21st Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Speaker (Hon. Archie Cameron) took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
– I desire to give notice that I intend to amend the notice of motion standing in my name for leave to bring in a stevedoring industry bill, the amendment to read-
That I have leave to bring in a bill for an act to amend the Stevedoring Industry Act 1940, and to provide for an inquiry into certain matters.
I bring this matter to the attention of honorable members because, although no change of substance is proposed in the notice that I gave yesterday, the Parliamentary Draftsman has advised me that that notice did not cover one aspect of the proposed amending legislation, namely the inquiry.
Mr. Ward interjecting ,
– I am sorry to disappoint the honorable member for East Sydney and others about this matter, because no change is proposed at this stage in the legislation.
– Is the Minister introducing a new notice of motion ?
– Notice might be given afresh.
– I am giving it afresh.
– I understood that the Minister was trying to amend something.
– I am giving notice that I intend to move for leave to bring in a bill for an act to amend the Stevedoring Industry Act 1949, and to provide for an inquiry into certain matters. The only addition to the notice that I gave yesterday is the provision for an inquiry into certain matters. This was included in the draft bill, but the draftsman believes it should be specifically included in the notice of motion. That is the sole purpose of my present procedure. I desire to postpone the notice of motion until the next sitting of the Parliament.
– I rise to order. Is the notice of motion that the Minister will move something to-morrow, or is the Minister trying to do something which will require the consent of the House?
– Order ! The position is covered by Standing Order 138 which reads -
After a Notice of Motion has been given, the terms thereof may be altered by the Member notifying the House and delivering to the Clerk at the Table an amended Notice on any day prior to that for proceeding with such Motion, or he may withdraw same by notifying the House.
– I take it that the Minister’s notice applies to a future date?
– Order ! That is so.
– Was the Prime Minister advised by any member of this Government whether or not an assurance was given to the representatives of the Waterside Workers Federation that the Government would not proceed with the proposed amendments to the Stevedoring Industry Act until an inquiry into the industry had been completed?
– Not only do I know nothing of such an assurance, but, on the contrary, I am assured that no such assurance was given.
– My question to the Minister for Labour and National Service relates to the notice of motion he has just given. Speaking on behalf of the Opposition-
– Order ! The honorable member is asking a question, not speaking on behalf of anybody.
– Very well. The Minister now proposes to hold an inquiry which presumably will be into the relevant aspects of the stevedoring and shipping industry. Having regard to the recent returns that showed the profits made in the shipping and the stevedoring industries, will he consider the desirability, in the public interest, of postponing the substantive part of his proposal until the inquiry has been held and a report has been made to the Parliament and the country? Or does the Minister do what the shipowners want him to do ?
– As to the terms of the inquiry, it will be convenient that they not only cover the aspect to which the right honorable gentleman has made reference, but will also cover a wide range of matters on which it is considered the facts should be available, freed from any contradictory allegations which might otherwise be made. The Leader of the Opposition has requested the Government to postpone another aspect of the legislation which has been forecast. I wish to make it quite clear to the House that, in the view of the Government, no inquiry is needed to inform it of the delays and obstructions which have occurred in filling quotas in accordance with the direction of the Australian
Stevedoring Industry Board. The right honorable gentleman is fully aware that at the time the Labour Government, of which he was a member, made the extraordinary concession of giving a monopoly of waterfront engagement to the board, it was made a condition of that arrangement that the quotas prescribed by the board should be promptly filled by the Waterside Workers Federation. That has not been done; it remains undone; and the proposed amendment seeks to cure that deficiency; I merely say in conclusion that the terms of reference which will cover the freight aspect to which the right honorable gentleman has referred had been determined long before any strike action was threatened, or had taken effect, on the part of the Waterside Workers Federation.
-I wish to ask a supplementary question. The Minister has referred to delays and obstructions which have occurred in filling quotas. Does he not think that-
– Order ! The right honorable gentleman may not ask the Minister for an expression of opinion.
– Will the Minister now reconsider the statement which he made a few moments ago, and postpone dealing with those substantive matters until he has a judicial or impartial investigation of the matter which he proposes in another connexion?
– There is only one matter, other than the inquiry, which the bill as at present drafted seeks to cover, and that is the aspect of recruitment in order to bring the quotas at the various ports up to the strength prescribed by the Australian Stevedoring Industry Board. It has been within the power of the Waterside Workers Federation at all relevant times to ensure that the quotas were maintained at the prescribed strength, and in accordance with the arrangement which it had made with the then Labour Government. If the union, by reason of its refusal to fill, or its delay in filling, those quotas after repeated protests and requests on the part of the Government, has now to face a change in that method of recruitment, the responsibility lies at the door of the officials of the federation and nobody else.
– Does the Minister for Labour and National Service consider that the action of the Waterside Workers Federation, in suspending work on the waterfront and threatening to bring about an Australia-wide strike, is intended to intimidate members of this Parliament in the performance of their duty?
– That question asks for an expression of opinion.
– Order ! The honorable member for Bennelong may not ask the Minister for an expression of opinion.
– If such threats are proceeded with, will the Minister consider the introduction of amendments to the Stevedoring Industry Act beyond those at present proposed, in order to deal effectively with a situation that may arise?
– I point out that the action of the Government depends entirely upon the support which it receives from this democratically-elected Parliament. If it is made evident to the Government that action will be taken in defiance of decisions of this democratically-elected Parliament, then the Government will certainly consider what additional powers it should take to meet the challenge to democratic government in this country.
– Recently, the Minister for Social Services announced that it was intended to build 400 war service homes on the Lewis Gordon estate at Picnic Point, in the Bankstown district. Can he advise me whether any provision has been made on this 900-acre estate for recreation grounds and parks? Perhaps he will recall inspecting this area when he was Minister for Air, and that on that occasion the Picnic Point Regatta Association sought his aid in its endeavour to have set aside a portion of this natural beauty spot for playgrounds. If this matter comes within the Minister’s province, will he use his good offices to assist that association to acquire the surveyed section of the estate for the purposes which it has in mind?
– One thing that first attracted my attention when I had a look at the Lewis Gordon estate was whether a sufficient area had been set aside for recreation purposes. I was assured that the War Service Homes Division had been trying to persuade the local government authority to take over a little more land, but that the latter body was reluctant to do so. I have asked the Director-General of Social Services to pursue this matter in order to see whether additional land can be made available. As far as my memory goes, the piece of land shown to me by the Beauty Point Progress Association was not the same block as that to which the honorable member has referred. I shall have a look at the matter and advise the honorable member whether steps can be taken in the direction that he has indicated.
– Can the Minister for the Interior now make, or will he be able to make before the present sessional period ends, a statement giving the decision on proposals that the maximum amount of loan by the Department of the Interior for the building or the purchase of homes in Canberra will be increased from £2,000 to £2,750?
– I cannot promise the honorable member that I shall give him an answer before th? House goes into recess. It depends when the recess will begin.
– Is the Minister for the Navy aware that experiments are being conducted in the United Kingdom with the construction of a small motor vessel made of glass fibre and resinous material? If these experiments are successful, is it considered that this type of construction could be adopted for naval use for small warship hulls which would require little attention and .could be built quickly with semi-skilled labour? Is the Royal Australian Navy keeping in touch with this development ?
– Information with respect to all experiments that are conducted by the British Government in respect of both naval and military equipment is made available to us from time to time. The Royal Australian Navy has standardized itself on Royal Navy standards, and I am confident that we shall be kept fully informed of the progress that is made in the experiments to which the honorable gentleman has referred.
– Has the Minister acting for the Postmaster-General received a request from the Graziers Association of New South Wales that telephone calls from small rural automatic exchanges to the nearest town, or township, should be regarded not as trunk calls but as local calls? If so, has he given consideration to this matter?
– Such a request has not come to my notice, but I shall have inquiries made to see whether it has been made and I shall advise the honorable member about the decision.
– I ask the Minister for Defence, who is acting for the Postmaster-General, when the PostmasterGeneral’s Department will be able to attend to public telephone installations, a considerable number of which were approved by the department more than three years ago, in the Bondi, Bondi Junction and Waverley districts, in Sydney. Have the installations been deferred until the modifications necessary for 4d. calls are made? If so, when will the modifications be completed, and when will this long overdue service be provided?
– It is true that delays have occurred in the installation of both public and private telephones, but the Postmaster-General’s Department is proceeding with installations as quickly as the available manpower and materials will allow. I shall have inquiries made, and I shall give the honorable member the information that he seeks as soon as I obtain it.
– Can the Minister for the Interior indicate when the final figures for the recent census will be made available, and when he expects to be able to make an announcement, based on those figures, regarding alterations in electoral boundaries ?
– I hope very shortly to be able to make an announcement of the kind to which the honorable member has referred, but I cannot give any definite assurance about the date on which I shall be able to do so. Whilst the Census Branch is under the jurisdiction of the Prime Minister’s Department, the Electoral Branch is under my jurisdiction as Minister for the Interior. Until the Chief Electoral Officer receives the final census figures, I shall not be in a position to supply the information for which the honorable member has asked.
– I preface my question to the Minister for Health by reminding him of the fact that, on the 12th October, I asked whether he would consider granting to a pensioner patient in. a private hospital the same benefit of 12s. a day as applies, by agreement with the State governments, to pensioner patients entering a public hospital. In reply to that question, the Minister asked me whether I could indicate how the matter could be dealt with, and I wrote to him suggesting that arrangements should be made with the appropriate State authority, which could certify that accommodation was not available for the pensioner at a public hospital. The Minister did not accept that suggestion but pointed out to me-
-Order! What is the question? The honorable gentleman is merely recounting the correspondence between himself and the Minister.
– The Minister pointed out to me that a pensioner in a private hospital could receive an additional 4s. a day, which would bring his benefit up to 12s. a day, if he paid an insurance premium of 3d. a week, but I pointed out-
– Order ! What is the question? The honorable member is giving information not asking for it, which he is required to do in a question.
– Will the Minister again give consideration to this matter so that a. pensioner patient in a private hospital shall not be prejudiced by comparison with a pensioner patient in a public hospital ?
– As I told the honorable member for Swan when he asked his question a few weeks ago, the Government has given this matter a great deal of thought, and since that date it has actively pursued the question with the object of removing the anomaly. The position of pensioners in public institutions is ‘denned by two statutory provisions. One of these is the social services legislation, and the other is the hospital benefits legislation which incorporates the agreement with the States. There is some doubt in the legal mind in relation to the exact position of pensioners in private and intermediate wards of public hospitals, which we hope to clear =up. The position of pensioners who are admitted to private hospitals has become less complicated as a result of the liberalization of the means test, under which 170,000 pensioners have acquired an increase of between 10s. and £2 a week. As a result of this circumstance, which arises from the Government’s action, many of these pensioners are already insured for medical benefits and apparently many others will insure themselves, which will reduce the number of people who may be at a disadvantage under the present procedure. Unfortunately, as the honorable member may have noticed, there has been considerable abuse of the pensioner medical scheme. In fact, certain cases are before the courts at present despite the fact that disciplinary committees of the British Medical Association have been very active in trying to reduce this abuse. Changes in the procedure will undoubtedly be necessary. I can assure the honorable member that the question raised by him will receive full consideration when those changes are made.
– Is the Minister for Health aware that a report on the Australian health scheme was recently presented at the World Medical Association meeting held in Rome, and received highly favorable comment from world medical authorities? Will he consider keeping the various countries that are interested advised on the progress of the scheme, and its continued practical success in this country?
– I am in constant communication with other countries that are asking for information about out health scheme, which they hope will be a solution of the health and medical services problem in all the free countries of the world. I suspected that it was very well received in the other countries, and I am glad to hear that my suspicions have been well founded.
– Will the Minister for Health include in the list of free medicines available to pensioners, the Swiss remedy for arthritis, butazolidine, so that it may be obtained on the presentation of a qualified medical practitioner’s certificate. If the right honorable gentleman will not do so, what are his reasons for denying this very effective treatment to those crippled by arthritis ?
– The drug mentioned by the honorable member has been frequently considered by the expert committee which deals with pharmaceutical benefits, and that committee has consistently refused to place it on the list of free medicines.
– I ask the Minister for Health whether he will investigate the medical services and medical facilities at the village of Glen Davis, with the object of restoring such services, particularly to the pensioners at that centre. Will he, if necessary, confer with the New South Wales health authorities with the object of preserving a health organization for that community?
– The provision of medical services at Glen Davis is a matter for the New South Wales Government, but I shall inquire of that Government what can be done about it.
– I desire to address a question to the Prime Minister. Will the right honorable gentleman consider a request made by the Parkes Municipal Council that a special committee be appointed to consider and recommend the most practicable methods of decentralizing industry and population? I might say that the council’s request is prompted by the 1954 census figures of population, which reveal a large increase of population in the metropolitan areas.
– Order ! The honorable member is giving information.
Mi-. MENZIES.- Any request that comes from the Parkes Municipal Council through the honorable member I treat with great respect. Therefore I shall consider this request.
– I address a question, to the Minister for External Affairs. In pursuance of the Minister’s well-known purpose of promoting good relations between Australia and our South-East Asian neighbours, the Colombo plan countries, has he considered the good usethat might be made in those countries of a documentary film or films showingsomething of the lives of Asian students who are studying in Australia? By way of explanation, I point out to the Minister that it is the common experience of those students to be received in Australia with friendliness and great goodwill.
– Order ! The explanation is unnecessary. It is only comment.
– Has the Minister considered whether Australia’s goodwill could not be enhanced in the home countries of those students by means of such films?
– The proposal is a good one. I am not sure that work has not already been done on such a proposal. I am grateful to the honorable member for his constructive suggestion, and I shall investigate the matter forthwith.
– My question is directed to the Minister for the Interior. By way of explanation, let me state that a vast area of land has been resumed for tho proposed extension of the Eagle Farm aerodrome. Some resumptions have not been finalized, inasmuch as compensation has not yet been paid.
– Order ! What is the honorable member’s question?
– I ask the Minister whether, in view of the intention of the’ Minister for Air to review the proposed extension of the aerodrome, the Department of the Interior will withhold further action in relation to the finalization of those resumptions. I refer particularly to cases in which compensation has not been paid, but in which rent is demanded by the Department of the Interior from the former owners of the land. I ask particularly that no further action be taken until the investigation of the Minister for Air is finalized.
– The honorable member for Lilley has shown great interest in this particular problem, which has been considerably complicated by the action of the department - a very natural action - in pursuance of its desire to obtain possession of all the land that it thought would be necessary for the development of the aerodrome.
– Who owns the Eagle Farm racecourse?
– Not the honorable member for Watson.
Honorable members interjecting,
– Perhaps I am wrong. I discussed this matter recently with the Minister for Air to ascertain the policy in relation to the development of the aerodrome. I have asked the Department of the Interior to hold its hand in relation to the properties affected until that policy has been determined. I shall inform the honorable member of the position as soon, as my discussions with my colleague have been concluded.
– Can the Minister for Civil Aviation say whether the investigation being carried out into the expansion of the Eagle Farm aerodrome will prejudice the construction of the 75 degree runway at that aerodrome, and whether there is any intention of altering the plan which provides for a 45 degree runway, estimated to cost about £1,250,000 ?
– No, both the 75 degree and the 45 degree runways will be completed.
– I ask the Minister for Civil Aviation whether he will confer with the general manager of Trans-Australia Airlines in relation to the new traffic schedule that will be introduced for air traffic in the Northern Territory when Vickers Viscount aircraft are introduced on the inter-capital routes. As the proposed schedule will limit the number of stops each week at such places as Tennant Creek, Camooweal, Alexandria Downs, Katherine and Daly Waters, will the Minister intervene so that smaller centres in the Northern Territory, which depend to a large degree on air transport, shall not be penalized?
– I should like to emphasize that the question of air schedules is one for the company concerned, and that I have no authority to intervene. However, I shall be very pleased to discuss the matter with TransAustralia Airlines. As I understand the position, Trans- Aus tralia Airlines intends to run a DC4 service, which will be supplemented with smaller - perhaps DC3 - aircraft.
– I ask the Minister for the Interior whether he has received an answer from the Queensland Government in relation to the offer, by the Australian Government, of assistance for war service land settlement.
– I understand that replies have been received from both Victoria and New South Wales, but, subject to correction, I know of no reply having been received by the Prime Minister from Queensland.
– Will the Prime Minister amplify the reasons surrounding a grant of £12,000 that has been promised to a team of six equestrians who will represent Australia at the next equestrian games to be held in Sweden in 1956, as there seems’ to be a feeling in some sporting circles ‘ that such an amount is out of all proportion to amounts that have been granted previously to Olympic Games and Empire Games teams comprising many more representatives of Australian sporting bodies?
– The Olympic Games were secured for Melbourne. Subsequently, this Government had to come into the picture, as the honorable member knows, and I attended one or two meetings of the parties concerned. The
Commonwealth, has accepted a very big financial obligation in relation to the games. The equestrian events could not be held in Australia because of quarantine regulations, in relation to which a ruling that was given by my colleague, the Minister for Health, was entirely supported by the Government and, I think, generally by the country. It was then suggested to me that, as that particular branch of the Games could not be held in Australia because of our own. internal rules, it would be a gracious gesture, as Australia had been accorded the games, to assist in the sending of an equestrian team overseas. For that reason I recommended to my colleague the Treasurer, and he agreed with me, that we should make available an amount of money, which is relatively small compared with the £650,000 for which we have accepted liability on account of the Olympic Games generally, so that an equestrian team could represent this country, which is the kind of country that should have an equestrian team. I thoroughly agree that it will be expensive, per head, to send that team, and I queried the matter when it was first ,put to me. But, as the honorable member will appreciate, we cannot send horses and riders away from Australia and plunge them suddenly into another climate and hope they will do well and bring some credit to Australia. A lengthy period of acclimatization, experience and special training is required. That, of course, means that the sum per head will be fairly substantial. I am sure that the honorable member will agree that it would have been a rather curious action on our part, the Games having been allotted to an Australian city and the equestrian events having been excluded from Australia as a matter of Government policy, if we had declined to facilitate the entering of a team for those events on the other side of the world. That is why we took the action that we did take.
– I ask the Prime Minister whether the Public Service Board has approved of the elimination of the free bus service that has hitherto been provided for the staff of the repatriation hospital at Heidelberg. That free bus service was a prominent feature of the advertisement seeking to recruit staff for that hospital. The bus services were stopped last Monday, despite the fact that people who entered the service of the repatriation hospital at Heidelberg did so on the understanding, fully advertised by the Government, that they would be provided with free bus service from the city to the hospital.
– I hope the honorable member will allow me to find out about this matter, on which my knowledge is quite imperfect. I shall advise him about it as soon as I am able to do so.
– Will the Prime Minister consider removing from the Australian Capital Territory Representation Act those sections which at present limit the right of the member of the Parliament for the Australian Capital Territory to vote on questions before the House, and to be appointed to certain positions within the House? Will the right honorable gentleman have regard to the fact that the population and the number of electors in the Territory have almost doubled since the act was passed?
– The matter is one of policy.
– by leave - I desire to inform the House of the steps that have been taken by the Government from time to time in relation to the administration of the Australian Aluminium Production Commission. When this Government came to office, the Australian Aluminium Production Commission consisted of three businessmen including a cost accountant, and two government officials. The commission, which is not subject to departmental control, is a separate statutory body with wide powers and almost complete independence in management. All the shortcomings which have been revealed, relate to the commission’s own management, and not the Government’s policy. As soon as I became aware that the commission’s management of its affairs was seriously unsatisfactory, I took action to place on the commission men who would administer its affairs properly, correct defects and discover what had been wrong.
Early in 1952 I became dissatisfied with the lack of detailed information made available to me concerning the commission’s financial position, and its methods of financial control generally. I expressed my dissatisfaction to the chairman and the then Treasury representative, and was assured that the commission’s financial affairs were under proper control, and that there would be no trouble in obtaining the Auditor-General’s certificate in due course. By June, 1952, I was still uneasy about the matter, and appointed the Secretary of the Department of Supply, Mr. Stevens, to be a deputy member of the commission, with instructions to attend commission meetings to try to ascertain the way in which the commission’s financial affairs were being controlled, and to report directly back to me. About November, Mr. Stevens, after attending several meetings of the commission verbally reported that in his view the financial and storekeeping control by the commission were unsatisfactory, and that a confused position existed at Bell Bay on the stores and accounting side as a result of a great increase of activity there over the last two years. I also learned, for the first time, of the then chairman’s personal interest in’ the “Wessel Island contract. The tabbing of the Auditor-General’s report in the Parliament in November, 1952, also disclosed that the commission had not produced its balance-sheet for 1951-52 - a matter upon which I had received reassurances some months before. I thereupon voiced my strong dissatisfaction to the chairman, and indicated that I proposed to make changes in the personnel of the commission. This was done early in the new year, 1953, when the amending bill came before the House, and the chairman and two other members were replaced. Two members who had represented Tasmania remained.
Instructions were given to the new commission to investigate the affairs of the project thoroughly, and to put them on a sound footing. To the best of my knowledge, all the matters raised in the Auditor-General’s report occurred during the years 1951 and 1952 under the management of the old commission. The new commission has done remarkably good work in reorganizing administration, especially as regards costing, financial and stores control. The commission has also made extremely rapid progress in the construction work of the project, which will come into production in January of next year. In the course of the examination last year of the affairs of the old commission, especially for the years 1951 and 1952, incidents and items involving bad administration and control were revealed for the first time, and were reported to me. Some of these were of a character which indicated the desirability of having a full investigation of the commission’s affairs made by the Commonwealth Investigation Service to see whether laxity and administration had given rise to wrong doing, and this the commission was instructed to do.
The Commonwealth Investigation Service was engaged for many months on this work and made a detailed report on several matters, including those mentioned by the Auditor-General. Some of these matters came to the knowledge of the present commission and myself for the first time when the report was presented to us. The report has been examined by the Crown Law authorities to ascertain whether the matters referred to involve any criminal wrongdoing. I am advised that no case of criminal wrongdoing has been, established. One matter is still being examined.
With reference to the commission’s failure to obtain certification of its accounts, I am informed by the present commission that the Auditor-General is quite satisfied with the present accounting and stores system, but that the “unsatisfactory accounting records “ for the years of 1951 and 1952 make it difficult for the . Auditor-General to obtain a starting point from which to give future certificates. The chief difficulty which the new commission has had to solve is not one necessitating the obtaining of an independent valuation of assets by outside experts, as has been suggested, but of properly costing the commission’s expenditure for the years 1951 and 1952 in order that this expenditure may be correctly allocated to particular asset heads. The commission is confident that this difficulty will be resolved, and is now in the process of doing so.
Without excusing the mistakes which were made under the old commission, I consider that it is satisfactory to know that these were corrected as soon as they were discovered, and that nothing of the sort now exists. In addition to the detailed investigations which have been made by the commission, the Commonwealth Investigation Service and now the Auditor-General, the question of the commission’s financial administration, will also be examined shortly by the Public Accounts Committee, and as the result of that examination, an impartial report will be tabled in this House. I lay on the table the following paper : -
Aluminium Production Commission’s Project, Hell Buy, Tasmania - Ministerial Statement. and move -
That the paper be printed.
– First of all, I am obliged to the Minister of Supply (Mr. Beale) for making a statement on the affairs of the Australian Aluminium Production Commission. I only wish to mention that the seriously unsatisfactory condition of the commission was apparently in 1951 and 1952 before the new commission was appointed. I consider that I should say publicly, because of something which the Minister said a few days ago, that those years occurred during the administration of the present Government.
Government supporters interjecting,
– I mention that matter because the Minister referred a few days ago to the previous administration of my former colleague, the late Mr. John Beasley. The matters which the Minister dealt with in his statement to-day had nothing to do with Mr. Beasley’s administration. I am not suggesting that the Minister himself has any personal responsibility, but the fact I have mentioned should be noted, and I note it now.
I understand that the Minister will take action to have the comments in the
Auditor-General’s report brought before the Public Accounts Committee.
-e. - I have already done so.
– Is the matter before the Public Accounts Committee?
– I have already requested the Committee to consider it as soon as possible. The committee has promised to do so.
– That is satisfactory. The last point that I desire to make at this stage is that those honorable members who brought this matter to the attention of the House have done a public service. I think that the Minister himself will agree with that statement. The most important consideration is not the mistakes which were made in 1951 and 1952 under the administration of the present Government, but the future policy of the Australian Aluminium Production Commission so as to ensure that the events of a few years ago will not be used as an occasion to leave this great industry or utility virtually derelict. That must be avoided. I am obliged to the Minister for his statement. I ask for leave to continue my remarks at a later date.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
Motion (by Sir Eric Harrison) agreed to-
That leave of absence for one month be given to the Treasurer (Sir Arthur Fadden), the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture (Mr. McEwen)> and the honorable member for Paterson (Mr. Fairhall) owing to their absence from Australia, and to the Postmaster-General (Mr. Anthony) on the ground of ill health.
Motion (by Dr. Evatt) agreed to -
That leave of absence for one month be given to the honorable member for Bendigo (Mr. Clarey) owing to his absence from Australia.
Motion (by Sir Eric Harrison) agreed to-
That Government business shall take precedence over general business to-morrow.
Motion (by Sir Eric Harrison agreed to-
That leave be given to bring in a bill for an act to provide for the validation of collections of duties of customs under Customs Tariff proposals.
Bill presented, and read a first time.
– by leave - I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
This bill provides for the validation of collections of customs duties under Customs Tariff Proposals No. 1 and Customs Tariff (Canadian Preference) Proposals No. 1, which were introduced into Parliament on the 18th August, and Customs Tariff Proposals No. 2, which were introduced on the 28th October last. The time of validation specified in the bill is until the 30th June, 1955. Pressure of other business in the period since the proposals were introduced and the anticipated ending of the present sitting has prevented, for the time, the bringing down of the customary bills for the enactment of the proposals. Consequently, it is desirable to validate duty collections pending the introduction of the enabling bills. This is purely a machinery measure, and the opportunity for a full debate on the proposed tariff amendments will be presented as early as practicable.
.- I like the delightful final sentence of the remarks of the Vice-President of the Executive Council (Sir Eric Harrison) in which he said that an opportunity will be afforded to honorable members for a full debate on these matters as early as practicable. Everybody knows that the current sessional period will conclude within a few days and that the Parliament may not re-assemble until March of next year. So, the opportunity, if it comes, will come with the Ides of March. It is by no means certain that even next March or April we shall be given that opportunity. The VicePresident of the Executive Council has merely dangled the hope before us that we shall have an opportunity to discuss the duties of customs under the proposals which the Parliament is now asked to validate. Under the Constitution, we are obliged to follow this procedure for validating these duties before the Parliament goes into recess. We cannot close up the Parliament in a way that, perhaps, might have been possible under State laws in other days when State parliaments collected duties of customs and excise. We must do what the Government wants. We have no alternative but to agree. However, the Vice-President of the Executive Council has treated the Parliament with scant courtesy. First, he said that an opportunity to discuss these proposals will be given to the Parliament later; and, secondly, he put forward the argument that pressure of other business prevented the Government from bringing down the necessary bill of enactment. The Opposition does not accept that excuse. The Government has not been subject to pressure of other business, but, on the contrary, has had difficulty in producing sufficient legislation for the House to debate. Had it not been for the co-operation of the Opposition, the Parliament would have been in difficulty in that respect on more than one occasion. So, the argument about pressure of other business preventing the Government from introducing the proper enacting measures earlier will not appeal to the well-informed, or, indeed, to anybody with any political intelligence.
– It is not a true statement.
– It is certainly not a statement based on fact. Before this particular measure is passed, the VicePresident of the Executive Council might give a definite assurance that in the first week of the next sessional period the House shall be given an opportunity to discuss these duties. That the Government has had ample time in which to afford an opportunity to discuss them that is instanced by the fact that the first proposals were introduced on the 18th August last, and the second proposals were introduced oh the 2Sth October last. The members of the Opposition are not the only ones who are being offended in this respect. The
Vice-President of the Executive Council was Minister for Trade and Customs in other days and probably he did then as he is doing now. Apparently, he has turned over the pages of Hansard and found the speech that he made on a similar measure in 1940, and has repeated it to-day. I should have expected to see some improvement in his technique over the years. I am concerned that the House should have an opportunity to discuss the proposals to which this measure relates. The House is entitled to exercise its rights in this respect, as in these days there are demands for more and more duties of customs and a lot of people believe that the Government is not doing enough under such legislation. Honorable members, particularly those who represent areas in which big manufacturing industries are situated, should be given an opportunity to express their views on behalf of those whom they represent.
– in reply - I am always amazed at the variety of political virtues which the honorable member for Melbourne (Mr. Calwell) displays from time to time. I well remember that when honorable members on this side of the chamber were in the unfortunate position in which he and his colleagues find themselves to-day, the Government of that day repeatedly introduced measures to validate duties of customs and excise and invariably promised that it would give an opportunity to the House to debate those measures fully. Those promises had the old ring about them - this year, next year, sometime, never. On every occasion on which that Government introduced tariff proposals into this House it shied away, like a brumby, from full discussion. It has been left to this Government to give to the House every opportunity to debate measures of that kind. The Government will not depart from that practice because honorable members on this side believe in freedom of speech. After all, this is a democracy. When the honorable member for Melbourne was on this side of the chamber, the Government he supported had a long record of prevention of discussion not only on matters of this kind but also on all matters associated with its administration. I assure the House that this Government will follow the procedure that has been established by Liberal governments from time immemorial, and that it will continue to apply the principle of freedom of speech in this chamber. The House will be given an opportunity at an early date to discuss the proposals to which this measure relates.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and reported from committee without amendment or debate; report adopted.
Bill - by leave - read a third time.
Motion (by Sir Eric Harrison) agreed to -
That leave be given to bring in a bill for an act to provide for the validation of collections of duties of excise under Excise Tariff proposals.
Bill presented, and read a first time.
– by leave - I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
The circumstances surrounding this bill are the same as those associated with the Customs Tariff Validation Bill 1954. The bill now under consideration provides for the validation of collections of excise duties made under Excise Tariff Proposals No. 1 and Excise Tariff Proposals No. 2 which were introduced into the Parliament on the 13th August, and the 28th October, respectively. As in the case of the Customs Tariff Validation Bill 1954, this is purely a machinery measure, and I repeat my assurance that an opportunity for a full debate on the proposed amendments will be presented as early as practicable.
.- This is the same old story as we heard on the preceding bill, the object of that measure being to validate collections of duties of customs whilst the object of this measure is to validate collections of excise duties. Again, we are to be given an opportunity some time in the dim and distant future to discuss how generous the Government has been to brandy drinkers, because, under this measure, the nips are going to cost less for brandy drinkers, whilst persons who drink beer will still Lave to pay the same prices as they have paid for beer since the days of the horror budget. Of course, the budget for 1954-55, which includes these excise proposals, is just the horrible little sister of the horror budget.
This Government is a whiskyandbrandy government. Last year it reduced the excise on whisky for the benefit of its friends in the Melbourne Club, the Union Club and other such places. This year it wants to reduce the duty on brandy. But the excise duty on beer, which was raised from 4s. 7d. to 7s. 2d. a gallon under the horror budget, has not been reduced. The Opposition is most anxious that something should be done for the ordinary people who drink beer because they cannot afford to drink anything else. This Government is a class-ridden government. It looks after whisky and brandy drinkers, but does nothing for those who drink beer.
– I rise to order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. If the honorable member for Melbourne (Mr. Calwell) will refer to Notice of Motion No. 6, he will see that the House will be asked later to consider a bill in relation to water.
– That is a point of disorder, Mr. Deputy Speaker. The Government has done nothing to reduce the excise on cigarettes, cigars and tobacco. These duties are very heavy, of course. In fact, the burden is so heavy that I know of a number of married men who have had to ask their wives to give up smoking because the strain on the family purse has been too severe. The VicePresident of the Executive Council has said that we shall be able to discuss all these matters at some time in the future. Well, I hope that his assurance will be honoured. I hope it means more than the promise he made when he spoke on thu Customs Tariff Validation Bill. The .right honorable gentleman has opened wide his big, brown, innocent eyes, looked at me, and said, in effect, “ Just let us get away with it this time and wewill not repeat the offence in future “.. Well, I will take a chance.
.- I am not worried by the provisions of the bill,, but I am very much worried by two statements that the Vice-President of theExecutive Council (Sir Eric Harrison) made when he introduced it. First. hesaid that the House would be given an opportunity to discuss excise duties atsome future date. We have heard promises of that kind on a number of occasions, and they have not always been honoured. We have plenty of time to discuss these matters now. Some of th» items on which excise is charged are of great interest to many people, and therefore we should be given an opportunity to discuss them at an early date. The Minister should not be allowed to put the matter aside with the airy statement that the Government will consider the holding of a discussion at a future date. That sort of thing gets us nowhere. In fact, from my previous experience of such airy promises, I am inclined to believe that we shall not have a discussion of the excise tariff until we have a change of government.
The. other point about which I am worried arises from the Minister’s statement that he is a great believer in freedom of speech, that the Liberal party believes in freedom of speech, and that the Government will continue to give the same freedom of speech to honorable members as they have enjoyed in past years. My experience has been that a few Ministers have had great freedom of speech in this House, but on various occasions when I have risen, the “ gag “ has been applied and I have been denied my right to speak Many other honorable members have suffered a similar fate on numerous occasions. Even members on the Government side of the House have had such experiences.
– Order! If the honorable member will confine his remarks to the bill, he may say something now.
– I am challenging the promises that have been made by the Vice-President of the Executive Council.
Will he introduce a new form of freedom of speech so that honorable members will have opportunities to express their opinions on the various measures that come before the House?
Question resolved in the affirmative.
BDI read a second time, and reported from committee without amendment or debate; report adopted.
Bill - by leave - read a third time.
Motion (by Mr. McMahon) agreed to-
That leave be given to bring in a bill for an act to provide for assistance by the Commonwealth towards the provision of homes for aged persons.
Bill presented, and read a first time.
– by leave - I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
The purpose of this bill is to set up machinery so that the Commonwealth may make grants to churches and recognized charitable bodies and institutions to assist them in providing homes for aged people. A sum of £1,500,000 has already been appropriated in the budget to meet expenditure on grants during the year 1954-55. This bill breaks new ground in the history of Commonwealth social services for aged people. Hitherto the Commonwealth’s activities have been mainly concerned with the provision of pensions and related benefits, leaving most of what may be termed welfare services, other than rehabilitation and social case work, to the churches, the State governments, voluntary organizations and other kindly groups.
We march a little ahead of the times. New conditions demand new policies ; new problems demand the breath of novelty and novel solutions. The Commonwealth is anxious to provide leadership in assisting to find a solution of what is a delicate human problem - the care and companionship of aged people. For years now the churches and other voluntary organizations all over Australia have done a splendid job providing for this need. With devotion and unselfishness they have given time, energy and thought to the problem of raising funds and by building and maintaining homes for ‘Our own. aged people. There are now almost 200 institutions of this kind in Australia. Some of them are small cottage-type settlements, some are small homes catering for fewer than 50 people and some are larger institutions. Most of them provide a happy home-like atmosphere and, so far from being the over-regulated impersonal places many people may think, they are a source of mental and physical comfort to the people who live in them. The contribution they make towards the wellbeing and happiness of our elders is immeasurable.
We should be wrong if we thought that elderly people are concerned only with income and that an increase in pension will cure all the troubles of the aged. Income is not the only problem. Loneliness, boredom, and the sense of not being wanted are also among the problems of old people. It is, I think, generally recognized that care and attention, and the comforting thought that someone is interested in our well-being, increase in importance as one grows older and perhaps infirm. These are the needs that the voluntary organizations are attempting to meet.
We all recognize that the demand for accommodation for aged people far exceeds the supply. There are no reliable statistics to quote in proof of this need, but anyone who has come in contact with the work being done for older people knows of it. A recent survey in New South Wales shows that many homes have closed their waiting lists, knowing that it is impossible to meet additional requests for assistance. We think we can go a long way towards helping to meet this need. The voluntary organizations are anxious to expand and take on new responsibilities, if finance is available. Honorable members will be interested to know that already more than 50 organizations have applied for assistance under the proposed scheme. This is proof., if proof is “wanted. It is evidence of a need and that the Commonwealth will be playing a leading part in providing assistance to those who are willing to give their time, money and attention to the aged.
All of us would like older people to be able to remain contentedly in their own homes, and to have the feeling of independence. The family remains the most important unit in our society and the stronger the family unit with its mutual ties of love, companionship and care, the stronger will be our nation and our Commonwealth. The basis of the Government’s social services legislation has been the wish to strengthen the ties of the family and to strengthen its status and independence. It does so recognizing that there are many outside factors which tend to weaken these ties and to break up the family as a unit. These we need not debate. Whatever view we take of these tendencies we cannot ignore their effect on society, nor can we overlook the fact that there are many older people who have no families with whom they can enjoy the comforts of life.
The Government’s approach to the problem of homes for the aged is therefore twofold - social and economic. On the social side we think that older persons, whatever degree of independence they seek, wish to live in surroundings as close as possible to those of normal domestic life, with all the associations we think of when we think of our home. In the bill before the House, this is stressed. In particular, the companionship of husband and wife will be preserved. On the economic side we realize that with many age pensioners, an increase in pension rates would not solve their housing problems. Something more is needed. This bill provides one answer. It provides that the Director-General of Social Services, on behalf of the Commonwealth, may make grants to eligible organizations on a £1 for £1 basis towards the capital cost of approved homes for aged people.
The provision relating to those organizations eligible for assistance and grants of Commonwealth funds is a wide one. It includes churches and organizations primarily charitable or benevolent, and also ex-servicemen’s organizations of a national character. Other voluntary organizations that may wish to join in this great work, which of course differs in pattern and type, may be approved by the Governor-General. The definition, of eligible organization has been extended to include the trustee or trustees under a trust, or a corporation, established by an eligible organization. In addition, a trustee or trustees under a trust established for charitable or benevolent purposes may be deemed to be an organization, if the Governor-General approves,, and may become eligible for a grant. This will cover cases of individual persons, or, for example, a public company which establishes a charitable or benevolent trust, though that individual or company may not be itself an eligible organization. In the main it is expected that those seeking grants will be the churches and long-established and soundly-financed voluntary organizations. The Government does not wish to be the dictator of legal forms. Wherever good work is being done, we want to be in a position to assist, provided that there are reasonable safeguards to protect the use of public moneys, and provided that there is reason to believe that the purpose of the grant will be fulfilled.
Two limitations are placed on the type of organizations that may be eligible for assistance. The first is that the organization must be carried on otherwise than for the purpose of profit or gain to itsindividual members. This would not exclude a commercial enterprise from setting up a foundation for benevolent or charitable purposes. Indeed, some of the world’s great foundations have been set up by great profit-making companies. As I have explained, the trustee or trustees of such a foundation could be deemed an organization and become eligible for assistance. A second restriction requires the effective control of the organization to be in the hands of other than government appointees. This is to preserve the whole purpose of the measure, which is Commonwealth assistance to voluntary agencies. Government appointees may belong to the controlling body of an eligible organization, but where such appointees conduct or control it, then it has substantially lost its character as a voluntary agency. It follows, of course, that the legislation is not intended to be used for inter-governmental grants.
I now turn to the kind of homes which may he approved and to their capital cost. The general administration of the act is placed in the hands of the directorgeneral - denned as the Director-General of Social Services - who is subject to any direction of the responsible Minister. The director-general is given power to approve proposals and to make grants on behalf of the Commonwealth. He may approve a home if he is satisfied that it is intended to be used permanently as a home for the accommodation of the aged. An aged person is denned as a woman who has attained the age of 60 years or a man who has attained the age of 65 years. In the case of a married couple who wish to reside together in a home the definition includes also the wife or husband of an aged person. In granting approval the director-general will look at the real character and essential nature of the home. It is appreciated that at some time in the future a building established as a home may be used for another purpose. The director-general is required to look at the purpose intended by the organization at the time approval is sought. “We do not doubt that those voluntary agencies with whom the director-general shall be called upon to deal will at all times act in good faith and that their charitable or benevolent intentions will be carried out.
The bill relates to buildings purchased or to be purchased, and erected or to be erected. As the announcement of the Government’s intention was first made on the 4th May, 1954, only a building or proposed building or one commenced or purchased after that date, or one to be commenced or purchased after the date of approval, may be approved as a home. This is necessary to prevent projects already completed before that date from coming within the scope of the bill. When an eligible organization has had its home or proposed home approved, the director-general may, in his discretion, make a grant to “assist towards meeting the capital cost of the home. For the purpose of the bill, the capital cost means the cost of erecting the home, including the cost of necessary fixtures. Where existing premises are purchased it means the cost of purchasing the home and making any necessary alterations or addi tions and installing necessary fixtures, in order to make the home suitable for the accommodation of the aged. In this latter case also, the cost of the land required for the purpose of the home is included, as it may not be practicable to sever the cost of an existing building from the cost of the land on which it stands. In determining the capital cost of a home in course of erection on the 4th May, 1954, the director-general will take into account only the cost of the part of the home erected on or after that date. As a home must be vested in some person legally able to own property, payment under the act may be made only to a corporation or to trustees in whom the approved home is, or is to be, vested.
The bill provides that the directorgeneral may impose terms and conditions in making a grant, and that he may require an organization to enter into an agreement with him regarding them. Such an agreement could require an eligible organization to repay the agent if the home ceased to be used as a home for aged persons, and may also require the organization to give security to carry out such an undertaking. It is not expected that this provision will be frequently needed. Since public moneys are involved, the Commonwealth should have some legislative authority in order to ensure that the purposes of the grant are fulfilled.
The main provisions of the bill have been dealt with already. It remains to explain the provisions relating to the amount that may be granted, and the instalments and timing of payments. The whole concept of the bill is to provide Government assistance to voluntary effort and self-help and for the matching, on a £1 for £1 basis, of funds actually raised by an eligible organization for the building of the home. A grant may not exceed onehalf of the capital cost of the home as determined by the director-general. In addition to this, the grant may not exceed the moneys actually raised by an eligible organization from donations or subscriptions or from its own resources. In the bill, this intention is expressed negatively, and the amount of the grant is limited to moneys expended, or available for expenditure, which did not become available as the result of the borrowing of those moneys or of the borrowing of other money;- or moneys which were received from a government source, or from a government authority. It is intended that the assistance given by this measure shall enable eligible organizations to expand their activities. It is also hoped that it will be an incentive to State governments to make additional assistance available.
The Commonwealth’s intention to encourage the provision of homes for the aged could be defeated, and there could be a considerable waste of public moneys, if projects were commenced before organizations were certain that funds for the completion of the homes were available. lit is therefore provided that the director-general shall not make, or agree to make, a grant unless he is satisfied that the moneys expended and those presently available, together with the grant, will be sufficient to meet the capital cost. It is emphasized that no restriction is placed on the source of the moneys available for expenditure by an eligible organization. For example, an organization might raise £20,000 from public subscriptions or donations, may receive £10,000 from a State government, and may raise £10,000 on mortgage. The moneys matched by the Commonwealth would be the £20,000 raised by public subscriptions or donations. The amount available to meet the capital cost of the home, however, would be £60,000, of which £20,000 would be represented by the Commonwealth grant.
Provision is made that grants shall be payable out of moneys appropriated by the Parliament. As I have stated, the Parliament has already approved of the grant of £1,500,000 for this year. There is also the usual provision giving power to make regulations. That is a general outline of the bill before the House. I think the House will agree that the Commonwealth, in entering the field of providing homes for older persons, has made a generous but a necessary gesture towards the solution of one of our great human problems. Already there is plenty of evidence, both from individuals and churches and organizations, of appreciation and approval of the Government’s proposals. We look forward to the day when the principle of government assistance to self-help and voluntary effort will be more widely accepted. Meanwhile, we lay the foundations to what must be a more personal and fruitful approach to one of the problems with which modern society is faced. I commend the bill to the House.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Haylen) adjourned.
Motion (by Mr. Kent Hughes) agreed to -
That leave be given to bring in a bill for an act to ratify and approve an agreement for the further variation of the agreement entered into between the Prime Minister of the Commonwealth and the Premiers of the States of New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia, respecting the River Murray and Lake Victoria and other waters, and for other purposes.
Bill presented, and read a first time.
– by leave - I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
The whole purpose of this bill is to ratify the agreement that was signed recently by the Australian Government and the governments of New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia to increase the capacity of the Hume dam from its present limit of 2,000,000 acre feet to 2,500,000 acre feet, and also to approve the construction of certain regulators and other works on effluents of the river Murray between Tocumwal and Echuca to reduce the loss of water during the irrigation period, and to prevent the flooding of certain areas which occurs at the present time.
The original agreement that was approved in 1914, and subsequent amendments, made provision for the Hume dam to have a maximum capacity of 2,000,000 acre feet. Originally, the capacity was 1,250,000 acre feet, but that was raised, by the amending act of 1948, to a maximum of 2,000,000 acre feet. An expenditure of £14,000,000 was approved. Under the original agreement and subsequent amendments, the following works have been constructed : Thirteen weirs and locks on the river Murray itself, three weirs on the Murrumbidgee River, a diversionary weir at Yarrawonga, the Lake Victoria storages, and barrages at the mouth of the river Murray to prevent salt water seeping back from the outlet. The 1948 agreement, which approved the raising of the capacity of the Hume dam to the limit of 2,000,000 acre feet, also approved the enlargement of the inlet channel to Lake Victoria, and gave the River Murray Commission authority to institute investigations in relation to any additional storages that might be required to complete conservation of the waters of the river Murray system. The estimated cost of raising the capacity of the dam to 2,000,000 acre feet was £2,000,000. That estimate was made in 1947-48. The work has been going on steadily over the last three or four years, but the cost, like the cost of many other works of a similar nature, has risen. It will now be £4,450,000, an increase of £2,450,000.
On the 19th July, a conference of Commonwealth and State Ministers was held. New South “Wales was represented by the Minister for Conservation, Mr. Enticknap, and the Minister for Public Works, Mr. Renshaw; Victoria was represented by the Minister for Water Supply, Mr. Stoneham; South Australia was represented by the Minister of Works, Mr. Mcintosh; and I represented the Australian Government. It was agreed unanimously that the dam should be raised to compound 2,500,000 acre feet of water. The decision to increase the capacity of the dam by 500,000 acre feet flowed from the fact that, in July, 1949, there had been a conference of State Ministers and Commonwealth authorities in relation to the best method of handling the waters that were to .be diverted from the Snowy River into the river Murray. The amount of water available from the two diversions, one from Tooma in the river Murray watershed into the Tumut in the Murrumbidgee watershed, will be 280,000 acre feet per annum. This diversion is part of stage 1 of the Snowy Mountains scheme, which is under construction at the present time. If and when it is decided to go ahead with stage 2, there will be a diversion of 722,000 acre feet per annum from the Snowy River in the neighbourhood of Jindabyne, into the Murray River somewhere near Khancoban.
At the time this matter was considered, the Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Authority stated that it would be necessary to build a regulating dam of 250,000 acre feet in the neighbourhood of Jingellic, the estimated cost of which was £5,000,000. When that matter was referred to the River Murray Commission, that authority considered that it would be much better to build a larger dam, possibly one of 1,500,000 acre feet, in the upper river Murray watershed. It considered that that project would be a final conservation measure for the headwaters of the river Murray, and would leave the Hume Dam at its present capacity of 2,000,000 acre feet. However, water conservation experts recommended that it would be uneconomical to build a dam of that size in the upper reaches of the Murray, and stated that the best method of conserving the waters of the Murray River was to increase the capacity of the Hume dam by 500,000 acre feet. That is where the proposal came from which is the basis of the agreement that this bill will ratify. Those experts also stated that it would be economical to increase the capacity of the Hume dam by 500,000 acre feet, irrespective of whether the Snowy Mountains Hydroelectric Authority proceeded with the diversion from the Snowy River or nol, and pointed out that such a scheme would provide the cheapest irrigation water in Australia. Therefore, it is natural that when the States concerned with the River Murray Commission, namely Victoria, New South Wales and South Australia, met and discussed this proposition with the Commonwealth, they reached a unanimous agreement that that was the correct thing to do. That is why the bill is at present before the House. The economic limit upon the time when it would be wise to start the work of increasing the capacity of the Hume dam to 2,500,000 acre feet, was the end of last month, but the constructing authorities have taken it for granted that this measure will be passed, and they have been carrying on the work slowly in anticipation of the measure being ratified by this Parliament and the State parliaments concerned.
Another small matter which enters into the bill is the construction of the regulators or other works on effluent creeks of the river Murray between Tocumwal and Echuca. During the irrigation period it is necessary to keep a high flow in the Murray River, and in that area the banks of the river are higher than the surrounding country and the river overflows into the lower areas. That overflow causes a considerable loss of irrigation water by evaporation during the summer months, and interferes to a considerable degree with saw-milling activities in that area. The overflow of the water also has a very bad effect on the local river gum trees, and has caused many of them to die. These are not large works, and about £100,000 will be expended on them over a number of years. In some instances the work done will be half paid for by the forestry authorities who are concerned with the overflow of the river.
Honorable members will find in the agreement a proviso to the effect that the States do not waive their claim to their share of the money which may be required to be paid later by the Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Authority in connexion with the increase of storage water from 2,000,000 to 2,500,000 acre feet. The original cost of the construction of the regulating dam was estimated by the Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Authority to be about £5,000,000. The cost of the increase of the size of the Hume dam will be £3,200,000, which is considerably less than the cost of building a regulating dam. It was therefore suggested at the July, 1949 conference, at which I believe the honorable member for St. George (Mr. Lemmon) was present as then Minister for Works, that the Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Authority should pay half the cost of building a storage dam of 1,500,000 acre feet in the head-waters of the Snowy River, or whatever regulating works might be necessary, in conjunction with the River Murray Commission. Since then the Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Authority has pointed out that it will not require any work to be done for probably ten years, and that it therefore considers that it should not have to pay interest and sinking fund from the present time until the money is needed. The raising of the Hume weir to conserve 2,500,000 acre feet of water will mean that all the electricity produced from the additional water will be controlled by the two States concerned, or by the River Murray Commission. In other words, the Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Authority will get no benefit from the extra electricity that will be generated after the Hume dam capacity has been increased to 2,500,000 acre feet.
In the original agreement of July, 1949, the Snowy Mountains Hydroelectric Authority agreed to pump the water just below Albury to the places where New South Wales required it for irrigation, at no cost to the New South Wales Government, because funds from the sale of electricity would be available if a regulating dam were constructed at Jingellic. I mention those points because it will be some time before any decision is arrived at as to whether the Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Authority should pay any amount towards increasing the capacity of the Hume dam, and if so, what amount it should be asked to pay. When we were discussing .this matter in July, the State Ministers decided that we should not refrain from inincreasing the size of the Hume dam until this matter had been determined, but that we should put a proviso in the agreement that we do not waive any claim to our share of the amount which may be provided at a future date by the Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Authority. If it is decided that the authority should provide £1,000,000, the three States and the Commonwealth will each receive a refund of the amount that they are now expending, which is £250,000 each. That is why the proviso has been put into the measure.
I .again remind honorable members of the important points in this measure. There is the proposed increase of the capacity of the Hume dam to 2,500,000 acre feet, the construction of regulators or other works on the effluents of the River Murray between Tocumwal and
Echuca, and an increase of the total cost of the scheme from £14,000,000 to £19,750,000. That increase is made up of £2,450,000 increased cost of the old work, £3,200,000 the cost of the new work, and £100,000 for the small works between Tocumwal and Echuca. Another matter is the increase of the water reserves to be held in storage in the Hume dam for use in drought years, from a minimum of 750,000 acre feet to 1,000,000 acre feet. That extra water will be an insurance for irrigators in Victoria and New South Wales, and will also give some benefit to South Australia, because the severity of drought years will be lessened. Therefore, New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia will all participate with the Commonwealth in this proposal.
The Hume reservoir is the key storage dam of the scheme, and the Commonwealth has, in the past, contributed its share towards the cost of the works at the Hume reservoir, and the other structures built under the agreement. I believe that, from the national viewpoint, the Commonwealth should continue as a full partner in the scheme by contributing its share towards the cost of the works now recommended. The contracting governments are willing to impose on the River Murray Commission the further duties provided in the new agreement. By doing that they have expressed their confidence in the commission, and have again illustrated their interest in the success of the scheme. I commend the bill to honorable members.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Haylen) adjourned.
Debate resumed from the 2nd November (vide page 2537,) on motion by Mr. Townley -
That the bill be now read a second time.
– I, like other honorable members, support this bill, which must be looked at in the context of the Government’s proposal to standardize the railway line f Tom
Port Augusta to Leigh Creek. That work has now nearly been completed. The proposal, which I may call the preliminary proposal, involves not only the construction of a standard gauge railway line from Port Augusta for about 219 miles north to Legih Creek, but also a welllocated railway line. As honorable members are aware, the existing line goes over Pitchi Ritchi Pass, which is not only steep, but also has bad curves in it, and is unsuitable for heavy and fast traffic. The Government has wisely chosen a new route to the west over practically flat country following the line of Lake Torrens. That railway line will give a first-class standard gauge line to Leigh Creek, and will link with the standard gauge line south from Port Augusta to Port Pirie, and westwards from Port Augusta to Kalgoorlie. This bill authorizes a further extension of some 56 miles of standard gauge line northwards from Leigh Creek into Marree. The 219 miles of line which was constructed earlier, was built mainly for the coal traffic from Leigh Creek into Port Augusta. This was very heavy traffic, which had to be carried at a low freight over the Commonwealth railways, as the result of a very advantageous arrangement which- the shrewd Premier of South Australia had obtained for his State. He was a keen bargainer. Coal constitutes the bulk of the traffic which passes over that line. However, we believe that the line will carry a considerable volume of other traffic in future.
Let us examine the proposed construction of 56 miles of standard gauge line. The cost will be £1,241,000, but against that, savings will be made. The old line is in a very bad condition. Rails and sleepers will have to be renewed, and it will require ballasting. So, keeping the old line in operation would require very soon the expenditure of something like £693,000. In addition, railway yards, which are necessary for the break of gauge, are in existence at Marree. Yards are not in existence at Leigh Creek, and an additional £128,000 would have to be expended if they were to be provided at that place. So it means that, although we shall spend £1,241,000 on the construction of the line, we shall save approximately £821,000, and the net cost of the proposal is only about £420,000.
I think that the House will agree with me when I say that such expenditure is fully justified. According to estimates, it will result in an operating saving of some £22,000 a year. As honorable members know, the cost of haulage over a standard gauge line is considerably less per ton-mile than is the cost of haulage over a 3-ft. 6-in. gauge line, and where the volume of traffic is considerable, we have a saving in pounds, shillings and pence. So the first thing to remember is that for the net expenditure of £420,000, we shall have an annual saving of approximately £22,000 in cash. However, that is far from being the sum of the advantages that we may expect. Among the other advantages is this: At Marree, the trans-shipment facilities for cattle will be better. For example, there will be water, which will ‘not be available so readily at Leigh Creek. The holding paddock conditions will also be better at Marree. In addition, the location of Marree as a spelling point between Alice Springs and the meatworks at Dry Creek is rather better than it is at Leigh Creek itself. But again, it must be remembered that nearly one-third of the cattle traffic which uses this line is loaded at Marree or Farina, an intermediate station between Leigh Creek and Marree. Under this proposal, cattle will go through to the meatworks without trans-shipment at Leigh Creek. In other words, the trans-shipment of approximately one-third of the total number of cattle passing over that line will be saved.
This proposal to extend the standard gauge line for another 56 miles is a move towards the more complete standardization of Australia’s trunk railways, which, all honorable members will agree, is justified from both the economic and defence standpoints. I do not think that one dissentient voice will be raised in this House about what the Government is doing, and what it is proposing to do, following what it has already nearly completed - that is, the line of standard gauge from Port Augusta into Leigh Creek.
However, let us turn our minds towards this as one phase in a more complete scheme for future development. We need to look forward, and the first thing which anybody who looks at the map will realize is that Marree is a point of considerable strategic importance. I use the word “ strategic “ in the economic rather than in the defence significance. As honorable members know, the Flinders Ranges come up from the gulf northwards, and form a considerable barrier. They terminate in the steep Freeling Heights, which are in excess of 3,000 feet, and are quite precipitous. So any eastward traffic from the Broken Hill area has to go round through Marree or across the quite formidable ranges. It looks as if, for the future, Marree has prospects of receiving that traffic, either by rail or perhaps by road, not in the immediate future but in the foreseeable future.
Marree is well placed at the southern end of what is known as the Birdsville track, which serves the Queensland Channel country. We believe that, with the plans which the Government has in hand at the present moment, there will eventually; be a considerable development of fat cattle-raising in the Channel country to take advantage of those pastures which are not perennial but which occur whenever there are favorable seasons in the north-eastern part of Queensland from which area the rivers of the Channel country receive the bulk of their waters. One of the outlets will be along the line of Strzlecki Creek in the direction of Marree. I do not know, looking forward, whether this movement will be done on foot, by road vehicle, or by rail. I think it is most likely that it will be done by some kind of combination of them, because fat cattle will naturally gravitate southwestwards along the Channel country until they come to the edge of the good fattening areas. From there, it may be that they will be moved partly on foot, partly by road vehicle, to a small rail spur constructed northeasterly from Marree. Again I say to the House that I do not believe that this is an immediate possibility. One looks forward to long-term development, surveying the subject in its broadest perspective, although it would be quite out of the question to consider such a construction this year or even next year. It is important to realize that Marree, which is situated on a bend of the railway line which goes south, turns east, and goes south again, has a strategic importance both as a town which lies to the north end of the Flinders Ranges, and on the south-western end of the Birdsville track. We look at this also as one link in the more complete standardization of our trunk lines. I shall not take up the time of the House, even if you, Mr. Speaker, would permit me to do so, by speaking of the vital economic necessity for standardizing our trunk lines. I have spoken of that in the past, and 1 have no doubt that I shall speak of it again, but for the present, I merely wish to remind the House of this factor rather than, discuss it in detail.
I should now like to speak of the extensions which follow on this line specifically, and which relate to central Australia and the Northern Territory, which depends on it. I believe that extensions should be done in a way which permits a mixture of gauges. It will not be practicable for many years to convert to the standard gauge the 3-ft. 6-in. lines of Queensland, which lie to the east of this Territory except perhaps the trunk lines. So we have to assume, for many years at’ any rate, the existence of a 3-ft. 6-in. complex of railway lines in at least a large part of Queensland. But there is very little difficulty in mixing a 3-ft. 6-in. gauge track with a 4-ft. 8£-in. gauge track. The clearance between the two lines is sufficient to permit of an easy throw of points, so that we do not have those technical difficulties which we have if we try to mix the standard 4-ft. S½-in. gauge with the 5-ft. 3-in. broad gauge of Victoria and South Australia. It is quite reasonable to think that we would have a third rail inside a 4-ft. 94-iii. gauge track so that the track could carry both the economic standard gauge trucks and also the trucks of the Queensland system. I repeat that I do not believe that we can look upon the Queensland system as likely to be converted in Mo for very many years. It may be that when we construct the lines, we shall build the 3-ft. 6-in. part first. That depends on the existing circumstances in every case. We lay our 4-ft. 8-J-in. sleepers, and have alignment with radius, curves and everything like that, correct for the standard gauge. We lay an outside rail, and a rail 3-ft. 6in. from it, leaving to a later date the provision of the third rail 4-ft. 8§-m. from that firstnamed outside rail. That seems to me to be a sensible thing to do. In this country, the grades, generally speaking, are not bad. From a railway standpoint, the location of the line is fairly easy and except for the sleepers, the difference between the cost of construction of a 4-ft. 8^-in. requirement bed and a 3-ft. 6-in. requirement bed is very slight. It does exist. I know that it is not something entirely negligible, but it is comparatively small. Therefore, I should think that, for extensions in this area, we should make provision for a standard 4-ft. 8-J-in. gauge line, with the necessary sleepers, but it may he that, in some cases, we would lay the second rail 3-ft. 6-in. from the first, leaving the other 4-ft. 8-^-in. rail to be placed in position at a later stage. The line could then operate as a mixed gauge track, and, in that way, at the smallest possible expense, we would have the best of both railway worlds. I look on the construction of the north-south line from Alice Springs to the present terminus at Birdum as a work which should be done in the not too distant future. I hope that when it is done, the track will be located as to curvature, gradient and clearance to meet the requirements of the 4-ft. 84-in. gauge. Even if the line is first built to the 3-ft. 6-in. gauge. I urge that it he built on 4ft. 8£-in. gauge sleepers. The same principle might be applied to the cognate railways when we come to consider them from somewhere in the vicinity of Newcastle Waters to somewhere in the vicinity of Mount Isa. Those matters are outside the scope of this debate, but it is useful to mention them because they are a part of the picture to which this very forward move by the Government is tending.
The only question remaining to be considered is whether standardization should at present be pressed forward from Marree in the direction of Oodnadatta, and, ultimately, to Alice Springs. This question depends very largely on particular conditions. If the conditions of the rail are bad so that the existing gauge line must shortly be replaced, then one thinks of it in rather a different light; but taking it, all in all, and unless there are particular considerations, I should think that for the moment the Government would be wise to halt the standardization programme at Marree, because there are other lines of higher priority on which standardization should be carried out. I am not saying that this line should not be standardized, but I think that there are lines of higher priority which should be tackled first.
– Which lines?
– I shall come to that. Earlier in this debate the honorable member for Grey (Mr. Russell) made the good point that it would be wise to retain in the area the gangs and facilities already there. I shall confine my remarks to lines in the area which I think would have higher priority on standardization than the line forward from Marree to Alice Springs. First and foremost is the line from Broken Hill to Port Pirie. I cannot understand why the standardization - of this line is not being pressed forward. The present position is silly and intolerable. The economic loss to Australia resulting from the nonexistence of this short link of 250 odd miles from Broken Hill to Port Pirie is terrific. Between the trans-Australian line from Kalgoorlie to Port Pirie and the centralian railway, the line proposed under this measure to be standardized will be a little gap, leaving a 4-ft. 8-^-in. gauge island isolated from the main 4-ft. 8tin. gauge Hoc in New South Wales. With a standard gauge link from Port Pirie to Broken Hill, we would be able to bring the transcontinental from Kalgoorlie, through Broken Hill to Sydney and through to Brisbane and that would mean an immense increase in the revenue of the Commonwealth Railways and an immense saving in freight; and it would provide an assurance against happenings, like watersiders’ strikes, to those who live in the west and are dependent on industrial supplies from the east. From a defence point of view, the provision of that line is not only overdue but is also absolutely vital. I believe that the construction of that link, which is in the area we are now discussing, should have higher priority than the extension of the standardized gauge line from Marree to Aline Springs.
Another undertaking, again in this area, which would be much less costly than this proposal, is the standardization of one of the lines which leads from Port Pirie for approximately 130 miles southward to Adelaide. As honorable members know, there are two lines from Port Pirie to Adelaide, the easterly one running via Snowtown and the westerly one running via Gladstone. If one of these lines, which are of 5-ft. 3-in. gauge, were reduced in gauge, no substantial inconvenience would be caused to the remainder of the South Australian system by reason of that duplicate line. The cost of narrowing a gauge compared with that of widening it is small indeed. This is b job which, measured on experience 70 years ago in Great Britain and 60 years ago in the United States of America, could be done during a week-end. If there were a standard gauge line from Broken Hill to Port Pirie, the rolling stock could be moved on to it. There would be no difficulty in that respect. The only real cost would be that of providing terminal facilities at Salisbury and Adelaide. I shall not go into those difficulties at this juncture; but the expenditure involved would not be very high.- I think that in priorities the first thing to do is to standardize the line from Broken Hill to Port Pirie, and to narrow the gauge on one of the lines from Port Pirie to Adelaide to 4-ft. 8^-in. gauge. If that were done, cattle could be moved from Marree into Adelaide without changing gauge, and it would be possible to move trains from Kalgoorlie to Adelaide without changing gauge. In that case, we would have a line without a break of gauge between Woomera and the services workshops at Salisbury; we would be able to bring coal from Leigh Creek to Adelaide without a change in gauge and we would have from Adelaide to Broken Hill a line which could be operated without a change in gauge. These advantages are so great that I do not know how any sensible railways commissioner could possibly neglect them I urge the Government to go ahead with this project in this area. In spite of what has been said by honorable members, I believe that the two projects I have mentioned should take priority over further standardization from Marree northwards to Alice Springs.
The only other matter I wish to mention relates to the position of Marree. Under this proposal, Marree will acquire a new importance. We must envisage soon the establishment of an air service from Broken Hill to Marree, or to Leigh Creek. The distance is approximately only 250 miles. I know that preliminary inquiries have been made, and that preliminary reports on this matter have been discouraging. I believe that those reports have been wrongly based, because if one had that short air link the fares from Alice Springs into New South Wales, or to Melbourne, would be very much reduced. It would be the cheapest, as well as the quickest, way of travelling. We might be able to have not only air services from Sydney to Broken Hill, but we might also consider the rail service from Sydney to Broken Hill with an air hop to Marree and then northwards by rail again to Alice Springs. Any sensible railways commissioner would be thinking of putting in this service as a feeder in preference to the proposals now under consideration. As there is no serviceable road from Broken Hill to Marree, or to Leigh Creek, it is not practicable to think of covering that link by the provision of road transport. The lack of junction between Broken Hill and the systems in central Australia is the great missing link in Australian air services at present. I believe that if one were to be put in, the cheapening of the fares from Sydney to Alice Springs, whether it be done all by air or partly by air and partly by rail, would attract sufficient patronage to make the service payable. But, apart from the payability of the air service, its impact on the rail services and the additional custom that it would bring to them makes it worthy of consideration. There has been too much a tendency in Australia to write off our railway lines too soon. I do not think that the railway has a proper function in short freight hauls, but for long freight hauls it stands, so far, without peer. I believe that we get too discouraged when we say that the railway has no future. I agree that many of our little lines have no future. We must revise our concept of the proper use of rail and its proper relationship to roads. But for the long haul, there is no comparison between the rail and the road - ‘the rail wins hands down. If railways are properly run and if we make proper use of the new techniques of the diesel electric locomotive, I think that the railways in Australia have still their most prosperous days ahead of them.
.- I agree with much that the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth) has said with respect to the standardization of railway gauges. However, I do not agree with his view that the standardisation of the 3-ft. 6-in. gauge in Queensland would take so long to carry out as to make that work unworthy of consideration. If the Government really got down to the problem, that work would be completed within a period of ten years. I think that it would have been undertaken by now if the Chifley Labour Government had remained in office. However, I find myself in agreement with the honorable member and, at the same time, slightly at variance with honorable members on this side of the chamber, when he says that there are lines of higher priority which should be standardized before the work proposed in this measure is undertaken. I commend the Government for what it has done because any step in the standardization of railway gauges, no matter how small it may be, is to be commended. However, the Government must do more than it is doing in this matter. The need to standardize the line from Broken Hill to Port Pirie is predominant. That section, in particular, requires early attention. There is no need for me to elaborate on that point. The Minister for Air (Mr. Townley), in his second-reading speech, said -
The need of this conversion is best demonstrated, first, by consideration of the economics of retaining the existing line in 3-ft. 6-in. gauge.
The Minister referred to the age of the existing track and said that the sleepers needed to be renewed but, having regard to the cost of such work, the Government concluded that it was better to proceed with the standardization of the line to which this measure relates. The same observation applies largely to many other lines of 3-ft. 6-in. gauge. The 3-ft. 6-in. gauge line in Western Australia is in such a parlous condition that speed limits have been imposed in many instances. In fact, the maximum speed at which passenger trains are permitted to travel on any section of the line is 45 miles an hour. That speed is permissible on only 950 miles of the track. The limits elsewhere vary from 15 to 40 miles an hour.
That indicates the condition of the track, and that is why I say that it would be a good idea now to institute a general plan of standardization. I am certain that lines in other States are in a similar condition. It would be foolhardy to modernize the 3-ft. 6-in. gauge railway and then, shortly afterwards, be faced with the job of uprooting it and laying standard-gauge track. The expense, both to the Commonwealth and to the States, will be much greater if the work is left to be done in the future. Therefore, I submit that the time is now ripe to get down to business and reach agreement with the States on this important matter. Three-quarters of the track controlled by the Western. Australian Railways Department ,needs complete renewal. That system has 4,112 miles of track in use at present, and, of that total, 1,200 miles is merely developmental and would not be involved in any standardization plan. Thus, only 2,900 miles of track would be converted to standard gauge.
The immediate objective, of course, should be the conversion of the line between Fremantle and Kalgoorlie. I have been in close touch with various members of the State Parliament in relation to this matter, and I have learned that the present cost of this project would bi approximately £28,500,000. This estimate includes the cost of new locomotives, new rolling-stock and other equipment. However, the actual expense might not be as high as the amount I have mentioned, because the Western Australian Government is at present purchasing locomotives which are convertible to the broad gauge. It has 68 new diesel locomotives of this kind already in operation or on the water. The cost may appear to be colossal when considered as a total figure, but the conversion of the track from Kalgoorlie to Fremantle would take approxi- mately five years and, spreading the cost over the full period that the work would take, the expenditure would amount to about £6,000,000 a year, which is not a big sum these days for a job that is worth doing. For instance, this bill provides for the expenditure of over £12,000,000. I submit that, if we got down to business, the cost would not be excessive in the long run.
The rest of the Western Australian Government railways track, apart from the line from Fremantle to Kalgoorlie, should not be done immediately, because there are more important sections in other States that should be converted as soon as possible. However, the whole of the track in Western Australia could be converted to broad gauge within a period of ten years. It is estimated that the work m the second five-year period would cost about £16,000,000 “a year. Although I have said that the work for which the bill provides has been taken out of its proper order of priority, I am happy that action is being taken to extend the standardgauge track from Leigh Creels to Marree. Sir Harold Clapp’s report on the standardization of railway gauges, which was tabled in. this House in 1945, listed the conversion of this section of railway as proposal “ F “. His proposals “ A “, “ B “ and “ C “, of course, related to the conversion of the main trunk lines. Thus, the project for which the bill provides has a low priority under Sir Harold Clapp’s scheme. The Minister has directed attention to the advantages of conversion. I venture to say that the advantages he mentioned would accrue in a large measure if this Parliament got down to the business of arranging for the conversion of all major links to the standard gauge.
As the honorable member for Mackellar has said, the establishment of a standard gauge throughout Australia would shorten times of transit. Furthermore, rolling-stock and locomotives would be interchangeable between the various railway systems. This is a very important factor, which -would effect a great saving of costs, as well as of time, because fewer locomotives would be needed. Admittedly, the standardization of gauges throughout Australia will be a colossal job, but it must be done eventually, and it will be a colossal job whenever we face it. It was considered to be a colossal job in 1921, when a royal commission investigated the proposal. The total cost of the work then, according to the commission, would have been about £57,000,000. It was considered to be a colossal job again in 1945, when Sir Harold Clapp presented his report. He stated that the trunk lines and certain other lines could be converted to standard gauge for £76,000,000. The work would cost much more if it were done now, but it will be even more costly twenty years hence. Therefore, now is the time to get on with the project.
I have spoken largely from the point of view of Western Australia, because I do not think that point of view is stated sufficiently in this House. Nevertheless I regard the standardization of railway gauges as a national project, and it should be treated as such. In fact, it has important advantages from the point of view of the whole British Commonwealth of Nations. Honorable members can readily imagine the benefits that would accrue in time of war. Goods could be unloaded at Fremantle, the nearest major port to Great Britain and Europe, and could be quickly transported to all parts of Australia. At the same time, goods could be moved by rail to Fremantle and shipped overseas from there. This would mean that a tremendous tonnage of shipping would be made available for other sea routes, which would be an important consideration in time of war. The economies that would be effected also in time of peace are obvious. It is important that goods should reach their destination as quickly as possible.
The honorable member for Mackellar referred specifically to the advantages of standardization in relation to defence, as distinct from its economic benefits. Sir Harold Clapp stated in his report -
The justification for the standardization of gauges must, of course, rest primarily on defence rather than on economic grounds.
The truth of that statement should be clearly apparent. For instance, a standardized rail gauge would enable us to operate our transport system efficiently with a reduced supply of man-power and materials, which are always short in time of war. Unfortunately, although the advantages of standardization become so evident in war-time, reports on the subject are shelved as soon as the danger is over and nothing is done until another national emergency arises. That is why I say that now is the time to do the job. Honorable members may say that we are suffering from a shortage of man-power now. But surely workers could be brought from other countries to do the job! The work would take a number of years, and, when it was completed, they could easily be transferred to other activities. We are trying to increase our population, and this would provide a means towards that end. Manpower shortages should not be allowed to stand in the way.
I shall conclude by directing attention to an independent opinion on this subject. I am sorry that the Minister for the Interior (Mr. Kent Hughes) has left the chamber, because the report to which I shall refer was submitted to him when he was a Minister in the Victorian Parliament. It was made by Mr. John Elliott, a member of the Institute of Transport in England, and was handed down on the 20th May, 1949. Mr. Elliott is a world authority on transport, and he had been called upon to make a report upon the Victorian railways system. He made an additional report on the subject of the standardization of railway gauges, although it was not part of his job to do so, and his comments, which represent an impartial expert view, are of particular interest. This is what he had to say -
I believe that the present railway systems in Australia, with their varying gauges and consequent transfer points, are unsuitable for a country of great distances populated by one people of the same race and Commonwealth. So long as the vexatious restrictions on free railway passage of freight and passengers from one part of the Commonwealth to another persist, the railways will continue to be worked under adverse technical and operating conditions, to the detriment of the national well-being.
With separate State systems working to varying gauges, standardization of equipment of all kinds is impossible. Without such standardization, the cost of railway working is unnecessarily high and wasteful.
Economies in handling of interstate, and intra-state traffic offer themselves through standardization of gauge and rolling stock; while through the total elimination ot exchange points economy in labour will be secured, and transit of traffic remarkably speeded up.
I believe that standardization of railway gauge in Australia is bound to come, sooner or later. From the point of view of long-term planning of railway development, on which so much depends, the sooner the decision is taken, the better for Australian transport, and therefore Australian industry. After the decision is taken, at least five years will elapse during which the new 4-ft. 8-in. gauge rolling stock is being built, before any considerable labour force can be employed on track conversion.
With standardization of gauges should come unification of all the Australian railway systems under one Federal control and organization, as in South Africa and on the Canadian National Railways. Only in this way will the Commonwealth obtain the greatest advantages from the traffic and technical aspects which unification alone can bring.
From the defence point of view, I imagine that the transport problems of the last war have shown how great are the shortcomings of a disunited railway system, which had to be supplemented at a very heavy cost by road and air transport absorbing far more labour in the transport of a given tonnage -than would have been the case if the Australian Railways had been of a standardized and unified structure.
That is a very important statement, of which this House should take notice. The honorable member for Blaxland asked the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) in this House only a few weeks ago whether he would agree to establish a joint committee representative of all parties in this Parliament to make recommendations on the subject of the standardization of railway gauges, but, so far as I know, he has not received an answer to his inquiry. I commend the bill to the House because it will enable us to make a step in the right direction, but, all the same, I suggest that much more should be done. We should press on with the conversion of important sections of our trunk lines to standard gauge for a start. The standardization of other sections should be undertaken thereafter as soon as possible.
– This is one of those bills on which both sides of the House can agree, but I am afraid that nothing very serious will be done about the standardization of railway gauges unless the Government shows much more enterprise in the future than it has shown in the past. This measure represents the third attempt by an Australian government to press on with the work of standardizing our railways system. Therefore, it will make a useful contribution towards a desirable result. The only sections of track that have been converted since standardization was first given any practical consideration in 1921 are the sections between Kyogle and South Brisbane and Red Hill and Port Pirie. As a Victorian - and I am speaking now as a representative of Victoria - I consider that these advances have been negligible in the light of the recommendations to which the honorable member for Swan (Mr. Webb) has referred. The report of Mr. John Elliott, which the honorable gentleman quoted, was particularly interesting. Mr. Elliott was brought to Victoria for the purpose of making expert recommendations, and his opinions deserved much more practical consideration than they were afforded.
I do not believe that it would be possible for any State to undertake the standardization of any part of our trunk-line system without Commonwealth assistance. However, I remind the House that, when the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) was Minister for Transport in the Chifley Government, large sums were made available for States that woUld undertake certain classes of work on the standardization of gauges. That did not mean that the State authorities, which owned the rolling-stock and tracks and had the responsibility for maintaining them, were able to escape their liabilities. The Commonwealth was ready to assist them. However, between 1945 and 1949, unfortunately, the man-power needed for the project was not available. The standardization of railways should be undertaken by this Government, which has a majority in both houses of the Parliament, in a much more practical fashion than it has been attempted in the past.
I have not before me the map that the honorable member for Mackellar referred to, but I have read the honorable member’s views, which were expounded in a pamphlet that was made available to passengers on the Trans-Australian railway line. The honorable member this afternoon has virtually repeated the views that he expressed in that pamphlet. I do not complain about the pamphlet being made available to passengers, but why should not the opposing views of those who object to the expenditure of large sums of money on rail gauge standardization be made available to passengers also? I am aware that many people are of the opinion that the standardization of railway gauges should have far lower priority for the allocation of funds than other schemes should have. Rail standardization is a defence rather than an economic measure, and it must be attempted. Much more money should be expended north of the Tropic of Capricorn, which lies just south of Rockhampton, in Queensland, for the effective defence of Australia. That may be another reason why a parliamentary joint committee should be appointed to make an investigation.
The honorable member for Swan, who, like myself, was a locomotive enginedriver, and a practical railwayman, knows what is required to put the railways in reasonably sound economic condition. The financial losses incurred on the railways are not peculiar to Australia alone. Canada has had similar experience. In fact, the principle on which early Canadian governments acted was that the railways should be allowed to run down to their lowest ebb financially and should then be transferred to private enterprise, which with the assistance of the Government would make them profitable. There is a danger of a similar situation arising in Australia at present, and I should be sorry to see it arise. I am glad, therefore, that this Government - belatedly, in my opinion - has decided to proceed with the construction of another section of standard-gauge railway line. The cost of standardizing the gauge of the railway lines between Brisbane and Perth was originally estimated in 1921 at £21,600,000. In the 33 years that have elapsed since that time, I have been mi ardent advocate of the standardization of rail gauges. I believe that in 1936 I gave the honorable member for Mackellar a pamphlet on the subject that I had prepared that year.
– That is true.
– I think that, not in detail, but in broad outline, most of the statistics that have been quoted since were given in that pamphlet. In the past it was found impossible to obtain agreement between the railways commissioners of the various States on the action that should be taken. In my opinion, Victoria has missed the bus by insisting on retaining the 5 ft. 3 in. gauge between Melbourne and Adelaide, and it deserves to be by-passed by the construction of a standardgauge link between Broken Hill, in New South Wales, and Port Pirie, in South Australia. If a standard-gauge railway between Kalgoorlie and Perth were constructed, we should have a standard-gauge line from Perth to Brisbane. Such a line, with numerous lengthy sidings, is essential for defence purposes. During World War II., we could not transport a division of troops from Perth to the eastern coast of Australia in less than a month or six weeks. Unless the railway line from Perth to Brisbane is standardized, it will be futile to talk about the value of the railways for defence purposes. I remind the House that during World War II. Australian troops from the Middle East, who were urgently needed in New Guinea, had to be taken by ship 200 miles round the south of Tasmania to disembark at Sydney for jungle training before going to New Guinea. Delays are one of the great defects of our present - here I would have to use an unparliamentary word properly to describe it - system of diverse railway gauges.
The standardization of rail gauges should commend itself to every one. I do not oppose this bill in any way. I merely wish to mention the priorities that should be observed in relation to the construction and standardization of railway lines and the development of air services. The honorable member for Mackellar advocated an air service from Broken Hill to Marree. I cannot imagine any useful purpose that such a service would serve. The proper course to take to provide quick transport would be to establish a service from Melbourne, through Broken Hill and Mildura to Alice Springs. I suggest that if a service were opened -between Broken Hill and Marree, it would probably be left to Trans- Australia Airlines to operate, and that Australian National Airways Proprietary Limited would not be expected to conduct such a service because it would not be profitable. That matter may not be strictly relevant to the bill, but it is doubtless in the minds of some of those people who do not believe in government airlines and are not greatly enthusiastic about government railways. For my part, if such an air service were necessary, I should put it in the hands of Trans-Australia Airlines. A government airline, like a government railway, should be used for the development of the outback areas, and substantial government funds should be devoted to that purpose. Trans-Australia Airlines has developed many air services in the outback, and Australian National Airways Proprietary Limited did not bother about many of the non-paying lines until they had been developed and made profitable by TransAustralia Airlines. Trans-Australia Airlines is operating many services for which subsidies were formerly paid to Australian National Airways Proprietary Limited. The most satisfactory air link to facilitate speedy transport between the interior of Australia and a port on the coast would be a service, not from Darwin to Adelaide, as at present, but from Darwin to Melbourne, through Alice Springs, Broken Hill and Mildura. When I was Minister for Civil Aviation in the Labour Government, I travelled over that route. Such a service would provide quick transport over many hundreds of miles. However, this bill does not relate to quick transport alone. It largely relates to the best means of transporting cattle, which are the product of the most important industry in central Australia. The Minister for Air, in his secondreading speech, dealt clearly and very well with a number of matters to which the honorable member for Swan referred also. The proposal made by Government supporters that sleepers suitable for a 4-ft. 8^-in. gauge line should be laid between, say, Marree and Alice Springs, is not sound. Every one knows that in central Australia white ants destroy railway sleepers at a prodigious rate.
– ‘Concrete and steel sleepers are now being used.
– The honorable member did not mention concrete sleepers.
– Steel sleepers are better than concrete.
– The proper thing to do is to proceed with the construction of a standard-gauge railway to Marree, and this bill provides for that work. But we should not stop there. A standard-gauge railway from Darwin to Adelaide, or even to Melbourne, should be constructed as quickly as possible, not for economic reasons, but for defence reasons. This bill is a move towards the alleviation of the present miserable situation in relation to Australia’s railway system.
I agree with those honorable members who have suggested that the north-south railway through central Australia should not have been constructed through Quorn in the first place. Its present route was chosen by agreement between South Australia and the Commonwealth, arid the Commonwealth was eventually to take over the whole of the line. It was constructed with grades as steep as 1 in 30. This measure makes provision for much more suitable grades in the railway line with which it is concerned. Any engine-driver knows how difficult it is to take over grades of 1 in 30 loads that could be transported with comparative ease over the grades on the proposed new line from Port Augusta to Brachina, which will not exceed about 1 in 60 or 1 in 80.
– They will not exceed 1 in 120.
– Grades of 1 in 30 are disastrous. It is necessary either to use two engines, and to make the train a double-header, as it is termed in railway parlance, or to leave half the load below the ruling or steepest grade while the first half is taken on to the next station. That is a completely unsatisfactory state of affairs. I am indeed pleased to learn that the grades will not exceed 1 in 120. It can safely be said that grades no steeper than that will avoid some of the difficulties that have been experienced in relation to the existing 3-ft. 6-in. line, which was laid between sandhills, from which sand is constantly blown over the line by the strong winds that blow in the area, with the result that gangs of men ‘ must be employed continually clearing the line of sand. I am glad to know that such troubles will not be experienced in relation to the new line and that as a consequence there will be a considerable saving in maintenance costs and labour. I have travelled over the existing line in both goods and passenger trains. The standardization of that section of it between Marree and Alice Springs should be undertaken without delay, though I do not suggest that it should have priority over the standard-gauge link between Cockburn, in South Australia, and Broken Hill, which was suggested by the honorable member for Mackellar in his speech. That link should be given the highest priority in order to standardize the line from Kalgoorlie to Brisbane, with the ultimate object of completing a standard-gauge line from Kalgoorlie to Fremantle. That follows as a necessity from the standardization of the line between Kalgoorlie and Brisbane. In the meantime this Government, belatedly, as I observed at the outset, intends to proceed with a railway work that gives much satisfaction to me as an experienced railwayman.
I have always hoped that during my lifetime railway gauges throughout Australia would be standardized. I am afraid that I shall have to live a long time yet in view of the rate of progress made by this Government and its predecessors, including the Labour Government, which was hampered by the lack of man-power to which I have referred, because the States were unable to take full advantage of provision that was made by the honorable member for East Sydney as Minister for Transport. If Victoria is left out of the standardgauge arrangements it will be its own fault for insisting on the retention of the 5-ft. 3-in. gauge line between Adelaide and Melbourne. Victoria could have undertaken the conversion to standard gauge of that line, as other honorable members have pointed out, with less difficulty than would be experienced elsewhere, because the existing sleepers could have been used to carry the 4-ft. 8-J-in. gauge line. It is true, as any one with railway experience knows, that modifications of platforms and stations would be required also. The cost would have been much lower in earlier years than it would be at the present time, and narrow-gauge locomotives and rolling-stock would have been cheaper.
I could discuss the matter in much more detail, but that would serve only to cloud the broad issues. I support the bill, because it is the third step in the right direction along the road to standardization of railway gauges that has been taken in the last 33 years. The work envisaged in this bill is not great, but it is essential. I trust that the views expressed by honorable members on both sides of the House will be considered earnestly by the Government. I do not think honorable members generally would oppose the expenditure of vast sums of money on the construction of railways, particularly in the northern part of- Australia. After almost 50 years of experience in the railways and after eight years as Minister for Air and Minister for Civil Aviation in the Labour Government, my view is that although airways can be used to develop the country initially, railways are essential to enable the population to be increased in remote areas where uranium and other valuable minerals are being produced at present and will be produced in the future. Cattle can be transported by air economically, and air transport of cattle should be undertaken in advance of railway development, because it is far less costly to construct the necessary aerodromes than it is to construct hundreds of miles of railway. Another factor in favour of air transport is that it does not require the steel, building materials and other materials that are required by railways for lines, station buildings, points and crossings.
The proposal embodied in this measure is commendable, though it is far too small. It is unworthy of the Government to plan merely for this proposed small railway extension. It is doing only part of the job that the Commonwealth undertook to do in the original agreement with South Australia. I trust that the Government will in the future display more imagination and more concern for the defence of Australia by proceeding with the construction of the 4-ft. 8^-in. gauge railway from Alice
Springs to Birdum. That would make me feel much more happy than, the present limited proposal does.
.- It is quite evident that all honorable members who have participated in this debate are in agreement with the proposal that was outlined by the Minister for Air (Mr. Townley) in relation to the conversion of the railway line from Leigh Creek to Marree. I desire to associate myself with the remarks that have been made, and to support the bill. It is evident also, from the Minister’s second-reading speech, that this is a beef railway. For that reason, I am amazed that, so far, no member of the Australian Country party has participated in the debate. I am aware of the opposition of the leader of the Australian Country party to the construction of railways in northern Australia, and of his support for the air-beef scheme. I have frequently read of the observations of the Treasurer (Sir Arthur Fadden) in relation to the movement of beef by air.
– I rise to a point of order. The remarks of the last three speakers have been very wide of the bill. The honorable member for Griffith has referred to the fact that no member of the Australian Country party has participated in the debate. It may be that, if a member of the Australian Country party did so, he would speak on the bill.
-Order ! I am allowing a little latitude. The honorable member may proceed, if he comes to Marree instead of the airbeef scheme.
– The policy of the Australian Country party, so far as that party has a policy, is related completely to the introduction of an air-beef scheme, but members of that party have been overawed by members of the Liberal party, which is the major party in the coalition. I have obtained some satisfaction from my own speech, because one member of the Australian Country party has been goaded into making a remark. As the Minister for Air pointed out, the line is being converted on economic grounds. The original railway to Marree was built in about 1884. It is yet another example of undertakings in relation to which we are now paying for the sins and blunders of politicians in the past. I can assure the honorable member opposite who has interjected that the railway was not built, by a Labour government. As the honorable member for Maribyrnong (Mr. Drakeford) stated, the 3-ft. 6-in. railway which is to be abandoned has grades of 1 in 30. The cost of the proposed railway from Stirling North to Marree will be £12,250,000. The new railway will bring Leigh Creek coal to the power station at Port Augusta at a considerably reduced cost to the South Australian consumer. The proposal now before the House is to extend the standard gauge to Marree for the purpose of bringing beef cattle from the Northern Territory, and from the Channel country of Queensland, to the Adelaide market. The points that were made by the Minister in relation to the economics of the scheme are extremely sound, inasmuch as the conversion of this line will ensure that beef cattle that will be delivered to the abattoirs in Adelaide will retain, as it were, the fresh bloom of youth. The people of Adelaide will enjoy the good beef that Queenslanders usually enjoy, but which is denied to the citizens of Canberra.
The figures relating to cattle populations are very interesting. It is significant that the conversion is taking place in a State that has such a small beef cattle population. In the last year for which figures are available, the cattle population of South Australia was 189,000; of the Northern Territory, 1,019,000; and of Queensland, 5,293,000. A considerable number of the beasts that will be carried over this railway will be drawn, not from South Australia, but from other areas. It is significant that the number of cattle slaughtered in South Australia during the last year for which figures are available exceeded the total cattle population of that State. A total of 213,000 cattle were slaughtered in Adelaide, whereas the total beef cattle population of South Australia was only 189,000. It will be noted that, therefore, there is some justification for the construction of this railway as a beef railway.
A considerable number of beasts is driven over the Birdsville track from the
Channel country in Western Queensland, which has been described by the Minister as the best fattening country in Australia. The waters of northern Queensland, and those west of the ‘Great Dividing Range, flow towards central Australia. Periodically, the Channel country is irrigated by natural means, as a result of which there are excellent fattening properties that are used to fatten beasts which are brought down from the Northern Territory. Many of those cattle are moved to the Adelaide market, because, I understand, very good prices are paid for beef cattle in Adelaide. In view of the fact that this railway will be used for the transport of a large number of cattle, the conversion of the line to a 4-ft. 8-J-in. gauge is particularly important. One of the difficulties associated with a narrow gauge railway is the amount of bruising of cattle that takes place. The proposed line will be constructed according to modern standards, and the nuisance to which I have referred should be overcome. Bruising causes great economic loss to cattle-producers.
A royal commission, under the chairmanship of Mr. Justice Wolff, which was appointed in 1950, found that Australia consumes 88 per cent, of its total beef production. The Minister for Air pointed out that, following the extension of the line from Oodnadatta to Alice Springs in 1929, the number of cattle that were moved from Alice Springs to Adelaide was doubled. That statement illustrates the fact that the construction of railways encourages settlement on the land, and the production of cattle. There is ample scope for the extension of the beef cattle industry. Last week at Gayndah, one of Queensland’s principal graziers referred to the opportunity that awaits Australia to export beef to the United Kingdom. He directed attention to the fact that, before World War II., Argentina shipped 400,000 tons of beef to the United Kingdom, Brazil shipped 150,000 tons, and Uruguay shipped 80,000 tons.
– Order! The honorable member is getting away from the provisions of the bill.
– My remarks are related to the expansion of the beef industry, for which this railway is being con structed. I am very pleased, as a Labour man, to do my bit towards aiding settlers in the area that will be served by the railway, who, apparently, are being denied the aid that the Australian Country party has stated, from time to time, it was prepared to give to the people on the land. The only criticism of the bill that I can offer - and I suppose it is an easy criticism to offer - is that it does not go far enough. I agree with the honorable member for the Northern Territory (Mr. Nelson) that the standard gauge should go through to Alice Springs. I hope the time is not far distant when Marree will cease to be the transhipping centre, and when the conversion will be extended to Alice Springs. However, the bill is a step in the right direction. It represents a move towards the standardization of railways, which every Australian who has the’ welfare of the country at heart should support.
.- I do not propose to cite a lot of figures in relation to railways, or to get as far away from the provisions of the bill as other honorable members have done this afternoon. The Australian Country party is always pleased when legislation is introduced to help the primary producer. It is associated with the Liberal party in the carrying out of the project that is covered by the bill. Therefore, I have great pleasure in supporting the measure.
– I do not wish to speak at length. I would not rise in my place if I could not say something more complimentary than were the statements of the honorable member for Mallee (Mr Turnbull). I do not intend to speak about statistics in relation to railways, cattle or anything else. The proposal to convert to a 4-ft. 8-J-in. gauge the railway from Stirling North to Marree represents another step towards providing something for which South Australia has been waiting for a long time. If honorable members were to peruse the records, they would discover that, from time to time, most of the honorable members who come from South Australia have deplored the fact that effect has not been given to the promise to build a railway from Port Augusta to
Darwin, when the Northern Territory was removed from the control of South Australia. I realize the difficulties associated with the construction of such a railway, and I realize also that other States may have opinions about the areas that railways should serve in the centre of Australia.
South Australia has been of the opinion that the Commonwealth should try to provide proper railway communication with the north of Australia. Although the narrow gauge line has been of considerable help, and although central Australia would not have been able to progress as it has progressed without it, it bas been very inadequate. The conversion of the line between Leigh Creek and Marree will give a very direct service for the transport of cattle which come from the Channel country. According to the Minister’s secondreading speech, the conversion of the proposed railway line will not only benefit the cattle industry in the districts around Marree, but it will also be of distinct benefit to the cattle industry north of Alice Springs. Moreover, water supplies available at Marree will be of great benefit in the’ operation of the new line for the coal mines at Leigh Creek. I believe that the proposed conversion will be of great benefit to South Australia., and, indeed, to the general economy of Australia. The honorable member for Griffith (Mr. Coutts) said that the proposed railway line will benefit South Australia because it will be possible to bring cattle more expeditiously from the northern parts of that State to the southern towns and ports. The people of Adelaide are quite familiar with the name of Sir Sidney Kidman, and they, together with most Australians, recognize that his initiative was mainly responsible foi1 the advances that have been made by South Australia’s cattle industry. As the population and industry of that State increase, cattle will have to be moved more often from the north to the south, and consequently this line will have a beneficial effect on the future of South Australia.
The honorable member for the Northern Territory (Mr. Nelson) spoke
Mr. Thompson. about the necessity to prevent injury to cattle while they are being carried in railway trucks. I believe that this line, by making it more easy to bring the cattle south, will enable us to avoid much of the cruelty that has had to be suffered by cattle in the past. Even for that reason alone our support of the proposal will be worthwhile. We have heard much talk in recent years about railways now being out of date. It has been said that we can carry all the goods that we need to carry more expeditiously by road. I do not believe that that is so, because if heavy goods are carried by road the damage done to the roads is out of all proportion to the benefits that accrue from the road carriage of goods. I believe that it will always be necessary to have a good railway system to transport heavy goods in large quantities. Therefore, the more efficient we make our whole railway system the better it will be for the people, and for the general economy. I also draw the attention of honorable members to the fact that evidence was given in South Australia before the Commonwealth Grants Commission to the effect that the transport of large quantities of goods, or heavy goods by road, was found by municipal authorities to be a most costly business. Therefore, I am sure that in the future, much of the talk, and some of the hurried actions, against railways, will be found to have been ill advised. I support the measure.
– On two occasions in the last few weeks I have asked the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) to consider the appointment of an all-party committee to consider the standardization of rail gauges in Australia. I suggest that this debate has shown how necessary it now is to appoint such a committee. The honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth) referred to the relatively small amount of work that needs to be done to link Broken Hill with Port Pirie, and to the fact that the cost of doing so would not be more than £12,000,000. The honorable member for Swan (Mr. Webb) has stated that it would cost only about £28,000,000 to standardize the rail gauge between Fremantle and Kalgoorlie. That being so, honorable members on this side of the House cannot understand why the Government should not support our move to set up an allparty committee to consider rail standardization throughout Australia. Recently a contract was let to an American firm for £25,000,000 to construct one tunnel in the Snowy Mountains scheme-
– Order ! This is not a general debate on rail standardization. The honorable member must confine his remarks to the bill before the House.
– I merely mentioned the Snowy Mountains scheme in passing. Of course we know that our rail gauges cannot be standardized unless we spend money, but I suggest that the money required is relatively small when compared with the beneficial results that such standardization may give us. If we can find £25,000,000 for a tunnel in the Snowy Mountains scheme, we should be able to find £40,000,000 in order to arrange for direct rail transport on a standard gauge line from the east to the west of this continent.
I again point out to honorable members that diesel electrification is the answer to the profitable working of the railways. The CommonwealthRailways system has enjoyed a profit since it introduced diesel electric locomotives, and I suggest that next year the New South “Wales government railways will also show a profit as a result of the introduction of diesel electric locomotives - although at present there are only twenty of them in New South Wales. Diesel electrification and the standardization of railway gauges are matters completely above party politics, and I again ask the Government to consider the appointment of an allparty committee to consider the advantages of rail standardization to Australia, both in peace and in war.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and committed pro forma; progress reported.
Message recommending appropriation reported.
In committee (Consideration of Governor-General’s message) :
Motion (by Mr. Kent Hughes) agreed to-
That it is expedient that an appropriation of revenue be made for the purposes of a bill for an act to provide for the conversion to standard gauge of the railway from Leigh CreekNorth Coalfield to Marree in the State of South Australia, and for purposes connected therewith.
Resolution reported and adopted.
In committee: Consideration resumed.
Bill - by leave - taken as a whole, and agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment: report adopted.
Bill - by leave - read a third time.
Sitting suspended from5.45 to 8 p.m.
Bill received from the Senate.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Sir Eric Harrison) read a first time.
Bill returned from the Senate without amendment.
Debate resumed from the 27 th October (vide page 2389), on motion by Mr. Casey -
That the bill be now read a second time.
– This is an important bill, which provides for a new regional arrangement under the United Nations Charter of a rather unusual kind, and I consider that the best contribution that one can give is to endeavour to analyse some of its features. At the outset,. I point out that we on this side of the House have always favoured regionalism within the Charter. Indeed, the inclusion of the regional arrangements in a specific chapter of the United Nations Charter was due, in a substantial measure, to New Zealand, Australia and some other countries. Of course, the Latin-American countries were equally keen on it, because of their Pan-American agreements. Those countries wanted the opportunity to have matters of security, welfare, protection against aggression in the area, and economic advancement in the area, dealt with, not merely through the world organization, but also through the regional agencies and bodies.
A good deal of objection was taken to that view in certain quarters. It was thought by some that there should be no rival to the Security Council in relation to the maintenance of international peace and security. Therefore, it was a matter of some difficulty to get the conference at San Francisco to agree to regional arrangements. In the fight for the recognition of that principle, one great American, Senator Vandenberg, took, possibly, the leading part, and, ultimately, it was agreed to. The opposing view was that the Security Council, the world organization, was to be primarily responsible for the maintenance of international peace and security, and that we could not have half a dozen bodies to deal with the keeping of peace and the prevention of aggression throughout the world. Therefore, why have a separate body?
The view which we put, and I think it is the view which turned out to be correct, is that we have a defect in the voting system in the Security Council. The majority of the members of the Security Council - the statutory majority, so to speak, of seven out of eleven members - could vote for a proposal to deal with a matter of peace or security, yet the exercise of the veto by any one of the permanent members could make all the proceedings abortive, and no decision would be reached. I mention, in passing, that the five permanent members were Russia, France, Britain, the United States of America and China. As is well known, the veto has been exercised frequently. We foresaw that possible situation to a substantial degree, and proposed two important remedies to meet it. Many people thought it was unlikely, but in the Constitution we had to guard against what was not likely, and the not likely has proved to be the fact.
We adopted two methods. The first was the extension of the powers of the General Assembly so that it could also deal with matters of international peace and security. The veto may not be exercised in the General Assembly. A two-thirds majority of the members, by making a recommendation, expresses the great opinion of the majority of the nations and the peoples of the world. The General Assembly has acted in some situations, such as Korea., the Balkans, Kashmir, Palestine and at one stage, Indonesia. It has been the intervention of the General Assembly, where the veto cannot be exercised, that has enabled matters of international dispute - acute dispute in some cases - to be settled.
The second way of enabling disputes to be dealt with, irrespective of the veto of the Security Council, is by regional arrangements. I believe that regional arrangements have come to stay. There has been the North Atlantic Treaty Organization in Europe, and a parallel arrangement in relation to South America. In the Pacific, there has been the Anzus arrangement. I point out, so that the people of Australia can understand the position, that under the Anzus pact, we have a clear-cut, logical arrangement consistent with the United Nations Charter. It provides, in my opinion, security to Australia, which is very important indeed, and indirectly, security for the Pacific area largely because of the inclusion of the United States of America. The South-East Asia Collective Defence Treaty affords, in some respects, a great contrast to Anzus. Nonetheless, it is the first experiment of its kind in grouping together European nations and Asian nations, and the experiment, no doubt, will have to he proceeded with but, I hope, subject to certain safeguards which I shall have the honour to propose on behalf of the Opposition.
It is important to examine the provisions of the South-East Asia Collective Defence Treaty. There is both, a likeness and a contrast to the North Atlantic Treaty and the Anzus pact. Under those two treaties, the obligation assumed by each member is to act, or take action, in order to repel armed attack against any of the parties in a specified area. The North Atlantic arrangement relates to a very wide area, and I need not refer to it now.
I do not wish to refer, and I do not consider that it is necessary for me to refer, to circumstances short of armed attack, because this debate will cover a wide field. Those matters are dealt with, as honorable members know, on the basis of consultation. For relevant purposes under this agreement, there is an obligation on each member to act to meet the common danger which arises in two types of cases. The first is aggression by means of armed attack in the treaty area against any of the parties. The treaty area is an enormous one. It is not merely the SouthEast Asia area, but includes vast areas of the Pacific. It extends as far west as “West Pakistan right over to the borders of Persia. It extends north to a parallel just below Formosa and Hong Kong. It extends as far south as New Zealand and Australia and includes all the vast area between.
Aggression by means of armed attack in the treaty area against any of the parties brings into existence an obligation on each party to act to meet the common danger. But in addition to that, there is a matter which is, perhaps, more important and more pertinent. The obligation to act means military action. The Minister says it does not necessarily mean military action, but it primarily does include military action. It does not necessarily include it, but that is the purpose in the case of aggression. This is aggression by means of armed attack in the treaty area against any State or territory which the parties may designate by unanimous agreement.- The parties have designated the area of South Viet Nam, Laos and Cambodia by unanimous agreement, so that the instrument is to be read subject to the knowledge that aggression by means of armed attack in that area is an occasion which will call for the obligation, the primary obligation, to act under the treaty. The term aggression is not used in the crucial article in the Anzus pact. In the North Atlantic Treaty, that term is not used either, but it is used in Article IV. of this treaty. It has to be not merely armed attack, but aggression by means of armed attack.
Therefore, as I interpret the position, the obligation of each party to act arises^ only where there is aggression by means of armed attack.
The vital word is aggression. It is difficult to define the meaning of the word. There may be acts of open aggression, which are clearly seen to be used. There may be acts of deliberate provocation by one party, which cause armed attack by the other party. There may be acts preliminary to military action. We have to look at all the facts before we can name the aggressor. It was because of that difficulty that when the word aggression was used in the United Nations Charter, it was found impossible to provide a comprehensive definition of aggression. It does not follow that the nation which strikes the first blow is necessarily the aggressor. That is the only point that I wish to make. It may be in a sense a defensive measure. That is well known and need only be mentioned. An armed attack may be aggressive, and it usually is, but it may at times be defensive. The term aggression is used in Article I. of the United Nations Charter. That reference is to the suppression of acts of aggression or other breaches of the peace.
I now wish to refer to the South-East Asia Collective Defence Treaty itself. This treaty forms the schedule to the bill. The preamble to the treaty, in many respects, resembles the preamble to the North Atlantic Treaty and the Anzus pact. It becomes a part of the agreement submitted for our approval. The eight proposed parties to the agreement state certain positive aims. They emphasize their faith in the Charter of the United Nations, in self-government and selfdetermination. They declare that -
They will earnestly strive by every peaceful means to promote self-government and to secure the independence of all countries whose peoples desire it and are able to undertake its responsibilities.
The aim to promote the economic wellbeing and development of all peoples in the treaty area is also stated. I am puzzled to know, and I should like the Minister to inform us in his reply, why that preamble was not good enough for him or the Australian draftsman.
That is the preamble which is almost identical, in broad spirit at all events, with that of the North Atlantic Treaty and also Anzus. It was definite, objective and positive; but in the preamble put in by the Minister-
– The preamble to the bill?
– Yes. The object of the bill is to ratify this agreement, but the preamble contained in the agreement is not good enough for the Minister. He must have a preamble to the bill. The preamble to the bill is unnecessary, but the draftsman seems to have thought that it was necessary to adopt the preamble to the agreement with another preamble to the bill; and the latter preamble resembles a manifesto against communism. The statements contained in the preamble may be quite true, but they are entirely irrelevant because everyone who is familiar with events which covered World War I. and World War II. and the intervening period knows that fascism and nationalism are equally as productive of aggression as is communism. They are, obviously, basic causes of aggression. For what purpose have these placards in the preamble been put in by some draftsman? All the preamble that is needed is stated in the treaty itself in terms agreed to by the representatives of eight nations. Why is that not sufficient? Of course, placards of this kind may have some temporary political effect, and I think that that is the intention behind them. But, at the same time, I think they may have a bad effect upon Asian nations, especially upon neutral nations, and certainly an aggravating effect upon unfriendly nations. So, we find in the bill this denunciation of Communist policies as though the purpose of regional agreements is to prevent aggression of one character only, namely, by, or in the interests of, communism.
Government members interjecting.
– I wish that honorable members opposite would not bark at me. If they do, at least I wish they would do so one at a time. I think that the argument that I have just advanced would appeal to persons who take a basic view on the matter. Are honorable members opposite so sensitive to criticism of fascism and nationalism.? I can understand the honorable member for Henty (Mr. Gullett) drawing himself up to whatever it is, but I wish that he would listen to me. If he did so, perhaps he might agree with what I have to say. It is absurd in an agreement, so far as Australia is concerned, to make that emphasis, because Australia’s obligation under this agreement is to act - including military action - against fascist or nationalist aggression, as well as against Communist aggression. Therefore,, why does the preamble to the bill refer only to one class of aggression?
Of course, if the regional agreement meant that it was to be operative only against one type of aggression in the region, that is, aggression where the aggressor is Communist, it would be contrary to the Charter of the United Nations because that Charter binds all members of the United Nations and it deals with regional arrangements. The Charter prescribes what such arrangements shall contain and provides that they must be concerned only with “ the maintenance of international peace and security “ in relation to the region. It only authorizes regional agreements consistent . with the “ purposes and principles “ of the United Nations. The very first purpose of the United Nations, as stated in Article I. of the Charter, is to take effective collective measures for the “ suppression of acts of aggression “. The evil to be dealt with is “ aggression “, quite irrespective of its cause or the parties engaged in aggression. For the purposes of the United Nations Charter, it does not matter whether aggression is Communist, fascist or nationalist. It is aggression that counts. If one nation interferes with the territorial integrity of another by armed force, that is aggression, and that is enough. That has occurred in many instances. Sometimes, the cause is an ideology or an opposite ideology, or nationalist expansion. Whatever the purpose of the aggression may be, the object of the United Nations Charter is to provide collective action to stop it. But the preamble to the bill drags in other things. What is the purpose of this emphasis in this preamble on one particular form of aggression? The preamble to which the eight nations agreed at Manila is not good enough! Those nations accepted it unanimously. Why, therefore, does the Minister want another preamble for local consumption? Does he want to introduce local politics into this matter? Why does he not stick to the agreement?
– I told the right honorable gentleman why.
– The Minister did, but we shall see whether he was correct. The reason is clear enough, because the situation to which the agreement directs itself, primarily and most obviously, is the situation in Indo-China. The American Secretary of State, Mr. Dulles, had that in mind chiefly, and, no doubt, that would be in the minds of all the representatives of the nations at Manila.
Article IV. of this treaty places an obligation upon each party to the agreement to act in the event of aggression against either South Viet Nain, Laos or Cambodia. That article is a unanimous declaration; and that was primarily in the mind of Mr. Dulles. So, we find the extraordinary position that the United States has made a specific reservation to the effect that “ its recognition of the effect of aggression and armed attack “ giving rise to action to meet the common danger under Article IV. “applies only to Communist aggression “.
– What other threat is there?
– The other day-
-(Hon. Archie Cameron). - Order! I shall insist on the Leader of the Opposition getting an uninterrupted hearing. If there are any further interjections, I shall deal with the offender according to the Standing Orders.
– Admittedly, in this area at this time, that is the type of aggression with which most nations are concerning themselves, but on a long-term basis we are dealing with all possibilities. The practical application of this limitation is important. The trouble spot to-day is Indo-China ; and, yesterday, it was Indo.China. But nobody can say that that may necessarily be the case to-morrow. If there were Japanese aggression in the treaty area as. a result of a thrust southward into the Pacific, and parties to the agreement were affected, the United States, under this agreement, would not be obliged to take action with regard to that aggression. For aggression would presumably, be of a nationalistic character, or even, perhaps, of an anticommunistic character; but never communistic. Let us take the case of South Viet Nam. At present, Viet Nam is partitioned, pending a final determination by the people of its future government. Let us suppose that there are border incidents to the north of the border of South Viet Nam. People naturally think of aggression from the north directed against the south, Communists against nonCommunists, the “ baddies “ against the “goodies”. That is the way the mind of certain people invariably operates. It may well be that way. Would it be Communist aggression if it were provoked from the south? One would have to look at all the circumstances. I make it plain that the history of the development of self-government in IndoChina since the war is that a really bona fide nationalist movement in the first instance, comprised often of the best forces in these countries, succeeded in raising resistance against Japanese aggression and also opposed the Vichy French Government which, at times, was willing to welcome the Japanese invader. That is well known to have been the start of those movements; but, gradually, the movements were converted to the use of communism largely because selfgovernment was so long delayed. But it does not always follow that character. Let us suppose, also, that border incidents in Viet Nam are caused from the south for the very purpose of provoking resistance and counter attack from the north. In that case, difficulties would arise in determining who was the aggressor. But even if there was clear and open aggression against Northern Viet Nam that would not be characterized as communistic aggression, because the aggressor would not be Communist but anti-Communist and, in such circumstances, the United States would be entitled to say that it would not take action in regard to that aggression because it has carefully guarded itself against such a possibility under this treaty. Under Article XV. of the treaty, the United States is obliged to take action only in the case of communistic aggression.
A further example may be suggested in relation to Dutch New Guinea. If there were an attack on Dutch New Guinea by, say, Indonesia, and the Netherlands Government requested intervention under this treaty - and the area was designated unanimously under Article IV. - would such aggression be termed “ Communist aggression”? It might not be Communist aggression. It might be nationalistic aggression, and the United States might so regard it and, therefore, would consider itself not bound to lend aid under the treaty. But whilst that country would not be so bound, all the other nations who are parties to the treaty, including Australia, would be bound to lend armed support. That is the extraordinary position to which I direct attention. That is a defect in the treaty, and it is our duty to recognize it. It is a limitation that must be considered in the light of the provisions of the United Nations Charter which I have mentioned. This is one of the difficulties under this treaty under which one nation, which is the strongest by far in the Pacific, has, in effect, created for itself a different condition for armed intervention by way of defence to aggression from the condition which binds every other party to the treaty. Surely, this difficulty should have been hammered out at Manila. That is a crucial obligation under the treaty. I cannot imagine why the difficulties were not confronted more boldly at Manila during all the celebrations that took place during this conference. This defect should have been seen, and the reasons advanced by the Minister in this respect are unconvincing. The Minister says that the view of the United States is that it has no territorial interests affected in the area. The United States certainly posesses territorial interests in the western Pacific, which is part of the treaty area, where it has taken over control and practical sovereignty of all the islands contained in the former Japanese mandates which extend from the Equator to just south of Formosa.
– The south-west Pacific?
– If New Zealand is a part of the treaty area, those islands also are a part of it. I submit that New Zealand is clearly within the area.
– It is 3,000 miles away.
– The view taken in the war was that New Zealand did not belong to the south-west Pacific but was in thu south Pacific. However, taking a fair view of the matter, I submit it is in the treaty area.
– The right honorable gentleman’s geography is shaky.
– My geography may be a bit shaky, but something else was shaky at Manila when the Minister did not secure an all-round agreement. The security of Australia depends upon absolute co-operation with the United States in these matters. That is the reason why, in the end, an agreement of this kind must be accepted from a practical point of view even though it has its weaknesses and is an experiment in some respects. We must have cooperation with the United States. But for American help in World War II., our position would have become almost indefensible. In saying that, I do not underrate the enormous effort made in the Pacific war by Australia and Australian servicemen. I have never done so. It would be to the advantage of both Australia and the United States if the Minister tried to co-operate on a better basis - that of junior partnership for Australia. One of the weaknesses of the Minister in international affairs is that he places Australia in the position of a satellite to a superior. That is the real explanation of the extraordinary position that the right honorable gentleman agreed to at Manila.
The United States has undertaken an obligation that is limited, definite and frank, but Australia’s obligation, is general.
– Rubbish !
– It is general. Australia’s obligation is not confined to action in the event of Communist aggression. The treaty binds Australia and the other six nations to a general commitment. Had there been an attempt to frame the agreement properly, the
United States would have agreed. Perhaps after to-day in that country it may be more easy to get a satisfactory amendment. It is most important in these matters not just to sign on the dotted line, no matter how great may be the power and the strength of that great country, with which we must always associate on the basis of the closest friendship. It is quite wrong in principle, in short, that Australia’s obligation under this treaty should be unlimited and that the United States should have only a limited obligation. Who is to judge whether the particular aggression alleged to have occurred is Communist aggression or not ? There is no judicial body to determine the question. It could not be referred to the courts. It must be left in the long run, I presume, to the nation concerned to decide whether it will intervene under the treaty. That is a defect in the treaty which should be amended.
From the point of view of Australian security, therefore, I maintain emphatically that our obligations under the Anzus pact are clearer. That agreement is enormously more important to our security than is this treaty. Under Anzus there is an obligation on all three parties to the pact, including the United States to intervene against aggression, wherever it may take place, if it be directed against any of the parties, and whether it be Communist aggression, fascist aggression, nationalist aggression or any other kind of aggression. Aggression means interference with the territorial integrity of another country, and to that country it does not matter very much what the ideological basis of the attack may be. It may be simply nationalist expansion. That is the proper way in which regional agreements should be drafted. The Nato agreement is drafted in that way. It is perfectly true that Nato was brought into being through fear of Russian aggression, but the agreement itself applies to all types of aggression. That is essential if we are to work according to the spirit and, indeed, the letter of the United Nations Charter in its relation to regional arrangements. The Anzus pact was drafted in strict accordance with the principles of the Charter, but the same position does not a rise under the present agreement. There fore, at the committee stage, I propose to move that two safeguards be included in the bill.
First of all, the ratification of the treaty by Australia should be on the definite understanding that the United States, the United Kingdom and New Zealand have all ratified it or are ratifying it. I think that is vital. Secondly, it should be laid down in the bill that no armed forces are to be contributed by Australia under the” treaty - I am not referring to any other treaty - without the prior approval of this Parliament. Just imagine the situation that could arise. I have made it perfectly clear that there is a definite trouble spot in Indo-China. The situation may calm down, or it may be aggravated. There is to be a plebiscite in 1956 in relation to the future of South Viet Nam to decide whether it shall remain independent or whether its boundaries shall be altered. What will be the position under this agreement if aggression occurs and is deemed to be aggression from the north 1 Australia’s obligation, in the terms of the letter of the agreement, will come into existence, subject to the due constitutional processes. We can lay down what the constitutional processes shall be in matters of this kind. The term does not mean processes according to the terms of the written constitution. Therefore, as the lives of Australians may be involved, there should be a definite, clear statement in the bill that armed contributions under the agreement cannot be made by the executive government without the prior approval of the Parliament.
Such contributions mean war. They might be described as security action, but, in effect, they would mean war. Therefore, the provision that I suggest is important. No government ought to suppose that, by merely adopting the principles of the treaty, it is under an automatic obligation to provide armed forces. I think the Minister agrees with my view on that point. It must look at the situation that exists when armed forces are called for. The only way to cover this situation is to give the Parliament supremacy by insisting on requirements of the . kind that I have suggested. There are other aspects of this treaty which are important, but I shall not- touch on all of them because I know that various honorable members are specially interested in the economic side of the arrangement. I wish to mention only one other important matter.
What are the, true purposes of .these regional arrangements? They are all set out in Article 5’2 of the United Nations Charter. The-parties to regional arrangements are not only bound to carry out their obligations to act collectively in relation to aggression, whatever kind of aggression it may be, but they are also bound positively, if they are to conform to the Charter, to make every effort to achieve the peaceful settlement of disputes within the terms of the agreement. But there is not a word about that in the treaty. Nobody seems to have thought of it. The Security Council, which is a similar body on a greater scale, is bound to encourage the development of the pacific settlement of local disputes through regional arrangements. In other words, while it is important that the treaty arrangements contemplate economic . assistance, as well as military aid, it is far more important that they should be regarded as imposing a continuous duty on the parties to carry out the objectives of regional agreements. Those objectives, which are set out in Article 33 of the Charter, are to seek solutions of international disputes by the method of inquiry, mediation, conciliation, arbitration, judicial settlement and other peaceful means.
What has been the tragedy in IndoChina? For five years, fighting went on there all the time. Hundreds of thousands of lives were lost. Nobody referred the matter to the United Nations. Had the matter gone to the United Nations, better terms would have been obtained than those agreed to at Geneva recently, which were very difficult and onerous to France and to the democratic forces in the IndoChina community, and all the bloodshed would have been stopped. The Australian Government did nothing about’ it. I pointed out the situation to the Government, but it did not act. I asked it to state its policy on Indo-China, and the reply was, in effect, “ Oh, we are kept informed. We get a cable now and again.” But it did nothing! Aud then came the conference at Geneva. The Minister for External Affairs flew to Geneva, where he had an interview with the Prime Minister of Communist China and offered his good offices. That was quite correct at the time.
I summarize my view in this way: This treaty organization should not be merely a military organization. It should be a permanent organization which can contribute to the prevention of fighting in this vast area. It is bound to apply the purposes and principles of the United Nations. Otherwise, it would be null and void, because such agreements can be concluded only in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations. The arrangement should attempt to narrow the area of international dispute and the parties should be ready to render good offices. That has not been achieved in connexion with this agreement, although there may be some general phrases along those lines, of course. In fact, such phrases are to be found in the preamble to the bill. They have been put there so that the Government may gain a lot of cheap local political advantage. They are not included in the treaty.
What a lie this bill is ! Here is a pre- . amble which states that the parties to the agreement are going to fight Communist aggression, and the reader thinks, “Oh well, Australia is copying the United States of America “. The United States was frank about the matter and limited its obligations. But, when the reader of the bill turns over the page, he finds that Australia’s obligation is against aggression, whether it be Communist, fascist or any other kind of aggression. Therefore, the statement in the preamble is not a true statement.
– The right honorable gentleman is a bit touchy about communism apparently.
– Not at all. It is the Minister who is touchy about communism. He needs a little treatment - a few facts. I say that the United Nations stands for collective action by force against aggression, whether it be nationalist, Communist or fascist aggression. The United Nations is not an anti-Communist alliance. The only arrangement of this kind that I can recall previously in international affairs was the anti-comintern pact, signed by Hitler, Hirohito and Mussolini. Yet the Minister for External Affairs returned proudly from Manila, having bound Australia far more onerously than the United States was willing to be bound, and said, “ That was a good thing Dulles did. I had better put it in. the preamble to the bill, where it will have no effect ‘’. It is a little placard so that the right honorable gentleman can still sail under the anti-‘Communist banner, but the fact is that he has committed Australia to obligations which are far wider than those accepted by the United States. It is for that reason that we must have in this agreement a specific clause which will prevent a government like the present one from sending Australia’s forces abroad on any occasion unless the Parliament first approves of the decision. We can never tell what this Government might do.
Primarily, the purpose of the United Nations, and of every regional agreement that is lawful, is preventive. The object of the United Nations is to prevent the scourge of war which has brought, and still is bringing, untold sorrow to mankind. This principle of conciliation could constitute the most important activity of the treaty organization. Then the treaty representatives could go to Indo-China, study the situation throughout that vast area, and see the causes of the trouble. That would be far preferable to any military arrangement, but there is no word of such a plan in the treaty. The power and duty to conciliate are implied by the Charter of the United Nations, and regional arrangements ought to embody that power and duty. I hope it will be towards that humane objective that the efforts of the parties to the treaty will be directed. If the authors of the treaty achieve that result they will have builded far better than they knew. I shall propose the specific amendments that I have foreshadowed when the bill reaches the committee stage.
– What a curious speech we have just listened to ! It began with generalities and proceeded through denunciation of the endeavour to arraign communism as the aggressor. So far as one can judge, the bill was regarded as an attempt to secure a local political result. Would any one have thought of such an idea for one moment if it had not been suggested by the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt) ? Are we to understand that this treaty, agreed to by eight nations at Manila, is part of a famous conspiracy? The right honorable gentleman went on then to arrive at a most singular conclusion. The only conclusion that one can draw from the speech to which we have just listened is that he disapproves of this treaty altogether, that he thinks it is totally unnecessary, and that he intends to rely entirely on the United Nations for the security of Australia. I shall refer again, as I go on, to some of the things which he has said.
Let us, for a start, look at the position in the Pacific, at the situation and the background. We have in Asia some powerful Communist States. We have China, Indo-China, and North Korea, and behind them we have Russia. There is no doubt about the character and nature of those States. They are Communist States. They are governed by the full technique of communism. They are led by men who have repeatedly and openly declared that they are adherents of the school of Marx and Lenin. They have declared that they are at present in the stage of what is called the united front and that they are proceeding by deliberate steps, about which they make no secret whatever, to the full dictatorship of the proletariat, and they have declared that they are doing it in alliance with world communism. Those are plain facts. That is the situation in the Pacific. Are we to be told now that this is not the only cause of aggression? Can some one suggest another cause of likely aggression in the Pacific? Is it not plain that, whatever sophistries may be raised about attacks from the south and so on, the real danger against which this treaty is erected, and is meant to he erected, is communism? It is well to realize that we live to-day in a different world from the world we lived in not very long ago, that national movements - nationalism and things of that sort - modern communications and scientific advances have entirely changed the world from what it was even a few short years ago before the last war, and that foreign policy in the world of to-day has to be suited to the changing conditions of the modern world. It is all very well for us to lay stress on the power and importance of the past. Of course it is important, but it is even more important that we should be able to change with the changing world. What are the factors that confront us to-day in the Pacific and Asia ? They are not the factors that confronted us a few years ago. The dominant factor in the Pacific to-day is the rise of great militant Communist powers.
I want to give the House two examples of change in traditional foreign policy, which have taken place almost within the last few weeks. They are quite different from anything that we have been used to in our lifetime. Both of them were made by the Government of Britain, which, I remind the House, is a Conservative government. One was a decision to come to an arrangement with the Government of Egypt, and the other was a decision to abandon traditional British policy and to be committed for a very long time, and, in fact, for an indefinite period, to keeping troops on the continent of Europe. These are quite different from what we regard as traditional British policy, but I believe that they may well prove to be two of the greatest acts of statesmanship in the foreign policy of Britain which it has ever taken. The simple fact is that Britain has been able to change with the times, and we in Australia have to do the same thing. We have to frame our policy to fit the circumstances of the day.
What is the object of this treaty? What is the object of our foreign policy in the Pacific? Surely it is security. Surely it is to preserve freedom. Can we have security and freedom if no other nation in South-East Asia have them? Is it not a fact that our security is interwoven with that of Malaya, Thailand and the other nations of South-East Asia, and the nations in the area covered by this treaty? This is an area comprising perhaps 170,000,000 or 180,000,000 people. What would hap- pen if this great area were to pass into the shadows of communism? Would it have no effect upon Australia ? Would it have no effect in reducing the area in which freedom can still flourish in the world ? These are the facts against which this treaty is framed. What is the alternative to it? What is the alternative to some treaty, demonstrably framed, as the recitals of this treaty point out to us, against the most likely cause of aggression, the greatest threat to any of us in South-East Asia? I ask the Leader of the Opposition whether any responsible government of Australia would have adopted any other course.
What is the alternative to this treaty? There are only two alternatives. One alternative is to do nothing. That is the only real alternative to it. What does that imply? It means leaving the nations of South-East Asia completely exposed to intolerable pressure. It means resigning the whole position of Australia’s security from the start. It means sacrificing the chances of goodwill and understanding with those still selfgoverning powers. It means the limita- tion of the development of peace and freedom in the area immediately adjacent to Australia without the slightest effort to prevent it from passing away from us. It means throwing over our ability to cooperate with the United States of America in the Pacific. These are weighty considerations. Are we to abandon all these, and are we to tell the United States that because of a specific statement that it has made in this treaty, we abandon all these things and throw them all aside? Is any responsible Government of Australia going to come to that position, because that is what the amendments foreshadowed by the Leader of the Opposition amount to ? The right honorable gentleman went further than that. He declared that there were no measures in this treaty to adopt a settlement of disputes by peaceful means. I do not know whether he has read the treaty. I want to read the House Article I, which states -
The Parties undertake, as set forth in the Charter of the United Nations, to settle any international disputes in which they may be involved by peaceful means in such a manner that international peace and security and justice are not endangered, and to refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force in any manner inconsistent with the purposes of the United Nations.
This is a specific undertaking from the start, to endeavour to settle differences in the area by peaceful means.
There is another alternative, and it is one -which I think was implicit in what the Leader of the Opposition had to say. That alternative is that we can leave the onus of preserving the status quo - the peace of this area and the relations between nations of this area - to the United Nations. Though, of course, we in this Parliament and in this country support the United Nations, let us look at the facts of occurrences in the south Pacific and in the Pacific area in general over the last three or four years or a little longer, and let us make up our minds whether in fact the United Nations is capable of dealing, or has dealt, with this situation. What shield has the United Nations been against aggression? Do not let us credit it with powers beyond those which it really has. Was it the United Nations which brought peace in Indo-China? Was it the United Nations which put an end to the war in Indo-China ? Of course not. The fact that we subscribe to the United Nations, and that we are supporters of the United Nations, surely does not blind us to the fact that many of the great decisions taken in the world and many, if not most, of the arrangements made between the nations of the world in recent years, have proceeded by the ordinary processes of diplomacy, not in opposition to the United Nations, but certainly not initiated or produced by it. This is the value of a treaty of this nature. It does nothing to denigrate the authority of the United Nations, but it does come to grips with the actual facts of what is happening in the world.
Comparisons have been drawn by the Leader of the Opposition to-night betweem this treaty, the North Atlantic Treaty and the Anzus pact, but if any one will read the text of the three treaties and compare them, article by article, it is not the differences that strike one. It is the extraordinary similarities. It is very easy to say that we should have had a different type of treaty. It is very easy to say that it should have, perhaps automatically, committed us to military action. The nations of South-East Asia are not the advanced, industrialized nations of Europe. They are totally different. It is not possible to produce a treaty between a highly industrialized nation like the United States, a nation like Australia, a nation like New Zealand, and nations which are not industrialized at all, of such a binding nature as automatically to commit them. What enormous efforts would be required to produce a treaty of that nature ! But the basic purposes of this treaty are the same as the basic purposes of the North Atlantic Treaty. They are very similar to the basic purposes of the Anzus treaty, and the important thing - the will and the spirit that lies behind them - is identical.
I want to give the House several reason? which I think will incline us all to regard this treaty as having real value. First of all, it creates a common climate of opinion among these nations of SouthEast Asia, the United States and ourselves. We hear a great deal of talk these clays about colonialism and we know that the feeling among nations in Asia is that any interference by Western nations is a relic of the old type of colonialism. What we really are opposing is not colonialism, but tyranny, and by coming together in this treaty with these nations, the first thing that we do is to create this common climate of opinion in independence one with another. Secondly, we create a feeling among the partners that they are independent and free and that at the same time they are not alone and unsupported, and that the independence of one is a matter of concern to the others, who are obliged to help that nation and defend it. Thirdly, we bring them a knowledge that there is a military strength behind this treaty, which can be called on if necessary and at the same time cannot be thrust upon an unwilling partner. Fourthly, we bring to them - and it is expressed in the treaty - the knowledge that aid, both technical and economic, and, finally, political and military, is there for them to call on, because as honorable gentlemen will realize, none of this can be thrust upon any partner to the treaty. It must be with the consent of that partner and the unanimous agreement of all the others. We bring this aid, not only against external aggression, but also against internal subversion, again not by thrusting it on any of those nations, but by consultation amongst all of the partners and at the request of the nation which feels that its safety is slipping away from it by subterfuge or by attack from without or from within. By means of this treaty, all of these things are made available to every one of the partners. Fifthly, we bring them the hope of developing trade and commerce) - because that, also, is referred to in the treaty - and we give them some chance of raising their living standards, and of improving their economic conditions by working together in partnership. All of these things are implied or expressed in the treaty. Sixthly, the treaty creates a partnership for doing all of these things, thereby creating strength and cooperation throughout the whole of this great area. Seventhly, I ask the House whether it would have been really a stronger treaty with a permanent military organization - it may well have broken down in the attempt to secure that organization - what difficulties we might have encountered in the endeavour to secure it, and what compromises with efficiency may have to have been made? It is essential that, if we are to have military commitments, they should be the subject of further consultationsbehind the screen of the treaty itself. Eighthly, and finally, if all of the partners work together to carry out this treaty and to help each other, it may well invigorate the independence, increase, the freedom, and elevate the living standards of the peoples of the area, and create and build up, throughout all of these nations, a great store of goodwill, friendship and understanding with ourselves, the United States, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and with each other. All of these things depend upon every signatory of the treaty carrying out the spirit of its obligations because, no matter what words are written into the treaty, if that spirit is lacking, we shall never get what we are looking for.
I believe that I have given to the House eight good reasons why the treaty, as it stands, and unmodified, is well worthy of support. I believe that it provides a tremendous opportunity for persistent and patient effort to amplify and to extend it, and its principles, throughout the whole of this area, and for Australia to build up an understanding between this country and the Asian countries, which is immensely important - an understanding of their points of view, of their constitutional processes, of their desires and of their progress towards independence and self-sufficiency. I believe that it may well promote the trade and commerce, and the general welfare and development, of those countries, in a way that nothing else could promote them. I believe that it is most important that we should encourage the idea amongst all of these countries, by our contacts with them, that the institutions of government exist to serve individuals, that they should be controlled by people, and that they should not be organizations controlling people and binding down individuals. Nothing is more important than that we should create the fundamental idea of democracy in our dealings with these people, by exemplifying it in our actions with the individual is what counts, and that individual freedom and individual control of the processes and organs of government are far more important than the actual form of the organs themselves. What is more important if that nations and people should realize that the objective of this treaty will be rea lized in a full life for the individuals and that they should control the organsof government and put them to the usesof people, and not turn them around in the manner in which they are turned around in the Communist States.
It is necessary that effective military conversations should be cond ucted behind the actual treaty. Let me refer now to another point that was made by the Leader of the Opposition. I thought it was a singular one. The rig ht honorable gentleman stated that nocommitments should be made until the Parliament authorized them. I ask the right honorable gentleman, and I askother honorable members, whether there is any
Brit isla government anywhere in the world, the executive authority of which is so circumscribed that it can make no dispositions of its forces without the consent of Parliament. Are we to be told that the Australian Government is to have its executive authority so confined that, in the interests of Australia’s security, it is not to be free to make dispositions of our forces without referring the matter to the Parliament ? What sort of effective military aid can we bring to any of our partners if we are bound in that way? Is the right honorable gentleman really serious when he makes that suggestion? Does he imagine for a moment that we should say to the United States of America - he seems to be worried that we are becoming a satellite of that nation - “ We think this is a very good treaty. We like the idea of having you as a partner. We hope that you are prepared to do something if military necessity calls for it, but we will make no commitments whatever until the Parliament of the day ratifies them ? “ Is any really effective military strength to be built on such foundations as that?
– That is exactly the opinion that is held by the United States Government itself. The same position applies in the United States.
– I remind the honorable gentleman of the fact that the United States executive - not the United States Government - decides where United States forces shall be disposed throughout the world. Not only does it do that, but it also sends United States national service trainees where it wishes to.
– But it must have the consent of Congress.
– Order !
– Either we have a government with executive power to make dispositions and to ta.kc some steps - not complete steps - to consult with our allies in relation to the treaty, or we wipe out the treaty altogether. Unless we are prepared to play our part, nobody else will be bothered with us. I submit that it is contrary to the spirit of Australia to suggest that we should say to our allies in a serious situation, “ We agree with what you are doing. but we will not commit ourselves until you have committed yourselves “. That, in effect, is what the right honorable gentleman suggested we should do. I do not think that it is necessary to say a great deal more about the treaty. Its main strength is the goodwill and the spirit that lie behind it. I believe that, no matter how we may try to alter the wording, we shall not get a better expression of that spirit. The country owes a debt of gratitude to the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Casey) for his handling of the conference at Manila. I believe, as I stated earlier, that we live in a totally different world from the world in which we lived a few years ago and that, if we are going to be so timorous that we will not allow ourselves to be even half committed with other nations in the defence of freedom - because that is what we are really doing - we do not deserve to have any consideration from’ those whom we hope will be our allies.
I wish to read to the House two statements that were made recently about circumstances such as these. The first statement, which was made by Sir Anthony Eden, is as follows: -
It is not merely a military issue or a military challenge-
Talking of the danger to the free world - it is a challenge in respect of a way of life. I remind the Leader of the Opposition that that is what this treaty is concerned with - a challenge to a way of life. Of course, we should have these recitals about communism at the commencement of the bill. That is what we are talking about. That is what the treaty is for. That is what all the defences of Australia are designed to defend Australia against, because that is the only real threat in the world to any one’s peace and security. The second statement was . one made by Mr. Poster Dulles. He declared -
We should bear in mind that the problem is not merely one of deterring open-armed aggression, but of preventing Communist sub-, version which, taking advantage of economic dislocations and social injustice, might weaken and finally overthrow the non-Communist governments.
That is why this treaty has in it the great hope that, by co-operation in all of the spheres of trade, policy and mutual relation1!, we win do a great deal to develop freedom and independence in the part of the world in which we live.
The amendments that have been foreshadowed are amendments which, obviously, would be unacceptable to all of our treaty partners. They are alterations which would stultify the whole treaty. I believe that, not only the House, but also the country, is fully satisfied with the negotiations that were conducted at Manila on our behalf, and that the country has the utmost confidence that the nations that are brought together by this treaty will go forward to establish, as far as it lies within the power of human beings to do so, a great area of peace and security - because security is founded not only on military strength - in South-East Asia. For that reason, I believe that the House ‘ will unhesitatingly agree to the treaty in its present form and that, in doing so, and in rejecting the suggested amendments, it will have the whole-hearted backing of the country, and the wholehearted support of our proposed allies under the treaty.
.- The bill before the House is for the ratification of a treaty that was contracted by eight nations, namely, the United States of America, the United Kingdom, France, Australia, New Zealand, Pakistan, Thailand and the Philippines at a . recent conference which was held at Manila, and which is concerned with the defence of the South-East Asia area. It is remarkable ‘just how sensitive some Government supporters become when an analysis is made of this kind of legislation and when it cuts across some of their ideas of a distinctly political nature, which they seek constantly to capitalize, and which are totally irrelevant to a consideration of this bill. It is remarkable that the preamble to the bill should be worded in the manner in which it is worded, because, according to reports that have been received, it was the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Casey) who caused the very word “ Communist “ to be omitted from the treaty.
– Do not twist it.
– Let the right honorable gentleman deny that statement, if it is not true. Doubtless, the word was omitted with the idea of trying to accom modate some of the other member nations which did not feel disposed to go as far as others might have gone in relation to the actual text of the treaty. It was as a result of the offices cf the Minister that the word was omitted . from the treaty, yet it appears in the preamble to the bill. How can that be justified 1 ? Its inclusion shows that there has been some remarkable change in the mind of the Minister. The Minister should explain the reasons for that change of attitude. Of course, members on this side of the House have no doubt that :t can be contained in one word - politics. Another remarkable omission fro:n the legislation before the House is the s supplement to the treaty which defines the attitude that is to be adopted by America in the event of aggression. I ask ti e Minister why the protocol has not bt en put into the legislation. It has been admitted that a protocol was agreed up an by the eight nations about the area where the first obligation for intervention was to be assumed. The protocol dealt with Cambodia, Laos and Viet Nam, and the Minister has stated that it is not in the text of the legislation. If there is some understanding of the duty of the United States of America in the event of aggression, the protocol, which is equally a part of the treaty agreement, should have been included in this legislation on.
– It is i ot part of the treaty.
– Then the understanding with regard to America’s position is also not strictly part of the treaty but supplementary thereto. If honorable members are to consider the .proposed disposition of the signatories to the treaty, there is no reason why we should not have a clear statement of those areas in which we may be require d to immediately intervene, and which tie nations agreed upon. There are certain important nations of East Asia that are not signatories to the treaty, the most prominent being India, Burma and Indonesia. ‘ ! understand that the Minister visited son .e of those countries quite recently, anc interviewed the heads of their governments. That being so, he certainly should state to the Parliament why those countries did not take common ground with i s, and accept a mutual obligation to resist aggression and to preserve peace in South-East Asia. There must be some reason why those nations did not join with us, and I suggest that we are entitled to know whether that reason was expressed by the heads of their governments.
This treaty has introduced another farreaching principle into international affairs. Treaties like those we know of as Nato and Anzus provide for action against armed aggression, but this is the first formal instrument in modern times which is designed to sanction outside intervention in the internal affairs of a nation. Not one of the eight signatory nations expected that they would have to deal with any immediate external aggressor, and of course the Minister will say that there can be no intervention in the internal affairs of a nation except with the consent of that nation’s government. However, governments are not always persona grata with the people they seek to govern, and the signatories to this treaty can be called upon to intervene in the internal affairs of a State simply because its government may find itself in difficulties through some civil uprising quite unconnected with communism.
I suggest that there are grave dangers attached to such an obligation, and 1 believe that this Parliament should be consulted before military commitments are made. We do not ask for any more power in that regard than that which has been taken by the American Congress. Before the United States of America can intervene with military forces in the affairs of any nation, the American Congress must endorse the proposed intervention. It is quite evident that this is a new departure from accepted treaty principles, because it has been reported that the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) has indicated that our servicemen may be sent to Malaya in order to be near the scene of any prospective military operations. Therefore, honorable members will perceive that for the first time we are parties to an instrument which provides that Australian troops can be called upon to undertake a mission abroad in peace time. I suggest that the Parliament should be fully consulted before such revolutionary changes are made in the use of our armed forces. This treaty is not the usual type of pact between nations, as has been pointed out by the eminent authority on international affairs, Mr. Walter Lippman who, in an endeavour to help people fully to appreciate the implications of the treaty, wrote -
Unlike a true alliance, such as N.A.T.O., for example, this pact does not create collective power to cover the collective liability.
In the Manila Treaty, America has acquired an undefined right and an implied obligation to intervene under certain conditions in SouthEast Asia.
America can count upon the moral support of the other members only, however, if her actions before any showdown have been discreet and unprovocative. They have signed no blank cheques.
We must assume, I believe, that as a general rule the limit of prudent intervention in a country like Thailand is this side of establishing an American military base in the country.
If America did establish a base, she would surely lose the moral support of the other members of the Manila Treaty.
America would also arouse sharp antagonism in India and the other uncommitted countries of South-East Asia.
The Chinese would be provided with grounds for counter measures.
On the other hand, America can expect to hold the support of the signatories and perhaps to strengthen it by generous economic and technical assistance, by pressing the Bangkok Government to redress the worst popular grievances against it and by measures tn strengthen the internal security of the police and the army.
Australia, together with the other signatories of the treaty, are seeking to rescue the nations of South-East Asia from the tragedy of Communist influence. But it is rather ironical that in the past those of the same political persuasion as honorable members on the Government side caused much of the trouble that created the situation in South-East Asia upon which Communism thrives and which we now find it imperative to resist and destroy. They took millions of pounds worth of treasure from the countries of South-East Asia, and left the inhabitants in poverty and destitution. Now they are seeking, by food shipments and other means, to remedy some of the harm that they did in the past. There has been a wilful and shocking neglect of health and hygiene services for the people of South-East Asia, and illiteracy abounds in all these areas. All this indicates the soulless policies pursued so often in the countries of Asia. They failed to recognize their obligations to the people from whom they took such great riches. Those nations who administered under old colonial forms have definite and continuing obligations to provide effective aid against the hunger and fear which press heavily on the peoples of South-East Asia. At this very moment, the Red Cross is delivering £25,000 worth of food to the people of Viet Nam, Laos and Cambodia. I’ understand that more food is to be taken to those areas, and that technical
Mid is to be made available to those peoples. Assistance of that kind will no doubt go a long way to counter any of the pernicious influence that communism may seek to exert upon the people of those States. However, such assistance is belated. The aid should have been given when the “Western Powers had a more direct influence on the lives and well-being of the people of those States. The world now is threatened with the whirlwind of wrong and wilful policies.
The Leader of the Opposition, who made an excellent analysis of this legislation and to whom the House is indebted, has made out a strong case for the insertion in this treaty of the safeguards he has mentioned in respect of any obligation which Australia may be required to accept. I submit that any commitment accepted by Australia should be accepted by the other signatories to the treaty, particularly the major powers. This Parliament should also be consulted about the participation of Australian troops in any military enterprise undertaken in accordance with the provisions of this treaty. The House should be given assurances about the security of Australia, and any intervention which we may be required to make in the terms of this treaty.
.- In vising to support this bill, I have a feeling of diffidence, because the matter of Australia’s role in foreign affairs has been discussed in this chamber many times in past years, and there must be many honorable members on both sides of the Mouse who are familiar with the background of this treaty. We are indeed most fortunate to have the present Minister for External Affairs (Mr.
Casey) in office at this critical, time in the history of our country. No man in Australia has had of experience in diplomacy as he has, and few men can approach his profound knowledge of Asian affairs. our first official diploma ; when he took up an appointment in London as a liaison officer in 1924. He wis the first Australian Minister to the United States of America when that diplomatic post was created in 1939. We a~e signally fortunate that the Anzus pact and South-East Asia Collective Defence Treaty, which form the cornerstone o; a new national foreign policy for Australia should have been negotiated under his guidance.
The paramount advantage of this treaty, in my opinion, is that a line of demarcation is drawn between the free countries of South-East Asia and the Communist countries of Asia, and a clear warning has been given ;hat any infringement of that line by the Communists will result in a major conflict. Since the likely aggressor would be Communistdominated China, and since the Chinese are notoriously an intensely practical and realistic people, I consider that the dangers of outright aggression are almost, if not entirely, removed by this treaty.
A secondary advantage of this treaty is that it brings together a group of nations at different stages of development on a common plane. TI le Asian countries aud the Western countries alike stand to gain a great deal from round table discussions, where plans w: 11 be made for the future, and for mutual defence arrangements. We in the West stand to gain from a free exchange of views with the Eastern countries, and they in their turn will have ‘their status enhanced in the eyes of Asia generally as this treaty progresses, aud as Asia sees how successful it is.
A great deal has been heard, especially from India, about the disadvantages of the treaty. It is claimed that the treaty is weak because it embraces only three countries in South-East Asia, but I feel that this is only a temporary weakness, and that, as the treaty demonstrates its usefulness, other nations will become participants. India is also hurt, because the Asian members have allied themselves, under this treaty, with the Western democracies, and thus destroyed the chances of forming a powerful all-Asian neutral bloc. I sympathize greatly with India, and Indian sentiment. I worked for seven years with Asian and Pacific peoples and have had some experience of the pressures which existed under colonial rule. I can understand that when those pressures are freed, there should be a temporary boil-over of national pride, and a feeling of independence. I believe that while this phase is only temporary, these conditions must make diplomacy with Asian countries extremely difficult. They are passing through a peculiar psychological phase. It is natural, and as I have said, I believe it is only temporary. I do not consider that India’s case for an all-Asian bloc would stand up tu examination for the simple reason that an Asian bloc would be far too weak to exist in the midst of’ the strong pressures in the world to-day from expansionist communism.
The formation of such an Asian bloc would also tend to exaggerate the wide differences that exist between the Asian standard of life, and the Western standards. The only practical arrangement is the treaty which preserves the integrity of the junior Asian countries. They must undergo their period of cadetship. Their colonial status is left behind them, but they must pass through a period of cadetship before they become stable and fullyfledged democracies.
There is a point in this bill arising from the form of aggression that we may expect, that is to say, subversion. It has been, found in the past that American aid to Europe and Asia, whilst it has prevented the outbreak of hostilities, has created a great deal of ill-will in the countries that received it. Therefore, T suggest to the Government that the matter of granting aid to the countries of Asia which are threatened by communism should be carefully considered in that light. We must not give the assistance in such a way that it appears to be patronage or charity, or implies that those countries are subservient to the West. After all, we want to win friends in those countries. If we can make it plain to the leaders, businessmen and as great a number of the people as possible that their personal interests lie in the Western way of life, then our aid will have been successful.
Finally, I wish to reiterate that this is a battle for men’s minds, and that the pattern of self-interest will be far more vital than the attraction of ideologies. If we maintain a clear conception of what we are fighting and what we are fighting for, and if we give this treaty all the support that it should have, then I have no doubt that it will be successful, and that, as it succeeds, so it will draw in other nations which have so far abstained from participating in it. We may be sure that the eyes of Asia will be watching closely to see how this treaty does succeed.
.- In broad terms, this bill which approves the ratification of the South-East Asia Collective Defence Treaty is a declaration of a group of eight countries that the limits of Communist expansion and aggression in South-East Asia have been reached. Against the rapidly changing panorama of the Pacific scene, the treaty is desirable, but, unfortunately, there are certain overall factors that considerably weaken it. In my opinion, the great defect of the whole treaty is the absence of India as a participant. Whether we like it or not, India’s absence from the alliance to promote the security and well-being of Asia is a basic weakness of the treaty, and the honeyed words of members of the Government that India may later see its way clear to become a signatory do not get away from the fact that the non-participation of India is to be greatly deplored.
Apparently, India and other Colombo plan countries, such as Indonesia, Burma and Ceylon, are of the opinion that a military pact with the West is not the best method of insuring against the spread of communism in Asia. That view has to be respected. We may not necessarily agree with it, but we have to respect it. We must also remember that Seato, without Asian participation, will be twisted by Communist propaganda in Peking. By Asian participation, I mean the participation of Asian countries of consequence, not two or three comparatively small countries, but the major Asian countries such as India and Indonesia.
It is quite conceivable that the Communists in red China will take advantage of the absence of those countries from the treaty, and that the masses in Asia will be deluged with propaganda to the effect that whilst the parties to the treaty seek to protect Asia against communism, the main Asian countries have refused to be parties to it. It is imperative that we seek the understanding and goodwill of those countries which have not joined the treaty, and that they should be treated sympathetically. Their viewpoint should be sought. We should not indulge in illtimed criticism of them, which could have serious adverse effects.
I welcome this treaty, but, at the same time, I recognize that the problem of Communist aggression in Asia will continue. Some months ago, when the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) first indicated that it was Australia’s intention to become a party to this agreement, he stated in unequivocal terms what the treaty portended; but it is obvious from speeches which the right honorable gentleman has made since, and also from the remarks of the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Casey) as well as from a perusal of the hill itself, that the intentions that were originally announced by the Prime Minister have been considerably watered down. The provisions of the treaty are general rather than specific. Certainly, they are more general than the Prime Minister would have led us to believe in the statement that he made on the subject about three months ago. A perusal of the treaty indicates, for example, that the parties to it are not automatically bound to lend military aid although such aid is envisaged as something in reserve. I support this deviation from the .original intention, because such a provision gives to the Government the right to determine, in the light of the circumstances, whether it shall lend military aid. Article IV., which is the operative article of the treaty, has been made the kernel of this debate. That article has been dealt with by the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt) and the honorable member for Sturt (Mr. Makin). Under Article IV., the signatories intimate that they will automatically consult with each other with a view to resisting aggression by common action. It is obvious that all the parties were not prepared to go further than is indicated in that article. Great Britain, for instance, was not prepared to do so. It also appears that a number of these nations are not as enthusiastic about the provision of military aid as are supporters of this Government.
I emphasize that this treaty is not the end of our worries so far as Asia is concerned. It is the result of compromise. Apparently, the Minister for External Affairs went to Manila with a certain set of ideas conforming to those that were set forth by the Prime Minister in the statement to which I have already referred, but it is evident that those ideas were not palatable to a number of the signatories. The ideas enunciated by the Government some time ago have not been embodied in the treaty. The treaty in both its military and economic aspects must be regarded as being little more than a starting point. Whether it. will lead us in a direction that will be beneficial or deleterious to Australia is a matter for conjecture. Summed up, the treaty appears to be a statement of terms ‘ as the framework for subsequent action to provide effective defence of the parties to it and co-operation among them for their economic benefit. Under it, the eight nations will look to their own military strength, and in the event of aggression will take counsel together as to how that strength shall be employed. But unfortunately, the treaty, which has been sponsored by the Western nations, does not include the major Asian countries. That is its greatest defect because its value is definitely limited by reason of the absence of those countries.
The offer of assistance to countries which may become victims of aggression and make a request for aid might, eventually, lead to larger membership. 1 trust that we shall not have to wait for the occurrence of aggression in order to attain that objective. If the object of the treaty is presented in. its proper light to the major Asian countries, with emphasis upon the advantages that may be gained through membership, some of those countries may be induced to -become parties to it. In the view of many people the provision of economic aid as a mean’s of strengthening defences against communism is at least as important as are military commitments. I make that statement unequivocally. Under this treaty, the military commitments of the eight member nations have still to be defined. So far, those obligations have been set out only in vague form. However, it should be possible for the eight nations to define more explicitly their obligations under Article III. which deals with economic measures that are to be taken. Indeed, they must do so if they really desire to induce other Asian nations to become parties to the treaty. The provisions of Article III. would be much more likely to appeal to those countries than would Article IV. Article III. provides -
The Parties undertake to strengthen their free institutions and to co-operate with one another in the development of economic measures, including technical assistance, designed both to promote economic progress and social well-being and to further the individual and collective efforts of Governments toward these ends.
I hope that the Government will not merely regard that obligation with sophistry. Yet, the Minister practically discarded that provision as being of little account. I regard the provision of economic assistance under the treaty to countries which ask for aid as being just as important as the provision of military assistance. However, the Minister contented himself by making a few airy statements about the economic provisions of the treaty and said, in effect, that there are a number of problems associated with such measures. I admit the existence of such problems, but I believe that if we cannot solve them we might just as well immediately reconcile ourselves to the view that Asia, ultimately, will be overrun by communism. I thought that the Minister would have devoted more attention to the economic aspects of the treaty.
– “Would the honorable member recommend that economic aid be provided to all Asian countries, or only to those countries which are parties to the treaty?
– Only to those countries which are parties to the treaty. But it would be a good thing if the eight nations demonstrated their goodwill toward Asian countries as a whole. If that were done, possibly those Asian countries which are not parties to the agreement would be anxious to become parties to it. Such action would stimulate interest in the treaty in those Asian countries which at present can see no advantage to be gained by them by joining the treaty.
Our aim in the fight against communism should not be to wage that fight solely by the provision of colossal armed force. If we think we can convince the Asian people in that way, we have another think coming. Our aim should be to convince them that the treaty, apart from any military pledges that it might involve, offers such advantages from an economic point of view that it would be in. their own interests to become parties to it. We should stress the element of co-operation rather than appear as panicky advocates bent on securing urgent military commitments. The principle of giving economic aid to Asian countries that is envisaged in Article III. of the treaty was laid down in the Colombo plan. Since that plan was initiated this Parliament has, annually, and rightly, increased its contribution under it. By and large, the plan has been reasonably successful although certain problems have arisen to retard the economic progress of the countries to which aid is being supplied. The principle of economic assistance is re-stated in this treaty, but I suggest that Article III., which deals with that aspect, is too vague. All it does is to utter a few platitudes about .providing mutual help to promote economic well-being. It leaves to the future the formation of antiCommunist programmes in the economic and social fields. I cannot understand why the Government does not realize the importance of the economic provisions of the treaty.
Military strength is imperative. Nevertheless, economic measures have acquired great importance. Any military alliance, regardless of its scope, cannot, by itself, ensure the containment of communism within its present boundaries. For that purpose, more than military alliances are required. If communism is to be contained within its present boundaries in Asia we must do more than prepare ourselves to fight another world war.
We must, at the same time, make more strenuous efforts to prove to the Asian peoples, who are still free of the tentacles of communism, that western democracy has more to offer to them than has communism. We must recognize that western arms alone will never save Asians from communism. Therefore, we should, at the earliest opportunity in accordance with the terms of Article III. of the treaty, put forward a programme of practical help to the . three Asian countries which are parties to this agreement. Such a programme is an indispensable feature of any worthwhile treaty. There must be a realization on the part of the Western nations which are parties to the treaty that the fight against communism must be waged not only with defensive arms but also with economic weapons. Besides preparing to resist further military encroachments, we must ensure that communism does not gain converts within Asian countries which are waging a war against poverty while trying to learn the technique of self-government. A programme of economic aid which would make available badly needed resources of food and raw materials to ill-equipped areas may be no less potent than defensive pacts in counteracting communism. I regret that the Government i.s not seised of the importance of this phase of the treaty. While we are meditating on the grim menace of international communism, the existence of this treaty might give us some spiritual comfort. But we must realize that our continued security, ultimately, will depend upon the degree to which we succeed in removing the attractions of communism to Asian peoples. Asia’s millions of empty stomachs will not be appeased by words that are uttered in this, or any other, Parliament, or by a mental picture of treaties of this kind that relegate economic measures to an inconspicuous background. Unfortunately, the Minister conveyed that impression about the treaty. He said that it is the intention of the Government to provide the sum of £250,000 each as aid to Laos, Cambodia, and South Viet Nam. With the greatest respect and goodwill towards the Minister for this charitable gesture, I submit that those amounts are woefully inadequate and are merely begging the question.
If the Government wants to do something tangible, it should take action that will immediately tend to increase thestandard of living of the peoples of the three countries I have mentioned, because such action will immediately start todissipate the attraction that communism has for them. Communism thrives on poverty and discontent, and, should theWestern nations prove that they are prepared to help these peoples in their economic fight to raise their standard of living,, they will achieve a practical step to savethem from Communist aggression, to which we all fear they will fall victims, possibly within two or three years. The Minister urged us to approve of ArticleIll, of the treaty, which provides for economic assistance, but we are still going to give them assistance through the Colombo plan. Whilst I am prepared to concede that the plan has splendid objectives, it is imperative that we should do something more than give mere lip service to it and then airily brush it aside. We should analyse the progress that it has made up to the present, because it is the counterpart of the economic aid that is envisaged under Article III. of the treaty, although, of course, it covers a far wider range. Article III. refers only to the three Asian nations with which the treaty deals. If we ascertain the degree of assistance that has been given to the Colombo plan countries, we can then assess the prospects of a successful programme of economic assistance under Article III
Unfortunately, since the idea, of aid to Asian countries was promulgated in 1950, when the Colombo plan was thought out, there has been a subtle shift in national attitudes and expectations, which has occurred under the impact of changing world conditions. The Minister understands the situation probably better than anybody else in this House, because he attends the conferences of the plan’s consultative committee each year. In fact, he has just returned from such a conference at Ottawa. He lightly scanned the problems arising from the change in his second-reading speech, but he did not analyse them. I was astonished that he should treat the matter in this way. Surely he realizes that he should have devoted far more attention to methods of solving those problems, because it i3 Just as important to deal with them a3 it is to ensure the making of adequate military preparations under Article IV. of the treaty. If we find that the Colombo plan has not been successful, our hopes of attracting people away from communism by giving them a higher standard of living through Western aid will fade rapidly.
What is the situation in the Asian countries that are receiving support under the Colombo plan? Their national incomes are subject to extreme and unpredictable fluctuations, and, because of such changes, the economic aid that has been given to them already under the plan has been almost entirely dissipated. That is a fact that cannot be controverted by the Minister or anybody else. It arises from factors that have been beyond the control of the countries concerned. However, unless we face up to that situation promptly and deal with it, all ideas of economic aid under this bill will be a complete waste of time. T shall explain the circumstances. The economies of the countries of South-East Asia are dominated by a few export commodities, which are mainly raw materials. Since 1951, the prices of these commodities have nose dived. The price of rubber, for example, fell as much as 66 per cent, between 1951 and 1953. The price of cotton decreased by 50 per cent., And tha prices of raw jute and tin by over 40 per cent. At the same time, the prices of the commodities that they are compelled to import have fallen comparatively little.
Because the tide of trade has turned against those countries, the gulf between their living standard and the living standard of the Western world has widened year by year, despite the money that has been poured in by the respective contributors to the Colombo plan. Therefore, there is an urgent need for positive action on the economic front immediately under the terms of the treaty with which the bill deals. The Minister is aware of this need because, in his secondreading speech, he said -
It is of fundamental importance that the world prices for the major commodities produced in the area should not be allowed to fall below levels which allow a reasonable income - and a reasonably stable income - for their producers. This is a complicated and difficult problem and much study and investigation will have to be carried out before workable solutions are likely to be found.
I suggest that that is the first job to be tackled under the treaty. It is of such transcending importance in the whole scheme of our economic assistance for Asian countries that, if a solution is not found very soon, both the Colombo plan and the economic support envisaged under the treaty will not be worth a snap of the fingers. Unless we can find means of stabilizing the national incomes of the Colombo plan countries, the money that we are pouring into them will just be wasted. Their population increases will more than offset the investments that are being made in them by the contributing nations.
The developments that have taken place as a result of the nose diving of export prices for rubber, cotton, raw jute and tin have all tended to strengthen the appeal of communism in Asia. The natives see, to their extreme mortification, that the much-vaunted Colombo plan is not raising their living standards. They do not understand the reason for its failure to do so. They merely think ‘ that the contributing countries have fallen down on their job. They have been waiting for a higher standard of living, but it has not arrived because of the circumstances I have mentioned. Therefore, our first job should be to ensure that there shall be stable prices for the products of those countries. I suggest that the signatories to the treaty, together with the nations that have refused to enter into military commitments, such as India, Indonesia and Burma, should strive to devise ways and means, by international action, to give South and South-East Asia a greater measure of economic security. Such action would transform the situation in that area very quickly, because it would be a practical measure to improve the standard of living of that region. A price stabilization scheme for the major products of those countries would represent a signal advance towards the solution of the main problem, and uo body is more clearly aware of this fact than the Minister.
Honorable members may ask, “What has this to do with the Manila treaty?” My reply is that it has everything to do with the treaty because, unless we can raise the standard of living in Asia, Article III. of the treaty will be doomed to failure from the word “go”. There is great force in the contention that the best way to save the peoples of South-East Asia from communism in the long run is to use other weapons than tanks, guns and bombs. I agree that military strength should be invoked to deter aggression. That course is essential, and it should be carried out immediately under Article IV. of the treaty. However, to the peoples of Asia, particularly those who do not come within the scope of the treaty, military measures seem to be at best a short-term device to deal with problems that require long-term treatment. Must we, therefor, accept as final the decision of India, Indonesia and other nations to remain outside the security structure which other nations are trying to build around their borders? My answer to that question is “ No “. The best method of bringing those countries into the scheme is to show a practical interest in the economic welfare of South and South-East Asia as is envisaged in Article III. of the treaty.
We must not regard the hostility of those countries to participation in the agreement as unalterable. We should try to change their point of view, and, if it can be shown that the treaty offers practical benefits, on the lines of those offered by the larger Colombo Plan, of technical services in many fields without strings attached, would not a renewed effort to reduce Asian reluctance be worthwhile on the part of this Government and the governments of other countries that are parties to the agreement? Sincere efforts and good faith on our side might lead the important Asian countries to modify their attitudes to the agreement in time. Whatever may be the practical difficulties of Asian and Western co-operation to strengthen the defences against communism in Asia, the financial-economic aspects of the plan call for patient examination equally with the problems of military planning.. Therefore, whilst I agree that the treaty is unavoidable and deserves our military support, I maintain that the Government is not sufficiently seised of the importance of the economic aspect of the plan and of the need to bring into the pact those countries which, because their absence is a source of great weakness, we should endeavour to include in the arrangement. The economic requirements of the treaty must not be side-stepped. If the Government will take a lead in this matter, I vouchsafe the prophecy that, within three years we shall have within the framework of the organization those countries which up to the present have been strangely reluctant to enter into the treaty. They would hasten to join in the agreement, because they would see in it some chance of helping to improve the standard of living of the downtrodden masses of the peoples whom we are attempting to help.
.- The honorable member for Batman (Mr. Bird) has stated some truths and facts with which I substantially agree, but I disagree wholeheartedly with the perspective and emphasis with which he has presented them. I do not think anybody in this Parliament - certainly nobody on this side of the House - would disagree with the concept that the best way to combat communism in the long run is to raise the standards of living and the comfort of the huge, under-privileged populations of South and South-East Asia. Surely everybody agrees with that. I should not have thought that there would be any sort of argument on that score. However, that cannot be done in a few minutes, a few weeks, or even a few years. It is a long process to educate those people to modern conceptions of economic development, to teach them technical systems, to enable them to live under better conditions, and to give them the better education that will enable them to do so. It takes a long time to develop a better standard of living in any country.
What we are concerned with in this bill is a treaty to deal with a situation which may arise to-morrow, next week or next year. This is essentially a military alliance. The fact that economic aid finds a place in the treaty is proof that the Government is not unaware of its great importance. Therefore, the suggestion by the honorable member for Batman that the Minister for External Affairs (Mr, Casey) just waved aside the conception of combating communism by raising living standards is so much nonsense. The truth is that it was this Government which promoted Australia’s participation in the Colombo plan. It is this Government which has increased Australia’s contribution to the plan from year to year since its inception in 1950. Everything points to the fact that this Government is keenly conscious indeed of the economic and technical aid aspects of the fight to combat communism in South and South-East Asia.
The honorable member for Batman also deplored the absence of certain Asian countries as participants in the treaty. So do we all! Everybody on this side of the House - and I should think everybody in Australia - wishes wholeheartedly that India, Indonesia and Ceylon were signatories to the treaty. Unfortunately, we do not decide the foreign policies of those countries. But that does not prevent us from hoping that some day they will be prepared to join with us. To that end, the. treaty specifically leaves the door open to them in Article VII., which makes special provision that any other country, with the unanimous approval of the present parties, may join the treaty. Thus, we are not without hope that those other nations will participate in the treaty, perhaps in the near future.
I want to make some observations about the remarks made by the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt), who resumed the debate this evening. I regret to say that, perhaps quite unwittingly, he has aided the Communists.
– What a lot of rubbish!
– I make that statement on three grounds. First, the right honorable gentleman took great exception to the preamble of the bill, which “sets out clearly the history of Communist aggression over the last four years. He stated that that history does not appear in the context of the treaty, and he advanced that fact as a reason why it should not appear in the preamble of the bill that introduces the treaty for ratifi cation. In substantiation of that idea, the right honorable gentleman drew an extraordinary picture of some other possible aggression in South-East Asia. No one can conceive any possible aggression in South-East Asia in the foreseeable future except Communist aggression, and therefore it is right and proper that the preamble of the bill should point out that our potential enemy is international communism and no one else. In extremis, as it were, the Leader of the Opposition put the proposition that we may ba faced with aggression by Indonesia against Dutch New Guinea, and he stated categorically that under the terms of this treaty Australia will be committed to take part in repelling that aggression even if it be not Communist aggression. That is not true, because neither the Dutch nor the Indonesians are parties to this treaty. Therefore, we are under no obligation to interfere in the event of such an aggressive action.
The second ground for my fear that the Leader of the Opposition has gone to the aid of the Communists is his bald and incorrect statement that the treaty makes no provision for conciliation. The right honorable gentleman stated clearly and categorically that the treaty makes no provision for conciliation, and that it merely provides for military defence against aggression. That, of course, is not all that the treaty involves. But the right honorable gentleman’s statement aids the Communists, because it lends colour to the standard Communist line of propaganda that the Western democracies will not conciliate, and that they are warmongers who are trying to disturb the peace and foment war. The third ground on which I state that the Leader of the Opposition has aided the Communists is that he has foreshadowed an amendment designed to prevent the disposition of Australian troops under the terms of this treaty without the consent of the Parliament.
– What is wrong with that?
– Everything that 1 can think of is wrong with it. Dealing first with a relatively minor aspect in which this proposal, if it were put into effect, would aid the Communists, I point out, in the first place, that nothing can be brought before this Parliament without it being made public. “What the Leader of the Opposition said, in effect, was that if we went to the aid of any country threatened by Communist aggression we should, before we had made our contribution, hand to the Communist aggressors on a plate foreknowledge of the aid that we were to render. The honorable member for Oxley (Dr. Donald Cameron) stated that in the United Kingdom the Executive is not responsible to the Parliament for the disposition of troops. Labour governments in Australia have followed that precept and time and again in peace-time have disposed naval forces outside Australian waters without reference to the Parliament. This Government, rightly, disposed air forces outside Australia without reference to the Parliament. There is no reason in the world why, if the conditions under which our servicemen are enlisted permit them to serve overseas and conditions warrant their utilization outside Australia, the Executive should not send them overseas without reference to the Parliament.
– One reason is that this Government could not be trusted.
– I remind the honorable member that, without any obligation, this Government, because it was possible to do so without endangering the troops, called the Parliament together for a special sitting and referred to it the question of sending troops to Korea. The Parliament sanctioned the action that the Government proposed to take.
– What has that matter to do with this bill?
– It answers the honorable member’s charge that the Government cannot be trusted. The only reason why it should not be necessary to obtain parliamentary approval to dispose forces outside Australia is to ensure the safety of the troops themselves. On all questions of international relations and defence we in this Parliament should rise above party wrangling. We all are concerned with the defence of Australia, and it ill becomes Opposition members to turn debates such as this into party wrangling matches.
I consider it to be my duty to amplify some of the statements that the Leader of the Opposition made in reviewing tho effectiveness of the United Nations organization. He implied that though this treaty is within the scope of the United Nations it is of no advantage, and that the United Nations could deal with the problem of aggression in South-East Asia, because, presumably under his direction, recognizing the dangers of the veto, the United Nations had made it possible for the General Assembly, in certain circumstances, to deal with questions of aggression. Although that may be technically true, the occasion does not often arise. When, it does arise, the process is lengthy. The Communists have adopted delaying tactics and have exercised their veto on 70 or 80 occasions in the discussions of the Security Council of the United Nations. If a proposal for action against aggression must be submitted to those processes, and finally must go to the General Assembly for further discussion, any action will be very much prejudiced by the delays that must inevitably occur. Furthermore, the United Nations organization, to which we all subscribe, is subject to other limiting factors that are not compatible with Australia’s particular conditions. For example, the’ United Nations has no machinery for preliminary planning. I emphasize that it is the duty of this Government to be prepared for an emergency within a few weeks or a few months, if necessary. It is not a longterm consideration. Therefore, if any contribution that we might make against aggression is to be effective, we must have our plans to resist possible aggression prepared in co-operation with the other countries concerned. The United Nations has no machinery for the making of those preparations.
It is true that Australia is a party to other treaties. The Anzus pact, to which the Leader of the Opposition referred, from Australia’s point of view, suffers from a specific disability. It is a regional pact and it provides machinery for preplanning, but it makes no provision for military commitments prior to the actual commission of an act of aggression, therefore, although the military planning can take place as a sort of phantom plan, no concrete arrangements can be made, because none of the nations concerned can know what military forces will be available to give effect to any plan that might be prepared beforehand. The Anzus pact suffers also from the disability that it is limited in scope. For example, the United Kingdom, which has important interests in Singapore, Malaya and elsewhere in South-East Asia, is not a party to it. The sole signatories are the United States of America, Australia and New Zealand. Therefore, that pact does not meet all the immediate requirements of Australia for a collective security arrangement. The South-East Asia Collective Defence Treaty, to a degree, remedies those defects. The United Kingdom is a party to this treaty, as are other nations, including the United States that have interests in South and South-East Asia.
The Leader of the Opposition expressed doubt whether the reservation made by the United States before signing the treaty did not in fact completely nullify its value for the defence of Australia. That statement is complete and utter rubbish. It can be answered completely by reference to the Anzus pact, to which the United States is a party, and under which it is definitely committed to come to the aid of Australia if we are directly attacked. That settles one aspect of the right honorable gentleman’s statement. In addition, the reservation of the United States is not intended to relieve it of its commitments. The reservation was made, as the Minister for External Affairs pointed out in his second-reading speech, because the United States does not have sovereign rights over any territory in the South-East Asia area. It has military bases on some islands that were formerly under the sovereignty of Japan but, in the accepted sense of the word, it does not have sovereignty over any territory in South-East Asia. I suggest that, for political reasons, in order to ensure that the United States Congress shall approve the treaty, it would be desirable for the United States Government to describe the treaty as a pact designed to secure the United States against communism, because the United State Government realizes that the development of international com munism, wherever it may occur in the world, is a threat to the United States. I firmly regard this treaty as not distinct from the other treaties to which Australia is a party. It is not contradictory of. the United Nations Charter or the Anzus pact. It is complementary to the charter and to that pact, and it completes Australia’s collective security arrangements in such a way as to meet the requirements of the peculiar situation in which we in this part of the world find ourselves. Contrary to the statements made by the honorable member for Batman this treaty emphatically provides for economic aid.
– Does the honorable member believe in flying saucers?
-If the honorable member has not bothered to read the bill, I shall read an important part of it to the House for his benefit. For what it is worth, the article that provides for economic aid takes precedence in the treaty over the article in relation to military aid. Article III., which makes provision for economic aid, states -
The Parties undertake to strengthen their free institutions and to cooperate with one another in the further development of economic measures, including technical assistance, designed both to promote economic progress and social well-being and to further the individual and collective efforts of governments towards these ends.
That is a quite definite and clear undertaking.
Another criticism that was levelled against the treaty, again by the honorable member for Batman, was that it did not provide for any automatic commitment of troops to come to our aid, or to the aid of any other party to the treaty. Such provision is never included in any treaty. Article V. of the Nato pact is in more nebulous terms, if we care to use those words, than Article IV’. of the Manila Treaty, but, under the terms of Article V. of the Nato pact, there are hundreds of thousands of troops in Europe. There can be no question that the provision of military aid is perfectly clear and definite. It is undesirable, and impossible, to specify, in the body of a treaty, the particular degree of military assistance that can be given. Such assistance can be determined only in the light of the situation as it develops. The treaty provides for the formation of a council to” review the situation in South-East Asia, to determine what aggression is likely to take place, and from which quarter, to plan defensive forces to meet that probable aggression, and to allot to each of the nations that are parties to the treaty its share of the provision of the necessary forces. It is only at that stage that the allotment of forces can usefully be made. To think that there can be written into the body of the treaty provision that Australia shall provide so many battalions or divisions of troops, so many groups of air force personnel and equipment, and so many ships, is nothing short of puerile. The degree of military force that is necessary can be assessed only after an appreciation has been made in the light of current circumstances. That is why provision for automatic commitment is not written into the treaty.
I again express the sincere hope that we can develop this idea of collective security in South Asia and South-East Asia, and I hope that such nations as India, Indonesia and Ceylon will deem it fit to join in this collective security against the only menace that exists in this area - the menace of imperial communism. The treaty represents the greatest step forward that Australia has made during the whole of its history, to safeguard its security. It is an international act that is very likely to promote the peace in the world or, at any rate, in the South Pacific area in which welive.
Debate (on motion by Mr. E. James Harrison) adjourned.
The following bills were returned from the Senate without amendment: -
Rayon Yarn Bounty Bill 1954.
Flax Fibre Bounty Bill 1954.
Motion (by Mr. Casey) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
.- On a number of occasions, I have endeavoured to direct attention to what I regard as a very serious position in relation to the Royal Australian Navy, and the discontent that exists because of the failure of the Minister for the Navy (Mr. Francis), or the Government, to take appropriate action to have it corrected. Apparently, the Navy has its own peculiar methods of administering justice, but they are methods that no honorable member, and certainly no democratic Australian citizen, ought to accept or allow to remain in existence.
To demonstrate my point, I shall refer to the case of an ex-member of the Navy who, after thirteen years’ satisfactory service, a great deal of which was during World War II., was practically drummed out of the Navy without having been charged, without having been found guilty of any offence, and against his own personal wishes. This man was a chief petty officer. He joined the Navy in March, 1937. He was promoted to the rank of petty officer in 1942, and to the rank of chief petty officer in 1950. All of the periodic records in relation to his service showed him to be a satisfactory member of the service. I shall now outline the circumstances that brought about his dismissal. He was a member of. the crew of H.M.A.S. Australia. He was given a permit to bring furniture from Melbourne aboard the vessel. When the vessel arrived in Sydney, he was given a permit to take his furniture ashore, and to transport it on a Commonwealth truck. As the truck was leaving the naval establishment at Garden Island, it was stopped at the gateway by the dockyard police, who discovered that it also carried three bags which contained five dozen bottles of spirituous liquors and wines. There was another member of the Navy on the lorry.
Both of them were questioned by the captain of the vessel, and they were asked whether they were willing to submit themselves to summary punishment by him. They both declared their innocence and demanded trial by court martial. The second man to whom I referred was acquitted by the court martial, because it was disclosed at the trial that the truck carried 43 dozen bottles of beer in addition to the three bags that were mentioned in the charge, and that those bottles belonged to an officer who had obtained a pass to take them through the gateway. No evidence was offered that any beer or spirits had been stolen from the canteen aboard H.M.A.S. Australia. The charges against the firstmentioned rating were then not proceeded with and were withdrawn. Actually, no charge was made against him at all. The next he heard of the matter was when he received a notice that he was to be given his discharge marked “ Services no longer required “.
The then Minister for the Navy stated, in correspondence that I received from him, that the man to whom I have just referred was involved in a previous charge in 1945, as a result of which he was demoted. But, the Minister failed to point out that he was restored to his former rank shortly afterwards because it was recognized, apparently, that he had taken the blame for another person and that he had refused to divulge the name of the person who was guilty of the offence. The man who was guilty of that offence is now retired from the service, and expressed a willingness to come forward and state that he was the person who was guilty of that offence. However, according to the Navy, once it has spoken, there can be no change, and there can be no variation or reconsideration of the penalty imposed. But the Minister raised that offence - doubtless on the advice of the Naval Board - as justification of the attitude that it adopted. If we assume the worst from the point of view of this man, and assume that he was guilty on that earlier occasion, surely he ought not to be placed outside the service years afterwards because of a charge that the naval authorities failed to substantiate and which they actually withdrew. After thirteen years’ service, this man is anxious to have a satisfactory discharge, because it is not of much use for him to go to an employer with a discharge that is marked “ Services no longer required”. The then Minister had the audacity to state that such a discharge would not impair his opportunities of obtaining shore employment, because a discharge that was marked “ Services no longer required “ could not be regarded as an unsatisfactory discharge. What a ridiculous attitude for the authorities to adopt!
All that this man is asking is that the Department of the Navy, or the naval authorities, should prefer some charge against him - it does not matter by what authority it is dealt with - to afford him a hearing, and to let him put forward a defence. The naval authorities deny him .that opportunity. This man is admitted to have been a very competent officer. It is no wonder that an honorable member should have received* a certain reply from the Minister for the Navy only within the past few days in relation to the falling off of recruitment. The young men of Australia, as they become fully aware of one case of injustice after another in relation to the treatment of those men who do offer for service, are not showing any alacrity in responding to the appeal of the Government for recruits. I can furnish the Minister with the name of the particular person to whom I have referred, but I do not think it is necessary to do so at this stage. The Minister probably recollects the case.
– The honorable member knows very well that this incident occurred before I became Minister for the Navy.
– I am not suggesting that it happened during the occupancy of this portfolio by the present Minister. The matter goes back beyond his time, but he has access to the files. He is able to review these decisions.
– I shall do so, too.
– I have tried repeatedly to get his colleague, the former Minister for the Navy, to take some action, not only in relation to this particular case, but also to change the method that is employed by the naval authorities. I think the present Minister would agree that, if a man is discharged against his wishes after thirteen years’ service, and, if he has allegedly committed an offence, he ought to be charged and given an opportunity to defend himself. To illustrate the efficiency of the man to whom I have referred, I shall refer to the statement of the officer who prosecuted the other rating concerned, and who would have been responsible for prosecuting this man if the court martial had proceeded. The prosecuting officer wrote to the dismissed man’s mother in the following terms: -
I am personally sorry that the R.A.IS’. had to lose a man of your sou’s capacity and powers of leadership.
This incident occurred at a time when the Government is anxious to have recruits, and when it is anxious to expand the services. Yet the Navy dismisses a man who, according to the officer who would have been called upon to prosecute him, showed great capacity and powers of leadership. The then Minister for the Navy made the following statement: -
The competency of C.P.O.-
Mentioning the man’s name - . . as a seaman was not questioned by the Naval Board. His record in this respect is in fact very good. However the discipline of H.M. ships and establishments is dependent in a great measure on the manner in which Chief and Petty Officers carry out their duties and maintain their position of trust which they hold. Their duties and privileges demand the highest standards of personal loyalty, discipline and bearing. Any real departure from these high standards, is a factual demonstration of unsuitability for the rating of Chief Petty Officer.
There was never any question of this man’s loyalty, of his bearing, or of his conduct as a chief petty officer. No charge was ever preferred against this man to the effect that he was unsuitable for his rating. Therefore, he must have been deemed by the Minister to have been guilty of some offence with regard to personal loyalty, discipline or bearing, and the Minister and the Naval Board have found him guilty without any charge being preferred and without any trial having been held.
-Order ! The honorable member’s time has expired.
– I desire to speak about a matter that has recently received some local publicity. I refer to the Canberra plan, but only one aspect of it. I understand that some investigation about the Canberra plan is proceeding at present, and I have no intention of canvassing the matter. However, I want to speak about it as it affects the Australian National University. The university was originally designed to take advantage of a water frontage, and when the plan was altered the design of the university had to be altered, and there had to be some re-planning in order to fit the university into the altered plan. The result of that is that piece-meal building is going on, and that, of course, affects the well-being of the institution. We may perhaps ask whether the site and buildings matter much to a university, and whether its surroundings have any effect upon it. I believe that the answer to that question is “ Yes “.
It is not true to say that academic institutions do good work irrespective of their buildings and surroundings. I believe that, in an academic institution, a great deal depends on the influences of beauty, design and form. One example of the influence of beauty of buildings and surroundings is the University of Cambridge.
– That’s the wrong place !
– I shall not say anything about the University of Oxford, with which the honorable member for Angas (Mr. Downer) is connected, but I shall limit my remarks to the Light Blues. I do not think that any one who has walked along the backs of Cambridge and seen the lovely buildings, beautiful surroundings and magnificent gardens, and has noticed the atmosphere of beauty, serenity and peace that surrounds the university, can fail to have been impressed. It was those surroundings that laid the foundations of the education that produced the poetry of Milton, and they are the home of the amazing scientific discoveries that have come from the Cavendish Laboratory. The standards and values of our university similarly depend to a certain degree on the university’s surroundings and scenery. Already, we have a not unpleasing vista from the university, and there are some quite famous names on the roll of the institution. I am thinking of men such as Professors Oliphant, Eccles and Florey - although the latter is not a permanent member of the university. Perhaps I may also mention the two vicechancellors of the university, Sir Douglas Copland, and Mr. Melville. They are both men of eminence and distinction.
It may be asked whether this is a matter for the Parliament. I believe that it is. The Parliament sends four of its members to represent it on the council of the university, and every year it votes a very large sum of money to the institution so that it may carry on its activities. In fact this Parliament established the Australian National University, and I therefore believe that we have some responsibility to ensure that its surroundings are pleasant and effective. I hope that whatever plan is finally adopted, the university will not be surrounded by such things as race-courses. Of course, I have not a rooted antipathy to race-courses, except in association with universities. I do not want to see such things as dog-racing with its public address systems and loud-speakers allowed to develop in close proximity to what should be the pinnacle of the Australian academic system. I hope that the House will take some notice of this matter, and use its influence to ensure that the Australian National University shall develop in dignity, peace and beautiful surroundings, as far as we are able to ensure their preservation.
.- I do not desire unnecessarily to take up the time of the House at this late hour, but my friend the honorable member for Oxley (Dr. Donald Cameron) has raised a matter with which this House should most rightfully be concerned, and which should be deliberated upon to some small extent. I am not going to disagree with the honorable member merely because he was, if I may say so, perhaps a little unfortunate in referring to the university at Cambridge as one of his criteria of aesthetic perfection. Let me say that the honorable member might have gone to an older institution as a source of his inspiration. But the point is that the House should be grateful to the honorable member for bringing to its notice, before the damage has been done, something which may well be deleterious to our Australian National University and to the whole of Canberra. I say without fear of contradiction that the amenities of our national university have to be improved, and it is the duty of this Parliament to see that nothing arises which is likely to detract from their healthy development in the future.
Many of us feel that aesthetically the university has got off to a bad start. These things are to some degree a matter of taste, and I for one do not approve of the great majority of the university buildings that have gone up. I think, as a matter of fact, that most of them are extremely ugly. They are not good enough. They lack dignity. They are unbecoming for what all of us hope, irrespective of our divergencies on other matters, will be the form of the national university of this Commonwealth. The suggestion’ has been put forward that the original idea of the lake is to be discarded, and in its place a trotting track or racecourse is to be introduced, is something that this Parliament should not allow.
– Let us move the university.
– The honorable member for Watson (Mr. Curtin) is noted in this House for his unorthodoxy, and, occasionally, his originality, but if one adopted the expedient that he suggests it would be extremely costly.
Mr. Bryson interjecting,
– L have nothing at all against a race-course, or racing as such, but I suggest, particularly to the honorable member for Wills (Mr. Bryson), who keeps interrupting in that booming voice that we know so well, that a racecourse is an obnoxious environment for students and post-graduate student1*, at a national university. All that I can think is that the honorable member for Wills is anxious to see that the graduates at the university are invested with bad habits during the course of their studies. The whole purpose of the honorable member for Oxley in bringing this matter forward is to show that the university should have good surroundings. If the race-course is established at Westlake it will be obnoxious and unsuitable for students, and I hope that those suggestions will be knocked on the head before they proceed any further.
.- I agree to some extent with what has been said by the honorable member for Oxley (Dr. Donald Cameron) and the honorable member for Angas (Mr. Downer) about the Australian National University, but, to my way of thinking, the root of the matter is in the fact that members of the Parliament should be able to ask questions about the university and receive answers to those questions from the Government. I have taken some interest in the Australian National University for some time, and it appears to me that if an honorable member asks a question of the Government he is told that the university is an academic matter, and that no responsibility rests on the Government to give any account of its stewardship. I believe that attitude to be completely wrong, and there are several obvious proofs that it is wrong.
The honorable member for Oxley and the honorable member for Angas have pointed out that we need the best possible buildings and amenities for the university. That is quite right, but honorable members of this House are responsible for the financing of those buildings and amenities and I am quite certain, having lived in this district for some time and having some knowledge of local matters, that a ludicrously large amount of money has been very ill-spent on the construction of the buildings of the Australian National University. Until recently, when the responsibility for the management of finance and the construction of buildings was put in other hands, that situation was absolutely disgraceful. The Parliament should be kept informed of what goes on at the Australian National University, and should exercise some control over the expenditure of money on the institution.
Now let me correct one or two ideas about the race-course. A race-course is not to be built opposite the university; it is already there. I am glad to say that I have visited it on various occasions, and I have done myself no more good on those occasions than you have done yourself, Mr. Speaker. Let me hasten to assure honorable members that the race-course is in no sense obnoxious. Indeed, it is a pleasant part of the countryside, and race meetings are held there very seldom. Therefore, as a norma] thing, the people of the district have the advantage of the open spaces of the race-course without having to put up with persons of the kind who normally inhabit race-courses. I was rather staggered to hear the honorable member for Oxley, for whom I have the greatest respect, say that because the university was to he built on the side of a lake, a lake should be provided. That certainly seems to he putting the cart before the horse. The university is quite important, but Canberra is the National Capital, and it appears to me that other considerations should come before the consideration of whether we should put a greater area under water simply for the purposes of the university.
I am certain that you, Mr. Speaker, will agree with me that if we put a lake in the heart of this place - I shall not call it a city- we shall have in the winter mud, and in the summer mosquitos. Moreover, you, Mr. Speaker, and those who sit in front of you who are enthusiastic fishermen, will obtain little advantage from increasing the water spaces of Canberra, because the water that will flow into the lakes from the rivers is likely to be very muddy. I am all in favour of providing all the amenities possible for those who work and live in the Australian National University. I hope to see it a seat of learning, I shall not say second only to Cambridge, but even better than that. I hope that it will become a most worthy national university. At the same time, I cannot believe that we should provide it with a lake simply because some one years ago drew up a nice little plan with the idea that the university would look pleasant and attractive if it were reflected in the waters of the Molonglo River.
.- I have no intention of entering into a controversy with my colleagues on the relative architectural merits of Oxford or Cambridge ; nor do I intend to discuss the needs of the Canberra University College or the post-graduate attendants at the Australian National University to study horse-racing from their windows. If they wished to study a few points on horse-racing, I could introduce them to some gentlemen of the Opposition who could teach them more about that subject than the learned university professors would be likely to do. However, I should think that they could study horse-racing better elsewhere than in the university. I do not understand the series of arguments that have been entered into in the Canberra press recently about the relative merits of the grandstand of the race-course, or the university building which fronts it. If an obvious attempt had not been made to disguise the front of the university building with something which looks from a distance like yellow tiles, it might even have been mistaken for a grandstand. It is not the most attractive kind of building which we could wish our university to have.
However, I wish to put this point. This city of Canberra, the National Capital of Australia, was planned as a very fine conception, and an essential part of the conception was that it was a city built round lakes. Now, it is an undoubted fact that any group of people who are living together in a place get certain interests of their own in the future development of that place, and I have no doubt that the people interested in the race-course are very interested in seeing that no lake is ever allowed to swell there; and similarly, the people who are interested in the Canberra golf course have an equal interest in seeing that no lake shall cover their greens and fairways. But the people of Australia, who look to this city as the proper and fitting capital of the country, have no voice ready and on the spot to claim that the original fine concept of this city should be carried out. I sincerely hope that the whole plan will be examined again before final decisions are made, and that the original concept of a city, built round lakes, will be adhered to. I am sorry in this matter to find myself in disagreement with my friend, the honorable member for Henty (Mr. Gullett), but after all, he is a countryman and he has been a distinguished soldier; and it is notorious that soldiers have a rooted objection to water in any form. I seriously suggest to the House that his views on this matter should be completely disregarded.
I now wish to refer to the matter raised by the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) about dispensing with the services of a chief petty officer of the Royal Australian Navy with thirteen years’ service. I have no knowledge of the circumstances of the particular case to which he has referred, but I have some knowledge of the background, which he obviously has not. In the first place, a chief petty officer with thirteen years’ service is of great value to the Navy and the country, and his services are not dispensed with lightly by the senior naval authorities. A chief petty officer is recognized as a person of great value, and great efforts are made to retain the services of men with that experience. The former Minister for the Navy, in an earlier reply to the honorable member for East Sydney, referred to the extreme importance which attaches to the skill, knowledge, experience, loyalty and leadership of the senior ratings of the Navy. Such men are not let go lightly. The Navy, in common with the other services, has always retained the right to dispense with the services of any officer or rating whose services are deemed to be no longer required for any reason which may appear proper to the authorities exercising that power. However, the power to dispense with the services of any officer or man on the ground that he is no longer required is exercised only after due consideration by the most senior naval authority under whom he comes, and that authority in this case, I presume, would be either the flag officer in charge of his home port or the Naval Board itself, probably the latter.
It is perfectly clear that the chief petty officer in question was twice concerned in cases involving smuggling. The honorable member for East Sydney said that there was no question of the theft of beer or spirits from the ship. It is not a matter of theft. It is a matter of the evasion of duty, because sea-going ships carry beer and spirits on which excise has not been paid; and if the beer and spirits are taken ashore, and duty is not paid on them, the customs laws of the land are evaded. That is the significance which attaches to the taking of dutiable goods- out of the naval dockyard without; authority or without paying duty on them.
I repeat that I” have no knowledge of the circumstances of this case, but on general principles-, it is quite apparent that the Naval Board or a duly constituted senior officer- has been satisfied that the high standards of personal conduct and leadership, which are required of chief petty officers and petty officers,, cannot be relied upon in this case, and so the naval authorities have dispensed with-, the services of this man on the ground that they were no longer required. Finally, I consider that perhaps another significant fact to honorable members is that the ex-naval rating concerned found his only champion in. the House in the person of the honorable member for East Sydney.
.-I should like to deal for a. few minutes with, the sensational announcement of the objection taken by the Australian National University to the presence of the racecourse within the sacred precincts of the. halls of culture. The subject of Canberra and- its amenities has always been most, amusing, to me because of the- fact that, many years, ago,, perhaps- too long to recall, I was born within a few miles of this Territory, and I have a. sort of proprietory interest in it. When we take a view of this- place, we may be- reminded of. the words of the poet Blake in. another connexion -
What immortal hand or eye,
Could frame thy fearful symmetry?
If we consider what has happened in. regard to the national university, and to the architectural so-called beauties of this place, we are brought back with a jolt to a certain impertinence in this matter, which is that the university should not be built close to a racecourse. This research institution has cost the country to date a total of £5,000;000. Recently, an amount of £900,000 has been expended on it, and the expenditure has been well worth while. But has not the university lost its sense of proportion when it worries about a race-course, and is obliged to get one of the grave and reverent seigneurs of the Senate to direct, attention, to. the facts;?. We may be full of culture. we me teeming with new ideas,, we are absolutely cracking open with all the- attributes of learning, but we cannot function without a lake before our eyes. The next thing, they will want a Lady of the Lake.. We can see what is happening. They have lost the whole of the tenor of their thinking; Two. honorable members opposite have had the advantage of overseas education, and1 they talk with great feeling about the mother of universities, Oxford, and her companion, Cambridge, both of which stand’ in beautiful surroundings that havegrown up over hundreds of years. But the great men of the ages have been able to imbibe the highest classical concepts of life and learning without the adjuncts of a lake. Diogenes did quite well in a. tub. Shakespeare made- his immortal couplet* on a pallet bed with a bottle of rare old’ vintage: near his hand. So’ the contention, that, in order to have an aesthetic outlook, we must tear the country to- piece* is not supported by history.
What is to become of the splendid lucerne farm on. the. flats that would besubmerged by the muddy waters of theMolonglo, to form the lake I I a3k members of. the Australian Country party whether they propose to forbid that desecration. What is to become of the. lovely kine which graze on those flats, and look on us benevolently as we pass on our way to- catch our ‘planes ? Shall, we flood those areas with muddy water, and depriveCanberra golfers, of. their fairways and smooth, greens ? L believe that the. Walter Burley Griffin concept, as such, is fine.. The Molonglo River is. making heavy weather, and is burrowing deeper intothe soil, year by year.
Taken rationally, the first view of the Walter Burley Griffin scheme is one of beautification. The lakes scheme is splendid. But the university suddenly pontificates, “ No more learning, no more culture, no more anything “ unless it has a lake instead of a race-course near its doors. The matter has been introduced by those fellows who have a very close association with the university. Forget the lake, because, like Narcissus, they will want to see their own images, but they will not see their reflections because the water will be so muddy for a long time.
At this late hour, we should be logical. I have to say, for the horse-breeding industry, that perhaps some fine research will be undertaken on horse-racing. That will not be new. Only yesterday, we bowed our heads in reverence, and made low obeisance to the hippomanes. If the professors see the horses in Canberra lose form, they may be able to devise a formula to help us in our rather plebeian pastimes. With relation to swabbing, could there not be a school for swabbers? Would not that be a lot better than a lake with the withered marge on which no bird sings, of which the poet Keats talks? Of course it would ! If a new formula were evolved by a professor which made a horse register a certain performance round the perimeter of the field in an exact number of seconds, he would be more than a professor, he would be a national hero.
In the circumstances, let us take this matter back to where it belongs. A good and learned professor has told us of the difficulties that will result from having a race-course in front of the university. I am sure that it must be very, very annoying for professors to look out of their windows and see the cavorting equines galloping round the ring and to know that there is to be a race-course there. But if the City of Canberra is to become alive, we must have the racecourse, a really good pub, and a main street. I believe that the sooner we start that, the sooner we shall have a city which we shall prefer much more than the cylindrical plan. A visitor who drives into Canberra in a car goes round and round in circles and gets hopelessly lost. If a series of lakes are added to the existing hazards for the man who goes home late, as we do, we shall get a problem of such magnitude that all the professors in the world will not be able to provide a solution.
– Far be it for me, at this late hour, to enter into a controversy on the respective merits of Oxford and Cambridge. As a matter of fact, a well-known and independent authority named Baedeka a long time ago, in his famous guide book, settled the argument by saying, “ Oxford and Cambridge are both well worth visiting. If pressed for time, miss Cambridge “. I remind honorable members that Canberra is the National Capital, and not a university town. The honorable member for Henty (Mr. Gullett) has made that point. As the Minister for the Interior, I am not responsible for the Australian National University. That comes under the Prime Minister’s Department. But as the Minister for the Interior, I am responsible for any alterations that are made to the original plan of the National Capital. I wish to assure honorable members that any variations I have made, which have been of a very minor degree, have been made only on the recommendation of the National Capital Planning Committee, which consists of independent architects. I do not know where one could get a better body. Of course, one could pick another body of architects. But when the honorable member criticizes the architect, all I know is that the National University authorities selected him ; and I think that he was a professor of fine arts. However, the university authorities asked the Department of Works to get another architect and I think - I am entirely unbiassed - he is doing a little better. The site of the Australian National University was selected by somebody. I do not know whether provision was made for it on the original Canberra plan, but, personally, I believe that it was entirely wrong to place the university right in the heart of what waa to be the National Capital. However, there it is; and we cannot remove it. Nothing has been done that will in any way prevent the lake basin from being flooded. The only university building that overlooks the race-course is the residence of the vice-chancellor, and it does not front the lake basin but backs it, if I might use that term. I do not know who selected the site for the existing racecourse. However, it is not intended that the race-course shall be established there permanently. Under any lease that is given in respect of that area, the Government retains the right to resume the land at any time ; ana no lessee is allowed to erect buildings on the land without obtaining departmental permission. Nothing has been done that will prevent that part of the basin from being flooded when it is decided to go ahead with the lake scheme. I am delighted to know that so many honorable members are taking such a great interest in the National Capital. It was found recently that certain members of a committee which was inquiring into matters related to works in Canberra had never been to Red Hill.
.- I shall reply briefly to the remarks that have been made by the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward). I am surprised that he has seen fit to bring up on this occasion the matter that he raised because the incident to which he referred must have happened seven months ago. Since the last general election, I have had the privilege to be Minister for the Navy, but he has not seen me, or written one word to me, about this case. During that time he has shown no interest in it at all. It does not help the honorable gentleman, or the petty officer on whose behalf he made his representations, to raise the matter in the way he has just raised it seven months after the incident occurred. My attention has not previously been directed to the matter. I have the profoundest confidence in the administration of the Department of the Navy.
– Why does not the individual get a trial?
– If the honorable gentleman had raised this matter with me at any time during the past seven months I would have been prepared to give him an answer. However, in the interests of the petty officer himself, I shall have a look at the case. The finest spirit exists in the Navy, and I am confident that the action of the honorable member in dragging up this case in this way will not adversely effect that spirit. The honorable gentleman also said that an incident of this kind would be likely to interfere with recruiting. He should be the last member of this House to refer to recruiting because, since 1949, when this Government, time after time, has asked honorable members opposite to assist in recruiting, and when we were faced with the problem of quickly providing men to fight against the Communists in Korea in order to preserve our way of life, honorable members opposite did not say one word to assist in recruiting. Yet, the honorable member has the effrontery to speak about recruiting. This country will never get recruits if it relies on honorable members opposite. I renew the invitation issued by the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) to honorable members to assist the Government in its recruiting campaign.
– Why did not your Prime Minister go to the first war ?
– The honorable gentleman, all his life, has used every effort to keep out of any camp at all.
– I repeat that the incident to which the honorable member has referred must have occurred seven months ago. Yet, he has shown no interest in it during that period. I admit that over seven months ago he had certain correspondence with my predecessor on the subject. In the interests of the petty officer himself I shall examine his case.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
The following papers were pre sented : -
Australian National Airlines Act - Australian National Airlines Commission - Ninth Annual Report and Financial Accounts, for year 1953-54.
Lands Acquisition Act - Land acquired for - Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization purposes - Deniliquin, New South Wales.
Defence purposes -
Gosford, New South Wales.
Newington, New South Wales.
Qantas Empire Airways Limited - Twentieth Annual Report and Financial Accounts, for 1953.
House adjourned at 11.21 p.m.
The following answers to questions were circulated: -
n asked the Minister for the Army, upon notice -
With reference to the Australian Regular Army - (a) what was the active strength at the date of signing of the Korean armistice; ( b ) what was the active strength at the 30th September, 1954; (c) during the six months ended the 30th September, 1954, what was the proportion of discharges to enlistments; and (d) of the discharges, what percentage is made up of trained non-commissioned officer instructors (e.g. national service instructors) with active service experience?
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 3 November 1954, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1954/19541103_reps_21_hor5/>.