to age and invalid pensioners because they come under the administration of the Department of Social Services and we are able to identify them and keep track of them. At the present time, it is not possible to include in the scheme the pensioners mentioned by the honorable member.
– Is the Minister for Health aware that the New South Wales
Government recently granted a substantia] increase of superannuation payments to its fenner employees? ls he also aware that those of them who also receive age or invalid pensions have suffered a reduction of the rate of their pensions by
Jin equivalent amount? If the Minister is aware of these facts, will he introduce an amendment of the Social Services Consolidation Act to correct this anomally and rectify the injustice and hardships caused to these persons by the policy of the Government as the result of its failure to amend the permissible income provisions of the act?
– The matter that the honorable member has raised is entirely under the administration of the Minister for Social Services, to whom the question should be addressed.
– The question that I wish to ask the Minister for Works and Housing relates to employees of his department at the long-range weapons establishment at Woomera. Will the Minister tell the House whether it is a fact that employees of his department who live under canvas at Woomera receive a hard living, or hard lying, allowance? If so, is it a fact that recently some huts have been built to accommodate such employees, but they are continuing to live in their tents inside the huts in order that they may continue to draw the hard living or hard lying allowance?
– I have no knowledge of the subject-matter of the honorable member’s question, but I shall have it investigated and will supply him with the facts.
– Having regard to the growing importance of uranium for defence purposes and possibly for industrial purposes, I ask the Minister for Supply to say whether there have been further developments in the search for and the mining of uranium in Australia?
– Apart from some uranium deposits in, I think, the Hartz Mountains in the Northern Territory, the two main deposits of uranium that have been discovered so far in Australia are in South Australia, at a place called Radium Hill, and in the Northern Territory, at a place attractively called Rum Jungle. The South Australian Government is proceeding with an investigation of the deposits of Radium Hill, which are promising. The Commonwealth is actively exploring the deposits at Rum Jungle. Some time ago, the Government published advertisements offering rewards for the discovery of uranium deposits. Substantial rewards have been paid, and I hope that it will be necessary to pay further rewards. On present indications, some of the deposits of uranium ore in the Territory have the highest uranium content of any deposits that have been discovered so far. Experts are coming to this country from abroad, and we hope to discuss the future of uranium with them.
– My question is supplementary to the question asked by the honorable member for Bennelong. Can the Minister for Supply inform the House whether any additional amount, apart from the original reward of £1,000, has been paid to the finder of the Rum Jungle uranium field? If no additional reward has been paid, does the Minister consider that the development work that has been carried out on the field under the direction of officers of the Bureau o’ Mineral Resources during the past two years has been sufficiently promising to warrant the payment of an additional reward ? I ask this question so that every encouragement may be given to prospectors to locate further deposits of this vital ore.
– My recollection is that more than one reward has been paid in respect of discoveries of uranium in the Northern Territory, but I shall inquire into the matter and supply him with a reply which will not be the result of reliance upon memory.
– Will the Minister few Commerce and Agriculture say what bounty, if any, is being paid in each of the States upon wheat sold for stock feed purposes ?
– In each of the States, a bounty of 4s. Id. a bushel is being paid upon wheat sold for use by the poultry, pig and dairying industries.
– In view of the greatly increased importance of the drug ACTH as a result of recent experiments by Dr. Maguire and Dr. McElhone in Sydney, and of the large number of people who are suffering from cancer in advanced stages, to whom treatment with this drug offers the only hope at present, will the Minister for Health consider means of’ making the drug available in proper cases as a free life-saving drag? I have asked my question at the urgent request of a constituent, who has assured me that this matter is of great importance to a large number of people.
– ACTH is in very short supply throughout the world, r have induced the Commonwealth Serum Laboratories to begin to manufacture it in Australia, but at the present time the laboratories are able to produce only quantities sufficient for the research work that is being carried on in the Royal Melbourne Hospital. During my visit to America, I was able to secure additional supplies of the drug for the purpose of research in Australia. They were very meagre supplies indeed and I obtained them only on the understanding that the Royal Australasian College of Physicians would control the use of them for research into diseases in the treatment of which the drug would be of some real value, especially diseases associated with acute rheumatic endocarditis in children and young people. The drug is of real value in the treatment of those diseases, but its value in the treatment of cancer is problematical. The general opinion at the present time is that the supplies of the drug that we have should be used for the purpose of establishing health in young persons that will last throughout their lives, rather than for the purpose of treating people dying from cancer, who can be treated in other ways and in respect of whom treatment by the drug would be only problematical results
– I direct thu attention of the Minister for the Interior to a statement that was made in this House recently by the Minister for Social Services that the welfare of pensioners depends, not so much upon an extra handout of money as upon the provision of food and shelter. As there are no State authorities in the Australian Capital Territory to provide the institutions in which the Minister for Social Services said that pensioners could live comfortably, will the Minister for the Interior say whether there are better prospects now for the establishment in Canberra of twilight cottage homes for aged people ?
– While I am very sympathetic towards the objective referred to by the honorable member, I cannot encourage any immediate optimism in regard to. achieving results. One of the difficulties with any building or construction work in Canberra is the shortage of skilled labour. As an instance, I mention that recently I suggested that people who live in houses here should arrange themselves for washers to be renewed on their leaking taps. The psychology in Canberra is such that I was told that if that was made the rule, there would be more money wasted as a result of water leaking from taps, because there are no water meters installed in Canberra. That psychology makes the problem rather difficult. A certain amount of skilled labour has to be supplied by the Department of Works and Housing in connexion with the renewal of washers on water taps. I hope that in the not far distant future we will be able to pay attention to the important matter than has been raised.
– Has the Minister for the Interior any further information to give the House following a recent interview which the honorable member for the Australian Capital Territory and I had with him in regard to the proposed bridge across the Goodradigbee River at Brindabella? Has he discussed this matter yet with the New South Wales Minister for Transport, Mr. W. F. Sheahan, and, if so. what was the outcome of their discussion ?
– Immediately I had the discussion with the honorable member for Hume and the honorable member for the Australian Capital Territory I met the State Minister for Transport and received a very favorable and co-operative reply from him. He was to make further inquiries and inform me of the result. That is my recollection of the negotiations. So far us L can remember, I have not received any further information from him. I shall communicate with Mr. Sheahan and ascertain the position.
– I preface a question to the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture by pointing out that thousands of acres of rice crop in the Wakool-Tullakool irrigation area have been devastated by wild fowl. In order to save the remnants of the crop, and also to save Mr. Olive Evatt, the New South Wales Chief Secretary, from his own senseless folly in this connexion, will the Commonwealth endeavour to prevail on the New South Wales Government to rescind the restrictions that have been imposed on the destruction of wild fowl in that State? If efforts in that direction prove unsuccessful, will the Commonwealth endeavour to have restrictions imposed on the destruction of wild fowl in Victoria, in order to ensure that the entire rice crop shall be destroyed, without discrimination between States, wild fowl and rice-growers?
– The Commonwealth has no status or authority in respect of any law that controls the destruction of wild life in a State. Our rice crop is worth hundreds of thousands of pounds to the producers, and it is extremely valuable to the starving people of SouthEast Asia. I can only say that it is deplorable that the New South Wales Chief Secretary should be prepared to allow a rice crop to be destroyed by wild duck rather than allow them to be shot. I shall raise the subject at the forthcoming meeting of the Australian Agricultural Council to be held in Canberra, and see whether Mr. Graham, the New South Wales Minister for Agriculture, will endeavour to persuade his colleague to do the proper thing.
– My question is related to the question asked by the honorable member for Riverina. It concerns the complete inability of the. New South Wales Government, particularly its Chief Secretary, to understand the problem associated with the control of wild fowl in the south of the State, and to deal successfully with the not so extensive problem of the depredations of marsupials in the north of the State. Will the Prime Minister when considering the petition of the people of New England, give an opportunity to the people of the Riverina to have a government in their area which understands local problems?
– I shall give the representations of the honorable member very close consideration.
– By way of explanation of a question that I shall address to the Minister for the Army, I point out that the first part of the third year of the dental course deals with the practical side of prosthetic dentistry. Some students who were about to commence the third year of the dental course have been called up for national service training. I am sure that the Minister will realize that, as a consequence, those students will be at considerable disadvantage when they present themselves for their third year examination in November. Would it be possible for the Minister to arrange for a more suitable period of training for them ?
– I shall be very happy to consider the matter. I remind the honorable member that we have already discussed at length with the University authorities how best we might meet the requirements of the universities and students who wish to take post-examinations because they have failed in portion of their annual examination. The whole period of national service training for persons who are attending universities has been the subject of very considerable discussion and mutual agreement. I shall have the honorable member’s request examined. If necessary, I shall refer to the university authorities the matter that he has raised, and if it is at all practicable to help, I shall be delighted to do so.
– Is the Minister for the Navy aware that there is a considerable number of young men, who having elected to carry out their national service training in the Royal Australian Navy, have been refused a place in that service, allegedly because naval training facilities are not available for them? Does the Minister know that this state of affairs is causing dissatisfaction among national service trainees ? Will the Minister give consideration to the setting up of naval reserve establishments in the Newcastle and Port Stephens area where no facilities exist at present for naval training hut where a naval reserve was in existence some years ago?
– The Government is well aware of the problem raised by the honorable member, but due to the small number of trained personnel available, it has not been possible to extend certain activities too widely. The people of many towns in Australia feel that they have facilities and personnel available for naval training. Many applications have had to be rejected because we can take only a limited number of national service trainees into the Navy. 1 assure the honorable member that Newcastle is one of the places that is foremost in our thoughts when we are considering the extension of our activities. I shall take this matter up again and try to find out for the honorable member when it will be possible to establish a depot at Newcastle for the purpose of training national service trainees for the Royal Australian Navy.
– I ask the Minister for the Army whether it is a fact that military uniforms issued to national service trainees must be returned to Army stores? Is it true that no receipts are issued when the unifarms are returned? Is it also true that many trainees who have returned their uniforms are now receiving letters from the Department of the Army threatening them with legal proceedings for the non-return of the uniforms? If so, does not the Minister believe that there should be an immediate investi gation with a view to altering the present method of dealing with the matter? Can the Minister say whether the returned uniforms are subsequently issued to other trainees, and will he say in what condition they are issued?
– I think that there must be some misunderstanding about this matter. I believe that the honorable member is really referring to the working dress issued to trainees and not to their uniforms. Every national service trainee, upon joining the Army, is issued with battle dress. The trainee retains his uniform, that is, his battle-dress, when he completes his national service training and joins the Citizen Military Forces. The honorable member’s inquiry obviously relates to fatigue, or working dress, a type of khaki uniform worn by trainees when undergoing basic training or doing fatigues in camp. Fatigue, or working dress, which is peculiarly suitable for wear by trainees, in camp, is returned to store on completion of their national service training. It is then laundered and, if necessary, repaired and reissued to fresh intakes.
– In view of the fact that the scallop industry in Tasmania is a comparatively large and valuable one, and that very large beds of these shell fish exist off the southern coast of Western Australia, particularly off Middleton Beach and Albany and in view of another fact that no attempt has been made in the past to establish the scallop industry in Western Australia, I ask the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture whether he will give consideration to having the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization research vessel in Western Australia attempt to locate the exact extent of the beds off the southern coast of Western Australia, in order that the fishermen there might make plans to establish this industry in that State?
– The Australian Government is naturally interested in developing any food-producing industry, but the control of the waters in which the honorable member describes those scallop beds as lying are, I imagine, entirely within the authority of the Western Australian Government, and therefore the Commonwealth would have no status in the matter. I am perfectly sure that my colleague who administers the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization would be willing to ask that organization to consider any request that may be addressed to it by the Western Australian. Government for assistance in the direction the honorable member has indicated. I ,can say for my part that any officers of my department who are capable of giving technical, marketing or scientific advice on the subject will certainly be available, if their help is requested by the Western Australian authorities.
– Can the Prime Minister inform me whether the recommendations of the joint CommonwealthState committee in relation to the construction of a deep-water port at Black Rock, Derby, which was recently endorsed by the Western Australian Govern- ment conditional on the Commonwealth sharing in the estimated expenditure of more than £1,000,000, has been considered and, if so, with what result?
– With the honorable member’s consent I shall treat his question as being on the notice-paper, and shall have a written answer prepared on the matter.
– In explanation of a question to the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture I state that last week, in order to take part in the Minister’s “grow more wheat” campaign, I attempted to order a header and was told that the delay in obtaining one would be three to four years. Has the Minister investigated the cause of this delay in’ the delivery of farming machinery? Do manufacturers of farming machinery receive any special allocation of steel, or are they forced to purchase it on the open market in competition with other less essential industries?
– The honorable member prefaced his question by asking the cause of the delay in obtaining a header. I consider that the cause is shortage of labour and materials in the implement manufacturing works. During the last fortnight I visited an establishment that was the biggest implement manufacturing works in Australia during its period of full operation, and there saw innumerable machines lying idle and un-manned. I was told by the management that the shortage of hands totalled 1,000. The Government is attempting to aid in this connexion by allocating immigrants to all these agricultural machinery works, and plans to extend its activities in that direction. It will do everything possible to assist them through the Commonwealth Employment Service. The Government has no status that enables it to allocate to any particular business enterprise steel produced in Australia, but it does make representations to those who have the authority to do so, be they State governments or the manufacturers, and it also assists companies so situated in their efforts to procure steel from overseas.
– ls the Minister for External Affairs aware that Asian students who are admitted into Australia in order to undertake university courses are prohibited from engaging in part-time employment during their vacations unless that employment is in the professional sphere covered by their course? As, in most cases, no employment is available in that sphere, will the Minister take action to enable these students to engage in other part-time employment in order to maintain themselves adequately, and in order to remove the feeling of resentment which this discrimination has occasioned ?
– I was not aware of the disability that the honorable member has mentioned. It is a little surprising that no complaint of that nature has reached me from the many Asian students in this country. However, I shall examine the question with the Minister for Labour and National Service in order to ascertain what action can be taken to remedy the position.
– Can the Minister lor Commerce and Agriculture give the House any information regarding negotiations that are now taking place in connexion with the price to be paid by the United Kingdom Government for this year’s dried fruits? As it is rumoured i hat the Minister, at a recent meeting at Mildura, stated that it was possible that growers would receive £150 a ton for dried fruits, will he inform the House whether he made such a statement? Can lie indicate, even approximately, what price will be paid?
– The negotiations for the sale of this year’s dried fruits are in their final stages and may even have been completed during the last 48 hours. The negotiations are being conducted in London by representatives of the Australian Government and of the dried fruits industry. It would be wrong for me to anticipate the price that will be agreed upon, but I expect that it will be announced within the next few days, and 1 am sure that it will he regarded as satisfactory. With regard to the’ report that, on a recent visit to Mildura, I stated that it was possible for the tried fruits industry to receive £150 a ton for sultanas, I should like to make it clear that 1 did not say any such thing. At the meeting that I attended a questioner asked me why Australian producers should not receive for their currants and sultanas the highest price that the Ministry of Pood in the United Kingdom paid to other suppliers. In reply, I said that that was quite a legitimate approach to the question. However, if the Ministry of Food could be persuaded to pay £150 a ton, f or example, for Australian dried fruits, because it had agreed to pay that .amount to another supplier, the corollary would be that if, next year, the Ministry of Food were able to buy dried fruits for £60 a ton from another supplier, then the Australian dried fruits industry would have to take the chance of receiving only £60 a ton for its product. T reminded the meeting that the industry, on its own decision, had preferred to negotiate with the Ministry of Food for a fair find adequate price in return for the assurance that it would receive that price every year notwithstanding that the Ministry might be able to purchase more cheaply in other quarters. I think that I did mention a price of £150 a ton but the figure had no relation to reality and was used purely for illustrative purposes.
– Has the Prime Minister received an application from the Premier of Victoria for financial assistance to repair the damage to roads and bridges in the western district of Victoria which occurred as a result of the disastrous floods experienced in that area last August ?
– I am not aware of having received such an application, although I would not like that statement to be treated too positively. An application may have been received but may have not yet reached me. I shall ascertain whether an application has been made.
– Can the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture say what steps have been taken to review the prices now being paid for eggs that are exported to the United Kingdom ? Does he propose in the near future to make a statement to the House on egg and poultry export prospects and conditions?
– A contract exists for the sale of surplus Australian eggs to the United Kingdom and negotiations are about to commence to establish the price that will apply to the export surplus next year. The negotiations will be conducted by Commonwealth officials and my representatives of the Australian eggproducers who have recently been elected to the Australian Egg Board for the first time instead of being nominated to it. At the request of the representatives of the egg producers, those negotiations will be based primarily on factual information of costs of production in Australia. That information has been compiled hy agricultural economists and it has been scrutinized and approved by the representatives of the Australian producers. It is not possible for me to anticipate the price. I certainly could not make a statement on the export prospects until the negotiations aTe completed.
– Will the Prime Minister inform the House whether it is true that the Government propose to borrow a further huge sum of hard currency to the amount of about 150,000,000 dollars? If it is true, will the Prime Minister state the Government’s reason for endeavouring to secure this loan? How does this proposal conform with the Government’s declaration that it proposes to take permanent, not stop-gap measures, to bring about sterling-dollar convertibility ?
– The International Bank for Reconstruction and Development will have representatives in this country next month. They will be here pursuant to an arrangement that was made when the 100,000,000 dollar loan was raised. While they are in Australia we shall certainly discuss with them the possibility of further dollar borrowing.
– I direct a question to the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture. Is it true that over a period of 36 years, the county agent extension system of scientific advice and help to farmers has been the chief agent in boosting agricultural production in the United States of America, and that this system is built up by co-operation between the federal, State and local authorities in that country? Is it a fact that some of the Australian States, particularly New South Wales, are allotting very small amounts of money to the Department of Agriculture for boosting agricultural production? If this is so, will the Minister give consideration to the value of introducing the American system into Australia?
– I have not complete knowledge of the American extension service but I know that the system operates in certain States, and in particular in California. From my own observations. I know that probably nothing has contributed more to the efficiency of agriculure in the United States of America than the combination of extension services that have been established by the Federal Government, the State govern- ments and certain universities in the United States of America with the cooperation of the local authorities. I believe that it would be of inestimable value to Australia if a similar extension service could be established in this country. The Australian Government actually has no authority in this matter. The Australian States are quite jealous of their own realms and I have had the most vigorous complaints from at least one State when officers of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization communicated directly with farmers within that State. I intend to put to the Australian Agricultural Council my view of the urgent necessity of establishing a better and more effective extension service for farmers in this country.
– Does the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture agree that a spectacular change has occurred in the conditions relative to the marketing of primary products? I point out that, in the past, Australia exported large surpluses of primary products for which low ‘prices were obtained, whereas there are now no surpluses for export, and high prices are ruling for those commodities overseas. Does the Minister consider that, in view of those changed conditions, there is now less need for the retention of controls and the payment of subsidies, which are less popular with the farmers than they have been in previous years? Can the farmers be given the opportunity, at the proper time, to vote on those matters?
– It is correct to say that, with the exception of wool, lead and zinc, the export surpluses of our primary products have decreased steeply. For the two years prior to the last harvest, wheat exports were very satisfactory, but the export surplus from this harvest will be substantially reduced. It is true that, in earlier years, the price which was received for exports was the dominant factor in the average returns of the primary producer. To-day, the price which is obtained on the home market for butter and cheese and, to a lesser degree, certain other commodities, is the dominant factor, while the ‘price which is received for the exported commodities is relatively less important. I think that a belief is growing in the minds of certain sections of primary producers that a review can be legitimately made of the kind of marketing arrangements which emerged from the earlier circumstances which do not exist to-day, and, perhaps, are not likely to return for some time. If representatives of primary producers desire to review those arrangements, I shall he available at all times to discuss the matter with them.
– Can the Prime Minister say whether it is customary for appointees to the office of Governor-General to remain in office for five years? If so, when does the term of office of the present occupant expire, and does the Government propose to advise Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. to extend the term of office of Sir William McKell, and if so, foi what reason, and for how long?
– There is no question of extending or shortening the term. All occupants of the high office of GovernorGeneral of Australia are the personal representatives in Australia of the Crown. They are appointed at the will of the Crown on the advice of, and after consultation with, the Government of Australia.
– I desire to ask the Prime Minister, who is acting for the Treasurer a question relating to the policy of the Government in restricting credit for home building. Can he say whether it is a fact that as a result of the Government’s action in preventing banks from making credit available to persons who wish to build thousands of workers have been deprived of the opportunity to build their own homes? Is it also a fact that the application of the Government’s policy is causing considerable unemployment among bricklayers, carpenters, and other building workers at a time when many people, being without homes, are forced to live in motor garages and other such places under shocking conditions? Will the right honorable gentleman investigate the position with a view to lifting the credit restrictions as they affect home builders?
– The matters which form the subject of the honorable member’s question were dealt with by m.e in my speech during the recent debate on the censure motion. I refer the honorable member to what I then said.
– During the past week I have received representations from and I have visited many textile industries in my electorate. In view of the slackening of activity in the industry, which has been referred to a great deal recently, and which is due to circumstances for which the Government is not responsible, I ask the Minister for Supply whether the Government will do what it can to overcome the effects of the recession in the industry. In particular can the Minister say whether he is able to place defence contracts with textile manufacturers as a means of assisting the industry until it is able to adjust itself to the new trading conditions, and of helping it to tide over the period until the overpurcha. ses from abroad by retail firms have been absorbed?
– The honorable member has expressed concern about this matter on other occasions, as also have other honorable gentlemen. I agree with him entirely that the Government is in no way responsible for the situation that exists in the textile industry. Nevertheless the Government is concerned about it. We are doing our best, and we shall continue to do our best, to protect this valuable industry as much as possible. The ability of the Department of Supply to assist it is not unlimited. Indeed, defence orders placed with the textile industry by the department represent only about 10 per cent, of its total production.
– The Government places most of its textile orders in Japan.
– Nevertheless, the figures relating to the volume of Government orders are quite striking. Since January of last year we have placed with the Australian textile and clothing industries orders to the value of no less than £17,000,000.
– What was the value of orders placed in Japan?
– I shall tell the honorable member about that. Orders have been placed in Australia for made-up clothing of a value in excess of I £6,000,000. The details are-woven woollens, nearly £6,000,000; knitted goods, £1,250,000 and woven cotton piece goods more than £3,000,000, or a total of approximately £17,000,000. This has been done in a little more than a year.
– What was the value of orders placed for khaki drill?
– The recipients of these orders will be kept going for some time to come. Further Government orders will be placed, although naturally they Wl , taper off. As regards overseas orders-
– Order ! The question of overseas orders was not raised, except by interjection.
– If any honorable member wants information about overseas orders and cares to ask me a question on the subject, I shall be delighted to furnish the information.
– Can the Minister for Supply inform the House of the orders for textiles that the Government has placed overseas?
– I shall be glad to answer that question. Since December last the Government placed overseas orders for approximately 17,000,000 yards of cotton textiles. Of that quantity something less than 3,000,000 yards was ordered from Japan. The remainder was ordered from other countries, principally Great Britain. In respect of every single yard of that total of cotton textiles,, the Government placed orders overseas only because Australian manufacturers could not supply.
– I ask the Minister for Supply why he refused to place orders for khaki drill with an Australian firm that had been endeavouring for months to obtain such orders, but, instead, placed his orders with Japanese manufacturers?
– I am not aware of having refused to place orders with any manufacturer in Australia who was able to supply khaki drill to the specifications to the armed services. If the honorable member will inform me of the name of the firm to which he has referred and of the circumstances of the case, I shall be delighted to give him a detailed answer on the matter.
MY. COSTA. - I address a question to the Minister for Health in relation to an American drug, Natrinil, which is used in the treatment of dropsy. Is he aware that three patients who recently had the good fortune to obtain for themselves a quantity of this drug from the United States are now, after treatment, well on the way to recovery? In one case in my electorate the patient was bed-ridden and doctors had declared recovery to be hopeless, but after one month’s treatment with Natrinil the patient is now able to get around and make outdoor visits. I understand that sufficient of the drUg for twelve months’ treatment costs about £50 landed in this country. Can the Department of Health do anything to make this drug available to sufferers from dropsy, either by importing it in requisite quantities or by encouraging local production? There are many sufferers from dropsy in the lower income brackets who would like to undergo treatment with the drug but cannot afford to do so. I believe that it 13 up to the department to help them.
– In response to a request that the honorable member for Darling made last year, I procured a quantity of Natrinil from the United States of America. I understand that the drug is now being stocked by wholesale druggists who are able to supply local requirements.
– The Argentine ant, which is a newcomer to this country, is causing much difficulty as a pest, particularly in the western suburbs of Sydney. I ask the Minister for External Affairs, who is in charge of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, whether that body has made any investigations concerning the nature and habits of this pest and whether it has made any recommendation for the purpose of exterminating it ?
– The question of the Argentine ant has been exercising me for some little time and it has been exercising in a very real and active sense an increasing number of housewives in some suburbs of Sydney. The ant is a recent importation into this country. It is an active pest not only in some Sydney suburbs but also in Melbourne and to a still greater degree in Perth and Albany. I believe that it is confined to those centres. We have been trying for some time to get the Government of New South Wales to tackle this problem in Sydney where it can be tackled now at a relatively small cost to that Government. I understand that the expenditure involved would not be much more than the combined expenditure that Sydney housewives are now incurring individually in trying to cope with the pest. I think that the cost of eradicating the pest in Sydney at the present time would be approximately £15,000. The means of eradication are perfectly well known, but up to date the Government of New South Wales has steadily refused to tackle the problem. If action is postponed for another year or two years, the cost of eradicating the pest might easily be £200,000. The Argentine ant may well spread northward into the hotter regions of Australia, and as far as Brisbane. In those circumstances, it, may become a pest on almost a grand scale. The means of eradicating the Argentine ant are well known, and the method of treatment is simple. We believe that the matter is the responsibility, not of the Commonwealth, but of the State governments. If any State government wishes to obtain the advice and co-operation of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization on the subject, it will be freely given.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for the Army, and I point out, by way of explanation, that during the recent disastrous bush fires, and, indeed, on previous occasions, troops in camps in various parts of Australia have rendered great assistance in fighting the flames and saving property. However, the men have always been handicapped because no fire-fighting equipment, or only meagre supplies of it, has been available at the camps. Will the Minister for the Army take steps to ensure that troops who are undergoing training during a bush fire danger period will be given elementary training in fire-fighting? Will he also ensure that some adequate equipment, such as knapsack sprays, will be kept at the camps during a danger period?
– I should like to acknowledge the tribute which has been paid by the honorable member for Lalor to the fire-fighting activities of the Department of the Army and army personnel. May I add, in ‘parenthesis, that during the recent bush fires the Army contributed, in New South Wales alone, 20,000 man-hours to fire-fighting activities, and did an extraordinarily good job. Training in fire-fighting is given in all Army camps for the protection of those large establishments. The equipment which is used for that purpose is suitable for protection of the camps and training grounds. The honorable gentleman raises a big problem when he asks that Department of the Army, or any branch of the services, should provide adequate fire-fighting equipment in order to enable service personnel to fight fires throughout Australia. I consider that a new approach must be made to the problem of protecting property against fire. That matter should be carefully examined in conjunction with the State authorities.
– hy leave - As Minister for Defence, I am responsible to the Parliament for the formulation and general application of a unified defence policy relating to the defence forces and their requirements. Within that policy, the administration of the services and the implementation of their supply and production requirements are the responsibility of the Service Ministers and the Minister for Supply (Ma*. Beale) and the Minister for Defence Production (Mr. Eric J. Harrison) respectively. Defence has been a major preoccupation of the Government. From time to time ‘it has approved of a number of important defence measures and additions to the previous Government’s five year defence programme. It is now possible to bring the whole together in the form of a consolidated programme, which I now propose to outline to the House, together with an indication of the progress achieved to date.
Before dealing with the detail of the programme, I shall refer briefly to the steps that have been taken to review defence policy, and to trace the strategic background against which this policy has been formulated. The first task of the Government on assuming office was to review the world situation and the strategic factors which govern Australia’s defence preparations. In June, 1950, the Chief of the Imperial General Staff, Field Marshal Sir William Slim, visited Australia, and the Government discussed the strategic position with him and the Service Chiefs. The latter had already submitted certain strategic advice which had been formulated by them in consultation with the United Kingdom and New Zealand Chiefs of Staff. Shortly afterwards, the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) visited the United Kingdom, the United States of America, Canada, Japan, and New Zealand, and obtained first-hand information about the world situation as the essential background to the development of the Government’s defence policy. The second task of the Government was to ensure that the defence programme that was to be adopted would provide in the best possible way for the security of Australia and was correctly related to the requirements of Allied global strategy. It was necessary to see that the Australian armed forces were correctly organized and adequately equipped for the tasks they might have to perform, and that they should be ready in time,
I shall refer very briefly to the principal strategic considerations that have influenced the Government in expanding and accelerating Australia’s defence preparations. The outstanding features, which have been made quite clear by the Prime Minister, are as follows : -
I quote the Prime Minister -
We are in truth confronting a new technique of world aggression. The Communists undermine or overrun some European or Asiatic country. They set up a puppet Government. They then, choosing their time with care, inspire their new puppet or satellite to make an attack under circumstances which impose the greatest military difficulty not only upon their immediate defenders, but upon thu democratic powers generally.
We must succeed in this “ cold war “, otherwise we may find ourselves defeated without global war occurring at all. As the House is aware, Australia is contributing substantial naval, land and air forces to the United Nations forces in Korea, and the Government has decided recently to send a second battalion. We are also contributing an air contingent in Malaya. It is not desired to deal with this matter in detail, but the requirements of the “ cold war “ are reflected in the organization of the forces and in the size of the defence programme. It is an important factor in the general defence preparations.
The Prime Minister has stated -
We cannot each defend- our own shores and leave our ally to defend his. For the truth is that without assistance from the others, not one of us has adequate strength. Unity of action at the right places and at the right times is imperative.
The strategic roles of the Navy, the Army, and the Air Force have a direct bearing on their development, organization and equipment. There has been continuous consultation with our partners in the British Commonwealth, and the details of the programme are the logical result of the Government’s view of the correct probable strategic roles of its forces in global war.
The Prime Minister has said -
It is in the highest degree unlikely that another major war in the next few years would see great naval battles in the Pacific. Japan was a great sea power, but is no longer . . We shall undoubtedly come up against the menace of the long-range submarine, and . . the protection of our commerce or troop movements will demand effective action against that menace.
Sweeping movements of land forces across the seas of the Pacific, such as occurred after Japan entered the last war, are impracticable for an enemy without large naval and mercantile fleets. The important strategic fact which must inevitably influence the composition of the army and the air force, is that an invasion of Australia such as was possible before 1945 is in the highest degree unlikely, at least for some years to come. While the sea lanes of the Pacific are under our control, and the vital land areas of Europe and the Middle East and South-East Asia are held as part of the general Allied strategic pattern, this freedom from serious threat to Australia will continue. The development of the navy is directly related to the nature of the threat in this part of the world.
In the first aspect, the .plain fact is that we have probably had all the warning we are likely to get, and we cannot expect any further notice. In March of last year, after attending the Prime Minister’s Conference in London, the Prime Minister was of the opinion that the dangers of war had increased and that we must not give ourselves more than three years in which to prepare. He said -
Indeed three years is a liberal estimate. Nobody can guarantee that it may not be two years or one. But certainly no one can say with any authority that we have a day more than three years.
In regard to the second aspect, as the potential aggressor has great forces in being, well organized and equipped, he can develop his military effort in vital strategic areas very quickly. We cannot afford the time that has been taken in past wars to form and train special expeditionary forces and to build up our military strength. This is reflected in the programme by the high percentage of regular troops in the Army and by the organization of the Citizen Military Forces and Air reserves, and it has forced a radical departure from traditional army policy in regard to enlistment for service overseas. By the terms of their enlistment, men now joining the Permanent Military Forces are liable for service in any part of the world in peace or war, and men voluntarily enlisting in the Citizen Military Forces are liable for service overseas in time of war.
The previous Government’s five-year programme, which was to extend over five years from 1947-48 to 1951-52, was originally estimated to cost a total sum of £250,000,000, or an average annual vote of £50,000,000. In July, 1949, approval was given to increases of the Services’ allotments amounting to £45,000,000, which raised the total for the five years to £295,000,000, or an average annual vote of £59,000,000. In addition, there was an estimated outstanding Navy capital commitment of £9,500,000 at the end of the programme. At the end of the third year, on the 30th June, 1950, the total expenditure under the programme was £130,700,000. Whilst the previous Government’s fiveyear programme had, in general, provided a sound basis for the organization of the post-war defence force, it became apparent to the present Government that major additions were necessary in order to provide a satisfactory basis of national preparedness in the light of the factors I have described.
The Government accordingly decided to adopt a three-year defence programme extending from the 1st July, 1950, to the 30th June, 1953. This provides for the completion of the objectives of the fiveyear programme, which commenced on the 1st July, 1947, plus the increased and additional objectives that have been or may be approved by the present Government. Among the more important of these additional objectives, which relate both to personnel strengths and to equipment, I should like to mention the following features: - Substantial increases of the planned strength of the forces have been approved. These include the expansion of the Australian Regular Army Field Force from one to two brigade groups, the extension of the activities of the Citizen Air Force, and the establishment of a Royal Australian Air Force active reserve. The overall ceiling for personnel strengths of the defence forces, including part-time and national service personnel, now exceeds 190,000, compared with the total of just over 100,000 under the five-year programme.
These increases have been coupled with energetic measures to build up the actual strength to the level required, such as a revision of the pay code of the forces to provide more attractive and equitable conditions of service, an intensive recruiting campaign, and the reintrod.uction. on a nucleus basis, of the women’s services. The most important measure is, of course, national service training, which has been successfully introduced. By next year, when this scheme is fully developed, the rate of call-up will exceed 40,000 per annum.
In the belief that Australia must be in an adequate state of defence preparedness by the end of 1953, at the latest, the Government has provided for the material requirements of the forces to be raised on mobilization. This involves immense tasks in the production or procurement overseas of munitions, ships, aircraft, clothing, and a host of other ‘essential requirements, the conversion and modernization of existing ships, airfield construction and the repair and modification of Army equipment. It involves in addition extensions to the capacity of government factories that are producing service requirements.- I shall refer to many of the major projects later.
The financial cost of this programme will be heavy. Funds allocated so far under the programme total £559,000,000 under the following broad headings : -
I wish to emphasize, however, that this sum of £559,000,000 is not the final cost of the programme but is the cost of those projects for which financial approval has so far been given by the Government. I have already referred to the Government’s objective of providing for the material requirements of the forces to be raised on mobilization. In addition, very substantial expenditure will be required to provide for the necessary expansion of war production capacity, mainly in government munitions factories and annexes.
The amount of £559,000,000 allocated so far includes provision for a part only of the mobilization objective and additional production capacity. Many additional projects for these purposes are currently under examination by the Cabinet Committee on Defence Preparations which has been set up to handle them and others will shortly be submitted to it. On present estimates, if all proposals not already approved are ultimately adopted by the Government, they will bring the total cost of the programme to approximately £885,000,000.
The total of £559,000,000 has been allocated. to departments as follows: -
Progress towards the achievement of the three-year programme is steadily gathering momentum. Authorizations placed to the 31st December aggregated £284,900,000, including orders to the value of £106,000,000 which were placed locally and overseas towards the capital material requirements of the forces to be raised on mobilization. The total expenditure incurred is £149,300,000.
The naval programme aims at building a balanced fleet backed by shore establishments. The fleet will ultimately include a carrier force of two carriers, which will be screened by cruisers and destroyers, escort vessels for the protection of our shipping, and survey vessels to continue the hydrographic surveys necessary in Australian and New Guinea waters. The strength of the Australian naval forces is based on our obligation, as an equal partner in a maritime Empire, to make an adequate and effective contribution to the naval defences of the British Commonwealth. The Royal Australian Navy will be called upon in war to assume responsibilities, far greater than it has ever assumed before, for a large share of the naval defence of a wide area in the Pacific and Indian Oceans. The naval responsibilities include the safety of the sea routes over a large part of these great oceans.
Australia and New Zealand comprise an area whose usefulness in war, in addition to the provision of armed forces, will, to a large degree, be measured by the materials it can export. Furthermore, much of the material required to sustain our Avar effort must come from abroad. The security of sea communications is of first importance. There is also the task of convoying the overseas components of the Australian land and air forces.
The Navy programme provides for the following ships to be in commission within the three-year period: -
Carrier Force. - Light fleet carriers, 2; cruiser, 1; destroyers, 4.
Escort Forces. - Frigates - Anti-submarine and anti-aircraft, 3; “Q” class, 1.
Surveying Ships. - Survey ships and their lenders, 2.
Training Ships. - Frigate - Anti-submarine radar, 3; frigate - National service, 2; fleet minesweepers - Recruit, 2 ; fleet minesweepers - National service, 3; fleet minesweepers - Minesweeping training, 2.
Miscellaneous Vessels. - Search and rescue craft, :>; ocean-going tug, 1; ammunition carrier, 1; boom working vessels, 3; seaward defence motor launches (for the New Guinea patrol), 2; glenora 1 purpose vessels (as required), 2.
In addition .to the ships in commission, there is a substantial reserve fleet, which is being maintained in good condition to meet any future emergency.
The personnel establishment of the Navy is 27,000, made up of 1.7,000 Permanent Naval Forces, and 10,000 Citizen Forces, including national service personnel. The present personnel strength of the Navy is 21,000, made up of 13,500 Permanent Naval Forces and 7,500 in the Citizen Force, including 1,000 national service personnel.
The first of two light fleet carriers to be acquired for the Royal Australian Navy, H.M.A.S. Sydney, has just completed a successful tour of operations in Korea, and will Operate with the fleet with a complete carrier air group. A second carrier air group has been formed and is stationed at Nowra. Delays have occurred in the construction overseas of the second light fleet carrier provided in the programme, and. this matter is receiving the active consideration of the Government. The second naval air station at Schofields, New South Wales, is expected to commission during 1952. Additional aircraft of various types are being obtained, including Vampire jet trainers and helicopters.
The naval construction programme that was put in hand by the previous Government has been substantially extended. The extended programme provides for the completion of the remaining four of six modern destroyers in the original programme. The first two were completed and commissioned in May, 1950, and March, 1951, respectively. A third is to be launched on the 1st March. A followup building programme of six fast antisubmarine frigates of the most modern design has been authorized by the present Government. The modernization of II.M.A.S. Hobart, has begun at Garden Island dockyard. The conversion of 5 “ Q “ class destroyers to fast antisubmarine frigates has also been authorized by this Government, and work on four of these is in progress. We have also authorized the modernization of the Tribal class destroyers, and work on H.M.A.8. Arunta is nearing completion. A modern fleet tanker is being obtained for the Navy. In addition, the construction and modernization of minesweepers and other miscellaneous vessels required are being undertaken. Man-power shortages are causing serious delays in our naval construction programme, but all possible steps are being taken to achieve a satisfactory rate of progress.
The plan provides for the shore establishments that are essential for bases for commissioned ships, and makes provision for administrative, storing, repair and training facilities.
The Royal Australian Navy has maintained two destroyers or frigates in Korean waters continuously since July, 3950. H.M.A.S. Sydney relieved H.M.S. Glory in October for a period of three months. The latter ship has been refitted at Garden Island dockyard.
The Government has approved of the establishment of a Papua-New Guinea division of the Royal Australian Navy, in order to allow and encourage Papuan and New Guinea natives to take part in the naval defence of their own country in accordance with the principles of the Charter of the United Nations. Recruiting for this division commenced in September.
As I have already indicated, the present financial allocation for the Navy under the programme is £137,600,000. Authorizations have been placed for £88,400,000, and expenditure incurred is £39,100,000.
I turn now to land defence. In accordance with the basis of the Governments’ policy, the role of the Australian Army is, first, to provide such forces as may be required for possible commitments under the United Nations organization, including regional arrangements in the Pacific; secondly, to participate in British Commonwealth defence; thirdly, to provide the basic, organization for expansion in time of war; and fourthly, to provide for the local defence of Australia and its territories. To meet those commitments, the Australian Army is organized in the following components : -
The plan for the mobilization and expansion of the Army in war is designed to produce a force for the home defence of Australia, and, at the same time, to expand the base, training, and administrative organization to prepare an expeditionary force to bo ready for operations in the shortest possible time.
The following is a summary of the Army programme : -
Planned organization and strength -
Towards this total the present personnel strength of the Army is 61,150, including 23,800 Regular Force, 19,300 Citizen Force volunteers, 8,300 national service personnel embodied in the Citizen Military Forces, and approximately 9,750 national service men on full-time training as a result of the last call-up.
By the terms of their enlistment, members of the Australian Regular Army are liable for service in any part of the world in peace or war, and enlistment in the Citizen Military Forces is confined to those who volunteer for service overseas in time of war. A national serviceman may volunteer for service overseas.
A trained reserve of officers is being maintained. Other ranks of the Regular Army, on completion of engagement, will be organized as a reserve to provide for expansion of the Regular Field Force in an emergency. Other ranks of the Citizen Forces, on completion of engagements, will constitute a potential reserve. These reserves will be greatly augmented by national servicemen who have completed their training.
Army forces in Korea at present consist of - (i) Third Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment; (ii) A proportion of the Head-quarters 1st Commonwealth Division; and (iii) An element of the British Commonwealth Base. Units of the. British Commonwealth Base also carry out occupation duties at present. Last September the Government decided to double the Australian contribution of ground forces for the Korean campaign by the provision of an additional infantry battalion for the United Nations forces. The re-organization and training of the 1st Battalion Royal Australian Regiment is proceeding, and the battalion will leave Australia for final training in the theatre of operations early next month.
It is the policy of the Government to secure adequate equipment of the most modern type for our armed forces. Provision has therefore been made for procurement of the latest types of armoured fighting vehicles, equipment, arms, transport vehicles and supplies generally. Existing stocks of Army mobilization equipment are also being repaired and modified as necessary.
The present financial allocation for the Army under the programme is £218,300,000. Against this allocation, authorizations placed amount to £80,300,000, and expenditure incurred has been £47,200,000.
The role of the post-war Air Force harmonizes with that of the Navy and the Army. Its function in war is -
Provision for the air defence of the Commonwealth and its territories;
In co-operation with the Navy, the defence of sea communications to and from Australia and to overseas theatres where Australian troops may be engaged; and
To provide an air expeditionary force for service overseas.
From its contemplated and potential strength, it will assist Australia to fulfil its obligations under the United Nations Charter, including regional arrangements in the Pacific. It will also enable participation in arrangements for cooperation in British Commonwealth defence, and it will provide a basis for expansion in war and will furnish the air contribution to the requirements for the local defence of Australia. The approved plan for the Royal Australian Air Force in peace provides for a force of seventeen squadrons, which are normally manned to a level which provides for normal peacetime rates of flying effort, but which can, at short notice, be mobilized by the call-up of the Active Reserve to provide for war-time rates of flying-effort in those squadrons. The Citizen Air Force squadrons, which are included in this force, are intended, initially at least, as home defence squadrons. The Active Reserve is established, and exists to bring certain Permanent Force units, particularly those earmarked for service overseas, to war establishments immediately on mobilization. Royal Australian Air Force plans aim to provide for a trained nucleus of personnel on which the. Service may be expanded rapidly from its mobilization strength of seventeen squadrons, to complete its war development.
In the air programme emphasis has been placed on the supply of the most modern aircraft and equipment, and on building up the personnel strengths, including expansion of the citizen and reserve forces. Thus the programme develops the basic framework for a postwar air force in the previous five-year programme. The approved plan for the Royal Australian Air Force in peace provides for a force of seventeen squadrons, including Citizen Air Force squadrons. It includes, in addition to head-quarters -
A home defence organization for the defence of Australia, of eight squadrons and associated units. These squadrons include five Citizen Air Force interceptor fighter squadrons adjacent to the main centres of population, for the close defence of vital strategic centres and to facilitate access to units of part-time personnel. There are also two bomber general reconnaissance squadrons and a target towing squadron. This latter squadron will specialize in maritime , strike operations for its secondary role.
A group of Task Force elements, including two interceptor fighter squadrons, three bomber squadrons, two transport squadrons, a fighter reconnaissance squadron, and a photographic reconnaissance squadron, a total of nine squadrons.
Organizations to meet the manning, supply and maintenance requirements of the. force, and miscellaneous units.
The Citizen Air Force has been expanded to include -
An active citizen force, members of which fill posts in the Citizen Air Force squadrons, with a personnel establishment of 988;”
Units established in the university of each capital city for the specialist training of Citizen Air Force officers, with a personnel establishment of 600;
Selected members of the general reserve to a total of 255, who are given flying practice in local aero clubs.
The Active Reserve has been established with an approved ceiling of 10,000 personnel. This reserve consists of exmembers of the Services, and civilians, whose experience will enable them to take their place in the Service on mobilization without further training. In addition, there is a general reserve of personnel who cannot be called up immediately on mobilization, and who require further training to allow them to fill places in war-time units. It will include those national service personnel who have completed their training and who do not join the active reserve.
The planned total personnel strength of the Royal Australian Air Force, other than the general reserve, is 33,637, including 16,794 Permanent Air Force personnel, 1,843 Citizen Air Force personnel, the Active Reserve of 10,000 personnel, and in addition 5,000 national service personnel who will be undergoing training at the end of 1953. [Quorum formed.]
Against that total, the present strength of the Royal Australian Air Force is 17,750, including 14,100 Permanent Air Force, 2,400 Citizen Air Force and Active Reserve, and 1,250 national service personnel. A further 1,400 national service personnel have completed their training and have been transferred to the general reserve.
The Government is giving consideration to the overall additional aircraft requirements of the Royal Australian Air Force. Approval has been given for the production locally of 80 Vampire interceptor jet fighters, of which 45 have been delivered,48 Canberra medium jet bombers, and 72 Sabre jet fighters, as well as 24 dual Vampire and 62 basic trainer aircraft. Avon jet engines are to be produced in Australia for the Canberra and Sabre aircraft. Apart from the purchase in the United Kingdom of Meteor jet aircraft for the re-arming of part of the fighter forces of the Royal Australian Air Force we have obtained, or are obtaining overseas, twelve Lockheed Neptune long range reconnaissance aircraft, twelve dual Vampire trainer aircraft and two Canberra jet bombers. The aerodrome requirements of the Air Force, including additional requirements to permit the use of modern aircraft, are under consideration, and approval has been given for extensive reconstruction work at Williamstown, East Sale and Pearce. A second airfield construction squadron has recently been formed and, in addition, approval has been given for the procurement of a substantial quantity of vital equipment.
Additional to the seventeen squadrons to which I have referred, the Royal Australian Air Force is maintaining No. 77 Fighter Squadron and No. 30 Transport Unit, together with the necessary administrative and maintenance units for the support of these flying units, in Korea and Japan, as a part of the United Nations Forces engaged in the Korean campaign. No. 77 Fighter Squadron is now armed with Meteor VIII. jet aircraft. In Malaya the Royal Australian Air Force is also maintaining a bomber squadron and a transport squadron. These squadrons, which are a part of the task force elements that I have mentioned, are engaged in intensive anti-bandit operations. The present financial allocation for the Air Force under the programme is £135,700,000. Against this amount, authorizations placed are £82,200,000, and expenditure incurred is £44,800,000.
The Australian defence research and development programme is being developed in accordance with the following principles : -
The formulation of policy on defence research and development is the responsibility of the Minister for Defence and the Department of Defence. The execution of the approved research and development programme, including the longrange weapons establishment, is, however, primarily a responsibility of the Minister for Supply and the Department of Supply, though certain projects are undertaken by other departments.
The long-range weapons establishment, which is the major feature of our programme, has been developed as a joint project in conjunction with the United Kingdom. The total expenditure by Australia on this project since its inception is more than £18,000,000. The construction of the necessary roads, air strip, water supply, and the Woomera village has been a major task, apart from the workshops and various technical installations necessary for the functioning of the range. Some further capital works are still to be undertaken and completed but, in the meantime, important trials of new military devices are proceeding, and the Government is confident that this great enterprise will play an essential part in the defence of the British Commonwealth. Although the long-range weapons establishment is our major commitment, other important research and development activities, for example in aeronautics and electronics, are being undertaken, and will make valuable contributions to defence. Participation in these activities by industrial organizations is being encouraged and is developing satisfactorily.
An example of a project which has reached an advanced stage is the design and development of a jet-propelled, pilotless aircraft. Test flights have been made with a pilot, and pilotless flights are expected to take place in the near future.
This project was carried out under the aegis of the Department of Defence Production.
The financial allocation for defence research and development in theprogramme is ?30,800,000. Against this amount authorizations placed to date total ?13,600,000 and expenditure incurred is ?8,700,000.
As I have indicated earlier, as Minister for Defence I am responsible for the formulation and general application of a unified defence policy, including the supply aspects and the review of production programmes and capacity. Until recently, the Minister for Supply and the Department of Supply had responsibilities for executive action on approved policy in this field. However, with the great expansion of the defence programme, and consequent emphasis on production, the Government, in May of last year, established a new Department of Defence Production, responsible for the manufacture and supply of munitions, including aircraft, for the defence forces. The Department of Supply remains responsible, inter alia, for the manufacture and supply of defence material requirements other than munitions, for example, clothing and general stores. The Department of Supply, as I have said, is also responsible for carrying out the major portion of the defence research and development programme, including the joint United KingdomAustralian long-range weapons establishment, design and inspection as arranged with service departments, and stockpiling of strategic materials.
The Joint “War Production Committee within the Department of Defence, in consultation with production and Services departments, has been surveying the industrial capacity of the Commonwealth to meet the needs of the Services on mobilization and for war. Considerable progress has been made, and the Government has already approved a number of projects which will cost more than ?9,500,000 and are designed to increase the production capacity of government factories and annexes. The following are examples: - Additions and modifications to government factories and additional equipment; the establishment of essential facilities at Lara, near Geelong, for the testing of jet aircraft; expansion of capacity for production of aircraft pressed parts and associated assemblies; provision of auxiliary generating plant for departmental factories; procurement of high precision machine tools for central toolrooms; and construction of a plant for the manufacture of R.D.X. explosive, and magazines for its storage. Many additional projects are also under consideration.
The present financial allocations tinder the programme for the Department of Defence Production and the Department of Supply, other than in connexion with research and development, with which I have already dealt, are ?20,800,000 and ?11,900,000 respectively, a total of ?32,700,000. Authorizations placed against this latter amount total ?19,400,000 and expenditure incurred is ?8,700,000.
National planning to meet anemer- gency has been proceeding energetically since thecreation of the War Book machinery in 1948. The various committees and working parties which were set up for this purpose have completed their initial tasks, and the plans evolved are being reviewed at the highest level for embodiment in the Commonwealth War Book.
I lay on the table the following paper : -
Defence programme - Ministerial statement, and move -
That the paper be printed.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Chambers ) adjourned.
Motion (by Mr. Casey) agreed to -
That the House, at its rising, adjourn to to-morrow, at 10.30 a.m.
-(Hon. Archie Cameron). - I have received from the honorable member for Melbourne (Mr. Calwell) an intimation that he desires to move the adjournment of the House for the purpose of discussing a definite matter of urgent public importance, namely -
The failure of the Government to deal effectively with the question of housing.
– I move -
That the House do now adjourn.
– Is the motion supported ?
Eight honorable members having risen in support of the motion,
– Australia is faced with many grave and difficult problems. Three of the most important are inflation, food production and housing. Those problems impinge upon each other to a very great extent. The purpose of this motion is to deal with the third, housing. It is almost a truism that there are three essentials for the contented existence of every civilized human being. Those essentials are clothing, food, and housing. A man may have all the food he wants and all the clothing he needs but if he has not adequate housing he is a frustrated and unhappy individual. President Truman, in his message to Congress in 1945, expressed that opinion very well. He said -
A decent standard of housing for all is one of the irreducible obligations of modern civilization. The housing challenge is now squarely before us. The people of the United States of America, so far ahead in wealth and productive capacity, deserve to be the best housed people in the world. We must begin to meet the challenge at once.
The people of Australia also deserve to be among the best-housed people in the world but they are not. The unfortunate individual who cannot find a house to live in is unable to do his best for himself, his dependants and society. In time, his bitterness and discontent become a liability and he ceases to be an asset to the State. If Australia could solve its housing problem it would solve one of its most difficult social and economic problems because associated with the problem of housing are the problems of food production and inflation. If Australia had all the labour that it needed to work on the land it could not use these services because there are not sufficient houses to accommodate men in the vicinity of the farms on which they would be required to work. It is the strongly held view of the Opposition that the Government has not done, is not doing, and will not do all that it could do to help to solve the nation’s housing problem. The Commonwealth has certain powers and responsibilities in regard to this problem. The States also have their responsibilities, but their failure to take effective action in relation to it has been due to the failure of the Australian Government to do all that it could and should do. The failure of the States to cope with the problem is largely attributable to the lack of co-operation of the Menzies Government.
It has been the duty of the Australian Government, particularly since the formation of the Australian Loan Council and the passage of uniform income tax legislation, to provide adequate finance for the States in order to enable them to carry out their public works programmes, of which housing projects are a most essential part. It is the responsibility of the Australian Government to ensure that its banking policy shall be so framed that it will help and not hinder housing construction. The Opposition charges the Government with having failed to provide the States with sufficient loan money to enable them to carry out their housing plans. The Opposition further charges the Government with having adopted a banking policy which has made it increasingly difficult for State governments and instrumentalities and private individuals to build houses. The banking policy of the Government has made it completely impossible for many people to build the houses that they desire. Other Opposition members will elaborate upon those points. The Menzies Government has failed Australia so badly in the matter of housing, after having fooled so many people by its lavish promises, that it deserves to be condemned. It is becoming a tedious habit, in this House, to produce the policy speech of the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) in relation to every subject that was mentioned in the general election campaign of 1949. However, I again produce his photograph on the front page of his printed policy speech and the report of his words on the subject of housing. He said -
Except in relation to the Territories and War Service Homes the direct responsibility for housing is with the State Governments. But the Commonwealth must accept large obligations of assistance. There is already a
Commonwealth-States Housing Agreement. We will seek its amendment so as to permit a,ml aid “ little capitalists “ to own their own homes. We will attack the basic causes oi under-production and excessive costs.
During the two years and three months that Australia has had the misfortune to nave to carry it, this Government has not introduced any amendment to the legislation concerning the Commonwealth and State Housing Agreement in order to assist further workers and others to own their own homes. The Government has not made any attack on the basic forces of underproduction and excessive costs. Honorable members have not noticed any desire on the part of the Government to accept its obligations, and the Government’s response to every request from the States has been to frustrate them. I sought to obtain information in this House concerning the proceedings at the Australian Loan Council meetings in regard to the applications of the States for housing assistance and was told that the proceedings of the meetings were secret. Apparently, the council acted like the Ku-Klux-Klan, and met behind the Government’s “ iron curtain “. No doubt its members met with hoods on so that they would not recognize each other. I was told that if I wanted the information I should consult the States. So I asked the State premiers how this Government had dealt with their applications for loan money to carry out their programmes. In a telegram dated the 16th October, 1941, the Premier of Queensland advised me as follows: -
Works programme of £5,800,000 recommended .by Loan Council co-ordinator for Queensland under Commonwealth-State housing agreement reduced to £4,489,000 by Loan Council.
– The States reduced the amount of their application themselves.
– They did not. They took what they could get. They were outvoted because the Commonwealth used its two votes and its casting vote in order to prevent them from getting what they wanted. The telegram continued -
Housing figures in purely State programme not specifically reduced by Loan Council but overall borrowing by the States Works programme reduced by approximately 16 per cent.
– Order ! The honorable member must confine his remarks to matters of housing. The honorable member has been mentioning general loan programmes.
– The final sentence of the telegram relates the matter to housing. It reads -
Application of reduction to individual works being determined by State.
Therefore, this telegram certainly relates to housing. The Government is trying to trick the people into believing that the States have cut down their housing programmes, but it has itself reduced the programmes. Queensland asked the Commonwealth for £5,000,000 for housing. The Australian Loan Council reduced that to £4,000,000. Approximately £3,360,000 was finally made available for Queensland. Premier McGirr of New South Wales telegraphed the following message to me about this matter: - . . this State’s requirements for housing under Housing Agreement notified the Commonwealth at £14,000,000. Only £11,000,000 included for New South Wales in Commonwealth’s total requirements of £34,000,000. £300,000 for agreement submitted to Loan Council. Commonwealth Treasurer subsequently advised allocation for year £8,514,000.
Therefore, it will be seen that New South Wales requested £14,000,000 and got £S,514,000. Premier McDonald of Victoria telegraphed me as follows : -
Amount of loan accommodation requested by Victorian Government for housing purposes this financial year was £10,000,000. Commonwealth Co-ordinator General of Works after consultation with Commonwealth Director of Housing reduced this amount to £13,000,000. The amount made available by the Loan Council this State for housing purposes was £10,001,000.
Victoria asked for £16,000,000 and was allotted £10,061,000. How does that all fit in with the Government’s promise that “ the Commonwealth must accept larger obligations of assistance “ ? The Australian Government has made housing one of its objectives for attack, a3 it has made the textile industry and a lot of other industries. As a result of the reduction of loan moneys to be allotted to the States, quite a number of State housing authorities have had to dismiss skilled tradesmen. A few weeks ago at Holmsglen, in Victoria, the Victorian Housing Commission had to dismiss 250 carpenters.
In New South Wales, Van Dyke Brothers, one of the biggest structural engineering concerns in the State, has been engaged in manufacturing prefabricated houses. That firm had to reduce its programme from 25 to ten houses a week, and it is now producing only seven a week. Two hundred and fifty of the 300 people employed have had to be dismissed by this concern, or “ disemployed “, to use the Government’s own spurious term. This Government has forced many sawmillers throughout the ‘Commonwealth to curtail their activities or to close their mills, with the result that the people are not able to get the accommodation .that they are entitled to receive.
I invite the House to consider what was said by the Government parties when they were in Opposition. In view of what they said then, they are now cutting a very sorry figure. In Liberal Opinion of October, 1948, an article appears which is adorned with the photograph of the photogenic former Resident Minister in Mayfair. In this article the VicePresident of the Executive Council (Mr. Erie J. Harrison) wrote -
Mie Libera] party’s policy, aimed at n housing programme which will encourage individual home ownership . . . contains proposals for positive action. They include . . appointment of a first-class business executive … to break bottle-necks and expedite the supply of materials and the construction of homes . . . demolition of slums, and the provision at reasonable cost of good houses which can be purchased on suitable terms.
The Liberal party has done nothing to expedite house construction or slum clearance. The position in regard to substandard houses is so bad that the Melbourne Herald of the 30th January, 1950, declared -
There are still 30,000 Melbourne dwellings without ‘bathrooms, nearly 50,000 without sewerage, more than 22,000 without even running water.
That is also the position in every other capital city in Australia. This Government not only is not encouraging house construction to meet the housing needs of the people, but also has done nothing to advance the clearance of slums. The Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Casey), who represents in this House the Minister for National Development (Senator Spooner), will tell us stories about all the houses that have been commenced since this Government came to office.
– I do not intend to mention them.
– It will be just as well for his own Government if the Minister does not, but he might tell the House why housing costs increased last year by 23 per cent.
– And they have been reduced by 15 per cent, in the last three months.
– If honorable members doubt the figure, I commend them to their own electors. It is impossible for many people to-day to buy a house, because of the greatly increased construction costs. Recently I read a protest published in the West Australian by the secretary of the Western Australian Labour party, who said that a young returned soldier, having been evicted from his home, approached the banks but found that his whole life savings of £550 were not sufficient to pay a deposit on the purchase of a home for himself. The Government’s banking policy makes it impossible for a citizen, even for a returned soldier with £550, to buy a house. I remind the Government that all that it has done for ex-servicemen has been to finance the purchase of homes. It has not built homes in any quantity for them. ‘[Extension of time granted.]
– The honorable member’s time has been extended, but I remind him that the extension must expire at 12.45 p.m.
– In 1945, the present Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) moved the adjournment of this House in order to bring up the matter of housing. Among the charges that he levelled against the Chifley Government was “ its housing deficiencies “. That was seven years ago. The Prime Minister and the non-Labour parties have been in power now for two years and three months, but the housing position of the country is worse than it was seven years ago. The housing position in the States which have Liberal governments is worse than it is in the Labour-controlled States, and in
Victoria, where the Premier is a member of the Country party. According to the West Australian of the 15th January, 1952, the Premier announced that only four country towns in Western Australia were to receive assistance from the Government under the Commonwealth and State Housing Agreement. The reason given was that the Australian’ Government has reduced the States’ loan finance. Therefore, the position has arisen that over 50 per cent, of the people in Western Australia cannot rent houses and cannot get assistance to build houses because the Australian Government will not provide the necessary money. Nine-tenths of Western Australia is on the black-list for housing construction. If that continues Australia will not overtake the lag in housing that has existed for many years. The anti-Labour forces failed first in this connexion during the depression years when they paid men to dig weeds out of the streets for sustenance rather than help to put into operation a housing programme. Few houses were built during the war. For fifteen years, therefore, little house construction has taken place in Australia. In 1944 a commission was set up by the Curtin Government to investigate the housing problem. The honorable member for Adelaide (Mr. Chambers) was a member of that commission as a member of the Parliament of South Australia. The commission reported that the backlag in housing construction at that time was 300,000 houses.
– Nonsense !
– I am glad to have the advice of the honorable member for Bennelong (Mr. Cramer). The members of that commission were all eminent men in the building trade of Australia and only one of them, the honorable member for Adelaide, was a Labour man. That commission reported that there was a lag of 300,000 houses and that was the truth. Two million houses in Australia are 30 years or more old and they depreciate at the rate of 2-J per cent, annually. An estate agent, such as the honorable member for Bennelong is, should know that better than anybody else. Those houses are becoming sub-standard and will have to be replaced. The Minister for External Affairs, who represents in this House the Minister for National Development, has stated that the lag is only 100,000 houses. But even if that were so and the present requirements were 75,000 houses a year, this Government is not building enough to meet .present requirements. The Minister has admitted that the building programme is accounting for only 70,000 houses a year. That was the record to the 30th June, 1951, but with the curtailment that is now operating the plight of the Australian people will become worse. In the United States of America, the Government has had the honesty to state that it will not build houses so that it can proceed with its defence programme. The Australian Government is following the same course but will not admit that it is. It is sacrificing the housing of the people and is not helping them as it should do. If the Government continues to act in that way it will provide many problems for successive governments.
Private enterprise and government agencies have built 247,000 houses and flats since the war ended to the 30th June, 1951. The nation requires, on the Minister’s own figures, about 75,000 houses a year. Between the end of the war and the 30th June, 1951, according to those figures, 450,000 houses should have been built; but, on post-war .performances, Australia is 270,000 houses down on its current requirements in addition to the back-lag totalling from 300,000 to 100,000 houses. The Chifley Government trained men under the post-war reconstruction training scheme to build houses. It built up an army for house construction and this Government has been able to take advantage of that achievement. Immigrants were brought to Australia also to assist the building trade, and I have no criticism of the actions of this Government in raising that work force. I criticize it for not hurrying the construction of housing, and for failing to ado.pt a policy of providing loans for housing purposes and other assistance to the States for that work. Failure to do so has been detrimental to the best interests of the nation.
Sitting suspended from 124-5 to 2.15
– This morning, my distinguished friend, the honorable member for Melbourne (Mr. Calwell) ventured to express himself on the alleged failure of the Government to deal effectively with the problem of housing. “We listened to him with some, advantage just before the luncheon recess. The honorable member is a very interesting study, if I may presume to be so personal. I often think that he has some of the qualities of our Australian opal, which, as we all know, gives forth flashes of light of varying degrees of brilliance and colour. The flashes of light emitted by the honorable member this morning, while he was directing his invective against the Government on the subject of housing, were not quite up to the usual standard. I hope he will forgive me for this analogy to a semi-precious stone. I commend to the honorable member for Melbourne the study of facts. They are pretty good things to rely upon, and are infinitely better than fancy or just a number of words. I admit that this may seem to the honorable member to be a somewhat radical conception, because he has never been entirely opposed to flights of fancy. With great respect, I commend to him the study of the facts about housing in Australia, and I propose to accept my own advice by discussing facts for his benefit.
Australia is faced with a great many problems. We may say if we like that we are faced with a hundred problems, and I do not think that it would be an over statement. The business of governments is to tackle those problems in the order of their importance, and for the public advantage. The job of the Opposition, of course, is to oppose. The Opposition is not constricted as the Government is. It is a well-known device of political oppositions, one that is not peculiar to this Parliament, to settle on one matter and to give to it such a degree of importance as to make the public believe that that is the only problem in the field, and that if the Government only had the common sense, the goodwill and the drive to deal effectively with that problem everything would be well. That device was known to the Romans 2,000 years ago. They gave it the attractive name of pars pro toto, or the part for the whole. We should not fall into the error of mistaking the part for the whole. The housing problem is one of 50 problems with which the Government is confronted, and I do not say that by way of an apology. The figures which I propose to place before honorable members tell the story clearly. I am sure that when the public read the speech of the honorable member for Melbourne, and then study the facts as I shall present them, they will have no difficulty in deciding where the truth lies.
How many houses have been built in Australia since the termination of the war? In the first year after the war the number was 15,500, the next year it was 33,000, the following year 44,000 and for the next, or final year of Labour rule, it was 52,500. In the next year, which was the first year after the present Government took office, the. number of houses completed was 57,000. In the next year, 1950-51, the number rose to 69,000, and for the current year it is expected that the number will be 70,000. There is a reason for the sudden increase so soon after the present Government attained office; that reason was the resurgence of confidence in the future. The investing public were once more prepared to put their money into building. The number of houses completed has been increasing steadily from year to year, but the curve of increase sharpened immediately after the present Government came into office.
At the present time, houses and flats are being completed in Australia at a rate that very nearly meets the requirements of the Australian people, including the large number of immigrants who are coming into the country. As we all know, immigrants do not need houses during the early period after their arrival in Australia, because they are then accommodated in government hostels. Thus, it is not an exaggeration to say that we are now largely meeting the current demand for houses. Of course, I am not talking of the accumulated shortage of housing back-log which we inherited from the Labour Government, and which ha3 been very hard to catch up.
This morning, the honorable member for Melbourne made great play on the amount of loan money available to the States. This matter has been explained to the people and to the Parliament on many occasions, but honorable members opposite just do not want to accept the truth. Only the other day, the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) explained it in the simplest and most explicit terms, and I shall now try to explain it again. This year the total amount of loan money available to the States will be £225,000,000, of which the Commonwealth has under-written about £100,000,000. It is quite possible that the Commonwealth will be required to make good that amount out of Commonwealth revenue. The amount of £225,000,000 of loan money made available this year is £60,000,000 more than the States received the year before, and is vastly greater than the Australian market can possibly supply. Nevertheless, Opposition members ask why the States cannot have more loan money. It is really a kindergarten problem.. The facts that I have stated are not in dispute, and I have not exaggerated the situation. The fact is that the States have never before had so much loan money to spend, even taking into account rising costs.
-The Minister must keep to the subject before the Chair.
– Indeed, I shall do so. “What I have been saying is very pertinent to the subject of housing. The Commonwealth does not dictate to the States how they shall spend loan money. If they rate the housing problem high enough they may spend on housing any proportion they choose of the loan money at their disposal. It is well known that the Commonwealth has a big share in the financing of housing construction in Australia. The improvement of the housing position i3 a State problem, but over the years the Commonwealth has taken considerable financial responsibility for it, first, under the Commonwealth and State Housing Agreement; secondly, under the war service homes scheme; and, finally, in respect of its own housing programme. This year, in fact as divorced from theory, the Commonwealth will be largely called upon to finance from the proceeds of taxation the housing programmes of the States because the Government has underwritten the States’ loan programmes. The Coordinator.General of Works, who has an intimate knowledge of the loan requirements of the States, recommended that, under the terms of the Commonwealth and State Housing Agreement, the States should have an amount of £34,000,000 during the current financial year. The amount approved was £26,500,000.
– Not enough!
– I agree, but of course one .could say that with respect to the financing of half of the governmental and semi-governmental activities in Australia. Again it is a case of pars pro toto. Last year the States obtained £21,500,000. This year they received £5,000,000 more than they got last year, and in the year before last they received and spent £17,000,000 for this purpose. The curve is constantly on the up grade, despite our manifold economic and financial difficulties which are well known to us and to our friends of the Opposition. Under the Commonwealth and State Housing Agreement, the Commonwealth, as I have reason to know because I have administered the act for some time, has but little right to direct where houses shall be built. A rather watery direction in the act enables us to have but little say in the matter. As a result, many houses are built in areas selected on the basis of political considerations rather than on national needs.
Let me turn to war service homes, the second great category in which the Commonwealth is embroiled in the housing programme of Australia. Here again a similar story can be told. In stating the facts I shall rely not on the amount of money spent but rather on the number of houses completed. In these days of rising costs the use of the money criterion is liable to be misleading. If I used the money criterion my argument would, on the surface, be very much more telling than it is. In the four immediate post-war years the Labour Government built fewer than 12,500 war service homes. In our first year of office we built no fewer than 10,300.
– They were built in accordance with our plans.
– In our second year of office we built more than 15,000 war service homes, and this year - a year of financial stringency, and of great shortages of man-power and materials - we shall build 18,000 war service homes.
– The Government proposes to buy many of them.
– No. I am referring to war service homes that will be built as distinct from existing houses that will be purchased. That is the minimum prospect based on experience when three quarters of the year has nearly gone by. So, in respect of house construction, covering war service homos, houses constructed under the Commonwealth and State Housing Agreement, and houses constructed for Commonwealth purposes, the curve has been steadily rising.
For the benefit of my friend, the honorable member for Melbourne, i venture to repeat that facts are the only reliable guide. These are facts and not mere airy words to tickle the ears of the electors. We are not in the least complacent about the housing problem, but, having regard to the manifold difficulties that face 113, we have made as good an attack upon it as the circumstances have rendered possible. When I was Minister for Works and Housing I sent a mission overseas to examine prefabricated houses. ‘That mission proved to be immensely valuable. As the result of its efforts we extended widely the £300 subsidy on imported houses of that type. * Extension aif time (/ranted.’]* I am grateful to honorable members for their forbearance. The purchase of imported prefabricated houses has helped appreciably - I shall not say formidably - in the solution of the housing problem in Australia. No fewer than 22,000 prefabricated houses are now on order in overseas countries. Some of the orders may, it is true, be cancelled. Approximately 9,500 prefabricated houses have -already arrived in Australia. Most of them are now being erected and others will be erected very soon. I have no desire to go into the detailed machinery of the housing programme in a short speech of this kind. I shall content myself by dealing with some of the means we have adopted in order to achieve our objectives.
We have directed to the building industry and, more importantly still, to the building materials industry, as big a proportion of new arrivals as we can possibly spare. .
– That was the policy of the Labour Government which the present Government has merely continued.
– I am referring to what has happened in the last three years, during which there has been the greatest expansion of house construction in Australia. There is great competition for the services of .the immigrants who reach our shores - by the State railways, the steel and coal industries, the brick and tile industry, and, perhaps, 50 other industries. My colleague, the Minister for Immigration (Mr. Holt) has, to his great credit, directed as many immigrants as he possibly could to the building and building materials industry. I could furnish the detailed figures if I had more time at my disposal. We have done everything possible to stimulate the building materials industry, but it is capable of stimulation only at a certain rate. Because its stimulation was not as rapid as we desired it to be, the Minister for Trade and Customs (Senator O’sullivan) removed all barriers to the importation of building materials. As a result there has been a great flood of imports of building materials during the la3t two or three years, particularly during the last eighteen months. This has enabled us to fill many of the gaps that could not be filled by local industry.
I do not want .to trespass on the patience of the House. I believe that the simple factual survey that I have tried to present to honorable members will be sufficient to convince every fair-minded and unbiased person that the Government’s housing record is one of which it can be proud. Unfortunately it suits my opalescent friend, the honorable member for Melbourne, to pick up any stick he finds around the house and to beat us with it. I say to him and to his friends who sit beside and behind him - I do not want to go into something to which, perhaps, I should not refer - that if they rely on the Government’s housing record as something in respect of which they can. castigate the Government, they are treading on very infirm, ground. As a radical of some years standing the honorable member for Melbourne will remember Patrick Henry’s statement in the Congress of Virginia, “ “Well, if that be treason, make the most of it”. Adapting that statement to the present circumstances, I say to the honorable member, “If the Government’s record on housing be bad, make the most of it “.
– The greatest disaster that faces this country to-day is not an external one, but an internal one. I refer to the calamitous housing position. If I, too, may be permitted to adapt some very well known words, may I say that half the members of this House - the half that is not in the Labour party - does nor, know how half the people of Australia live when it comes to housing problems. Most members of the Government possess not only a home, but also a week-end home. Why should they worry about the housing problem? The Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) in the policy speech of the present Government parties during the general election in 1949, promised that those parties would not only provide adequate housing for the people, but, in effect, would also make every man who wanted a home a little capitalist. But, after listening to the right honorable gentleman, when he spoke to the motion of censure on Tuesday evening, and the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Casey), who has just resumed his seat, honorable members must be convinced that the Government does not intend to honour that promise. Supporters of the Government never cease talking about wool and wheat, but they have very little to say about housing. At the same time, they emphasize the necessity to divert man-power to primary industries. If farmers were compelled to provide decent housing accommodation for farm workers, to whom they might also allot a few of their broad acres, in order to enable them to meet their immediate needs, adequate labour would be available in primary industries all the year round. But, today, many farmers compel their employees, whom they engage for seasonal work, to sleep in cow sheds or barns. One cannot wonder that supporters of the Government do not worry in the least about the housing problem when they are prepared to tolerate such treatment of farm workers.
Last Monday week I visited the home of a family in my electorate in order to ascertain what I could do to help the breadwinner of the family who was suffering from tuberculosis and was unable to obtain admission to a convalescent home. I found that although the house consisted of only four rooms it was occupied by twelve persons, including two married sons, each of whose wives was an expectant mother, as well as six children. That is not an isolated example of housing conditions in my electorate. It is all very well for the Minister for External Affairs and the Prime Minister to juggle figures with respect to housing. What are the inescapable facts? In yesterday’s press, the executive director of the Building Industry Congress in New South Wales, Mr. D. Stewart Fraser, said that builders would take 50 years to catch up with the lag in building construction in that State. The Housing Commission of New South Wales reported on the 15th February last that outstanding applications for homes totalled 100,000.
– Shame !
– Every speech that the honorable member for Gwydir (Mr. Treloar) makes in this House can be classified as a country speech. He talks only about wheat or rabbits; but, apparently, he is not concerned about human problems. The Government must evolve a practical programme to overcome the housing shortage. But it has pushed this problem into the background. It has just introduced a bill to ratify the Peace Treaty with Japan. It has shaken hands with the Japanese and proposes to expend millions of pounds in the purchase of Japanese products. Yet, the Minister has boasted of the fact that the Government has allocated the sum of £26.000,000 for housing during the current financial year. All of us know that since the Government assumed office the purchasing power of the £1 has decreased by almost 50 per cent. The Government is expending £182.000.000 a year on defence and it has budgeted for a surplus of £114,000.000 for the current financial year. It is estimated that the actual surplus will he as much as £200,000,000.
In the light of those figures, it is simply facical for a Minister to boast that the Government has allocated £26,000,000 for housing.
The Housing Commission in New South Wales has reported that 40,000 of the 100,000 applicants for houses are urgently in need of homes, whilst the remaining 60,000 are not sufficiently badly housed to warrant admission to ballots at present. The Government of that State notified the Australian Government that for its housing programme under the Commonwealth and State Housing agreement it would require £14,000,000 for 1951-52. However, it was allocated only £8,514,000 for that purpose. As the result of that reduction, it has been obliged to direct its Housing Commission to refrain absolutely from entering into any further contracts for buildings, or for the erection of buildings, and to take steps to terminate all negotiations relating to the importation of prefabricated houses even in instances in which the negotiations had reached such an advanced stage that the completion of a contract was imminent. Hard-headed elder statesmen in the Government’s ranks never cease telling people what the Government is doing to overcome the housing shortage. The fact is that as a result of its attitude, New South Wales will be obliged to cut its housing programme by one-half. Although the honorable member for Bennelong (Mr. Cramer) has frequently criticized the advisers of the Government, whom he has described as “long-haired professors “, he refused to support my representations that the Government should make available loans for housing at 2-1 per cent, interest. T received no1 support from the honorable member for Bennelong; but as soon as credit restrictions were introduced and the building trade began to flop, he woke up and realized that something was wrong. A similar criticism may be applied to the honorable member for Sturt (Mr. Wilson).
– Order ! The honorable member has exhausted his time.
.- Only two members of the Opposition have spoken so far in this debate.
The honorable member for Melbourne (Mr. Calwell), who is the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, treated us to his normal clowning act, and the honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Minogue) painted a picture of the slightly darker side of life. Both speeches were of particular interest to me. The honorable member for West Sydney said that one. half of the members of this House do not know how the other half lives. Having made that statement, he proceeded to prove it with some remarks about the way in which this Government should encourage people to live on the land. Honorable members on this side of the chamber are equally as concerned, and know just as much about housing conditions in the Commonwealth, as honorable members of the Opposition.
– Why does not the Government take action to improve the housing position?
– This Government has done more in two years in that respect than the Labour Government accomplished in nine years.
– Figures which have been given to the House to-day by the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Casey), who represents the Minister for National Development (Senator Spooner) in this House, prove my contention.
– If those figures were accurate, they would prove the honorable gentleman’s statement. But those figures were faked.
– The honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward), in making one of his normally twisted interjections, implies that the figures that have been given to the House by the Minister are untrue.
– Some of them.
– If they are untrue, the honorable member should demand an immediate investigation into the Public Service.
– If I have an opportunity, I shall do so.
– The honorable gentleman may be a little reluctant to start any investigation. The honorable member for Melbourne and the honorable member for West Sydney referred to a statement which was contained in the policy speech of the present Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) in 1949 in which the right honorable gentleman pledged his Government to do its utmost to provide houses at a reasonable cost.
– Who believed him?
– In the interval, the Government lias done a great deal to provide houses. I find it strange that Opposition members persist in forgetting that since 1949 a considerable change has taken place in international affairs and has warranted substantially increased expenditure on defence. That commitment has automatically reduced the amount of money available for other purposes in the Commonwealth.
– Tell me the old, old story. Why does not the honorable member sing it?
– Order ! There is no need for comment.
– I join issue with the honorable member for Melbourne on one point that he endeavoured to make, because it can be proved that there were deliberate untruths in the arguments that he used. He cited the case of a returned serviceman, whose life’s savings of £550 were not sufficient to pay a deposit on a house. I venture to state that that statement is completely untrue because-
– Order ! The honorable gentleman should not make such statements.
– I shall explain my reason for doing so. Had the man been an ex-serviceman and had he approached the War Service Homes Division of the Department of Works and Housing for financial assistance, the amount of £550 would have been adequate for a deposit on a house.
– People are unable to buy houses.
Mr. McCOLM That is not the point. The honorable member for Melbourne said that the amount of £550 was not sufficient for a deposit on a specific house. Had that ex-serviceman gone to the War Service Homes Division, that amount would have been sufficient for a deposit, unless he was attempting to buy a mansion. Naturally, any person who desires to buy a mansion must expect to provide as a deposit a substantially greater sum than £550.
The War Service Homes Division of the Department of Works and Housing is to be congratulated on the large number of houses that it has provided during the last few years. Its work in that respect has been splendid. I, personally, have not always agreed with some of its methods of administration, but there is no doubt that it has achieved excellent results. I invite the House to examine for a moment the effect of the so-called credit restrictions for which the Government has been blamed, but which, in fact, have been brought about by the banks themselves. Has credit restriction actually been detrimental to the community? Has the price of houses fallen during the last two or three months?
– The relevant statistics for each of the capital cities prove conclusively that prices have fallen. If Opposition members will take the trouble to read the daily newspapers, they will see that more houses are offered for sale at the present time than have been available for the last ten years.
– Let the honorable member try to buy one.
– Order ! The honorable member for Wills (Mr. Bryson) must remain silent.
– The point which ] am making is that houses are now obtainable for less money than they were a few months ago. Until recently, comparatively few houses were offered for sale. Building costs also are falling to some degree.
– That is not so.
– I shall give a specific example. A builder, before the introduction of credit restrictions, had been consistently erecting batches of six houses at a time. Since the credit restrictions were announced, he has concentrated upon erecting two houses at a time. He finds that, in doing so, he has less trouble in obtaining materials, and he estimates that the number of houses which he will erect in a year at the present rate of construction will exceed the total that he erected when he was building them in batches of six at a time. Under this system he is able to build a house more cheaply. because he can concentrate upon obtaining materials and complete the dwelling more quickly than hitherto. One of the finest things that has happened in the building trade during the last few months is that many jerry-builders have disappeared from the industry, and the remainder are rapidly following them. The conscientious contractor is able to devote more time to the construction of a smaller number of houses, and pay more attention to the work of his employees. The standard of workmanship is improving considerably. That is highly desirable.
I come now to another matter which, in its way, is of considerable importance to the future of the building industry. It has been stated that hundreds of men have been dismissed from housing schemes in Victoria, but I point out that not one carpenter in that State has registered as unemployed. Where are the carpenters who were dismissed from the housing schemes? Have they found employment? Does a carpenter normally turn his hand to a different kind of job? I venture to say that he does not. He continues to work in the building industry. No unemployment of skilled tradesmen in the building industry at the present time is reported. A few unskilled workers have been dismissed, and that is quite sensible.
– Rot !
– The interjection of the honorable member for Watson (Mr. Curtin) is the most accurate summing up of his mental state that I have heard for a long time. The point which I am making is that, under the policy of this Government, the construction of houses has increased considerably during the last two years. Current figures show that construction is still increasing. The number of houses that are being built is increasing, and the quality of them is improving. If that is something for which honorable members opposite can condemn the Government I wish them joy in so doing, but I think the House should ask itself, “ What is the Opposition’s motive? “.
-Order ! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- I heard the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Casey) say a few minutes ago “ We arenow currently solving our housing needs “. At first I thought that I had not heard the honorable gentleman correctly, but then I heard him repeat the statement. In June, 1950, according to a report, published in the Melbourne Herald, the Minister said -
But in 1951, we will have to have 90,000- new houses to accommodate the 45,000 couples who will marry in 1951, and to cope with. 200,000 migrants who will need accommodation..
This 90,000 new houses will not include any to cope with the backlog in demand, or any slum clearance.
That was the Minister’s own opinion,, not mine. He said that 90,000 houses would be required in 1951 to cope with current needs but, according to thestatistics that he himself has cited,, only 69,000 houses were completed in that year. The Sydney Morning Herald placed the figure at 67,000 and I am inclined to regard that as the correct one, but, on the Minister’s own admission, the total did not exceed 69,000. Clearly, therefore, the Government’s attempt to meet current housing needs in that year fell short of the mark by 21,000 ; yet the Minister has the effrontery to say now that the Government has practically solved the problem of meeting current needs. The estimated requirement for 1950, of course, excluded the needs of pensioners and others who are now living in sub-standard homes in both rural and metropolitan areas. Every honorable member who represents an industrial constituency or an area in which houses have stood for many years knows that hundreds of dwellings have been condemned by housing officers as being unfit for human habitation. Those houses continue to be occupied because most of them are family homes and the State housing Ministers have adopted a policy of refusing to issue demolition orders unless the houses concerned are practically falling down. As I have said, the programme of 90,000 houses did not include provision to deal with that problem. Every day more houses are being condemned as being completely unfit for human habitation and although this may be a matter for mirth on the part of Government supporters on occasions, I assure them that honorable members on this side of the chamber find little cause for laughter when they are approached by the parents of young children who are almost irrevocably condemned to coughing up their lungs in sanitoriums because they cannot be removed soon enough from the damp tin sheds in which they are now living. Any one who has had frequent contact with such cases knows that our housing problem is far from being solved. I work in close contact with the State member for portion of the constituency that I represent in this Parliament, and I know that more eviction orders have been issued against occupants of substandard homes in recent months than during any corresponding earlier period. Many more houses are being condemned by the housing officers of the various municipalities, but nothing is being done to rehouse the unfortunate occupants of those dwellings. Therefore, far from coping with current housing needs, the Government is not only 21,000 houses short of those needs, but also is doing nothing to replace hundreds of thousands of slum houses in metropolitan and rural areas. I hope that neither the Minister nor any other member of the Government parties will be persuaded that the housing problem in this country has been solved. The very figures that the Minister himself has cited show that that is not so. The Government is not even providing sufficient finance to enable enough houses to be built for newly married couples and immigrants.
In the 1949 election campaign, the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) pledged the parties that he led to deal with the problem of age pensioners and other people who are no longer able to fend for themselves. That is a virgin field in which there is much to be done. The Government could, by devoting its attention to this problem, not only correct a grave social evil but also make many houses available for families. In my own constituency many old people are living in what may be regarded as comparatively large houses. I am speaking of houses with five or six rooms which are large houses in such areas. The occupants of some of those dwellings would be only too willing to accept other decent accommodation if it were made available to them at a low rental or at a reasonable purchase price. If they could be transferred to such accommodation, their present dwellings could be made available to families which are now poorly housed. The old people are unwilling to sublet portion of their premises because they are unable to cope with tenants and they fear that eviction proceedings would be difficult. The result is that they continue to live in large houses that they do not need. The provision of acceptable accommodation for them would not only solve their problem, but also would make homes available for unfortunate families whose present living conditions are a menace to their health. As I have said, this is a field in which nothing has been attempted so far. The problem could be tackled under the Commonwealth’s social services powers, or perhaps partly under its pensions scheme. If that course be considered impracticable, I am sure that no State government, Liberal or Labour, would be unwilling to accept an additional Commonwealth grant on condition that homes were built for pensioners and others now living in congested areas.
I come now to the problem of the cost of housing. It is all very well for honorable members opposite to say that so many thousand homes are being built. The Government set out not only to build homes but also to make it possible for people to own their own homes - a policy that has been supported by . the Australian Labour party ever since it has been a party. But what has happened? To-day, it is practically impossible for an ordinary working man who has no other source of income to buy a house. Even the deposit is beyond his means. Only a very rash person would advise a working man to tie round his neck the burden of debt that would have to be incurred to buy a house at current costs. I should certainly hesitate to give such advice. Why are building costs so high to-day? Why does a house that post say £885 prior to the war cost about £4,000 to-day ?
– Because of the go-slow policy.
– Whatever the cause may be, this Government has been in office for two years and three months and has done nothing to tackle it. One important factor in housing costs is the fact that the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited and other steel producing organizations are producing 300,000 tons of steel a year less than they are capable of producing. The price of Australian steel is £25 a ton, but to make up the deficiency, we are importing steel from Japan and other countries at an average price of £85 a ton.
– Because this Government has failed to tackle the root causes of under-production. The honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Bland) asks “Why?” I say to him, “You are a Government supporter. The problem is your responsibility.” Neither. I nor any other member of the Australian Labour party has any control over administration. Honorable members opposite complain about the slow turn-round of ships and the influence of the Communists but when we ask them what they are prepared to do about those problems they have absolutely nothing to say. The Government does plenty of talking but it is not prepared to tackle the problem of production. We are told that the costs cannot he reduced until production has been increased, but what is the Government doing about production? Production is falling. Is the Government prepared to adopt any plan by which it can ensure that Australian steel works shall produce to their maximum capacity?
– Order ! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- One statement that the honorable member for Melbourne (Mr. Calwell) made in initiating the debate received my wholehearted support. I agree that every citizen has the right to expect a decent standard of housing. The shortage of houses and living accommodation generally is one of our greatest national problems, and the period of ten minutes that is allotted to each speaker in a debate of this kind is too short to enable us to discuss the subject with the thoroughness that it merits. I regret that no Australian go vernment of any political persuasion has ever attempted to attack this problem as it should be attacked. Housing is not merely a physical necessity. It represents the base of our entire social structure, a fact that is frequently overlooked when we debate the problem in this House. A nation is only as good as is the home life of its citizens. The subject is complex, and we often hear, in this Parliament and elsewhere, sweeping statements that betray the ignorance of those who make them. Unfortunately, we have heard many such statements already during this debate.
I am very unhappy about the manner in which the housing shortage in general is approached in Australia. I do not blame this Government for our present difficulties. In fact, it has done a grand job with the machinery that it inherited from the Labour Government. The Commonwealth and State Housing Agreement, for example, is an instrument that was forged by the Labour Administration. This Government has done a magnificent job in attacking the basic problems that affect the construction of houses. It has devoted its energies to the promotion of coal and steel production and the manufacture of building materials. Honorable members will agree that it would be futile to talk about increasing the rate of construction of houses unless those fundamental shortages were dealt with first. Subject to the shortcomings of certain State housing commissions, all available resources of labour and materials have been used to good advantage in our efforts to overcome the housing shortage. However, more houses would have been built had different agencies been established to administer the various housing programmes of the States. I consider that, had we not adopted the housing commission system, more houses than have been built up to date could have been constructed with the same resources of materials and the same man-power force as have been available to us during the last few years. An investigation of the activities of housing commissions would reveal that they have engaged in a vast programme of stockpiling of certain materials, thereby depriving private citizens of materials that are needed to build houses.
The Government of South Australia remained aloof from the Commonwealth and State Housing Agreement, and it is a notable fact that that Government has done more to provide houses for its citizens than the government of any other State has done. Its approach to the housing problem has not been entirely above criticism, but, at the same time, without Commonwealth assistance, it has enabled many individuals to purchase houses and has provided a considerable number of units for rental purposes. As the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Casey), who represented the Minister for National Development, rightly said, the housing problem is essentially one for the State governments to solve. However, this Government cannot let the matter go at that because, after all, it controls the purse-strings of the nation. I do not blame the present Government for Australia’s housing difficulties; but, unless it soon adopts a determined policy in place of the policy that was laid down by the Labour Government, it will be deserving of blame. It should treat housing as a matter of the utmost urgency and should institute a progressive national policy at the earliest possible moment.
Every member of the Opposition who speaks on this subject appears to believe that the rapid construction of new houses is the only cure for our troubles. That is an erroneous belief. The greatest single factor that contributes to the inability of tens of thousands of Australians to obtain home units is the obnoxious system of rent control that still operates in most of the States. Lest my point of view on this subject be misunderstood, I hasten to point out that I agree that rent control is essential while there is a housing shortage. I do not advocate the discontinuance of rent control, but I contend that the system should be adjusted so as to conform more closely than it does to the demands of current costs. Since 1939, there has been a great change in the disposition of individuals in home units. The honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Keon) has pointed out that many large houses are occupied to-day by single individuals instead of by families or other groups. I have taken a census of the populations of various blocks of flats which has disclosed that 25 per cent, of the units in certain blocks, which were occupied by two, three or four persons in 1939 and 1940, are occupied only by one person to-day. The reason for this state of affairs is that, under the present system of rent control in New South Wales, a wage or salary earner can readily afford to pay the rent of a flat. However, if rents were fixed according to the economic cost of providing and maintaining flats to-day, instead of at 1939 levels, many such persons would have to arrange for others to live with them and share their costs. It is not mere idle talk to say that, if rents were properly adjusted throughout Australia, more than 50,000 home units would become available to families. That is a conservative estimate. I know what I am talking about when I mention that figure.
I agree with the honorable member for Yarra that provision should be made for the more economical use of large houses with five, six or seven rooms that are at present occupied only by single aged pensioners and other individuals. Anomalies of this kind should be investigated without delay. The time is appropriate for a serious approach to be made to this matter, and I suggest that the Government should convene a conference of respresentatives of all governments in Australia to discuss every aspect of the housing shortage. Many decent Australians who wish to buy houses and who have the ability to do so are unable to gratify their wish because of credit restrictions. The statement that the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) made on this subject was factually correct, but the Government must not leave the matter as it stands now. It has a responsibility to ensure that ways and means of obtaining credit shall be made available to citizens who wish to buy houses for themselves. .Such ways and means can be provided. Indirectly, the Government’s policy of credit restriction has done a lot of good because it has enabled many houses that were in course of construction to be completed. It has given the building trade a breathing space in which to adjust itself. However, certain industries are beginning to suffer adverse effects.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- The Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Casey) has cited figures in relation to the. construction of houses under the war service homes scheme. An honorable member who challenged those figures was subjected to a barrage of interjections by the supporters of the Government. The Minister said that in 1950-51 the Government had built 15,000 war service homes.
– The Minister said 12,000 war service homes had been constructed.
– I understood the Minister to say that 15,000 war service homes had been built in 1950-51. However, it is apparent that the honorable member for Bennelong (Mr. Cramer) believes the number to have been 12,000. I have before me a report by the Director of War Service Homes for the year 1950- 51, which shows that homes built by the War Service Homes Commission, and homes in connexion with the building of which the commission provided assistance numbered 4,022. Homes purchased and mortgaged to the commission numbered 11,143. Evidently the Minister has added those figures together in order to obtain the approximate number of 15,000 war service homes that he mentioned. The. Government has deliberately told the people of this country that in 1950-51, 15,000 homes were built by the War Service Homes Commission, and that in the financial year 1951- 52 it is expected that 18,000 homes will be completed by the commission. In reality, the Government is playing the old game that it played in connexion with the textile trade. It is displacing tenancy. In many instances it is merely transferring people into other homes and then claiming to have reduced the shortage of homes. That is utterly absurd. The people are being deliberately rather than unintentionally misled by the Government in connexion with this matter. In addition to the Minister’s misleading statement, a noble proposition has been advanced by the honorable member for Bennelong. In effect, he said that the housing problem could be solved by lifting all controls, so that the prices of homes that are being rented could be increased to such an exorbitant amount that individual families would be nolonger available to afford to pay for them..
– I rise to order ! I have been misrepresented.
– Order! If the honorable member for Bennelong claims that he has been misrepresented, he will have an opportunity in due course to make a personal explanation.
– The honorable member for Bennelong said that if the proper economic price were charged for rented homes and the method of fixation of rents was abolished-
– I did not say that.
– As, in the interests of truth, I have corrected the statement that was made by the Minister for External Affairs, I certainly would not misrepresent the remarks that were made by the honorable member for Bennelong. Of course, he did not know that the figure was 15,000 homes, of which 11,000 had been purchased. The honorable member for Bennelong thought that the figure was about 12,000. Apparently he does not know now what he said only a few moments ago. I repeat that the honorable member advanced the proposition that an individual family should not be entitled to rent an individual home, but should be forced by economic circumstances to divide the home into two, three, or four units, and that in that way the housing problem in this country would be solved. Presumably, if, in addition, the wages of the workers of this country were reduced, and many of them were thrown out of employment, that would add to the rapidity with which the housing shortage would be solved. The Australian Labour party does not support such a solution of the problem. We believe in the right of a family to occupy an individual home in pleasant surroundings, such as gardens and lawns. In that respect we differ from supporters of the Government. As the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Keon) has pointed out, never before have there been so many evictions in this country as are occurring at the present time. More than 100 families a month are being evicted in both Sydney and Melbourne, and the figures for other cities and large towns also are high. Persons so evicted have to seek emergency accommodation. At the present time there are 28,000 outstanding applications for emergency accommodation, that is, hutments in parks and other places, which the various governments cannot provide. Already 8,300 families are living in hutments that disfigure the countryside, some of which are situated on the outskirts of Melbourne. I have previously mentioned in this House the position at the Watsonia emergency housing centre, where families have been served with eviction notices by this Government. They have to get out by next month. When the people concerned have asked where they are to go, and their representatives have asked the Government what arrangements have been made for their accommodation on leaving Watsonia, this Government has claimed that that is not its responsibility. Like Pontius Pilate of old, the Government places the responsibility on some other section of the community, and suggests that the State Government is responsible. Vast hutments on Crown lands in Melbourne are being utilized by the Commonwealth for offices. If the Commonwealth persists in its Pontius Pilate-like attitude in this matter, the Victorian Government is entitled to request the Commonwealth to vacate the offices that it is occupying at Albert Park and elsewhere in order that the 200 families to be evicted from the Watsonia emergency housing centre may be accommodated in. them. That would be a quid pro quo. Like supporters of the Government, I can occasionally quote Latin.
– The Minister for the Army is evicting them.
– Surely the other members of the Ministry will accept some responsibility for what the Minister for the Array (Mr. Francis) is doing. After all, Cabinet is a composite body. An honorable member opposite says “ Huh ! “ We must be logical about the proposition that houses should be shared that has been put forward by the honorable member for Bennelong. Does he suggest that we take some of the houses away from people who own several, although they require only one, and make them available to people who require accommodation, or should we take some of the mansions that are occupied by the people who support the ,present Government and use portions of them to ameliorate the housing position? The Government is not taking-
– Order ! The honorable gentleman’s time has expired.
.- 1 always find it strange to hear members of the Opposition claiming that they are the only people who feel concern about the present housing position. I believe that that position is deplored by every decent citizen in this community, but unfortunately
– Order ! The VicePresident of the Executive Council (Mr. Eric J. Harrison) and the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) will cease their cross-fire across the table.
– Members of the Opposition seem to think that the only solution of the housing problem lies with the Commonwealth. They forget, very conveniently, that their party was in office for four years after the end of the war and did not correct the position. For many years we have had a Labour Government in New South Wales, yet the honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Minogue) is able to point to the deplorable state of housing conditions in New South Wales and now honorable members opposite are trying to pass the buck on to the Commonwealth. They claim that the four years during which they were in office after the war was a transitional period. Yet in spite of the shortage of houses and of other essential requirements of the people during that time, they advocated the adoption of the 40-hour week, and when its introduction by the Government of New South Wales forced it on the rest of the Commonwealth, they considered that they had won a great victory–
– Is the honorable member opposed to the 40-hour week?
– lt is all very well for the honorable member for East Sydney to ask me whether I am opposed to it. If lie asks some of his constituents, particularly those who have to live on wages, he would find enormous numbers of them opposed .to the 40-hour week. However, that is a matter for the courts. Instead of goading the Australian Government, as it seems to be their desire to do, and refusing to give the Government credit for the great number of houses that it has produced each year honorable members opposite keep harping on housing conditions generally. They have great influence in the trade unions, but unfortunately they have allowed some of the key trade unions of this country to fall into the hands of the Communists. Yet when the Government introduced legislation to help trade unionists to root out the Communists from control of key trade unions, the Opposition opposed it.
– What has this to do with housing?
– It has a lot to do with housing, as I shall demonstrate. To 3tart with, the Builders Labourers Union imposed a “ darg “ of 350 bricks a day on bricklayers. Any bricklayer who cannot lay 850 bricks a day is not fit to be a bricklayer. That is the position as any bricklayer would admit.
– A bricklayer would not live .to old age if he laid so many bricks a day.
– The honorable member for Watson (Mr. Curtin) should have taken the advice that I gave him on a previous occasion, and should have undergone shock treatment. It would have benefited him.
– I get a shock every time I listen to the honorable member.
– Order !
– If the Opposition would accept the housing position as a national responsibility, and not the responsibility of any one government, Federal or State, but the responsibility of every person in the community, and would help to clean out the Communists from the control of key trade unions and persuade its trade unionist friends to lift the “ darg “ on the laying and making of bricks, the position could be improved. A brickmaker is allowed to make only 1,000 bricks a day, although he could easily make 1,500 a day, and might want to do so. Yet, honorable members opposite attack the Government about the housing position. The honorable member for Burke (Mr. Peters) attacked the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Casey) for his statement that the War Service Homes Division had provided 15,000 homes last year-
– He said that it had “ built “ 15,000 homes last year.
– That only goes to show how little interest members of the Opposition have taken in the War Service Homes Division. That division has taken over a number of homes that exservicemen had built with private finance.
– But where are the 15,000 homes that it is supposed to have built? That is the figure which the Minister mentioned.
– That is where a lot of these homes came from. It is well known, but it is extraordinary to me, that members of the Opposition drag out the returned soldier every time they wish to castigate the Government. The fact that they have little interest in, or knowledge of, the workings of the War Service Homes Division and other matters concerning returned soldiers, is exhibited in this House when much of their illcontent and their misstatements are proved to be totally unjustified.
– The Government sacked a lot of ex-servicemen.
– I should like to say a few things to the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward), but not connected with housing-
– I should also like to say a few things to the honorable member. He is only a black marketeer.
– Order ! The honorable member for East Sydney will withdraw that remark. It is unparliamentary and is utterly offensive.
– I withdraw it.
– Anything that the honorable member for East Sydney may say is not objectionable to me, because it will not matter to people who know the honorable gentleman, and people who know me will not believe him. So I take no notice of interjections or statements from him. However, I appeal to the
Opposition to take as much, interest in housing as the Government is taking, and to assist the trade unions to rid themselves of Communists by using the legislation that provides for the holding of secret ballots for the election of trade union officials, which the Government introduced in the teeth of opposition from the Labour party. In that way they would be making a move towards helping to alleviate the housing position.
The difficulties in regard to steel, iron, and iron ore are gradually being overcome, but not so fast as they could be overcome. I have recently inspected factories at Newcastle and Port Kembla. If more coal were mined greater production of steel in Newcastle would be possible. Steelworks at Port Kembla are being extended considerably, and a new blast furnace, which will double output, will he installed there shortly. It is encouraging to see vast preparations being made for expansion of those industries, which will help to overcome the shortage of essential materials. I believe that the Government is doing its best in the interests of the nation generally, and in relation to the housing position, but it is not possible to wave a magic wand and overcome difficulties that have been inherited from eight years of socialistic rule. Because the people have been conditioned to socialism they are now asking the Government to do everything for them.
– They will keep on asking, too.
– They will keep on asking until we get a return of that independent spirit that we had in this country in the days of the pioneers, before our people were corrupted by socialism. The honorable member for Watson and the honorable member for West Sydnev rang the cowbell, and spoke about conditions in the country. I have very grave doubts whether either of them has been more than 50 miles away from Sydney. If they have been they probably kept to the main roads, because I am quite sure that any farmer who saw them coming would be careful to ensure that they did not get inside his gate.
Another matter that I wish to clear up is the statement made by the honorable member for Burke in relation to the speech by the honorable member for Bennelong (Mr. Cramer). He conveniently misquoted the honorable member for Bennelong in every possible way. I was astounded to hear an honorable member of the standing of the honorable member for Burke make such statements, in which there was absolutely no truth. People who heard him over the air must now have less respect for him than they had before he made these statements.
– It was a 50-50 speech, anyhow.
– The honorable member for Melbourne (Mr. Calwell) is doing his usual clowning, but it does not affect me because I know that he makes certain statements outside the House and contradicts them when, ho comes inside. It would be very very helpful if the honorable member would say-
– Order ! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- Significantly, it was left to the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Casey) to attempt to justify the Government’s lamentable failure to provide homes for the people.
– The Minister for External Affairs represents the Minister for National Development (Senator Spooner) in this House.
– Surely this matter should have been placed on the highest possible level. .Surely it was a subject, for the Prime Minister to handle, because if there is one question in Australia that is more important than any other it ;s that of housing. It was stated by the Minister for External Affairs that the Government has many problems. This House does not require to be reminded by the Minister for External Affairs that many problems remain unsolved at the present time. Honorable members and the people know that only too well. The subject of housing was treated quite lightly by honorable members opposite who laughed and scorned and scoffed and went into floods of rhetoric but refused to come to earth and state what the Government should do in order to solve the problem. The Minister used all kinds of quotations and phrases but did not deal with the problem of providing additional housing. Nor would one expect him to deal with that problem because, as he stated, he is quite satisfied that the Government is supplying the needs of the people. If the Minister and other members of the Government believe that, they are the only people in Australia who do believe it. I know from my experience on a housing committee that people who applied for houses in 1947 are still in search of homes. Their needs have not been satisfied yet. I know of a woman with three children who lives in the country in a tin shack of two rooms with a bark roof. It has no sanitation and its lighting is of the most primitive kind. There is no road to the home and that woman recently lost a child of eight months because of the scandalous conditions under which she is forced to live. She is but one of thousands of similarly placed people who are suffering while members of the Government scorn and scoff and express themselves as completely satisfied with this scandalous state of affairs. These conditions should have aroused the conscience of the Government, but Ministers remain unmoved. The Government is anxious that the House should move on to deal with the next business which concerns a treaty with Japan.
If one worthwhile contribution was made to this debate from the Government side of the House it was made by the honorable member for Bennelong (Mr. Cramer), who suggested that the Australian and State Governments might come together for the purpose of ascertaining what could be done to increase housing construction. I disagree with the honorable member’s contention that the houses should be made available by evicting people from existing premises. That i& not the solution to the problem. But the problem could be solved if all the parties concerned were prepared to join together in order to attack it. The restrictive credit policy of the Government has halted home building more than any other circumstance. That fact was amply illustrated during the debate on the censure motion yesterday. Because of the directive that was sent by the Commonwealth
Bank to the trading banks money is not now available in the volume in which it was available previously. New building societies have been denied the right to register and existing societies have not been able to find the wherewithal to continue to build homes. The most important people in our country are the family people - the home-owners - and the Opposition desires to have in Australia a self-reliant race of people who shall be home-owners with families so that this country will be secure in the years to come. But the country will not be secure while the Government continues with its present policy and disregards the necessity for the provision of homes.
If the Government wants to implement a programme of food production it must ensure that homes are built in country districts. Working people will not go to country districts unless there are homes there for them. But it is not the policy of the Government to provide those homes. By using duress and throwing people out of work in the metropolitan areas, the Government is endeavouring to force people to go to country districts to live under primitive conditions. That is not the policy of the Opposition. We believe that the implementation of a realistic home building programme, aided by local governing bodies, is long overdue. From time to time local government associations and local councils have made it clear to the Government that they are prepared to co-operate in this respect but on every occasion they have met with a rebuff. I appeal to the Government to reverse its attitude. I appeal to it to become realistic and show some spirit of humanity in relation to this matter and try to overcome the difficulties involved. I have lived with people who have suffered from the lack of housing. Representations are constantly being made to me by people who are in urgent need of accommodation. These people have had to live in tents and shacks and I have known of large families which have had to live in twobedroom houses. Surely, if the Government has a conscience, it will rise in response to this challenge and do something about it.
The honorable member for Bowman (Mr. McColm) spoke about the cost of bousing. Building costs have continued to rise and it is only those unfortunate people who have been obliged to attempt to build homes who have fully realized how dear houses are. In dealing with this question the honorable member for Bowman confused the cost of purchasing existing houses, the price of which may have been reduced in some suburbs due to the credit restriction policy of the Government, with the cost of building a house. That confuses the issue. With the exception of the honorable member for Bennelong (Mr. Cramer), no honorable member on the Government side has made a real effort to deal properly with this matter. There has been an attitude of complacency, self-satisfaction and disregard of those who need homes. The Government has not realized the seriousness of this social cancer from which the country is suffering.
– Order ! The honorable member’s time has expired.
– The honorable member for Melbourne (Mr. Calwell) in his kindly and exuberant fashion put forward a case in support of this motion which he apparently hoped would convince the country. However, I feel that he is far too intelligent to really believe that his case could possibly convince honorable members of this House, particularly in view of the facts that emerged during the course of the recent budget debate and the more recent debate on the censure motion of the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt). This motion refers to the failure of the Australian Government to deal with the adequacy of housing. The honorable member for Melbourne said that we have failed to take adequate steps. Just what does “adequate” mean? It is well to remember that the first GovernorGeneral of Australia lived in a wattle and daub hut for about two years. For a great part of our history that was about the standard of housing of the most important people of the country. Some of our greatest early Australian families lived all their lives in houses made of slabs and furnished with bark roofs. Those houses had not one of the conveniences that we like to assume should be found in our present-day normal civilized dwellings. If the honorable member for Melbourne wants to convince the House that we need more adequate housing, let him properly define what he means by “ adequate “. Adequate housing is bound up with the wealth of the country, the capacity of the people to produce and our own capacity to organize that production. If there is any failure in this country to-day it arises not from any action of this Government but, first, from the dislocation caused by the last war ; secondly, from the aftermath of the war period; and, thirdly, from a failure on the part of the community itself to realize that nothing can be taken out of the total wealth of the community unless it is put in first.
The honorable member for Melbourne is barking up the wrong tree. The lack of adequate housing is caused by factors over which no government has had control, but over which this community will have control if it will take the matter into its own hands. Nevertheless, I should be completely misleading this House, and the country, if I attempted to obscure the fact that this Government has a magnificent record of two years’ service to this country in the matter of housing. I shall not traverse the facts that have been stated in this debate by various members of the Government but I shall say that in the present financial year the total expenditure of the Commonwealth on housing will be in the vicinity of £60,000,000. Twenty-five million pounds will be spent on war service homes, £9,500,000 will be spent on Commonwealth homes for staff, and £25,000,000 will be advanced to States. Last year the advances to States totalled £21,600,000. Apart from that, a subsidy of £2,600,000 was paid on 8,600 prefabricated homes which was an average subsidy of £300 a house. Commonwealth Bank loans for housing totalled £4,800,000 and loans from co-operative organizations, £8,300,000. The honorable member for Macquarie (Mr. Luchetti) drew a harrowing picture of people who lived under adverse circumstances. Of course there are people living under adverse circumstances, but who is responsible for that? I suggest that the honorable member should analyse the housing statistics of the various State governments, and also the policies of those governments. If he would do so he would find that in Victoria 50 per cent, of that State’s building programme was carried out beyond the metropolitan area of Melbourne. What is the record in the unfortunate State at present governed by the McGirr Government?
Debate, interrupted under Standing Order 92.
Bill presented by Mr. Menzies, and read a first time.
-It is necessary that all four bills shall pass through the requisite stages separately.
– The Opposition desires that the four bills shall go through all stages, in accordance with the Standing Orders, as though they were separate bills.
– I entirely agree that that should be the procedure. It is what I had in mind. I do not desire to limit the opportunity of discussing these bills. I wish to avoid a good deal of repetition in the second-reading speeches.
– The bills will be treated according to that procedure, but the second-reading speeches on the bill now before the House may be sufficiently comprehensive to cover all four measures.
– by leave - I move -
That the bill be now read a second time. This motion, for the purposes of debate, will cover the bill actually before the House and also the three cognate measures to which reference has already been made. I shall address myself principally to the report that was made by the independent committee that was appointed to consider and report on the matters involved, hut I shall also reply to one or two criticisms that have emerged from various quarters on the report and on the decision of the Government to adopt the report. I propose to do this as briefly as I can, very largely because, although great publicity has been given to certain figures in the report, very little attention has been paid to the reasoning of the committee or to the very interesting material provided by the committee in explanation of the nature and significance of its report. I can remember a number of occasions when there have been increases in parliamentary allowances as, indeed, there had to be, since the Parliament is now 50 years old ; but I am bound to say that I cannot remember an occasion on which any such increases have commanded much support in certain quarters. On every one of those former occasions. I can remember that it has been said repeatedly that there was something rather odd about members of Parliament determining their own emoluments. It is quite true that the Constitution places on the Parliament the responsibility for dealing with parliamentary and ministerial allowances, but it has been said, in the past, that members of Parliament were the judges in their own pause. On this occasion the Government did what had not been done on any former occasion. It set up a committee of experienced men, from a variety of occupations, to consider and report upon the matter. The chairman of the committee was Mr. Justice H. S. Nicholas, a former judge in equity in New South Wales. The other members were Mr. H. F. Richardson, a very prominent businessman, and Mr. H. W. Buckley, a very well-known chartered accountant. They were given terms of reference which set out that they were to inquire into and report upon the salaries and allowances payable to the Ministers of State of the Commonwealth in pursuance of the Ministers of State Act 1935-1951 and the allowances payable to members of the Parliament under the Parliamentary Allowances Act 1920-1947. They were directed that if it be reported that it was necessary or desirable to alter such salaries and allowances or any of them, they were to recommend the nature and extent of the alterations that should be made and further, that they were to inquire into and report upon any other matters arising out of or affecting the premises which may come to their notice in the course of their inquiry and which they considered should be reported upon.
As a result of these terms of reference, the committee set about its duties. The members of the committee did not rush through their work. As honorable members know, they interviewed very many members of the Parliament of all parties. The committee had put before it by those members details of their personal position and details of the kind of expenditure that was involved in performing their parliamentary work. The committee also had the advantage of hearing the views of a number of critics as well as of receiving collated comparative information to show what happens in other parliaments in other parts of the world. Having made these investigations, the members of the committee brought down their report. It is a great misfortune that everybody in Australia cannot read that report. It would do very much to correct a series of utter misapprehensions which exist about the functions and obligations of the people who sit in this place. Having collected all this material, the committee analysed what was involved in the work of a member of Parliament and of Ministers of the Crown. I do not propose to weary the House by reiterating this information., but I hope that many people will find it, possible to read this document which for the first time in the history of this country, I believe, has sought to clarify what has been quite constantly, in my experience, a subject of misrepresentation.
In its report the committee addressed itself to one problem to which I wish to pay some attention and about which there has been more misrepresentation in the last few days than on most subjects that I can recall. I refer to what it costs a member of the Parliament to be a member of it. I refer, in other words, to the items of expenditure that a member of Parliament must meet before he ever earns what might be described as a personal income. On this point the’ committee stated -
It will be seen that we recommend that a member be allowed a sum additional to the Parliamentary Allowance which is to be tax free and not subject to any deduction and which will supersede the amount previously deducted for expenses. We found that in a number of instances, the amount available to a member or senator after taking account of the expenses necessarily or actually incurred in the performance of his duties was less than half his nominal salary and in some instances was loss than the basic wage. This conclusion was reached after a line had been drawn between those expenses attributable to a household or business and those attributable exclusively to the duties of a member of Parliament.
Those are extraordinarily weighty words. They are not the words of some person speaking lightly. They are the words of a committee which had before it, from a large number of members, details of their experience on that side since their entry into the Parliament. I must say that it seems to be a most remarkable feat of reasoning to say that because- one deducts from the nominal salary of a member of the Parliament the amount of money which never comes to him at all but reaches him and is laid put in necessary expenses, one is giving him a tax-free allowance in relation to that deduction.
– So you are.
– No doubt honorable members will hear the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) later, but I venture to say that all other honorable members will agree that to call that sum of money a privilege when it is merely a reimbursement of what honorable members must spend, is the most utter nonsense and is entirely unjust to honorable members and to their standing in the public eye. For years and years, as honorable members know, they have been in receipt of a salary of £1,500 a year and have claimed from the Commissioner of Taxation such allowances or deductions of their expenses as they feel that they can support. The best proof that those deductions must be very substantial is to be found in the paragraph I have just read, which indicates that in very many cases the amount to be deducted was at least half of the total nominal salary. In order to meet the position the committee has made certain recommendations. It has said, in effect, “ Very well, we will increase the salaries of members of the Parliament to £1,750, because we believe that, having regard to the changed value of money, to increasing costs and to other relevant circumstances, £1,750 is the taxable income that ought to be paid to members of Parliament for the performance of their parliamentary duties. However, as we know that a person cannot get. into the Parliament, or stay there if he is in it, without incurring a whole series of obligations to spend money, we recommend that an allowance be made in addition to salary “. All honorable members are familiar with the kind of expenses that are necessarily incurred. In the case of large rural electorates vast areas have to be covered by parliamentary candidates, and in industrial constituencies members of the Parliament are confronted with almost irresistible demands. The committee made an honest estimate of those various demands, having regard to the size and character of electorates, and it has recommended that in future there shall be no deductions for political expenses out of salaries, but that political expenses shall be provided for by the payment of what is described as a tax-free allowance. I should prefer to call it a non-taxable reimbursement of expenses.
– An unfortunate phrase was used to describe the allowance.
– Yes, a very unfortunate phrase was used, and it has been seized upon and twisted by the critics of the scheme, who claim that it is proposed to pay members of the Parliament a taxfree allowance. They have stated that members will receive this amount of money to spend, and will not be required to pay tax on it, whereas the truth is that the money will be paid to members, not to spend on themselves, but to recoup them for expenses which they have- incurred in their parliamentary duties. It seems to be splitting straws to say that while it is unexceptionable for a member of the Parliament to enjoy a deduction of £400, and therefore to have that amount excluded from his taxable income, it is wrong to divide his emoluments into two sections, first a salary which he receives as a personal allowance; and, secondly, an amount of £400 which he receives to meet expenses.
The committee stated in its report that it had compared the position of members of the Parliament in Australia with that of members of the Parliaments of other English-speaking countries, such as the United Kingdom, Canada, South Africa, New Zealand and the United States of. America. In all of those countries, members receive, as is set out in a table in the report, a tax-free allowance for expenses. Therefore, it is not true to say that the recommendation of the committee will, if accepted, introduce a novel principle into taxation. The truth is that our Parliament happens to be practically the last English-speaking Parliament to accept the principle that it is proper to distinguish between what is a real allowance to the member of Parliament, and what is designed to recoup him for expenses which he is bound to incur in any case, not in his personal, but in his political capacity. The remarkable thing is that, although the committee has recommended that certain privileges regarding travel for members and their families be withdrawn, and that their stamp allowance be reduced, all the attention has been concentrated on this socalled tax-free allowance. One newspaper even published a series of tables to show how much money an ordinary taxpayer would have to earn before he was in so fortunate a position as a member of this Parliament. I like that kind of comment! I venture to say that there is no managing director of any company in Australia who, when he incurs expenses pertinent to his job, such as taking business associates to lunch or dinner, would treat as part of his taxable income the money he receives in reimbursement of those expenses.
– But he must satisfy the Commissioner for Taxation.
– I am not arguing with the honorable member for East Sydney of all people in the world.
– His remark was to the point.
– If honorable members opposite object to these allowances they have a simple way of justifying their belief, but I do not think that they really do object. No conversation which I have had with them during the last twelve months has led me to believe that their present attitude is anything more than a sham.
– The Prime Minister has had no conversation with me on the subject.
– That is true; that is one charge of which I can certainly be acquitted. If in an ordinary business, in a newspaper office, or in any other undertaking, you add together the salary paid to an executive, and the expenses he is allowed at the cost of his company, and then said, “Why, £2,000 of his income is tax free; an ordinary citizen would need an income of £20,000 a year to be as well off “, every one would laugh at you, and none so heartily as those who are loudest in their criticism of ‘ the committee’s recommendation. When a man incurs expenses, and those expenses are recouped to him, the money so received is no part of his income, and no one has ever supposed that it was. It might be a fair enough argument to suggest that the committee’s estimates are wrong, and that the proposed allowances, ranging from £400 in an electorate like mine to £900 in an electorate like Darling, are therefore based on false premises, but the whole report makes it clear that the figures cannot be regarded as extravagant. As has been pointed out, there are in the Parliament several members whose unavoidable expenses amount to half their parliamentary salary, which means that they amount to at least £750. It is true some electorates are relatively easy from the member’s point of view, though in every one of them there are electorate expenses of several kinds. There are the local obligations that have to be met. The whole test is that they have to be met because the man concerned is a member of the Parliament. These are expenses which the member has to meet but which the private citizen would not have to meet. If honorable members say that these expenses are overestimated, all I can say is that I have spoken to quite a number of members in group 1 electorates - the near metropolitan electorates - and they have indicated that the allowance of £400 as a complete substitute for the deductions they might otherwise have got, is inadequate. As far as the Government is concerned, we say that this matter has been examined and reported upon and that there is no reason to believe that these figures do not represent a reasonable, fair and proper estimate of the expenses which a member has to incur for various political purposes and which therefore do not form part of his income.
– The committee had no evidence of differentiation.
– I am bound to tell the House that the committee did a great deal of investigating and went to the best sources for information about these expenses. It also had the advantage of close personal consultation with a large number of members. As honorable members well know, those members who appeared before the committee were very frank and forthright in submitting their cheque butts and lists of expenses for examination.
The next group of members in relation to whom this matter should be discussed consists of Ministers. Ministers other than the Prime Minister have received no allowance of a representational kind whatsoever. I have always felt that that was wrong. After all, if we send a person abroad as an ambassador, a minister plenipotentiary or a consul-general, we give him a salary pertinent to his office, on which he pays tax, and, in addition, a representational allowance. In every instance a calculation is made of what he will need adequately to represent Australia in the country to which he is sent. The amounts vary according to the obligations that will be encountered’ in the country concerned. Nobody has ever suggested that there was anything wrong in the granting of such representational allowances, ‘ nor has any one suggested that we should give them with one hand and take them away with the other hy taxing the whole amount paid, because if we did that we would make it impossible for any man to accept such a position except one with very great private means. We believe that all public offices should be open to the poorest man and we do not regulate these matters so that only a rich man can accept a post of that kind. I have always believed that there is a defect in the system under which Ministers, already in receipt of most inadequate salaries are paid, when travelling in certain circumstances in the execution of their duty, expenses which, as every honorable member knows fall all too far short of the cost incurred. The committee examined this matter and came to the conclusion that an allowance of £1,000 a year should be granted to Ministers for this purpose. The committee also recommended that Ministers should not in future be entitled to draw travelling expenses in respect of their residence in Canberra. Let me give an illustration of this point. There are one or two Ministers whom I can think of very quickly, the head offices of whose departments are located in Canberra. For instance, the head office of the Minister for Territories (Mr. Hasluck) is in Canberra. He has no branch office in his home town in Western Australia. He has to stay here and live in an hotel for a great part of the year. Under the old rule he would have drawn travelling expenses during the time he spent here except when the House was in session. Under the committee’s recommendation no Minister will draw travelling expenses in Canberra, either when the House is sitting or when it is in recess. As a substitute for the deprivation of such sums of money which, I should think, run from something of the order of £400 up to the order of £800, each Minister is to receive an allowance of £1,000. Does that seem to the House to be very extravagant or remarkable?
– Is it extravagant to grant a Minister an allowance of £1,000 in order that he may discharge all the responsibilities that he incurs by being in Canberra on the business of the coun try, in his department, at cabinet meetings or at conferences, plus all the additional expenses that he must incur over and above the travelling allowance of £5 5s. a day wherever he may be in Australia? Nobody can really pretend that that is an extravagant provision. When somebody says, in effect, “I do not mind Ministers having that allowance, but it should be taxed “, my rejoinder is that they will get that allowance not to put into their pockets but to enable them, to discharge their responsibilities and to recoup them for expenses which they would not have to meet if they were living at home attending to their own affairs. Let me say to honorable members, and if I can to thu people, that nobody wants a system by which it becomes a matter of exquisite profit to be in public life, but we shall do a great disservice to representative government in this great country if we adopt an attitude of contemptuous undervaluation of the servants of the people in the Parliament.
When this Commonwealth began in 1901 the Treasurer, for example, received £2,050 ; the head of the Treasury received £750; the Attorney-General likewise received £2,050 and the head of the Attorney-General’s Department received £750. There was a marked disparity between the emoluments of responsible Ministers and those of the permanent heads of their departments. That has changed steadily against Ministers and, in fact, to-day, there is only one Minister who receives more than the permanent head of his department. He is the Prime Minister, and he receives £50 more a year than the permanent head of his department. In all other instances the disparities are really quite dramatic. I shall refer to one. This is not the place to argue about financial policy and so on, but every one, whatever he may think about individual Treasurers, will agree that the Minister who controls the Treasury and undertakes the responsibilities of the Treasury has an enormously hard hurden. Yet, at present, my colleague the Treasurer is paid £2,850. That includes his salary as a member of Parliament. The head of the Treasury is paid £4,100 a year. T do not grudge the permanent heads of departments their present rates of salary.
Indeed, we, ourselves, have been quick to do justice to them in that respect, as they know; but it is rather curious that the Prime Minister of a country, who carries in his hand half the business of the country, should be paid a salary that is substantially less than the salaries that ani paid to certain members of the Public Service. The committee has set out the relevant figures, but I do not remember having seen any reference to them. But the conclusion of the committee is tha t over a long period of years the financial emoluments of Ministers have continued to fall in real terms; that the political business of Australia now has ar. immense business sweep involving tremendous responsibility, great study and responsibility for decisions which affect the whole of the economy and life of the country; and that if the small group who, after all, by the choice of the people are for the time being administering the Government, are not worth more than the paltry salaries now being paid to them, it is just too bad. The truth is that for the salaries that are now being paid to my colleagues in the Cabinet no man who was the head of any business in Australia and who amounted to anything would dream of being able to obtain a general manager. I do not believe that the people of Australia want to have cheap men doing the most important jobs that require to be done in this country.
I turn now to the position of the Prime Minister, because I have read with a good deal of astonishment in a couple of sources within the last 48 hours that if an ordinary taxpayer got what I shall get under these recommendations he would have to earn £27,000 a year. The argument was summarized in one newspaper in the headline, “ Menzies to get £27,000 a year “. One newspaper has been making a great issue of this. I invite the people who wrote that report to have a look at the figures in order to get the facts straight. There is no secret about these things now; it is all in the book of words. At present, the Prime Minister receives a salary of £3,400, which, of course, is subject to tax in the ordinary way. In addition, he receives an allowance of £1,500, which, I suppose, those gentlemen will emphasize is tax free. There is no novelty about that allowance. It was introduced in 1938 and has remained at that figure ever since. It is arrant nonsense to add a salary to this so-called tax-free allowance and then calculate how much a person would have to earn in order to obtain a net income of that amount. I do not say this in any calamity-howling way for, after all, nobody in particular asked me to become Prime Minister, and honorable members who know me will know that I never complain about these things. But the truth is that the £1,500 allowance now paid to the Prime Minister, as my own personal experience during the last few years has clearly shown, is much less than he must expend for the purposes for which the allowance is provided. In point of fact, during the last two years I, myself, who have no particular means, have been compelled to sell securities and to cash in what little capital I have, in order to prevent that fund from going completely into the red and to recoup to the country an amount which the country after all should be paying to its Prime Minister if it wants these things attended to. The committee knew that. It knew, as every sensible man in Australia who reads its report will know, that an allowance of that kind has nothing whatever to do with one’s income. It has only to do with what one has to expend in one’s office. If somebody in one fell swoop would relieve the Prime Minister of every item of expenditure that he must, as Prime Minister, incur, I should say, “Do that. Remove the allowance, and I shall be much better off”. The critics have worked out some sums. By lumping salary with expenses calculated to be recouped, they have that Ministers will receive some fantastic sum as a net income for their own personal purposes. Having read such nonsense, I asked an .eminent authority on these matters to work out the figures for me. He did, and he pointed out that if the whole of the recommendations of the Nicholas Committee are adopted in this House the net income of the Prime Minister will be not £6,408, as one newspaper claimed, but £2,904. I shall not argue about that, because there is nobody in Australia so hopelessly unaware of the importance of the Parliament and of the Government that he would suggest that that is -an extravagant provision or that it will .tempt the avarice or cupidity of people in the future.
Another recommendation in the committee’s report concerns offices held by members of the House which have, as I have always believed, been inadequately recognized. In particular, I refer to the office of the Leader of the Opposition. I told the committee - I spoke with some expert knowledge of the matter, having been Leader of the Opposition for six years - that in my opinion the allowance paid to the Leader of the Opposition was perfectly hopeless. During the first four years that I was Leader of the Opposition, I think that the additional allowance was £400. It was later increased to £600. An Opposition leader receives no travelling expenses, yet if he is attending to his job conscientiously, as Opposition leaders do, he will do as much work and carry as much responsibility in the course of a year as the average Minister. The committee examined that aspect, and said, “ We agree with you “. I have the most vivid recollection, and so have other honorable members, of the extent of the travelling that I did in Australia when I was Leader of the Opposition. The committee said, in effect, “ It is foolish to regard this as a mere party exercise. It is true that it is a party exercise, and arises out of the clash of parties, but the Leader of the Opposition is at all stages in the Parliament the leader of the alternative government, and, therefore, he has great responsibility. It is his duty to go round the country and be with people “. In the past, no provision has been made for that travelling. I am bound to say that I think it is a very satisfactory feature of this report that, at long last, the office of Leader of the Opposition should be recognized effectively, and also that there should be recognition of the post of Deputy Leader of the Opposition, whose Opposition responsibilities are only less than those of his leader.
I am not endeavouring for one moment, as honorable members will see, to cover all the details of this report or of the bills which relate thereto. I have concentrated my mind on what I regard as the most fantastic criticisms that have been made of the recommendations of the committee. The only other matter that I want to mention is that the committee has recommended that anybody who has held the office of Prime Minister for two years consecutively, or for broken periods totalling three years, should be put in receipt of a pension.
– Did the right honorable gentleman recommend that provision?
– .Oddly enough, I did not discuss it.
Mr. Rosevear interjecting,
– I was not the only person who gave evidence before the committee. If the honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Rosevear) did not do so, that is his responsibility ; but I assure him that a great number of his colleagues gave evidence, and greatly assisted the committee by doing so. I am bound to say, excluding my own interest in the matter for the moment, that I consider that a provision of that kind for ex-Prime Ministers is overdue.
– Is the provision retrospective ?
– The whole point is that we all have seen certain things happen. I have seen . in my own time in politics men who have been Prime Ministers of this country during periods of tremendous anxiety and who have been broken in health on their retirement. One or two of them have died in office. Some former Prime Ministers have been poor, and have not been men who could go out into the turmoil of the world again. All sorts of things have had to be done by governments and parliaments on a special basis for them.
We have said, in effect, “ Let us make a special provision and pass a special bill to deal with a specific case “. Perhaps we have had an uproar about a special bill, so that what ought to be justice given to those men has become a sort of charity given to them. It is undesirable that men of such status in the community should feel themselves in such a position, and obviously the committee thought so, too, because it made some moving references to the matter. Therefore, provision is made in the report for the payment of a pension, which, in the circumstances, I do not think anybody will regard as an extravagant pension, to retired Prime Ministers.
– Is that provision retrospective?
– I am happy to say that it applies to those who have qualified already. It gives me great satisfaction to think that it will apply to Mr. Scullin, who is a conspicuous example.
– And to Lord Bruce?
– Because the honorable member for East Sydney likes one man and dislikes the other, he should not think that he is performing an act of justice. Does he wish to impose a means test in this matter? I hope that we shall not humiliate people of the kind to whom I have referred by saying to them, “ Before you get this pension, you must prove your poverty “. It would be a poor attitude if the nation were to grudge that kind of provision. I think that particularly one or two persons whom we all have in mind felt constantly humiliated because we had to do what we could in all sorts of ways to save them from disaster.
I have outlined the principles of this report, and they have been embodied in four bills. I do not suppose for one moment that every honorable member agrees with every recommendation that has been made by the committee. I do not suppose that there is one of us who could not have improved the report at some point or other. But the fact is that this is the first clear, outside, impartial examination with profound study that has been made of these matters. The Government says, in effect, “ We have left this matter to the committee. We shall accept the committee’s judgment.”
Debate (on motion by Mr.Calwell) adjourned.
Bill presented by Mr. Menzies, and read a first time.
Motion (by Mr. Menzies) - by leave - proposed -
That the bill be now read a second time.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Calwell) adjourned.
Bill presented by Mr. Menzies, and read a first time.
Motion (by Mr. Menzies) - by leaveproposed -
That the bill be now read a second time.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Rosevear) adjourned.
Bill presented by Mr. Menzies, and read a first time.
Motion (by Mr. Menzies) - by leave - proposed -
That the bill be now read a second time.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Calwell) adjourned.
Bill presented by Mr. Casey, and read a first time.
– by leave - I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
The purpose of this bill is to secure the approval of the House for the Security Treaty which was signed by Australia, New Zealand and the United States at San Francisco on the 1st September of last year. The text of the treaty forms the schedule to the bill. On the 13th July of last year I tabled in this House the draft text, and no further changes were made in it before it was signed. At that time I informed the House fully of the nature and purposes of the treaty, and there is little that I need add at this stage. As I told the House, the conclusion of this treaty has been a major objective of Australian foreign policy, and the Government believes that, whilst it does not provide the complete and final answer to the maintenance of peace and security in the Pacific, it will mark a great advance in that direction. The treaty is not intended to replace or supplant the general system of world security which the United Nations was designed to establish, nor will it supersede defence arrangements made within the British Commonwealth. Indeed, it specifically recognizes that the three parties, while having special responsibilities in the Pacific area, also have wider interests extending outside that area.
The mutual obligations accepted by the three parties are, broadly, threefold. First of all the parties agree to maintain and develop their individual and collective capacity to resist armed attack. This does not impose any specific level of armaments, but is a general undertaking to maintain the strength of available defence forces. Secondly, the parties agree to consult together whenever, in the opinion of any of them, the territorial integrity, political independence or security of any of the parties is threatened in the Pacific. Thirdly, each party recognizes that “ an armed attack in the Pacific area on any of the parties would be dangerous to its own peace and safety”, and declares that it would “act to meet the common danger in accordance with its constitutional processes “. As in the case of the North Atlantic Treaty, the precise action to be taken by each party in not specified. There is no obligation on Australia to make any immediate formal declaration of war; the United States, for its part, could not constitutionally accept such a binding obligation. But the broad intention is that an attack on one shall be regarded as an attack on all. An important provision of the treaty is that which contemplates the establishment of a council composed of the three Foreign Ministers or their deputies. This will form the nucleus of such machinery as may be set up to give effect to the treaty, and its regular meetings will provide a means for the closest consultation and planning on the basis of self-help and mutual aid.
In anticipation that the treaty will shortly be ratified by all three parties, preliminary informal discussions have already taken place on the organization of the Council and the scope of its work.
While I was in the United States recently I had talks with Mr. Myron Cowen, whom many honorable members will recall as a former United States Ambassador in Canberra and who has been nominated by the United States Secretary of State to supervise arrangements for bringing not only our own treaty, but also the bilateral treaty between the United States and the Philippines, into effective operation. Within the last few weeks the United States Senate has begun committee hearings on the treaty, and it is not unlikely that the Senate will conclude its consideration of the treaty some time next month. The Australian Government would like to feel that it could proceed to ratify the treaty at about the same time, with the knowledge that it enjoyed the full support of the Australian Parliament and people. I commend the bill to honorable members.
Debate (on motion by Dr. Evatt) adjourned.
Debate resumed from the 18th October. 1951 (videpage 873, Vol. 209), on motion by Mr. Hasluck -
That the following papers be printed: -
.- The statement by the Minister for Territories (Mr. Hasluck) on native welfare arose out of a conference held in 1951, the report of which includes some recommendations which may be lost sight of in the battles on the political front, but which do have real significance in humanizing at long last Australia’s attitude towards its aborigines. The Minister, to be too fullsome about whom might embarrass me a little, has certainly done a remarkably good job, based not so much on his political experience as upon his human feelings towards the aborigines. It is a sad commentary on the things that have happened in Australia in the past that two pages of his report to a conference of experts on aboriginal affairs should have been devoted to our rather turbulent history. Although we have a comparatively small and by no means unmanageable native population our record is probably one of the worst in the world. It is not a record of slaughter and bloodshed, because there were relatively few aborigines to be “ done in “, but it is a record which snows a lack of any sense of decency or appreciation of what really happened in the rough course of settlement and civilization. As the result the aboriginal became the object of comic relief in Australian plays or a ludicrous figure in the “ funnies “ in our newspapers. As the Minister has said, it has been a problem during the last 50 years to place in their proper perspective before the Australian people considerations of ordinary basic decency that have required legislative enactment. Although during the war the Labour Government had certain definite views on native welfare, the pressure of war on the nation meant that the more gentle arts of civilization had to be temporarily laid aside, and it has fallen on a new Minister of a new Government to introduce measures providing for some standard treatment for the aborigines.
During my visits overseas, particularly to the International Labour Organization conference, at which the welfare of native peoples in dependent territories was discussed, I found that Australia was not regarded as a shining example of a nation that is vitally concerned, either by force of public opinion as in Europe, or as the result of the conventions of the International Labour Organization, about the interests and protection of its aborigines. Curiously, enough, the Australian aboriginal is not despised so much as forgotten. People in our metropolitan centres have no real understanding of the problems that exist where aboriginal settlements have been established, or of the tragedies that have befallen the aborigines through their contact with civilization. In every conflict with civilization the aboriginal has lost the battle and there is a responsibility now upon the human elements in the community which, I may say, appear to be well represented by the Minister, to ensure that tardy justice shall be done to those people.
As a result of the Canberra conference on aboriginal welfare, I understand that certain definite proposals are to be given effect. I strongly commend the proposal to set up a native welfare council on which the Commonwealth will exercise over-riding authority in respect of certain matters, whereas the States will have almost complete jurisdiction on others. The establishment of such a council will be the commencement of planning from the right end. The proposal, I am sure, is backed by much common sense. This is the first, sensible and serious-minded endeavour that has been made to bring something more than sentimentality to bear in our approach to the problems of the aborigines. It is an attempt to get down to a sound basis of organization in the hope of restoring to surviving members of the race that originally inhabited this country something like the status that they would have enjoyed had their land never been invaded and conquered.
The House has had little opportunity to study aboriginal welfare, and it is well to point out, as the Minister has done, that the aborigines present three distinct problems. First, we have the detribalized native who, through contact with the whites, has himself become half white. He lives, if not with the whites, at least on the fringe of white civilization. Then there is the native who is in process of detribalization, and finally there is the tribal native in his primitive grandeur, who has not yet come in contact with the temptations of civilization. The Minister for Territories, with his colleagues, Mr. Olive Evatt of New South “Wales and the other State Ministers, who are responsible for the welfare of native peoples, have evolved a plan which appears to he reasonable and sensible. This is the first real acknowledgement of our duty to the aborigine?. As I have said, an approach is being made not merely on a sentimental basis but also on a practical basis. “We bow our heads and acknowledge the evil that has been done. The pioneer does not appear so colourfully in the light of historical fact as he does in the novels that we have read and, perhaps, written. Put we can make amends for the mistakes of the past. It is of no use to judge events in the 20th century by the misdeeds of the 19th century. To bother about comparisons and recriminations of that kind would be futile. We must get to work and mend the fences, if we can do so.
The first aim of the conference was to provide for the protection of our aborigines. Propaganda, not flamboyant but quietly efficient, should be used to bring the conditions of our native people before the attention of our white population which, in the main, lives in the cities. We must strive to awaken some spark of public conscience so that .the fair-minded people of Australia, who are in the majority, will realize that we can atone for the mistakes of the past and right the wrongs of the aborigines. Our neglect is largely due to lack of information rather than to heartlessness, and if we arouse the interest of the people we should be able to achieve results of which we may be proud. Our native problems are infinitesimal compared with those of other countries. We boast arrogantly of our White Australia policy, which presupposes the superiority of the white races, but within our shores we have examples of neglect of our natives which, under the harshest investigation, would draw upon us the criticism of the United Nations. Therefore, I am pleased that the desire to protect the aborigines appears to have been uppermost in the minds of those who attended the conference.
The policy of the United Nations and also of the International Labour Organization is that dependent peoples shall be protected during the period of their tutelage until they emerge strong in character, physically robust, and fitted to battle with the greatest enemy that confronts primitive races - civilization. New Guinea offers a fair field for this work. There has been less careless infiltration there than there has been amongst the aborigines of Australia, apart from the exploitation of the natives by the indentured labour system. With over 1,000,000 natives, varying from the stone age aboriginal to the man of good average intelligence, the Minister has a glorious opportunity to do a magnificent job in New Guinea. He has shown his eagerness to do that job, -as indeed did the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) when he was Minister for External Territories. Only last night many honorable members saw a News and
Information Bureau film dealing with the education of New Guinea natives who will return to their tribes to impart to their fellows the knowledge that they have acquired. That film was a splendid piece of propaganda. It was restrained and cleverly photographed, and all the implications of the work that is being done were made clear to the intelligent observer. According to the statement that we are considering, the Minister is prepared to launch similar educational activities amongst Australian aborigines.
Direct personal contact is the most effective means of developing and educating primitive and dependent peoples. One well trained native medical orderly or student teacher is worth ten of the white students, missionaries and other well-intentioned white men who try to understand and help the aborigines. The reason is obvious. One of the. strong features of the campaign that the Minister has outlined is that both white and coloured men will work together in amity. Our efforts to develop the natives of New Guinea above the level of serfdom will surely win the applause of the United Nations when the next report from our territories is submitted to that organization. The Minister proposes now to use the same system, subject to certain modifications, for the physical and spiritual uplift of Australian aborigines. The task may be made more difficult by their nomadic character, but we must contend with such difficulties and overcome them.
The protective attitude is of paramount importance in my opinion. The next important feature in the programme is the plan to provide equality of opportunity to our aborigines. It is of no use to give mere lip service to the theory of equality. We must jettison preconceived notions, most of which are based on false snobbery and unfounded assumptions of racial superiority. Full equality of opportunity involves equality of citizenship. The black man in our midst should be able to walk on the same terms as does his white brother. As the Minister has said, he must be integrated into the general community so that he may feel always that he has a brother at his side to take his arm. If we can eliminate his’ sense of inferiority we shall redeem the past.
Our aborigines have revealed amazing talents and great versatility, and there is no reason why they should not be able to mix freely with the rest of the community. They have many pleasing qualities, and our duty is to bring out the best in them. I congratulate the Minister upon the noble and humanitarian outlook that he has revealed. I believe that it will have widespread repercussions when it becomes known to the rest of the world.
The problems that arise from the process of detribalization are of great importance. I shall not weary the House with a dissertation upon the subject because all honorable members know what happens when an aboriginal leaves his tribe. These problems have many facets, mid I am glad that plans are being made to deal with them. The special schools of thought that will be represented on the proposed welfare council will all have their effects. Special instructors will work in individual ways in order to overcome the difficulties that arise from the abasement of aborigines by civilization. The programme of the conference was most comprehensive. I support all that was said by the delegates about citizenship status. It will not be easy to elevate the aborigine to full stature as a citizen of Australia because there are conflicting opinions on this subject. Many old settlers still regard aborigines merely as black men who are useful only for herding cattle. But there are others who have a warm human regard for the aborigines. We must evolve a scientific plan that will effect a compromise between those two somewhat hazy attitudes of mind. The aborigines must have certain indestructible rights. I am sorry that discussions on the subject of citizenship status were not carried further at the conference.
Another problem in relation to the emancipation of our underprivileged native people is involved in the provision of social services benefits. The conclusions of the conference on this problem seemed to be vague, but perhaps that was unavoidable. 30 definite statement has been made on this subject. Are the aborigines to be granted social services according to some special system? Is the soup and blanket method to be continued, or are they to be treated as ordinary members of the community? I ask the Minister to dilate on this subject when he closes the debate. The subject of aboriginal health is very important. The provision of health services will be a slow task, but we can safely leave that work in the competent hands of our health authorities. The persuasive force of the Minister will ensure that his ideas on health, especially in relation to ^preventive medicine, will be carried into effect.
The problem of education is very difficult indeed. What are we to say when we read in the Sydney newspapers that parents have decided not to send their youngsters to a school because three or four aborigine children from an adjacent compound are attending it? What are we to say when, following the final examinations, an aboriginal child is dux of the school and has obtained 6A’s in the Leaving Certificate examination ? And, finally, what are we to say when, despite all the obscene and horrible barriers of class distinction that are thrown in his way, an aboriginal emerges as a magnificent tenor and distinguishes himself not only in this country hut also overseas? But beyond that, in the problem of the everyday aborigine, we get the lowest common multiple of public opinion with which the Minister, in association with the Ministers in the States, will have to deal. That is, to break down the prejudice, the feeling of superiority in so many people, about their children sharing educational facilities with aborigines. Although we are more democratic than the people of the South American States in such matters, this apparently insignificant factor becomes important in the broad plan of education. We should ensure that we shall give to the aborigines no cause to feel that they are only with us, but not of us. That is the basic spiritual value of education, and is the most important thing of all. The Minister is well aware of what we have to do. He knows that it is necessary to do more than merely go through the mechanical processes of teaching them to do things. We must bring to them the rich spiritual forces of education and living.
The employment of aborigines is another vast problem. The control of conditions of employment, the licensing of employers, remuneration, and native employment certificates are all very handily provided under this heading. If these matters were efficiently administered many causes of disaffection would be removed.
I come now to the matter of missionaries. A close survey of the activities of these people is all to the good. It has become a habit, to which I do not subscribe, that the scientific approach to the aborigine problem, the problem of the dependent persons, has to be done exterior to the missionaries. The anthropologist is supposed to have the “ know how “, the missionary just goes along. There has been a lot of loose talk and loose writing about the defects that missionaries establish in the uplift of natives. Let it be said that without a Christian approach to this problem there would have been no India still in the Empire. Native leaders up to and including Pandit Nehru have realized the truth of this assertion. [Extension of time granted.] Missionaries have done yeoman service and are still doing it. The Minister knows of the assistance that the missionaries gave to the New Guinea natives at the time of the Japanese invasion, when they displayed such inspiring faith. In Darwin, they acted as big brothers to the little black men. Any policy which attempts to lift the standards of the natives is most worthy. We must remember the great work that has been done by the missionaries. Turning to the plan, I point out that it, too. will require money. During the war years I was in Darwin, which had been completely socialized by the Army. A great deal of money was expended to rid the area of dengue fever. An enormous quantity of bottles was disposed of, in order to rid Darwin and the surrounding country of mosquitoes, and the swamps were cleaned up for the same reason. It was realized early in the Darwin campaign that if natives were to come to the mainland from Melville Island they would be a danger to the troops in Darwin because of hookworm. The work done by the medical services of the Army with signal suc cess, was an inspiration. The first essential was plenty of money, which was readily available, and the second, enthusiastic co-operation, which was forthcoming from the people of Darwin. Upon that basis was founded the war plan which did so much to help Darwin. I know that the Minister’s plan has resulted from a broad and orderly survey of the problem, and that it is the realization of one of his dreams. I think that he is well on the way to doing the job properly, and I hope that support will come to him from all sections of the community. I hope, also, that he will be able to arouse the public, which seems to be fast asleep like the seven sleepers.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Hughes) adjourned.
Debate resumed from the 21st November, 1951 (vide page 2393, Vol. 210), on motion by Mr. Holt -
That the following paperbe printed: -
Coal-mining Industry - Industrial Machinery - Ministerial Statement.
.- The Minister for Labour and National Service and Minister for Immigration (Mr. Holt) made the following announcement in the statement that he made to the House on the 21st November last -
The Government has sent, for the concurrence of the New South Wales Government, a bill, the broad purpose of which is to extend the jurisdiction of the Cool Industry Tribunal so as to cover all disputes in the industry, whether they be interstate in character or affect New South Wales only.
Referring to the National Security (Coal Mining Industry Employment) Regulations, the Minister continued -
The validity of the regulations has now been challenged in the High Court, and a decision . .has become a matter of pressing urgency.
I have conferred with members of the executive of the miners’ federation, who have taken violent exception to the following statement: -
A draft bill has been prepared after discussions with all concerned in the industry. This bill has been submitted to the New South Wales Government for its approval under the inter-igovernmental agreement to which I have referred. Representatives of the owners and the unions were informed what would be done. This draft bill is, substantially, in similar terms to one to which Mr. McGirr’s Government agreed in 1949 at the request of the Chifley Government.
I think that I can safely say, as a result of knowledge that I gained during recent discussions with the leaders of the mining industry trade unions, that those trade unions would be willing to accept the bill with the exception of the proposal that the .provisions of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act shall extend to the enforcement of the awards and orders of the Coal Industry Tribunal. The leaders of the miners federation have told me that they do not want the mining industry to come under the provisions of that act. In the past the industry has always been treated on a separate basis, with its own tribunal. That was the case even under the Industrial Peace Act that was passed in 1920 during the regime of a government of which the present right honorable member for Bradfield (Mr. Hughes) was Prime Minister. That act operated very well indeed, and as a result of its provisions many industrial disputes in the mining industry were settled satisfactorily, right up to the time at which the coal owners challenged the validity of the act. The Government proposes to make provision against the possibility of such challenges in the future, and is attempting to avoid appeals to higher tribunals against its industrial legislation. The miners do not take exception to that part of the proposal, but, as I have said, object only to the proposed application of the provisions of the conciliation and arbitration legislation to cases of disobedience of an order or award of the Coal Industry Tribunal or of any other tribunal that may be established to deal with coal-mining disputes.
I am sure that the coal-miners would accept the principle of mechanical extraction of pillar coal if adequate guarantees of safety precautions were provided. The kind of safety precautions which should be taken are dealt with in a report that I submitted to the Chifley Government after I had visited, as leader of a parliamentary delegation to the International Labour Organization conference, all the coal-mining areas of Britain and practically all the coalmining areas of France, as well as coal-fields in Germany and Holland. The system of stowage that I saw in use in those countries impressed me greatly. As I have often told the House, coal-mining was my only occupation prior to my becoming a member of this Parliament, and it will he conceded that I understand the industry. I know what dangers Australian coal-miners face at their work, particularly in connexion with the extraction of pillars when adequate precautions by means of stowage have not been taken to avoid roof collapses. Pillars in coal mines are areas of coal left uncut so as to serve as supports for the roof of the mine. Stowage is the system of packing with waste material the empty spaces from which coal has been cut so as to support the roof when the pillars have been removed.
Our coal-mining methods in this country make up a story of the ruination of a national asset. The very rich seam of coal which is known as the “ Greta series “ is not being fully exploited. The report of a commission of inquiry showed that only from 30 to 35 per cent, of that rich coal is being recovered for use ,by the nation. Yet it is the best gas coal in the world, and has the greatest oil content of any coal in the world. It was tested at Greenwich in England along with coal from all other parts of the world, and I was proud to discover that the tests showed that it had the highest oil content. That pride was only natural, especially as I represent in this House the area in which that seam of coal is situated. But sad indeed was I to realize that at the most only 35 per cent, of that coal was being extracted for use. The rest may he lost for all time. I hope that some method may be evolved by which it can he recovered. Parts of the Greta seam, right from Maitland to Millfield, have been on fire for years. An attempt was made, to open up a mine that exploded there in 1910, but without success. I have often spoken here of spontaneous combustion, which is produced by dampness and heat and causes explosions and fires, and I asked the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) to make inquiries about a system for obviating it that is in use by an American firm. The right honorable gentleman said last year that he would make the necessary inquiries, hut he has not yet informed me whether they have been completed. If that American company has a system to obviate spontaneous combustion we should welcome its operation here in order to preserve a national asset.
Our seams of coal have been wrongly developed because no provision was made for the protection of the new surfaces coming into production. At Maitland and East Greta, in an area now represented by the honorable member for Paterson (Mr. Fairhall), floodings continually occur and much of the coal seam is ruined. Perhaps the authorities will be able to do something about recovering the flooded portions by use of a coffer dam such as was used in connexion with the construction of the Captain Cook graving dock in Sydney, by means of which the water could be pumped out.
I was impressed by the care, that has been taken in the development and preservation of coal mines overseas. The result of that care over the years has been that the mines have continued in produc tion for decades and 85 per cent, of the coal in the seams is won, as against the 30 per cent, to 35 per cent, won in our mines. During my visit to Wales I saw a mine in which my father worked, and he left Wales in 1860. That mine is still producing coal because of the excellent precautions that were taken in the past and are still being taken in Britain, to conserve mines. The reverse is the case here. The methods that the coal proprietors of Australia use. make no provision for the preservation of the productivity of mines. They are merely putting holes in the ground without caring a “continental” about the fact that they are ruining a national asset. Their conduct will lead in time to the necessity for this country to import coal. To obviate such, a position we should take the precautions that I referred to in the report that I made to the Chifley Government.
By using the chamber itself as an illustration, I shall explain to honorable members exactly how the stowage of a mine is carried out. We shall imagine the, roof of the chamber to be the roof of a .mine, with its walls representing pillars of coal. If the pillars were removed without alternative supports having been provided the roof would collapse. The method used to provide that alternative support is known as mechanical stowage, by means of which waste material is packed right up to the roof into the empty spaces that surround the pillars. The waste material is blown in by a mechanical method and sets like cement. Props are then set on top of it and the height of the stowage is raised in a series of 9-ft. high sections right to the roof. Then it is possible to take those pillars out with safety. There is then no danger of explosion due to spontaneous combustion as the empty spaces, or “ boards “ as they are called, would be properly stowed. The method of stowage that I have’ outlined would increase the cost of coal. A committee of inquiry that was appointed by the Government of New South Wales has claimed that it would cost 4s. a ton more than the present cost of production to produce coal under this system of extraction. But even if the cost were 10s. a ton more it would be worth while because it would enable Australia to avoid having to import coal from other countries in the future. Coal is being imported at the present time and the shortage of locally produced coal is largely duc, not to strikes, but to fires in the mines. It has been suggested that the dismissal of employees from textile mills will result in a lot of ex-miners who have been working in them returning to work in mines. That will not happen. If the Government wishes men to return to the mines it must make the industry more attractive and much safer than it is at present.
I should like the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Holt), who is not present just now, to inform the House of the result of the conference that has been held with the Government of New South Wales concerning the bill that was to have been submitted to this House. I do not know whether the State Government has agreed to that bill or not. This matter was first raised in this House on the 21st September, 1951, but no further statement has yet been made concerning it. It seems to me that the Minister put forward reasonable proposals in his speech. I believe that the mining industry, being an interstate industry, should not have its conditions determined by different arbitration authorities. There should be one authority for the whole of Australia. Peace was maintained in the coal-mining industry during the two world wars because one tribunal dealt with conditions throughout Australia. As a result, uniform conditions were prescribed for all districts. “While the Chifley Government was in power the States gave their approval to the establishment of the Coal Industry Tribunal, which was given power to deal with intra-state as well as interstate disputes.
I am most anxious to bring about contentment in the coal-mining industry, because this country cannot progress without coal. The Government must endeavour to make mining a more attractive occupation than it is and must, in particular, try to make mining more safe. There is not another industry in the world in which there are so many accidents, casualties, and fatalities. I have seen several explosions which have resulted in the loss of life of all concerned. I have seen mine explosions at Mount Kembla, and Stanford Merthyr as well as at Bellbird and Dudley, where the casualties were terrific. “When that explosion took place miners were killed and there was a great deal of public sympathy. But it appears that only on such occasions do the miners receive sympathy from the public. * Extension of time granted.]* One of the greatest tragedies occurred at Bellbird, where 24 men were killed in one day. I have gone down a mine and helped to rescue my comrades after an explosion. I did that at Stanford Merthyr. There is a great deal of sympathy for the miners when they lose their lives. But there has always been criticism of miners’ strikes. Do honorable members really think that miners go on strike for the fun of striking? They only pinch their bellies when they go on strike. They have some principle to fight for. The boss may have endeavoured to deprive them of some condition. Their only remedy is to strike, and they do strike. The only strike to which governments have closed their eyes have been those that have occurred because of the neglect of safety measures.
E am proud to say that I reared a family of six children in the coal-mining industry, and I know of the struggle that takes place there. I know that some of the owners are very decent people. Some of the mine managers are humane people. Then, of course, there are cranky mine managers. They are not so numerous as was formerly the case. Trouble can always be expected as a result of the activities of managers of that type. However, I am very pleased to be able to say that there are many humane and tolerant mine managers in our mines to-day. They treat their workers with consideration and will not. allow them to work in places that may be or may become dangerous.
It can be said that 1 still have coal dust in my blood, and I must support the people to whom I belong. As a young man I had bitter experience of coalmining. My eldest brother was killed in a mine when he was aged just 23 years and 5 months. My father had his hack broken while working in a mine. I am the youngest of the twelve children whom, until his death, he tried to rear. Therefore, I speak feelingly about the mine-workers. The average coal-miner is a good living citizen. The workers of no other industry own as many homes as do the miners. Admittedly, those homes are not always built of brick, but they are their homes, with all that that term connotes, and they have worked and slaved all their lives to acquire and maintain them. I remember debates having taken place in this House about whether deceased pensioners’ property should be taken over by the Government to recoup the amount of pension paid during the pensioners’ lifetime. A system such as that was one of the greatest tragedies that ever occurred in this country, and it was devised under the so-called Premiers plan.
It has been suggested that failing agreement on this matter the Government proposes to take the industrial administration of the coal-mining industry away from the Coal Industry Tribunal and return it to our conciliation and arbitration system. If that should happen it would be most difficult to keep the peace in the industry. The Coal Industry Tribunal. Mr. Gallagher, is a very understanding man. He thoroughly understands the coal industry and his whole duty is to deal with the disputes that occur in it. There are four unions concerned in the coal-mining industry. I have advocated that there should he only one union to cater for all the workers in the industry, and I therefore admit that there are inter-union disputes among those four unions. The Coal Industry Tribunal deals very satisfactorily with all such disputes, and if the bill proposed by the Minister for Labour and National Service, Mr. Holt-
-Order ! The honorable member shall not refer to the Minister by name.
– Very well, Mr. Speaker. If there were more understanding than there is to-day between the coal-miners and the mine-owners, the country would be far better off. I suggest that the Government’s attempt to encourage the mechanical extraction of coal pillars will only cause trouble and distress in the industry. I plead with the Government not to allow the coal-owners to attempt to extract pillars mechanically, because that way lies industrial trouble. Even though I am a member of this Parliament, I would advocate that the miners stop work rather than take the risk of being killed during the mechanical extraction of pillars. At one time I held the opinion that the coal-owners did not want to use machines to extract pillars. When I was working at Abermain No. 1 colliery a machine was being operated on such work. When a fall of material occurred and the machine was buried and lost for all time, some of the bosses said, “ That is a tragedy, we have lost a machine “. I do not suppose they would have considered it a tragedy if they had lost a man, because men are much cheaper than machines. After that they took the extraction machines out of the mines altogether. I have seen mines being worked in France, Germany and England. England can teach Australia how to mine coal, and Germany is well able to teach England how to do so.
-Order ! The honorable member’s extended time has expired.
Question resolved in the negative.
Debate resumed from the 27th September, 1951 (vide page 156, Vol. 209), on motion by Mr. ‘Casey -
That the following paper be printed: -
South-East Asia and East Asia - Visit by Minister for External Affairs - Ministerial statement.
.- The paper submitted by the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Casey) after his recent visit to the South-East Asia and East Asia areas is still fresh in the minds of honorable members. During his visit abroad the Minister sought to make contact with the leaders of countries that are contiguous to our own land. I am sure that he expressed to them that we who live so close desire to be on very friendly terms with them and that we have no imperialistic ambitions about their countries. We want to live at peace with them. We have 3,000,000 square miles of territory to develop and they have a good deal of work to do to add to the comfort of their own people. They have not only to build hospitals and schools, but also to educate many of their illiterate people. The Minister did well to impress on the leaders of those countries that Australia was anxious to maintain the system of scholarships under which men and women ure brought from those countries to Australia, and might even in the future extend it. Those students enter Australian universities, public hospitals and other institutions of learning and culture, and when they have imbibed all the knowledge that can be given to them they return to their own countries and help in the work of education and social improvements among their own people. At least 1,200 students have come to Australia. I am sure that the governments of the countries that were visited by the Minister were appreciative of the work that was done by the Chifley Government and that is being maintained by this Government for the benefit of the peoples in the area which we call, rather strangely, South East Asia. and. East Asia. In doing so we use the European term. If we were accurate, we should call those areas North-West Asia and West Asia or the territories to the north-west and the north of Australia.
I am sure that the governments in those countries are striving to make the best of their new-found freedom and that they will be able to prove to the satisfaction of their peoples, who have been so recently relieved of the burden of colonialism, that many people of European origin and descent who are living in the countries that previously were their suzerain power are most anxious to see prosperity and development in the new lands. In Indonesia, although the population is very great, large areas await development. That country has its own internal problems to solve before it can make much headway towards physical development. Indonesia embraces many races, religions and languages, and the fact that we who live so close to that country are showing such a tangible interest in it will be a comfort to the governments concerned and will encourage them to go forward with whatever plans they have for self -development. The Minister went farther afield than those areas and in his discussions in Europe and the United States of America no doubt he had something to say to the statesmen there about the problems that confront them in their relationships with the nations that are close to Australia’s shores. England and America are particularly interested and the Netherlands also will be ready to cooperate with Australia in anything that can be done to increase the security of the area to which the paper was devoted.
One of the greatest contributions that Australia has made towards the well-being of the peoples of Asia, much more than money or food, is the granting of scholarships to the pupils of those nations so that they could learn with Australian students in Australian universities. I know that hundreds of students from the lands to which I have referred who are at present in Australia are appreciative of the sympathy and goodwill of the Australian people and will go back to their own countries better educated and better fitted to discharge their obligations to their fellow citizens. More than that, they will act as unofficial ambassadors for this country and will dispel many of the notions of newspaper proprietors and others who suggest from time to time that there is an antipathy between Australians and those who live in nearby countries. I am sure that the statement of the Minister deserved more publicity and notice than it received at the time of its presentation to the House and I am confident that the Parliament will have no objection to endorsing the general sentiments that are expressed in it.
.- The statement by the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Casey) on his trip to the eastern countries bears impressive unreality now in view of the fact that time marches on so quickly. The matters to which he referred were more or less a travelogue in the days only a few months past that have been dimmed by the march of events. I do not know that very much of his story has remained in my mind. My memory was most deeply impressed by his report that when he was visiting the King of Siam, he left his hat behind, and it was flown back to him in a fast aeroplane. I am sure that that was a diplomatic approach and showed a desire by the people of that country to do everything that the United Nations wants them to do. Perhaps the incident may have more significance than appears on the surface. “When the Minister was abroad, he visited Korea, Indonesia, Burma and other places and came to the same conclusions as do most other people who go on a limited tour, but whose verbal capacity is in inverse ratio to the volumne of information that they can absorb. I am not saying that in a critical sense. The Minister’s conclusion regarding Korea and the battles of Indo-China must be treated as a valid contribution to the subject of international affairs and the perplexities that are attached to the situation. If honorable members will refresh their memories by reference to the Minister’s statement they will see that the honorable gentleman hoped that the French would be able, with the aid of their marshal who is since dead, to resist the inroads that have been made from the Chinese side of their country.
I am speaking from memory hut I believe that the Minister also said that he thought the second trouble spot after Korea would possibly be in Indo-China, and directed attention to our own problems there. I agree with the honorable member for Melbourne (Mr. Calwell) that, as a survey of a trip, the paper is a contribution to the knowledge of the Parliament and to international affairs and we thank the Minister for having placed it before the House. There appears to be nothing contentious in it and the Opposition accepts it as a general expression of information from, a man fresh from the places that he has seen.
Question resolved in the affirmative. Sitting suspended from 5.55 to S p.m.
Debate resumed from the 6th February (vide page 24), on motion by Mr. Casey -
That the bill be now read a second time.
Motion (by Mr. Casey) agreed to with the concurrence of an absolute majority of the members of the House -
That so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt) from making his speech on the Treaty of Peace (Japan) Bill without limitation of time.
– > Whatever view may be taken of this bill and of the ratification of the treaty, the House is indebted to the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Casey) for his approach to the problem. As he emphasized in his second-reading speech, this is a question of tremendous importance. To sum it up, it is whether Australia should endorse and approve of Article 5 (c) of the treaty, which restores to Japan a complete and unrestricted right to re-establish its army, navy and air force, without limitation or qualification. The Minister has approached the matter frankly. He is not really satisfied with the treaty, he is quite aware of its shortcomings, and he says that probably most of the 47 other nations that have signed it are not satisfied with it. I mention incidentally that only a few of those nations took any part in the war against Japan. The reason that they were, present at the recent conference in San Francisco is that prior to the San Francisco conference of the United Nations in “1945 it was laid down that no nation which was not at war either with Germany or Japan could attend that conference. Thereupon, when the fighting was practically finished, many nations formally declared war upon Germany or Japan, or upon both. No doubt it was of value to have those nations represented at San Francisco recently, but the Pacific war was a war in which comparatively few nations were engaged. The United States of America took the lead. The British people were primarily engaged in the war against Hitler and Mussolini. Because of that fact, Australia’s effort in the war against Japan under American leadership was, I think, second only to that of the United States of America.
The Minister is quite frankly sceptical about certain aspects of this matter, and that helps discussion of the subject. He is not convinced that there are any deep roots of democracy in Japan. He is not sure that we can trust the Japanese to avoid the aggressive military and economic policies that nearly destroyed ns and many other nations in the second world war. He says, in effect, that there is some chance of Japanese development on a democratic basis. Having weighed the .pros and cons, he believes that the immediate problem for us is not security against Japan but the security of Japan in a possible war in which Russia and China would be our enemies. That was the view that was taken at San Francisco. The Minister says that, in those circumstances, the proper motto to apply is, “ Chance it “. I say that that would mean chancing the future security of this country in a very real sense.
I suggest that it is the duty of the Parliament to discuss this matter frankly as I know honorable members will discuss it from their respective viewpoints, and to do everything possible to safeguard this nation against possible aggression, not only by nations like Russia and China but also by Japan, which, in relation to Australia and the South Pacific, is not only an aggressor, but a convicted aggressor. That is plain, common sense. The popular feeling in this country is clear enough. The Australian people are strongly opposed to the proposal that Japan should be permitted to rearm. Their views are based partly upon the admittedly treacherous nature of Japan’s entry into the second world war. I think that they believe that anything that tends to restore the militarist system in Japan will be dangerous. They have regard to a matter that I do not propose to elaborate but which we cannot overlook altogether. I refer to the outrageous cruelties that were practised so systematically by this enemy. The Webb report is available to honorable members. It contains details of wholesale cruelties and barbarities, and of the system with which they were practised. Recently, Mr. Justice Owen, LieutenantGeneral Sir Stanley Savige and Dr. Fisher, members of a committee appointed to investigate claims that certain payments should be made to Australian prisoners of war, submitted a report in which the following passage appears: -
In the case of Japan, the failure of that country to abide by the elementary rules of humanity and civilized conduct which find expression in the Geneva Convention, inflicted, and designedly inflicted, hardships and privations so great, in many cases, as to be almost beyond belief … In general, prisoners in Japanese hands were treated by their captors throughout the long period of their captivity with a brutality and inhumanity incapable of imagination by a civilized people.
Those words were very carefully weighed. I submit that they fairly state what took place. The present Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies), in a speech that he delivered in this House when foreign affairs, particularly in relation to Japan, were being discussed, said -
Nobody in this generation of Australian.-‘ will ever forget the instances, all too well attested, of brave soldiers murdered after capture, of nurses tortured and destroyed, of prisoners -of war starved, enslaved, beaten, driven mad, driven into the grave.
Democratic movements have arisen in Japan from time to time. During the last 30 or 40 years there have been healthy signs of progress in some directions towards the democratic idea that people have civil rights. But, because of the enormous power of the militaristeconomic group called the Zaibatsu, which controls not only armaments but heavy industry generally in Japan, those movements, as they have arisen from time to time, have been crushed, on some occasions in a most merciless and uncivilized manner. The Japanese, in their militarist expansion throughout Asia and the Pacific, -usually conceal their objectives. The majority of experts on Japan andthe Far East have said that the restora-tion of Japanese militarist domination is in truth the real aim of many of those who are powerful in Japan to-day. The same purpose becomes fairly evident, to any one who studies Japanese newspapers. There is also evidence of a deepseated hatred of the western powers, especially of the United States of America, because of the use of the atomic bomb in Japan. There is no doubt that there is danger of a war of revenge, or of preparation for such a war, if we in our folly or over-trustfulness permit such preparations to be made.
From Australia’s point of view, the situation has not been improved by the fact that when Mr. Dulles came to Australia to talk over the terms of the treaty with the then Minister for External Affairs, Mr. Spender, not one Australian expert on far eastern affairs was brought into consultation. We have a profound interest in the peace settlement with Japan, and the matter had been worked on for years after the 1945 surrender.
Nevertheless, no one from the Department of External Affairs or from outside of it was called into consultation. I do not think that any one possessing a knowledge of far eastern affairs would have advised the acceptance of the conditions embodied in the draft treaty without insisting upon the most resolute and determined attempt to modify or alter them.
No one disputes the industry and the ability of the Japanese people. It is admitted that many of them, perhaps even a majority, wish to live peaceful lives without entering upon new adventures in military aggression. However, according to Mr. Sumner Welles, who was for so long Under-Secretary of State in the United States of America, there was never a shadow of doubt that the Japanese military camarillas would keep alive their organization, and as he said, “ plan for the eventual day of revenge Sumner Welles was convinced that we should keep before us two objectives in dealing with post-war Japan. The first was the continued disarmament of Japan, and the second was the establishment of liberal economic policies in order to afford the Japanese people an opportunity to improve their standard of living without again endangering the security of those whom they had attacked and despoiled. That was the basis upon which the surrender was negotiated, and let us see how far the Allied nations went in applying those conditions. They decided that the internal constitution of Japan must be altered, and it was altered with the consent of the Japanese Parliament. Under the constitution of Japan, the Japanese people have f ormally renounced war for ever, and also renounced “the threat or use of force as a means of settling disputes with other nations “. They have gone further, and have declared in their constitution that “ land, sea and air forces, as well as other war potential, will never be maintained “. Those undertakings were part and parcel of the surrender settlement. This renunciation of war in the most solemn and binding form was embodied in the agreement which Japan made with the allied nations, an agreement which was signed, sealed, but not delivered. The terms of the surrender of Japan were set out in the proclamation of the 26th July, 1945, and were accepted in the instrument of surrender dated the 2nd September, 1945. That instrument is binding upon all the nations that signed it. What did the terms prescribe? The three major allies, the United States of America, Great Britain and Russia, addressed them to Japan in the form of an ultimatum. That was a most important document, and it would be well if honorable members would attend to its phrasing. The allies declared that they would not deviate from the terms laid down, and would not brook delays. They declared that the Japanese should not be enslaved as a race or destroyed as a nation, and that Japan should be permitted to maintain such industries as would sustain its economy and permit the exaction of just reparations in kind, “but not those industries which would enable Japan to rearm for war “.
Those terms were agreed to, and afterwards the Australian Government believed that terms of peace should be negotiated by those nations which fought against Japan, of which Australia was one of the principals. Only after a struggle was the principle accepted that Australia, and the other nations that fought against Japan, should be represented in the forces of occupation, and subsequently the Ear Eastern Commission was set up at Washington to implement the terms of the agreement of surrender. The commission consisted of representatives of the eleven allied nations that fought against Japan, and not of all the 49 nations that went to the San Francisco Conference. The commission unanimously laid down certain provisions that were to be binding upon Japan, and I summarize them as follows : -
Those monopoly groups had controlled the industry of Japan for years. They were hand-in-glove with the militarists, and were part and parcel of the aggressive system. All who had studied the problem were agreed that the dissolution ofthose groups was a condition precedent to any settlement with Japan. They were dissolved, but to-day they are being reformed. There can be no doubt of that. What is provided in the treaty of peace almost mocks us when we contrast it with the terms of surrender.
Let us consider reparations for a moment, a subject in which the honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Haylen) is especially interested. It was originally intended that reparations were to be exacted, not only to make good actual damage, but also to ensure the destruction of Japan’s war potential in respect of industries which could contribute to rearmament. Claims for compensation in respect of sufferings, loss and injury sustained by prisoners of war lie clearly within the scope of reparations. Those are the main provisions of the Far Eastern Commission’s policy, and of the policy of the United States of America before the commission came into being, as agreed to by eleven, and later, twelve, nations. The commission issued that policy as a directive to the Supreme Commander, General MacArthur. All of its terms were accepted in substance. That fact makes the approach of the Govern ment a serious matter. The Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Casey), in his second-reading speech in the House, and the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies), in an article written on the subject, which was published in the American magazine Foreign Affairs, tackled the problem as though it had arisen only eighteen months ago. When Mr. Dulles appeared on the scene the matter had been settled in principle and all of these terms had been accepted by the eleven allied nations. It was difficult to get those terms accepted in full because the four powers represented on the Far Eastern Commission had the right of veto. Each one of them said, “ No “, but all of them agreed to the terms. It is contrary to international justice for us to become a party to the tearing up of these decisions. They should never have been modified without our consent. If Australia had said, “ We should insist upon the terms of the agreement”, none of the other parties to the agreement could possibly have said, “ We will not be bound by the solemn terms of surrender or by the Far Eastern Commission’s decision “. How could they have done so? We would commit a great blunder now, after what has happened, if we did not speak frankly and protest against what is proposed to be done. The physical disarmament and demilitarization of Japan was undertaken by the allied nations, and Australia and other units of the British Commonwealth were engaged for years in destroying the fortification at the dockyards. Those who saw the enormous dockyards at Kure will understand what was involved in their destruction. Enormous quantities of machine tools were destroyed, and although the dockyards were blown up they were, of course, always capable of some sort of restoration. Is our policy in that direction to be reversed? The Government says that it is and that it is not primarily responsible for the decision. It contends that although it does not like the decision it must abide by it. In effect, it says that we must accept a rearmed or militarized Japan.
I propose now to refer to the procedure by which this agreement was negotiated at San Francisco. I do not think that it was satisfactory. At about the time the negotiations were in progress a debate on Japan took place in this House. Honorable members will undoubtedly recall it. Very few of them failed to protest against the possible rearmament of Japan, even though the treaty discussions were then only in the preliminary stage. The treaty has now been signed and we must accept it or reject it. All the evidence shows, and all those who have studied the Japanese problem agree, that the groups that controlled the Japanese armed forces before World War II. - the Zaibatsu - are on the march again. The names are the same. Ninety per cent, of those who were excluded from public life - they were termed “ purgees “ - have now been “ depurged “ and are coming back into important offices of responsibility. As I have indicated before, they have been permitted to return to public life, on .the ground of expediency. It is not wholly expedient for us to agree to that.
The international agreements that were made are not referred to in the recital to this treaty. Whereas, in August, 1945, it was agreed in the terms of surrender that Japan should be permanently demilitarized and disarmed, and should, not be permitted to have another navy, army or air force, this treaty, in Article 5, witnesses that Japan shall be permitted to have a navy, army and air force. It would have been well to include in the recital the facts that led to the situation which resulted in the agreement. The Government has been too complacent and too acquiescent in this matter. If a decision on this treaty had depended upon the Minister for External Affairs alone, I am sure that he would never have agreed to it. He practically admitted that during his speech. This treaty menaces the physical and economic safety of the peoples of the South Pacific and of SouthEast Asia. It has been suggested in statements issued from time to time - not recently, and I do not think that the Minister suggested it - that the British Government overbore Australia’s objection to the rearmament of Japan. I cannot accept the view that Britain wanted Japan to be rearmed. From 1946 onwards we pressed for the making of a treaty of peace with Japan. We realized that something definitive should be done in relation to the Pacific. We worked hard with our experts on the Ear Eastern Commission. In the early stages I was a member of the policy committee of that body. Right throughout that period no representative worked more keenly, or acted more carefully on the advice of experts than did the representatives of this country. Our permanent representatives at Washington and officers from the Department of External Affairs who were acquainted with the Ear East consulted with experts from Great Britain, Canada,, and the United States of America. We were most eager’ to obtain a settlement because the principal .terms of a settlement had been agreed to. There were, 1 admit, some outstanding matters. There was, for instance, the question of the control of the islands which lie close to Japan to the south and south-west - the Ryuku group, containing the great base of Okinawa, and the Volcano group, containing the great naval base of Iwo Jima. We believed that the suggestion of the United States of America that it should be the trustee of those bases should be agreed to. That would practically have closed up all the gaps that were left in the terms to be included in the peace treaty.
In 1947, we took the initiative, as far as the British Commonwealth is concerned, and arranged and organized a conference at Canberra at which every British Commonwealth country was represented. After the conference public statements were issued regarding the matters that had been the subject of agreement. There may have been some minor differences of opinion, but what I have said about the surrender settlement and the Ear Eastern Commissions decision was accepted in substance by the Canberra conference. That takes us to the end of 1947. What held the matter up was Russia’s demand that it should have the right to veto those decisions. Russia had taken part in the fighting in the Pacific war for only six or seven days, whereas Australia, Britain, New Zealand, the United States of America, Holland, and other countries had been engaged in it for years. We publicly denounced that claim as being monstrous, but we did our utmost to get the definitive conference to arrange those matters as soon as possible because the uncertainty existing at that time was mischievous. All these principles were not, in substance, ratified by definite treaty, but that was the view of the conference and it was announced publicly at the conclusion of the conference. The monopolist industrial groups in Japan were to be suppressed and the fascist mili tary elements were to be excluded from public office. That was to bc the basis of the inquiry. At that time, the United States of America took exactly the same view. There was no difference then. The American view that Mr. Dulles has expressed is of quite recent origin. The danger is that the tragedies of the past may be re-enacted. Are these international agreements to be treated as being of little or of no concern? Japanese manufactures, the products of cheap labour, may swamp other countries. The .claim for reparations by countries like the Philippines, which was devastated perhaps more than any other Country in the Pacific by the Japanese during the war, will not be satisfactorily met. The .militarists and the Zaibatsu in Japan will again assume control in that country.
In order to indicate what is happening in Japan at present, I shall refer to three extracts that have been published in newspapers during the last week. A Sydney newspaper, under the heading “ Extremists Back in Japan “, published the following : -
Former militarist ami extreme nationalist groups are reforming under leadership of depurged veteran politicians to complicate the growing struggle for power in the Japanese Parliament.
That newspaper proceeded to point out how the power of Hatoyama. the leader of the conservative militarist forces, in Japan is growing. The article continued -
Advocates of pan-Asianism under Japanese leadership, supporters of the old Imperial Way philosophy and plain unashamed glorifiers of military influence are jostling one another as they trample their way hack to public life.
From another newspaper I take the following article: -
Japan’s giant Mitsui and Mitsubishi trusts, which were ordered to be dissolved under the Occupation, are already beginning to take shape again.
I now direct the attention of honorable members to views expressed by Japan News, an English language newspaper that- is published in Japan under the control of certain Australians. In its issue of the 28 th January last, the following article appeared: -
The nation’s major newspapers compared Mr. Yoshida’s budget to the budget of 1930-31, the year before the Manchurian invasion.
In ‘that year, the military appropriation was 30 per cent, of the budget, compared to the proposed 21 per cent.
The budget provides for increasing the strength of the National Police Reserve to 110,000 and the Maritime Safety Board to 14,000.
Even the most articulate exponent of rearmament, Jiji Shimpo, pointed out that these figures “exceeded the bounds of mere strengthening of the policing forces “. Let us call it rearmament, the paper said.
The Government’s .policy of “ gradual strengthening of the defence forces “ was reported as calling for further expansion of the National Police Reserve to 310,000 in a year or two.
This figure, the press recalled, compared with the pre-Manchurian invasion standing army of only 230,000.
The article continues -
Rearmament and the manner in which it was being brought about were not the only signs of a throwback to the pre-war era that appeared on the Japanese scene last week.
The post-treaty period was already being called the “ era of reverse “ in relation to the “ era of democratization “ of the Occupation years.
Those comments reflect opinion in Japan itself concerning what is happening in that country at present. They indicate that the treaty which the House is now asked to ratify is, in substance, to be implemented by the groups that led to Japan’s aggression in World War II. The only justification that has been advanced for ratifying this treaty - this is the Minister’s view and it may appeal to some people, but I submit that it is erroneous - is that if Japan is to be permitted to rearm it will always use its arms in the interests of the Western democracies against Russia and China. That is the assumption. In my view it is a deadly delusion. What are the views of those who are familiar with the history of Japan? During the war, in 1940, prior to the collapse of Japanese forces, Mr. Sumner Welles said that preparations were then being made for the resurgence of Japanese militarism after the war. The forces of Japan will he used by the Japanese Government solely in the interests of Japan. Perhaps, they may play with the Western democracies for the time being. Should a war occur between the Western democracies on the one hand, and Russia and China on the other, Japan might remain neutral; or it might be prepared to enter the conflict on the side on which its interests would best be served in the long run. We must remember that the forces that led Japan in its adventure in World War II. have been the dominant factor in Japanese life for a number of generations. Regardless of party politics, the great majority of the people of Australia are most anxious about this matter. They view this portion of the treaty with concern and dismay. I have no doubt that that would be the view that would be expressed by the majority of Australians if they were given the opportunity to express their opinion by their vote.
I now refer to one American who took a very prominent part in the settlements that I have mentioned. He was not merely an adviser but was in the forefront of governmental ranks in the United States of America. I refer to Mr. James Byrnes who was Secretary of State under President Truman and previously had been a high counsellor under President Roosevelt. Mr. Byrnes helped Australia considerably when we were pressing for the establishment of the Far Eastern Commission in order to give to this country an opportunity to express its views about how the Pacific settlement should be worked out. At that time we experienced the same old trouble that we had experienced on other occasions during the recent war. A few powers, no doubt the greatest of them, wanted to take complete control. Their leadership was one thing, but we were entitled to make our voice heard and Mr. Byrnes was helpful to us in that respect. In a public statement which he made in 1947, when the Canberra conference was in progress, he stated -
Through collective action, Germany and Japan have been decisively defeated. Neither of them has the capacity to wage war. Neither nf them will have the capacity to wage war fur a generation unless the Allies, choosing to use them as pawns or as partners in a struggle for power, permit them to rebuild their armaments. Surely, we have learned enough from our experience following World War I. to know that if the peace terms are to be changed it is better to revise them ourselves than to permit our former enemies to acquire the arms with which to dictate revision “. ‘
That seems to be quite a possibility, or a probability, in relation to a rearmed Japan. Inch by inch, the Japanese may secure the revision of the treaty, the territorial arrangements, and so forth, because Japan will be an armed nation. I thought that it would be possible for the representatives of the Australian Government, objecting as they did to the unlimited rearmament of Japan, to inform the other nations which were mainly affected that Australia would not consent to the rearmament of Japan but would stand firm on the agreement. Our attitude should have been that, if we could not get complete prohibition, we should get the most drastic limitations upon rearmament. The Prime Minister, in the article to which I have referred, strongly opposed the possession by Japan of any long-range aircraft and long-range naval vessels. It is obvious that the Japanese do not require long-range aircraft and longrange naval vessels for their own defence. They would need them only for purposes which could include aggression. The existing agreement provides that Japan shall not have a navy or an air force. Under the treaty which the House is now considering, the Japanese have a completely unlimited charter to go ahead, and, of course, they will acquire the newest types of equipment for their new army, navy and air force, just as Germany was able to do when it reorganized its army under Hitler, and specialized in mechanized forces and equipment.
The Minister for External Affairs has asked: What is the alternative to the ratification of the peace treaty with Japan? The alternative appears from everything that has been said about the subject in the House. It is to seek a binding international agreement - to stick to an international agreement. Such agreements are binding on us, as they are on all the parties, until they are altered by consent. The settlement that was’ made with Japan was not malicious or vindictive. Although, provision was made for disarmament on the economic side, there was no attempt to crush Japan, or the Japanese people. Far from it! That fact was emphasized, too. It was a settlement of justice and of right. Suppose we examine the position from the standpoint of expediency. If the peace settlement brings Russia close to Japan, it also brings the United States of America just as close, because America now occupies all the islands formerly held by Japan from the equator to close proximity to the four main islands of Japan proper. The United States of America, under this treaty, no doubt will take the trusteeship - that is, the effective control - of those great bases on Okinawa and Iwo Jima. Japan has been described as a “ power vacuum “, and it is claimed that Japan must be. rearmed lest Russia invade it. I should have thought that the chances of that would be small, having regard to the tremendously powerful United States forces and possessions close to Japan, and to the American command of the sea and the air.
I should like to give two quotations from speeches that were made about rearmament of Japan in 1948. You, Mr. Speaker, made the following statement on a. debate of international affairs: - . . Henceforth, the Japanese are to have no air force or navy, so that it cannot become a vigorous, aggressive power. If it is not able to protect its own sea trade, it cannot transport armies beyond its own coast. For my part, I would not allow Japan to become a military power, either. I am not impressed by what I have read in the newspapers about the need to Te-arm Japan in view of the situation which lias developed in the Far East. We do not need any special committee, or inspections of Japan by members of Parliament, to make certain truths clear to us. All we need, is a little common sense, and a knowledge of history from, which we can learn bow nations have been able to re-arm and re-assert themselves after defeat. Once we make it possible for a nation to re-arm, we wilmot continue to direct the manner in which the arms shall be used. It is too ridiculous to suggest that we can re-arm a nation of 100,000,000 people, and continue to keep it in leading strings.
The present Prime Minister, who was Leader of the Opposition in 1948, said - . . We cannot wait for a perfect state of affairs before we have discussions on a settlement with Japan.
The government of the day also took that view. A conference of representatives of the British Commonwealth of Nations was held in Canberra. The right honorable gentleman continued -
That, I think, is common ground between what the Minister has said and the views I am putting myself. There is, I think, common ground between us that - I use the Minister’s words - “ Japan must never again be permitted to develop the means of waging war “. It is of no use being sentimental about Japan. Japan has broken all the laws of God and man in waging war, and it is not to be put in the position of launching war again . . .
I ask the House to consider the matter from the standpoint of eastern nations. What will be the effect of this new settlement upon Asia and the Asian peoples? I suggest that it may bo described in these words : “ Why should we be too concerned about the Western nations? They made Japan sign the peace settlement which would have disarmed it permanently. They actually made Japan agree to a new constitution in acordance with which rearmament was to be prohibited forever. But now, because of .disputes between the Western nations and the Eastern group - the Russian group, perhaps Russia and China. - Japan’s former enemies ha.ve shown that they do not mean what they say in that settlement”. I submit that this treaty will have a disastrous effect in respect of the attitude of the Eastern peoples towards the Western nations. While one cannot be dogmatic, I think it is correct to say that it is wrong to suppose that the people of Japan are certainly in favour of rearmament. The Social Democratic party of Japan is strongly opposed to it, and its members include persons who have waged a lifelong struggle against the militarist groups, the Zaibatsu and the like. The Social Democratic party, which is opposed to communism and fascism alike, issued the following announcement recently : -
We adhere to the terms of the present Japanese Constitution which provide against rearmament and the terms of which were approved of by the Allied Governments, including the U.S.A. and sponsored by General MacArthur when he was the Supreme Commander in Japan.
That party is not a powerful group in the Parliament although it has considerable voting support. It has expressed itself as irrevocably opposed to the militaristic policy that Japan followed for so many years. It is quite clear from- the facts and from the few illustrations I have given that the- Japanese were preparing for rearmament before June of last year when Mr. Dulles arrived in London with the new peace proposals which included provision for the complete rearmament of J Japan That was a complete reversal of the earlier American policy of which Mr. Byrnes and Mr. Sumner “Welles had spoken. The plan announced’ by Mr. Dulles was anticipated by Japanese action of the kind, that I have described. We were promised the liquidation of Japanese militarism, but now there is to be a revival of Japanese militarism. Japan was never to be rearmed, but now Japan is to have a new navy, army and air force. The whole of the Japanese’ military organization including the general staff was to be disbanded, but now Japanese militarists are to be restored to office. I submit to the House that the choice lies between adherence to the broad principles of the agreement to which I have referred and a repudiation of them. The security danger to Australia involved in insisting upon the performance of the surrender and postsurrender agreements was comparatively small, but the danger involved in unlimited rearmament of Japan on the theory that the Japanese will always ally themselves with the Western powers seems to be very great indeed. I agree that the Pacific security pact, is an important factor to be considered, but under this treaty Japan will increasingly have a free hand, not only in the north Pacific but also in the south Pacific. The Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Casey) himself has admitted that fishing rights ave to be negotiated by Japan. That means that Japanese fishing vessels will be coming to south Pacific waters and fishing as close as they can to Australia’s shores. We cherish no blind enmity towards this nation. Japan may become friendly enough if it is democratized gradually, but the forces in Japan that are pulling in the opposite direction are obvious and powerful. The Labour movement of Australia, both politically and industrially,, is strongly opposed to the proposal1 that Japan should be permitted to> rearm. Those of my colleagues who speak in this debate will deal with other aspects of the treaty, but I believe it to be my duty to express Labour’s viewsfrankly on this measure. We have hadno1 opportunity to seek an amendment of the treaty. We as a Parliament had no chance to place our case before thepeace conference. We have either to accept the treaty with its provision for the unlimited rearmament of Japan or oppose its ratification. I believe that it is the duty of the Labour party to opposeratification and we intend to do so.
– Th& Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt) has delivered a delightful dissertation on a hypothetical international problem set by a university professor as an examination paper for his final-year students. Although we may all agree with his conception of the position that existed in 1946 or 1947, I would remind the right honorable gentleman that, this is 1952 and that the situation is very different. No good purpose can be served by saying what anybody thought in 1946 or 1947. This bill to ratify the peace settlement with Japan has, for the first time since V-P Day, made not only every member of the Parliament, but also every man and woman in Australia, face up to the realities of the international situation. In many ways the bill throws into bold relief .the features of the post-war world of 1952. To suggest that our international problems may be brushed aside by re-stating what we desired to do in 1946 or 1947 seems to me to be avoiding the realities of the present situation and continuing in a world of dreams. Gone with the winds of international fortune are the castles in the air and the ideals that filled our minds in 1946 and 1947. The measures that we contemplated in those days may have been all that was necessary then-, but the time has passed when the only material required to build these castles in the air is high idealism. The problem to-day is vastly different from what the Leader of the Opposition would have us believe it to be. Every now and then in the affairs of men there comes a tide which leads them not to fame and fortune, but face to face with realities. Such a time has now come. We are faced with an emergency in which we must make decisions and not merely say speculatively that such and such might happen. We cannot hesitate. No good purpose can be served by thinking over what might have been, or hoping for something to turn up. There is an emergency and decisions must be made. As the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Casey) said in his second-reading speech -
This is a treaty by no means wholly satisfactory; a treaty which has many shortcomings of which we are all aware and a treaty which causes many misgivings in the minds of people.
Unfortunately, the Minister’s excellent speech - probably the most important that has been made in this House since V-P Day - was delivered when the minds of honorable members were distracted by tragic events. I hope, therefore, that honorable members will read the speech thoroughly, because it is a lucid statement of facts and contains many things to which all of us should give very serious consideration.
World War II. lasted for six long years. The members of the services who fought on the sea and under the sea, on the land and over the land; the men of the mercantile marine who went down to the sea in ships, sometimes unarmed and at other times, at the best, only lightly armed; the civilians in the fields and factories and in various other walks of life ; these are our people, the people who won the war after six years of determined’ effort, strong faith, great courage and much sacrifice. In much less than six years politicians have lost the peace.
– The honorable member for Dalley (Mr. Rosevear) may say “Oh!” The truth of what I have said1 is apparent to any one who has taken an interest in international affairs. I am not condemning any particular political party, nor am I accusing any individual. I am not one of those who believe that they never make mistakes. I am reminded of the American writer who said, “ Of course I have made mistakes, but I have never made the mistake of saying I have never made a mistake “.
I commend that remark to the consideration of the honorable member for Watson (Mr. Curtin) and one or two of his “colleagues on the other side of the House. After the war was over, many people, including leaders in some countries,, talked very loudly of peace. But their talk was as phony as it was loud. In .the words of the Russian representative at the San Francisco conference, anybody who did not agree with him was “ following a rapacious plan of imperialism “. There were others who had not learned anything from experience after World War I., and others again who had been misguided and had summed up the position wrongly. Intentions were excellent in most cases, but the fact remains that, as a result of their conduct, we now live in a world that is very different from the sort of world that we looked forward to living in a very short time ago. As I have said, it is of no use to talk about 1946 or 1947.
This is 1952, and we cannot divorce idealism from realism. Such separations have always in the past led to nothing, but disaster and distress, and they will continue to do so for a very long time in the future. Therefore, let us remind ourselves that the war was won because we made fewer mistakes than our enemies made and that the peace has been lost because we have made many more mistakes since the Yalta conference than the men of Moscow have made. We have failed just as badly in the Far East as we have failed in Europe. Therefore, let us start off by being realistic and be remembering the truth of the quotation -
Ideals without a strong right arm are less than voices crying- in the wilderness.
By all means let us keep our high ideals but, at the same time, let us strengthen our sinews. It is not easy for any ex-prisoner of war who was in the hands of the Japanese to talk on this subject. Some of the views that I hold may not coincide with the views of my former comrades in arms, but I shall not criticize them for that, because only an ex-prisoner of war can understand to the full the stresses, the strains and the emotions which play upon the mind and memory when we discuss a treaty of this nature with Japan so- soon after the end of the war. I assure honorable members that we have not forgotten. Ten years ago, when I was in Changi, and five and a half years ago -when I was in Mukden, almost to the very day in each instance”, little did I think that I should he to-day in my present dilemma as a member of an Australian Government confronted with a proposition of this nature.
Certain events in the life of a man can never be forgotten even to his dying day. Only those who have passed along the purgatorial path of ill-treatment, starvation, murder, bashing and every other conceivable kind of brutality, and only those who have been driven to work in fever-stricken jungles, in torrential rain or in sub-arctic cold, can fully realize what goes on in the minds of men like myself and those who were my comrades. Only those who have had such experience know how often we woke screaming after we returned home, and still are awakened by nightmares, but thank God at longer intervals. In fact, though it seems silly, one almost hears in one’s ears the strident, harsh cry, “ Kirai “ when one bows to you each day, Mr. Speaker. “ Kirai “ was the command upon which we had to bow to the Emperor each morning and to every Japanese sentry about the place. Therefore, I may be forgiven if I speak with some emotion on this subject. My former comrades will understand, even though our views may differ. We fully realize the futility of trying to build anything permanent on a foundation of continuous desire for revenge or continuous hatred. We realize that we cannot live apart from the rest of the world. The Pacific islands were once the home of the escapist who wanted to get away from civilization and be a lotus-eater. World War II. dispelled illusions of such a kind. Australia to-day, here in the southern seas, cannot stand aloof from the other democracies, particularly the United States of America and Great Britain whose people think as Australians do. Therefore, let us face up to this subject realistically. Let us examine it in the light of the facts and not start any dreamy-eyed building of castles in the air.
When the Korean war began, Australians, like many other people, woke up suddenly. There are things that we have not forgotten, but I should like to ask the Leader of the Opposition whether there are things that he has forgotten. He has been foolish enough to label as traitors, in the public press, all those who agree with the terms of the Japanese peace treaty. “ Traitor “ is a word that he, as an intellectual lawyer, understands very well and it is hardly the word for him to apply to anybody who has been to one war, much less to two wars. Does not his conscience prick him when he thinks of the insecurity of Australia at the time of the outbreak of the Korean war and when he remembers his cabled correspondence with the United States of America about Manus Island ? Does he deny any responsibility for the very delicate situation of another region that is vital to Australia’s future security - Dutch New Guinea? Does he forget that he himself had an important place in the United Nations when events of which our situation to-day is the result were happening? I do not say for a moment that his mistakes were made intentionally, but does he not recognize now the folly of his former actions? Has he forgotten that the Battle of Midway Island was the battle that saved Australia, “the Brisbane line” and the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) notwithstanding? The Battle of Midway Island was fought by the United States navy. I do not suggest that Australians did not play their part right manfully, but the fact is that Midway Island was the battle that saved Australia.
If honorable members want to examine these matters carefully and learn the facts, they must read many books. I recommend to them the history of the war by Churchill, Main Fleet to Singapore by Grenfell, The Rise and Fall of the Japanese Empire by James, and, if they want to obtain an insight into the present situation in the Far East and learn of it3 origins, Last Chance in China by Freda Utley. Has the Leader of the Opposition forgotten that all the war criminals in the Far East are not. in Japan? One of our worst tormentors in Changi was an Indian who after the war was proclaimed as a hero in India. There are many things that the right honorable gentleman either does not know or has forgotten. Therefore, when we survey modern history since the date of the Yalta Agreement, we read of many events which, however earnestly we may wish that they had never happened, must be accepted as faits accompli. We must face up to the emergency. One of the things we should remember is that little nations need big friends, and much as we like ourselves, and proud as we are of Australia - and rightly so - we are not a very big nation. We hope that we will be. In arranging the Pacific Pact with the United States of America, the Government has provided the very best and most secure safeguard that could be provided in the existing circumstances.
Let us approach this treaty in a spirit of live and let live and in a spirit of give and take, not forgetting for a moment things that it is almost impossible to forgive. At the same time, we have to put up some reasonable alternative if we say that we should not pass it. The Leader of the Opposition did not suggest an alternative. He did not suggest what might happen if Japan is left disarmed and the. United States of America says that it does not feel like keeping an army of occupation there. He did not suggest that Australia might take over the job of the army of occupation and see that the terms of the surrender are enforced.
– We even had to borrow uniforms for our soldiers.
– It is all very well for the honorable member for Dalley to make sneering remarks. One reason for the state of affairs that he mentions is that the previous Labour Government was not concerned about defence, and the Labour party now is not concerned about defence, even to the extent that it will not join with the Government in helping on the recruiting campaign.
Let us consider the Russian approach to this treaty. Representatives of 51 nations attended the San Francisco conference, 48 of whom signed the treaty. Russia, Czechoslovakia and Poland did not sign it. On behalf of Russia, Mr. G Gromyko stated -
This treaty cannot but cause anxiety of states which are really concerned about the preservation and maintenance’ of peace in the Far East.
After listening to the Leader of the Opposition I am not surprised that the Polish representative, Mr. Weirblowski said, “ We agree with Dr. Evatt “. That statement was published all over the world. It is strange that a representative of Russia should have made the objections to. which I have referred seeing that his country has flouted the Cairo, Yalta and Potsdam agreements in Manchuria, Dairen, Sinkiang and Korea in the matter of Japanese prisoners, and in several other ways, including the holding of a so-called election in the Kuriles and South Sakhalin even before they were officially handed over under the treaty. One of the conditions that Russia asked to be put in the treaty was that the Straits of Tsugaru and Tsushima should only be open to the naval vessels of those countries which bordered on the Sea of Japan; or, in other words, that that area should become a closed lake for the Soviet fleet based on Vladivostock. Russia still occupies the islands of Habomai and Skihotan, which, since time immemorial, have belonged to Hokkaido, the north island of Japan. The Russians are building air-strips and air-fields on the island of Etorofu, 100 miles away from the island of Hokkaido. This time the democracies decided that they would not be outplayed and checkmated by the Russian delegates.
The approaches by the United States of America aud Great Britain have been very similar. They have disagreed on certain points, but have agreed finally on the main principles. They disagreed on’ the question of recognizing the present Chinese Government, and they disagreed on Formosa, although I understand now that Great Britain has agreed to the American attitude on Formosa. My own attitude in this connexion has been very well known for a long time. After the war, when the United States of America realized that it had become the leader of the world, it endeavoured to put the highest idealism into practice in international politics by trying to bring about a combined Government of China between the Nationalists and the Communists. Laudible as the principle and
America’s efforts were, unfortunately Russia was giving lip-service to the same principle but was backing the Communists, who eventually overran China. America has paid very heavily for that mistake and is paying now in the magnificent job that it is doing of bearing the greater part of the expense of the Korean conflict. Faced with the fact that the Communists had taken control of China, America then mixed realism with idealism and considered what should be clone about Japan. That is the position which we, the Philippines, the United States of America and Great Britain have to face. Is Japan to he left to fall into the arms of Russia, or be taken over by Russia unless very large United Nations forces are kept there, or are we to take what might be termed the lesser of two risks - because we have only the. two to face - by saying, “ Right, we will make a treaty with Japan and bring that country into the comity of democratic nations or into the fold of the United Nations ‘’. My own view is that if we put it on that basis we cannot do anything but take the lesser of the two risks. As the Minister for External Affairs knows, because he was one of the leading actors in this matter, we would have preferred to have a limitation set on naval rearmament, because I think that most naval experts still agree that aircraft-carriers dominate sea warfare. However, Great Britain and the United States of America, for some reason or other, did not agree with us. Are we not to sign the treaty for that reason? “We have the safeguards of the Pacific Pact and the American-Japanese agreement. Therefore, as I have said, as far as I can see we have only the two alternatives placed in front of us.
I have been asked “Has Japan changed ? “ Quite candidly, I do not think that any nation could change to an appreciable extent within five years. If I am asked, “ Can Japan change?” - well, I try to look on the bright side of things. I understand that the “ Nisei Nip “ division of the American army, which was formed of men born in the United States of America of Japanese parents, won more citations in Europe than were won by any other unit of the American army in Europe. The honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Haylen) who has just interjected, may sheer as much as he likes. I remember also a Japanese doctor in Mukden who was probably a better Christian than any of us who were there. This was shown by the fact that when the other Japanese were imprisoned after the armistice, he was allowed to go free, and he returned and worked in the hospitals with our doctors to try to help our sick men. I also have a very vivid recollection of the looks on the faces of the women in Japan as we marched, a group of shaggy scarecrows, down the main street of Moji, and were jeered at by the men and boys. Japan can change. “Whether it will or not rests mainly, I suppose, with the Japanese themselves; but it also rests partly with us and whether we sign this treaty entirely with our tongue in our cheek, or whether we really assist in the reclamation of Japan - and we can assist.
– Does the Minister remember the sinking of the hospital ship Centaur f
– I remember more things than the honorable member has ever thought of in his life. He has had the chance to think of them, but he has not taken it.
The Government had many discussions on the subject of reparations as a result of which far more money will be available for reparations than I consider we should have obtained by any other means. The Leader of the Opposition talked in a grandiose manner about large reparations. Let him remember what happened after Versailles, when large reparations were demanded from Germany and were eventually paid out of loans made to Germany by the countries to whom the reparations were to be paid. Nowadays it is impossible for a nation to obtain large reparations from a defeated enemy without hurting its own trade. But, as far as Japanese reparations will go towards recompensing Australian prisoners of war and women and children for suffering and loss, I think- that the amounts received will ‘be very satisfactory on the present estimates. That is a relatively unimportant matter, but it is of some importance to me in dealing with the men who were prisoners of war with me.
There is no other possible course in relation to this treaty than that which we propose to take. We could hold out the international agreement that was made in 1946-47 and which held good in every other respect, but where would it have got us ? Whether we like or dislike the treaty I cannot see that there is any other practical course for us but to subscribe to it. I think that all of us at this stage when we are at the international cross-roads, with some of us still wondering which way to go, might stand for a moment and gaze down through the arches of the years and listen for a while in some quiet corner to the voices of the past which tell us that suffering, sorrow and sacrifice were caused to these our people by the laziness and avariciousness and selfishness of these our people - that is, of you and me. In other words, if we want the Pacific Pact to be successful we have to carry our share of the burden and not expect others to do it. We must realize that strength as well as idealism is necessary - strength against aggression arises, whether it is caused wilfully or through misunderstanding. [Extension of time granted.] We notice also, when gazing through the mists, with pride tinged with sorrow, the actions of our people and those who enabled our campaigns to go forward to victory. We also realize, as I have said, that one cannot build anything worth while on hatred and revenge. Therefore, every one of us hopes that this treaty will remove some causes of friction between nations. We hope that it will give a new chance to a nation that in recent years has been guilty of the most criminal brutality, the memory of which engenders in the hearts of every ex-prisoner of war and every citizen of Australia a feeling that is hard to banish. One can only hope and pray that the glimmer of light will not be a false dawn but will be the true dawn of a new era, perhaps to be named, like the seas that surround us which so recently ran with blood in the war, the “ pacific “ era.
.- Oneis almost completely disarmed by the remarks of the Minister for the Interior
(Mr. Kent Hughes), inasmuch as he is an ex-serviceman of two wars and has most poignantly told us some of his experiences. But, as we are discussing whether a peace treaty is just and fair, our sympathy must of necessity end there because, as another Australian, my view is utterly opposed to the treaty that he supports. So the blows that I shall deliver in defence of my point of view which, as an Australian, I shall put just as earnestly as the Minister has put his, will be trusty and solid. It is quite obvious from what the Minister has said that he really has no time for this treaty. That is the burden of our complaint about the whole business. We say that, while hating the treaty and damning it with faint praise, the Government is still cleaving to it. We wish to know the reason for that. The Minister said that the peace had already been lost by the politicians. Let me ponder on that statement for a moment, because the politicians concerned are sitting opposite me, and if the members of the Government wish to find the new generation of guilty men, then they should stand up and name themselves at this very moment as such. The Minister has indicated that he has no time for this treaty, and one can understand why. Furthermore, as a military man he blames the politicians for having lost the peace. It is up to the members of the Government to name themselves as guilty men while ‘this debate is in progress.
We on this side of the House are opposed as a party, and as individuals, to this treaty. The Minister has said that we must mix idealism with realism, but he does not really believe that, because it cannot be done. He has suffered under the Japanese. He has gone through an ordeal in making his speech, and for that reason he has my sympathy; but the point of the matter is that if we are to preserve this white bastion in the Pacific we must be realistic to the point of cruelty and not be fantastically generous. This is not a hard peace or a soft peace, but a scandalous peace, because it has been forced upon us in a Hitlerite manner with the minimum of discussion. No matter whom this may hurt, I say that my remarks approach more closely to the feelings of Australians than do the remarks that have come from the other side of the House. Let us trace the whole story back to its beginning. The Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt), with his knowledge of foreign affairs and his close association with the whole of the plan after the surrender, was correct in his contention that the Potsdam agreement provided the basis for dealing with Japan, not to-day or tomorrow, but until that nation was democratized to ,a degree that would enable us to give it a civilized peace. It is not a question of changing over when something else has changed. It is still incumbent upon us to observe the solemn obligations of Potsdam and ensure that those things are done in Japan which the Leader of the Opposition has mentioned.
The acceptance of the Japanese surrender was signed by our own representative, the late Field-Marshal Sir Thomas Blarney. For five years the undertakings given on that occasion were honoured. The allies occupied Japan and tried to democratize it. They introduced a new system of land tenure. They reformed the newspapers. They turned their attention to State Shintoism which was a debauched religion, and they tried to remove the system of thought control. These attempts at democratization were encouraged by the Far Eastern Commission, whose members had been appointed by the governments of eleven nations which had participated in and been hurt by the war. Democracy did not go into Japan with a bottle of Coca-Cola. It was introduced by the exercise of intelligence on the part of the Supreme Commander of Allied Forces in the Pacific. I saw that policy in operation. Forests, agriculture and land reclamation were planned in order to improve the stake of the Japanese in his own country. It was intended that instead of being the servant of the Samurai he should walk with his head in the air and be ready to join in the comity of nations. Everything was done in order to make the Japanese feel that democracy was worth while. He was then asked to state in Article 9 of his Constitution that he would for all time refuse to bear arms by air, or land or sea. He considered these to be democratic terms and accepted them. But as soon as directives flowed to big industries and, as soon as hands were laid on the sacred Zaibatsu, there was a change of feeling. What happened in Germany after the first world war, and is happening there now, has happened in Japan. The big business set-up was too useful to international money-grubbers and it remained. That was the end of democracy in Japan.
This poor thing - this peace treaty - is an indication of how far financial interests will go to attain their end. It is proposed that this treaty should be signed with a former enemy to whom the lives of 33,853 Australian men and women were lost. The Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Casey) has made the following statement: -
I have made it clear that the Government is by no means wholly satisfied with this treaty. But then the same can be said of every one of the 47 other allied governments that have signed it. All of ug are aware of its shortcomings and all of us have misgivings about it.
Then why is the treaty before this House ? The way to win the peace is the way in which the honorable member for Bradfield (Mr. Hughes) fought for the rights of his country after the 1914-18 war, when he kept the Japanese out of New Guinea and opposed President Wilson and other people who had imaginative plans for the Japanese. The Opposition condemn this treaty out of the mouths of those who propose it. The Minister has said -
T will admit that honorable members could quite legitimately entertain fears that a revived and once-more powerful Ja.pan, assisted in its recovery by a tolerant and benign Peace Treaty, might in due course itself either embark alone on fresh advantures of aggression or, at the worst, might voluntarily join forces with and give direction and impetus to Asian communism.
If that is true this treaty should not be approved by the Parliament of Australia. If the dangers inherent in this treaty are so apparent that the Minister who presented it to the House considered it necessary to warn honorable members against them, what is reasonable about it? Does this treaty please any one but the Government ? It certainly does not please the Opposition, or the Asian nations or our former allies. Soviet Russia and Communist China and India are not participating in the treaty and no one could say that India is Communist. The Moslem resistance to communism is a welcome feature of Indian politics. Those countries that are participating in the treaty with reluctance, include Indonesia and the Philippines-, and those who ere guarded and suspicious include South Africa, Pakistan, Australia and New Zealand. In view of those facts, how is it possible to praise this treaty? I think it is a shabby document. I read a statement by the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) in an American magazine concerning the struggle to get some sense out of the peace negotiations. He stated that he had asked that long-range weapons of offence by sea should be curtailed. His request was ignored.
I read the apologetic speech of Mr. Kenneth Younger, Minister of State in the United Kingdom, concerning the treaty. I read the speeches of Mr. Truman, Mr. Dulles, and members of the Dutch delegation to the conference on the treaty. None of those people had any faith in the efficacy of this treaty as a means of providing anything more than a counter to Communist aggression in the East. Do honorable members opposite believe that the complete answer to the problem of preserving peace in the Pacific is merely that one must be anitCommunist? It will be necessary to do more than that because the nations that are arrayed against us are partially Communist. Surely we must ask more from peace treaties than the provision of a power vacuum. A vacuum contains nothing and neither does this treaty. If the treaty is unsuccessful in achieving peace in the Pacific how much will it matter to America or Britain which are thousands of miles away? It will not matter nearly as much to them as it will to Australia because it will write finis to the experiment which has been called “ “White Australia “. The peace treaty should be a just treaty, neither harsh nor too lenient. In order to decide whether it will be effective it is necessary to consider whether it will tend to promote another world war. It is necessary to ascertain whether it will provide the necessary safeguards against aggression from an ex-enemy. It is necessary to determine whether it will protect our native land. And, finally, we must ask whether it is acceptable to the Australian people.
The conception of the Japanese as the gendarme of the East is not acceptable but detestable to the Australian people. “Would this treaty work? Of course it would not. Are we to believe that Japan has abandoned its Samurai tradition concerning the dedication of the warrior who is expected to be savage in conflict ? It does not matter who perishes so long as the victory goes to the Son of Heaven. Japan has been steeped for centuries in the warrior tradition, and five years democratization will not bring it into the concepts of the “Western world. It is certainly asking too much to ask us to believe that the Samurai tradition has been broken. We are mortgaging our future for a temporary expedient. After this treaty is ratified there is sure to be a settling up. “What a miserable settling up we had after the last war and how dreadful would be a settling up after a “ phantasmagorical “ war against the Russians, to use the famous word of the honorable member for Melbourne.? “What will happen if, after acting as the champions of democracy, the Japanese should be asked to return to their paddy fields and benches and merely dream of another war that may be arranged for them by America, England or Australia? Is it not reasonable to suggest that once having unsheathed .the sword this warrior nation is not likely to put it back until it has gained more glory for the Son of Heaven ?
We must all hold dreadful and enduring fears about the efficacy of this plan to arm the Japanese as mercenary soldiers to fight our battles for us. The idea of mercenaries is an 18th century idea. It went out with the battles fought by the Hessians. Nevertheless some such arrangement becomes apparent upon a perusal of this peace treaty. Moreover, why was not the Zaibatsu broken up? The Potsdam treaty - and my authority is Dr. Evatt-
– Order ! The honorable member must not mention other honorable members by name.
– I apologize. The Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt) said that the Potsdam agreement was designed to ensure that Japanese reparations would be paid fairly. “Why were they not paid? Is it because Japan cannot afford to do what should be done? The essence of the Potsdam Agreement was that Japan had to make certain reparations and the design was to reduce the Japanese industrial potential because it was a war potential. The Pawley Commission which visited Japan just before I travelled through it with a parliamentary delegation, drew up a plan for removing thousands of textile spindles, light and heavy industrial machinery and munition-making machinery. That was not to be removed to Great Britain, America or Australia, it was to go to Asian nations. The intention was to build up the industrial capacity of those nations so that Japan would not be the all-powerful industrial nation of the Par East. However, the Zaibatsu organization which controls Japanese industry has not been broken up. There is a parallel between this situation and the situation of the Farben chemical enterprises in Germany during the first world war. Those great chemical industrial plants were looked upon as legitimate targets by our servicemen, and yet by some strange happening, amid all the fire and thunder of the war, they remained serene and untouched. There is nothing so sacred as the cartelization of’ private enterprise.
– Did the honorable member read that in a Marxian textbook?
– Wherever I got it would be a source to which you would not go because you would be too biased to read what I read.
– Order ! The honorable member must address me.
– It is not impossible for Japan to pay reparations. Australians have been gulled into believing that Japan has reformed, will fight our battles and will not trade with Asia. Surely if Japan does not make an immediate trade agreement with Russia or- with China it is in danger of extinction. Again, if Japan does not trade with those two countries it would swamp us with the full weight of its production. Our present textile difficulty would be a mere circumstance compared with what would happen if we were to feel the full effect of Japanese dumping. On the 12th November last, 50 members of the Japanese Diet conferred with a Soviet trade delegation. Before the ink is dry on this treaty they are beginning to deal with their neighbours. According to Japanese trade bulletins which have been sent to me Japan requires, in order to produce its 4,000,000 tons of steel each year, 6,000,000 tons of iron ore, which has been offered by Russia. Japan also requires 5,800,000 tons of coal, which Russia has also offered. Soviet coal from the mines in China costs Japan 10 dollars a ton, American coal 30 dollars a ton and English coal 20 dollars a ton ex port of embarkation. That indicates the reason why all this nonsense that has been talked about the Japanese having no contract with the foe across the sea is indeed nonsense. In the interests of survival the Japanese must trade with China and the Soviets.
What sort of democracy is it that says, “We have accepted the de facto government of China, but the Japanese must not do so “ When the Japanese consider how far democracy has taken them along the road to dissolution and despair they will decide that they have had enough of it. Article 9 of the Japanese Constitution lays it down that there shall be no more war. That was thoroughly driven into the minds of the Japanese as a democratic ideal. Recently Mr. John Foster1 Dulles was asked by the President of the United States of America to do something about the treaty, and this projected ratification has emerged as the result of his: activities. Even if American, British and European influence has been used to make a success of this treaty, surely our Government should have considered the matter more carefully because our position in relation to Japan is different from that of all those nations. If we fail to prepare ourselves against the inevitable, the passage of this bill will stand as tie most disastrous thing in our history. The treaty is- a patchwork- arrangement. Compared with the honorable agreement of Potsdam it is a miserable piece of evasive nonsense. It is well to ask ourselves what Japan will now do in regard to trade and the fishing industry. Japan has always been a poacher, and recently Japanese ships were found poaching trochus shell near Manus Island. Before the war the Japanese poached extensively in Antarctica, in the waters of other nations. Japan has been a poacher at sea and a robber on land. We are going to bring Japan into partnership with Russia and put the sword back into her hand.
When I was in Japan it was considered that reparations could be paid by the Japanese. Some honorable members opposite, including the honorable member for Flinders (Mr. Ryan) drew attention to the fact that certain spindles they saw in some of the Japanese textile factories were marked “ reparations “. The idea was to compensate certain countries for the depredations of Japan, and to break up the industrial power of that nation. The Japanese have been taught that they should not worship the emperor, that he is not God, and that certain western ideas of hygiene and culture are better than their native customs. They can go to the universities and learn what we have to teach. But once we start to interfere with Japanese coolie industries the Samurai sword will again be unsheathed. Such a policy was one of the lions in the path of the Versailles Treaty and in this case it will ensure that a third world war is not only a promise but a certainty. I am astounded that the fight for the Australian point of view was given up so soon. The Minister for the Navy (Mr. McMahon) said, in effect, “Honorable members must accept this treaty. It is a poor thing and I hate it but you must have it”. The Minister for the Interior, who had a fine record of war service, showed with a lump in his throat that he hated it, too. Is not this a sovereign nation? Have we no recourse to the United Nations? Honorable members opposite have said that if we do not want this treaty, we should submit an alternative. The alternative is obvious. It is a return to the Potsdam
Agreement, which is an honorable declaration of all that we wanted as a basis for the Japanese surrender, and it has been signed and accepted. What advantage does the treaty offer ? The supposed advantage of getting an army to fight the Russians is highly nebulous. The idea is too absurd for conjecture.
Let us have a long sight for this country and some hind sight also. Mr. Speaker (Mr. Archie Cameron) said on one occasion when he was a private member that we could contrive the peace with a little common sense and a knowledge of history. That is a most tersely expressed statement of the situation. A peace with Japan can be contrived with a little common sense and a knowledge of history. The little common sense is the knowledge that the leopard cannot change his spots and that the Samurai warrior has not turned his sword into cheap fountain pens or cigarette lighters. Men do not change. Ideals and circumstances may alter but a man’s attitude to his native land remains the same. Nations do not .alter because of the introduction of a synthetic democracy. The first need is to be found in the fair and honorable terms of the Potsdam Agreement. A knowledge of history should be shown by ensuring that Australia is prepared, having been trapped once by an enemy and having been unwary once of the dangers to the north. Nothing in this treaty or the contingent pact will do anything to give Australia further protection. Of course I shall not be permitted to discuss the pact at this stage, but honorable members will be able to do so, I understand, following the presentation of another bill.
I draw the attention of honorable members to certain attitudes of the Japanese themselves on this matter. Honorable members who support the proposition that Australia should accept this treaty seem to infer that the Japanese think that it is a very good idea. The Liberal Japanese Government has accepted the treaty reluctantly after having regretted that so many adjacent islands were not be handed back to Japan. The Japanese socialists demanded the return of territory and asked that Russia and China should sign the treaty. They declared that no labour or techniques should form part of reparations and objected to payments to prisoners of war. The General Council of Trade Unions of Japan, which has 3,000,000 members, wants to adhere to the provision that there should ‘ be permanent neutrality and no rearmament. That is an example of the feeling of the workers of Japan. The Japanese have no industries now. The Minister for the Interior spoke of fantasy when he talked about building machines to send against the Russians. The only shipping that is being built at present in Japan comprises vessels for the intercoastal trade and for trade with nearby countries, but honorable members opposite talk as though this treaty will make possible the sending of an army against the Russians. Building up the Japanese forces will be a slow and tortuous business and in the meantime many Japanese will die of starvation. Their standards of living are bad enough. Ten textile mill girls living in one bedroom is an example of their living conditions and 100 to 200 yen a month, or 30s., is considered a high wage even now when they are being subsidized by the Americans at the rate of 1,000,000 yen a day.
The Americans have put 1,000,000,000 dollars into the resuscitation of Japan and they think that they should call the tune. But with 8,000,000 people and a terrible war casualty list which is points higher than that of any other country, Australia has the right to speak not as a small nation but as a participant in the recent war to the limit of its powers. When we discuss this treaty with the Americans and our other allies, we must remember just where we stand in this matter. [Extension of time granted.] The Australian forces suffered 33,853 casualties in the war. That is Australia’s warrant for speaking with complete freedom to its allies. I have the most complete faith that the American people would not withdraw from us if we were able to indicate to them that this treaty is not fair to Australia and that it has elements in it which we consider to be extremely dangerous. I have great faith in rankandfile thinking. The common man is seldom wrong about big issues. He is right about governments when they become intolerant and inept and he dismisses them. His instinct is not to accept this treaty. In most cases his instinct is better than the sophistry of politics. The Japanese have gone on record about their intentions and the ways in which they will achieve prosperity. Their dream is to drop down through the countries which constitute the soft belly of Asia into New Guinea.
If Australia accepts this treaty, as force of numbers may compel the Parliament to do, what is to be done about immigration? Just as no information has been given on rearmament or reparations or about the effect on Australian traders whose employees will be out of work, so no information has been given about immigration? With 80,000,000 Japanese increasing at the rate of 1,000,000 a year, where in the name of heaven are they to go ? There is no place for them in China. They will have to go somewhere. When this treaty is accepted, will it go further and provide for the colonization of the Japanese ?
– The Japanese have never been colonists. They have never been nomads.
– The point is not whether they have been colonists. There were 2,000,000 of them in Korea and great numbers of them were in other places. Willy-nilly they are colonists. Give them a chance in Darwin and honorable members will see whether they are colonists or not. After all that has happened to Australia, are we to bring the Japanese thousands of miles closer through colonization? If that is the result of this treaty it will do a grave disservice to Australia. The question of expediency is ruled out completely because nobody can guess which way the Japanese will go. The great danger will be that the Japanese will be rearmed and resurgent and that could mean the extinction of Australians. This treaty contains no reference to trade and no consideration is given in it to the Australian diggers who were incarcerated by the Japanese. That is completely disgusting. I reject it with contempt.
I conclude upon the note that there are various views about Japan. When the Americans forced their entry into Japan, the Japanese said to Commander Perry, “ We are going to learn all that you can teach us; and then we shall he able to fight you”. Many years later, General Douglas MacArthur said that the Japanese, given time, would accept democracy. We can choose which of those two statements we prefer. This treaty has been presented to us as the only possible way out. The Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) and our ambassadors and Ministers abroad did not call into conference the men who know all about these things. They were prepared to let the matter go by default. I want the Government to remember that, if this treaty puts a gun in the hands of Japan, the gun will be pointed at the heart of Australia.
Mi-. DRURY (Ryan) [10.1].- The honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Haylen) delivered a speech that was highly charged with emotionalism, bitterness and dire forebodings. “We should approach the very serious and important subject of a peace treaty with Japan with cool heads, clear minds, and a full measure of realism, although I recognize fully that we all approach it with very mixed feelings. In my maiden speech in this House two years ago, I dealt with some of the problems that would have to be considered when the time came to enter into a lasting peace settlement with Japan. Since then, I have followed developments in that country and the course of the treaty negotiations closely and with great interest. The treaty that we are now considering is by no means a perfect one, but in this imperfect world very few things are perfect. However, it is generally agreed by the Allied nations that the treaty is the best that is obtainable in the present circumstances. It is with those present circumstances that I propose to deal mainly in the course of my remarks.
Much credit is due to President Truman’s special envoy, Mr. John Foster Dulles, for the very difficult part that he has played as the chief architect of this treaty. Commenting on the treaty recently, the New York Times said -
There can be no better test of the quality ot a treaty than its grageful acceptance by the vanquished
Some people may regard that as an extravagant statement or an overstatement, but we must agree that the treaty i3 a remarkably lenient one. That is fully recognized and appreciated by the Japanese people themselves. I recall a war-time dictum of Mr. “Winston Churchill, Britain’s great leader. He said that a nation in defeat should be defiant, and in victory, magnanimous. Magnanimity combined with a hard core of realism is the keynote of this treaty. Soviet propaganda, true to form, is busy seeking to misrepresent the treaty as an instrument of American imperialism, whilst Mr. Nehru has claimed that it falls short of consideration for the Japanese people. Both of those claims are far wide of the truth, as a careful study of the treaty shows. Incidentally, the treaty was not signed either by Russia or by India and, therefore, those two countries will continue to remain technically in a state of war with Japan.
History has shown that a harsh treaty is .a mistake. In debating this subject, we should bear in mind the lessons of history. The harshness of the peace terms in 1918, after the first world war, made the second world war inevitable. On the other hand, the generous terms of peace that were accorded to France after the Napoleonic wars were the forerunner of a hundred years of peace - the famous Pax Britannica. In a striking speech delivered at the San Francisco conference last September, the Pakistan Minister for Foreign Affairs pointed out that the Peace of Mecca, history’s outstanding example of a magnanimous peace, now 1,300 years old, turned bitter enemies into lasting friends. He went on to explain how human life throughout vast area3 became for centuries happier, richer and more dignified as a result of the spirit that inspired that peace. The treaty that we are now considering was drawn up in that spirit. It is essentially a treaty, not of vengeance and oppression, but of justice and reconciliation. It is an honest and sincere endeavour to establish a lasting peace with a nation from which we and many others have suffered a great deal in recent years. I go further and say that it is an act of faith and of hope that a new ‘ and enlightened, albeit chastened, Japan will take its place with dignity and decorum amongst the free nations of the world.
Under this treaty, Japan has obtained, not only generous peace terms, but also, under an Allied pact, an assurance of military protection by the United States of America until it is strong enough to stand on its own feet. As far back as 1947, General Douglas MacArthur said that we needed Japan as a bastion against international communism. The truth of that statement by General Douglas MacArthur five years ago has been amply borne out by the developments of more recent years, particularly by the increasing threat involved in the Russo-Chinese alliance. The emergence of China as a powerful instrument of Communist aggression has changed the whole picture, and has forced the Allied nations to rely, whether they like to do so or not, on Japan’s adherence to the western camp. One writer has said -
Either wo abandon the Far East to communism entirely, with its vast potential in man-power and resources, or we take steps to secure the co-operation of a revived and regenerated Japan.
Those weighty words are worthy of serious consideration.
In my opinion, the effective defence of Japan against possible attack from the Asiatic mainland is essential in order to preserve the balance of power in the Pacific. I remind the House .that balance of power, under the leadership of Great Britain, warded off world war from the time cf Napoleon’s defeat at Waterloo until the Kaiser made his bid for world domination in 1914. There will be no balance of power against Communist aggression unless we have Japan on our side. A power vacuum in Japan would inevitably drive that country into the Soviet orbit, in either the short run or .the long run. Russia even now is speeding up military preparations within easy reach of Japan. From Vladivostock to Tokyo is only a three-hour flight by a bomber. I agree it is possible that at some future time Japan may decide that it would be to her greater advantage to join the Soviet bloc and become an ally or a satelite of Russia. But all the evidence at the present time - and it is the present time that we are considering - suggests that that danger is comparatively remote. I say that with all sincerity, and in spite of the words that we have just heard from the honorable member for Parkes. We are not, of course, convinced that Japan has become truly democratic, that it has renounced war forever and has given up all idea of military aggression. We are not so simple as that, but we are, as the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) has pointed out, faced with a choice of risks. Being obliged, as we are, to accept one of two risks we naturally, being sensible people, will decide to take the lesser of those risks. As the Minister for the Interior (Mr. Kent Hughes) has just told us, the immediate potential threat to our peace and safety is not Japan but international communism, and it is with the immediate potential threat that we must concern ourselves if we are to ensure our survival. If we do not survive that threat it will not matter very much to us what Japan may decide to do in fifteen or twenty years’ time. In any case, it must be many years before Japan could be strong enough to attack us even if it wished to do so, but a Soviet attack through the islands to our near north is even now an ominous possibility, and will remain so until the scale of armaments turns in favour of the Allied nations.
Even if Australia were to decide against ratifying the treaty it would still be put into effect. Australia’s fear of possible Japanese rearmament was fully expressed by our leaders during the negotiations which led up to the framing of the treaty, but we must remember that Australia is one of the smaller powers concerned. It is quite beyond our capacity, notwithstanding what the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt) has said, either to provide for the effective defence of Japan, or to prevent that country from rearming. It is idle for the Opposition to suggest that Australia can do anything to alter the tide of events. Therefore, we must submit to a common-sense acceptance of the hard facts of the situation. If given a chance the Japanese can, and I believe will, contribute effectively to the defence of their own country against possible RussoChinese aggression. To keep Japan out of the clutches of communism is the immediate and paramount consideration. Our own security in Australia demands that Japan be strongly anti-Communist, and that it should he able to withstand an assault from the Asiatic mainland.
Although we cannot expect any ironclad safeguard for the future, and although there is no present desire on the part of the Japanese to engage in large-scale rearmament, we should, like to have seen incorporated in the treaty some limitation on rearmament. We claim that it is not necessary for Japan to have long-range weapons, whether offensive or defensive, in order to defend itself against attack. Japan does not need long-range bombers or submarines or surface ships of war, and it is the absence from the treaty of any limitation on such armaments which is our main ground for fearing a resurgence of Japanese aggression in the years to come. At the same time, the defence pact between the United States of America and Japan, which gives to the United States of America the right to maintain naval, military and air bases in Japan and adjacent islands, including Okinawa, will in itself impose some limitation on the extent of Japanese rearmament. The United States of America-Australia-New Zealand mutual security pact is an additional and important safeguard from our stand-point. These pacts provide the framework of a reasonably strong Pacific defence. They are based on cold, stark realism, not on emotionalism. The mutual defence obligations which they impose call for still greater efforts on the part of Australia if we are to be worthy of the trust and confidence of our allies. The J Japanese Government has announced its intention to seek membership of the United Nations for Japan, and if that application is successful Japan will achieve full status as one of the free, sovereign powers of the world. For many years, the Anglo-Japanese Treaty was observed faithfully and loyally to the great advantage of the British Empire by successive Japanese governments, and although there is no certainty that Japan will live in peace and honour forever and a day, yet in the present insecure state of the world circumstances demand that Japan be given a chance.
Australian soldiers, who have spent some years in Japan, believe that the Japanese genuinely desire peace. Those are not my words ; I am merely citing the opinion of soldiers who have served in Japan. They take the attitude that, looking to the future, we should bury the hatchet, and that the best way to ensure that Japan in the future shall be friendly to us is for us to be friendly to Japan. We do not like some of those ideas, but what I am saying is based on cold logic and realism. General Douglas MacArthur has expressed very definitely his belief that Japan will not again become an aggressor. A younger generation of Japanese is believed by competent observers to be wise enough to recognize the futility of aggression, and to wish to live in peace, contentment and prosperity. In Japan, democracy as we know it is still very much of a veneer. Although there is no great liking among the Japanese for the new democratic constitution, there is appreciation of the new democratic freedoms that they now enjoy. The younger Japanese are said to incline towards the American and European way of life. Perhaps the most we can say is that the seed of democracy has been sown in Japan, hut that it will have to be carefully nurtured if it is to develop into a healthy organism.
There are strong arguments why both Japan and Western Germany should be restored to positions of responsibility and respectability in the family of nations. The Western nations urgently need those two countries on their side to act as counterweights against Soviet Russia.
– The same was said of Hitler once.
– I am speaking of the situation that exists in 1952. I am looking forward, not back. Our disappointment over reparations is natural, yet if we study the situation we must realize that Japan has no real capacity to pay damages if it is to become a stronghold against communism. In order to become self-supporting in the shortest possible time Japan will need to make full use of all the plant and machinery still in its possession, because its war-time losses were terrific. It is gratifying to note that, as a result of pressure from the Australian Government, Japanese assets in neutral and former enemy countries will be transferred to the International
Committee of the Red Cross to be distributed on an equitable basis among former prisoners of war and their families. Under the treaty Japan relinquishes its former empire and mandated territories and is restricted to the four main home islands, and a few small adjacent islands. It is possible that, in the course of time, Japan may demand some territorial concessions as the price of its allegiance to the Western camp. That is a likely problem of the future. As they become stronger in arms, the Japanese will be in a relatively stronger position to engage in territorial bargaining. We must remember that Japan is a powerful nation in its own right and, whether we like it or not, will decide its own destiny. It would be naive to expect Japan to become heavily committed on the side of the free nations and not, ultimately, to press its demands for the restoration of at least a part of its former empire.
The rather overcrowded and not very fertile Japanese islands, with their limited natural resources, are not capable of sustaining a very large population. Japan has a population of 83,000,000 and the rate of increase is well in excess of 1,000,000 a year. Of the present population, no fewer than 38,000,000 persons are estimated to be under twenty years of age. It is important that that fact should be borne in mind because, unless a huge work force such as that is fully employed, it will seek an outlet for its energies. The restoration of economic stability in Japan is therefore of great importance. Japan is an industrial power, and must find, not only sources of raw materials for its industries, but also markets for its exports. The Japanese are by nature an industrious people and it is reported that there is an evident desire on their part to re-establish themselves in the eyes of the world. In Japan there is no 40-hour week, no strikes, no go-slow tactics and no sabotage. This industrial powerhouse must be kept on the side of the allies. By helping J Japan to raise its economic standards we shall help to ensure that it shall remain in the Allied camp. A peace treaty which imposed any form of economic subjection on Japan would inevitably, in the long run, help to drive the Japanese into the arms of the Soviet. Full”-and equal partnership is the only possible basis for mutual long-term friendship and cooperation in the face of the common enemy - international communism. A great deal will, of course, depend upon Japan’s goodwill and co-operation in the future. But goodwill and co-operation must be on a reciprocal basis if it is to be effective and lasting. Even the most reluctant of us must admit that Japan has passed its first real post-war test of good faith with reasonable success. Although the present leaders of Japan may be quite sincere and loyal in their undertakings, future leaders may lean away from the free powers and towards the Communist-dominated countries of Asia. That is a calculated risk which we must be prepared to take. I believe that, in the long run, as between democracy and communism. Japan will, as one writer has said, use the down-to-earth criterion: What sort of society best fills the rice bowl?
– That may be wishful thinking.
– I do not know whether the honorable member for Melbourne (Mr. Calwell), who has just interjected, has read the reported utterances of former Labour Ministers and Labour members of the British House of Commons. If he has done so, he will know that when this matter was discussed in the House of Commons’ towards the end of last year, his colleagues in the British Labour party agreed that the treaty should be ratified. Mr. Herbert Morrison, the former Foreign Secretary in the Labour Administration, advocated the early conclusion of a peace treaty with Japan and went on to say that he believed it to be possible for Japan to achieve a reasonable standard of living for its people without menacing the standards of living of the people of other countries. The Australian Labour party is out of step with the British Labour party. This treaty was ratified by an overwhelming majority of the members of the House of Commons a few months ago. Only a small rebel group of left wing Socialists voted against it. The United States of America and New Zealand are expected to ratify it at an early date.
Japan’s economic future, which is of such great importance to us, is closely bound up with, that of South-East Asia, because only if living standards in SouthEast Asian countries are raised and their productive methods are improved will they be able to supply Japan with cheap raw materials and to buy Japanese manufactured goods in return. Before the war, two-thirds of Japan’s trade was with China and Manchuria, both of which are under “ red “ domination. The present Japanese Government, under Mr. Yoshida, has clearly indicated that it has no intention of trading with Communist China.
– Rubbish !
– I am merely quoting what the present leader of the Japanese Government has said. However, sheer economic necessity may very well force Japan at some future time to renew trade relations with Communist China and Manchuria, irrespective of political considerations.
So far as J Japanese trade with Australia is concerned, the peace treaty will not prevent the Australian Government from giving adequate protection to Australian industries. Irrespective of the dire forebodings of the honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Haylen), I point out that the Minister for Trade and Customs (Senator O’sullivan) has made it clear that Australian industries will be protected and that Australia will not necessarily accord most-favoured-nation treatment to Japan. Strict control is being exercised by the Government over all importations from Japan because it recognizes that it has a paramount duty to protect Australia’s economic position. Repressive import restrictions may or may not be necessary, but in any case the treaty does not in any way prevent the Australian Government from increasing the tariff on Japanese goods or from imposing antidumping duties if these are deemed to be desirable in our own interests. Unfair trade competition and pirating of the pre-war pattern must be firmly checked.
It is difficult to see how any Australian Government, whatever its political colour, could fail to ratify this treaty. Its dissent would, in any case, he unavailing. Although we are not entirely satisfied with the provisions of the treaty the fact is that the major Western powers have accepted it on the basis that it is the best treaty that can be devised in the present unsettled state of the world. Aiming as it does to ensure a balance of power, it at least provides a foundation for future peace and stability in the Pacific.
.- One should approach the consideration of this bill with a sense of sober responsibility because it is one of the most important measures that has been brought before the Parliament in recent years. It is vitally important because the ratification of the treaty can have profound and farreaching effects upon the destiny of Australia. The treaty contains so many dangerous features that honorable members would be recreant to their trust if they failed to examine closely every article of it. I do not subscribe to the theory advanced by Government supporters that because the treaty has already been signed by 49 nations and will be ratified, irrespective of what we think of it, we should offer no suggestions about it. When the conference at San Francisco was in progress I failed to discover in the columns of the daily newspapers whether Australia’s representatives had made any outspoken protests against the inclusion in the treaty of provisions that would be to Australia’s detriment. On the other hand, I have vivid recollections of reading about the forceful protests that were voiced by Australia’s representatives at the conference at which the Versailles treaty was signed in ,1919. Even if our representatives at the San Francisco conference knew that their protests would not be heeded, such protests would have had the wholehearted approval of the Australian people. The
Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Casey), in his second-reading speech, said that he was uncertain about many of the implications of the treaty provisions. That uncertainty has not been allayed by the chilly and hostile attitude of the Australian people towards the treaty. For instance, he said -
I have made it clear that the Government is by no means wholely satisfied with this treaty.
Later, he said -
We are not convinced that democracy has taken firm root in Japan; we are not sure that the Japanese can be fully trusted to steer a course in the future away from the aggressive military and economic policies that nave threatened our very existence in the past.
I take it that those statements indicate the mind of the Government. That being so, members of the Opposition are entitled to know why it accepted the treaty with docility. The Minister said that before the treaty was signed representations with respect to many contentious provisions had been made on Australia’s behalf to other governments. The fact remains that Australia’s representatives accepted the treaty meekly and mildly. I repeat that our representatives at the San Francisco conference should have voiced with the utmost vigour protests against those provisions of the treaty that will be detrimental to Australia’s interests. It is primarily on that ground that I criticize the Government.
There can be no doubt that the great majority of the Australian people view the treaty with disfavour. They know that under it Japan will be allowed to escape retribution for having waged an aggressive war with unsurpassed treachery, shocking brutality and barbarity. Even supporters of the Government, most of whom apologize halfheartedly for the treaty, realize that under the treaty Japan will enjoy not only a soft peace but also the opportunity to rearm within a comparatively few years. We have been told that for many years to come Japan cannot possibly regain sufficient power to constitute a menace to world peace. However, we know that Japan developed industrially to an amazing degree within three years before the recent war. Recently, we were told that the Japanese had not only a right but also a duty to rearm. That statement was made by Mr. John Foster Dulles, who is the architect of this treaty. Those words sound a grim and foreboding note in the ears of Australians who realize that those now in control in Japan are determined that their country will as soon as possible regain a dominating position in international affairs. The Japanese militarists have a deep-seated hatred of the Western democracies. They are 100 per cent, behind the present Japanese Go- vernment and are only awaiting the opportunity to prepare for a war of revenge. The Minister has asked the House to be realistic in its consideration of the treaty. Let us realize that the psychology of the Japanese leaders has not changed one iota since the end of World War II.
The Government seeks to justify the ratification of the treaty by claiming that Japan will, in any event, be prevented from engaging in another war of aggression. The treaty contains several deleterious provisions from Australia’s point of view. . Those provisions are : First, that no limitation whatever is to be placed upon Japan’s right to rearm; secondly, there will be no prohibition against the restoration of Japanese heavy industries which include war industries; thirdly, there will be no veto upon the return to power of the militaristic political leaders who were responsible for Japan’s aggression in World War II. Only in to-night’s Sydney Sun I read a report that since the end of the recent conflict not one young leader has emerged in the political life of Japan which is still dominated by the self-same leaders, man for man, who were responsible for Japanese aggression in that conflict.
The omissions from the treaty to which I have referred constitute a threat to Australia’s sovereignty and independence. Under Article 5 (c) Japan is to .be given the right to re-establish its army, navy and air force and that right is not to be made subject to any limitation whatever. To-day, even before the treaty has been ratified, one can see practical evidence of the effect of that provision. The Melbourne Argus of the 15th January last published a quotation from the Tokyo Times which stated that Japan’s military expenditure for the current fiscal year would amount to about one-third of the national budget. We must accept, or reject, the treaty as a whole, but the adoption of that provision will violate the. war-time agreements that were made between the Allies that Japan would not again be permitted to threaten aggression. We are told ad nauseam that the aim of the United States of America is to use J Japan to fight Russia and its Far Eastern satellites. However, every Australian knows that future governments in Japan will use J Japanese military, naval and air strength not as an ally of the Western democracies against China, or Russia, in the Far East, as wishful thinking on the part of .American diplomats would suggest, but solely in the interests of Japan itself. Those forces will he utilized in the not far distant future to restore Japanese sovereignty and power as they were used from 1914 to 1945. Every one was hopeful after World War II. that the emergence of democratic forms of government in Japan would obviate any threat to the democracies from that source, but a perusal of the writings and reports of expert observers of Japanese imperialism reveals that all democratic movements that have taken place in Japan since the recent conflict have achieved only limited success and have never really become a dominant force in Japanese political life. As the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt) correctly pointed out; this has been due largely to the activities of the Zaibatsu, the financial interests that wield enormous power in that country, and like the Krupps group in Germany, specialize in the manufacture of armaments. In the past, that financial oligarchy practically determined Japanese foreign policy.
We learn that plans for a big Japanese navy and air force, which could threaten Australia, are being openly discussed by Japanese ex-naval officers. The Committee for the Study of Japanese Rearmament is sponsoring an ex-naval officers’ organization project for an air force of 2,100 combat planes, and a navy of 280,000 tons. We are told that, under present conditions, Japan has no forces that can constitute a threat to this country, and, indeed, cannot have such forces for many years, even should it wish to possess them. Everybody will agree that the Japanese should be permitted to have forces for the purpose of defending their own country; but I believe that an article should have been inserted in the peace treaty to define the actual number of men, and the armaments that are necessary for the defence of Japan. Such a force should be strictly limited to the task of defending Japan against external aggression, and should be limited to an army, navy, air force and tank force of an agreed strength that could be used to resist an aggressor on Japanese soil. But what do we find? Under this treaty, the construction of a formidable fleet of long-range naval vessels, surface and under-water, ha3 not been prohibited. Even the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) recognizes the danger that I have mentioned, because in an article that he wrote only two or three months ago for the United States magazine Foreign Affairs, he pointed out that it did constitute a danger to our sovereignty in the future. Everybody realizes that a long-range navy, in association with a large mercantile marine, would re-produce the means by which Japan made its southward drive in 1941-43. The Japanese ship-building industry is thriving. Two or three days ago the Melbourne Herald published the following news item: -
Japan is in the midst of a ship-building boom and is becoming the ship-building centre for the nations of the world, according to the Tokyo correspondent of the North American Newspaper Alliance.
That information discloses that it will not be many years before the shipbuilding yards of Japan will be engaged in building large units for Japanese naval expansion. The Prime Minister, in the article in Foreign Affairs, stated -
Japan, to be defended against invasion, does not, for example, need long-range submarines, nor does she need long-range surface ships of war.
The right honorable gentleman also wrote that repeatedly the request had been made by Australia to Washington and London that, in any permitted Japanese rearmament, the construction of long-range naval units should be prohibited. Evidently the Australian Government received no satisfaction in that matter. If that were so, it was the duty of the Australian representatives at the San Francisco conference last year to emphasize our views in a most vociferous and forceful fashion, because such a naval programme constitutes a grave menace to our safety. Even the Prime Minister realizes that. Yet, as far as I can ascertain, the peace treaty was accepted in a very meek fashion by our representatives. Our primary interestin the discussion of this treaty must be to promote the best interests in our country.
Our primary interest in Japan, by reason of our experiences in World War II., must be, of necessity, negative. We must not support any positive proposal that will enable Japan to emerge as a possible warmaker. We must ensure that, whatever may happen, Japan will not be so powerful as it was in 1941. This peace treaty will enable Japan, in a short space, to be as powerful as it was in 1941. This attitude that I Lave mentioned is understandable, because it merely follows the instinct of self-preservation. Therefore, I submit that this National Parliament has only one course to adopt in discussing Article 5 (e) of the peace treaty. By voice and by vote, we should declare to the world that we are opposed to aiding and abetting Japan to acquire weapons for distant aggression, such as long-range naval units, about which the Prime Minister has been so concerned. It is also imperative to remember that the peace treaty places on a war footing the only Asian power that is capable of undertaking an airborne or a sea-borne invasion of Australia. So long as the social and economic structure of Japanese society remains unchanged Japan must be expected to tread the path of aggression at a not so distant date. I for one have the greatest difficulty in believing that the majority of the Japanese people have been converted to the democratic way of life.
I shall now examine the extraordinary change of front on the part of the Allies towards Japan in the last three or four years. We have been told this evening, and we have, read in the press for some months, that the reason for the American change of front is the assumption that Japan will continue to renounce aggression and will remain on the American side in the line-up in world affairs. After all, the United States has given the lead for a change of attitude towards Japan. We must be honest with ourselves about that fact. America has called the tune. However, such an assumption is highly dangerous because Japanese population problems, its economic and social organization and the outlook of its leaders remain much the same as they were before the outbreak of World War II. As the honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Haylen) has pointed out so aptly, increas- ing population will make it essential for Japan to make provision for settlement somewhere and, irrespective of any agreement with the Western powers, it will take every opportunity to protect its own interests, and to ensure that its people shall have living space. Should Great Britain and the United States become involved in hostilities in Europe and Asia it is not difficult to imagine J Japan seizing the opportunity to make another southward drive. Despite all that has been said in the last two or three years about new strategic needs that have arisen out of the changing world situation, most Australians will not be readily convinced that the danger of a resurgent Japan has been banished for ever. We should take care to ensure that within a decade we shall not be confronted by a powerful militaristic Japan, eager to recover its lost empire and to put into operation its co-prosperity plan, about which we heard so much a few years ago. There is no guarantee under this treaty that Japan will no longer be a menace in the Pacific. This treaty will have one definite and unequivocal effect. It will set up in the Pacific a state of perpetual tension. For that reason alone, if for no other, this House should reject the treaty.
I am disappointed with the anaemic clauses in the treaty in relation to reparations. To all practical intents and purposes the proposed reparations payments are, in effect, merely token payments. When we recall Pearl Harbour, the Manila horror, the death marches in Malaya, the agonies of Changi and the Burma Road and the massacres that the Japanese perpetrated on subject peoples, it would amaze mc if reparations were not exacted from the Japanese in justice to people who suffered so mercilessly at their hands. But the reparations provided for in the treaty are virtually insignificant. I have no hesitation in saying that had the boot been on the other foot, and had Japan won the war, it would have extracted heavy reparations from Australia. The Minister for External Affairs has claimed that under the treaty exprisoners of war will receive compensation, but did not indicate whether former prisoners of war would receive the payments that they have been claiming for a number of years. I should like to know whether under this treaty those unfortunate men will receive what is justly due to them. I refer to the subsistence allowance claim which so far has not been met by any government and consideration of which has been shelved pending examination of the reparations clauses of the treaty. I hope that this Blouse will insist that prisoners of war shall receive the full amount that they are claiming.
I wish now to make a few observations about Articles 7 to 13 of the peace treaty, which deal with political and economic matters. Those articles make no reference to the encouragement of democracy within Japan despite the earlier allied agreements on this subject. They do not provide for the destruction of the power of Japanese militarists and monopolies although agreement on that matter too was reached at Potsdam, Yalta and elsewhere. The encouragement of democracy in Japan is the only effective guarantee against the resurgence of aggressive Japanese militarism, but there is not one word in the treaty that will ensure the effective emergence of true democracy in Japan.
The whole case for the ratification of this treaty rests on the premise that if Japan is not permitted to rearm it will fall an easy prey to Russia and China. The utmost caution should be observed in accepting any such claim and the matter should be examined in the light of traditional Japanese foreign policy. Any student of Japanese foreign policy knows that Japan has always attached itself to a group of nations for the definite purpose of achieving territorial gains at the expense of nations outside that group. That policy was a signal success for many years and it enabled Japan to build a sizable empire. Only in “World War II, did it fail, when Japan allied itself with Germany and Italy with the unmistakable aim of annexing further territories in the Pacific. When the treaty has been signed Japan will consider what direction its foreign policy should take. If Japan were to pledge allegiance to the Western democracies what territorial gains would it be likely to make? They would be extremely limited if they existed at all. If on the other hand Japan stood aloof and waited until a third world war occurred it might very well again have an opportunity to make extensive territorial gains in the Pacific. I cannot accept the theory that Japan can he used as a bastion against Russia or China. Japan’s proximity to Siberia makes its overcrowded cities an easy mark for the Russian Air Force, but Japan could do little damage to Russian possessions. When we contemplate the great devastation that could be caused in Japan should that country become embroiled in war with Russia, can we reasonably expect Japan to join the Western democracies when the rewards of such a union would be few and the territorial gains negligible ? Let us he realistic and admit that the whole trend of Japanese foreign policy will be towards the recovery of possessions lost as a result of World War II. This treaty will be one of the instruments that will be used by the Japanese imperialists to regain and if possible add to their former possessions. This Parliament’s solemn obligation in the interests of present and future generations of Australians is not to do anything that may encourage Japanese expansionist objectives. Our approach to the treaty should be, “Does it affect or jeopardize our future security ? “ Put to that test, the treaty must be roundly condemned and rejected. When the treaty was being formulated, was the Government really aware of its dangerous provisions? Did the Government make the most vigorous representations possible to America to include in the treaty clauses to safeguard our future sovereignty? Was the Government scared of earning America’s disapproval if it protested too emphatically? Has the Government taken into consideration the possibility that a change of government in the United States of America would result in an alteration of that country’s foreign policy which might prevent aid from being sent to us in the event of Japanese aggression? We must not accept with too much confidence the proposed Pacific security pact, because that pact provides that it may be dissolved by one of the partners giving twelve months’ notice. In the stresses and strains of future international events an American, government might decide to withdraw from the pact- and we should then no longer be able to depend on American support ‘in the event of J Japanese aggression. Is the Government, accepting the treaty as final and irrevocable or does it contemplate further action by legislation or by an approach to the United Nations, the United States of America or any other nation to ensure that the dangers that the treaty will create shall be eliminated or even lessened?
Debate (on motion by Mr. Graham) adjourned.
Motion (by Mr. Eric J. Harrison) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
.- For some time past in this House there has been a consistent and unjustified campaign by certain honorable members against the New South “Wales Labour Government. By distorting facts they have continually attempted to place that Gor vernment in an unfavorable light with certain sections of the Australian community. In furtherance of that campaign, this morning the honorable member for Riverina (Mr. Roberton) directed what was evidently a prearranged question to the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture (Mr. McEwen).
– Order ! The honorable member may not deal with something that took place earlier to-day.
– This was a case of misrepresentation.
– The honorable member has said that he is basing his remarks on a question that was asked by the honorable member for Riverina this morning. I am sorry, but the Standing Orders preclude him from continuing on those lines.
– On several occasions,. Mr. Speaker, you have permitted discussion during the adjournment debate of matters that arose earlier in the same sitting.
– Only matters that have concerned the House generally. I should like to know what the honorable gentleman is aiming at.
-This matter concerns the House. It certainly concerns me as the representative of a New South Wales electorate. This House has been used to discredit a Labour government, members of which have no opportunity to reply in this chamber. When matters are wrongly represented to the House 1 think that honorable members are entitled to know the facts. This question was asked by the honorable member for Riverina-
-Order ! The honorable member may state the facts without dealing with the question.
– It has been suggested that by refusing permission to destroy wild fowl in New South Wales the Chief Secretary of that State, Mr. Olive Evatt, is endangering rice crops and so is denying this essential foodstuff to the starving people of Asian countries. I shall state the facts. The important months of the year for the rice-growers are November and December, when the young shoots are coming up. Serious damage can bc done to the rice crop by wild fowl during those months. The Chief Secretary has never refused to grant permits to individual growers for the destruction of wild fowl on their properties or in the vicinity of their properties. Hundreds of such permits have been issued. The distortion of the facts in this campaign now becomes evident.
The Chief Secretary is merely upholding the law for the protection of fauna, and the individuals who complain about his action, on the ground that it is leading to the destruction of an important rural industry, in fact belong to an organization that is known as the Field Sports Society and are not worried about the situation of the rice industry. They belong, to the wealthy section of the community like the men in Victoria who have what they call an open season from the 1st March, each year. All they are worried about is their sport. These persons are obtaining signatures to a petition, copies of- which can be seen and signed in sports stoves. The rice-growers are not collect- ing signatures for it. The honorable member for Riverina and other honorable members opposite who support him in this matter ought to deal only with the facts. It is unfair to say that the Chief Secretary of New South Wales has refused to issue permits for the destruction of wild fowl that are damaging rice crops. The. truth is that he does not issue permits indiscriminately because he does not believe that Australian fauna should be destroyed merely because members of some sporting organization want to engage in an orgy of shooting and killing: He has consistently afforded every consideration and protection to the rice-growers. I repeat that he has issued hundreds of permits to such farmers- to enable them to destroy wild fowl that threaten their crops. Therefore, it is evident that a campaign of distortion has been launched for the purpose of discrediting the Labour Government of New South Wales.
.- I am. able to corroborate some of the facts that were stated this morning by the honorable member for Riverina (Mr. Roberton) concerning the refusal of the Chief Secretary of New South Wales to issue permits for the destruction of pests. There are many wild fowl in my electorate, although rice is not grown there.
– Order ! The honorable gentleman must not deal with the honorable member for Riverina, who is not under discussion.
– The ban on the shooting of certain birds and animals that has been imposed by the Chief Secretary is having serious effects in grazing and wool-growing districts in the Gwydir electorate. The Chief Secretary has banned the shooting of eaglehawks and kangaroos. Eaglehawks are large birds which take lambs, and are a menace to other birds that serve a useful purpose by destroying insects that damage crops. However, when the Chief Secretary was approached by another member of the New South Wales Parliament who pointed out to him the serious effect of his ban on the killing of eaglehawks, he said, “ Oh dear ! You would not ask me to kill those birds, would you.? They have a wonderful, wing span and they look so beautiful in the air “. Kangaroos- also cause considerable damage on properties in northwestern New South Wales, but the Chief Secretary has placed a general ban on their destruction. As a special favour, he gave one grazier permission to shoot ten kangaroos, but they had to be bucks! The Chief Secretary probably has rarely travelled beyond the outskirts of Sydney, except perhaps as Minister for Education, when he visited schools and presented them with signed photographs of himself. I believe that he occupies the position of president of the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals in New South Wales. He- has certainly advertised himself in that capacity to the detriment of rural industries in the electorate that I represent. I suggest that the honorable member for East Sydney should take two doctors to interview the honorable gentleman and determine whether he is fit to continue to occupy ministerial office.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
The following papers were presented : -
Elections, 1949 - Statistical Returns showing the voting within each Subdivision in relation to the Senate Election and the General Elections for the House of Representatives, 1949, viz.: -
New South Wales.
Ordered to be printed.
Dairy Produce Export Control Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1952, No. 3.
Defence Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1952, No. 8.
Defence (Transitional Provisions) Act - National Security (Industrial Property) Regulations - Orders - Inventions and designs (5).
Egg Export Control Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1952, No. 4.
Lands Acquisition Act - Land, &c, acquired for -
Immigration purposes - Helensburgh..
New South Wales-. Postal purposes -
Tharbogang, New South Wales-.
Meat Export Control Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1952, No. 5.
Post and Telegraph Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1952, No. 6.
Public Service Act - Appointments - Department -
Attorney-General - J. C. Braund.
Defence - E. T. Robinson.
Supply - J. M. Nobbs.
Trade and Customs - S. R. Burns, D. E. Fenwick.
Works and Housing - E. A. Ingram.
Repatriation Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1952, No. 7.
Wine Grapes Charges Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1952, No. 2.
House adjourned at 11.6 p.m.
The following answers to questions were circulated) -
United Nations Educational,
r asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
d asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
y asked the Minister for Health, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : - 1 and 2. Tuberculosis clinics are already established at the Royal North Shore Hospital, Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, Sydney Hospital. Many Hospital, Canterbury Hospital, and St. George District Hospital. It is intended to open a clinic at Parramatta Hospital.
Z asked the Minister representing the Minister for Shipping and Transport, upon notice -
J£r. Anthony. - The Minister for Shipping and Transport has supplied the following information . - 1 and 2. The vessel Balaar shipped 8,610 tons of pig iron from Whyalla to Queensland on the 17th December, 1950; Hie vessel Kooringa shipped 3,027 tons of pig iron from Whyalla’ to Queensland on the 8th March, 1951; the vessel Balaar shipped 6,011 tons of pig iron from Whyalla to Queensland on the 10th June, 1951; the vessel Banoon shipped 1,526 tons of pig iron from Whyalla to Queensland on the 30th September, 1951.
e asked the Minister acting for the Treasurer, upon notice -
What was the interest paid to the International Bank on the 1950 100,000,000. dollar loan?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows : -
Interest at 4i per cent, is payable halfyearly to the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development on the amount of the 100,000,000 dollar loan withdrawn and outstanding from time to time. This interest charge includes the 1 per cent, commission required by the Articles of Agreement of the bank for the purpose of building up the reserves of the bank of which Australia is, of course, a member. (If the level of the bank’s reserves warrant it at the end of ten years from the commencement of the bank’s operations (25th June, 1946) this commission charge may be reduced with respect to the outstanding portions of loans already made as well as to future loans.) In addition, a commitment charge of ) .per cent, is payable halfyearly on the amount of the loan standing undrawn from time to time. The charges are payable twice a year (on 1st March and 1st September ) . The actual amounts paid to date are as follows: -
When the loan is fully drawn, interest payments will amount to £ A.] ,897,000 a year until 1955. From 1955, when amortization payments begin, until 1975, when the loan will be fully repaid, payments of interest and principal combined will amount to f A.3,280,000 per annum.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 21 February 1952, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1952/19520221_reps_20_216/>.