21st Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. SPEAKER (Hon. Archie Cameron) took the ‘chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.
– Will the Minister for Social Services advise me whether he has any reply to the questions I asked him on the 17th August and the 25th August relative to the rehabilitation suction of the Department of Social Services undertaking pre-vocational training of handicapped children, following on their schooling and preceding their placement in employment? The honorable gentleman advised me previously that he had asked the Director-General of Social Services to give early consideration to the whole subject.
– >As I advised the honorable member when he last raised this matter, there are several problems associated with rehabilitation, of which the one he has mentioned is one of the most important. It has not been practicable to have a full paper prepared on this matter yet, but it is receiving the most careful and detailed attention by myself, the department and the Commonwealth generally. As soon as it is practicable to make some public statement on it, the Government will be only too happy to do so.
– By way of ex, planation of the question that I wish to ask the Minister for External Affairs, may I say that the right honorable gentle-; man was kind enough to obtain for me by air mail a copy of a speech recently delivered in London by the deputy commander of the allied forces in Europe relating to changes in the defence structure which had been necessitated by changes in the technology of warfare and the introduction of nuclear weapons. la view of the extreme importance and interest of this speech, will the right honorable gentleman have copies made for immediate circulation to honorable members and senators of this Parliament?
– Yes, I shall !be glad to have the paper reproduced and made available to honorable gentlemen.
– Before I put my question to the Minister for Immigration, 1 should like -to state that I attend as many naturalization ceremonies in the division that I represent as I possibly can, because 1 realize the importance of these functions. Last Monday at 3 p.m., I attended a ceremony at which, apart from representatives of the press and the candidates, there were only two other persons present, both of them reverend gentlemen. Will the Minister consider asking hia representatives in the various States that they in turn ask or suggest to the various local government bodies .that the hour of such ceremonies be 8 p.m. ? I believe that, if the functions were held at that hour, relatives and friends of the candidates and other citizens would attend, and thug add to the importance of the occasion.
– I appreciate the interest which the honorable member and many other honorable gentleman take in these naturalization ceremonies. I think that has contributed to the assimilation of new settlers by making them feel they are really a part of the Australian community. I think it can fairly be said that the new method of conducting naturalization ceremonies had been a conspicuous success and has brought home, snot only to the new settlers, but also to the Australian community in general, the significance of naturalization. I am –sorry to learn that on the occasion referred to apparently there was no adequate representation of the Australian community. I shall discuss, with the officers of tho department the practicability of the suggestion made by the honorable member.
– Has the attention of the Minister1 fur Immigration been directed to the extremely brave action of a new Australian in Darwin which saved many persons, including Australians, from serious injury? Does not the Minister feel ‘that this action indicates that immigrants, can be an outstanding asset to this country through their example of consistent application to work, their contribution to culture and such displays of courage? Do not such examples offset the adverse criticism ‘ which is directed against ‘many immigrants from time to time?
– -I saw in the press a reference to the incident mentioned by the honorable gentleman, and I share his admiration’ of the courage and quickwitted action of the new settler concerned. I. agree with him that this incident, which is typical of a number of happenings tha-t have come to my notice, indicates that amongst the tens of thousands of persons who have come to Australia are a great number of people of whom we should be proud, and who are making a very valuable contribution to the development of this nation.
– Did the Minister for Immigration make a statement recently that about 45 per cent, of the non-British arrivals in this country were now living in rural districts? If he made that statement, can he say whether it was made as the result of records compiled by the Department of Immigration, or whether it was just an estimate based upon an opinion ?
– The statement to which the honorable member foi Batman referred was made in the course of an address which I gave to the recent congress of the Returned Sailors, Soldiers and Airmen’s Imperial League of Australia. I was not referring to the whole body of European immigrants who have come here, but to an analysis made of those who have come here under assisted passages and under arrangements made between this Government and the governments of certain European countries. In those instances, we have very much more control, or at least influence, over the movements of the immigrants who are selected under such schemes, and it has been found that the proportion mentioned by the honorable gentleman in his question had gone to rural areas, not necessarily entirely in country districts and into rural occupations, but to places outside the main city areas. That proportion was rather higher than obtained in respect, of other immigrant groups and was, I think, a reflection of the effective manner in which our placement has been made.
– Is the Minister for Immigration satisfied that sufficient steps are being taken by the Department of Immigration to give, intending immigrants to Australia instruction ‘ in English? By way of explanation, .- Mr. Speaker, I may say that there are still many people arriving in this country from Europe who can hardly speak a word of our language. This must prejudice their, being employed to the best of their capacity. It is also an obstacle in the way of their rapid absorption in the Australian community.
– Extensive action is taken by the Department of immigration to promote the learning of English. That action commences, not when the immigrant lands here, but from the date of embarkation, and, indeed, even earlier when the necessary arrangements can be made. After the immigrant has reached Australia, provision is made for voluntary education to be carried out in hours’ which are convenient to him. The services of the Australian Broadcasting Commission are also employed in order to assist this process. But, in the final analysis,, the rate of progress must depend upon the application -with which the immigrant directs himself or herself to the learning of the language. We do all we can to encourage the learning of English and provide the necessary facilities, and I assure the honorable member that we try to impress upon immigrants the necessity for acquiring a working knowledge of the language as soon as practicable. If the honorable gentleman would like to have further details on this subject, I shall arrange for the department to supply them to him.
– In view of statements that have been made to the effect that the Minister for Territories has forbidden natives of Papua and New Guinea to sell their land for the purpose of settlement by Australians, will the Minister explain the policy of the Government on this matter?
– The question relates to a matter of policy.
Question not answered.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Territories. As rumours are current to the effect that the Minister has forbidden natives in Papua and New Guinea to sell their land for the purposes of settlement by Australians, and as those rumours have caused some concern, can the Minister inform me of the actual position?
– The rumours to which the honorable member has referred are quite incorrect. No prohibition of any kind has been placed on the selling, by the natives, of their land to the Administration. The policy in relation to the acquisition of land from the natives is, first, that the native himself must be willing to sell. “We do not wish to compel natives to part with their land. Secondly, the Administration itself makes a judgment as to whether the natives need the land for their future or prospective requirements. The Administration must be careful to ensure that the natives are not left in the position of being landless people. If the native is willing to sell, and if, in our judgment, the land is not needed for the future or prospective needs of the native group, the acquisition of the land proceeds. In fact, the acquisition of land from natives under these circumstances is continuing, and it is being made available, through the Department of Lands in the Territory, to Australian settlers.
– Some time ago, I pointed out to the Minister for Territories that accommodation provided for public servants and their families at Port Moresby was so unsuitable that their quarters were known as “ the stables “. As, on that occasion, he informed me that he would have an investigation made with a view to ascertaining whether that description was justified, and, if it were, improving the accommodation, has he yet done anything in the matter?
– The honorable gentleman, I am sure, will have noticed in the Estimates which were recently before the Parliament the increased financial provision that was made for the Territory of Papua and New Guinea. In the detailed estimates which will be introduced in the Legislative Council for the Territory this week, increased provision is being made in respect of both houses and hostel accommodation for public servants in the Territory.
– Was that the result nf my representations?
– Not solely.
– I ask the Minister for Territories whether compensation has been paid to the next-of-kin of the patrol officers who were killed in the execution of their duty at Telefomin in the Territory of Papua and New Guinea. Will he see to it that letters written by the bereaved relatives receive prompt attention and reply by the Administration of the Territory? Finally, will he consider the recommendation of awards for valour to be granted posthumously to the gallant patrol officers who were killed in such dire circumstances?
– Regarding the third of the three questions, the answer is, “ Yes “. I will give consideration to that matter and call for reports on it. On the second question, I shall be grateful if the honorable member will let me have details of any delay of particular correspondence, with the dates of the letters written, so that I can investigate them. The other matter, I think, is one that requires further consideration.
– In view of the statement by the Minister for the Army that he is glad to have had an opportunity to correct the record on the Stockton Bight controversy, will the Minister inform me whether he is satisfied that he has now been told the whole truth about what happened on the 8th March? Does the Minister’s statementmean that he now approves of alcohol being taken on military manoeuvres ? Has he taken any disciplinary action against the persons who wilfully told him untruths about this matter? Will he say what inquiries were made to substantiate the information given to him that the vehicles were not overloaded, that they were properly serviced and that rockets were not fired by the officer-in-charge ? Were those statements made on oath? If not, why have the unsworn statements of persons been accepted against the sworn declaration of a national service trainee? Further, in view of the fact that a trainee was lost and his body has not been found, will the Minister say what action the Army has taken to recover the vehicle in which the trainee was travelling, which could reveal whether the lost trainee was still aboard and whether the sworn ‘statement of another trainee was correct or otherwise ? Or is the Minister afraid that the recovery of the vehicle would lead to at least some of the truth being revealed?
– I shall reply to the questions very briefly. I have issued emphatic instructions that no alcohol is to be taken on a.ny military manoeuvres. The statement that I have made to the honorable gentleman is complete, and I have nothing to add to it.
– Is the Minister for External Affairs aware that a recent Russian trade mission to Japan obtained a large order for Russian coal and also agreed to indemnify Japanese importers for losses on previous supplies of poorquality coal? Does this approach indicate an attempt to foster Soviet-Japanese goodwill through trade which could only be to the detriment of the western democracies ?
– In recent times, efforts have been made by both the Soviet Government and the Communist Chinese Government, by way of approach to the Japanese Government, to, as they are pleased to call it, normalize trade between Japan on the one hand and Russia and Communist China on the other hand. I understand that Japanese firms have entered into contracts to buy a few tens of thousands of tons of Russian coal, and ] believe there is an even wider proposal for some millions of dollars worth of barter trade between Russia and Japan. We have not any detailed information on these points, but there is clearly a move on the part of international communism to regain Japanese trade. So far, 1 have the impression that the Japanese Government has been rather cool towards these advances by the Communists, but it is a matter that the Government certainly will watch. I appreciate the honorable gentleman’s concern with it.
– My question is directed to the Prime Minister in his capacity as Minister acting for the Treasurer. In view of the fact that, at the present time, there are two questions on the notice-paper in relation to the deposits by the trading banks in the special account of the Commonwealth Bank, and in view of the fact that two very important articles have appeared in the daily press attacking the Commonwealth Bank for its actions in relation to this account, will the right honorable gentleman try to answer the two questions as soon as possible ?
– Yes, I shall do so.
– I direct a question to the Minister for Defence Production. As the annual aircraft display at Farnborough in England is conducted by an organization known as the S.B.A.C.’, that is, the Society of British Aircraft Constructors, and as there are a number of British aircraft constructed in Australia, will the Minister approach the organizers of the show with a view to having some Australian aircraft included in next year’s show, particularly the Jindivic, the Wind j eel, and the Avon Sabre ? By way of explanation, although the cost of this representation might be considerable, the advantages accruing from sales of Australian aircraft abroad, or the transfer of British plants to Australia, could be far greater.
– I think the suggestion is a very valuable one. I shall examine it, and give due consideration to it.
– Is the Minister for Civil Aviation in a position yet to outline the proposals for the construction of an aerodrome at Merimbula, on the far south coast of New South Wales ? The honorable gentleman will recall that recently, in this chamber I again submitted to him a full case for the construction of this aerodrome, and reminded him of the delays that had occurred. May I express the hope that his transfer to the portfolio of civil aviation will mean that a vigorous start shall be made on this work?
– I remember the representations that the honorable member made to me in relation to’ the airport at Merimbula. I am pleased to be able to inform him that a contract to the value of £10,000 has been let for the preliminary clearing of the site and the removal of power lines, and that next year a sum of £100,000 will be included in the Estimates of the Department of Civil Aviation for the complete development of the airport.
– I ask the Minister for Social Services whether it is a fact that ex-members of the Australian Imperial Forces who were retained in Australia during the war are eligible for assistance from the War Service Homes Division, while militia men who did not serve outside Australia are considered to be ineligible. Is it a fact that many thousands of militia men actually served outside Australia and so qualified for assistance from the War Service Homes Division while those militia men who remained in Aus tralia were liable to be called upon for overseas service? Will the Minister consider taking action to remove this anomaly by recognizing all enlisted personnel who were liable for overseas service as being qualified for assistance, and announce the
Government’s decision as soon as possible ?
– The general condition for eligibility for war service homes is that a person should have served overseas or should have volunteered for service overseas. With regard to the second part of the honorable member’s question, which relates wholly to a matter of policy, that matter will receive attention when the Government is considering next year’s budget. The decision of the Government will then be made known to him.
– Will the Minister for the Interior inform me whether the Government has yet received from the Queensland Government a reply to its generous offer of finance for war service land settlement in Queensland?
– When I answered a similar question asked by the honorable member yesterday, I said that my answer was subject to correction. When I returned to my office after question time yesterday I found that a copy of a letter from the Premier of Queensland to the Prime Minister had arrived during question time. Unfortunately, the Premier of Queensland advised the Prime Minister in the letter that the offer of the Australian Government was unacceptable to Queensland. I am considering what can be done in order that Korean and Malayan ex-servicemen, as well as some others, can have the same opportunities as ex-servicemen have in other States.
– My question to the Minister acting for the PostmasterGeneral is on the same subject as the question I asked him on the 27th October. A lessee of a telephone was charged about £73 in respect of a debt incurred by the previous lessee of the telephone. The
Minister promised to make inquiries into the matter, and as the time given by the Postal Department for payment of the debt has now expired, I ask him whether he could give me an answer to the question as quickly as possible.
– I am sorry that the honorable member has not yet received my written reply. I have had investigations made into the matter that he raised, and I am afraid that my answer will not be very satisfactory for his purpose.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Social Services. One of my constituents who is a pensioner receiving £3 10s. a week pension and earning £3 10s. a week, has written to me to inform me that she is required to pay 9d. a week income tax. Will the Minister inform me whether the income tax is payable on both the pension and the wages of £3 10s. a week?
– The honorable member’s question concerns both the Treasury and the Department of Social Services and I am afraid that I cannot give him a complete answer at this stage. If the pensioner to whom he has referred is receiving an age pension and earning only £3 10s. a week extra - or the amount of the permissible income - then taxation would not be paid. With the approval of the Prime Minister, I shall make detailed inquiries into the matter and let the honorable member have a complete reply as soon as possible.
– Is the Minister for Territories yet in a position to say when the necessary and long awaited adjustment will be made of the zone allowances payable in zones A, B and C?
– That matter is still under the consideration of the Government.
– Has the Minister for Labour and National Service any information to enable him to indicate to the House when the judgment of the Com- monwealth Arbitration Court in the Margins case is likely to be given?
– I have no precise information, but my understanding is that it is likely to be given to-morrow afternoon.
– My question is addressed to the Minister acting for the Postmaster-General. In recent weeks, 1 have urged on several occasions in this House that more broadcasts over Radio Australia be given in the language of the South-East Asian peoples, as only three languages other than English are given at the present time. Can the Minister inform me whether it is a fact that the Australian Broadcasting Commission is now arranging for broadcasts to be given in the Mandarin language to South-East Asia as well as in the Thai, Indonesian and French languages? Will he investigate further language broadcasts over Radio Australia so that the ideological war against communism, may be intensified in that area?
– It is true that the broadcasts from Radio Australia are very well received in South-East Asia, a.nd, in consequence, the Australian Broadcasting Commission is investigating the possibilities of extending quite substantially the present broadcasting programmes.
– Has the Prime Minister received a protest from the Returned Sailors, Soldiers and Airmen’s Imperial League of Australia against the proposed visit to Australia of a team of Japanese baseball players? If he has received such a protest, has the Government considered it, and, if so with what result?
– I cannot say whether we have actually received the document from the Returned Sailors, Soldiers and Airmen’s Imperial League of Australia, but, of course, I read in the newspapers that the league had discussed the matter and had passed a resolution. Prior to that, the Government had given consideration to the matter and came to the conclusion, for a variety of reasons, that it would not be proper to prevent this team of athletes from coming to Australia. After all, they are not the first.; and they will not be the last.
– Oan the Prime Minister say whether the Government has appointed, or is about to appoint, a committee to assess the degree of balance between primary and secondary industries? If such a body has been appointed, what are its terms of reference?
– No decision has been taken on that matter.
– I ask the Minister for Air: Is any action being taken to provide additional housing at the Royal Australian Air Force station at Fairbairn in order to provide proper accommodation for serving airmen and their families during their tours of duty at that station and to obviate the necessity now imposed upon them of seeking makeshift accommodation in the city area ? In particular, will he examine the case of a corporal who, after being transferred from Gungahlin to the station at Fairbairn, was required to vacate the bouse that he occupied and was not provided with other accommodation?
– I shall have investigated the particular case to which the honorable member has referred, and also ascertain the overall position.
– I address a question to the Prime Minister that refers to Commonwealth and State powers. Recently, in Sydney, at the annual dinner of the Australian Wine Producers Association, a senior spokesman for the New South Wales Labour Government said that that Government had reduced the excise duty on brandy. Did that Government or the Australian Government reduce that duty? Can appropriate action be taken to ensure that the public should be informed of the facts when State Labour governments claim the credit for wise decisions on the part of this Govern ment in respect of the provision of funds for roads, housing, health and other purposes ?
– The Labour party takes many forms. It is quite true that we reduced the excise on brandy. It is equally true that the credit for such fiction has been claimed by the Labour Government of New South Wales; and it is equally true that Labour members in this House attacked that decision.
– Can the Prime Minister inform me whether Australian citizens when visiting the United Kingdom for the purpose of extending their education, industrial or otherwise, are . liable for military service after twelve mouths’ residence in the United Kingdom? In such circumstances, can Australians be compelled to join the Army in England for a term of two years? If so, does this mean that such persons are unable to return to Australia until after their period of service has expired? If these are facts, are Australian citizen? made aware of them prior to leaving this country for England?
– I am bound to say that I have never heard that suggestion, but I shall certainly have it looked into at once in order to see whether such a remarkable state of affairs does exist.
– Has the Prime Minister, as Minister acting for the Treasurer, received a request for financial aid from the Australian College of Nursing in Melbourne? If so, will he give the request his very favorable consideration?
– A proposal in relation to that matter has been received and is under consideration.
– Has the Minister for External Affairs any information regarding a proposal by the Government of Pakistan to introduce a constitution bill early next year? Does this proposal have any significance in regard to the relationship of Pakistan as a member of the British Commonwealth of Nations?
– No, I have no official information on that subject, and I hesitate to speak of matters of which I have heard privately.
– I ask the Prime Minister whether it is intended to retain indefinitely the services of the personal bodyguard whom he had appointed some time ago. What has been the approximate total cost of the bodyguard to date ? Does the Prime Minister seriously believe a bodyguard is essential in Australia, or was the position created merely for its propaganda value?
– -The cost of the gentleman referred to no doubt goes on anyhow, because I understand that he is a member of the security service. If he were not keeping an eye on me, he would be keeping an eye on the friends of the honorable member for East Sydney.
– I lay on the table the following paper : -
Trade Marks Law of the Commonwealth - Report of Committee appointed by the Attorney-General to consider what alterations are desirable, together with Report of Committee previously appointed.
I point out to honorable members that, in this report by a very powerful committee, there is a complete draft of the proposed consolidating trade marks law. I have laid the report on the table so that it may become known to the profession and to other persons interested.
– As chairman, I present the following report of the Public Accounts Committee: -
Ordered to be printed.
Bill returned from the Senate without amendment.
-(Hon. Archie Cameron). - I have received from the honorable member for Grayndler (Mr. Daly) an intimation that he desires to submit a definite matter of urgent public importance to the House for discussion, namely : -
The failure of the Government to take effective measures to control the alarming rise in prices, particularly of basic commodities, resulting in severe hardship being caused to the community.
Is the proposal supported?
Eight honorable members having risen in support of the proposal,
.- One of the reasons given by the present Government parties in 1949 and 1951 for their election to office was their promise to put value back into the ?1 and to reduce the cost of living. The joint policy speech of those parties as printed in 1949, and reaffirmed in 1951, contained this statement on the important problems of prices and the cost of living -
We want to help the States, and much more importantly, the people.
While encouraging production to the full, we shall hold ourselves ready to pay price subsidies in appropriate cases; as, for example, in respect of items affecting the cost of living of basic wage earners.
While there remains a case for artificial price control, that is while shortages continue, we shall, instead of standing back and hoping for their failure, co-operate with the States and do all in our power to make their price control effective.
The contention of the Opposition is that since 1949, when this Government was returned to office, there has been no cooperation by the Commonwealth with the States to keep the prices down. This Government has reduced by millions of pounds the subsidies paid on basic com.modies, and has been responsible for an alarming increase of prices. If we take the basic wage as an indicator, we see that prices have risen by over 100 per cent, since this Government came into power.
Recently, the landed cost of tea increased, but the Government refused to pay a higher subsidy to the States to enable them to keep the price of tea in Australia at the previous level. In 1948-49, under the Chifley Labour Government, £23,000,000 was paid in subsidies on various commodities. At that time, £23,000,000 was worth considerably more than it is now, because under this Government the purchasing-power of the Australian £1 has declined considerably. According to the latest figures available, this year the Commonwealth will pay only a fraction over £21,000,000 in subsidies on basic commodities. Par from increasing the subsidies paid on items that effect the cost of living, the Government has reduced expenditure on subsidies by £2,000,000, compared with the 1948-49 figure, but, as the purchasingpower of the £1 has fallen so much since then, the actual reduction is considerably greater than that figure indicates. It is common knowledge that to-day the Australian £1 is worth only 50 per cent, of the Chifley £1 of 1949. The Opposition contends that £21,000,000 is but a fraction of the expenditure on subidies that would be required to keep the cost of living in this country at a reasonable level.
In 1949, the Chifley Government, by its policy of controlling prices, maintained at a reasonable level the prices of basic commodities such as butter, tea, sugar and eggs. Let us compare the prices of those commodities while the Chifley Government was in power with the prices now. In 1949, butter sold for 2s. 2d. per lb., but under this Administration the price has risen by about 100 per cent. Butter sells now at 4s. 2d. per lb. In 1949, tea cost 2s. 9d. per lb., but to-day, under the administration of a government pledged to reduce the cost of basic commodities, it costs 7s. 6d. per lb. While the Chifley Government was in office, eggs sold for 2s. lOd. a dozen, but to-day, at about 6d. each, they are in the luxury class. The average man finds it almost impossible to buy them. Liberal party members know that, so dear are eggs, that the average working man cannot afford to buy them even to throw at Liberal party election rallies. The price of sugar has risen by over 100 per cent, since this Government took office. If a man goes shopping to-day for the ordinary basic needs of his family, all that he will get for £1 is 1 lb. of butter, 1 lb. of tea, a dozen eggs and, if he is lucky, 1 lb. of steak. Under this Government, which is pledged to reduce the cost of living, all that the people can buy for £1 are some butter, tea, steak and eggs, but in 1949 those things cost only a fraction of £1.
The Government stated recently that the price of tea had risen because of the increased cost of bringing it to Australia. I agree that tea is an imported commodity, but I point out that, under the Chifley Labour Government, tea was subsidized and the price paid by Australian consumers was maintained at the level of 2s. 9d. per lb., whereas to-day, under a Government pledged to increase subsidies on basic commodities in order to keep the cost of living down, it has gone up to 7s. 6d. Let us not forget that the States have asked the Commonwealth to increase the subsidy on this important item in the family budget. Tea is more than a drink; it is a national necessity. I suppose it is the most popular beverage in this na.tion. Both the poorest and the wealthiest sections of the Australian community drink tea regularly. It is in every sense one of the most vital items in the family budget, and one of the most necessary commodities in every Australian home. Yet the Government has refused to co-operate with the States to keep the price of tea down, and has allowed it to go up to 7s. 6d. per lb. In 1948-49, under the Chifley Labour Government, £4,667,000 was paid as a subsidy on tea in order to keep the price at 2s. 9d. per lb., but in this year, despite the reduced purchasing power of the £1, the subsidy will be only £4,500,000. The Government, in effect, lias said to the pensioners, the wageearners and the family men, “ We shall do nothing to keep the price of this commodity within the reach of ordinary citizens “. So great has been the increase of the landed cost of tea in this country that considerably more than the subsidy paid at the time of the Chifley Government would be necessary to bring the price down to the 1949 level. The least that this Government could do would be to increase the subsidy in order to keep the price of tea within the reach of ordinary citizens. I suggest that the
Government’s refusal to increase the subsidy represents a complete repudiation of the pledges on -which it was elected.
In 1949, the present Government parties made precise .promises on these matters to the people, and in 1951 they made no further promises but asked only for an opportunity to give effect to the pledges they had given in 1949. To-day, the Government stands condemned from one end of the country to the other as a government that has repudiated its pledges. Although it has pegged wages and margins and generally clamped down on the workers, the cost of living is going up and the pegged wages are becoming worth less and less. At present, the Government is paying an annual subsidy of about £15,000,000 on dairy products. In 1948-49, the dairying industry received a subsidy of £4,500,000 from the Chifley Government, and butter cost 2s. 2d. per lb. This year, the subsidy is about £15,000,000, or approximately three times as great as that paid by the Chifley Government, yet the price of butter has increased by over 100 per cent. In those circumstances, is there any wonder that to-day people throughout Australia, especially the poorer sections of the community, have turned to margarine in order to have something to put on their bread ? They cannot afford to buy butter, and they are using a cheaper substitute.
A government elected on a policy of reducing the cost of living should give effect to a policy that would reduce the cost of essential commodities. I agree that probably the payment of subsidies is not the best method of prices control but, in view of the fact that there are approximately 600,000 pensioners in Australia, the Government has a responsibility at least to subsidize essential foodstuffs, so that people in the lower wage groups can afford to buy them. Doubtless the Government will say it is letting prices find their own level and that competition will tend to reduce the cost of living, but the fact is that, despite competition, prices have gone higher and higher. The Chifley Government, by controlling the economy, not only ensured that people engaged in primary industries and other industries received a fair return for their labour, but also, by the payment of subsidies, main- tained prices at a level that met with general approval. What justification can there be for the action of this Government in allowing the price of eggs, tea, sugar and other commodities to rise, when wages have been pegged ? Throughout the world, the financial and economic policy of the Government is suspect. It has been said that the man who owns the horse that won the last Melbourne Cup was considering a name for the horse when he came to Australia. He is a student of economics, so he called the horse Rising East, after the Australian economy. That is an indication of what the New Zealand people think about prices here.
In his budget speech, the Treasurer (Sir Arthur Fadden) contrasted the effect of the Government’s taxation proposals with that of the New Zealand proposals, and stated that taxes in Australia were lower than those of that country and other countries. In New Zealand, butter sells to-day at 2s. per lb. A Liberal government in that country is subsidizing the production of that commodity so that sections of the community that could not afford to pay a higher price shall be able to buy it. Why will thu Government not adopt a similar policy to reduce the cost of living, and to reduce the price of butter to a level that the average family man could afford to pay?
Pensions are pegged for approximately twelve months at least, to £3 10s. a week, yet pensioners have been required to meet an exorbitant increase of the price of tea since the present Government assumed office. Just imagine a pensioner havingto pay 7 s. 6d. for a pound of tea ! Is it any wonder that pensioners are astounded when they are asked to pay that price for tea, and when the prices of brandy, spirits and other commodities, are reduced as a result of a reduction of excise charges ? Is it any wonder that the poorer sections of the community are at a loss to understand why huge tax remissions are given to companies, when that money might well be directed towards providingsubsidies on the basic commodities to’ which I have referred so that pensioners, wage-earners and others may buy them at a reasonable price? The Governmentshould face up to its responsibilities. Not only is it imposing great hardship or* those sections of the community that work for a living, and which are dependent upon social services benefits, but it is also pursuing a policy that is pricing the primary producers out of their market. I invite honorable members to consider also the prices of suits, clothing, shoes and articles that are required for the home. I defy any supporter of the Government to state that those prices have been reduced one iota as a result of the policy that has been adopted by this Government. To the contrary, because of the failure of the Government to subsidize prices and to stabilize the economy as promised, they have been increased.
Doubtless, other honorable members will deal with the matter at greater length. I conclude by stating that the Government’s incapacity to deal with the question of prices has caused untold hardship in our time, and that its policy is in contrast with the just policy that was pursued by the Chifley Government. Since 1949, the Government has destroyed the stability that had been achieved. The policy to which it is giving effect is throwing to the wolves, as it were - to the profiteers and exploiters - thousands upon thousands of Australians who are entitled to greater justice. I am pleased to have had the opportunity of speaking in support of the matter that has been raised. The Government deserves to be condemned for its policy, and I join with other Opposition members in placing on record disgust at its failure to face up to this problem, and to continue the policy that was enunciated by Labour in days gone by, which meant justice and security for all sections of the Australian people.
– I am rising fast on this matter to oppose the statements of the honorable member for Grayndler (Mr. Daly), because the master has not proven anything on this occasion ! Let me deal with one or two points to illustrate what I mean. The House is aware of the fact that the degree of urgency of a matter raised for discussion in this way is indicated by the status of the honorable member who raises it. If the matter is one of extreme urgency and importance,, it is customary for it to be raised by the Leader of the Opposition. If it is oneof lesser importance, it is customary for it to be raised by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition. If the matter is of still less importance, it is usually raised by a member of the Opposition executive,, but when it is a matter of no importance at all, it is usually raised by a backbencher, in this case by the whip of theparty. That is the value that the Opposition ascribes to this matter. Why ? It is for the very simple reason, as honorable members know, that this Government has no control over prices, that that control i3 vested in the States. The Opposition has raised this matter purely in a blatant political attempt to gain some kudos. The honorable member for Grayndler referred to the price of eggs. The Commonwealth has no say whatever in the fixation of the domestic price of eggs. Indeed, the State prices commissioners, have stepped completely out of the field in relation to eggs, and they have left it to the State egg boards to determine the price. Therefore, it can be seen just how blatant has been the attempt of the Opposition to gain political capital out of this matter. I could quite understand it, because it was made by a group that could not be expected to have any knowledge of these matters.
I invite honorable members to examine the basis upon which the cost of living is determined. The C series index is the basis upon which increases or decreases of the basic wage are determined. As between September, 1952, and now, the index, which covers all basic commodities, is 17 points lower. The claim that prices, or the standard of living have increased, goes by the board. It is not substantiated by facts. The honorable member referred to the question of tea. I propose to deal with that matter, because it is important. I shall leave it to my colleagues to deal with other matters that come under their control. If the facts associated with the increase of the price of tea are examined, it will be observed that no genuine reason exists for an attack upon the Government. Those facts have been explained to the House time after time. The cost of tea to the Australian public is lower than anywhere else in the world. Why? It is because Australia is the only country that is buying tea on a Government basis, and which is subsidizing it to keep the price down. Under the present system, the standard of quality is maintained. Australia is the only country in the world that maintains a standard quality for tea. In fact, the standard is much higher to-day than it was in pre-war days, when there was no government buying of tea, and when there was a greater number of cheap brands of tea on the market.
The Tea Importation Board buys at public auction in tea-producing countries, and the price is determined at the auction. Honorable members must realize that the Government has some knowledge of these matters as a result of experience gained at wool auctions. We would certainly object if an attempt were made to reduce the price of wool. The Government has no control over the price, which is determined by competitive bidding. The board invoices the tea to the merchants at a price per lb. which is less than the landed cost, and the losses are recouped by the subsidy that is paid by the Government. When the budget was introduced, the proposed subsidy was £4,500,000. It has since been increased to £5,500,000, because the Government has sought to maintain a standard price for tea, the cost of which on the world markets has increased rapidly. The Government pays a subsidy which, in effect, reduces the price to the consumer by approximately ls. 6d. per lb. Let me give the House some indication of the fluctuations that have occurred in the price of tea. At the 30th June, the average landed cost was 4s. 10-d. per lb., but the landed cost of recent purchases was 7s. 7d. per lb.
The honorable member for Grayndler made charges of exploitation, so let us consider the price of tea in this country during the last two years. Tea prices have risen throughout the world, and in the last six months they have increased until they are now at the highest point in the history of the world. In fact, they have increased so greatly that the capital outlay involved in purchasing tea would not permit tea-packers to hold large stocks. Therefore, we can see how unfounded is the suggestion of the Opposi- 8* Eric Harrison. tion that tea merchants are trying to hold up the market so that they may make greater profits.
What has caused the present high price of tea? It appears that two major factors are involved. The first is a considerable increase of the world tea consumption, notably in the United States of America; which is normally a coffee-drinking nation; the United Kingdom, South Africa, Canada and Egypt. In the nine months of 1954 United States tea imports increased by more than 30 per cent. The second major factor in high tea prices is that floods in Assam, in India, prevented supplies of tea from that source from reaching auction centres. The demand on the small available stocks consequently brought the price of tea up to a record level. A world shortage of tea occurred, and bidding for tea at auction reached fantastic proportions. Indeed, the prices bid for tea reached heights that had never been known before in the history of the world. In the United States tea imports for the first nine months of 1954 increased by more than 30 per cent., and the United Kingdom consumption of tea has increased by 1 lb. a head of the population during the last twelve months. When we realize that the United Kingdom consumes half the world’s tea production, that is, 500,000,000 lb. a year, we have some indication of the reason why prices have rocketed. Tea is being consumed in greater quantities in most countries of the world, and so when a shortage occurs because of an “ act of God “, prices automatically increase in the purchasing countries.
Let us now consider the average price of tea in importing countries. People in the United Kingdom are paying 9s. 2d. Australian per lb. In South Africa they are paying lis. 6d. per lb., and in New Zealand 9s. 3d. per lb., which price is expected to increase shortly by another ls. per lb. In New South Wales we are paying 7s. 5d. per lb. In Queensland the price is 7s. 4d. per lb. In other States prices are comparable with those I have stated. Tea is cheaper in Australia than in any other part of the world. Australia has imported 60,000,000 lb. of tea a year in the past, and our consumption is about 6$ lb. a head per annum. The latest increase of the price of tea is ls. 7d. per lb., so that the increased cost to the tea-drinker in Australia is 10s. 3d. a year, or 2£d. a week. That will give honorable members some indication of the value of the observations that were made by the honorable member for Grayndler who has attempted to state a case on prices in this country. Tea is still the cheapest drink available in Australia, and its price has increased less than that of any other beverage.
I have already dealt with the price indexes to show that instead of there being an increase of the cost of living since 1952, the index figures have declined by seventeen points. Since September, 1953, the position has remained almost static. Therefore, the whole case set out by the honorable member must collapse. When we also remember that the Commonwealth has no control over prices, and that such control is purely a State function, we realize further that the honorable member has no case at all against tins Government. The honorable member mentioned eggs, but I remind him that the State prices authorities have left the control of egg prices to the various boards that have been established in the States to deal with eggs. That further indicates how much value there is in the honorable member’s argument. The Opposition has conveniently overlooked the fact that the policies of the Menzies Government have brought about the stability that I have already mentioned in my speech. Indeed, the Menzies Government has achieved the objective, that it set out to achieve when it first came to office, to arrest the upward trend of prices which was such a feature under the last Labour Administration.
When we assumed office we found that the retail prices of goods in Australia had increased by more than 10 per cent., and were continuing rapidly to increase. One of the reasons why we had to adopt such stringent budgetary action in 1952 was to prevent inflation from becoming uncontrollable in this country. We achieved our objective, and that has been clearly indicated by the quarterly figures that have been made available to the House. When the honorable member spoke in general terms about prices, he sought to make some party political advantage out of certain conditions over which we have no control. He said that the Government had provided £2,000,000 less in this year’s budget for subsidies, but he omitted to mention that we have increased our subsidies by £1,000,000 since the budget was introduced. Again, the charges of the honorable member cannot stand up to examination. The Opposition, realizing that on prices it has no ease whatever against the Government, failed to give the conduct of this debate to the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt), the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, the honorable member for Melbourne (Mr. Calwell), or any executive members of the Opposition, and handed it over to one of its back-benchers, hoping that he might be able to get some party political capital out of it. I shall leave it to the representatives of the Department of Commerce and Agriculture to deal with the other matter the honorable member has raised, and I am perfectly certain that the case presented against the Government by the Opposition will collapse.
.- Over a number of years, honorable members have heard some amazing speeches from the Vice-President of the Executive Council (Sir Eric Harrison), but we have never heard anything more astounding than the speech that he has just delivered. He has said that the Government had achieved its objectives ; but let us examine those declared objectives. I know that within the limited time at my disposal I cannot deal with all the statements that have been made from time to time, by members of the Government, but it must be clear in the memory of every citizen in this country that the promise made to the Australian people in 1949 by the Government parties was to restore value to the £A1. The Government parties promised that they would do that by bringing about a reduction of the cost of living in this country. The VicePresident of the Executive Council has now asked what the Government can do about prices, because it has no power to control prices. I remind him that the Australian Government had no power to control prices in 1949, but that that did not prevent the Government parties from making the promise to the people that, if elected to office, they would bring about a reduction of the cost of living.
Now let us examine whether there is any basis for the claim of the VicePresident of the Executive Council that the Government has achieved its objectives. During the last general election campaign, the Leader of the Opposition stated that the fi of 1949 was then worth only Ss. That statement was immediately contradicted by Government speakers, and also by Mr. W. J. Jackson, who is the financial editor of the Sydney Daily Telegraph. Mr. Jackson said -
The £1 of 1949 is not worth Ss. as claimed by the Leader of the Opposition. It is now actually worth lis. 8d.
That statement was made by one of the defenders of the Government, yet honorable members opposite have the audacity to say that the Government has achieved its objective.
The Vice-President of the Executive Council has claimed that the Government has no responsibility for the price of tea, which is entirely a matter for the States. I remind him that the telegram sent by the Commonwealth authorities to the tea wholesalers who obtained their supplies from the Tea Import Board contained the following words : -
Note that all tea leaving your possession on and after Tuesday 19th must be accounted for to board at increased price irrespective of prices charged by you to customers.
This Government, in effect, demanded that wholesalers, with supplies of tea on hand which they had purchased at the old price, were to dispose of the tea to the Australian people at the higher price. So the claim that the Government is protecting the Australian consumers of tea is so much eyewash. Let the VicePresident of the Executive Council or any other Government supporter state if it is not a fact that the State Ministers in charge of prices control, including the anti-Labour Minister in South Australia, have agreed unanimously that the price of tea should be kept at the old level. The South Australian Premier, Mr. Playford, who is not a member of the Labour party, asked the Prime Minis- ter to raise the subsidy on tea to the level that obtained just before the last general election. It is important to remember that statement. Before the last general election, we heard nothing about the proposal of the Government to reduce subsidies. A reduction of subsidies would increase the prices of tea and other commodities, ‘but that intention was not made known until after the election. As soon as the election was out of the way, the Government reduced subsidies and thereby forced up the prices of tea and other commodities. I suggest to the Government that it should take the advice of the antiLabour Premier of South Australia, if it is not prepared to take any notice of the other State Premiers and Ministers in charge of prices control.
The Prime Minister has stated that tea is still the cheapest beverage. That is not the point. The important question is whether tea is now beyond the reach of a very deserving section of this community. Of what use is it for Government members now to claim that the Commonwealth has no .power to control prices? In 1948, the anti-Labour parties opposed the referendum when the people were asked to clothe this Parliament with the power to control prices. The arguments which the anti-Labour parties used on that occasion were to the effect that such powers could be exercised more effectively by the State authorities. The antiLabour parties did not want prices control. They wished to destroy prices control. I well recollect a debate on prices control in this House on the 27th November, 1947, when the present Prime Minister made the following statement: -
As a result of judicial decision, the power to control prices will include the power to control profits.
The right honorable gentleman was afraid of that power. He knew that the proper exercise of prices control by a Labour government would affect the profits of those people who contributed to the campaign funds of the anti-Labour parties. That was all that the anti-Labour parties were concerned about.
Let us examine the present position. Honorable gentlemen opposite claim that the Government has stabilized prices. Every housewife knows that statement to be completely untrue, and that the prices of various commodities are still rising. It is perfectly true that prices have not been rising so rapidly in recent times as formerly, and I shall examine the reason. This Government can claim no credit for it. The reason is that the Commonwealth Arbitration Court, at the instance of this Government, has pegged the basic wage, and refuses to -give to the workers in industry the margins to which they are entitled. I shall examine the situation briefly, and, in doing so, I shall take Western Australia for purposes of illustration. In the thirteen months since wages were pegged in that State, the cost of living has risen by 19s. lid. a week. That position is admitted by the court itself, and, consequently, the slowing down of. price increases for which the Government claims credit has actually been accomplished by sacrificing the workers of Australia and compelling them to accept a reduced living standard.
I turn to one specific class of people to whom the honorable member for Grayndler has referred, namely, the pensioners. Will any reasonable member on the Government side tell me he believes that the price of tea is not now beyond the reach of the pensioners? When we speak of the pensioners, it is of no use to talk about their right to have an income of up to £3 10s. a week in addition to the pension, because the official figures disclose that 73.7 per cent, of the age pensioners, 81.4 per cent, of the invalid pensioners and 81.4 per cent, of persons in receipt of widows pensions have no other income. We should never forget that this deserving section of the community consists of the pioneers and the workers who have built up our economy and made the country what it is to-day.
Government members state that tea is the cheapest beverage in the world. Is it the cheapest beverage in the world to pensioners who have £3 10s. a week on which to exist? If a pensioner were to live rent free, and if he had no costs to meet for entertainment and clothing, and spent the entire £3 10s. a week upon the purchase of the necessaries of life, he would be able to allow 3s. 4d. only for each meal. I am assuming that he would have three meals a day like every other member of the Australian com munity. Who believes that 3s. 4d. is sufficient to provide an Australian citizen with a meal? Yet a pensioner could allow no more than that sum for each meal, assuming that he spent the entire £3 10s. a week on the purchase of the necessaries of life. Therefore, it must be obvious that the Government is apologizing for its failure to honour its pre-election promises to the Australian community. We have always believed that effective prices control cannot be exercised unless it is centred in the Commonwealth authority. I am perfectly satisfied that the people who were induced to reject the prices referendum in 194S would willingly reverse that decision to-day.
I shall now refer briefly to the high price of meat. If it were not for the fact that the organized workers of this country had more concern than the Government for those citizens in the lower income group in their struggle for existence, their difficulties would be much greater even than they are to-day. When meat prices sky-rocketted much beyond the cost of production, the people who threatened to take effective action were not the Australian Government, which one would expect to protect Australian consumers, but the much maligned waterside workers. They declared that they would discontinue the loading of meat for export until the requirements of the Australian consumers were met. I consider that was a reasonable and sensible approach to the problem. Why should the Australian people be exploited in the purchase of food produced in this country, and pay much higher prices than are absolutely necessary?
– Order ! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- The House has heard a typical speech by the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward). He reached the high water mark in his concluding remarks, in which he lauded the waterside workers for having disobeyed the laws of the country. While he was a member of a Labour government, he allowed the waterside workers to dictate the foreign policy of Australia. Now, he would permit them to dictate our domestic policy. The fact is that Labour has to look back into the dim past for any of the glories which are usually attributed to it. The Labour party continually harps on the dim, by-gone past and hates to be brought up to date or to realize the position in which it is placed to-day. Honorable members opposite cannot get past 1949. That was the year in which the people decided, very definitely, that they wanted no more of Labour rule in this country. And, on two occasions since, the people have fully endorsed the policies and administration of this Government. If honorable members opposite have any doubt about the opinion of the Australian people of their party, an election, if it were held at present, would prove all too clearly where they stand in the eyes of the community.
We have heard a good deal not only in this House to-day but also over a period about the alleged poverty of the workers. But it is beyond dispute that the people of Australia have never enjoyed a period of prosperity equal to that which they have experienced since the Menzies Government has been in office. I do not ask the House merely to take my word in that respect. As the VicePresident of the Executive Council (Sir Eric Harrison) pointed out, the Statistician’s figures-
– We have heard that for months.
– The figures are worth repeating. They show that during the last two years the Australian economy has been stabilized and, possibly, is more stable to-day than that of any other democratic country. At the same time, the wages of the workers have increased. Members of the Opposition are interminably trying to lead the people to believe that they are the protagonists of the wage-earners. The fact is that while the Menzies Government has been in office conditions of employment have improved and wages have increased to a greater degree than they did during any period in which Labour was in office. To those honorable members who are always crying wolf and poverty, I point out that whereas in 1952, the basic wage was £10 16s., it is now £11 16s. a week although, as the Statistician’s figures show, during that period the cost of living index varied by only 17 points. That means that during that period real wages have increased to a greater degree than nominal wages would indicate. After all, at present, the basic wage earner is practically a myth in this country, because there are very few adults whose wages do not exceed the basic wage. In 1952, when the basic wage was £10 16s. a week the average earnings of male workers was £13.65 a week, but, to-day, when the basic wage is £11 16s. a week, the average earnings of male workers is £15.69 a week. Those figures show conclusively that despite the cries of poverty from honorable members opposite and their forecast that unemployment would result from the Government’s policy, full employment actually exists in this country at present and the workers are receiving rates of wages in excess of any that they have received previously.
Much has been said about the prices of commodities, particularly the price of meat. It is true that, at present, the price of meat in New South Wales is higher than it has been for many years ; but it is also true that until this month highquality meat was available in Sydney at prices comparable with those ruling at the corresponding period of last year.
– Would the Minister eat it?
– I eat it, and with great pleasure. The increases of prices that have occurred have been mainly for beef. Recently, the Minister in charge of prices in New South Wales stated solely for political propaganda purposes that he intended to ask the Australian Government to impose a ban on the export of meat. But he did not make that request to this Government. He got all the propaganda he wanted by making that statement but he never intended to take such action. In any event, no beef of a quality suitable for consumption in New South Wales is being exported at the moment from that State.
– The wharfies would not load it.
– The explanation of that fact is that as a result of drought conditions sufficient beef is not being produced.
– Order ! If honorable members will not cease interjecting I shall have to take action.
– Owing to drought conditions, the price of meat has increased in New South Wales; but, at the same time, the Statistician’s figures show that the prices of a wide range of basic commodities remain stable and that, in relation to the real money that is now being received by the wage earners, they are actually cheaper than were the prices of similar commodities at the corresponding period last year. The Opposition is straining at the leash in order to divert public attention from the disputation and confusion that is occurring in its ranks. Honorable members opposite are continually going into one conference after another. Only a few days ago, we read in the press that after the executive of the Opposition came to a certain decision in relation to a matter before the House, the rank-and-file members of the party tersely told it where it got off. Having regard to the confusion that now exists in the ranks of honorable members opposite, it is only natural that they should want to divert public attention from their disunity, and, for that purpose, they have in a futile fashion raised this matter. However, none of them have shown that this Government has fallen down in even one particular in discharging its obligations to the community. Indeed, it has been shown that the difficulties that confront the Government are attributable entirely to actions on the part of State governments.
-Order ! The Minister’s time has expired.
.- I am pleased to have the opportunity to participate in this very important debate. I was astonished to hear some of the remarks that were made by the Minister, for Defence (Sir Philip McBride). However, one would not expect him to have much sympathy with the ordinary people. He is a director of Elder Smith and Company Limited, and is reputed to be a millionaire. Consequently, he would not know how the ordinary people feel about this matter. Whilst Government supporters continually claim credit for the country’s present prosperity, they support a proposal that will reduce the purchasing power of the community and, at the same time, they applaud the pegging of wages and also the pegging of pensions and other social services benefits. For over 30 years the trade unions have accepted and subscribed to the principle that the basic wage should rise and fall in accordance with the cost of living. They did not agree that the standard was fair and reasonable, but they had to accept it. They adopted the principle that the wage should fluctuate from quarter to quarter in accordance with cost of living variations because they wanted to know that the amount in the pay envelope of a worker on the minimum wage at any period would purchase the same quantity of goods as it had purchased in the previous quarter and would be sufficient for the same purpose in the succeeding quarter.
As I have said, the trade unions did not accept the standard fixed for the basic wage, and, therefore, they made representations to successive governments with the object of having the regimen altered. They wanted to have the items varied and to have the Commonwealth Statistician’s figures checked in order to determine whether the sources from which the information was obtained were reliable. Unfortunately, their representations were unsuccessful. The trade union movement believes, first, that there should be a “ needs “ basic wage which rises and falls in accordance with the cost of living, and, secondly, that there should be an addition to that wage which will allow the worker to enjoy a share of the increased prosperity and productivity of the country. But what is happening now? The cost of living adjustments of the basic wage were thrown overboard by the Commonwealth Arbitration Court in September of last year. That simply means, as other members of the Opposition have pointed out, that, as the cost of living increases, the purchasing power of the minimum working wage is continually being reduced.
This Government stands condemned because it has allowed that situation to arise. It should not have allowed the basic wage to be pegged, particularly at this period of our economic history when huge profits are being made by private companies. Other honorable members have already referred to figures which show that General Motors-Holdens Limited made a profit last year of over £7,000,000. I have no doubt that much of that profit was made at the expense of the workers employed by the company. In fact, the newspapers reported that, if the company had wanted to make the economy of the country more stable, it could have done so by reducing the cost of each motor car that it sold during the- year by £160 and it would still have made a substantial profit on its operations.
– The Government of the honorable member’s home State of Western Australia has just pegged wages in that State.
– I shall reply to the honorable gentleman later. He does not know very much about this subject, so I shall explain the situation to him. The decision by the Commonwealth Arbitration Court was applauded by the Government because the court, when it pegged the basic wage, actually put into effect the policy of the Government, which was indicated by the Vice-President of the Executive Council (Sir Eric Harrison) earlier this morning when he claimed that the Government’s policy had brought about stability. Surely, that was an admission that this Government was in league with the court when it pegged the basic wage.
The Vice-President of the Executive Council also said that prices had become stable during the last twelve months, and he cited the index figures for September, 1952, and September, 1954. I shall produce figures which indicate that the price situation is not nearly so stable or so sound as the right honorable gentleman would have us believe. These figures are published in the World Economic Report 1952-53, produced by the United Nations Department of Economic Affairs. They were not released until
June last, which indicates that the report is the latest available.
The report includes, at page 30, a table which shows the unit values of the cost of living and of the real wage rates in various countries. The table uses the figure 100 for 1950 as the base. Australia’s cost-of-living index, with the 1950 base of 100, was 121 in 1951, 141 in 1952 and 14S in 1953. Real wage rates were represented by an index of 102 for 1951, 103 for 1952, and 103 for 1953. Those figures show that, while the cost of living in Australia rose by 48 points, real wage rates, which represent the true purchasing-power of the workers’ incomes, rose by only 3’ points. I have compared those figures with the indexes for other countries. Foi instance, the table shows that the cost of living in Canada was represented by an index figure of 110 in 1951, 113 in 1952 and 112 in 1953, whereas real wage rates rose from 100 in 1951 to 107 in 1952 and 113 in 1953. In fact, the table proves that the cost of living rose more rapidly in Australia than in any other country mentioned. Australians can take cold comfort from the fact that, according to those statistics, their cost of living has risen by 48 points since shortly after this Government came into power, whereas the increase has been only 12 points in Canada, 29 in France, 8 in West Germany, 17 in Italy and 11 in the United States of America.
Those facts indicate that the economy of this country became completely out of hand after the present Government came to office. In fact, the Government parties were responsible in the first place for this unhappy development because, in 1948, when we had a stable economy, their representatives urged the people to vote “ No “ when the Chifley Government wanted to have the Constitution altered so that the Commonwealth could continue to exercise control over prices. They said that the States could control prices just as effectively as the Commonwealth, but their statements were clearly proved to be fallacious shortly afterwards when the prices control system collapsed. The honorable member for Fisher (Mr. Adermann) said earlier, by interjection, that the basie wage had been pegged in “Western Australia. That is true, hut it is not the fault of the Labour Government of that State. In fact, that Government, shortly after the decision of the Commonwealth Arbitration Court to freeze adjustments of the basic wage, intervened in a case before the State court and asked it to continue cost-of-living adjustments of the basic wage. The court, unfortunately, tossed aside its submissions.
Three times the Labour Government of Western Australia has succeeded in passing through the Legislative Assembly, where it commands a majority, legislation providing for automatic adjustments of the basic wage, and three times that legislation has been thrown out by the anti-Labour Legislative Council, which represents the same interests as Government supporters in this House represent. The Premier, Mr. Hawke, when dealing with this matter during the current session of the State Parliament, proposed the following motion: -
That in the opinion of this House wage and salary earners and their dependants, by being deprived of all “cost of. living” adjustments are being called upon to bear more than their fair share of whatever burden it might be necessary for the community as a whole to carry to maintain economic stability.
– Order ! The honorable member’s time has expired.
– I shall make one or two brief quotations, in reply to the statements made by the honorable member for Swan (Mr. Webb), and they will be from a document which clearly shows that the view held by a majority of trade unionists in Australia is entirely different from that propounded by the honorable gentleman. I shall quote from the sworn affidavit of Albert Ernest Monk, the president of the Australian Council of Trades Unions, which was submitted as evidence to the Commonwealth Arbitration Court. Mr. Monk spoke on behalf of the trade unionists of Australia, and I am sure that we should accept his sworn evidence in preference to the statements made by the honorable member for Swan. Mr. Monk stated -
The nation’s economy is not precariously unstable. Conditions are basically favorable for enterprise, and most basic industries have been seeking more labour and are obtaining it.
Later in the same affidavit he stated -
Although there has been a re-adjustment of economic activity, which is still proceeding, the economy is fundamentally sound.
I do not think there is any need to say anything further in reply to the remarks of the honorable member for Swan, because those two brief statements entirely refute his charges.
I should like to ask at this stage how many members of the Opposition supported the proposal by the honorable member for Grayndler (Mr. Daly) for the discussion of prices and the cost of living as a definite matter of urgent public importance. When the proposal was read to the House by Mr. Speaker^ about 95 per cent, of the members of the Opposition rose to support it. That was an unusual condition of near-unanimity for the Labour party. I ask you to look around the House now, Mr. Speaker. Only about 25 per cent, of the members of the Opposition are in the chamber.
– How many Government supporters are here ?
– The point is that this debate was initiated by the Opposition, not by the Government, and 95 per cent, of Opposition members indicated that they regarded the matter as being important and urgent. Yet only a few of them have remained in the House to listen to the discussion.
Opposition members interjecting,
-Order! I insist that the honorable member for Darling Downs be accorded an uninterrupted hearing.
– I think there is a conspiracy to prevent me from being heard, Mr. Speaker. The fact that I have mentioned must indicate very clearly to the Australian people that the Labour party was not sincere in proposing this subject for discussion as a definite matter of urgent public importance.
The problem of keeping down costs and prices is affected by transport charges, which constitute one of the principal cost factors of our economy. Associated with transport costs, of course, are wharfage costs. At this very moment, there is trouble on the waterfront. What effect will the waterfront strike have on costs and prices? Even now it is forcing costs higher. And what is the Opposition doing about it? The honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward), for example, wholeheartedly supports the action by the Waterside Workers Federation. He is not trying to persuade the federation to put its men back on the job again. The strike has begun because the Government proposes to deal with a situation on the waterfront which has had an unfavorable impact on our cost structure. The Government wants to stabilize the waterfront situation, but it has not received any assistance in the matter from the Opposition. All that we have heard on the subject from honorable members opposite has been direct criticism of the Government’s policy by the honorable member for East Sydney and declared support of the stand taken by the Waterside Workers Federation.
One or two of the points raised by the honorable member for Grayndler should be answered. The honorable gentleman referred to the prices of many commodities and said that they had increased considerably since the early post-war period. The honorable gentleman failed to inform the House and the public that, at the same time, the incomes of Australians had increased correspondingly. Of course prices have increased, but, of course, incomes have increased too. If the honorable member wants to relate prices to incomes, he should have the honesty to relate them to what the statisticians call real wages. The Minister for Defence (Sir Philip McBride) has mentioned the increase of real wages. The true figures show clearly that the value of real wages has increased considerably since this Government came to office in 1949. According to my memory, the increase has been about 11 per cent., which indicates a high degree of stability. In fact, the people of Australia have a greater purchasing power to-day than they had in 1949. The honorable member for Grayndler also referred to the policy of the Government on the subject of wage pegging, but here again he endeavoured to deceive the House and the people.
Even the honorable member for East Sydney has admitted that the Commonwealth Arbitration Court is the sole authority for wage pegging. The honorable member for Swan implied that,, somehow or other, the Government should direct the Commonwealth Arbitration Court, but I assure the honorable member that - and I think I am speaking now for all honorable members on this side of the House - I would not tolerate for a moment any interference by the Government with the functions of the court.
The honorable member for Grayndler spoke at some length about the high price of butter. It is interesting to recall that last year and the year before, the honorable member was one of the members of the Opposition who complained bitterly because the price of butter was not increased. He and other honorable members opposite asked why the Government was keeping the price of butter down, and he suggested that it should be increased to a figure that he claimed represented the cost of production.
– I rise to order. The statement just made by the honorable member for Darling Downs (Mr. Swartz) is not correct.
– Order ! That is not a point of order.
– I made that statement previously, and it was not denied by the honorable member for Grayndler. It is quite true to say that he and other honorable members opposite complained because the price of butter was not increased. I believe they did so because they thought they might gain some political kudos from the complaint. Let me assure the honorable member that the price of butter has not gone up during the last two years. Price fixation is a responsibility of the State governments, but the power to fix the prices of d’airy products has been handed over to the Commonwealth by the States. Under the dairying industry stabilization plan, the Commonwealth is authorized to fix the ex-factory price of butter, on the recommendation of an independent authority. For the last two years, the price of butter has not been altered. I remind the honorable member for Grayndler that at present the Government is, in effect, paying a subsidy to consumers of butter in Australia. This year, the subsidy on dairy products will be about £15,600,000. So the story told to-day by the honorable member was entirely without foundation. He referred also to the price of eggs. I point out to him that egg prices are fixed by State authorities, not by the Commonwealth. Usually, the price of eggs is determined by the State egg boards. Despite that fact, the honorable member tried to cast upon this Government some blame for the price of eggs.
The honorable member for East Sydney referred to the price of meat in New South Wales and to certain action proposed by the waterside workers of that State to prevent the export of meat. As the Minister for Defence has explained, there was virtually no locally consumable meat to export in any case. That condition of affairs was caused by drought conditions. The volume of meat exports from New South Wales is very small, compared with the exports of other States. That brings me to a very important point. Through the press, a Minister in the New South Wales Government proposed an export ban on meat, but it appears that his courage failed him and that he did not refer the matter to the Commonwealth. If an export ban had been imposed, it would not have affected New South Wales, but it would have had a very adverse effect on other meat exporting States.
– Order ! The honorable gentleman’s time has expired.
.- Mr. Speaker—-
Motion (by Sir Eric Harbison) put -
That the business of the day be called on.
The House divided. (Mr. Speaker - Hon. Archie Cameron.)
Majority . . . . 5
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Message recommending appropriation reported.
In committee (Consideration of GovernorGeneral’s message) :
Motion (by Mr. Menzies) agreed to -
That it is expedient that an appropriation of revenue be made for the purposes of a hill for an act to provide for assistance to the gold-mining industry.
Standing Orders suspended; resolution adopted.
That Mr. Menzies and Sir Eric Harrison do prepare and bring in a bill to carry out the Foregoing resolution.
Bill presented by Mr. Menzies, and read a first time.
.- I move-
That the bill be now read a second time.
The bill contains proposals for assisting the gold-mining industry of Australia and the Territories of Papua and New Guinea. They have been made, after careful investigation, more liberal than those announced in my policy speech. The importance of the gold-mining industry to Australia needs little emphasis. The annual value of gold output is in the region of £17,000,000. Not only does the industry make a significant contribution to the national income, but it produces a commodity which has a direct effect on the balance of payments. Except for a minor quantity of gold which is used for industrial purposes, all the gold produced in Australia and the territories represents an addition, in one form or another, to our international reserves. Moreover, there are large areas in Australia, particularly in Western Australia, which are almost entirely dependent on gold-mining. Any significant decline in gold-mining activity could lead to the depopulation of these areas and a widespread loss of housing and other utilities which have been developed over the years in the areas concerned. The Government believes that for a number of reasons it would not be in the national interest for these areas to languish.
It is a peculiar feature of gold that, because its main use lies in the effecting of monetary settlements between nations, its price is not determined primarily by the market considerations that influence the price of other commodities in international trade. The Australian Government has consistently supported moves for an increase in the official world price of gold, and will continue to do so. Unfortunately, however, these efforts have proved of no avail up to date, and the problems at present confronting the goldmining industry can be considered only on the basis of the world price now ruling.
Except for a minor adjustment of 2s. 8d. an ounce last May, the Commonwealth Bank’s buying price of gold, which must necessarily be related to the official world price, has remained unchanged since September, 1949. Since then, of course, there has been a substantial increase of the general cost level in Australia as well as in other countries, and this increase in costs is pressing very hard on sections of the gold-mining industry. In fact, some of the largest mines are currently operating at a loss. In 1952 and 1953, the gold-mining industry obtained relief from the pressure of increased costs by being able to make sales on overseas premium markets at prices in excess of the official price. The additional return to the industry from premium sales in those years amounted to approximately £1,800,000. The price of gold on overseas premium markets slumped sharply in the latter part of 1953, and it has since been possible for the industry to make only odd sales at prices very little above the official price. The virtual disappearance of premium prices on overseas markets has had, therefore, an adverse effect on the financial position of the industry.
I come now to an explanation of the nature of the assistance to the industry that is proposed in the bill. Except in the case of small producers, with whom I shall deal later, the proposal is to pay a subsidy which varies according to the particular mine’s costs of producing gold. The formula for determining the amount of subsidy payable in a year on each ounce of fine gold produced is threequarters of the excess of average cost of production an ounce over £13 10s. I point out to honorable members who are interested in this matter that the proposal that was outlined in my policy speech during the last general election campaign provided for three-quarters of the cost over £14 10s., so the present proposal is much more advantageous. The maximum rate of subsidy which may be paid is £2 an ounce; the election proposal was 30s. an ounce.
I shall give one or two examples of the working of the formula. To begin with, a mine whose cost of production is less than £13 10s. an ounce will not qualify for subsidy. Since the official price of gold is £15 12s. 6d. an ounce, such a mine would be making a profit of at least £2 2s. 6d. an ounce, and it could not reasonably be regarded as needing assistance. A mine with a cost of production of £15 an ounce will receive a subsidy of £1 2s. 6d. an ounce, that is threequarters of £1 10s., which is the excess of cost of production over £13 10s. At a cost of production level of £16 an ounce, the subsidy will.be £1 17s. 6d. an ounce. The maximum subsidy of £2 an ounce will be payable if a mine’s cost of production is £16 3s. 4d. an ounce or more. The effect of the formula is that a mine can still operate at a profit unless its cost of production rises above £17 12s. 6d. an ounce. When a mine’s cost of production reaches this figure, it makes a trading loss of £2 an ounce on the official price of £15 12s. 6d. This loss will be offset by the maximum rate of subsidy of £2 an ounce.
The extent of assistance provided under the scheme is based on the assumption that a producer receives £15 12s. 6d. an ounce for his gold - the Commonwealth Bank’s official buying price. A provision has therefore been included in the bill that, if a producer’s return rises above £15 12s. 6d. an ounce, whether as a result of premium sales or any other factor, the amount of subsidy payable to him shall be reduced accordingly. Since the purpose of the scheme is to assist the gold-mining industry, and not other mining industries which produce gold as an incidental part of their activities, there is a provision that a gold producer shall not be eligible for subsidy unless the value of his gold output is more than one-half of the value of his total mining output. If a producer operates more than one mining property, this test will be applied to each property separately. As is usual in legislation of this type, there is a provision that subsidy may not be paid so as to raise a producer’s profits above a certain level. The proposal is that, if payment of subsidy in accordance with the formula would result in a producer’s profit from the production and sale of gold rising above 10 per cent, on capital employed by him in producing and selling gold, the amount of subsidy to which he is entitled shall be reduced so as to restrict his profits to 10 per cent.
A large section of the bill is devoted to the manner in which, a producer’s cost of production will be calculated for the purpose of applying the formula. The actual costs of a producer in his mining operations and in having his gold treated up to the stage of refined gold will be allowable, together with appropriate charges for depreciation of plant and equipment, and for administration. In addition, a producer will be allowed, within certain limits, to charge into his current operating costs his expenditure on development, namely, the finding, testing and preparation of ore bodies for f future working. As I have mentioned, subsidy payments to small producers - defined as those whose annual output is less than 500 ounces of fine gold - will not be based on the formula. These producers will receive a flat rate subsidy of £1 10s. an ounce. I emphasize that they are not subject to the conditions in relation to costs, or the keeping of records, that apply to the principal producers. As prospectors and small producers play a very useful part in this industry, it was thought proper to exclude them from all of those conditions, and to give them a flat rate subsidy of 30s. an ounce.
The reason for treating small producers in this manner is mainly an administrative one. As small producers are not subject to income tax, few of them keep detailed books of account and other documents relating to the cost of their operations, and it would be a formidable task to try to ascertain their cost of production for the purpose” of applying the formula. For this reason, the Government concluded that the only practicable way of dealing with small producers was, as I have stated, to pay them a flat rate subsidy without cost of production or profit limitation tests. The proposed rate of £1 10s. an ounce is felt to be reasonable in relation to the rates of subsidy proposed for large producers. I point out that, although the maximum subsidy will be £2 in the case of large producers, the average subsidy paid over the whole spread of producers will be considerably less than that. It might be of the order of 10s. or 15s. an ounce. Subsidy under the bill generally will be payable on gold produced in each of the financial years 1954-55 and 1955-56. That is, it operates as from the beginning of this financial year and endures for two years. In cases where a producer’s . accounting year differs from a financial year, however, the Treasurer is given the power of adopting the producer’s accounting year if he considers that this is necessary for purposes of administration.
I am sure that the bill is one which will meet with general support. There are several honorable members on both sides of the House who have been keenly interested in this matter for some time. There is no doubt that sections of the gold-mining industry are facing an acute financial problem, clue in large measure to circumstances over which they have no control, and the provision of assistance under this bill should do much to enable the industry to meet its present difficulties.
Debate (on motion of Mr. Johnson) adjourned.
Motion (by Mr. Holt) agreed to -
That leave be given to bring in a bill for an act to amend the Stevedoring Industry Act 1049, and to provide for an inquiry into certain matters.
– I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
The amendments proposed by this bill are strictly of a legal character. They are made necessary by the recent decision of the High Court in the case of The Queen v. Davison, and are restricted to meeting the situation disclosed by that decision.
In the Davison case, the High Court held to be invalid, for constitutional reasons, the provisions of the Bankruptcy Act relating to the ‘making of sequestration orders by registrars in bankruptcy. The High Court was of the opinion that the act conferred on registrars judicial power which, under the Constitution, can he conferred only on courts constituted by judges appointed for life. The decision confronted the Government with two main tasks. In the first place, it became necessary to introduce legislation for the purpose of preventing the reopening of bankruptcies in which sequestration orders had been made by registrars. In the second place, the Government had to consider what provision should be made for the future to bring the Bankruptcy Act into operation on a debtor’s petition. After the Bankruptcy Act was passed in 1928, and until the Davison case came before the High Court in 1953, that is, over a period of approximately 25 years, it had been uniform practice for registrars to make sequestration orders on debtors’ petitions. Approximately 10,000 or 11,000 sequestration orders have been so made.
Clause 13 of the bill is designed to prevent these bankruptcies from being re-opened. It is an important clause, and I shall say a few words about it. The essential principle of the clause is to be found in the adoption of the presentation of the bankruptcy petition by the debtor, in lieu of the making of a sequestration order, as the basie step for bringing the machinery of the act into operation. Thus, in all cases where registrars have purported to make sequestration orders, the clause declares that the debtor became a bankrupt by virtue of his own act in presenting the petition. In basing the validation clause on this principle, the Government has had regard to views expressed by all of the majority justices of the High Court in the Davison case. With regard to the future, the Government has given serious thought to the arrangements which ought to be made for dealing with debtors’ petitions. A number of courses was considered. Finally, it was decided that the procedure which has been followed for the past twelve months or so should be continued.
Since the Davison case came before the High Court, in 1953, all debtors’ petitions have gone to the appropriate court exercising jurisdiction in bankruptcy for decision whether a sequestration order should, or should not, be made. The system has worked satisfactorily so far as both the court and the public are concerned. It would have been possible to permit a debtor to become bankrupt by his own act in presenting the petition. This is indeed the basis adopted in the validating clause, as I have just explained. However, so far as the future is concerned, it was not thought desirable to allow bankruptcy to ensue in this automatic fashion. There may be some cases in which the debtor’s petition should be carefully examined to prevent an abuse of the act being committed. The bill does not introduce, therefore, any entirely new scheme. However, it does eliminate the powers of the registrar found by the High Court to have been invalidly conferred. It also makes some necessary adjustments to put beyond doubt the power of the registrar to perform certain administrative, as distinct from judicial, functions. Clauses 2 to 12 are concerned with this aspect. The bill does not go beyond making alterations rendered necessary by the High Court decision. The Government is mindful of the fact, which was mentioned by His Excellency the Governor-General in opening the present Parliament, that the bankruptcy legislation is in need of a general overhaul. But the questions raised by the decision in the Davison case required immediate attention, and could not await the completion of a detailed review of the whole act.
– I do not wish to delay the House, and perhaps, after I have said a few words, the consideration of the bill may be completed.
– The Government does not desire to complete the passage of the bill at present, because a further amendment is being considered.
– Then I shall make my remarks after the luncheon recess.
Sitting suspended from 12.^6 to 2.15 p.m.
– The Opposition supports the view put forward by the Minister for Supply (Mr. Beale) in his second-reading speech on this measure. It is an extraordinary thing that all the many thousands of sequestration orders that have been made in the bankruptcy jurisdiction since the Commonwealth assumed control more than twenty years ago, are null and void because of what has been deemed to be a breach of a constitutional provision. The breach has occurred because sequestration orders have been made, not by a properly constituted court exercising the judicial power of the Commonwealth, but by the registrar of the bankruptcy court who, not being a judge, was not exercising judicial power. The power used in making sequestration orders is discretionary, and consequently it could be exercised only by a judicial body; but the registrar was not a judicial body. If the matter were left in its present state, hundreds of thousands of titles to property could be questioned, and therefore it is essential that the position should be remedied. I understand that the procedure that the Government has adopted to remedy the trouble is to treat the act of making persons bankrupt as not a judicial act but a legislative act. In doing that we are following the Canadian procedure, where powers in divorce and matrimonial causes are sometimes exercised directly by the Parliament, as they used to be in England. I understand that the Government proposes to exercise direct legislative power in this matter.
– Yes, arising out of the debtor’s own act.
– That is so. I believe that this is a matter of urgency, and the Opposition will agree at once to the second reading of the bill. If the Minister desires to introduce any amendments during the committee stages of the measure he will still be able to do so, even if the bill is immediately read a second time.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Osborne) adjourned.
Debate resumed from the 3rd November (vide page 2598), on motion by Mr. Casey -
That the bill be now read a second time,
– This bill is to approve the ratification by Australia of the South-East Asia Collective Defence Treaty. Because that treaty is aimed at getting some collective understanding among the nations of Asia and because it will greatly effect Australia’s future, I was rather surprised to hear the honorable member for Indi (Mr. Bostock) attack the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt) for his attitude towards this measure. The Leader of the Opposition asked the Government why the preamble of this bill was in its present form, and why it should not be altered. I believe that when honorable members remember the position of Australia, as a nation very close to Asia, they will not support the contentions of the honorable member for Indi. I agree with the Leader of the Opposition, and I also wonder why the preamble of this bill differs from the preamble of the North Atlantic Treaty. The latter treaty envisages the people of the world getting together and trying to live together within the North Atlantic Treaty provisions. Part of the preamble of that treaty reads -
The parties to this treaty reaffirm their faith in the purpose and principles of the charter of the United Nations, and their desire to live in peace with all people and all governments.
Honorable members of course know the vast area covered by the North Atlantic Treaty, and they also know that Great Britain is a party to the treaty. I ask the Government again why there should be a difference between the preamble of this bill and the preamble of the North Atlantic Treaty? I agree with the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Casey) that it is necessary to exercise firmness in dealing with communism, but if we believe that the problems confronting the world can he solved without a third world war, surely the language in the preamble should not be as provocative as it is, and should be more in keeping with the preamble of the North Atlantic Treaty which indicates a desire to live in peace with all peoples and all governments. The North Atlantic Treaty embodies the desire of Great Britain to live at peace with Russia, China and all other countries.
– Has Australia ever said that it does not want peace?
– The preamble of the bill before the House at present reads, inter alia -
And whereas those Communist policies represent a common danger to the security of Australia and of’ the world generally and are a violation of the principles and purposes of the Charter of the United Nations:
Therefore, I put it to the honorable member for Lyne (Mr. Lucock) that by adopting such a preamble we are not doing justice to the wisdom of the great leaders of Great Britain who did not follow the lines of this preamble in drawing up the preamble of the North Atlantic Treaty. If we are genuinely seeking peace, surely that clause in the preamble is not necessary. The South-East Asia Collective Defence Treaty reads, inter alia -
Desiring to strengthen the fabric of peace and freedom and to uphold the principles of democracy, individual liberty and the rule of law, and to promote the economic well being and development of all peoples in the treaty area.
If we are sincere about that sentiment, then we should not deliberately set out to inflame people who might finally join with us in our desire for world peace. Therefore, the honorable mem’ber for Indi should not have gone to great pains to prove that the Leader of the Opposition was defending the Communists in his speech on this measure. The Leader of the Opposition and his supporters are merely endeavouring to bring other nations into a belief that peace is best for them and for the world at large. I also suggest that if the framers of the South-East Asia Collective Defence Treaty believe in the sentiments expressed in the treaty, then they must believe that the North Atlantic Treaty is a shallow mockery. Honorable members must ‘keep firmly in mind the statements of the Minister in his secondreading speech. He said -
Several countries of Asia continue to be critical of the Manila treaty and have expressed the view that Asia should remain neutral and not get involved in power blocs. Many Asian leaders believe that Asia needs a long period of peace in which to build up their newly independent countries and strengthen their economies. The Australian Government appreciates this desire for peace, but it considers that peace can be assured only if it is made clear to a potential aggressor that an act of violence on his part will be met with effective resistance.
If the Minister believes in that statement, it is difficult to understand why the preamble of this bill is worded as it is. The leaders of the great majority of Asians are not signatories to the treaty. I can only arrive at the conclusion that it was the representatives of India, Burma and Ceylon who expressed this view to the Minister. I do not profess to possess the knowledge of international matters that he possesses, but had I been in his place on this occasion, my policy would have certainly been not to inflame one section of Asia against another section, or set one section of Asia against us at this stage. Yet that is precisely what the preamble does. It must have a damning effect in respect of the attitude of red China to Australia. If we want it that way, the hill is good.
– It is that way.
– Who is to say so? Great Britain does not say so. Great Britain recognizes red China to-day. I find myself, by and large, on the side of Great Britain, though not in respect of the recognition of red China at this stage, because one country cannot grant recognition to another country with which it is at war. Let that be quite plain and definite. However, we must take the future into consideration. I am satisfied that whatever the Communists are doing in China to-day, China itself will revert a few years hence to the China that we know and respect, if we do not do anything to push China into the lap of the Communists for all time.
– China does not need that push.
– The historical background of China is well known in these matters. All sorts of peoples have tried to conquer China in past centuries, but China has always conquered them. I have sufficient faith in. China now to believe that if we play the correct role in Asia and have some respect for the line of thought of India, Ceylon and Burma-
– The Communist line of thought.
– Does the honorable member for Lilley (Mr. Wight) speak for the Government when he says that India, Ceylon and Burma are expressing the Communist line of thought? I should be astonished and disappointed if that were so. I do not believe that the honorable member is ex- pressing the views of the Government. We should have respect for the great statesmen of Britain, and believe that their line of thought may he wellfounded and have great merit. Let us not forget that British statesmen are not divided on the political level on this issue. There is complete unity among the political parties in the British Parliament on the policy for bringing peace to the world, and creating understanding between ourselves and those peoples who have their own forms of government different from our own. I am on the side of those people who believe that there is a way out. The Minister may have acted in good faith. I do not believe that he goes so far as the honorable member for Lilley and says that India, Burma and Ceylon are Communist-controlled at the present time. I do not believe that they are.
– I did not say that.
-Order ! The honorable member for Lilley must not interject.
– “i know that many honorable members opposite would have been disappointed if the Minister had not included this preamble in the treaty, but I urge him to allow his own Australian understanding of the British way of life, and of the position of Great Britain among the leading countries of the world, to rise above party political considerations. The whole matter is of tremendous importance to Australia.
I now turn to the consideration of the bill itself. In my opinion, Article III. is the most important article in this treaty. I appreciate the tremendous amount of good work that the Minister has done in Connexion with the Colombo plan, and all that has been accomplished thereby. Accordingly, we welcome Article III. of the treaty. We regard it as a step which will lead to a better understanding between our Asiatic neighbours and ourselves. Article TV. causes responsibility to rest heavily on Australia. The first paragraph of this article makes provision for military defence responsibilities, and reads, in part, as follows : -
Bach Party recognizes that aggression by means of armed attack in the treaty area against any of the Parties or against any State or territory which the Parties by unanimous agreement may hereafter designate, would endanger its own peace and safety, and agrees that it will in that event act to meet the common danger in accordance with its constitutional processes.
I do not think that any one can raise, with justification, any great objection to that paragraph. We agree, and it is generally agreed, that there is only one way in which to deal with Communists, and that is by firmness.
– Only do not say so. That is the attitude.
– I do say so, but I put it to the Government that, in saying so, it should not inflame the situation to such a point as to prejudice the success of the policy adopted by Great Britain. Any honorable member who condemns what I am saying also condemns the attitude of the leaders of the political parties in Great Britain. This article implies tremendous responsibilities. The last sentence in paragraph 1 is most interesting. It reads as follows: -
Measures taken under this paragraph shall be immediately reported to the Security Council of the United Nations.
I do not think that requirement goes so far as the corresponding provision in the North Atlantic Treaty. Article V. of that treaty provides -
Any such armed attack and all measures taken as the result thereof shall immediately be reported to the Security Council. Such measures shall be terminated when the Security Council has taken the measures necessary to restore and maintain international peace and security.
I suppose that there is an explanation of the difference between Article IV. of the South-East Asia Collective Defence Treaty and the North Atlantic Treaty, but I wonder why such a provision, if it was good enough for the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, should not be included in the South-East Asia Collective Defence Treaty as a fundamental provision to underline our problems with respect to Asia. I realize that the general thought to-day is that World War III., should the conflagration ever occur, will possibly break out in Asia rather than in Europe. I often find myself on the side of those people who believe that, if we try to maintain peace in our area in the Pacific, World War III. will occur where
World War I. and World War II. occurred. I suppose we can agree that the Communist threat has to be met with a firm resolve to go to the end of the road, whenever an attack occurs. I should like to know why the commitments of the United States of America are limited, in the manner described, to aggression of Communist origin. The Minister has not given an explanation of that matter, but I am sure there must be one. I realize that it was originally required by America that Article IV. should be a binding commitment on the eight signatories to the treaty. It is common knowledge that paragraph 1 was inserted in the treaty to place America in a different position from that of the other signatories. Like the Leader of the Opposition, I ask for an explanation of that matter.
I have a vivid recollection of the debate on the Treaty of Peace (Japan) Bill 1953, and I have my own thoughts about it. Let us suppose a friendship developed between America and Japan during the next quarter of a century equally as strong as the friendship existing to-day between Australia and America. Let us also suppose that Japan, which is not Communist-controlled, turns its eyes longingly on this country. What will our position be in those circumstances ? If an attack were to be launched by Japan, would it mean that action under the terms of this treaty could be taken only to the stage of consultation with the United .States and the other signatories of the treaty? I know that such an event does not seem possible at the moment, but when the Government is committing the nation to a treaty of this kind, it is obliged, in the interests of our own people, to examine all the possibilities.
– We have the Anzus pact as well.
– I am glad to have that interjection by the honorable member for McMillan (Mr. Brown). I am thinking of that treaty.
– That is right. The Anzus pact would not produce any assistance for Australia in the event of difficulties arising with Indonesia concerning New Guinea. Indonesia could not be called a Communistcontrolled country, unless some one agreed to define it as such.
– Indonesia is not a signatory of the treaty.
– No, but Indonesia lies in the South Pacific area, and that is what concerns Australia. I now turn to paragraph 2 of Article IV. of the treaty, which reads as follows: -
If, in the opinion of any of the Parties, the inviolability or the integrity of the territory or the sovereignty or political independence of any Party in the treaty area or of any other State or territory to which the provisions of paragraph I of this Article from time to time apply is threatened in any way other than by armed attack or is affected or threatened by any fact or situation which might endanger the peace of the area, the Parties shall consult immediately in order to agree on the measures which should be taken for the common defence.
In my opinion, that is one of the best parts, probably the vital part, of this treaty, because it provides for almost any problem, including the question of political independence. The importance of early consultations on matters that may lead to serious disputes cannot be overemphasized. Had we had some appreciation of the force of nationalism in IndoChina five years ago, and had some provision existed for consultation between the respective parties at that stage, the necessity for a settlement in that area on the basis of the Geneva Treaty might have been avoided. Provision for consultation on problems might also have averted the happenings in Korea. This article is particularly good and helpful. In those circumstances, I wonder why the honorable member for Indi is so strongly opposed to the two amendments that have been foreshadowed by the Leader of the Opposition. The first amendment is in the form of a proviso to clause 3 of the bill, which relates to the approval of the ratification of the treaty. The amendment reads as follows : -
Provided that such ratification shall not take place until the Treaty has been ratified by, or firm assurances of intended ratification have been received from, the United Kingdom, the United States of America and New Zealand.
The Parliament, by accepting the amendment that the Leader of the Opposition has foreshadowed, could have that assurance, and, at the same time, it would achieve what the Minister has in mind, that is, to assure to Australia the protection which it needs. The thought should be paramount in the minds of honorable members to ensure, first, our own protection in relation to any treaty into which we may enter. Therefore, we should have some understanding with Great Britain, the . United States and New Zealand on this point before we ratify this treaty, because they, too, will be required to ratify it before it can become effective. Let us suppose, for instance, that Great Britain or the United States does not ratify it. It is conceivable, having regard to the result of the recent congressional elections in the United States, that that country may change its view about this treaty. In that event, we should be obliged to rely mainly upon Great Britain, but, having regard to that country’s commitments under Nato, every realist knows that it has its hands full and could not hope to lend assistance to any party in the area beyond Singapore. We should be sufficiently realistic to see that we obtain this assurance before we ratify the treaty. That is the object of the first amendment that has been foreshadowed by the Leader of the Opposition. It is of tremendous import, and it should be accepted unanimously by honorable members in order fully to guarantee the future security of Australia.
I turn now to the second amendment that has been foreshadowed by the Leader of the Opposition, which I was surprised to hear the honorable member for Indi attack. That proposed amendment reads -
Before any armed forces are contributed or made available by Australia under or in accordance with any of the provisions of the treaty, the prior approval of the Parliament shall be obtained.
Honorable members opposite have made the statement so frequently that one concludes that they believe that our opponents in a third world war would most probably be the Communists. If there is one way in which we can unite the country in order to enable it to meet the threat of a third world war, it is by the Government keeping the Parliament in session and ensuring that every one in responsible positions shall be in their places to make decisions quickly in the nation’s interests should the occason for such action arise. The honorable member for Indi asked, in effect, why the Opposition should distrust the Government in this matter. He pointed out that the Government took steps to call the Parliament together in order to take a decision with respect to Australia’s participation in the conflict in Korea. I commend the action that the Government took on that occasion. It was guided by a sound principle, and all that I am submitting now is that it should be guided by the same principle in its approach to the ratification of this treaty. I believe that we were able to unify public thought to such a degree in this country in relation to the Korean conflict mainly because the Government insisted upon the Parliament taking a decision on that matter. Parliament having made a decision, that, decision was binding upon all parties. In. that way, we presented a united front so far as that conflict was concerned. Labour now says that the Government should observe the same principle in asking the Parliament to ratify this treaty. On those grounds, I urge the House to agree to the amendment that the Leader of the Opposition has forecast.
– Order ! The honorable member’s time has expired.
– I wish to make a personal explanation. I claim, that the honorable member for Blaxland (Mr. E. James Harrison) has misrepresented me. He suggested that I had said that India, Ceylon and Burma were Communist controlled. I made no such remark, and I resent any suggestion that any honorable member on this side of the chamber, let alone myself, would be so stupid as to make such a suggestion.
– Order ! The honorable member may not apply the term “ stupid “ to another honorable member. I must ask him to withdraw it.
– I withdraw it. It is ridiculous for any honorable member to suggest that India, Ceylon or Burma is Communist controlled. I rose to place on record the fact that I did not make any such statement.
– I desire to make a personal explanation. If the honorable member for Lilley (Mr. Wight) did not make an interjection to the effect that India, Burma and Ceylon are Communist controlled, I apologize for having attributed it to him. However, that interjection was made from the part of the chamber in which the honorable member sits.
– I made an inter rjection, but I did not make any statement of that kind.
– Order ! First, interjections are out of order; and, secondly, honorable members should appreciate that in making them they take risks.
.- The honorable member for Blaxland (Mr. E. James Harrison) has not made a very effectual defence of his leader. He spent half the time of his speech in castigating the Government about the preamble of the bill, which includes matters which we on this side would naturally think were commonly accepted by both sides of the House, and, indeed, by the overwhelming majority of the people of this country. Everybody who has studied this question at all knows that the genesis of this treaty lies in the series of events that have happened in Indo-China over the last few years, culminating in the disasters in that country a few months ago. There is no other possible source of aggression to the free world than from either the Russians or their Chinese allies. I must say that when this debate opened last evening, I, in common with other honorable members on this side, and I hoped in common with some honorable members opposite, was. astonished, indeed almost flabbergasted, at the attitude of the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt). I regret to have to say it, but, as I heard the right honorable gentleman, the conclusion would seem inescapable that no man who was not in sympathy with the aims of international communism could possibly attack the preamble of the bill. The whole object of this treaty is that it is against communism. There is, obviously, no other potential source of attack within measurable sight.. The right, honorable gentleman’s1 statements were completely theoretical, and he: showed himself,, in making them,, either ignorant of the grave issues, confronting the people of the free world, on wilfully blind, to tha fact that unless we try to; ensure- ourselves against communism it will overwhelm all of us in an avalanche.
I should have thought that a. debate, of this nature would have been opened, irrespective of party differences, by the paying of tribute to the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Casey). He, more than any other statesman, is responsible for the Manila treaty. The right honorable gentleman, is not only distinguished as a parliamentarian but also possesses considerable diplomatic experience; and the unusual alliance of these two qualities underlies the esteem in which he is held, not only in this country, but throughout the world. It should be recognized th at his own judgment, advocacy and powers of persuasion’ were determining factors in the speedy success of the negotiations at Manila last September.
This agreement, may prove historic not so much for its immediate objectives as foi- the fact that it represents another stage in the evolution of East-West relations. It is the first essay of its kind in this sphere in collective security, allied with economic and social advancement. Under the agreement, five European and three Asian, nations have combined to achieve a common purpose, and it presages a long partnership between governments which share the same ideals, overriding1 past prejudices of race and colour.
Although the treaty is a shining personal success for the Minister for External Affairs he, ‘probably, would be the first to’ warn against over-emphasizing its significance. It is a beginning rather than a consummation. It will afford us security only if the signatories take the necessary steps to fulfil- its intentions; and’, the immediate necessity, of course, is for some form of military im>plementation of this pact. Without a military commitment, provisions of the kind that we are now debating are merely a. series of unrequited declarations. Article V.. of the) agreement, clearly recognizes this, and. the Minister himself, hr the speech he made last week, expressed high hopes of an early meeting at Bangkok of the council now to be set up. Nothing should be; allowed to- prevent that.
The implications on our defence programme are stern. Article TI. of thu agreement enjoins on ‘us and the cosignatories “ continuous and effective selfhelp and’ mutual aid “’. I shall not weary the House by quoting the whole of the article as honorable members have it before them. These, indeed, are weighty obligations- and. I emphasize the words “ effective “ and “ develop “ in the context in which- they appear im that article. Despite the Government’s commendable defence1 effort it is probably doubtful whether Australia, to-day, is in a position* of instantaneous “ effective selfhelp”. There is still much to be done, in, the short time available to us, to rectify our deficiencies. But; the burden does not stop- there. The treaty demands that we go one stage further and develop our means of resisting, attack: I do not know exactly what the Government; has in- mind in the. event of the Minister being able to arrive at a firm military commitment ; but I imagine the consequences of this pledge indicate- a much larger air force,, the strengthening of our regular army, the overtaking of the lag in equipment, the establishing- of naval,, military and air formations capable of being sent anywhere in the: area at shout notice,, and, in general, a steady expansion of: Australia’s- war potential..
Although most honorable members will agree with these- things, I should imagine that they would also agree with the submission, that the heart of the- Asian problem- is not military, but economic and social. Article III. recognizes this fact unequivocally. I quote the article -
The parties undertake to- strengthen- their free; institutions and to co-operate with one another in the further development of economic measures, including technical assistance, designed both to promote economic progress and social well-being, amd to further the individual and collective efforts of governments to;wa.rds these ends..
Those who-, like- a number of us, have lived in Asia, know that the- ordinary Asian is not interested in politics. The shrill cries of conflicting ideologies are above his comprehension. He is, for the most part, uneducated, and simple-minded. The boundaries of his vision are soon reached. What he is really concerned about is an improvement in his living standards. Consequently, he will support those political forces which offer him the most, and which seem more likely to ameliorate his conditions. Accordingly, it seems clear that we must build rapidly on the foundations so presciently laid by this Government in the Colombo plan.
Thi3 obligation, indeed, is inherent in Article III., and I should like to put to the House four ways in which I think we can usefully contribute. First, I suggest that we think in terms of doubling - maybe even quadrupling - our previous contributions of materials, machinery, advisers, scientists and doctors. Secondly, it is incumbent upon us to improve our public relations with Eastern countries by telling their multitudinous peoples what we are doing to help them. For example, a plaque on a piece of machinery made in Australia and sent over by us is not enough. It may be viewed during the course of a year only by a coterie of technicians, and by occasional coolies. All the resources of Radio Australia and the vernacular press of each of those countries must be employed in telling those peoples what we are doing in a real measure to assist them.
Thirdly, I suggest that the Government send many more goodwill missions to the countries of East and SouthEastAsia. Educationists, merchants, members of Parliament and officials could all do valuable work, not only in enlightening themselves and us, but also in removing general misconceptions. The Government might well start by sending a joint parliamentary delegation to the treaty area and other parts of East Asia this summer. We are about to adjourn for a long recess, and nothing but mutual benefit to all concerned could possibly result from such an expedition. Fourthly, the Minister touched an important point in his speech when he referred briefly to the necessity for maintaining world prices of commodities produced in the treaty area. The right honorable gentleman probably had in mind such articles as rubber, tin and oil. Obviously, this desirable state of affairs can be achieved only by international action. In this respect, the United States of America, the most powerful commercial as well as military nation in the world, should rightly give the lead ; and I know that the Government will be instrumental in prompting America towards this end.
All of these things are bound up with another phase of the Asian problem acknowledged in the treaty - measures to combat subversion. There is no easy answer to this problem. Neither we in Australia, nor any other western country for that matter, have solved it. satisfactorily. But I would say this to the House, that an alleviation of Asian economic standards alone will of itself not suffice. Oriental governments must have the resolution, and the means, to act swiftly, ruthlessly and effectively, when the occasion arises. However much honorable members may deplore it - I certainly deplore it myself - ‘there is nothing the ordinary Asian respects so much as force. Both Buddha and Mohammed march on the side of the big battalions. The political allegiance of millions will change overnight if their government appears irresolute, vacillating, and unable to maintain authority. Every Australian who has fought in Asia knows the truth of this. It is important that we keep it prominent in our thinking when discussing ways and means of dealing with the enemy within those countries. In this field, the security-knowledge, and experience of the Western treaty powers, including ourselves, should be placed promptly at the disposal of each of our Eastern partners.
Mr. Speaker, I wish to allude now to two very interesting articles in the treaty - Articles VII. and VIII. They endow this agreement with elasticity by providing for the admission of other nations, together with an extension of the treaty area. I think all honorable members will applaud the wisdom of these provisions. The progenitors of the pact have not conceived it as something static. Quite the reverse ! In the coming years, we should most certainly grasp every opportunity to widen it into a truly embracing association. Now, Mr.
Speaker, every one will regret the omission of Indonesia, and of the ancient and multifarious collection of peoples that inhabits the sub-continent of India. I should have thought it was reasonable to hope that India would at least attend the conference. After all, its Prime Minister, Mr. Nehru, is one of the great figures of the contemporary world. His influence in Asia is considerable. His problems at home are certainly immense. Without doubt he is combating communism within his own country. We would be ignorant not to show our appreciation of his difficulties. It would be churlish not to respect his point of view. But, after making all of these allowances, perhaps one may he pardoned for saying that at times one’s patience begins to wear thin.
Mr. Nehru’s hostility to the Manila treaty is disappointing in the extreme. It is explicable, I suggest, partly on a basis of antiquated prejudice. Surely it is unreal of him to continue chewing the cud of satisfied grudges. An uneasy doubt is now arising amongst many Commonwealth countries as to his bona fides. His recent actions indicate more an obsession with national aggrandizement than a genuine desire for international freedom. For example, towards Pakistan he has shown nothing but intransigence over Kashmir. He has adopted a minatory attitude towards the Portuguese in Goa.- He has been quick to pounce on the French, writhing in their defeat and humiliation in Indo-China, with the sadistic opportunism of a Bombay vulture. Most cleverly, he has engineered their ejectment from Pondicherry. His representative here has twice recently demanded the admission of Indian migrants to Australia. All of us in this House hope that India’s leader will think again on these vital questions examined by the treaty powers at Manila. Circumstances may persuade him, perhaps much sooner than any of us expect, of the falsity of his insinuations against our motives, and induce him to collaborate with those nations, such as ourselves, which are the true friends of India in a joint quest for freedom.
A discussion of Articles VII. and VIII. would logically lead to some consideration of the position of Japan. It is per tinent to ask, thinking ahead on this tremendous question, whether ultimately Australia might not be wise to seek Japan’s inclusion in the treaty. Since 1945, my concern, along- 1 suppose with that of every other member of the House, has been to prevent Japan from again menacing Australia. Some of us have disagreed over the methods. I still believe, as I said in this place nearly three years ago, that America’s hurried ending of the occupation-, and its insistence upon Japanese re-armament, will prove in the long run to be a mistake, particularly for us. But, Mr. Speaker, the decision has been taken. It cannot now be reversed. It is futile to try to put back the hands of the clock of history. We must make the best of the situation as it unfolds. I have also urged, if honorable members will bear with me for a moment, that Japan, in our dealings with it should not be treated as a pariah; that we should bring ourselves, whatever our prejudices, to trade with it; that we should attempt to acclimatize it to Western democratic thought; and that we should attract it by our actions into the general comity of nations.
Sir, is not this an opportunity “to canalize those factors making for a resurgent Japan into an anti-Communist Asian-European alliance ? Membership of this organization would undoubtedly strengthen it as an anti-Communist bulwark. The creation, on our part, of a working association with that country would help to erase the hates of the immediate past. Equally important, its collaboration would enable us to exercise some kind of indirect supervision, perhaps, over its rearmament. At least it would enable us to acquire a more exact knowledge of Japan’s motives, its real policy, and where its leaders were going. Japan’s inclusion would unquestionably generate increased goodwill and stability in the Pacific. As a partner, we, along with our American and British friends, might ultimately prevent a recrudescence of that aggressive militarism that so many of us fear. But, sir, if, on the contrary, we leave Japan alone, a brooding solitary power beset by baffling economic perplexities, who knows that it might not renounce its obligations to America and throw in its lot with China <or Russia. or, alternatively, sullenly prepare a renewal of its plans for Asian conquest ?
Once again, I congratulate the Minister for External Affairs for his magnificent work at Manila on behalf of ourselves, our country, and all our partners in the free world. Now the task of this Parliament, of our nation, of all those with whom we have contracted this alliance, is to march forward, to put teeth into it, and to make it a really effective instrument of international peace.
.- The honorable member for Angas (Mr. Downer), in his opening remarks, expressed his disappointment that the debate had not proceeded until then on a more conciliatory tone. But, after he had expressed a desire for conciliation, he immediately set out to attack the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt), and his criticisms were based merely on the fact that the right honorable gentleman had last night expressed hi3 disapproval of the preamble of the bill. It must be obvious to those who have read the bill that the preamble contains a number of objectionable features, and the Government has not yet made out a -case for its inclusion in the bill. In fact, the preamble is completely .unnecessary.
It has become fashionable for Ministers and their supporters, both in this House and elsewhere, to attack in the extravagant language of the honorable member for Angas people who are merely critical of the Government, and to accuse them of being ‘Communists. This ‘appears to me to savour of Communist tactics in reverse. We have reached a stage at which anybody who criticizes the Government, or differs from it, is smeared as a Communist sympathizer. I am quite sure that the people of- Australia resent such tactics and that, -at the appro- priate time, they will express their opinion of them, as the American people did a few days ago. Honorable members on this side of the House have criticized the measure only with the object of improving it. To that end, we have suggested certain amendments. I think there is considerable merit in the amendments and it is ‘significant that the honorable member for Angas did not attempt to criticize them at all. If one reads the preamble of the bill in the light of other statements made about the treaty, one is prompted to ask why a preamble of that nature is necessary. The Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Casey) has not tried to answer that question. I have a copy of a publication entitled Bulletin, issued by the American Department of State. It contains a report of a statement made by Mr. Dulles at the opening session of the South-East Asia Conference at Manila on the 6th September. According to the report, Mr. Dulles presented his opinion of the treaty in the following way: -
The Delegates of Australia, France, New Zealand, Pakistan, the Republic of the Philippines, the Kingdom of Thailand, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, the United States of America;
Desiring to establish a firm .basis for .common action .to maintain peace and -security in South-East Asia and the . South-West Pacific;
Convinced that common action to this end, in order to be worthy and effective, must be inspired by the highest principles of justice and liberty; ©o hereby proclaim :
First, in accordance with the provisions of the United Nations Charter, they uphold the principle of equal rights and selfdeterminatiOn of .peoples and -they will earnestly strive by every peaceful means to promote selfgovernment and to secure the independence of all countries whose peoples desire it and are able to undertake its responsibilities; , Second, they are each ‘-prepared to continue taking effective practical measures ito ensure conditions favorable to -the orderly achievement oi the foregoing purposes in .accordance with their constitutional procedures;
Third, they will continue to co-operate in the economic, social and cultural fields in order to promote higher living standards, economic: progress .and social well-being in this region :
Fourth, as declared in the South-East Asia Collective Defense Treaty, they -are determined to prevent or counter by appropriate means any attempt in the treaty aTea to subvert their freedom or to destroy their sovereignty or territorial integrity.
I submit that a preamble of that kind would nave been more in keeping with the object of this bill than the present preamble. Tt is obvious that this Government cannot help introducing politics into any measure it brings before the Parliament. Irrespective of whether we are dealing with international affaire oi local affairs, there is always a background of communism introduced, by the Govern-ment. in an attempt to, gain some contemptible political advantage. Tie Opposition, believes there is no. necessity for a preamble, of the. type that. has. been inserted in, this bill. The statement by Mr. Dulles that I have, jUst read, to the House proves conclusively that, such a preamble is completely unjustified.
I should have, thought- the amendments’ suggested by the leader of the Opposition would commend themselves to> all honorable members. The: first amendment suggests’ that the treaty shall not become binding on Australia until it has been ratified by all the signatory nations. That is” ho* am unreasonable suggestion. Under the terms of the treaty, it becomes effective, when; five, of the signatory nations, have, ratified’ it. Im such circumstances, we could find ourselves involved in a. situation that, we could not cope with. Therefore, to safeguard’ the interests of this country; the Opposition suggests that the treaty shall not become binding- on Australia until aB the eight nations concerned hay* ratified it.
The second amendment suggested1 by the Leader of the Opposition- is a very simple one1, and I should ha-ve thought that it, too, would commend1 itself to all members of the Parliament, especially the members’ of the Government parties; who never tire of asserting the sovereignty of the- Parliament. We have heard speeches delivered by honorable members opposite time, and again in which they have claimed that the will of the Parliament has been, thwarted. The. Opposition proposes! that,, before Australia is committed to> war,, the. Parliament should- be consulted. To my mind, no- valid argument can be. advanced against such a contention. In- 11941, this country was committed to war without the Parliament being consulted. I do not propose to argue now whether that action was right or- wrong. I have made a statement of fact. I remind- the House, that the New Zealand Government did not follow such a course. Before New Zealand was committed to war, the New Zealand Government called the New Zealand Parliament together. It did not declare war- until Parliament had met to consider the matter. That procedure was followed also in Canada and South Africa. If those countries.- ad’opt, thai, procedure;, why does Australia follow a different, coursed This, country,, by an. action of the. Executive, could be.- committed to- waa1 without the* Parliament being consulted.. It, would be hand to find- any one who- would attempt to. justify a continuance of such, an war satisfactory state of affairs. In. an attempt to put an end to it, the. Leader of the Opposition,, on. behalf of the Labour party, has suggested an appropriate amendment. In a democracy, the. Parliament is supposed to represent the people. Why should not the Government of this country be: compelled’ to consult the Parliament,, the highest instrument of authority, and secure- its authority to commit, the country to war % But, apparently, this Government believes that the Parliament should not, be consulted on such a. matter. I have already pointed oM. how- peculiar that attitude is, because the governments of other British Commonwealth countries agree that the parliaments of those countries; should be consulted. I submit that the attitude of the Government cannot b® justified It is completely opposed to- all democratic thought- and is untenable in every respect. The Opposition believes that, if the amendments it. has suggested were adopted-, the. bill would be more in conformity with the wishes of the people’.
One does not have to be a member of the Parliament to appreciate the position that Australia is in as a result of what has happened during; the last four or five years-. It is indeed heartening to know that the isolationist tendency that figured so prominently in our national make-up until 1940 has- disappeared almost, completely,, largely as a result, of what happened from. 194.0 onwards.. Because a£ the dangers, that confront Australia and the. necessity to. d.oi something to meat them, the Opposition has. always tried to make a. constructive approach to measures relating to foreign affairs. Whilst, “wo have not differed basically from the Government on foreign policy,, we. have: been, critical of some aspects- of its policy, but the criticism has been offered only with the object of improving measures brought before the House for consideration. That is. an attitude which, certain members of the Government parties might well adopt.. I recall that during the. last three years of the Chifley Government’s term of office, all matters relating to foreign policy and foreign affairs brought before the House were opposed relentlessly and in the most unbridled way, irrespective of their merits, by some members of the then Opposition. The people who figured prominently in those attacks were the present Australian Ambassador to the United States of America, the present Australian High Commissioner to the United Kingdom, the present PostmasterGeneral (Mr. Anthony) and the present Minister for Commerce and Agriculture (Mr. McEwen). Those four people formed the spearhead of the attacks made on the foreign policy of the Chifley Government, but it is strange that, notwithstanding the extravagant language they used in their attempt to belittle that policy, this Government has adopted it in every respect. If honorable members opposite dispute that statement, I should like them to tell me the changes that have been made. I believe it is correct to say that the foundations of our present foreign policy were laid by the Chifley Government. I believe that, in dealing with foreign affairs, members of the Parliament should not try to take advantage of the existing situation, but should do their best for this country. With that idea in mind, the Opposition has suggested two amendments of the bill. I submit that the amendments are worthy of consideration by the Government because, if they were accepted, they would improve the bill considerably.
.- It is most fortunate that I should return to this House from a trip overseas in time to take part in this very important debate. I want to seize this opportunity to offer my congratulations to the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Casey) for the valiant work that he has done to accomplish a great task. I want to offer my congratulations to the Government and the people of Australia that a bill of this kind is before this House, but before I do so, I think it is my duty to make some reference to the criticisms levelled at the bill by the honorable member for Martin (Mr. O’Connor) - it appears to be the custom for me to follow him in debates of this kind - the honor able member for Blaxland (Mr. E. James Harrison) and the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt). Each of them took the strongest exception to the preamble of the bill. The objection raised to it by the Leader of the Opposition was perhaps stronger than that raised by either of the other two speakers to whom I have referred. The right honorable gentleman said that the preamble of the bill was completely unacceptable to the Labour party. He said that he preferred the preamble of the North Atlantic Treaty. He was followed faithfully by the honorable member for Blaxland who, echoing his leader, said that he, too, preferred the preamble of the North Atlantic Treaty.
In fairness to the House, it is necessary that I, or some other honorable member, should direct attention to the terms of the preamble of the North Atlantic Treaty. I remind the House that the three honorable members to whom I have referred, if no others, took the strongest exception to the preamble of the bill, and stated in specific terms that they preferred it to be similar to that of the North Atlantic Treaty measure. There are four simple paragraphs in the preamble of the North Atlantic Treaty, and I ask the House to bear with me while I refer to them. The first paragraph reads as follows : -
The parties to this Treaty reaffirm their faith in the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations and their desire to live in peace with all peoples and all Governments.
Surely that is an expression of faith - neither more nor less than that. The second paragraph is couched in the following terms : -
They are determined to safeguard the freedom, common heritage and civilization of their peoples, founded on the principles of democracy, individual liberty and the rule of law.
Surely that is an expression of hope - neither more nor less than that. The third paragraph contains the following statement : -
They seek to promote stability and wellbeing in the North Atlantic Area.
That is another expression of hope - neither more nor less than that. The fourth and last paragraph declares -
They are resolved to unite their efforts for collective defence and for the preservation of peace and security.
An Opposition MEMBER - What is wrong with that?
– There is nothing wrong with it. No one could take any exception to it, except that it is just a pious platitude for the purpose of reassuring those people who are interested in the North Atlantic Treaty. Let us measure that preamble against the preamble of this bill. It is my duty, if for no other reason than to try to convince honorable members opposite of the merits of the measure before the House, to make specific reference to the four paragraphs of the preamble of the bill. The first is as follows : -
Whereas the independence and integrity ot the countries and territories of South-Bast Asia and the South-West Pacific arc threatened by the aggressive policies of international Communism :
Who could take any exception to that paragraph? It is either true or false. Either we believe it, or we do not believe it. Those honorable members who are privileged to sit on this side of the chamber believe it to be fact. The second paragraph contains the following statement : -
And whereas those Communist policies have already shown themselves in Korea, IndoChina and elsewhere by armed aggression, by armed insurrection assisted from without and otherwise :
Is that not true? Is that not a simple statement of fact in our own contemporary history? Should it not be included in a bill of this description, which is designed to safeguard the future of our country? The third paragraph of the preamble is as follows: -
And whereas those Communist policies represent a common danger to the security of Australia and of the world generally and are a violation of the principles and purposes of the Charter of the United Nations:
If that paragraph is not true, and if it should be excluded from the bill, honorable members opposite should say so. In my humble opinion, if that paragraph were excluded from the preamble, the bill would be reduced in stature to that degree. The last and final paragraph of the preamble reads as follows: -
And whereas, in consequence of the foregoing, countries in or concerned with the security of South-East Asia and the Southwest Pacific have determined to join together for the purposes of meeting this common danger and of promoting the security and well-being of the region of South-East Asia and the South-West Pacific.
Is it suggested by members of the Opposition that no appropriate action should be taken by this Government, at this time, to protect the people in these territories, and in our own country? If that is their attitude, they should say so. To rise in their places and say, speciously, that they prefer the preamble of the North Atlantic Treaty to the preamble of this bill is taking a mean advantage of those persons who have not read the preamble to the North Atlantic Treaty, and who might be pardoned for supposing that it could be a more effective preamble to a document of its description. To measure one against the other is of no importance. The preamble of this bill expresses in precise terms our own contemporary history, and the appropriate action that ought to be taken to meet it.
I regret that it was necessary for me to make that explanation, because honorable members like the Leader of the Opposition, the honorable member for Blaxland, who has just returned to the chamber, and the honorable member for Martin should know the relative value of preambles when measured one against the other. I wish to congratulate the Minister for External Affairs on the work he has done in winning back the respect of the free countries who are interested in that part of the world which is known as South-East Asia and the .South-West Pacific area. No man has worked harder, and no man has applied himself to the task with a greater degree of sincerity, than has the Minister. The introduction of this bill represents a personal victory for a very valiant gentleman. The Government, too, is to be congratulated on bringing down this bill to approve the ratification by Australia of the .South-East Asia Collective Defence Treaty. The name of the treaty describes its purposes.
In 1949, only a few short years ago, it would have been impossible to draw up a treaty of the description of the treaty that we are considering, or to introduce a bill of the description that is now before the House. At that time, the people, and the politics of our country, were in complete confusion. Honorable members opposite must ‘accept some responsibility for that unhappy state of affairs. In 1949, not a living soul .”knew, with any degree of accuracy, where this country was going, or where its politics at that time were likely to lead us. I think it is right to describe this treaty, just as it was right so to describe the Anzus pact, as a manifestation of the maturity that has come to our country within the last few .years, particularly in relation to international affairs. I think it is right to state also that, prior .to 1914, we were in our infancy in relation to international affairs, and that most of out decisions were made for us by .the Mother Country and “by the Empire, although, of course, we had our moments of revolt against maternal authority. It is interesting to note just low we emerged from that period of querulous infancy. There was no great need for us to mane any intensive study *of international affairs. The friends of the Mother Country, and the friends of the British Empire, were our friends. Similarly,, the enemies of the Mother Country, .and the enemies of the British Empire, were -our enemies. Our problems in relation to international responsibilities were simplified to that degree. We belonged to .the British family of nations at that -time, absolutely and .completely, and, in our inf ancy, that was enough for ras.
Then came the outbreak of World “War I. in 1914. Although the .great and heroic part that Australia played at the landing at Gallipoli, in France and in various other theatres of war has frequently been described as representing the birth of the nation, it would be more appropriate, in my “humble opinion, to refer to it as representing the adolescence of the nation, because by that time the Commonwealth of Australia was nearly fourteen years old. -In our adolescence, we wanted to know where we were going. That was the great question. As there were signs, even then, of a disintegration of the “British Empire, the question became more urgent from day to day, and from year to year. ‘There were those who thought that we should follow the Mother Country Mindly through -the labyrinth of international politics. There was a reason for that, or at least an excuse, because very few people in our country had any -understanding of international politics, or of international responsibilities, as they .’affected our country,. There were those of .us, even at that time, who believed -that it was our manif est duty to reach our -own international decisions in our own national way, conscious, of course, all the time of our responsibilities -to our kith and kin abroad, to the Mother ‘Country, and to the British .Empire as a whole. I believe that is the policy .that should have Deen adopted by all of our people at that particular , time. .But there were others who, when we were in our adolescence, “believed that we had reached .maturity, and that the time had arrived when Australia should adopt an isolationist attitude towards international affairs ‘and .that it should stand on the touch line and trade with any country anywhere to achieve its own political ends. That, in my humble opinion, was a shameful state of affairs. Yet there are .honorable members opposite who still subscribe to tha* ignominious point of view.
There was m0 escape -from the turbulence of our adolescence. There ‘has never been any way of escape for any person, for any .nation, from the turbulence of adolescence. History never moves slowly. It moves, whether we like it or not, in convulsions, and this country, together with .a great many other countries, was crashed to its maturity at the outbreak of WorM War II., in 1’939. Maturity was -thrust upon us. W’e had to arrive at our -own decisions, and we did so - and I -say with regret - with confusion worse confounded. In 1943, we had reached such a state ‘of confusion that for the -first time in our history we had two armies. One was required to fight to the last man and .the last shilling for our freedom, our .country and our people. The other, for all sorts of dubious reasons, was to fight within’ strict geographical limits. That was the nature of our confusion then. Australia was a -single component of what used to be called the British “Empire, and which I still prefer to call the British Empire, but which is now .known .as the British Commonwealth of “Nations. We were an important component, but we had two armies, one to fight to the last man and the last shilling, and *eme to fight in certain places for certain reasons. Then came the confusion of the post-war years, when we did not know where we were going. Now, at last, under this legislation, Australia will declare itself as a component of the British Commonwealth of Nations and a part of the free world.
It is our duty to stand up to our international responsibilities, because the thrust against us may come from certain directions. We must do whatever lies in our power to make our own position secure in this part of the world, and this measure will enable us to do that in precisely the same way as did the Anzus treaty. Moreover, this treaty will help to make us secure in a way that is satisfactory to those of us who have any knowledge or understanding of the position that confronts our people to-day. During the difficult post-war period, when there was so much confusion, there was a change of government. No sooner was the government changed than it established a foreign affairs committee of this Parliament. That was done so that the members of the committee might be given an opportunity to inform themselves from day to day on the international situation as it affects our country, and then be able to inform this Parliament, and through the Parliament the people, of the true position of international affairs. When the Government suggested to the Leader of the Opposition that the Labour party should nominate some of its members to serve on the Foreign Affairs Committee, the Leader of the Opposition prohibited the members of the Labour party from joining the committee.
Honorable members interjecting,
– Order! The honorable member has not been speaking to the provisions of the bill. The Foreign Affairs Committee has no reference to the measure at all.
– I am aware of that, but there are international sequences that lead up to a bill .of this description, and I am trying to show the necessity for the measure and to explain away the ignorance of honorable members opposite who have spoken against it, no matter how mildly they may have expressed themselves. I support the bill, and I draw the attention of the House to the fact that this is not an exclusive treaty that is confined to our own country. Other powers have signed the treaty, and it is necesary for us to know just who they are. First, we have Australia, followed by France, which is another country vitally concerned in the South-East Asia area. Then there is New Zealand, which is seriously prejudiced by all the threats and dangers of aggression from the countries to the north.
– Amazing !
– Then we have Pakistan. An honorable member opposite has said, “ Amazing “, and I know that he does not understand the dangers that confront us. Perhaps he would get some satisfaction if this country were for any reason driven to disaster because we have not the intelligence to take proper action to defend ourselves with an instrument of this description. Pakistan is one of the great countries of Asia. It sent representatives to. the recent parliamentary conference in Kenya, and its delegates dominated that conference through their knowledge of international affairs, their conceptions of international responsibility and their very friendly attitude towards this country and its people. I am glad that Pakistan is a signatory to the treaty, and that Australia and Pakistan have moved closer together.
From 1945 to 1949 the Republic of the Philippines would not have signed a document of this description because, like other countries of South-East Asia, the Philippines did not know where Australia was going. It is now quite obvious where we are going. We belong to the free world, and we have shown that, in order to protect ourselves, we are ready to take part in treaties like this one. Because of declarations such as Australia has made under this treaty, the Philippines and other countrise know exactly where we stand. I know very little about the kingdom of Thailand, but I do know that it recognizes the danger that confronts it. and the urgent necessity for it to make friends among people who have the same kind of philosophy as it has. Then there is the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland. Old Mother England, despised so often and so frequently by honorable members opposite, has borne the brunt of
Western civilization to a greater degree than any other country. Although overloaded with commitments in other parts of the world, the United Kingdom has accepted a full share of responsibility under this treaty. Finally, there is the United States of America. In 1945 America would not have considered an agreement of this description because the Labour Government here was entering into all sorts of spurious arrangements in other countries of the world. Never at any stage of those proceedings would the United States have consented to sign a document of this description. Now America is committed to the treaty just as we are, and the security of both the United States and Australia has been improved. I congratulate the Minister, the Government and honorable members themselves on their attitude to this treaty. We have less cause to fear the future than we have had in the last ten years.
– I am glad to be able to let the people know what I think about this matter, and about international affairs in general. There are some honorable members who hold the opinion that Australia should enter into treaties., like the one with which we are dealing, with other countries, and there are other honorable members of the Opposition who wonder whether such a treaty is desirable, or whether it goes too far. The Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt) has intimated that he will move two amendments to the measure, but that the Opposition will in general support the bill. Therefore, I believe that the Opposition should not bear opprobrium cast upon it by the honorable member for Riverina (Mr. Roberton). We may be ignorant, in his estimation, and we may not be quite up to his own educational standard, but I should like him to understand that all honorable members on this side of the House are at least just as honest as those on the Government side, and are at least just as anxious to preserve the safety of Australia and to do the best that we can for the people of the nation. I make that statement because I take exception to the charges of the honorable member to the effect that we are practically opposed to this treaty, and are not prepared to do anything for the safety of Australia or to uphold the ideals of freedom for which we stand.
I shall not argue whether the preamble of the bill is right or wrong. The Leader of the Opposition has expressed an opinion about that, and as he is an eminent constitutional and international lawyer, I believe that his views should be very carefully considered. I have no doubt that he made his statements about the preamble believing them to be bona fide, and I leave it to the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Casey) to accept or reject his recommendations. However, I believe that the people are concerned about what the Government is really doing to protect this country, and to contribute to the strengthening of the free world. We may differ about one clause or another, but we are all very anxious that we should continue to live our lives as we want to live them, and that we should do everything possible to prevent anybody else from endangering our way of life.
We must recognize at the outset that the world is divided into two groups under two ideologies. The first is an ideology of freedom and the second is an ideology of domination by a militant section of the community. The second group springs from Russia and its Communist system, and I believe that it is my duty to support any measures that may be taken to prevent that ideology from spreading in this country. Australia is a small nation, and I believe that at times we are swollen up with a false sense of our own importance. Many Australians know some of the little countries of the world only as names, and do not know their geographical situation. We forget that the population of any of those countries far out-numbers the population of this country. Australia, in that respect, is only a small country in comparison with any of them. That is the general outlook of many of our people, but we, as members of the National Parliament, must ensure that Australia takes its rightful place in world affairs.
A few weeks ago, the House was discussing international affairs, and I stated on that occasion that I did not believe that we should push ourselves into another country merely because we thought that its people were not getting a fair deal. I contended that we should not intervene unless those people were trying to defend themselves and their way of life. I do not consider that we should take action which we think would be in their interests, whether they ask us for assistance or not.
I turn now to the preamble to the treaty, which states, in part, as follows : -
The Parties to this Treaty,
Desiring to strengthen the fabric of peace and freedom and to uphold the principles of democracy, individual liberty and the rule of law, and to promote the economic wellbeing and development of all peoples in the treaty area.
Therefore agree as follows:
The eleven articles of the treaty then follow, and we agree with them. The Minister and other speakers have discussed them, and I do not propose to refer to all of them. However, Article IV. requires particular attention. It reads as follows: -
I am not sure whether the phrase “ in accordance with its constitutional processes “ refers to the individual States in the area, or to the organization itself.
– It refers to the individual States.
– I assumed that to be so, and I am glad that the Minister has clarified the matter. I have not the slightest doubt that this bill will be passed by the Parliament. The treaty, when it is ratified by the parliaments of the other countries that are signatories to it. will come into force. Thereafter, any action by Australia in the event of an emergency has to be taken in accordance with our constitutional processes. In those circumstances, the amendments foreshadowed by the Leader of the Opposition are safeguards that should be adopted. This Government may not be in office when an emergency arises in the future. All that the Leader of the Opposition wishes to do is to make it definite that before we act in accordance with our commitments under the treaty, the approval of the Parliament will have been given. The inference which I drew from the speech of a Government supporter was that we might require to take immediate action and that it might take too long to secure the approval of the Parliament. I do not consider that such would be the position, because paragraph 3 of Article IV. states as follows : -
It is understood that no action on the territory of any State designated by unanimous agreement under paragraph 1 of this Article or on any territory so designated shall be taken except at the invitation or with the consent of the government concerned.
If one of the countries in the area were attacked, it would not automatically follow that we should jump into the fray. Any action on our part would ‘be taken at the invitation or with the consent of the government concerned. I also interpret Article V. of the treaty to mean that the council, which is to ‘be established by the parties, will consider any action that may be desirable. If that is to be the position, I fail to see any reason for objection to the proposed amendments. The Leader of the Opposition, by his amendment, merely seeks to ensure that -
Before any armed forces are contributed or made available by Australia, under or in accordance with any of the provisions of the Treaty, the prior approval of the Parliament shall be obtained.
I recall that the Parliament was summoned to consider our participation in Korea. If my memory serves me aright, honorable members agreed unanimously that we intervene to counteract the aggression in that country. The approval of the Parliament was obtained on that occasion, and I believe that the Parliament should he consulted on action to be taken under this treaty in the future. Reference has been made in this debate to the need for immediate action to resist aggression. “We live in the age of the atomic bomb and the hydrogen bomb, and the use of those weapons, with little warning, would mean sudden death for many people. I do not know whether that matter has been taken into consideration. The signatories to this treaty seem to be banding together to resist normal aggression as we know it.
– Had. the Labour, party been in office, would, it have made a contribution in Korea?
– The honorable member for Macarthur (Mr. Jeff Bate) invites me to. answer a hypothetical question. I remind him that the Labour Government in World War I. pledged Australia to support the Allied cause to tha last man and the last shilling. I can only give examples of the manner in which tha Labour governments have acted in the past in an emergency. I cannot presuppose, or forecast, a decision. A Labour government decided, in. World War II. that everything,, not only man-power but also the whole of our resources, should be thrown into the struggle. That decision was made, not by Labour members, of tha Parliament, but by the whole Labour movement. I was a delegate to the conference which reached that decision. The Labour party, when it has considered, action to be necessary, has always done the job. I cannot tell the honorable member for Macarthur how the Labour party would have acted, had it been in office at. the time when a decision had to be made on Korea, but I point out: that, no Australian played a greater part than the present leader of the Labour party in the formulation of the United Nations Charter and that the forces engaged in Korea were really the forces of the UnitedNations. It would not be right to say that a Labour government would not have agreed to the participation of Australian forces in Korea. Such a statement would be mere supposition.
I appreciate the good work performed by the Minister for External Affairs in the formulation of the South-East Asia Collective Defence Treaty. This treaty, and previous treaties which he has signed on behalf of Australia, embody, not necessarily his own views, but the policy of the Government itself. I acknowledge that it is easy for the Opposition to criticize the bill, and tell the Government that it should do this, and should not do that. I recognize that the Government has the difficult job in matters of this kind, and I am not attacking’ it in this debate. The Government, when it instructed the
Minister to sign this treaty, doubtless considered that it was acting in tha best interests of this country.
Let us consider, for a few moments, the position if the Government had not been, prepared to sign the treaty. Australia, in those circumstances, would have proclaimed to the world its intention to adopt a policy of isolationism, and to look after itself. Some persons are opposed to the treaty. I, for one, do not like the idea that our young men may be required to lay down their lives in other countries. However, I realize only to well that if we adopt an isolationist policy of looking after ourselves we should not be able to withstand an attack. Of course, another country might feel that ite interests dictated its intervention in order to protect us, but that would be another matter. We would not be able to protect ourselves.
When the Japanese were advancing southwards rapidly early in 1942, the Labour Government decided to recall Australian troops from the Middle East.. The greatly respected Labour Prime Minister, the late Mr. John Curtin, said, in effect, “ We are not, able to check the. Japanese advance without assistance. We can bring our troops: back from the. Middle East to’ try to halt the ‘Japs’’ for a while. We realize that England has so much on its hands, that we cannot expect, much help from that quarter. We shall appeal to the. United States of America, to come to our- assistance We all realize that if America had not. heeded our appeal, Australia would have experienced some of the horrors of invasion that the peoples of other countries suffered in those years. I know that many people are pacifists. I am a realist. I may see virtu? in the principles of pacifism, but I know that we cannot adopt it if another country is not prepared to play the same game. Whilst I recognize those things,. I come back to my earlier remarks. What is the best that we can do for this country ? I repeat that England, upon which we have- depended for so long- but which cannot continue to defend us as- it did in the years gone by, is prepared to come into this treaty. New Zealand is prepared to stand shoulder to shoulder with us in this treaty if we are attacked. And the United States of America, to whom- we appealed* for aid in the past, is prepared to come into the treaty. If those countries are prepared to- shoulder the obligations inherent in this treaty, I support Australia’s participation in it. That is my outlook on this agreement. Of course, one may consider each provision of the treaty and interpret it according to one’s own outlook. I recognize that fact. I am not saying that the treaty is perfect. I do not think that it is; but, in accepting it, I believe that I am accepting something that has been brought into being, not only for the protection of Australia, but also for the protection, throughout the free world, of the way of life which I uphold. If we wish to preserve the democratic ideology we must- fight in defence of it. I know that- there are many critics who will immediately point, to the predominance of undesirable forces,, many of them in positions of control, in some of those democratic countries. I, myself, know of the conditions under which sections of those communities are extremely wealthy whilst millions in. the- same countries are on the verge of starvation. I am aware of those facts, but,, at the same time, I cannot, reject, this treaty simply on that account.
I should like the Minister to give more consideration- to the question of whether we are doing as much as we could to help economically peoples in undeveloped countries. Recently I. received a letter from an organization requesting that I press, in tha Parliament for the granting of increased aid by this country under the Colombo plan. That organization knows at first hand that much good work is: being done under that plan in bringing about a better understanding of the democracies and in establishing goodwill on their’ part towards Australia, as well as- in promoting, confidence in those countries in the democratic way of life. I urge the Minister to recognize to a great degree the thoughts and aims of so many decent people in the community who want to do more in a material and economic way to help those peoples. I understand from the- Minister’s speech that aid will be given to help them to- strengthen their defences and administrative agencies, including the police force. All of that aid, however, is associated with the arms side of their affairs and I fu-Hy appreciate the necessity for it. But, I doubt whether we are placing sufficient emphasis upon the necessity to do more for those peoples from the humanitarian point of view in order to help them to realize that We do not look upon them merely as so many people whom we can teach to fight cornymunism and prevent it from spreading to Australia. We must help them to realize that we are equally concerned about helping them to improve their economic conditions.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- The honorable member for Port Adelaide (Mr. Thompson) began his. remarks by objecting, to implications that- have been made against members of the Labour party by honorable members on this side of the chamber.. I hasten to assure him that the honorable member for Angas; (Mr. Downer) and I make no imputation, against him. Indeed,, I found very little in the honorable member’s speech with which to cavil or1 disagree. He made, it clear that he takes no part in the attack that has been made by honorable members opposite on the.- anti- Communist statements contained in this bilL but that; he supports this treaty as a forward movement in securing the defence of Australia. However, I disagree with his statement that the amendments that the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt) has foreshadowed are reasonable. The first of those, proposed amendments is unnecessary and, I think, would be harmful; and the second would be mischievous. This treaty, which the House is. being asked to ratify, is a part not only of the plan-, tosecure the defence of Australia, but also of the pattern of defence of the free, world, against communism.
Let us consider, briefly, the. postwar background against which thistreaty is being made. After two world, wars, we had no illusion that peace- had come to the world for ever. We placed our hopes, in the United Nations, but we found quickly that its great weakness lay in the veto. The effective operative strength of the United Nations was; vested in the Security Council, every member of which had the right of veto mr and the constant, exercise by Russia of that right made it plain that the United Nations would not be effective in actively securing defence against aggression. In those circumstances, the free nations turned to regional pacts within the framework of the United Nations. In Europe, where the threat from Russia was first made apparent, Nato “was evolved. The great stimulus in making that arrangement effective was the success of the Berlin air-lift. Regional pacts have also been successful in the Balkans and the Middle East, although, now, we are apt to forget their importance. The Greeks reached agreement with the Turks, and that arrangement contributed substantially towards the security of that area. Similar arrangements helped to limit civil war in Greece : whilst the resistance organized by America to threatened Persian aggression has, for the time being, called a halt to aggression in that area. Then, we remember the intervention of the United Nations in Korea. It is true that that intervention was influenced largely by the United States of America, but it was only by the chance withdrawal of Russia from the Security Council at that time that the United Nations was able to intervene in Korea.
But there was left in the defence of the free world a gap which extended to our own area and which has been filled, in part, by the Anzus treaty, which is of great importance to Australia’s safety. That gap has been further plugged this year by the Manila pact. Whilst this pact is not a final answer in sealing our defences completely, it has narrowed the gap considerably. There remain notable deficiencies, but this pact is a definite forward movement and, therefore, deserves the full support of the House. It is only fair to point out that, up to date, the successful defence of the treaty area has depended very largely upon the vast and overwhelming strength of the United States and the great generosity and wisdom with which that strength has been used throughout the world. That country only recently assumed the obligations of leadership of the free world. It has not a long history in diplomacy or in the exercise of great power. It is all very well for us and others to accuse it of making mistakes and of lacking fore- sight, but the plain fact is that if the United States had continued its traditional isolationist policy the free world, of which Australia is a part, would have gone under to communism.
Australia has immense responsibility and interests in plugging this gap in South-East Asia. The assurance given in the statement made by the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) in August that, henceforth, we were prepared to assume obligations for the mutual defence of this area marked a very great change in our traditional external affairs policy. The need for us to go further afield was recognized fully and accepted at that time. It is noticeable that that need was foreseen by the late Mr. Chifley in a speech which he made on his return from the Prime Ministers conference in London, in June, 1946. The remarks that he made then have been quoted in this chamber on previous occasions, but I shall quote them again, because honorable members opposite rely to such a degree upon the wisdom of their former leader and also because the remarks themselves pointed the way to this treaty. Mr. Chifley said -
As a principal power and member of the British Commonwealth in the Pacific, we must also be prepared to shoulder greater responsibilities for the defence of that area, including the upkeep of our bases, which are essential to the strategic plan.
I referred earlier to the heavy burden of military commitments being borne by the people of the United Kingdom who poured out blood and treasure without stint, to save the world-
Some members of the Opposition could well ponder carefully on those remarks to-day. The statement continued -
I therefore told the conference - and I am quite certain that I was expressing the sentiment of both sides of this House and the people of Australia - that it was recognized that Australia must, in future, make a larger contribution towards the defence of the British Commonwealth, that this could best be done in the Pacific, and that the approach to a common scheme of defence of this area should be by agreement between the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand, and thereafter with the United States, and later with other nations with possessions in this area. These views met with the full endorsement of the United Kingdom and New Zealand.
The course suggested by Mr. Chifley reaches its fulfilment in the Manila pact.
What does this treaty seek to do ? It proposes joint consultation and joint action against aggression and internal subversion in the treaty area, which is the area occupied by the nations which are parties to the treaty and the defined area of the Pacific Ocean. The treaty can be applied also to designated areas. The meaning of that provision is indicated when we are told that in the protocol to the treaty the States of Indo-China were designated as areas to which the treaty could apply and aif as in which the contracting parties could take joint action for defence against aggression or joint action to give assistance against subversion. In respect of joint action in the case of internal subversion, the safeguard is provided that such action can be taken only at the invitation of the country that is affected. That provision represents the first serious attempt to deal with the problem of Communist aggression by internal subversion against which we have, so far, found no effective answer. I derive great hope from that provision. In this respect, let us consider, for instance, the unhappy position of Indonesia, whose welfare means more to Australia than, perhaps, does that of any other nation in the area, ‘because Indonesia is so close to Australia. The real danger to Indonesia is not from an act of military aggression by a Communist country; it is from the possibility of rebellion inspired by communism inside Indonesia itself. This treaty provides a ready means whereby the Government of that country, if it were threatened by internal subversion, could ask for assistance, and a ready means by which such assistance could be given.
When we consider the importance of this treaty, and the great benefits which this country and the free world can derive from it if it is made to work effectively, it seems to me that the attitude of the Opposition is somewhat niggardly and carping. That is explained, I believe, by the obvious dilemma in which the two sections of the Opposition find themselves, because, as events which I shall not go into in detail have recently shown, there is a clear division in the Opposition, not only on this matter, but also on other matters of the same sort. There are the pro-Communists, and there are the anti-Communists. There are those who agree and those who do not agree, and their attitude on this treaty cuts right through the centre of that division. What have they decided to do? They have compromised. They have decided to accept the treaty, but to move amendments. At first, so we are told by the press, which seems to have the most accurate reports on these matters, the executive of the Labour party decided that the Opposition would oppose the treaty if the amendments were not accepted. But the majority of the party itself rejected that view and decided to accept the treaty with or without amendments. So we take it that the majority, at the moment, is adopting the antiCommunist view, and to that extent I think we should be grateful.
There is no doubt that the Leader of the Opposition has failed completely to express an anti-Communist view in his approach to the pact. He treated this House last night to a most astonishing speech in which, I agree completely with the honorable member for Angas, his pro- Communist sympathies were never more clearly shown. In the part of his speech which attracted my attention most, he said that the statements contained in the preamble of the bill might be quite true but were irrelevant. Irrelevant ! What are those statements? They have been read to the House before, and I do not want to go through them all again, but they begin with a declaration that the independence and integrity of the countries and territories of South-East Asia and the south-west Pacific are threatened by the aggressive policies of international communism. Is that fact irrelevant to the treaty and to the bill? Was the Korean war irrelevant to Australia’s safety? Were the events in Indo-China irrelevant to the history of our time and to our chances of survival? Is the threat of subversion in Indonesia irrelevant to us?
Is the Leader of the Opposition living in some strange dream world of his own, or is there another reason for his adoption of this attitude? Why did he say that these things are irrelevant to the treaty? He went on to explain his view. He said that any one who knows the history of two world wars knows that fascism and nationalism are equally as productive of .aggression as is communism. Now what significance is there in lis introduction of the word “ fascism “ in this debate? What danger is there of fascist aggression to Australia to-day, or of fascist movements in Asia? What is this treaty for ? It is for the defence, of this country, of the countries of South-East Asia, .and of ‘the free world against the threat of Communist aggression. Let us turn, then, and examine the bitter denunciation by the Leader-of the Opposition of America’s reservation. We know that America, in attaching its signature to .the treaty, put in the reservation that its obligations under the treaty extended only to Communist aggression. The Leader of the Opposition has been subtly suggesting that America has1 adopted only a limited obligation while we lave been led into undertaking an unlimited obligation - in other words, that it has sold us a pup. That is the real purpose of his denunciation of America’s reservation.
In seeking an explanation of the right honorable gentleman’s attitude on these two points, I have turned to that Communist organ, tie Tribune, to find the officially stated attitude of the Communist party in Australia to the Manila pact. I find that the treaty is denounced by the Communists as a part of the pattern of American pro-fascist aggression. The attack made by the Tribune on the pact takes two lines - an attack on fascism, and an attack on America’s activities in world affairs. So again we find that the Leader of the Opposition, in bis attack on the bill, has followed the Communist line. He attacks the preamble of the bill because of its clear and plain statement of the Communist threat to this country. But what is tie treaty for? The treaty is a treaty for mutual defence against Communist aggression and Communist subversion. And what could be more appropriate than that its purpose should be stated clearly to this Parliament, and to the people, in the preamble of the bill? He attacks America’s reservation. But that is perfectly understandable from America’s history, from its constitutional position, and from the fact that the treaty must be ratified by Congress before it can become -effective under American Constitutional law. It is .perfectly understandable that an American .statesman signing that treaty would make it clear that America’s obligations extend only to communism.
I believe that I have explained to the House the reason for the attitude taken by the Leader of the Opposition. With subtlety, he has taken and expounded the ‘Communist line in objection to the treaty, and, unfortunately, he appears to have taken with lim some of his colleagues who have not discerned his true purpose. Let us now turn to the amendments which have been suggested by the Opposition. The first one seeks to provide that ratification of the treaty by Australia shall not be effective until tie treaty las been ratified, or until we have firm assurances of intended ratification, by tie United Kingdom, the United States and New Zealand. Well, what would be the use of such a provision? We are the leading party in this treaty. Tie Minister for External Affairs, far more than any other individual, is responsible for tie formulation of the plan and for the fact that it has reached treaty form. Are we, therefore, to take the lead in attaching reservations to our ratification of it and in imposing delays on it? What would be the use if we did, because, in fact, if Great Britain or the United States did not ratify the treaty .and come in behind it enthusiastically, it would be, in reality, a dead letter.. What would it matter what reservations we attached to it in that case ?
That proposal is part and parcel of the legalistic attitude which the Leader of the Opposition always brings to matters of this sort. He does not want a really effective working treaty. What le wants is a nice document. But international treaties are not construed precisely and . nicely as are the legal documents of individuals. ‘They depend upon goodwill and good intention. If those factors are not present, treaties will not work. If they are, treaties provide the means and the formulae whereby nations may solve their problems and gain common .action. I say that the first amendment proposed fey the Opposition is unnecessary, and would !!>e harmful to the extent that it would suggest that Australia has doubts about the ratification of the treaty and is not taking the lead in its ratification, as we have done in its formulation. Therefore, I say that the proposal should be rejected.
The second amendment would be really harmful, though, as far as 1 can see, no member of the Opposition who has yet spoken has observed that fact. The proposal suggests that, before any armed forces .arc made available by Australia under the provisions of the treaty, the prior approval of the Parliament should be obtained. It looks innocuous enough on the surface, but what would ‘be the constitutional effect of such a provision 1 Tie treaty .in itself does not in any way enlarge the .constitutional powers or rights of the Government. It .does not effect the constitutional status of the Government in relation to the armed forces of the ‘country. Under the British system of parliamentary government, with a Cabinet responsible to the Parliament, defence is pre-eminently an executive function. It is a responsibility of the government of the day. The Government has the right, and in some cases the obligation, to declare war without delay.
I direct the attention of the House to the fact that, under the existing law, the Royal Australian Navy may ‘be committed to action in any part of the world at any time by the government of the day. The Royal Australian Air Force is in the same position, and the Australian Regular Army, under the terms of its enlistment, can also be committed to action in any part of the world. It is true, of course, that, under the provisions of the Defence Act, .the Citizen Military Forces or national servicemen in the Army cannot be sent to serve outside Australia, and the Parliament would have to approve of any intention so to commit them. But what would be the effect of the proposed amendment? Although the Government is now free to commit the Navy to action in any part of the world, if the amendment were carried it would not be free to commit the Navy in any part of the treaty area. In other words, we would have the wholly ridiculous position that the Government would be free to use the naval and air forces available for the defence of this country anywhere except in the area most vital to Australia’s defence. The position would be completely absurd, and I should ‘be interested .to know whether the Leader of the Opposition would like the House to believe that he is not aware of that fact.
The treaty should be welcomed and applauded as. a forward move in securing the safety and security of this country. It is not the final word. There are countries in- the area which have not joined but which we hope will join. If we think of the situation in which we live, we realize that this country benefits greatly by the signature of the treaty. We live in a strange dualism in this time. On the one hand, we must be ready at any moment with force of arms to defend ourselves against Communist aggression and insurrection. There is the need to be ready at any moment to fight for our security. At the same time, on the other hand, there is the need to work for and to find peace. Unless both those purposes are .served, there is no hope for the world. We must, while keeping our powder dry, see that our forces are ready, and that we are alert to recognize the threat of aggression against us in any part of the world and we must promote peace at all times. That is the extraordinary dilemma and the great difficulty that faces the free world to-day. This treaty recognizes both of those needs. It recognizes the need for common action against aggression. It recognizes the need of some of the signatory countries for the help of the other countries against subversion. It recognizes at the same time the need for common action to promote the economic welfare of the region and our obligations to each other if we are to live in peace. The treaty deserves unanimous ratification by the House, and the Minister deserves the thanks of the House and the country for his success in bringing it about.
.- The honorable member for Evans (Mr. Osborne) has attempted to use a most important occasion, that occasion being the debate on a bill to ratify the SouthEast Asia Collective Defence Treaty, as a vehicle for an all-out attack on the leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt). It has become a habit for the young tories of the Government parties - unfortunately, on this occasion I must include among them the honorable member for Angas (Mr. Downer) - to take advantage of every possible opportunity to launch personal attacks on the leader of the Opposition. If the Government is looking for the co-operation of the Opposition, it is going the wrong way about it by putting up its juniors, who are half parsonical in their attitude, mostly dreary and completely misinformed, when it wants to tell us anything about Seato or other international arrangements. That is not the way to get co-operation from this side of the House. Let me put the position plainly and clearly. In the first place, we are not opposing this legislation. We have suggested two perfectly reasonable amendments, because we know the fears and anxieties of people outside the Parliament. The great majority of the Australian people do not go as fast as we do in regard to collective agreements and the employment and deployment of our servicemen overseas. We are only as strong as are our own people. I think the two amendments that have been suggested are reasonable and reflect some of the anxiety of the populace which sent us to this House. Yet they have been denounced as mere communism, and there has been talk of the Leader of the Opposition having put himself in the way of being almost an agent of the Communists. That kind of prattle by the under-developed geniuses on the other side of the House in regard to foreign affairs is becoming rather noisome. We are getting fed up with it. I suggest to the Minister for Territories (Mr. Hasluck), who is now in charge of the House, that our propositions are reasonable.
The honorable member for Evans is in some kind of mental torment. He is looking for red propaganda everywhere. He is like a political spinster who goes home at night and looks under the bed for a red. Apparently he found one, because he came into the House in great consternation. The honorable member for Angas made quite a good speech when he got off the subject on which Govern ment members seem to be becoming quite paranoic and dealt with the subject under discussion. The Opposition is interested in this matter just as deeply as the Government. We accept our responsibilities, and the Government knows that we accept them. Honorable members opposite talk about the framework of the United Nations. The man who has been traduced and maligned in this House was one of the most dogged architects for peace in our time in the United Nations, but junior members who have just come in the Parliament have made him the victim of the latest type of pinchpenny gossip. If we want to keep this debate on a proper level, we should discuss our obligations under this treaty, the perplexities that will assail us and the other things we have to consider. Miscalling the Leader of the Opposition is a cheap way to discuss an international treaty. If the other signatories to the treaty are listening to this debate, they will think the Government has declared war on the Labour party - a party which, by the test of the last general election, has a greater number of supporters in this country than the Government parties, although the arrangement of electoral boundaries enabled the Government parties to take office.
I return to the’ point that we should deal with this treaty in a more sober way. I feel that I am justified in reminding some of the honorable members opposite that the way to achieve amity and a unified approach to the problem is not to keep on miscalling the leader of this most powerful party, to treat this occasion as a cheap holiday and an opportunity to beat their breasts, tell us how patriotic they are and talk the nonsense, the rodomontade, that we get from them ad nauseam about how noble they are on the other side of the House and what a lot of pikers we are on this side. That is not the question at all. Our problem is how to get a unified approach by the Australian people to new, dangerous and almost imponderable problems. The Labour party held a meeting to discuss the matter. We talked about it for two hours before we came into the House. We went through every article of the treaty. Was that a dereliction of duty? It was rather an honorable acceptance of guardianship and trusteeship. When we suggest two amendments, why should not they he considered? Why should they be picked up between the finger and thumb of the Minister and tossed away? They are worthy of consideration.
In dealing with this treaty, there are many things that must be considered. Surely it is not wrong for the Leader of the Opposition to say that everything that could have been in the treaty is not in it. He does not say that he could do any better. .He has said that, so far as the Asian peoples are concerned, something has happened that is good. Pakistan and the other countries that have been mentioned are the Islamic spine of resistance to communism. Will they be impressed with our sincerity when they hear one member of this House point the finger at another member and talk about his lack of bona fides in this matter? If honorable members opposite read the speech made by the Leader of the Opposition last night, they will find no smell of communism there. They will see an analytical mind at work - a mind for which this country should be grateful. They will see a deep and all-pervasive study of problems that are known to him from his long experience of the United Nations. When he makes suggestions about what should be done - his suggestions are sober enough - why should the answer from back-benchers opposite be, “ This is Communist stuff. This is the same old line “ ? Honorable members opposite should not be too smug about these things. They should look a little deeper than the surface. The Leader of the Opposition may be a. man who interprets the United Nations Charter much more humanely than they do.
There is nothing warlike about the Charter. It talks of the amalgamation of peoples for peace. It talks of taking up the agonizing burden of achieving peace, if not in our time, at any rate in the time of generations to come. I detest communism in all its forms and penetrations, but I think the Leader of the Opposition is justified in saying that the preamble of this bill is a piece of naked bad taste. Of course it is. Many magnificent documents have emanated from the United Nations. The charter of Unesco states that war begins in the minds of man. Would not it be better to use language of the kind used in those documents than to say, “ Since the Communists are about to attack us, we, the Australian people, will do so and so “. That reminds me of the two tailors of Tooley-street, who, being concerned about their taxes, addressed a note to Her Majesty Queen Victoria, which began, “ We, the people of England “.
Let us be logical. We are a nation of only 9,000,000 people. An aggressive preamble in this bill is quite unnecessary. If we want beautiful language, if we want limpid language, if we want understanding, if we want something that in the long-run will bring peace rather than bloody conflict, let us look at the language used in the North Atlantic Treaty, the United Nations Charter, and the Anzus pact. They all use moderate language. They do not plead the cause of war or aggression. They do not contain diatribes against the Communists. The parties to those treaties say, “ We are dedicated to the pursuit of peace, but, reluctantly and with sadness, we organize ourselves into groups for our own security because of the circumstances that surround us “.
I think the Leader of the Opposition has every right to criticize the way in which the preamble of the bill is framed. It states, in effect, that, as our independence is threatened, we have wangled a collective security bargain against the Communists that is to our advantage. The persistent references, many of them snide, to the motives of the Leader of the Opposition in this matter are not good for either side of the House. It may be that, in the long-run, he is looking for something that we cannot see. The honorable member for Evans, who took parts of the right honorable gentleman’s speech and tried to make something derogatory to the Opposition out of them, contributed nothing to the debate. There is every justification for suggesting that more pleasant and more dignified language should be used in the preamble. If eventually we come to the point of sacrifice and have to throw everything into the hazard with our allies, let us remember that we are only a very small nation which, fortunately, has powerful friends. God has been beneficent to us in that way, at least so far. But we must remember that we are Australasians and that we have to live in am Asian conkmunity. There ia noi need for us to. go about rattling the sabre or dragging the sword around. There is mo- need for us to adopt this cock-sparrow attitude- to- war in the Pacific, because it would be dreadful if it’ ever occurred. In- the circumstances, I think the Leader of the Opposition has every justification for drawing attention to the undiplomatic and’ rugged language used in the preamble.
The next point, taken by the members of the Government parties is that these two amendments should not have been sugvested. Apparently, im the view of the Government, there is something sacrilegious about having to look at the document. Some of the greatest United Nations documents have been flops. Some of the most frightful things have occurred as a result of agreements made with the best of intentions. Who would say that everything in the Yalta Agreement was good ? The Potsdam Agreement, although made with the best intentions in the world, gave China over to the Russians and the Communists. The. Potsdam Agreement, when we look at it in its historical’ perspective; was a- tragedy, but the good and true men who- approved of it did not see it in that light. Nobody would suggest -that Roosevelt; Churchill and any of their associates’ were doing anything except what they thought to be best, but, the treaties’ did’ not work out ais they anticipated. The Japanese knew they had; to capitulate^ but we made a deal with Stalin that gave him Manchuria, and a lead into Yenan and: the Communists huddling im. the caves in the. south-west of China.. Ali those thingshappened because we were not aware of the implications, of the- agreements and did not appreciate the cunning of the. m-art who* alleged that he. was: our ally. Those experiences should warn us toperuse documents of this kind most carefully. The Minister for- Territories (Mr. Hasluck), as an officer- of. the Department of External Affairs,. was> associated with the United Nations. He knows the. trickery of the written word, and the treacherous role of the protocol which, being boiled down into good English, may mean precisely what it does; not, appear to- mean.
The Opposition asks that, the amendment, dealing with the ratification of the treaty be accepted. The amendment suggests, that,, if other nations decide to ratify the. treaty, we should sign either concurrently with them or later,, but weshould not take the- initiative.. That, may not appear to be important,, but it would be. a safeguard. Who- can blame us for seeking to- impose, safeguards?’ I think it. is a part of our duty not. to be toobrash, reckless, unconcerned and Super’patriotic in these matters,, because the prize is Australia itself.
The second amendment relates to the question of war. Who in this. Parliament would’ say sincerely that that is not the subject of deep anxiety by people outside the Parliament? As the- great. Leader of the Labour party, the. late Mr. John Curtin, brought the people slowly to accept a concept of military service further away from Australia, than had been envisaged until then, except under a voluntary system, so we have to bring the people slowly to a realization of what this treaty means. We do not have to slap the community in. the. face with this idea.. We know the constitutional difficulties involved. Nobody knows them better than does- the Leader- of the Opposition, the most eminent constitutional authority in this, country. Therefore,, the Opposition submits that the treaty should be analysed. We. know that it. has been possible, in British countries, for the Prime Minister of the day to order forces- into action, but very soon afterwards tha Government, has- been obliged to face the Parliament and the people-. The Opposition is: suggesting: the amend- ments as. a precaution, and as, something that should be discussed. Already it. cam be observed, from the. attitude, of. the. Government, that; it is going to toss these amendments out. It has taken hold of Seato as, though it were, a magic talisman.. The. Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Casey), whose main’ performance at Manila was to wear a barong tagalog and dance, the gavotte with some very charm, ing ladies. - that, is all I read about; the matter in the press - wa» prepared toaccept this thing holus bolus, without consideration. If the Opposition takes it topieces, if it is- a little bitter about it, if it, is. prepared to sift every word and to submit amendments, does that give any warrant for an attack on the Leader of the Opposition or for the .suggestion that he is trying to play the game of another country’? That is a completely unworthy suggestion.
Those people of Asia who are looking for amity, decency, and a certain diplomatic dignity, are not finding it in the attitude of the Government, which thinks that, because it has a treaty, something which can be brought home from tours abroad, the whole thing is finished. It is the solemn duty of the Australian Labour party to examine this measure. The Opposition is discharging that duty, and is pressing on with the amendments that have been foreshadowed. It hones that, in the committee stage, the Government will consider the real significance of them. There are points in the treaty to which one must give grave consideration. Article TV., about which the Leader of the Opposition had much to say, is the pivot upon which the whole treaty swings. It has been discussed in detail. I only wish to state, in passing, that the proposed amendments follow an extremely close consideration of the whole matter.
The preamble of the bill is bad. It is rugged and offensive. Its language is brutal and unnecessary. Some one should approach .the Minister, or his draftsmen, and .ask that something be done about it. If the Minister is unable to SUpplY the necessary words to improve it, let him borrow them from the other splendid documents that have been drawn up by the United Nations, and let him not parade naked aggression in this House as a reason for ratifying a document which has, for its final purpose, the preservation of peace, and not the prosecution of war.
– I invite the honorable member to read the fourth paragraph.
– I have read it. The Government has made no reference whatever to the pacific intentions that lie behind the document. It was left to the honorable member for Batman (Mr. Bird) to point out the manner in which we can win friends and influence people in the Pacific area. He referred to plans that could !be used for the strengthening of the Asian nations which, of necessity, are not very happy about being associated with this ‘treaty. The power drag is there, perhaps, and a lot of them are refraining from subscribing to it. In my view, the honorable member for Batman made a splendid contribution to the debate when he referred to the manner in which good intentions may .be displayed. Let us f ace up to the hard and .bitter facts that we have a White Australia policy which is anathema to the Asians, that we have, or are alleged to have, empty land that is capable of great development, and that we are proceeding with that development very slowly. It is with those facts in mind that our enemies in Asia canvass against us. Before we express any intention of goodwill and mutual security along the lines that are envisaged in the treaty, we must convince the Asians that we are, to use a good old Australian term, fair dinkum
The honorable member for Batman carried the matter to a rather useful conclusion when he stated that, in addition to these things, we must show charity. Is the Government showing charity when it states, in effect, in the preamble -of the bill, “ We have the strength with us. We have the United States of America, France, the British peoples and some segments of the Asian continent behind us, and therefore we are going to rattle the sabre “ ? Buried somewhere in the bill is another matter of greater significance, to which the honorable member for Batman directed attention. He pointed out - and I am sure the Minister will agree with him - that we must .develop the peaceful side of this matter by ascertaining the degree to which we, and other instrumentalities of the United Nations, can be useful in preserving peace in Asia by sharing some of the burden.
– Let the honorable member read Article HI.
– Tories like supporters of the Government were responsible for the troubles, in ‘China. Anybody who has been in -China for a minute knows that the white man is anathema in that country, .and that he nas been -so regarded for ‘25 years. Anybody who has been in India or Malaya for a minute realizes that, in relation to peaceful coexistence with those countries, our number is up. The Asians are prepared to rattle the sabre too, and they are prepared to adopt the Chinese equivalent of the statements that are contained in the preamble of this bill. What does the Government hope to achieve as a result of this bill ? Peace or war ? The Opposition appeals to the Minister to change the phraseology. It is of no use defending it because it follows parliamentary practice.
– Which phraseology does the honorable member mean ?
– That phraseology in the bill which refers to communism. It may be a cheap invitation to a people who see Communists everywhere to remember that they will be watched, with Casey lowering the boom at any tick of the clock, which, of course, is not the case. The Minister should re-examine the preamble. He should also answer the points raised by the honorable member for Batman in relation to the development of channels of friendship to those countries that are already with us, and to those countries that may join us by subscribing to instruments similar to the treaty under consideration, and in relation, to the degree to which the spearhead of goodwill may be thrust into the Asian continent. The Standing Orders prevent a discussion of the Colombo plan, but there is inherent in Seato the same Christian and anti-war approach. We must do mighty things. Although this country may have special plans for conserving its food and selling it at good prices, it must decide, sooner or later, how much it can share with Asia, because the tragedy that has befallen Asia is the result of the white man’s work rather than the things that the Asian has done of his own volition.
The words “ peace “, “ sacrifice “, “ freedom “, and “ liberty “ are not in the Asiatic language. The meaning of those words was displayed in India by our missionaries, whose warning we refused to heed. We were willing to listen to the soldiers, and to the civil servants who were running the line for their bosses in Whitehall. It was only because England found itself in a miraculous position, in which it usually finds itself when it is confronted with a crisis, that trouble was avoided. England discovered Sir Winston
Churchill during World War II., just as it discovered Mr. Attlee, who had sufficient courage to point out the way that the sub-continent of India was going. We left India with good grace and, as theMinister for External Affairs knows only too well as a result of his work in that country, we left them a civil service that was already established and theknowhow of running a democracy. Thesame statement applies to Pakistan. Weshould export to those countries, not only treaties which are prefaced by threats,. Colombo plans and other things, but also goodwill and the know-how for the development of them. This debate should have been conducted with that in mind.
I do not wish to say any more about that aspect of Seato, because I have expressed myself before. I am in complete and utter agreement with the treaty, but I disagree, first, with the attitude of some of the younger supporters of the Government who seem to think in these terms : “ It is a nice day. Let us go out and shoot somebody “. The person they select is the leader of the Labour party. If they start that kind of thing, they will meet the maximum of resistance from this party. Secondly, I think the Government should not be so arrogant in relation to the phraseology of the bill. Perhaps I have reiterated some of these matters too often, but they are important, as honorable members on this side of the House have been trying to tell the Government since the commencement of the debate. Thirdly, and finally, two amendments have been foreshadowed which will be discussed at the committee stage and which, in themselves, are reasonable. If the Minister contends that one of them concerns a constitutional practice, which cannot be altered by this bill, I beg him to remember that there are people outside the Parliament who wish this treaty to be explained. The people of this country are being conditioned for a future which is full of hazards. The possibilities of atomic warfare and all the other shocking imponderables that beset our dreams and haunt our waking hours should be translated into simple language for the people who send us here. If we cannot, as a powerful Opposition, submit amendments without being mis-called
Communists, or speak in strong terms about things we dislike, there is no democratic government in this Parliament. I feel deeply concerned about several of the speeches that were made here during the rather dreary debate this afternoon, and I have taken the liberty to put forward my point of view in relation to them.
Seato would not be in existence if it were not for men like the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt), who helped in the architecture of the United Nations. If honorable members opposite -want a warrant of how the Government has changed its view, and what a carping critic it was when it was in opposition, they should go into the library and read the criticisms of the United Nations which were, made by such distinguished men as the present Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies), the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture (Mr. McEwen), the PostmasterGeneral (Mr. Anthony), and a galaxy of talent that haunted, or infested, this side of the House about eight years ago. They were not prepared to acknowledge the glory and dignity of the United Nations then, because they were not on the executive side of government. They should be humble in this matter. They must remember that, as far as credit for helping to establish the United Nations is concerned, the weight of world opinion is on the side of the Leader of the Opposition in this Parliament at the present time.
.- This is one of the most important treaties into which the Commonwealth of Australia has entered. It is an eight-power pact which aims at the collective defence of South-East Asia and the South-West Pacific. It seeks to achieve the freedom, security and peace of that area, and, in doing that, it also seeks to maintain peace throughout the world. The Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Casey), in his second-reading speech, referred to the Monroe doctrine, which is a doctrine of non-interference with the rights of others. It also includes the principle that if one is menaced, one is entitled to defend oneself. That is the basis of this present treaty. There is, in fact, a menace which is well described in the preamble of the bill. It is because of that menace that these powers have joined together to defend themselves in this area generally, and to maintain peace in the world. The signatories are peaceful powers. They have no desire for war, but are determined to prevent aggression.
It is true that Communist propaganda has represented the United States of America as a warlike nation. That, like so much Communist propaganda, is the reverse of the truth. The United States has never been anxious for war. In its early days, it evolved the Monroe doctrine to keep it away from war, but, subsequently, and most reluctantly, it came into two world wars. It had no desire to be involved in those wars, but was forced into them. After World War II., the United States expended much money and energy in bringing about the formation of the United Nations, and it did that as an act of faith, in the belief that, through these united nations, peace might be preserved. Today, the United States has no territorial designs. It is not a warmongering nation. Similarly, the countries of the British Commonwealth of Nations are not warmongers. There is no need, in Australia, for peace societies, or for people to say, “ We must join together and tails about peace “. That, as we know, is a part of the Communist propaganda. This country believes in peace and wants only peace. The people who belong to such peace societies should exercise their talents in countries on the other side of the world, if they really want peace and are not merely Communists posing as advocates of peace.
This treaty, as I understand it, is approved by both sides of this House, but, notwithstanding that approval, strangely enough, criticism has been directed towards it by members of the Opposition. It is true that some of those honorable members seemed to be somewhat doubtful whether or not their criticism was justified, but they proceeded on the basis that their Leader had advised them, and that, therefore, although they did not quite understand what he was getting at they proposed to follow his lead. The Opposition proposes to introduce two amendments, one of which will provide that the treaty shall not be ratified by us until1 it has been ratified, or there are firm assurances of intended ratification, by the United Kingdom, the United States of. America and New Zealand. This talk of waiting for the other man to do something reminds me of the Walcheren expedition in 1809. Honorable, members may remember that the Earl of Chatham and Sir Richard Strachan waited on one another and nothing waa done. In other words, if we were to wait until somebody else did something about this treaty, we might find that nothing would be done’. This country has proudly taken the lead in bringing about this treaty, and it should continue to take the lead. In relation to. that part of the proposed amendment which is concerned with firm assurances of ratification by other coun>tries, I suggest that we have firm assurances already. The treaty has been signed. “What more could we want than that? Are we now to say to these great Powers who have, joined us, “ You have signed the treaty, but we do not believe that you. are going to- carry out the provisions of the treaty “ ? What an extra.ordinary point of view! Do honorable members opposite realize, when they put forward this, amendment that they make themselves’ absurd in the eyes of the world, particularly in the eyes of the countries with which we are joining?. It is simply ludicrous. No doubt the amendments will be put forward on the basis that honorable members opposite have, as. they have said,, a great constitutional lawyer leading them. They may not quite understand what he is getting at, but because he is supposed to be a great constitutional lawyer, they will follow him. I believe that a man who is entitled to be called a great constitutional lawyer must show breadth of knowledge and greatness of intellect. The amendment bears no traces of those attributes.
Let us. look at ‘ the second proposed amendment, which is to the. effect that, before any armed forces are made available by Australia under, or in accordance with, any of the provisions of. the treaty, the prior approval of the Parliament shall be obtained.
– What is wrong with that?
– While we were calling the: Parliament together,, a powerful attack like that on Pearl Harbour or something of the kind could happen, and1 wa should be. annihilated before the Parliament had time to meet. That would not matter to the honorable member for Watson (Mr. Curtin), because he never would be missed^ As the terms of the treaty show, it may be necessary for instant action to be taken, and, that being so, it is certain that Australia will definitely take that instant action. In those circumstances, one has no doubt that the Parliament would be called together, and in- due course told all about it, and1 that the Parliament would confirm what had been- done by the Government. Consequently, the provision suggested by the Leader of the Opposition is unnecessary. Prom the viewpoint of making- the treaty adequate, according to the needs of this particular time-, it is essential that, the Government should have the- power, as it would have the duty, to> take instantly the necessary steps1 to- repel invasion. The next point of criticism1, but upon which no amendment has been mo’ved, was in connexion with the preamble of the treaty.
We have just listened to a speech by the honorable member for Parkes (Mr: Haylen) in which he objected to- Government supporters criticizing the Leader of the Opposition . J do not: know whether to call his speech- an apology or a lecture - perhaps it, was- both. He seemed to be making a grand apology - in capitals - for his leader, but at the- same, time he was lecturing Government supporters, for daring to criticize his leader. It is a strange thing that we should not be allowed to criticize the Leader of the Opposition, but that his own party should be permitted to so criticize him - if criticism is not” much too mild a word - in their caucus. Surely if the leader of a party speaks in this House, those in opposition to him, in this case the Government supporters’, are entitled to deal with his remarks and point out the extraordinary character of them if they happen to be extraordinary.
Now let us consider the criticism put forward1 by the Leader of the Opposition. He objected to the preamble of the bill which reads -
Whereas the- independence and integrity of the countries and territories of South-East
Asia and the South-West Pacific are threatened by. the aggressive policies of international communism :
What is objectionable about that? Is, it true or untrue? Is. it what the treaty is dealing with or is it not? I am asking those questions, but I am not getting an answer from the Opposition. Again -
And whereas those Communist policies have already shown themselves im Korea, Indo- China and elsewhere by armed aggression, andi by armed insurrection assisted from without and otherwise :
Is that true or is not true? Again I do not get an answer from the Opposition. Once again I ask whether that is what the treaty is to deal with or whether it is not. And I hear no answer. The preamble continues -
And whereas those Communist policies represent a common danger to the security of Australia and of the world generally and are a violation of the principles and purposes of the Charter of the United Nations:
Surely that also is true. Then again -
And whereas, in consequence of the foregoing, countries in or concerned with the security of South-East Asia and the SouthWest Pacific have determined to join together for the purposes of meeting this common danger and of promoting the security and well-being oi the region of South-East Asia, and the South-West Pacific.
That is perfectly true, indeed it is what the treaty is concerned about. Therefore, why does the Leader of the Opposition object to those principles being set out? We are fighting against aggression, as indicated in the preamble, but, strangely enough, whenever this Government proceeds to fight communism the Leader of the Opposition immediately proceeds to fight the Government. He and his party are supporting this bill, but immediately the Government indicates that it is attacking communism, the Leader of the Opposition instantly objects, and his apologizer, the honorable member for Parkes, says that this preamble is offensive. To whom is it offensive ? Of course it is offensive to Russia and Communist China, but to whom is it offensive in this House ? It is offensive to the Leader of the Opposition, to one individual only, but I am not prepared to say that it is offensive to his party, and I am sure that there are plenty of members of the Labour party to whom it is not offensive. It is only to this particular individual that it is offensive. The only way in which the Leader of the
Opposition attempts to deal with this preamble is to say that it is irrelevant, and that these recitals do not. appear in certain, other treaty documents and accordingly should not appear in this bill. Surely we must deal with each particular matter separately.. One has often seen lawyers argue in court, but they should never refer to documents that have no relevance to their cases. I cannot help wondering what would happen if the Leader of the Opposition had been arguing before a. court on lines similar to the lines upon which he argued against this measure. He would not have got what we call “ a good run “ from the judge.
– How much does the honorable member get for his advice ?
– Order ! The honorable member for Watson will get my advice free of charge if he does not remain silent.
– I shall now deal with the relevance of the preamble of the bill It is very relevant, indeed, for two reasons. One is that we are not entering into this treaty to be made a party to- a possible war between Pakistan and India, for example. Consequently, in order to guard ourselves against such a situation and point out our real purposes, the preamble has been included. The second reason is to bring ourselves into line with the United States of America, and to show that our obligations under this treaty are exactly the same as those that have been undertaken by America. Both America and Australia are entering this treaty with one purpose only; that is, to fight Communist aggression.
– Is that relevant?
– I do not expect the honorable member for Perth (Mr. Tom Burke) to appreciate relevance, because we very rarely hear anything relevant from him in this House. The Leader of the Opposition stated that the preamble was not relevant. On the contrary, it is highly relevant. It puts the United States of America and .Australia in exactly the same position in relation to the treaty. The argument of the Leader of the Opposition that there is a difference between the obligations of Australia and those of the United States falls to the ground. There is no substance in the argument at all. It resembles the form of propaganda that the Communists use so often in trying to drive a wedge between the British Commonwealth of Nations and the United States. The Communists try to destroy that good relationship by contending that there is a difference between the obligations of the allied nations. That is entirely inaccurate. We are in exactly the same position in relation to this treaty and both parties intend to stand together to preserve the peace of the world.
I wish now to deal further with the form of the treaty. It provides that there shall be co-operation and consultation between the various signatories of the treaty. That provision has been designed with a view to planning ahead, to reach conclusions by agreement, and to prevent rash or provocative action that a single nation might possibly take. Anything that is done will be the result of joint consultation. The only exception will be in circumstances where instant action is called for and then, of course, instant action has to be taken. Otherwise, the whole object of the treaty is to ensure that the powers shall consult together and shall decide in unison what shall be done. The purpose is not only to meet actual aggression on the part of the Communists, but also to deal with subversive methods that are so commonly used. I do not propose to discuss that matter in detail, because the Minister has covered it to some extent.
What will occur as the outcome of this treaty? A permanent organization for the defence of South-East Asia and the South-West Pacific will be set up, and there will be a unity of defensive purpose in that area. However, that is only one side of the picture. It is quite clear that under this treaty, Australia will be definitely pledged, should the occasion arise, to send men and equipment overseas. The reason is that it is far better to defend ourselves outside Australia than to have an enemy invade Australia first. In approving the treaty, the Parliament will give the Government authority to act, and there will be no occasion for the authority to be given by the Parliament at a later date. The authority should be given now, so that the nations with which we have entered into a treaty will know where we stand and what we will do. They must know that we intend to carry out our duties and obligations under the treaty.
Provision is also made under the treaty for economic aid for the underdeveloped countries of South-East Asia. That is an exceedingly important provision. For a long time, those countries have suffered from what is called colonialism. We want those countries to understand that, so far as we and the other parties to the treaty are concerned, there is nothing but the utmost goodwill towards them. There is no intention of bringing back colonialism or any other form of imperialism whether it be Communist or something else. The intention is that they should grow in political stature and retain the independence that they have recently won, and that they should be helped economically. The intention is that they should have the food, the housing and the health services which, in their underdeveloped state, they have not had. Much has already been done for those countries through the United Nations organization and under the Colombo plan. It is necessary that there should be still more development along those lines and I have no doubt that that will be done. Broadly speaking, this treaty should achieve much. It should achieve what it is designed to bring about - the freedom, security and peace of South-East Asia and the maintenance of the peace of the world.
.- The honorable member for Balaclava (Mr. Joske) followed to some degree, but not in such extreme language, the line that has characterized the supporters of the Government ever since they were returned to power. Whether it be an international treaty or a domestic situation, they have to seek some paltry political propaganda out of the troubles of the nation or the travail of the world. So it was with the honorable member for Balaclava. He has sought to claim that any honorable member of this Parliament who adopts a certain stand must needs be acting in defence of or adherence to the Communist party or Communist opinions. The broad reference, of course, is to members of the Australian Labour party in Opposition. The history of the Australian Labour party speaks for itself. Whenever the menace of communism has raised its head in industry or followed undemocratic lines abroad, members of the Labour party at home and representatives of the Labour party abroad have always endeavoured to stand up against the Communist challenge. We do not mouth the mealy sentiments to which honorable members opposite so often give tongue, but we stand on firm principles. We need no phsychological defences. We stand, as a political party, for democratic institutions. We oppose all undemocratic institutions. In the forums of the world, mainly through the voice of the present Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt), we have consistently taken a stand against all undemocratic forces in favour of international machinery that seeks to solve the problems of the world by arbitration and not by recourse to arms. We have taken a similar stand on great national issues at home. Notwithstanding the sneers and slurs of members of the Government, we shall maintain our attitude. It has characterized the Labour party since its birth, and characterizes it to-day.
The honorable member for Balaclava said that there was no need for the amendments that the Opposition has foreshadowed. The first is that we should not ratify this convention until other members have ratified it. Our amendment refers not to all parties, but to the principal parties to the present agreement. Two things might be said. The first is that this is a common course in international agreements. It is commonly provided that until a certain number or a certain group of powers have ratified an international agreement, it shall have no force in law at all. That is what we seek to do now. We seek to have applied, in this case, a provision that has been common to many international agreements on defence, monetary and trade organizations that have been ratified by this Parliament. Some have been approved during my membership of the Parliament. Not only is it usual; it is also common sense. At a solemn meeting of both branches of the legislature, we will approve this measure. Then, if the treaty is not ratified by the United Kingdom and the United States of America, our solemn procedures in this Parliament in passing this bill will have been a sorry farce, because unless those major nations become parties to the agreement, the treaty will not operate. So the Opposition says, that we should follow on this occasion, the normal practice in connexion with agreements of this type, and that ratification by Australia should not take place until the agreement has been ratified by the major nations which have appended their signatures to it.
The honorable member for Balaclava has also suggested that one of the amendments foreshadowed by the Labour party is an insult to the great United States of America, because it seeks firm assurances from that country. As I followed the course of the discussions at the Manila conference, I gained the impression that the American Secretary of State, Mr. Dulles, was not absolutely certain that Congress would accept the proposed treaty. The Minister for External Affairs has stated in his second-reading speech that America has no territorial interests in the area concerned, and has little cause to give guarantees, in certain circumstances, of military support. Acceptance of a commitment of this kind is contrary to the practice of American governments for many years. It is opposed, too, to a large body of isolationist thought, although that attitude is not so strong to-day as it was in the past, which objects to American entanglement in European wars, and, indeed, to American commitments of man-power, munitions and materials in any wars. So, Mr. John Poster Dulles had to impose certain conditions in order to give himself the best chance of securing the ratification of this treaty by the House of Representatives and, primarily, the .Senate. Accordingly, he had to get this assurance, and even then, because of the separation of the powers of the executive and the legislature in the United States of America, he has no guarantee that the treaty will be ratified by Congress. The Minister las directed attention to that matter in his second-reading speech. I emphasize that we are not insulting the United States, and that we are not making .any effort to insult that country. We are simply having .regard to the practical situation in America, to which the Minister has made pointed reference in his second-reading speech.
The honorable gentleman has also suggested that Opposition members either do not understand the Leader of the Opposition and his approach to this measure, or are following him willy-nilly, regardless of their own personal views. I make it clear that the views put by the Leader of the Opposition in this House are the views that have been expressed in the party room. The concurrence of members of the party to the two proposed amendments has been obtained. The amendments are reasonable, and they should appear in a bill of this kind. So the efforts of the honorable member are as cheap as was his effort to score off my colleague, the honorable member for Watson (Mr. Curtin) in the course of his remarks. The honorable gentleman has said that we do not dare to criticize the Leader of the Opposition. All we suggest to him, and, indeed, to Government supporters generally, is that their cheap sneers and unnecessary gibes serve no useful purpose for this country, and gain no credit for it abroad. Why do honorable members opposite seek to score a petty party political advantage on a matter of this kind ? The Leader of the Australian Labour party in this Parliament said that the statements in the preamble of the bill had no legal force and achieved no purpose. As a matter of fact, that aspect was not discussed at any length by the party.
The Minister, in the course of his second-reading speech, pointed out that the American representative suggested at one stage that the text of the treaty itself should refer specifically to communist aggression. The Minister proceeded to point out that the American suggestion was opposed by the Australian representative, and by .the representatives of the other nations at Manila. So, at the request, perhaps on the insistence of our Minister and a majority of the other dele- gates at the conference, the -words to which the Leader of the Opposition objects were excluded from the treaty. The reason for their attitude concerns me not one whit, but I note the keenness of the Minister to place them in this bill. The inclusion of the words would not have any legal force, and Australia would not derive any benefit from the organization. The purpose of the Minister is to trick some one, or to have some one object to the inclusion of the words, so that honorable members opposite may again be able to point the finger of -scorn and say, “ You come out in defence of communism, or ‘show your partiality for the Communist philosophy, ideology ot whatyouwill “. I have often noticed this willingness on the part of Government supporters to sacrifice a national advantage, or diminish the importance of a solemn occasion so as to gain a miserable and temporary propaganda advantage.
This is an important and valuable treaty. It is a pattern of regional agreements by which we can secure peace in our time, and in the time of our children and their children. Therefore, members of the Goverenment and members of the Parliament as a whole should give this matter the consideration it deserves, devoid of any .attempt to secure party political advantage, and devoid of cheap criticism, of which we have heard so much in this debate. The agreement is within the framework of the United Nations itself. We, as a Labour party, and as a Labour government, had a large part in the formation of that organization. We embarked upon it with high hopes, though with some doubts, because of the framework which was established at San Francisco, and at later meetings which culminated in the inauguration of the General Assembly. I recall that members of the Australian delegation came back to Canberra and told of their fight against the adoption of the veto. The explanation was given that there was a ready agreement on enforcement action, and that when actual positive military moves were required, the veto was conceded to the Big Five. However, the Australian delegation vigorously opposed the exercise of the veto on discussions of matters to be placed on .an agenda for ordinary consultative procedure. It is possible, and I think it is probable, that the Minister for Territories (Mr. Hasluck) was a member of that delegation.
Members of the delegation, on their return to Australia, were criticized, by members of the present Government Who at that time sat in Opposition in this House. They were in Opposition then, but are in government now. They claimed, after the San Francisco conference, that our action as a government, through our representatives in America, created the danger of ruining the framework of the new United Nations Organization, and nullifying its efforts. The attitude which we took on that occasion through our spokesmen has been demonstrated to be correct by events since that time. We look upon Seato as another agreement made for collective security for certain peoples within a specified area and within the framework of the United Nations. I believe that the treaty is a very useful step forward. While I pay no glowing tribute to the Minister for External Affairs, anybody who can bring about regional pacts for the twin purposes that this treaty seeks to achieve ought to be congratulated by the Australian nation. This treaty seeks to do two things. The first is to show that aggression will not pay. If action along these lines had been taken long ago, we might have been spared the calamities that have from time to time befallen the world. However, we have learnt lessons from history. The treaty makes known to would-be aggressors that, should they move their frontiers by force of arms, the collective force of specified nations will be brought into play against them. That seems to be the only way to deter certain, nations. A movement of frontiers does not happen suddenly, but gradually over a period of years. Perhaps, as a result of injustice, ultimately some nations’ consider that they might gain a benefit by having recourse to arms. I think it is evident to everybody that the two great world conflicts through which we have passed might have been averted had the nations, which became allies made their views known ‘ earlier. Had it been made known to Ger- many in 1914 that the combined force of Great Britain, Prance and the United States of America would resist aggression by that country, World War L might have been averted. It was a tardy recognition of the situation by the allies: that made possible that great conflict. The same is true of World Wai’ II. Had the allies announced in 1939 that they would combine to resist aggression, that waimight have been averted. So it is that, when international tension increases to a stage at which war could easily eventuate, if a group of nations makes it abundantly clear that in the event of any nation - whether great or small: - moving to alter its frontier by force of arms, the combined weight of the group will be applied to stop that aggressive move, the world might be spared the horrors of war. For that reason I give my support wholeheartedly to the treaty that this bill seeks to ratify. We know that, of itself, the treaty will not be sufficient. Trade, social and cultural needs must be satisfied before a real peace can exist. But the fundamental element, which the Parliament wholeheartedly supports, is the insistence that frontiers shall not be moved, differences overcome, or injustice be put right by warfare.
In common with our great allies in World War II., and other powers, both great and. small, who subscribe to our ideals of freedom, justice, and equity between’ the peoples of the world, we make it clear by the treaty that we shall do our utmost to ensure that aggression by any nation will not pay, but that arbitration should prevail. But that is not sufficient without the implementation of the twin aims of the treaty. Before dealing with that, I want to refer to the Opposition’s second proposed amendment. It provides that a force shall not be supplied, in pursuance of the treaty, without the approval of the Parliament. I regard that provision as a fundamental, democratic and necessary adjunct of any activity such as is contemplated by the treaty. First, that is a correct usage of democratic machinery. Secondly, the wholehearted support of the people of Australia would back a decision, of the
Parliament. Both of those steps are necessary if the people are to understand the possible magnitude of our commitments. Ordinary democratic procedure makes it necessary for the Parliament itself to make a decision before we commit forces to a war, because a small war can develop into a major conflict. In order to relieve the Executive Government of responsibility, it is necessary for the Parliament to be consulted.
– Does the honorable member agree that time would be a factor?
– I shall deal with that aspect in a moment. The Executive Government in a democracy tends to take to itself great power. In a case like this, the determination of the limit of Australia’s contribution should not rest upon the Executive.
Both the honorable member for Evans (Mr. Osborne) - and the honorable member for Gippsland (Mr. Bowden) by interjection - stated that the making of a decision might involve a lapse of time, and so delay the prosecution of the effort that we would be forced to make. I do not accept that contention. “When a certain situation developed not long ago, the Parliament was assembled within 24 hours, and passed the necessary measure in about two hours. It could have done so in less time than that. The decision was taken, not by the Executive, but by the Parliament assembled. The Government has not disproved the wisdom of our proposal.
The honorable member for Evans said that the Navy and the Air Force might have to go through a certain area, and that the amendment would put a limitation on their operations. The honorable member completely misjudged the situation. Wherever our forces may go today, they will be able to go if the amendment is accepted. This amendment applies to action in pursuance of the Seato obligations. The amendment would not alter that position. Before warlike measures are taken, whether defensive or offensive, pursuant to the treaty obligations, the Parliament ought to be called together and the situation explained to the representatives of the people. The
Parliament, which is composed of the representatives of people of various political persuasion, ought to make the decision, and take responsibility, on their behalf, for the consequences, whether great or small, short or long.
Sitting suspended from 6 to 8 p.m.
– I ask for leave to continue my remarks later.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
Bill presented by Mr. Holt, and read a first time.
– by leave- - I move -
That the bill be now read a second time. ‘
The bill sets out to do two things, and two things only at this stage. I do not put it forward on behalf of. the Government as a bill to make comprehensive amendments of the Stevedoring Industry Act 1949. It seeks to amend that act, but it does not attempt at this stage to make a comprehensive review of it. Nor should the fact that some provisions of the 1949 act will remain unchanged following the amendments to be made by this bill, be taken as implying that the Government has endorsed in principle, either in part or in the whole, some of those untouched portions of the principal act. It will be seen from what I shall say later that we have some other changes in mind and that we may, at a later stage, ask the House to make the comprehensive review of the legislation that the Government considers to be necessary. As I have stated, the bill sets out to-do two things. It authorizes me to appoint a committee of inquiry to examine the organization and operation of the waterfront industry and the other matters that honorable members will see set out in clause 11 of the bill. The second thing that the measure seeks to do is to vary the present procedure by which men enter the stevedoring industry for employment on the waterfront.
The reasons for the appointment of a committee of inquiry will, I believe, be obvious enough to most honorable members. The waterfront industry, throughout its history, has presented a complex set of problems. The industry is undoubtedly a difficult one, and the reasons for this trouble are not difficult to find. Stevedoring is one of the few remaining casual industries, and such efforts as have been made from time to time to work out a system of permanent engagement for those in the industry have proved fruitless. What distinguishes it from most other industries is the fact that the normal direct relationship between employer and employee does not exist. Subject to minor qualifications, only one union comes into the picture to represent the employees - the Waterside Workers Federation of Australia, which is a powerful union of about 27,000 members. The registered employers of those waterside workers number about 450 bodies and persons. They include the shipowners and the stevedoring companies concerned. Some of the stevedoring companies are linked with the shipowners. Others are independent. Then there are the harbour trust authorities, and prominently in the picture in recent years has been the statutory authority appointed by the Australian Parliament in accordance with legislation introduced by the Labour Government. That body is known as the Australian Stevedoring Industry Board.
I believe it to be a matter of notoriety that performance on the Australian waterfront over the years has caused widespread dissatisfaction. Performance on the waterfront is of importance to each and every Australian. It is certainly important to every employer and every trade unionist. It is most emphatically important to every housewife in Australia, because the entire question of the cost of goods to Australian consumers is directly affected by what happens on Australia’s waterfront.
– That fact is elementary.
– It is elementary, and at times I have to speak in elementary terms to the honorable member in order to convey my meaning. The belief is general throughout the community that the con duct of waterfront operations either by design - and malicious design at that - or as a result of sheer incompetence, is very much less efficient than the community has a right to expect. I shall give the House later a few figures to demonstrate how much deterioration has occurred in what was at best, in recent years, a very modest performance on the waterfront. The Government shares the view of most members of the general public that unwarranted delays, unnecessarily slow loading rates, a slow turnround of shipping, and frequent and unnecessary stoppages of work have imposed on the consuming public cost burdens that they should not have to bear. Freight rates have increased out of all proportion to the general rise of costs in the post-war years.
I am aware that there is room for controversy about these matters. There will be some who would place the blame for this unsatisfactory state of affairs entirely on the members of the Waterside Workers Federation. They will point to its Communist leadership as a principal factor in causing disruption and inefficiency. Others would blame the shipowners and will say that shipping freight increases are attributable to their rapacity and that inefficiency on the waterfront is the result of their incompetence. There will be others, who will include some from both the groups that I have just mentioned, who will declare that the prime cause of the unsatisfactory situation is the government instrumentality - the Australian Stevedoring Industry Board. In fact, in relation to an industry in which there is so much room for disagreement, I think the only thing upon which every one will agree is that the present state of the waterfront is, as it has been for many years, entirely unsatisfactory to the people of Australia. There will be others who will assert that there can be neither peace nor good management on the waterfront until management and labour are put in a position to deal directly with each other without having to overcome the impediment caused by an unwanted third party - the Australian Stevedoring Industry Board.
As a Minister for Labour and National Service who considers it part of his responsibility to learn the views of various interests, I have had to work my way through a mass of contradictory claims, denunciations, and conflicting allegations from various spokesmen of all the interests involved. It has been difficult enough for someone as close to those interests as I am to sift the facts under these circumstances, and it must be almost impossible for most people to obtain anything but a very distorted picture. Consequently, the Government considers that an impartial and objective fact-finding inquiry will be useful in this industry. It takes the view that comprehensive changes in the stevedoring industry legislation and in the organization of the waterfront are desirable. We hoped that we should have been in a position to make those changes during the current sessional period. Indeed, I have discussed with representatives of the unions concerned, of the Australian Council of Trades Unions, of the shipowners and of the other interests directly affected, some of the changes that I believed might usefully be considered. However, it soon became very obvious, as a result of those discussions, that there was considerable disagreement not only about the course that the Government should follow, but also even about the facts on which judgments should be made. We believe, therefore, that there is value in setting up a committee of inquiry to ascertain the facts. It is true that this will not be the first inquiry into the industry in recent years. There was an earlier inquiry conducted by Mr. Justice Foster of the Commonwealth Arbitration Court and, in more recent years, Mr. Basten, a highly qualified expert in these matters, in the course of the review that he made also examined various aspects. Honorable gentlemen will have had the benefit of perusing Mr. Basten’s report. Much, however, has happened since then, and if, as we believe, it will be necessary later to proceed with other changes in this legislation, then it is important that there should be an impartially found body of facts on which our own conclusions and the judgments of other persons can be based.
– Is not a judge’s review impartial ?
– I think that a. judge’s view can be expected to be impartial.
The only comment I make, at this stage, with respect to the inquiry made by Mr. Justice Foster is that it was made many years ago when operations on the waterfront were not conducted in the same fashion as they are conducted to-day. At the committee stage, I shall explain in detail how it is proposed the committee shall be constituted and what its functions shall be; but, in passing, in order to give a general idea of what is proposed, I inform the House that wo have in mind a committee of three members - the chairman to be, preferably, a person with legal qualifications, although not necessarily a judge, and of the two other members, one, I should hope, to be representative not of management in the maritime industries, but of management generally, and the other to be representative of labour, but not to be drawn from the union concerned. The committee, as the bill reveals, will be given adequate powers to compel the attendance of witnesses and the securing of information.
I was rather interested to hear the interjections that were made earlier by honorable members opposite because those interjections implied that we are putting this proposal before the House at the behest of the shipowners. I have had many requests from the shipowners as I have had requests from the “union, and all I can say at this point with regard to those matters is that the comprehensive review we shall arrange to have made later will be greatly assisted by the committee. But as to the matters which the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt) raised when he asked a question yesterday and spoke of the profits that the shipowners earned, he would hardly be alleging now, if what he then implied were true, that the shipowners would request the Government to hold an inquiry of such a comprehensive nature by a committee, such as we are setting up, which will be equipped with power to go into all aspects of freights in this industry. Our approach in this matter is, as it has been throughout our term of office, to do fairly by every section of the industry as we see our duty in that direction. It may be unpalatable to honorable members opposite-
– It is not unpalatable, but incredible.
– There is a growing body of trade union opinion throughout Australia that looks to this Government and the parties that compose it to express the viewpoint they hold rather than look to the Opposition to express what the industrial movement believes in. I say to honorable members opposite that trade unionists and their families to-day comprise just on two-thirds of the total voting strength at general elections. They put this Government in office in 1949. They kept it in office in 1951, and they reendorsed it in 1954; and we should not be in office at this moment had we not attracted to ourselves hundreds of thousands of votes of trade unionists and their dependants. We have done that because they believe, with good cause, that we are seeking to do fairly by them, as we seek to do by all other section§ of industry, in the policies we are putting before the Parliament.
In view of the fact that there have been these other inquiries, the House may naturally wish to know why we are setting up an inquiry into the industry and why we are, at the same time, proceeding with a variation in the method of engagement of labour. Those are the only two things covered by the bill - the appointment of a committee of inquiry and the proposal to vary the method of engagement of labour. The reasons for these proposals will appear more clearly as I go along. The proposals in the bill to alter the method of entry into the industry are simple. First, however, I shall set out just what the bill does not seek to do, because it is tremendously important in an issue of this kind that the thousands of workers who have virtually been instructed by their executive to stop work, to hold up shipping at great cost to the economy and to lose their pay and the benefits they afford to their families through their pay, should realize what the bill means. If those men wish to pull on a fight, they should know what the ‘ fight is about. The first thing, I gather, that they have been told is that this proposal mean3 a return to the bad old days of the pick up at the gate. It means nothing of the sort. This bill does not touch in any degree any aspect of the employment of the 27,000 men who are registered at this time as members of this industry. They will be dealt with and will work under precisely the same conditions as exist at present. The only persons who can be affected by this legislation are newcomers to the industry. I emphasize that point. And such persons will be allocated as they are now, with the Australian Stevedoring Industry Board exercising the role that it exercises at present. What will be decided in the future is for the Parliament to determine.
I am explaining the proposals contained in this legislation and what their effect will be. This measure does not cut into any important industrial principle. I emphasize that fact, because it would appear that this union, which is Communistcontrolled and is a turbulent union with a long record of industrial indiscipline and turmoil behind it, is now trying to embroil the entire trade union movement in this issue. It is presenting what is being done as being a violation of some fundamental trade union principle.
– So it is.
-“ So it is “, duly echoes the voice of communism in this chamber. I shall clarify what I have said. The justification for its considering this to be some violation of a trade union principle appears in a letter which the executive of the union has circulated to the various branches of the union in order that they may vote upon this issue. I shall read that letter. This is the decision of the Sydney branch of the union -
This branch endorses the declaration of the federal council that the right to recruit labour is a fundamental right, enjoyed by us for many years.
So, the phrase “ fundamental right “ appears -
This condition is one agreed to by the Government, shipowners and ourselves in 1942 after due consultation and the recommendation to the Government of the day by the chairman of the special committee, Sir Owen Dixon.
No real attempt has been made by the Government to consider our point of view or the resentment that must be caused by the hurried decision to change this fundamental condition.
There, in two places reference is made to some “ fundamental “ right or condition, although they are admitted to be of comparatively recent origin, and the letter also refers to an arrangement made, so it purported, with the concurrence of a highly respected member of the High Court Bench and with the concurrence of the shipowners and the union in 1942. As I have become a little sceptical about some of the propositions that are put forward by the leaders of this union to its members, I have taken the trouble to dig out the relevant document which the union says was presented to the Curtin Government and adopted by the late Mr. Curtin when he was Prime Minister. I shall be happy to make this document available to the Leader of the Opposition and I shall supply a copy to any other honorable member who cares to examine it.
There is not a single suggestion in this document that the federation should have the monopoly of engaging labour which has since been conferred on it as a fundamental right. I was intrigued to find that the report contained some very interesting provisions, considering that the union has always expressed its abhorrence of any arrangement involving the use of non-union labour. It provided for the organization of a volunteer reserve of persons ready to undertake waterside work on occasions when the supply of regular labour proved insufficient. That was a very sensible arrangement. I have yet to learn that it was accepted by the union.
Mi-. Ward. - The Minister is quoting a sentence out of its context.
– I am making available the whole text. I have nothing to conceal in this matter. The next provision was that a register should be kept of regular labour and of volunteer reserve labour. Another provision concerned the protection of regular labour from the abuse of the system of volunteer reserve labour and for the re-establishment at the end of hostilities of the conditions then lawfully prevailing. In other words, there is no reference in this document to the arrangement which has now been alleged to have been reached and adopted by the then government.
– Will the Minister pass the document to me?
– I shall pass it to the Leader of the Opposition and hope that it will be in safe hands. The document is signed by Owen Dixon and T. S. Gordon and sandwiched in between those signatures is that of J. Healy. I assure the Leader of the Opposition that I need no handwriting expert to tell me that it is the signature of the said J. Healy because I have had frequent occasion to study that particular signature. At the end of this document are the initals of the then Prime Minister, John Curtin, which I think will enable any reasonable person to regard it as authentic. The late John Curtin commented -
The foregoing report ia approved for consequential action and referred to Ministers accordingly.
It is quite clear, although there was no reference in that report to any such legislation, the “consequential action” that was taken by a Labour Minister in those days was to set up the extraordinary arrangement under which, for the first time in the history of this country and, I believe, in the history of any country, a union was given the monopoly right of engaging the labour that was to work for the employers on the waterfront. That had never happened before in this country. It has never happened since and I do not know of any country in the world in which it has happened. The Waterside Workers Federation was given its present statutory monopoly, not by the document to which I have referred, but by the legislation which was introduced in 1947 by honorable gentlemen opposite following conferences between the present Leader of the Opposition, the then Minister for Labour, Mr. Holloway, Senator Ashley, and representatives of the Waterside Workers Federation. The justification that was then given for this extraordinary performance was that, to all intents and purposes, only one union was concerned with waterfront employment. The Australian Stevedoring Industry Board was being established to deal with the union and the employers. That board would determine the quotas for the various ports, and the federation would provide the number of men needed to fill such quotas. I need hardly say that those of us who were in opposition at that time strongly criticized this provision, which seemed to us to be utterly unsound in principle and likely to prove an utter failure in practice. But despite our opposition and criticism, the legislation was passed.
– The Government has done nothing for five years.
– I thought that the Leader of the Opposition was opposed to this legislation, yet he has chided me with having done nothing for five years. If anybody in this chamber wishes to criticize me for having delayed too long in introducing this legislation, I accept that as a valid criticism. But, by way of justification, I say that I have done everything that a human being could do to develop a better relationship between management and labour. I have called conferences of all those interested in the industry. I have tried to deal in good faith with every person concerned in it, whether Communist or non-Communist. If a person was in a position to speak with some authority for his interests, I have talked to him in order to ascertain whether we could hammer out a plan which would benefit not only those who were directly concerned, but also what was more important, the nation.
Dr. Evatt interjecting,
– Order ! I insist on the cessation of interjections at the table. The Leader of the Opposition should give to the Minister for Labour and National Service as fair a bearing as he hopes to receive himself.
– I repeat that the curious arrangement to which I have referred was not heard of until the present Leader of the Opposition mentioned it in 1947. He acknowledged at the time that it was an experiment. Either he or the then Minister for War Organization of Industry, Mr. Dedman, described it as a bold experiment. In concluding the debate on the measure, the right honorable gentleman said -
The Government admits frankly that this is an experiment in a most important province of our economic and industrial life which may not be wholly successful, and may even fail.
Should the experiment not be a success, this Parliament or some succeeding Parliament will have to review the legislation.
That is what we are doing now. Are we reviewing this legislation because, in our view, it has failed? I say emphatically, yes. I propose to establish reasons for claiming that this aspect of the legislation has certainly failed. I shall show how the assurances that were given by the Waterside Workers Federation have been broken. I should have stressed earlier that, in order to justify what was accepted by the then Government as a complete experiment, some consideration bad to flow from the union itself. The consideration which flowed from the union in return for this remarkable arrangement was the undertaking that it would at all times ensure that the quotas in the ports were maintained at the strength prescribed by the statutory board that was then being set up. Before the war, many applications had been made by this union for preference “m employment to be accorded to members of the union -by the employers. Honorable gentlemen opposite will know the significance of that in an industrial sense : not a monopoly of engagement, but preference, so that, if employers had a choice between men offering from the union and non-unionists or members of some other union, the federation would be given preference under the award and its members would be picked up first. Indeed, the federation gave assurances to the court when it made these applications that, if preference were granted, it would raise no objection to its members working alongside non-union employees who had been picked up by the employers.
So highly did the union prize this scheme that no fewer than sixteen such applications were made to the court in the years preceding the war. However, because of the course of conduct pursued by members of the federation, and for other reasons, on every occasion the court, which was able to look at this business objectively and fairly, rejected the application for preference. But what the court in its wisdom and fairness had failed to do, the present Leader of the Opposition and his colleagues not merely hastened to do, but carried to the almost incredible length of granting a complete monopoly of engagement to the union. Very well ! How has it worked out? I have some figures, which 1 hope will not bore the House, but which at least indicate what has happened. I shall refer to the loss of working days over the last two years because, if I am to be told that there is no sed for this legislation at this time, I say hat such patience as I might have had in 1953, when some improvement over the very modest achievements of 1951 and 1952 was evident, has been exhausted by the serious deterioration in relation to both average loading rates and the incidence of industrial disputes which we have experienced in 1954.
Industrial disputes caused the loss of 133,000 working days by members of the Waterside Workers Federation in the year ended the 30th June, 1953. In 1954, that total increased to 209,000 working days lost. In other words, between 4 and 5 per cent, of the total working time in this industry was lost as a result of disputes. That represents about fifteen to twenty times the rate of loss over the whole field of industry generally.
– Were the unionists always in the wrong in those disputes ?
– I am not alleging that. I am saying that this was the trend that came to the notice of the Government. If I thought the men were always in the wrong, we should not be having an inquiry into the important matters that are mentioned in the bill. Nevertheless, a major share of the responsibility for this deterioration must, in view of the record, be sheeted home to the members of the federation. The average daily tonnage loaded at Sydney declined from 393 tons at the end of 1953 to 303 in August last. In Melbourne, it declined from 459 to 329. I do not think I need add much to those figures in order to indicate that a serious deterioration has occurred.
This, of course, has had an important impact upon every sector of the economy. Honorable gentlemen may be interested to know just how much it costs each day to maintain a ship in port, whether it be idle or not. If it is idle through indus. trial causes, of course, the loss is an unnecessary additional burden on our economy. The figures I shall cite apply to the average ship in each class mentioned. An interstate cargo ship of 3,000 or 4,000 tons burden costs £500 a day to keep in port. An overseas cargo ship of 7,000 or 8,000 tons costs £S00 a day. A large passenger ship costs £3,000 a day. Honorable members can readily calculate the added cost to the community of a hold-up in a. big port - and there have been scores of such stoppages throughout the year. When there is not merely a hold-up in one port but a stoppage in all the ports of the Commonwealth, such as is in progress now, the cost to the community becomes heavy indeed. The total costs involved, of course, are not only those of maintaining a ship while it is in port. If the unloading rate is slow, the turn-round is delayed, which means that the vessel spends far less time at sea than would otherwise be possible. This brings other costs into the picture as well. Therefore, the Government maintains that, on the ground of the performance in the industry, there is an overwhelming case, both for action and for the kind of inquiry which will assist this Parliament to decide what further action may be required.
I shall, refer now to recruitment, which, after all, is a. vital issue from the viewpoint of honorable gentlemen opposite. There has not been one period that I can recall since the present system has been operating when the federation’s port quotas have been rapidly filled and maintained at the prescribed levels. Over the whole period, we have been plagued with repeated refusals and frustrating delays by the federation in relation to the admission of new members to fill quotas or to make up deficiencies which have occurred in them. So bad did the situation become that two years ago I prepared a bill to cope with this very problem, and again, perhaps overoptimistically, after subsequent discussions with representatives of the federation and’ the Australian Council of Trades Unions, I deferred the. introduction of the legislation in order to give the union a chance to honour its obligations. What, was the unhappy and tragic result ? Just a series of frustrations, obstructions and delays, which have persisted, to. this very time !’
Honorable members from Victoria will be aware that, in recent months at the port of Melbourne, there have been refusals to fill the quota. Others from South Australia have even more cause for complaint. They know of the delays which led to the appointment of a committee of inquiry in that State and the presentation of the Bishop report. Honorable members from Western Australia know of the experience at the important overseas port of Fremantle. At Port Kembla, one of the vital steel ports of the Commonwealth, there are serious deficiencies. Only a week ago there was 75,000 tons of steel awaiting shipment there, notwithstanding that the whole of Australia is short of steel products. The lag had risen from 44,000 tons in March to the figure I have mentioned. Over a period of three months, from the 20th July, at that port there were only four clays when appreciable numbers of waterside workers received attendance money, but there were 50 days when there were considerable shortages, with the deficiency frequently exceeding 200 workers. The port quota is seriously deficient to this clay. The numbers at Newcastle, the other important steel port, are also well below the quota. There was 50,000 tons of steel awaiting shipment from that port at the end of September. The principal ports at which the federation has failed to fill its quotas are Newcastle, Port Kembla, Fremantle, Adelaide, Hobart and Melbourne. I have only to recite the names of those ports in order to give honorable members an idea of the effect upon our economy of the lack of adequate and efficient labour forces there to keep the ships moving.
Now let me return to a point I made earlier so that we shall be in no doubt on that matter. What variation of the method of recruitment i3 contemplated in the bill? The only change proposed, although it is an important one, relates to the procedure whereby men are brought into the industry. Instead of the Australian Stevedoring Industry Board asking the union to fill the quotas, as it has done through the years with the sort of results I have indicated, it will now ask the employers to fill the number of vacancies which it will indicate to them. The board is still in the picture.
– Will the option be given to the union first?
– Of course not. The whole case that I have been -trying to make is that, having given the union the opportunity to fill these quotas, we have met with frustrations and delays. I shall be very interested to hear how the honorable member for Port Adelaide (Mr. Thompson), who has had considerable industrial experience, views the giving of a monopoly right to this union to engage labour and then hand it over to the board and the employer when that does not occur in any other section of industry. The board will ask that a number of new vacancies be filled. It will then - and this quite unusual concession has been put in deliberately - ask the union whether it has any objection to the persons nominated because normally those persons would then enter the union as members. If the federation raises no objection to a nominee the board will register that individual as a member of the waterfront work force provided he satisfies other requirements as to age, physical fitness and character. If the union does raise some objection, the board will examine it and if it is found to be of substance, the board will not recruit that man. If the objection has no substance, the board will proceed with his engagement. I gather from what has been said by honorable members opposite - and indeed it has apparently been bruited through the press - that the Opposition will oppose this legislation. Is that correct?
– You will find that out in a few minutes’ time.
– It would be rather convenient to me to know now., but even if I may be proved wrong in a few minutes, I shall assume that the right honorable gentleman and his colleagues will oppose this legislation.
– The assumption is not unreasonable.
– The right honorable gentleman says that my assumption is not unreasonable. Very well. The bill does two things. The Leader of the Opposition will concede that if he has looked into it.
– The first thing is to set up this committee of inquiry. May I assume that there is no objection from the Opposition to the setting up of a committee of inquiry?
– May I cross-examine the Minister first?
– Order ! The Minister must not ask questions across the table. He must address the Chair.
– I am merely submitting to the House that there should be no objection from honorable members opposite, because not only is there a general view in this chamber about the value of such an inquiry, and not only has the Australian Council of Trades Unions urged such an inquiry, but Mr. Healy, too, has urged an inquiry. So, the only matter on which there can be opposition from honorable members opposite is the variation of the method of recruitment. In other words, they are going to try to argue with us that there never was such a. right. I think I have clearly demonstrated that it could never be claimed to be a matter of industrial principle because it exists in no other industry in Australia or anywhere else in the world so far as I can discover. It cannot be argued seriously that the Opposition will oppose this measure because it believes that the existing system of recruitment has worked well. If any honorable member opposite holds that view in the face of the facts that can be presented and have been presented, he would be satisfied with anything that happens on the waterfront.
I wonder whether honorable members opposite, in opposing this legislation are condoning the action of this Communistled union in holding up the entire waterfront before even the details of this legislation had been presented to the Parliament. Is that what they are supporting? I can understand Mr. Healy, who, to the best of my belief, has never disguised the fact that he is a leading Communist and is still, I believe a member of the Central Committee of the Communist party. Throughout his association with the Waterside Workers Federation, it has reproduced many of the characteristics of the Ironworkers Union, the Amalgamated
Engineering Union, the Miners Federation, and certain other unions when they were under Communist control. Surely honorable members opposite, in spite of the rose-tinted spectacles through which they are inclined to view these matters, and the red ties that they occasionally wear, are not so oblivious to what is being done in this union that they do not realize that much of what has happened on the waterfront has been a direct consequence of Communist planning and Communist direction. Are they going to oppose and obstruct every fair-minded attempt by this Government to get a more satisfactory position? [Extension of time granted.^ I thank the House, and I shall not abuse the concession that has been given to me. Before concluding, I must make some reference to the way in which the Waterside Workers Federation has reacted to this move by the Government. It has, as I have said, caused an Australia-wide stoppage of stevedoring operations, with all the heavy loss and damage that such a stoppage entails, without even waiting to learn the detail? of this legislation. It is not, of course, unusual to find this union striking first and then arguing or asking questions afterwards. If ever there was a strike-happy union, it is the Waterside Workers Federation. But this House will find a very much deeper significance in this latest stoppage and the threat to prolong it than is to be found in any ordinary industrial dispute. This stoppage is a truculent and arrogant attempt to intimidate this Government and so prevent it from proceeding with its policies. It is deliberately intended to intimidate this Parliament into refraining from going ahead with the proper consideration of the legislation placed before it. What the Government is now proposing can only become law if this Parliament so desires. When the Leader of the Opposition introduced his legislation in 1947. despite the criticism of Opposition members at the time, it was a decision of the Parliament and it was given effect. The right honorable gentleman, acknowledging the ultimate rule of the Parliament, said that if the experiment failed, it must come back to this Parliament for review. Now, apparently, he is going to aline himself with the very man whom the
Labour Government threw out of his post on the Stevedoring Industry Commission. Both Healy and Roach were expelled from the commission by the present Leader of the Opposition and his colleagues, not just for causing an industrial dispute, but for defying the decisions of the commission of which they were members by supporting two notorious gentlemen, one named Sharkey, and the other named McPhillips. That is something of the background of this matter. This Government, which sincerely believes that the recruitment of labour aspect of the legislation has failed, has decided to ask the Parliament to review that part of the legislation and consider the amendments proposed, but when the necessary bill comes before us, we are confronted with an Australia-wide .stoppage of work on the waterfront, intended to dissuade us from going ahead with the amending bill and to intimidate the Parliament of which we all are members. I hope we shall accept our responsibility to the people who sent us here and ensure that the policies that we consider to be best for the people will be carried into effect.
I had hoped that this issue would be big enough for the right honorable gentleman and his colleagues to say, “ Whatever disagreement we may have with you on some of the details, as the Parliament and the democratic Government of the country that are being challenged, we shall stand behind the Government to resist this truculent and arrogant threat from a Communist clique “. It is for this democratically elected Parliament to decide the policies of the country. It is for us to make a decision on this matter. It is for the people of this country, who sent us here as their representatives, to decide, if the fight is on, where their support will be given.
– Normally, when a Minister had concluded his second-reading speech on a bill of this importance, I should ask for leave of the House to postpone my observations until a later date, but I propose to say something at once about this bill, because I do not want the remarks made by the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Holt) to go unchallenged. I make, a sharp distinction between the Minister and the forces that have compelled the Government to introduce this measure. I shall say something about those forces. Some of them are present in human form behind him, sitting on the Government back benches. Everybody who knows the Minister realizes that he does not like a bill of this character. Let us look at the background of it. The original legislation was introduced after the war, in 1947. The Minister referred to a report made by Mr. Justice Dixon, the chairman of the Stevedoring Industry Commission during the war, suggesting a scheme very much like the one that was put into operation. I think that report was prepared in 1942, the time of the great threat to Australia. In 1947, the legislation was introduced and passed. In 1949, under the Chifley Government, the legislation was made permanent. All the things that the Minister criticizes in 1954 were present in the legislation of 1949. I have never heard Government spokesmen - and there are many of them - criticize the legislation in policy speeches. Now we are faced with the pitiful and disgraceful position that, at the fag end of a sessional period, the Minister, who does not want the measure, has been compelled to introduce it by the forces behind the Government.
We know the background of the bill. We know the forces that have compelled the Government to introduce it. We know that the stevedoring industry is really a subordinate branch of the shipping industry. We know that the shipping industry, both interstate and overseas, is controlled by the shipping combine, which has given its orders to this Government. But that is not all. In order to assist the shipping combine, the Government appointed a committee of backbenchers. There they are. I need not mention the names of all of them, but prominent among them is the lawyer for the shipping combine, the honorable member for Evans (Mr. Osborne), who is now receiving the congratulations of an honorable member who represents a Tasmanian electorate. The honorable member for Evans acts permanently for the shipping combine. He has nagged at the Minister for Labour and National Service throughout this session. He continually makes snide attacks on the Australian Stevedoring Industry Board. He got himself appointed to the committee that I have mentioned and’ forced thisissue on the- Parliament and the country: “What is the measure designed’ to do? It is designed to alter a- system that has been in operation from 1947 up to the present time. In order to introduce the bill’ and get it through the Parliament, the Government has extended the length of this sessional period by one week.
Government supporters interjecting,
– I rise to order. Is it fair that honorable members opposite should interject constantly ?
– I did not want any intervention.
– Order ! It is a question, not of what the right honorable gentleman wants but of what other Honorable members want. I must call the House to order and insist on a fair hearing for the Leader of the Opposition (Dr.. Evatt). These demonstrations are quite unseemly and unnecessary. They get us nowhere.
– I heard no demonstration, but’ I was perfectly prepared to deal with interjections. I do not mind them. I welcome them. I know the people who are responsible, and’ I shall deal with them. I think the House and the people should understand clearly that this bill provides for a complete revolution in the methods of engaging labour on the waterfront when quotas have to be filled. As the honorable member for Port Adelaide (Mr. Thompson) knows, with his vast experience of the waterfront in South Australia, it is not as though an option will be given to the union to fill the quotas. When a quota has to be filled because men have left the industry through resignation, death or illness, the right of nominating each and every man to fill the quotas will be given to the employers. That is a revolutionary change.
Mr. Timson interjecting,
-Order ! The honorable member for Higinbotham must not interject.
– I understand that the honorable member for Higinbotham is- a member of this famous back-benchers < committee. In the House, honorable members opposite condemn the secretary of the Waterside Workers Federation and refer to- him as Healy and as a Communist, But behind the scenes they, call him Jim and ask him to help them. Nobody has called him Jim more often than has the Minister for Labour and National Service. The fury that the Minister simulated, to-night was intended to conceal the fact that, over the years, he has worked pretty well, on the whole, with the Waterside Workers Federation, particularly with its secretary. The secretary is a Communist, but the Minister is prepared to forget that when he gets concessions from the union and gives it concessions in return. I pay the Minister the tribute of saying that. I do- not think that he wants this disgraceful bill and that he is acting as the advocate of a cause in which he does not believe.
The Labour party knew that the bill would be introduced. The Minister discussed it with, the Australian Council of Trades Unions for weeks. So the Labour party considered it yesterday, and decided to oppose it. We say that it is wrong. It provides for a change in the method of recruitment to- the industry. In future, the employers will do the recruiting. The Minister has said that it is a turbulent industry. That is perfect^ true, but the turbulence is not due to the Stevedoring Industry Act. The Minister did not refer to two of the reports that have been made on the industry. One of them is a report by Mr. Justice Foster. The other, the result of an inquiry initiated by the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) himself, is a report by Mr. Basten on the turn-round of ships in Australian porta. When the Basten report was published on the 4th January, 1952, nearly three years ago, the Prime Minister said it would be given early attention, but nothing, has been, done about it yet. That is an indication of the way in which this Government regards the problems of this industry. Under the bill, the employers will be given the right to appoint persons to the industry - a right that has been vested in the union, practically since 194-2- - and a committee of inquiry will be- appointed.
It is very important to consider what the committee of inquiry will do. The Minister has said that the Opposition should not oppose the appointment of the committee, and we do not oppose it. Clause 11 states that the committee shall inquire into, and report to the Minister upon, the facts relating to the functioning of the stevedoring, industry and thi the factors affecting the efficiency of stevedoring operations; the arrangements for the regulation and. control of stevedoring operations and - I direct particular attention to this - of persons employed in the industry, and for the settlement of disputes and the maintenance of discipline in the industry; the costs of, or connected with, stevedoring operations ; and the increases in. rates of freight.
– Order ! The Prime Minister and the Minister for Labour and National Service must maintain silence.
– I was directing attention to the absolute and inexplicable contradiction between the two principal parts of the bill. It is proposed that there shall be a judicial inquiry into discipline, into the handling of employment, including the present state of affairs, but, at the same time and without hearing evidence, and without waiting for the report, the Government proposes an amendment of the act as a solution of the problem. I have never heard of such a thing before. It is the result of extreme pressure from the shipping combine, which tried to obtain possession of the Commonwealth line of ships - which the Opposition resisted - and which has given great financial support to the Government. The power of. that combine in this country is too great. It has a monopoly of both interstate and overseas shipping. I tell the House, and’ I tell the people of Australia, as far as I am able to do so through the House, that this measure represents an attempt by monopoly groups to protect their own interests, to alter a system which, despite its defects, is capable of amendment, and to. change the method of employment in this industry. It is bound to. provoke disputes, not only in the stevedoring industry, but also in all of the workers’ unions of Australia..
The Minister for Labour and National Service talks about the support that he obtained from trade unions at the last general election. He probably did obtain some support, because he promised not to do things like this. He promised not to interfere by imposing such conditions on the industry. He may not have said it in so many words, but that is the statement that he made to the people of Australia to ensure that a fair deal, would be maintained. It is perfectly true,, as the Minister stated, that the stevedoring industry has- been a difficult industry to control, but reference to that fact has been made in reports that go back, for 20 or 30 years. Of course, it is a turbulent industry. But the Minister’s voice did not sound very convincing. It did not have that ring of fanaticism that one associates with Government back-benchers., When the right honorable gentleman, refers to communism within the Waterside Workers Federation, he refers to the fact that some of its officials are Communists, and that is perfectly true. But it is quite lawful to be a Communist. The Government has played this game for a long time. It played it in 1949[, the Prime Minister played it again in 1951, and it has been played again on this occasion.
– Does the right honorable gentleman mean the game of opposing communism?
– But the time is coming when there will be an accounting for these things.
Government Supporters. - Hean, hear !
– The electors of the United States of America have just pronounced the death of McCarthy ism. It will soon die in this country, too.
– That will be the stone end of the right honorable gentleman.
– McCarthyism is represented by the Prime Minister and the Minister for Labour and National Service. If the Government has any trouble with the Waterside Workers Federation and finds it necessary to bring down legis-ration, to whom does the Minister turn? One would think that, be would turu to the head of the Australian Stevedoring Industry Board. Not at all! He turns to the secretary of the department that he administers, and says to him, “ Give me something on communism. Is there not something against Healy that I can say? He is a good fellow, and I work very well with him, but I must attack him to-night.” Has not such hypocrisy gone far enough? Will the people of Australia stand it much longer ?
– The right honorable gentleman will never attack a Communist.
– The Government is hypocritical in its denunciations of communism. By introducing legislation of this kind, by disregarding vested rights, and by setting aside the established practices of many years by a stroke of the pen, it has united in one body the industrial and political Labour groups of Australia. The Australian Labour party says, in effect, “Have your inquiry into discipline. Put your judicial committee to work to ascertain what should be done, but consider suggestions such as that which was made by one of the Opposition members when he stated that the organization should be given the opportunity, in any specified emergency, of nominating additional recruits for the industry “. The Government proposes to do exactly the opposite. It proposes to give that right to the employers. When the number of waterside workers at any port becomes less than the quota, what is to be the procedure? The proposed procedure is set out in clause 6. It is proposed that an application by a person who wishes to obtain a job in the stevedoring industry shall be lodged with the board. By whom? Not by himself, but by an employer who is registered at the port. The clause provides that there shall be endorsed on the application a recommendation by the employer that the application be accepted. The applicant will be a very good little boy ! He will do exactly what the employer wants! A nice little employee will be recommended by the employer, and everything in the garden will be lovely! Just imagine that situation superimposed upon a system that has been described by the Minister ! The applicant must also satisfy other conditions as to age and physical fitness. If the Waterside Workers Federation objects, it must show cause against the applicant, but the grounds are not specified. The proposal is absurd.
The Government is returning to the bad old spirit of tyranny existing with that system of waterfront employment when a shipping bureau was established as a screen between the employers and the award conditions. In effect, the Government proposes to establish a union within a union - a union of employer nominees in addition to the existing union of employees. I have no doubt that that is the state of affairs that some persons behind the Minister are anxious to have introduced. I referred a moment ago to some of the facts relating to the industry. I invite honorable members to consider the report of Judge Foster which was presented in 1946, before the passing of the act of 1947. He pointed out, at page 33 of the report, that there should be only one recognized union in this industry, and stated -
I have recommended that there tie only one union in this industry.
He further observed -
It needs no argument to suggest that the practical administration of industrial relation.-* can most conveniently be served by the recognition of one and not several unions. This view has so often been expressed by the Court and its registrars as to need no reference.
Then he referred to the history of an organization called the Permanent and Casual Union, which was born ‘of industrial strife. That organization obtained registration, but it gradually ceased to exist, because, ultimately, its members were absorbed by the Waterside Workers Federation in the eastern States. . It was an organization that was promoted by the employers in a state of emergency. Its history has been set out in judgments of the court.
In 1924, Mr. Justice Isaacs and Mr. Justice Rich, of the High Court of Australia, in a judgment dealing with this difficult industry, referred to the Shipping Bureau organization. The employers avoided the obligations of the award by establishing The Shipping Bureau. In their judgment, their honours made the following statement: -
The evidence leads … to the conclusion that “ The Shipping Bureau “-
Which, was established by the shipowners and the stevedoring companies - was no independent persona and was never intended to be more than an instrument operated by and at the will of the various real persons who had combined for the purpose. It is a mere labour concentration camp from which supplies can be drawn by the parties interested as and when they need them.
Is that not what will come into existence under the proposed system? It is proposed that a register shall be kept and that, if the quota is reduced by half a dozen or a dozen, the employers shall submit the names of their nominees. The judgment further stated -
All the complications . . . are machinery and part of the method for doing indirectly and in association what each could do directly and singly.
The judgment amounts to a strong denunciation of that system, because it was intended to get around the obligations of the award.
A great industrial judge, Mr. Justice Piddington, referred to the same problem later, when he was dealing with the waterfront industry in New South Wales. He referred to the Permanent and Casual Union, which was formed by employer nomination. The union was separate, of course. The members who will come into the union under this legislation will be all nominated by the employers and will be apart from the recognized members of the union. On them will be stamped the fact that they are employer-nominated, instead of coming, in the normal way, to the union for nomination. Mr. Justice Piddington said: -
The objecting union was formed at a time, and in a spirit, of sharp antagonism to the applicant branch. It co-operated . . . with the Shipping Labour Bureau, the recognized citadel of those shipowners-
And that applies just as much to-day - who sought the destruction of the Waterside Federation’s influence. This citadel turned out, on the first “whiff of grape-shot” from the artillery of justice, to be a thing of mere cardboard walls and painted battlements. It fell to pieces after the decision of the High Court. . . .
In the case to which I have just referred Mr. Justice Piddington referred to the employers’ or bogus union as now only a memory, or possibly also a warning, in the records of industrial law. What is the good of a warning to people such as honorable members opposite ? As I said before, and I repeat, I do not believe that the Minister wants the legislation. I believe he would settle this matter in another way. The obvious way to settle it is to go on with the inquiry, and examine the facts and two reports to which I shall refer in a moment, namely the Foster report and the report of Mr. Basten, who was brought out specially to study this problem and who made certain recommendations which cut right across this legislation. That report has been completely ignored by the Government for three years.
I have already referred to the fact that the basis of the recommendation made by Judge Foster was that there should be one union. That does not mean that the employers should nominate members of that union. It means that the men should apply to the union in order to become members. What sort of a business is it if the employer is going to control the membership of a trade union? I suggest that that will lead to the very type of union which the late Mr. Chifley denounced as a tame cat or employercontrolled, or bogus union. Within the union there will bc two groups - those nominated by the employers and those who voluntarily applied for membership of the union. The Foster report really warns us against this course of action, and it is a complete answer to the views put forward by the Minister for Labour and National Service to-night. The Minister referred to turbulent conditions as though they were peculiar to the present time, but Judge Foster said in his report -
I do not feel it necessary to write of the history of this industry - it has a long record of turbulence and struggle stretching back into pre-Arbitration Court days, a story of evil conditions, low wages, of unsatisfactory relations, of bitterness and unrest.
It is all very well for honorable members here in Canberra to talk about the conditions on the waterfront, without any actual knowledge of them. Judge Foster referred to evil conditions, unsatisfactory relationships, bitterness and unrest. He cited judgments from the time of Mr. Justice Higgins in 1914, in order to support his statements about those conditions. He pointed out that until the war, the stevedoring operations were conducted by the interstate steamshipowners, by certain companies, and by stevedoring companies more or less closely connected with the shipowners who nominally conducted an independent business. It was nominal only, because the Basten report shows that the stevedoring companies, although they are the employers, have no real control as employers. They know the industry of stevedoring, but they receive their directions from a committee of shipowners. When the next ship is to be laden by wharf labour, the nomination is in the hands of a committee which does not include stevedoring people who have knowledge of the industry. That is a very important part of the constructive report of Ma-. Basten. Of course, the very valuable report of Judge Foster goes further than that.
– I thought the right honorable gentleman disagreed with all reports by judges.
– The Vice-President of the Executive Council (Sir Eric Harrison) is such a brilliant interjector that I can hardly resist answering him. Judge Foster said, with regard to the war-time experience -
It ]17 s been urged that it would be a tragedy to abandon this experiment at the outset and to sacrifice the experience it has gained since 1042. Much has been learned from its many failures no loss than from its successes. My concurrence in this view is strongly fortified by the support it has of the Overseas Shipping Representatives Association.
At page 15 of his report, he deals with the question of delays, which was also referred to by the Minister. It is of no use saying that delays do not occur. However, I shall not here discuss the figures, because that is a matter for an expert inquiry. Why does not the Minister have the expert inquiry first and introduce the legislation afterwards? Mr. Justice Foster said -
Notwithstanding nil this impressive list of cases-, my investigation does’ convince me that the commission achieved a substantial measure of discipline; that it won and had a measure of co-operation to this end from the workers’ organization, greater than had been achieved in this industry before; that it achieved its main war-time purpose; that its actions and policies were dictated by the considerations of war, and that the alleged disciplinary failure was conditioned by those special war considerations.
Then, in a passage at page 19, which J shall not read in full, there is a very impressive reference to a medical report, made in November, 1944, from which Judge Foster quoted the following portions : -
I was forced into a real and surprised admiration for a body of men earning a more or less arduous living, handicapped by gross and serious physical abnormalities. Most of the individuals examined were over the age of 40 and under 60. I can only surmise with the most profound gloom the conditions of those over GO years of age. My chief impression of these men was that all of them were prematurely aged. It was rare to find any man who did not look at least ten years older than his stated age. Their outward appearance was more than confirmed by physical examination. The majority of them showed the usual stigmata of abnormally early and vapidly progressive senility.
The report went on to describe physical conditions from .which any person with the slightest human sympathy would deduce that this is a very special industry and must be dealt with in a special way.
In January, 1952, Mr. Basten was appointed by this Government to deal with matters affecting the stevedoring industry. He dealt with the problems as a whole and did not seize on only one little aspect of it, such as the conditions of employment of a few men, or even the shortage of quotas which, in fact, does :not exist generally in Australia. Mr. Basten examined the matter as an economic problem. He dealt, first, with the question of port facilities, and he made recommendations for their improvement. He pointed out that the facilities for quick handling of cargo at Australian ports are probably amongst the worst in the world. Yet, hardly anything has been done to improve those facilities since he made his report. Those poor facilities, of course, add to the cost of the turn-round of ships Why should all of that cost be reckoned against the workers? Mr. Basten also recommended the promotion of quicker delivery from the wharf, and he .suggested that, cargo clearance committees should have special functions. He dealt also with delays in customs. Much of this overhead cost, which it is the fashion to debit against the union, is, in fact, due to other causes. He stated that the effect, of the recommendations to bring pressure to bear on importers would be to cause them to take active measures to remedy each of the potential causes of delay for which they, or their agents, are responsible. He referred to the lack of coordination between working hours in the warehouses and in the ports, and, finally, the practice of leaving goods in the transit sheds until they may be sold.
Is not that the proper approach which should be made to this matter? Mr. Basten’s recommendations are set out in full at page 9 of his report. He states that interstate shipping is affected by the same difficulties as is overseas shipping. Then he approaches the question of the poor turn-round of ships. He states that stevedoring operations are not solely responsible for the delays and that, indeed, nothing would be gained by enabling a ship to work twice as fast if the results were to be such congestion of cargo ashore that the ships’ work fell away and then perhaps ceased altogether. For that reason, this part of the report is made secondary to the part which deals with congestion ashore. Mr. Basten knows the shipping business thoroughly. He was not seeking to gain some cheap party political advantage against the employees, but he was looking at the matter as a great national economic problem. Thirty or 40 years ago the port of Sydney commenced a great programme of wharf development. There has not been much development of late years, mainly because of the intervention of World War II.
– There has not been much development under the New South Wales Labour Government.
– My remarks apply not only to the port of Sydney, but to ports in other States, also. It is absurd to talk of politics in relation to the lack of development of wharfs in our ports. Mr. Basten also said -
It is ti function of the Board to provide amenities for waterside workers. The Board has been active in promoting the provision of amenities and some amenities, which have recently come into being, are admirable. There remain, however, instances of a deplorable standard or absence of amenities, the consequences of which are noticed subsequently. The industry would undoubtedly benefit from a swifter rate of progress in this direction.
Then he dealt with the problem of management. He said, when referring to the stevedoring companies, that they were seldom free to apply their experience and technical knowledge to the waterside industry. He said that though nominally independent stevedoring companies were frequently owned and controlled by shipowners and the agents of shipowners, and that when those shipowners were domiciled overseas the stevedoring companies were solely controlled by shipping agents. In those circumstances the real decision about stevedoring matters does not lie with the stevedore, who knows the industry and actually employs waterside workers, but it lies with shipping committees, one called the Priority Committee and one the Central Committee, on neither of which are to be found representatives of stevedores.
Then Mr. Basten dealt with the problems of the waterside workers. He described the organization of the waterside workers, and then stated -
Sound organization, combined with the great industrial strength which the general shortage of manpower has given to the Federation for the past ten years, has enabled it to introduce a number of restrictive practices which have an adverse effect on the turnround. It is significant that the more important are all defensive, in the sense that they are calculated to prevent the reappearance of certain customs tint were objectionable to the Federation and were all of a kind associated with casual employment. In genera], these practices aim at spreading the work available over as many men as possible and sharing the work available as equally as possible among all.
He criticized some practices current in waterfront employment, but pointed out that some of them, although not all, had the sanction of the court or the Stevedoring Industry Board. He then said -
During the year 1951., it became more difficult to recruit and retain good men for the industry. The evidence shows that a major cause is the low standard of the amenities available in many places for waterside workers. The standard of amenities provided by other industries has been rising and it is desirable that it should rise on the waterfront, too.
Further in his’ report he stated -
Recruitment however, is also affected by the policy of the Waterside Workers’ Federation. Only workers registered by the Australian Stevedoring Industry Board may normally be engaged for employment and only members of the Federation may be registered . . .
The first step to take towards the removal of undesirable practices and policies of the Waterside Workers’ Federation is to remove the fear that certain customs associated with casual employment in a time of too little employment will one day re-appear.
He said that the first step was to remove that fear, and yet the Minister has introduced a bill to bring that fear into existence again, and make the nomination of new employees in the industry a matter for the employers. That is a very important matter.
– Does the right honorable gentleman believe in permanent engagement on the waterfront?
– My own feeling is that there should be decasualization because I desire to see the status of the workers further improved; and I believe that the Minister would also like to see that happen. However, the Minister has brought this legislation down without any proper inquiry having been made into its effects. There have been other inquiries into this industry, and I remind honorable members that the Basten inquiry resulted in a very constructive report. If further inquiries into the industry are needed, then there is no reason why they should not be conducted. But one of the very subject-matters of the inquiry conducted by Mr. Basten was the discipline of waterside workers, which would obviously include any system of recruitment into the industry. However, instead of waiting for a report - and that is all that we ask the Minister to do - he has brought forward this very provocative legislation. I asked the Minister yesterday to wait for a report about the industry but he would not indicate that he would do so.
Why should there not be an inquiry into the industry first, instead of forcing this legislation on to not only the employees’ organization, which regards it as an attempt to return to the bad old days, but also on the employees themselves. Of course, the legislation will not bring about a return to the old pick-up system, but in some ways the system that it will introduce will be worse than the pick-up, because the employers may send in a written recommendation that certain men should be employed in the industry. I should say that such a recommendation would be the worst possible recommendation that one could have for membership of a union. I do not say that because I believe that the recommendation may not be honest and made in perfect good faith. I say it because that is not the way that persons should be recruited into unions. The membership of trade unions should be a voluntary matter, but here membership, in effect, will be taken out of the hands of industrial organizations and given into the hands of employers. I suggest to the Minister that although that system is not the same in its precise legal operation, it is analogous to the shipping bureau system because there will have to be a register, and as the honorable member for Port Adelaide pointed out, if the number of wharf labourers in any port decreases, instead of the number being made up by the Waterside Workers Federation of Australia, or instead of that union being given a chance to make up the number, nominations for new positions will come from the various members of the employers. The union will have a right of appeal against the decision of the board, but the grounds for such an appeal are not stated in the measure. This bill is a very hurried piece of legislation, and that is shown by the fact that there is no definition of the jurisdiction of the Australian Stevedoring Industry Board to reverse a decision on appeal.
I ask the Minister to postpone this matter. I believe that the Government’s action in bringing forward this bill has been most provocative, and, indeed, it should not have been attempted. I ask the Minister not to be affected by influences outside of this House, or even by influences inside it. I do not suggest that there have not been just grievances against waterside workers in a number of cases, but when we examine them in the light of sworn evidence we discover that only a few ports have been affected. Moreover, only a few ports have been referred to by the Minister, and consequently there appears to be no shortage of waterside workers in our great ports.
– What will happen when there are too many waterside workers available ?
– Yes, that is a matter that will need careful consideration, and that, together with other important matters, must be worked out on a commonsense basis. I have often criticized the Minister for bringing down legislation, but I believe that on the whole he has tried to exercise his functions in a proper fashion. I suggest to him that he will get no applause for this action from back-benchers on the Government side, who are very anxious to replace him. I am sure that the honorable member for Evans (Mr. Osborne) thinks that he can do much better than the Minister. The honorable member for Evans is the legal adviser of the shipping combine, and he thinks that the shipowners can do nothing wrong. Perhaps it is our opinion that they can do very little that is right. In any event they have done very little for Australia, and I believe that they are behind this legislation. I ask the Minister to reconsider the bill because I believe that the views that I am expressing are those of organized trade unionism in Australia, of the Australian Council of Trades Unions and of the Australian Workers Union. They are also the unanimous views of the Parliamentary Labour party. We do not want to see the ports of Australia idle because of the pride of a Minister and the pressure of a few back-benchers. It would be no disgrace for the Minister to say, “I shall look at the matter again”. The Minister has taken an entirely inconsistent attitude. At one stage he said, in effect, “I think it is a question of discipline and employment and I shall have an inquiry along those lines “. Almost with the next breath he said, “ I have made up my mind. Here is a complex matter”. The bill has been drafted hurriedly. I studied it to-day, and I could not see the grounds for appeal in the bill or how nominations for new positions on the waterfront could be questioned by the federation. I ask the Minister to look at the bill afresh. I believe that would be the view of the majority of honorable members, including those who, in general, support the Minister.
We do not want turbulence in the waterfront industry, but conditions in that industry over the years have been utterly disgraceful. A new status was given to the waterside workers by the legislation that was introduced during World War II. under the National Security Act and by the 1947-49 legislation. In effect, the waterside workers were told, “ We shall regard you as partners in an enterprise. We shall expect you to co-operate”. The Minister is wrong in denying that there is power in the present act to provide that when there is a shortage of quotas in the stevedoring industry, the quotas can be filled up. That is provided by clause 27 (2.) The Minister does not want a struggle between the Government and organized labour. None of us wants it. We want to see work resumed and operations continued. I do not want anything I have said to-night to be misunderstood. The Government has an inquiry on foot. It should go on with it and, in the light of the inquiry, let the House consider the problem calmly and judicially. But it should not let this wretched shipping combine control conditions of work in Australia when virtually the combine is controlled, not in Australia, but overseas.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Gullett) adjourned.
The following bills were returned from the Senate: -
Without amendment -
Leigh Creek North Coalfield to Marree (Conversion to Standard Gauge) Railway Bill 1954.
Wheat Industry Stabilization Bill 1954.
Without requests -
Customs Tariff Validation Bill 1954.
Excise Tariff Validation Bill 1954.
Wheat Export Charge Bill 1954.
Debate resumed (vide page 2666).
,- I have dealt at somelength with one of the aims under the South-East Asia Treaty Organization. I now propose in the limited time left to me, to deal with two equally, if not more important aspects of Seato. They are the consultative machinery and the mutual aid provisions as they apply between the various members of the organization. Consultation is vital, of course. If there is consultation in the early stages, many of the problems that are encountered can be solved before they assume such proportions that they break into open conflagration. Aid is even of more vital importance. The honorable member for Batman (Mr. Bird) dealt with this matter extensively last night. I shall do no more than discuss a number of the points that he made and some others that have occurred to me. In the first place, I do not believe that we can earn and maintain the friendship of about 1,000,000,000 human beings to the north of Australia while we carry on as we are doing at present. We have warehouses and storehouses full to overflowing with foodstuffs in Australia. In the countries to the north of us, a low standard of living exists. We should take all the food we can get and the maximum that we can produce and make it available to the countries where human beings urgently need all that we have and can grow. In concert with other great foodproducing powers, we have to he willing even to purchase the products of farms and factories and give it away or supply it on credit to the peoples of the nations who need that food.
– Who will pay for it?
– There is only one way in which we can earn the friendship of those people and end the growing menace of the Communist grip on the peoples of Asia. That is by feeding them and treating them as human beings, and making available to them the foodstuffs that they need. The honorable member for Henty (Mr. Gullett) has asked who will pay for the products? If, by an immediate gift, or the provision on credit of food, we could prevent a conflagration spreading through Asia and the world, would the honorable gentleman pause to count, the cost? There is no doubt which way a. decision would go if it were necessary to decide between the immediate and comparatively small cost of taking surplus food products off the markets of the world to supply ‘the needy of Asia, and the untold’ cost in human life, suffering and despair of some non-constructive project that will surely bring disaster in our life-time or the life-time of our children. We should train doctors and pay them to help to improve the health of the people in the countries north of Australia. We should provide engineers and artisans of every kind. By that means we could retain the friendship of the great mass of human beings who live to the north of Australia, and avert the menace of communism that runs through that area to-day, and will grow to a flood unless some statesmanlike approach is made to the problem.
I conclude, as my time is expiring, with a review of the amendments that the Opposition has foreshadowed. We support the treaty unhesitatingly, but suggest, first, a provision with regard to the ratification of the treaty that is common to all international treaties. Secondly, we suggest that the Government should consult the Parliament before undertaking military obligations in connexion with the treaty that we have entered into. That provision is amply justified by democratic procedure, and is designed to place the responsibility where it should lie - on the shoulders of the elected members of the Parliament of Australia.
.- Mr. Speaker-
Motion (by Sir Eric Harrison) put -
That the question be now put.
The House divided. (Mb. Speaker - Hon. Archie Cameron.)
– On several occasions lately when divisions have been called, I have heard the honorable member for Grayndler (Mr. Daly) shout “ division “ in the passage. That is distinctly out of order. Lights are showing and bells are ringing, and there is no need for the honorable member to call out that a division has been requested.
– Mr. Speaker–
– I rise to order.
-Order! A point of order may not be raised while a division is in progress.
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Original question resolved in the affirmative..
Bill’ read a second time.
– Mr. Speaker-
– -Order ! The House is going into committee.
Clauses 1 and 2 agreed to.
Clause 3 -
The ratification by Australia of the SouthEast Asia, Collective Defence Treaty (being the Treaty set out in the Schedule to this Act) is approved.
– I move -
That, after the word “ approved “, the following proviso be added : - “ Provided that such ratification shall not take place until the Treaty has been ratified by, or firm assurances of intended ratification have- been received from, the United Kingdom, the United States of America and New Zealand.”.
I also propose to move the following amendment : -
That, at the end of the clause, the following sub-clause be added: - “ (2.) Before any armed forces are contributed or made available by Australia, under or in accordance with any of the provisions of the Treaty, the prior approval of the Parliament shall be obtained’.”.
I suggest that it will meet the convenience of the committee if we discuss the two amendments together, and subsequently vote on them separately.
That procedure will be adopted.
– I shall speak briefly in support of the two amendments. As to the first amendment, the whole basis, I assume, of Australia’s entering the treaty will be the inclusion in the final treaty arrangements of the United Kingdom and the United States of America and New Zealand. I do not wish any mistake to occur, or any change of opinion in any of those countries to alter our position, in which we become a party to an agreement on the assumption that those three nations and Australia all will be participants in the treaty arrangement. I do not say that any change of opinion in those countries is likely; I do not know. I submit that the ratification by Australia should be given on the distinct understanding that there will be ratification by those three countries, or what amounts to the same thing, from a diplomatic point of view, assurances have been received-.
– Does the right honorable gentleman believe that such assurances have not been given?
– Assurances are never given until the constitutional position of a nation allows it. I thought that the honorable member for Evans understood that elementary constitutional position. 1 shall cite an illustration that I hope will convince even the honorable member for Evans. By the terms of the treaty itself, it is contemplated that the treaty shall be ratified in accordance with the respective constitutional processes of the countries concerned. That means, in the case of the United States, the approval of the Senate. Whether or not approval would be given by the Senate-
– What is a firm assurance ?
– It means that the Australian Government, through its responsible Minister, has received an indication from the appropriate authority - in the case of the United States, the Senate - that such approval will be forthcoming.
– What about the signature on the treaty itself?
– Why does not the honorable member for Evans hold his tongue?
– I do not think that the honorable member should ask the impossible.
– Order! If the committee does not come to order, I shall certainly take action, and some honorable members from both sides will find themselves outside the chamber.
– The mere signature on a treaty for ratification by any nation is appended on the understanding that ratification will follow subsequently, and that is a matter for determination by different authorities. Otherwise, ratification would not be required as the effective point from which the treaty became binding in respect of the particular nation. Its ratification is essential. The treaty says as much. What I wish to be assured of is that ratification by Australia shall not be unaccompanied by ratification by the United Kingdom, the United States and New Zealand. It is quite possible that, in certain circumstances, the actual ratification may not occur. Can the Minister for External Affairs tell me whether the other nations have formally ratified as yet?
– I cannot do so.
– These are the three nations that we wish to be assured are participants in the treaty, before final ratification is made by Australia.
– I suggest that the Leader of the Opposition deal with one amendment at a time.
– The Chairman has ruled that we discuss them all together. The other point is more important still. It simply means that we must face the fact that under this treaty we must contribute armed forces in a certain event. Take one illustration. Article IV. says - substituting the name “ Australia “ for “ Party “-that Australia- . . recognizes that aggression by means of armed attack in the treaty area against . . . State or territory which the Parties by unanimous agreement made hereafter designate, -
That includes South Viet Nam, Laos, Cambodia - would endanger its own peace and safety, and agrees that it will in that event act to meet the common danger in accordance with its constitutional processes.
There is an obligation upon a signatory to the treaty to act in accordance with its constitutional processes in the event stated in Article IV. Again, the word “ act “ means military action ; it includes war-like action. The Opposition wishes to be assured that, if an occasion such as that arises, a prerequisite to the contribution of forces by Australia under this treaty, and any other article, especially under Article IV., shall be the approval of this Parliament.
– How does the right honorable gentleman distinguish between “ under this treaty “ and “ any other article”?
– The obligation to act will be assumed by the government of the country, provisionally or otherwise. If it is provisionally assumed by the Government of this country, no doubt Australia will act in accordance with its obligation. My point is that before military action of the character defined is taken, the
Parliament should be consulted, because such action would bring about, in effect, a state of war.
– If Australian aircraft were shot down over South-East Asia, by Communist aircraft, would the treaty operate?
– Particular cases of difficulty might arise, but the general principle is clear. The Parliament should give its prior approval.
– Order ! The right honorable gentleman has exhausted his time.
– I think I can throw a little more light on this matter. My explanation will be essentially different from that of the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt). The proposed amendment reads -
Provided that such ratification shall not take place until the treaty has been ratified . . .
The simple facts of the situation are that the Parliament is in the course of deciding whether we shall ratify the treaty that was signed at Manila. Assuming the two Houses, constituting the Parliament, ratify the treaty, that is not the end of the process. Australia is not committed to this treaty until the ratification is lodged with the Government of the Philippines, which is the designated repository of the ratifications. Until a majority of the ratifications - in the various forms prescribed by the constitutions of the various signatories - are deposited, as apart from the ratifications being made by various Parliaments, the treaty shall not be operative. We are going through the first process, that of ratification. Subsequently, on a date which, under this bill, we shall choose for ourselves, it shall come into operation on a date to be fixed by proclamation. The Government will fix that date at a time to suit itself, and will make the ratification. The thing that is usually done in a treaty of this, or any other kind is that the countries concerned assure themselves that the other signatories have played their part and propose at an early date, to lodge their ratifications. Then the ratifications are lodged on or about the same date, when the principal parties, at least, and certainly a majority of the signatories, are prepared to act. I suggest that it would be undignified for Australia to say that it did not propose to lodge its ratification until other designated countries had lodged theirs.
– It was done in connexion with the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade.
– I am referring to the ordinary procedure. We shall deposit Australia’s ratification at a time suited to Australia’s best interests, taking full cognizance of similar acts of other signatories to this treaty. Honorable members may be assured that we will watch Australia’s interests carefully, and follow the normal procedure of lodging our ratification at the proper time. I think honorable members will realize perfectly well what I mean by the proper time. I suggest that this amendment is wrongly worded, because by its wording, it appears that Australia is bound by this treaty when we ratify it. That is not the fact. We shall ratify the treaty, and when we lodge our ratification, we shall be bound by it, as I have stated. The Government will watch Australia’s interests closely and will lodge the ratification at the proper time when it has assured itself that everything has been well done and that the treaty will come into effective operation with the proper nations as parties to it. The Government will not accept the first amendment.
The second foreshadowed amendment is designed to make it obligatory for the approval of the Parliament to be obtained before troops are used by us in accordance with the terms of the treaty. As I think all honorable members realize, the simple fact is that there are certain limitations on the ability of any Australian Government to send armed forces outside Australia. I think that we are all generally aware of those limitations. The South-East Asia Collective Defence Treaty does not in any way either extend or limit the constitutional and legal ability or disability of this or any other Australian Government to send forces outside Australia. I suggest, therefore, that there is no warrant for any attempt to require a reference to the Parliament before action might conceivably be taken in any future emergency.
The Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies), on the 5th August last, in a debate on international affairs, discussed these general matters in the future sense, because the treaty had not at that time been completed, although it was contemplated. Speaking in general about the South-East Asia collective defence arrangements that he expected might be concluded the Prime Minister said -
We will become contributing parties. We will in association with other nations acting similarly, accept military obligations in support of our membership. . . The nature of those commitments must be worked out in consultation with the other parties to the treaty.
That process has not yet been adopted. The Prime Minister continued -
What they will involve in terms of military preparation, nobody can as yet say, though as soon as negotiations have proceeded far enough we shall take the House and the country fully into our confidence. What effect any specific commitments will have upon the present shape of our defence programme or the methods which we now employ is a matter which I will not presume to judge in advance. All I want to say is that we shall not hesitate to make any changes which are necessary for the full performance of our commitments.
In other words, the Prime Minister said, to paraphrase his words, that if the Government proposed at any future time to alter the conditions or the limitations to which it is at present subject in relation to its ability to send forces overseas, it would take the Parliament into its confidence, as indeed it would be entirely necessary for it to do. Consequently, I see no necessity in respect of this measure, which does not affect the Government’s current ability to send troops overseas, to require a reference to the Parliament in relation to a proposal to send forces overseas under the terms of the SouthEast Asia Collective Defence Treaty.
This matter has not previously been raised in similar circumstances by the Opposition. It was not mentioned in relation to the Anzus pact, under which a similar implied liability rests on Australia in respect of some hypothetical circumstance in the future. There is no point in raising the matter now. If the treaty either increased or decreased the Australian Government’s ability to send forces overseas, there might be some point in the amendment. But the treaty does not affect that ability. Therefore, the Government will not accept the secondforeshadowed amendment.
.- I support both the proposals of theLeader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt). I regard the South-East Asia CollectiveDefence Treaty, in its present form, asbeing distinctly dangerous and inimical to the interests of Australia. Evidently the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Casey) holds a somewhat similar view, because, in his second-reading speech, he said -
They are more than critical. They condemn it and they declare it to be provocative. Therefore, we must examine it carefully. Any one who has any regard for the welfare of Australia would not consider that any treaty in relation to the area in question would be complete or would satisfactorily serve Australia’s interests if India were not a party to it. Government supporters apparently are not fully aware of the Opposition’s purpose in moving the first amendment. The Minister stated that it would be undignified of Australia to refuse to ratify the treaty until other countries .are ready to ratify it. It is not necessary for all the signatories to ratify it before it becomes effective. The lesser nations that are signatories to the treaty could ratify it, and the major nations, upon whom it obviously depends if it is to be a practical instrument for the defence of any area, could remain aloof from it. Let us consider the position of the United States of America. Yesterday the American people rejected the Eisenhower Administration and its policy. The international policy of the United States Secretary of State, Mr. John Foster Dulles, has been rejected by the electors, who have nowgiven the Democrats a majority in both the House of Representatives and the Senate of the United States Congress. The Democrat majority may take in relation to this treaty a view entirely different from that taken by the Republican Administration. It would be wise for Australia, before it becomes heavily committed under the terms of the treaty, to ascertain the attitude of the new controllers of the destiny of the United States of America to the treaty.
I should have preferred the amendment to go a little further than it does. Negotiations should proceed in an effort to make the treaty effective in the area to which it relates by bringing in as signatories to it the important nations that up to the present have remained aloof. Honorable gentlemen opposite cannot argue on sound grounds that those nations have remained aloof because they are inclined to favour communism. The fact is rather the reverse. India, Burma, Ceylon and Indonesia at present all remain outside the treaty. If those nations do not become signatories to the pact, how can it ever effectively serve Australia’s interests ? We will be committed by ratification of the treaty without, in most cases, realizing all its implications. The first step is almost always the most difficult to retrace. Often one finds it difficult to turn back. The Minister tried lightly to brush aside the question of commitments. He stated that they have not yet been discussed in detail and therefore cannot be announced to the Parliament so that it may express approval or disapproval of them. The Prime Minister and the Minister, if they wish to do so, could tell the Parliament that Australia is being pledged to the limit of its man-power and resources. If this Government remains in office and is unable to meet Australia’s obligations under the treaty by using volunteer troops, it will not hesitate to conscript men for service overseas.
The Minister tried to reassure the Australian people very cunningly by stating that the treaty does not alter the constitutional position and neither extends nor restricts a citizen’s . obligations to render service in the armed forces. The Constitution does not enter into the matter. The Minister knows full well, and it is as well- that the Australian people also should know it, that an amendment of the Constitution is not required for the extension of the field of con. scripted military service. The area- within which conscripted troops may be used can bc extended, and it has been extended, by a majority vote of the Parliament in support, of an amendment of the Defence Act.
– Order! The honorable member must confine his remarks to the question before the Chair.
– I am referring to something that is contained in the amendment. I am pointing out the dangers so that, before Australian armed forces are committed to serve outside Australia, the Parliament shall be consulted.
– The Parliament will have to be consulted in any event.
– Evidently, the Minister for Defence (Sir Philip McBride) has not read Australian history. If the Government wishes to extend the area of service of Australian forces it must first secure an amendment to the Defence Act for that purpose. The Minister knows full well that such approval can be given by a majority in the Parliament and that it does not involve an amendment of the Constitution. The Minister read a part but not all that the Prime Minister said on this aspect. The right honorable gentleman stated -
What effect any specific commitments will have upon the present shape of our defence programme, or the methods which we now employ, is a matter which I will not presume to judge in advance.
All I want to say is that we will not hesitate to make any changes which are necessary for the full performance of our commitments.
The Prime Minister did not say what our commitments are. It is ridiculous to expect any responsible Opposition to agree to such a proposition unless details of Australia’s commitments in this respect are first indicated. What are those commitments? If this treaty had been in existence a little over a year ago, Australian troops would have been sacrificed in Indo-China in a futile effort to destroy- a nationalist movement that was designed to effect reforms in that country. I am now speaking about the movement when it was initiated. As time went on, the Communists, no doubt, took advantage of it, but honorable members opposite must recognize, as> history proves, that some men associated with that movement in Viet Nam were formerly in the underground movement and helped the allied cause by opposing the Japanese occupation forces. Therefore, it becomes most important for the Parliament to know whether it will be consulted in this matter. What will be the situation in Malaya, for instance? Do honorable members opposite believe that Australian troops should be sacrificed in suppressing a nationalist movement in Malaya, that is a movement that may be designed to improve the wage paid to coolie labour which, at present, is equivalent to 1 lb. of rice a day? Should Australian lives be sacrificed because unfortunate people, no matter what one may call their movement, are striving for a better existence in their own country and for the right to live as human beings? As a matter of fact, one of the principles enunciated in this measure is that people of various lands should have the right of selfdetermination. Why not give to the Malayan people the opportunity to declare whether they desire to exercise independence? But under this treaty, if any movement, or insurrection occurred in a particular country, which it was alleged was inspired by outside influence, perhaps Communist influence, the Government of that country could immediately call upon the signatories to this treaty to provide armed forces to put down the insurrection although the object of it might be solely to improve the living standards of native peoples. Therefore, this provision presents many dangers. With respect to India’s failure to become a party to this agreement, the Minister went to great pains to say that compliance with its provisions could not possibly mean that in the event of a conflict occurring between India and Pakistan over Kashmir, Australian forces would be used against India. If that is Australia’s understanding of this provision, why was its viewpoint not conveyed to the representatives of the other signatories at the Manila conference?
– It was.
– It was not.
– Order ! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- I should like, immediately, to correct palpable errors in the remarks of the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward). Taking his last statement first, he said that we would be obliged to go with force of arms into a country if some movement, which might possibly be a liberal movement, expressed itself against the government of that country. No more foolish statement could be made. Presumably, the honorable member, if he has read the treaty, is aware that under paragraph 2 of Article IV. we are obliged only to consult with other parties in the event of certain things happening, not armed aggression, to determine what we are to do. In those circumstances, of course, we, as I imagine each of the other signatories would do, would assure ourselves that the movement was a movement that would attract the attention of other countries to protect the government of that country. We would not automatically provide assistance merely because the government of that country said that such and such a movement existed and it wanted the other signatories to the treaty to suppress it. The other signatories would naturally assure themselves that the movement was Communist-inspired before they would take any action whatever. The honorable member palpably has attempted to present this treaty in the wrong light to the public.
Secondly, the honorable member for East Sydney - I cannot believe it was pure mischance - accused me of saying that the constitutional position in relation to the sending of troops overseas was not altered by this measure. What I did say - and the honorable member must have heard me - was that “ the constitutional position and the legal position “ was not altered - that is that the Defence Act, or any other act that bears upon our ability to send forces overseas, was not altered. Nothing is gained by misrepresentation, but this seems to be a deliberate attempt on the part of the honorable member to misrepresent the position.
– Order ! I remind the committee that the question before the Chair is the ratification of this treaty. I ask honorable members to limit their discussion to that matter.
Mr. WENTWORTH (Mackellar) [10.18 J. - It often happens in this House that when honorable members are treated to the dance of the seven Communist veils the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) usually takes off one more than the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt). The honorable member for East Sydney, perhaps, has spoken rather more frankly than his leader has, but in a way in which his leader, perhaps, would have liked to speak. It is no coincidence that both of them follow the Communist line.
– Order ! I should like to know what the honorable member’s remarks have to do with the question before the Chair.
– I am pointing out that the honorable member for East Sydney and the Leader of the Opposition in the speeches that they have made on this bill were, in fact, taking the Communist line. I shall substantiate that statement as I go along. The first point to which I direct the attention of the committee is the condemnation of this treaty that is contained in the Com.inform’s organ of the 17 th September. If one takes the trouble to read that newspaper one will find that the speeches to which we have just heard from honorable members opposite are a pale reflection of those undoubtedly communistic views. There is no doubt that either the thinking, or the actions of the Leader of the Oppossition, or both, are controlled by the dark Communist forces behind him. Some of them are sitting behind him to-night.
– The good old line.
– Order! The right honorable gentleman will cease interjecting.
– Some of them were sitting behind him to-night. I noticed that his friend, Mr. Healy, and Mr. Idris Williams were there.
– Order! The honorable member for Mackellar will deal with the clause.
– I am endeavouring to invite attention to the motives of certain members of the Opposition in relation to these amendments. Both the amendments are designed to give aid and comfort to the Communists. The first amendment makes a trivial proposal.
The second strikes at the root of the whole treaty. The first is designed to arouse distrust among our allies. The second is designed to arouse in their minds the suspicion that Australia will not carry out any commitments that it might enter into and to make them less inclined to carry out any commitments that they might have for our protection. Either the second amendment indicated by the Leader of the Opposition is Communistinspired or he does not realize the changes that have taken place in the world in the last few years. It is no longer possible to defend a country wholly from within that country’s boundary. If we are to have security we must have forward outposts. It is no longer possible to rely upon being given time, after a declaration of war, before one meets the brunt of an attack. We must make preparations in advance and anybody who fails to acknowledge that fact is betraying the real interests of the Australian people. I think that many of those who voted last May that the Leader of the Opposition should be Prime Minister are now realizing how wrong they were and they see with some relief that he is still on the Opposition side of the chamber. If he had been Prime Minister he would have been able-
– You are a dirty little fascist.
– Order! The Leader of the Opposition will withdraw that remark.
– I withdraw and ask you, Mr. Chairman, to put a stop to insolent and insulting expressions.
– Order! The right honorable gentleman will apologize to the Chair.
– I do so with pleasure and make the same request.
– What did the Leader of the Opposition say? I did not hear it.
– Order! The honorable member for East Sydney will be named if he persists in interjecting. He has been interjecting all night.
– I repeat that many people will be relieved that the
Leader of the Opposition is still on the Opposition-
– Order! The committee is not discussing the position of the Leader of the Opposition.
– I make that statement .because if the Leader of the Opposition had been Prime Minister he would have been in a position to implement the amendment that he has moved to-night. And last night, Dr. Burton, that notorious pro-Communist, instead of sneaking around the corridors of the Parliament
– Order! What lias that to do with the clause?
– It has everything to do with the matter.
– If the honorable member does not speak to the clause he will have to resume his seat.
– If the Leader of the Opposition had been Prime Minister, Dr. Burton would have been in a position to advise him instead of sneaking around the corridors of this House as he did last night. The foreign policy of this country would have been controlled once more by people with .Communist sympathies as it was when the Leader of the Opposition was Minister for External Affairs. If the committee were to agree to the second amendment proposed by the Leader of the Opposition, Australia would be unable to station forces to meet emergencies as they may arise and prior to every small administrative move the Government would have to consult Parliament.
– What would be wrong with that?
– It would mean that the Government would be hamstrung in contrast to the freedom of movement that would be enjoyed by our Communist enemies. Honorable members must realize that Australia is now in great danger. The Opposition is trying to play party politics, but it is playing party politics with the lives of every one of us - of themselves, their wives and their children as well as of the lives of those on this side of the House. We are all Australians and we are all in this to gether. Australian security requires an alliance.. It requires a forward [line which can keep the fighting off Australian soil, or at least contribute to that end. Nothing will be gained by makingit clear to our Allies that we will not come to their aid without calling the Parliament together and allowing our actions to be determined by the chances of party politics. If we put ourselves in that position can we expect fair treatment from them?
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- The committee has heard the usual speech delivered by the honorable member for “ McCarthy “.
– Order ! What remark did the honorable gentleman make ?
– I was referring to the aberrations of the honorable member for Mackellar.
– That is in order.
– After the honorable member’s aberrations which, so far from indicating the illegitimacy which the Leader of the Opposition found indicated in his remarks, did, in fact, show that hereditary streak of insanity-
– I rise to order.
– There is an old expression - “ If you stand on a dog’s tail it is usual that you hear the mongrel squeal “.
– The honorable member for Werriwa has quoted verbatim, concerning the honorable member for Mackellar, an extract from document J. I think that it is time that you kept your eye on the proceedings, Mr. Chairman.
– No point of order has been raised by the honorable member for Henty. I am not used to taking any notice of threats. So far as any remarks about document J are concerned, I have not the slightest idea of what is contained in that document, nor are we discussing it. But if the honorable member for Werriwa applied his remark to the honorable member for Mackellar he .will withdraw it.
– I did apply the remark and I withdraw it.
– I invite your attention, Mr. Chairman, to the remarks that were made bythe honorable member for Henty (Mr. Gullett) reflecting on the Chair. They were most offensive and insulting and I ask you to demand their withdrawal.
– There was nothing personal in my remark, Mr. Chairman, but I submit that you did not hear what was going on at that stage.
– I was about to askthe honorable member for Werriwa whether he applied his remark to the honorable member for Mackellar when the honorable member for Henty raised his point of order. I naturally listened to the point of order first.
– I rise to order.
– He has got off his bike, too.
– May I say that the honorable member for Werriwa is like a flat tyre, anyway. I should like to draw your attention, Mr. Chairman, to the fact that honorable members on this side of the chamber were referred to by the honorable member for Phillip (Mr. Fitzgerald) as squealing mongrels. I do not think that that is parliamentary language.
– Order ! I did not hear the remark. If the honorable member for Phillip made such a remark, he will withdrawit at once.
– I did not make any such remark. What I did say was, “If you stand on a dog’s tail, you will hear the mongrel squeal “. If that remark is offensive, I withdraw it.
– You will withdraw it anyhow, because it is unparliamentary.
– I withdraw it.
-I rise to order, Mr. Chairman. The honorable member for Henty (Mr. Gullett) implied that you were asleep when ‘he invited you to keep your eyes open.
– Order ! The honorable member is drawing an unwarranted inference. He will resume his seat, or I shall deal with him.
– So that the caravan may move on, I point out-
Honorable members interjecting,
– Order ! The committee will remain silent or somebody will be named.
Motion (by Mr. Casey) proposed -
That the question be now put.
– The Bengal tiger strikes again !
– Mr. Chairman, I draw your attention to the offensive interjection by the honorable member for Werriwa (Mr. Whitlam).
– Order ! Members who disrupt proceedings will be dealt with later.
– On one side only.
– Order !
Question put. The committee divided. (The Chairman - Mr. C. F. Adermann.)
Majority . . 12
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Question put -
That the proviso proposed to be added (Dr. Evatt’s amendment) be so added.
The committee divided. (The Chairman - Mr. C. F. Adermann.)
Majority . . . . 11
Question so resolved in the negative.
Motion (by Dr. Evatt) put -
That, at the end of the clause, the following new sub-clause be added: “ (2.) Before any armed forces are contributed or made available by Australia, under or in accordancewith any of the provisions of the Treaty, the prior approval of the Parliament shall be obtained.”.
The committee divided. (The Chairman - Mr. C. F. Adermann.)
Majority . . . . 10
Question so resolved in the negative.
Clause agreed to.
Remainder of bill - by leave - taken as a whole.
.-There are certain things that should be said by me, on behalf of the Government, and I propose to say them. We are dealing now with the treaty itself and also, I assume, with the preamble to the bill. It may occur to honorable gentlemen to question why the preamble to the bill is phrased in the way it is and to ask why stress is laid on the fact that, very largely, it is Communist aggression that is attracting the interest of this Government to this treaty. I dealt with that matter at some length in my second-reading speech. I do not attempt to disguise the fact that the Australian Government considers that, with the world as it is to-day and with the situation that confronts us in this region, the primary purpose of the treaty is to combat communism. Resistance to communism is the immediate objective of the treaty. It is for that principal purpose - not the sole purpose, but the principal -purpose - that the Australian Governent is prepared to commit itself to the treaty. In fact, we cannot see at the present time any other circumstances in which we would be obliged to intervene. It is possible that, as time goes by, other circumstances will make themselves known, but so far as we can see at the moment, the immediate objective of the treaty is the combating of communism.
For that very simple and proper reason, we have stressed the Communist menace in the preamble to the bill, apart from the preamble to the treaty. That seems to us to be very reasonable and proper, but I understand there are some honorable members who query the preamble to the bill. We all know that the preamble has no legal significance, and we have never suggested that it has. The preamble is the background to, or the explanation of, the main reasons for the treaty. In treaties of this kind, it is usual to have a preamble to the ratifying measure that sets out the background of the treaty. That has been done in simple terms, with which I think nobody could quarrel.
Some honorable members have queried the action of the United States Government in putting a reservation before its signature to the treaty. I have already explained, but I shall repeat the explanation in the most economical terms, that the United States Government did that for a very simple, proper and understandable reason. It did it because the United States has no territorial possessions on the mainland of Asia. It is only Communist aggression - not general aggression, but Communist aggression - that would attract the interest of the United States to a treaty of this kind, because the view is held by the United States Congress that Communist aggression, particularly successful Communist aggression, in any part of the world would be an accretion to the strength of international communism, and so, in the long run, could be regarded as an added menace to the security of the United States. If the United States Congress could not be assured that the United States Government is participating in this treaty only to combat Communist aggression, the treaty might very well not be accepted by Congress.
– Why did not we make a similar reservation?
– I have already explained that matter three times, but I shall explain it a fourth time so as to make it crystal clear.
– In economical terms?
– In the most economical and simple terms, in words of not more than two syllables - in fact, almost in Basic English. I do not know how often one has to repeat these things. I have tried to explain in the simplest possible terms why the United States Government had to make that reservation.
– Why did not we make one?
– I am trying to explain this matter very slowly so that it will be easily comprehensible, even to the dullest intellect. I have been asked why the other seven, signatory nations did not make a similar reservation. First, we did not have the same need to make it as did the United States. Under the United Nations Charter, we are obliged, as are other member nations, to combat aggression - not any particular form of fascist aggression, which is such a popular term on the south side of the House, but just aggression. Secondly, it is probable that some of the Asian nations would not have ratified the treaty if it had been directed pointedly at communism only.
– That is just an assertion.
– I should be obliged if the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt) would observe the normal manners of a civilized person. When the right honorable gentleman was speaking, I maintained silence, although I had some difficulty in so doing. I ask for the ordinary civilized courtesy of reciprocity.
– I asked a fair question.
– Order! The Leader of the Opposition will remain quiet.
– Now that the interruptions have finished for the time being, perhaps I can proceed. If this treaty had been directed specifically and solely against communism, it is probable that some of the Asian, signatories would not have ratified it. As L stated in my secondreading speech, certainly the treaty would have attracted the animosity of some of the Asian countries that are not signatories to it if it had been directed pointedly against communism. There is a certain touchiness among some Asian nations by reason of ideas, current on the Asian mainland, about not attracting the animosity of Peking. Therefore, in order to have the best atmosphere for this treaty, it was signed by the participating nations other than the United States of America without a reservation.
It is quite clear that, quantitatively, those are not very important reasons’, because we hold the view, and I am quite sure that the United Kingdom Government holds it also, that 99 per cent, of the risk is in respect to Communist aggression or Communist subversion. So we are not, in. f act, accepting any greater obligation than is the United States of America. But words have a certain meaning and significance. They have a certain significance in the American Congress and they have a certain significance on the mainland of Asia in the minds of the peoples of many of the free Asian countries. I assure honorable members that we are not, in fact, assuming a greater obligation than is the United States.
As I am speaking on the treaty as a whole, let me say one or two other things about the United States. I am not conscious of having heard from the lips of members of the Opposition any appreciation of the part played in -this matter by America. Expressions of appreciation have come from the mouths of many honorable gentlemen on this side of the chamber, but I should have liked to hear something that could be described as general appreciation by the chamber of the part ‘ that the United States has played in this treaty. The Americans cannot be. said to have been the originators of. the treaty, but the stimulus came from them. Many other countries came in during the early stages and did all that they could to encourage the meeting at Manila and to bring the treaty into existence. This Government adopts a certain attitude towards the United States of America, as the. strongest individual power in the world to-day and a power which, particularly in the Pacific, means a great deal to Australia. I know that the Leader of the Opposition holds contrary views. On more than one occasion he has criticized me personally for the attitude I have adopted, on behalf of the Government, to the United States I admit quite frankly, indeed I affirm, that unfortunately there is a fundamental difference between the attitude of the Leader of the Opposition and myself, on behalf of the Government, towards the United States. The Government admits and acknowledges the debt we owe to America for its help in the past, and the debt we may possibly owe in. futuro. This Government’s policy in international affairs brought about the
Anzus treaty and is in the course of bringing about the Manila treaty.
Australia’s attitude internationally has not been without value to the security of Australia. I am not saying that the Anzus pact or the Manila treaty represents the last word, and that we may sit back and take it easy. There is no magic cure-all in treaties that would establish the security of this country for the future, but let me state, on behalf of the Government, that, so far as it has been able to do so, it has achieved what it set out to achieve. It has done its best to ensure that, if active trouble comes to our part of the world, we shall enter that trouble with the strongest friends possible. I refer now to the scope of the treaty, and to whom we shall defend or shall not defend in an extremity. The Leader of the Opposition has suggested that the treaty is deficient, because we are not obliged to go to the aid of Communist North Viet Nam in the event of its being attacked by South Viet Nam. Does the right honorable gentleman suggest that the treaty should provide that we should go to the aid of a Communist state if it were attacked by a democratic state?
– The treaty, if as the Minister signed it, provides exactly for that. “Mr. CASEY.- The right honorable gentleman stated what he had to state before, and it was perfectly simple. He stated that there was no provision in the treaty which placed upon Australia the obligation of going to the aid of a Communist state in the unlikely event of its being attacked by a democratic state. The Government is asked whether the treaty guards us against fascist aggression. It guards us against aggression of any kind, but, if any one can tell me from which direction fascist aggression is likely to come on the Asian mainland, I should like to be told. I refer now to Article V., which provides that a council shall be established. The Government is of the opinion that the council should be established as quickly as possible to deal with the following three principal matters: First, the business of military planning ; secondly, the business of anti-subversive planning; and, thirdly, the business of the giving of economic and technical aid to countries in the treaty area which need it most.
A council meeting proper cannot be held until the treaty has been ratified by a number of countries, including the United States of America, and until it comes into operation. The Government hopes that there will be an early, and perhaps tentative, council meeting, even before the treaty comes into operation. I have had discussions with the United States of America which point to the possibility of a tentative meeting being held in the South-East Asia area within the next couple of months, or, at least, before the treaty finally comes into operation. The Government believes that the momentum that existed before, and at the time of, the Manila conference must be maintained, and that can be done only by the holding of a council meeting as early as possible. The Government welcomes the treaty. It has worked extremely hard to bring the treaty into existence and, as I stated at the conclusion of the proceedings at Manila, I believe that, when the treaty comes into operation, all of the signatory countries in this part of the world will be safer and more secure than they have been in the past. I commend the treaty to the committee with every confidence.
– I do not wish to occupy much time in replying to the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Casey). The right honorable gentleman really has not dealt with the problem associated with the preamble. When he went to Manila, he knew that the obligation of the United States of America was to be limited to what was called communist aggression, but he entered into an agreement under which Australia bound itself to contribute military forces in the event of aggression, whether it be fascist, nationalistic or any other type of aggression, without any such limitation. The right honorable gentleman is quite correct in stating that that is the broad obligation imposed by the United Nations Charter. I assume that the words that have been included in the preamble of the bill are the words of the right honorable gentleman. He states that the preamble relates, in substance, to an arrangement to deal with aggressive international communism.
– The approach of the Leader of the Opposition is completely legalistic.
– It is not.
– The Minister’s action was a kind of double dealing. The United States was frank about the matter and stated, “ We do not intend to enter into any obligation in this area, other than to deal with aggressive communism “. Why did the Minister not say, “I agree with you”, if he does agree with them?
– Because we would not have had a treaty. That is why.
– On the one hand, the Minister does not want to offend the nations of Asia, but, on the other hand, he comes home and sneaks the term “ communist aggression “ into a local bill for local political purposes. He adopts the old McCarthy attitude, and includes it in a bill in which it should never have been included. I doubt whether the Minister is the author of this preamble. Is he?
– I shall reply later.
– Is the Minister going to reply again? Are you the author of the preamble ?
– Make your own speech.
– Who is the author of the preamble?
– Get a handwriting expert to examine it.
– The right honorable gentleman comes into the House, having put it into cold print, but not into his own handwriting. He wants the best of both worlds. On the one hand,, he wants to go to Manila and say to the Asiatic countries, “ The United States people are very odd people. They are limiting their obligation to opposing communist aggression. We are not. We are including all types of aggression, so do not be offended “ ! He comes home to Australia, looks around the back benches, sees the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth), says to himself, “I have to keep in with the honorable member for Evans “, and then confuses the bill with the Communist Party Dissolution Bill 1951! The whole matter is really laughable. I do not know what the committee thinks, but I suggest that the preamble of the treaty and the preamble of the bill are contradictory. I am anxious to know why he did not follow the attitude of the United States.
The Minister states that his approach to the United States is fundamentally different from mine. That is true.
– It is perfectly true.
– I regard the United States as Australia’s senior partner in the Pacific. No one has recognized more than I, and the government of which I was a member, the debt that Australia owes to the United States. When the Labour Government looked to the United States for help, it did not receive much support from supporters of the present Government. In fact, Mr. Curtin was blackguarded in the anti-Labour press because he sought the help of the United States in 1942. We owe a debt to the United States that cannot be repaid.
– The Minister left Washington in disgust.
– He left Washington, but I do not say he left in disgust. I shall not refer to him personally, but my attitude is different from his. The Minister acts as a sattelite of the United States and subservient to it. I stand for an Australian policy. I think that the honest attitude of the ordinary people corresponds to that of the Australian Labour party. When dealing with the United States, we should not hesitate to put Australia’s point of view. I should like the Minister to adopt a more Australian, and a more independent, attitude when dealing with that country. I believe that, if he had done so at Manila, he would have got a better treaty. He refers repeatedly to Mr. Dulles, but the recent election in the United States has put Mr. Dulles in a position internationally which corresponds with the position that internally will be occupied in the United States, in future, by Senator McCarthy. The Minister wants to have it both ways. Senator McCarthy would revel in this preamble. Perhaps it has been taken from a preamble used by him. I say that a government that does that kind of thing in international matters should be censured. I do not think that it was the Minister who was responsible for that preamble being put in the bill, because it is contrary to everything he said at Manila. I understand that at Manila the Minister insisted that there should not be a limitation on Australia, but other forces wanted it.
I have dealt with all the points. The preamble of the bill contradicts the treaty. The Minister signed the treaty, but it is not good enough for Australia. He wants to put a label and a tag on it that will appeal to the basest elements in the community, who do not wish to defeat communism but to sneak in under it for their own purposes. I object to the preamble because I think it should not be in a bill of this kind. It does not conform to the treaty and the Minister’s obligations, as he understood them, at Manila. I accept his challenge about the United States. I repeat that it is the attitude of the Australian Labour party, and always has been, that, in respect of the United States of America in the Pacific, there should be partnership, not subservience. Australia should never be a satellite of the United States. The Americans would not respect us if we were. They are a great and a generous people. They may tolerate McCarthyism for a little while, but then they will kick it to death. That is what is going to happen in this country, too. The right honorable gentleman must not try to smear his opponents with communism, when he knows that it is not right to do so. He has done that during the debate on this bill. The honorable member for Henty (Mr. Gullett) and the honorable member for Evans (Mr. Osborne), during the debate-
– Order ! We are not discussing what happened during the debate last night.
– This is relevant to the preamble.
– Order ! I am not interested in the preamble. The right honorable gentleman cannot deal with what happened during the second-reading debate.
– Then, I shall not do so. I ask the Minister, in these matters, to remember that he cannot bring international affairs down to the gutter level of local politics. That is what he seeks to do by this preamble.
– I have never heard such a farago. Obviously, the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt) was beside himself.
Opposition members interjecting,
– Order ! I ask the Minister to resume his seat until the committee comes to order.
– I have given a simple and honest description of this treaty, and the reason why things were done as they were done. They were all discussed with the representatives of the Asian countries inside the conference at Manila. Nothing has been done by me in this Parliament, on behalf of the Government, that was not first discussed at great length at the conference itself. I am not in the habit of saying one thing in a certain place and another thing somewhere else. As I have said, our attitude towards the United States of America is fundamentally different from that of the Leader of the Opposition. After all, we have achieved Anzus and are in the course of achieving the Manila treaty. What did the right honorable gentleman achieve with the United States? He gave the Americans Manns Island. That was his main achievement. He has mentioned the word “ satellite “. We have constant dealings, face to face, and also by correspondence and telegram, with the United States. We often disagree with the United States, but we do so in private. We do not indulge, and we do not think that this country can afford to indulge, in the luxury of public differences with our greatest friend other than Great Britain.
The right honorable gentleman is notorious for rubbing the nose of the United
States in the dirt,, as- it were,, for political purposes, and the Americans remember that. He could not have achieved a treaty of this kind, because the United States would not have dealt with him.. Those are the simple facts. They are known to a great many people in this country and, I may say, to a great many people outside this country.
I do not wish to go into the details of the matter or provide proof, but proof is there. Our attitude towards the United States is one of co-operation. If we have anything to disagree about, we disagree in private. As a result, when we have something to put forward to the United States, it receives a great deal more consideration than if we had rubbed America’s nose in the dirt and caused it embarrassment in international affairs by public criticism. That is our attitude, and that is where it differs fundamentally from that of the Leader of the Opposition. The Government commends this treaty to the committee in the firm belief that Australia will be more secure when this treaty is finally ratified and comes into operation, than it was before.
.- In the closing stages of this debate, I think that the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Casey) should have given us an indication of just how this- treaty will affect the Australian defence forces. The treaty requires us to prepare in case we should have to meet some form of aggression. The members of this Parliament: should know that treaties are very expensive things. Indeed, they are so expensive that this bill should not pass through the committee without some mention of the defence obligations and the cost in which they might involve Australia. I do not say that we should not meet that expense if it appears necessary to do so, but. I say that we should consider it at all. times. Canada, which is involved in North Atlantic treaty obligations, has a defence vote of about £800,000,000. Our defence vote is £200,000,000. Our defence forces are going to pieces. The officers and men are resigning, the Citizen Military Forces are declining and losing men, and there are proposals to limit the number of national service trainees. Our defence forces are in a deplorable state, and some thing, will have to be done if they are to be made ready for battle. I think that this, treaty will involve us in very much, heavier military commitments. Before this bilL is passed by the Parliament, the Minister should have something to say about the state of preparedness of the country and the possible military commitments and expense that may be involved.
– I agree with the honorable member for Ballarat (Mr. Joshua) that,, both because of this treaty and because of world events, which we cannot control, and which we shall have to suffer, we may find it necessary to increase our defence vote. I would agree, also, with the assumption implicit in the remarks of the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt), that anything directed against the Communists is liable to react on him. What is this preamble which he refers to as a smear ? Let the committee consider it and see whether that is bow it should be described. The first paragraph says -
Whereas the independence and integrity of the countries and territories of South-East Asia and the South-West Pacific are threatened by the aggressive policies of international communism :
Is that a smear ? The preamble goes on -
And whereas those Communist policies have already shown1 themselves in Korea,. Indo-China and elsewhere by armed aggression, by armed insurrection assisted, from without and otherwise:
Is. that a. smear 1’ It continues -
And- whereas those Communist policies represent a common danger to the security of Australia and1 of the world generally and are a violation of the principles and purposes* of the Charter of the United Nations:
Is that a smear, or a cold recital of fact?, To describe this as a “ smear “, is Communist propaganda at, its worst, most difficult and most destructive. The right honorable gentleman has given himself away to the chamber and to the- country, by taking as. an offence to himself and to his party the preamble of the bill, which is. directed solely against communism. The identification is his own,, not mine. Now I. draw the attention of the House to something that I think follows from Article 2 of the treaty, which reads, in part - the Parties, separately and jointly, by means of continuous and effective self help and mutual aid will maintain and develop their individual and collective capacity to resist armed attack and to prevent and counter subversive activities directed from without against their- territorial integrity and political stability…
Those are obligations against subversion, which- are undertaken in common with the other- nations who signed the treaty. It might be said with ‘some justice “ physician heal thyself “, because we know, and have seen recently exposed, the fact that there is considerable subversioninside the Australian community. It may be that this treaty will extend the constitutional power of the Commonwealth to deal with subversion. Most honorable members will be familiar with the Goya Henry case, and they will recall that a dictum was advanced at the time of that case that the Commonwealth. could’ extend its powers into new fields by entering into treaties which so required it to do. I know that there is some doubt about this matter, but honorable members will recall the essay upon it that was written by Professor Bailey, the present Solicitor-General. In that essay, Professor Bailey advanced arguments, pro and con, as to the extent that Australia’s powers would be amplified by its entering into a treaty which necessitated the exercise of those powers. I do not know if the High Court would to-day maintain its former attitude on this matter. But I think that it is at least possible, and if it is possible I am glad that this article which we are putting into the treaty may make a very timely addition to the constitutional powers of the Commonwealth to deal with subversion, particularly Communist subversion.
I now come back to the preamble of the bill. Although it has been held in courts from, time to time that the preamble of an act does not itself establish the facts that it lays down, nevertheless; in the interpretation of an act the preamble will be evidence of the intention of words used otherwhere in the act. It is probable that the inclusion of that preamble may strengthen the constitutional hand of the Commonwealth in dealing with Communist subversion. If that is so, the right honorable gentleman, who is well versed in law and is probably fly to all these points, has therefore been pro vided with a reason, ot has provided1 a reason himself, for the extraordinary vehemence of his attack on the preambleof the bill.
.- When previously addressing myself to this matter, I directed the attention of honorable members to one or two of the dangers in the proposed treaty as I saw them from Australia’s viewpoint. I shall not be deterred by the smears of the petty fascists opposite in regard to the attitude that I adopt, and the opinions that I may put forward in this debate.
– Order ! If the honorable member has applied that expression to any particular member of this chamber he must withdraw it.
– I applied it to no one in particular. Consider, the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth). I realize that probably it is a waste of my time in this debate to devote much of it to him, but he does a disservice to the group of nations associated in this treaty when he attempts to smear honorable members of the Opposition, particularly the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt), by misrepresenting the Opposition’s attitude to the great American nation. Honorable members on the Government side seem to take the attitude that if we criticize some decision, or some stand adopted by another nation, that that of itself constitutes an unfriendly act. I suggest that we can be critical of other nations and yet remain friends. As- a matter of fact, the present policy of the United States of America towards international affairs is not approved by every one of the American citizens themselves, or by all the political parties in the United States. Some of them have criticized that policy. Merely to hold an opposite view does not demonstrate, in my opinion, any unfriendliness to the United States at all.
All Australians would admit, quite plainly and expressly, their profound gratitude for the great assistance given by the American nation and the American people in the defence of this country during World War II. That opinion is shared by every honorable member of the Opposition. However, to hold that opinion does not mean that we have to be completely subservient, and that we should sacrifice our independence and have no viewpoint of our own. The Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Casey) has said that the Australian Government and the Government of the United States have differences of opinion, but that they express them behind closed doors. I say that what the Minister expresses is usually what Mr. Poster Dulles has expressed a fortnight earlier. The Minister has no opinion of his own, nor has the Government a policy of its own on matters of this kind.
Let me show honorable members where the Minister is completely astray, and how he misled the conference that drew up this treaty. I shall go on to consider the possibility of trouble, which I was previously developing as an argument, between India and Pakistan. I suggest that that is a real danger. Everybody is aware that there has been some difficulty between those two countries for a considerable period of time. Assuming that the worst did happen, and India attacked Pakistan or Pakistan attacked India. According to the Minister, Australia would not be involved in that affair, but the treaty says quite plainly that we shall be involved because if India attacks Pakistan, Pakistan being a signatory to this treaty, Australia would be committed to intervene in the trouble. It is of no use for the Minister to say that he assured the representatives of Pakistan that we would not intervene in the case of trouble between other members of the British Commonwealth, because that is exactly what the treaty commits Australia to do. The Minister was fully aware that this was a possible criticism of the agreement, because in his second-reading speech he admitted that such a misunderstanding might arise, and he said that he had reassured the Pakistan representatives on that point. I ask why he did not assure the conference, and other representatives at the conference, that he was qualifying his acceptance of the treaty. If it was right for America to put a qualification into the agreement, then I contend that the Minister, on behalf of Australia, should have put in a qualification that the treaty should not require us to take up arms against another member of the British Commonwealth.
The same thing applies in regard to subversive activities in any of the treaty countries. Let the Minister consider the form of government in Pakistan at present. Military forces have taken charge of Pakistan by force of arms. Assume that the people of Pakistan were dissatisfied with military dictatorship, and decided that, because they could not change their government by democratic means, they would take up arms in order to do so. This treaty refers to the maintenance of political stability. That applies to the political stability of a dictatorship, just as much as it applies to the political stability of a democratic government. Therefore, this Government is committing Australia to intervention in Pakistan if tha Pakistan Government invites it to intervene. The Minister has said that that will be done after consultation.
– The Pakistan revolt was an army facist revolt.
– If the Pakistan fascist Government determined that the political stability of the country was endangered as a result of some popular movement, the Minister would commit Australia to intervene. The Minister has committed Australia to intervention in the domestic affairs of other nations, and that will be distinctly disadvantageous to Australia. A council will work out in detail the military commitments of each nation. Australia will be in the minority on that council. If more Asiatic nations decide to join in the treaty later, we shall be more definitely in the minority than ever. Our views will be minority views. What will the Minister do if some discussion arises over the present immigration policy of the Australian Government which is very unpopular in Asiatic countries?
I ask the Minister that question, because although the Government only talks about Communist aggression, I believe that Australia has to be prepared to defend itself from aggression no matter from what quarter it comes, and whether it is Communist or fascist aggression. Honorable members opposite profess to believe that the only threat to the security of Australia stems from possible Communist aggression. I suggest that they should look a little further towards the rearmed and resurgent Japanese nation to which the honorable member for Angas (Mr. Downer) drew attention a few months ago. He could see the danger. Supporters of the Government have argued that Japan now has a democratic government, and that it is no longer a threat to the security of Australia. I firmly believe that there are few Australians who would share this viewpoint, and who would not be willing to admit, if they spoke frankly, that they believe the threat to the security of Australia from Japan to be greater than from any other quarter. It is true that under the Anzus pact the United States is committed, to some degree, to give Australia aid, although there is some serious doubt whether the United States is, in fact, committed without the consent of Congress. Assuming the Japanese were moving south to invade Australia, we might expect some assistance from the United States under the Anzus pact. Under the Seato arrangement, the United States would not be obliged to come to our aid in such circumstances because it could argue that the aggression was not Communist aggression.
The Minister has let Australia down badly with regard to the verbiage used, both in the preamble and the terms and conditions of the treaty. This is not the first occasion that the Minister has let Australia down. He has attacked the Leader of the Opposition’s attitude to the United States. He said that the attitude of the Leader of the Opposition towards that nation was different from his own and that of the Government. We had to wait for some years after World War II. to discover his attitude because, when the Labour Government took office in 1941, the present Minister for External Affairs was overseas. When Australia was in danger, he did not return to this country where he might have been able to be of assistance. He ran away in the nation’s hour of danger. He should be the last to criticize the Leader of the Opposition.
– Order ! The honorable member’s time has expired.
– It does not take long to dispose of the remarks of the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) and the fanciful dangers that he has conjured up. The treaty under discussion does not commit Australia or the other signatories to anything of the kind that he has suggested. It provides for consultation and agreement between all parties. The dangers that the honorable member has been discussing are fanciful and do not exist for any member of the proposed alliance. I want to say only a few things about the fear of the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt) that Australia might be more deeply committed by this treaty than the United States of America is. I invite the committee first to examine what the Americans have actually stated. It is important to read the treaty because the Leader of the Opposition does not appear to have done so. I shall read to the committee the declaration of the United States -
The United States of America, in executing the present treaty, does so with the understanding that its recognition of the effect of aggression and armed attack, and its agreement with reference thereto in Article IV., paragraph 1, apply only to Communist aggression.
This is the important part -
But affirms that in the event of other aggression or armed attack, it will consult under the provisions of Article IV., paragraph 2.
In other words, except in the case of a simple, open invasion of one country by Communist forces, the United States is committed, with the other signatories to the treaty, to consult with them, and leaves itself free to take such measures as it considers necessary. Even if Australia were more closely committed than the United States, let me give the committee three reasons why it should be. In the first place, we are much more closely involved. We are not a great, distant, powerful nation like the United States. Secondly, we have extensive interests and responsibilities in the Territory of Papua and New Guinea in the treaty area close to Asia. Thirdly, we are bound by the closest ties to the British interests in Malaya, with which we are proud to he associated. I say to the committee, and the Leader of the Opposition, that if Australia is more deeply committed, we are proud to he so.
Finally, let me say this about the preamble to which the right honorable gentleman and his followers have objected so strenuously. To whom does this preamble give offence? It offendsone quarter only. It is realistic to have this preamble to the treaty hill, because this is a treaty to provide against a specific set of circumstances, and every signatory to it knows that. We know it in Australia. It is all very well to talk about other treaties, United Nations agreements and matters of that sort, and to say that a preamble of this nature does not appear before them. They are not meant to deal with circumstances of this character. This is a specific treaty for a specific purpose, and the preamble to the bill of ratification is not only fully justified but most appropriate. Finally, let me say this about the suggestion that Australia might become a satellite of the United States. There is no question of that at all. The United States has never, in its dealing with this Government, suggested that or attempted to put us in such a position. The fact is that we collaborate and co-operate with the United States as partners, although we are a much smaller nation, and it is due to the efforts of this Government and the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Casey) that ‘our prestige with America stands so high at present. That is a very different state of affairs from that which prevailed under the previous Labour Government.
Motion (by Mr. Casey) put -
That the question be now put.
The committee divided. (The Chairman - Mr. C. F. Adermann.)
Majority . . 12
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Remainder of bill agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
Bill - by leave - read a third time.
Motion (by Sir Eric Harrison) pro posed -
That the House do now adjourn.
– I promised honorable members that as soon as I received the final figures of the census from the Chief Electoral Officer, I would inform them of the result. I received those figures late this afternoon, and I take the first opportunity to give honorable members the information which has been supplied to me. The certificate of the numbers of the people of the Commonwealth and of the several States is given in accordance with the provisions of section 6 of the Representation Act 1905- 1938, and the determination of the members of the House of Representatives is in accordance with section 9 of the act.
As the result of the determination, the representation in certain States is varied as under -
Section 25 of the Electoral Act reads as follows: - (!) A redistribution of any State into Divisions shall be made in the manner hereinbefore provided whenever directed by the Governor-General by proclamation.
Such proclamation may be made -
Under the provisions of section 25 (2.) (a) of the Electoral Act, a redistribution of the electoral boundaries of New South Wales, South Australia and. Western Australia will be necessary. The Chief Electoral Officer has also recommended that a redistribution of boundaries in Victoria, Queensland and Tasmania is highly desirable, owing to the variations in the enrolment of several divisions in these States. The Government will take the matter into consideration.
.- The House is indebted to the Minister for the Interior (Mr. Kent Hughes) for having supplied this information at the earliest possible moment. I assume that the information was obtained, under the Constitution, by the Commonwealth Statistician, who furnished a certificate to the Chief Electoral Officer advising the final figures for each State as the result of the recent census.
– The certificates are provided, in accordance with the provisions of the act, by the Chief Electoral Officer, not the Commonwealth Statistician.
– Is there not a constitutional provision whereby the Statistician is obliged to supply certain information?
– No, this information is supplied in accordance with the provisions of section 6 and section 9 of the Representation Act.
– The Minister has informed us that the Chief Electoral Officer has recommended that it is highly desirable to have a redistribution in some States. I hope it means that the Government proposes to have a redistribution.. Because of the development of our industries, large-scale immigration, big housing undertakings, and various other factors which are having an important bearing on our community life, the position has changed considerably. For instance, in the division of La Trobe, which is represented in this House by the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Casey), there were about 38,000 persons enrolled in 1948, compared with about 62,000 to-day. This is indicative of a phenomenon that is common to all Australia. In the inner metropolitan areas, population is decreasing, and in the outer areas it is increasing.. Another factor is the great number of unnaturalized aliens in our midst, many of whom might be naturalized by the time of the next general election, and therefore entitled to vote. I think the Government ought, at an early date, to announce its intention to authorize a redistribution, and appoint commissioners so that the work can proceed.
,- Even at this late hour, I wish to direct the attention of the House to a. very important and serious, matter.
Motion (by Sir Eric Harrison) put -
That the question be now put.
The House divided. (Mr. Speaker - Hon. Archie Cameron. )
Majority . . . . 14
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Original question resolved in the affirmative.
The following papers were pre sented : -
Science and Industry Research Act - Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization - Six Annual Report, for year 1953-54.
Social Services Consolidation Act - Report by Director-General of Social Services, for year 1953-54.
Ordered to be printed.
Conciliation and Arbitration Act - RegulationsStatutory Rules 1954, No. 107.
Lands Acquisition Act - Land acquired for Postal purposes -
Avalon, New South Wales.
Panania, New South Wales.
Public Service Act - Appointments - Department -
National Development - A. F. T. Tillott.
Works- D. R. Eaton, H. O. Fletcher.
Public Service Arbitration Act - Determinations - 1954 -
No. 45 - Postal Telecommunication Technicians’ Association (Australia).
No. 46 - Transport Workers’ Union of Australia.
No. 47 - Amalgamated Postal Workers’ Union of Australia.
No. 48 - Commonwealth Works Supervisors’ Association.
No. 49 - Commonwealth Storemen and Packers’ Union of Australia.
Re-establishment and Employment Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1954, No. 105.
Spirits Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1954, No. 110.
Television Act - Regulations - Statutory Rules 1954, No. 106.
House adjourned at 11.57 p.m.
The following answers to questions were circulated: -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
-i- The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : - 1. (a) 1D49-50, £10,154388; 1950-51, £25,071,548; 1951-52, £27,607,279; 1952-53, £27,976,575; 1053-54, £26,874,642. (6) 1949-50, £265,876 7s. lid.; 1950-51, £492,367 16b. Id.; 1951-52, £630,781 12s. lOd; 1952-53, £621,758 9s. 3d.; 1953-54, £684,529 8s. lOd.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 4 November 1954, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1954/19541104_reps_21_hor5/>.