21st Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Speaker (Eon. Archie Cameron) took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
-I have received from the Leader of the Opposition a letter, bearing yesterday’s date, dealing with the question of accommodation in the House. It is a reply to a letter sent by me to him on the 19th April. I table the two letters and I ask the House for a direction as to what I should do.
– I give notice that at the next sitting I shall move that Mr. Speaker’s action he approved.
– I ask the Minister for Health, to whom a recent statement has been attributed about the new polio vaccine and the prospect of Australia acquiring supplies urgently, whether he will inform the House of the latest position of this matter.
– On Tuesday, I met representatives of the firms which have been making this vaccine during the last year or so. The head of the American company which made the largest quantity of the vaccine used in the experiment was in Australia and he came to the meeting. He had left Washington only on the previous Monday, so he was able to give us up-to-date information. The news that we received £rom him was fairly satisfactory, but he emphasized something that we already knew, namely, that an export licensing system had been imposed. A meeting was held with the Epidemiological Committee of the National Health and Medical Research Council. To-morrow I shall make a considered statement on the whole problem.
– Has the Minister for Health given any consideration to calling a conference of State Ministers for Health in connexion with the new poliomyelitis vaccine? If not, in view of the urgency of the matter and the degree to which the State governments are concerned with it, will he give immediate consideration to the calling of such a conference?
Bil- EARLE PAGE. - I have already indicated that to-morrow I shall make a full statement on this matter. I point out to the honorable member that it is a matter which concerns Ministers other than Ministers for Health.
– Has the attention of tho Minister for Labour and National Service been drawn to a statement made in Sydney by a spokesman for the metal trades and the building industry tn the effect that those industries face a severe shortage of tradesmen, resulting from a dearth of apprentices? Is this a fact? If so, can the Minister say what has brought about this situation, and whether any remedial action by the Australian Government is being undertaken or is in contemplation ?
– I am aware that there is an acute shortage of skilled tradesmen, not only in the metal industry and the electrical industry, to which I think the spokesman made particular reference, but also in tho building and construction industries. The department took out some figures recently which showed that in February, 1953, there were 2y400 vacancies registered for tradesmen in the metal and electrical industries, compared with about 9,900 at the present time. In the building and construction industries, there were 1,000 vacancies for skilled tradesmen in February, 1953, compared with 3,126 in February of this year. The problem is one of importance to an expanding economy. It is one of .the topics on the agenda for the meeting- of the Ministry of Labour Advisory Council, which is to be held on the 9th May. On that council, the top levels of management and the trade unions are represented.
– I ask the Minister for Labour and National Service whether, in view of the information that he gave earlier in relation to the growing demand for .electrical .technicians, the Department of Labour and National Service has made a survey of the number of such technicians that it will be necessary to divert to the provision of television services. If so, has the department also considered the desirability of diverting those mcn to whom he referred, the total number of whom is approximately 9,000, to essential industries before they are used for television services?
– The figure that I gave to the House, did not relate solely to electrical tradesmen. It related to the whole metal and electrical trades field. I do not know whether the department has made a survey of the requirements of technicians for television services, but I should think that it would be very difficult to make an accurate survey of these requirements at this stage. I point out, in answer to the last part of the honorable member’s question, that, in this country, there is’ no policy of conscription of labour but that labour is free to go wherever it chooses.
– I ask the Prime Minister - to state the reason which prompted the Government to challenge the increase of salaries granted to employees of the Public Service, after the Government had agreed to increase judges’ salaries, in some cases by £3,000 a year. Will the Government consider allowing the authorities who increased judges’ salaries to investigate what are just and proper social service and repatriation payments, and report back to the Parliament ?
– The matter raised by the honorable member appears to cover ti very wide field. His question began with the Public Service, and ended with the repatriation services. Therefore, I must conclude that it was rich in policy. L’f that is so, .we shall deal with it as policy.
– My question to you,, Mr. Speaker, has arisen from the investigations of the select committee, of which you were chairman, appointed io inquire into ‘the production of Hansard. That committee presented its report to this Parliament five or six months ago. Can you indicate to the House whether any action is to follow that report, and if so when we may expect a daily Hansard’
– The Australian Government, which controls expenditure, has approved of the proposal for a daily Hansard, and instructions have been given to the Hansard staff to obtain the additional officers necessary for the work. F have approved a circular to be distributed to all honorable members which will indicate certain new rules in regard
Hansard. I have not stated a specific date of commencement, hut we hope that the daily Hansard will commence about the end of May.
– Will the Minister for Defence Production inform me whether he has taken action, following the request that Senator Toohey and T made to him last year, to improve the amenities for employees in the aircraft division of Chrysler (Australia^ Limited at Finsbury? My representations were particularly concerned with canteen facilities, and the heating of the factory during the winter months.
-Order ! The use of n senator’s name is out of order.
– Most of the
Requests made ;by .the honorable member have been agreed to, and action has been taken to implement quite a number of them. I shall let him have the details of my actions shortly.
– I ask the Minister for Defence to inform honorable members of the identity of the person who made the decision that the three armed services should not play their normal part in the Anzac Day parade in Brisbane. On what grounds was that decision made, and is it intended to apply in the future?
– I do not know the import of the honorable member’s question, but I shall have inquiries made on who made the decision, if any, that he referred to, and shall inform him of the result of my inquiries as soon as possible.
– My question is directed to the Prime Minister. In view of the enormous loss of, and damage to, private property caused by the recent floods in New South Wales, and the almost continuous loss of property through bush fires, earthquakes and floods, will the right honorable gentleman arrange for a parliamentary committee to investigate the possibility of establishing an insurance fund on the lines of the war damage insurance fund, so that such losses may be covered in the future ?
– I shall give consideration to the honorable member’s suggestion.
– I ask the Minister for Civil Aviation whether the air-strip at Richmond aerodrome, in my electorate, was closed in December last because of faulty construction work. If so, were any investigations made to determine responsibility in that matter?
– Yes, the airstrip at Richmond did break up during last December, as a result *of the breaking of the seal and heavy rain getting in. Officers of the Department of Works were called in immediately <to investigate .the position, and at the present time they ace working on it. I think there has been some disagreement between technical officers at the head office of the department and those in Sydney in relation to the nature of the repairs that are required. The work has been delayed also because of the particularly wet season in Sydney and nearby areas. However, repairs are in progress, and it is hoped that the airstrip will be back in operation fairly soon.
– My question, which is addressed to the Minister for the Interior, concerns the fact that the Albury City Council is hesitating to extend the aerodrome there to DC3 standards hecause it feels that, if and when the Commonwealth takes the aerodrome over, it may not pay a just price for it. Can the Minister inform me whether the prices paid for the 50 or more aerodromes that have been taken over by this Government during its period of office have been amicably agreed to between the parties, or whether there has been any court litigation in respect of them?
– To the best of my knowledge and belief, there has been no court litigation of any kind in connexion with the acquisition of land for aerodromes in any municipality or centre. As far as I know, the price paid has always been agreed upon by the municipality concerned and the Commonwealth. I repeat that I know of no case where litigation has occurred.
– Perhaps the Treasurer remembers my question last week to the Minister for Civil Aviation about an application by Trans-Australia Airlines for an allocation of dollars to purchase a DC6 aircraft. The Minister replied that an application had been made, but he did not know the result of it, although it had been made to the department which he controlled. Can tho Treasurer now indicate the nature of that department’s reply to the request by Trans-Australia Airlines for an allocation of dollars to purchase a DC6 aircraft?
– I am not fully conversant with the details of this matter, as application was made during my absence. I made inquiries only yesterday in connexion with the matter raised by the honorable member, and also in connexion with another matter involving dollars. The matter raised by the honorable member, and the other matter, are both being investigated at the present time, and a decision will be made within the course of a day of two.
– Can the Minister for Defence state how long ago it was that the Government appointed a. high-ranking military nian to take charge of civil defence against atomic attack? To what stage has the organization of which he is in charge advanced? Is it not a fact that Australia is seriously lagging behind other countries, such as the United Kingdom and the United States of America, in this matter? What steps does the Government propose to take to bring Australia up to date in relation to civil defence against atomic attack?
– I shall answer the question. The Government is advised by the Council of Defence on the appropriate measures that should be taken. I do not know the source of the rumour that a high-ranking military man had been appointed to take charge of civil defence. Before this Government assumed office, an ex-military man was appointed as Director of Civil Defence, and he still occupies that position.
– “Will the Minister state who is the Director of Civil Defence?
– .Brigadier Wardell. He was appointed before this Government assumed office. He was appointed in, I think, 1949.
– I think he was appointed in 1950.
– He was appointed in 1949 or 1950, and he is still the Director of Civil Defence. As I have stated, the Government acts on the advice of the Council of Defence. The recommendations of the council, like other defence matters, are on the secret list, otherwise I would be able to tell the honorable member exactly what they weir,
– Is the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture aware of the serious position of the Australian dried fruits industry? Does he know that adverse weather conditions during the picking and drying season which is now closing have caused grave losses at a time when growers, as a result of increased costs and the slow sale of fruit in the United Kingdom, lack adequate finance to maintain full production ? Have representations been made to the Minister for financial assistance? Following continued representations from honorable members who represent dried fruit-growing areas, is the Minister now able to make an up-to-date statement?
– I nui aware of the experience of the dried fruits industry. Not only have representations been made to me by the honorable member himself, by the honorable member for Angas anc! by other honorable members, but also direct representations have been made by representatives of the industry. When [ was in London a few months ago, I was able to make an arrangement with the United Kingdom Ministry of Food whereby Australian producers would be guaranteed a minimum return for a certain period related to the disposal of last year’s crop. This year, the industry is facing the results of adverse seasonal conditions, which have affected the quantity and quality of the fruit, as well as difficult marketing conditions. A conference will be held in Melbourne next Friday at which representatives of the Department of Commerce and Agriculture will be present. The honorable member may bc assured that any proposals which the Government regards as being manageable, and which are within its well-known policy, will receive immediate sympathetic consideration in an effort to ascertain what can be done to assist the industry.
– Is the Minister for the Interior aware of a decision of the Department of the Interior that has deprived the residents of the Causeway, Canberra, of the major portion of their common area, which is known locally as the Causeway cow paddock, by adding 50 acres of this area to an adjoining dairy lease, thereby leaving only fifteen acres on which the residents of the Causeway may depasture their cows and working horses? As this area has been available to the residents of the Causeway for more than 25 years, and as they have paid agistment for the use of it, will the Minister have the matter reconsidered in the light of a petition that has been sent to the department by the residents of the Causeway?
– The answer to the question is “ Yes “. I do not know all the details of the matter, but I shall be pleased to inquire into it.
– I direct a question to the Prime Minister. Following on earlier questions that I have asked about the further payments to be made to former Australian prisoners of war of the Japanese, can the Prime Minister now state when finality in this matter may be expected, and is he able to indicate the additional amounts involved?
– The honorable member has taken a very close interest in this matter. I told him previously that I would ascertain the position so far as I could do so. The present position is that an agreement between the International Committee of the Red Cross and the Japanese Government was initialed on the 30th November last. Under this agreement the Japanese Government agreed to pay £4,500,000 sterling to the International Committee of the Red Cross before May of this year. In addition, the Red Cross holds an amount of 2,500,000 United States dollars paid to it under an agreement by Thailand, the United States of America and the United Kingdom on Japanese assets in Thailand, which was signed on the 30th July, 1953. The Red Cross cannot distribute these moneys until all the countries concerned have, submitted lists of their prisoners of war who are eligible to benefit under Article 16 of the Japanese pence treaty. So far, Indonesia and the Philippines, which have not ratified the treaty, have not submitted lists. The International Committee of the Red Cross, however, is working out a basis for an equitable distribution of these moneys in accordance with Article 16 of the treaty. Australia, in common with’ the other’ nations that have completed their claims; is rendering the Red brass, all” possible assistance in an effort, to resolve the question as soon as pos1-
– I address a question to the Minister for Social Services, who administers the War Service Homes Division. Will the Minister consider discharging, where hardships or other extenuating inimical circumstances prevail, the mortgages on existing properties of exservicemen who are eligible for loans under the Wai” Service Homes Act. and who have made private arrangements, for finance without, prior consultation with the division?
– Normally, the War Service Homes Division does not discharge mortgages on existing homes where an advance has been obtained without the approval of the division. This can. be readily understood, because the people concerned already have, homes, and’ it is the purpose of the act to provide dwellings for those who do not possess homes of their own. Nonetheless, the act provides that, in cases of exceptional hardship, the director of the division may discharge the mortgages. If the honorable member has in mind, a particular case in which he considers that real hardship is suffered, I shall have it investigated if he will refer it to me.
– Is the Minister for Social Services aware that many applicants for war service homes are experiencing long delays, amounting to six months or longer, before’ financial accommodation for the purpose of obtaining such homes is granted to them? Does he realize that this delay often prejudices the acquisition of a selected house because vendors are unwilling to wait so long for settlement? Consequently, will he attempt to shorten these delays in order that these transactions can he completed within a more reasonable time?
– The Government is, of course, aware that in all applications for war service homes there is a delay and that a waiting period must be established. We have frequently given this problem: the most careful considera tion with a- view to evolving- a more- equitable method’ of allocating- finance for the purchase of war service homes.. Perhaps, the simplest answer I can give ft> the’ honorable member is that in the budget proposals it was decided to provide a specific number of’ homes for ex-service personnel’ and’ specific finance for the purchase of such homes. I assure him that this’ year that number of homes’ and1 that finance will be provided. Consequently, while there may be a delay, applications- for the approved number- of existing homes are being- approved. Applications by persons who require new homes or homes outside the scope of the scheme could not be granted if all applications,- for existing homes were approved. I have prepared a statement on this subject for the honorable member for Henty, setting out the facts and the reasons- for the Government’s decision in this- matter. I shall make a copy of that statement available to the honorable member. If he can suggest a better method of making finance available for the purchase of war service homes, I am- sure- that he will enhance the high reputation he already enjoys in the House.
– I direct a question to the Postmaster-General. Last month at Caulfield, Victoria, police raided a room in an office building in which six telephones were being used in the operation of a starting price betting establishment. Having regard to the shortage of telephones, I should like to know whether an inquiry has been instituted, in this instance in order to ascertain how one person could obtain six telephones, for installation in one room for starting price betting. If an inquiry has been made, can the Minister say what was the result of it ? If an inquiry has, not been made, does the department intend to hold one?
– I am- not aware of the raid to which the honorable member has referred or to any raid iti similar circumstances elsewhere. The position is that in some areas adequate cable facilities are available to provide applicants with new telephones, and when applications are made in those circumstances the department does not ask applicants the purposes for which ‘the telephones are required. <Wie can only .trust that they axe .required for legitimate purposes. However,, if they are not used for such purposes and the ..State authorities take action ‘and, as a .result, (secure a conviction , against, the persons concerned, for instance ia conviction for starting price betting, and the State authorities .ask the department to disconnect such telephone services because they are being used for <m illegal purpose the department takes such action. In areas where adequate cable facilities exist, applications are granted to one person .for several telephones. That practice will be continued in such area’s. Unfortunately, in other areas, particularly in the cities, adequate cable facilities are not available to enable the department to meet the demand for new telephones.
– Can the PostmasterGeneral say whether any advance has been made with the proposal to manufacture rural automatic telephone exchanges i.n Australia? Will he also state from what country, or countries, those types of exchanges are at present being imported, and whether the availability of them overseas is sufficient to meet Australia’s .immediate requirements?
– Progress has been made with the manufacture of automatic telephone exchange equipment in Australia. At least two firms are at present engaged in ‘the manufacture of such equipment. At present we procure our supplies from both Australian and overseas sources, and they are adequate to meet ‘our requirements. There is a limit, of course, to the number that we can install, because «f technical requirements, such as skilled men, but we are importing and manufacturing our immediate requirements.
– Is the Minister for Social Services able to inform the House what proportion of the sum of £1,500,000 that was allocated for subsidizing the erection of homes for the aged has been expended to date?
– I am sorry that I I am unable to give offhand the informa tion that the honorable member .seeks. I shall obtain it and supply it ‘to Mm. I assure him that the Government is pushing ahead .strenuously with this scheme, and I am confident that a reasonable number of .homes for .the aged with suitable accommodation will be (provided expeditiously.
– My question is directed to the Treasurer. As ‘the economic plight of blind pensioners in. Brisbane, whose sole income is the social services pension of £3 10s. a week, has led the Blind Welfare Society to make an issue of tea to such persons because of their inability to purchase their requirements of this commodity as a result of its high price, will the right honorable gentleman consider reimbursing the society for the expenditure involved?
– The Government .has already assisted .the people to whom the honorable member has directed attention by easing, ,to a large degree, the means test, with the result that they are receiving a greater benefit to-day than they ever received before.
– As wintry conditions will prevail in Victoria during the next six months and as immigrants at Brooklyn and Williamstown are not housed under good conditions, will the Minister for Immigration substantially increase the quota of free electricity now provided for those persons?
– I shall examine the honorable member’s request and supply an answer as soon as possible.
– When docs the Minister for Labour and National Service expect to receive the report of the committee which is investigating the shipping industry? Is it correct that the committee has only partially examined three witnesses within 48 days and that the representatives of the Waterside Workers Federation desire to call 51 witnesses to give evidence before it?
– In the directive under which the appointment of this committee was effected, I made a request that the committee should complete its examination as quickly as practicable, and, if possible, by the 31st March of this year. Recently, I received a letter from the chairman of the committee, in which he pointed out that it had not been found practicable to complete the inquiry at this point, but that the committee would conclude its work as soon as it reasonably could do so. That, in effect, was the substance of the letter. The number of witnesses who have already been examined may give a false impression of the work that is being done. The first witness, I understand, covered substantially the whole of the ground which was intended to be the subject of the inquiry, or, at any rate, certain phases of it, and subsequent witnesses will not be required to go into those matters at any thing like the same length. I am also assured that the witnesses who ave being produced by the Waterside Workers Federation will not be by any means 30 formidable in respect of the length of time that their evidence will take as the number suggested by the honorable member for Darwin would indicate. I am now examining the practicability of the committee bringing in an interim report on those aspects of the inquiry which deal with the organization of waterfront labour - the operations of the Australian Stevedoring Industry Board, for example, and matters related thereto - and reserving for subsequent report some of the matters which do not appear to us to possess quite the same urgency. I shall keep the House informed of the developments in this connexion.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for Supply, and I point out, by way of preface, that last year the chairman of the Australian Atomic Energy Commission visited the uranium fields in the Mount I.ca and Cloncurry area. Has the Minister received a report from the chairman of the commission, and does he propose to make a statement regarding that matter? Does the Government propose to erect a treatment plant or establish a buying centre in that area?
– To-morrow, I shall lay on the table the second annual report of the Australian Atomic. Energy Commission, and, at the same time, make a statement in which I shall bring the position up to date. I think the honorable gentleman will find that’ the matters he has raised will be answered in that report and statement.
– Will the Prime Minister inform me whether it is a fact that he promised in his policy speech to take steps to appoint an all-party committee of this House to consider proposed amendments of the Australian Constitution? In view of the obvious difficulties which confront the Government in dealing with an Opposition that is splitting itself into parties from time to time-
– Order !
– Has the attention of the Prime Minister been directed to a resolution of the Associated Chambers of Commerce of Australia to the effect thai, they desire an all-Australia, convention to be summoned ? Has his attention also been directed to the fact that the New England New State Movement, the Constitutional Association of New South Wales, the Institute of Public Affairs (New South Wales) and other bodies have also put forward this proposal ? In view of the difficulties, to which I have referred, of bringing into existence within a reasonable space of time an all-party parliamentary committee, has the Government considered the alternative of summoning an Australian national convention to deal with the subject?
– I have heard about, the matters referred to by the honorable member. The Government believes that, the best results can be achieved by an al .party committee. There has been some delay, for which I accept responsibility, in connexion with this matter, but I hope that before long we may be able to establish such a committee and get on with the work.
– I direct a question to the Postmaster-General. In view of the fact that both Houses of this Parliament, despite strong opposition from the right honorable member for Barton and his party, carried a resolution, in quite unequivocal terms, expressing opposition to the intrusion of overseas capital into Australian commercial broadcasting, would the Postmaster-General inform the House why, in the face of that resolution by both Houses of the Parliament, the Government has made provision to allow at least 20 per cent, of overseas capital to be invested in the companies that have been granted television licences?
– I do not think that there was any resolution of this Parliament which rejected investment of overseas capital in television. We do not reject overseas capital in industrial corporations and so forth. The recommendation of the Australian Broadcasting Control Board, which made the inquiry into the granting of television licences, was that overseas capital should be restricted to 20 per cent., and that not more than 15 per cent, of capital should be in the hands of one holder. The Government has accepted that recommendation, because it is desirable to have a certain proportion, at least, of overseas capital in Australian industry. Television is an industry. However, in view of the recommendation to which I have referred, and the general sentiment throughout Australia, it is not desired that any overseas company shall dominate television or broadcasting in Australia.
– Is the PostmasterGeneral aware that there is a good deal of concern by the Australian Broadcasting Commission about the conditions and constitution of the companies, representing a combination of newspaper, radio, film and theatre interests, that are to bc issued with television licences? Is it a fact that the Australian Broadcasting Commission may be placed at a tremendous disadvantage in introducing television into Australia because of the present system of control of almost every theatre in the Commonwealth and all worth-while films imported into the country? Is it further a fact that because of the photographic requirements of television, big theatres are essential for the presentation of shows? In view of the importance of television to Australia, will the Minister ensure that monopoly interests are not allowed to thwart the introduction of television by Australian interests ?
– I believe that if anything could be said about the successful applicants for television licences, it would be that they did not represent monopoly interests. That is because there is such a variety of companies participating in the licences that no particular company could have a monopoly interest. The successful licensees represent a cross-section of Australian industry and commercial interests that could scarcely be bettered. The Australian Broadcasting Commission will conduct the national television system, and the purpose of this Government in arranging for both commercial and national television was to ensure that there should be competitive television in Australia. I am quite sure that the Australian Broadcasting Commission will have no difficulty in conducting a successful television programme when its turn comes to do so.
– Is the Treasurer aware of the fact that the South Australian Government recently made a grant to cover the loss of local council rates on properties acquired by the State? In view of this decision, will the Treasurer consider the contribution, by the Commonwealth, of its full share of the moneys required and raised by local government bodies for community services? Does he regard it as just for the Commonwealth to shelter behind a constitutional provision which, although legally right, is morally wrong?
– T am not aware of the situation stated by the honorable member on the contribution made to local authorities by the South Australian Government in lieu of rates, but I am aware that, whatever contribution is made by that Government in that way, if it increases its general expenses and consequently leads to an increase of its demands upon the Commonwealth under the States Grants Act, that sum will bo available to it by the
Commonwealth, by way of adjustment. The contribution made by the Commonwealth to local authorities in respect of the occupancy of land by Commonwealth instrumentalities is a matter to which the honorable gentleman has persistently drawn attention. It ‘is also a matter which has received the consideration, not only of this Government but also of previous governments. . The Commonwealth has decided consistently not. to make any payments in lieu of rates, but it does make ex gratia payments in certain circumstances. If the point raised by the honorable member discloses a new aspect, of the matter, I shall look into it and see what can be done, but I do not hold out very much hope of any alteration of the decisions that this and previous governments have made on the matter.
– Will the Minister for Supply say whether any uranium exported from this country must be the subject of an export licence issued by the Commonwealth? If that is so, is the Minister prepared to make a statement indicating the countries to1 which uranium has been exported from Australia and, if possible, the purposes for which that uranium is to be used ?
– There are two sources of uranium production in Australia at present One i3 Rum Jungle, in the Northern Territory, and the other is Radium Hill, in South Australia. ‘ In both cases, the output of the mines is committed under an agreement with the Combined Development Agency, which represents the British and American Governments. The output goes to that agency for defence purposes. Shipments from Rum Jungle have already left this country on their way to America. As far as I know, none has yet gone from Radium Hill. In both cases, export licences would be issued, because of the existence of this agreement. As I said to another honorable member, I shall make a statement to-morrow on atomic energy and uranium production. Some of the matters with which I shall deal in that statement may give the honorable member additional information on the points he has raised.
– I wish to make- a. personal explanation, arising’ from a statement published in the Sydney Daily Telegraph of Saturday, the 23rd April, in which Mr. Tilley, the chairman of Australasian Oil Exploration Limited, a uranium mining company, is reported as follows : - *
Mr. Tilley said the .Minister for Supply (Mr. Beale) had promised that the Government would establish a buying centre for ore in the Mount Isa-Cloncurry area if Australasian Oil Explorations Limited proved sufficient are on 76 other leases it held. The’ Governments minimum requirements were 50,000 tons of oncontaining 0.25 per cent of recoverable uranium oxide, Mr. Tilley added.
That statement is quite untrue. At the request and in the presence of Senator Laught, I gave Mr. Tilley an interview on Thursday, the 21st April. He said he had not been able to obtain from toe Australian Atomic Energy Commission information he desired about the Govern - ment’s ore buying policy, that this was affecting his company and its ability to raise money and,, therefore, that besought information from me. I told’ hin I was loth to make any statement which could be quoted to influence the stock market in favour of any particular company. He said he appreciated this’ and he did not intend to use my statement for any such purpose.
Mr. Tilley then mentioned the question of the purchase of ore by the Government in the Mount Isa and Cloncurry district, in one area of which Australasian Oil Exploration Limited held the Mai? Kathleen leases in conjunction with Rio Tinto, and in another area of which if held some 76 leases in its own right. After discussion concerning the Mary Kathleen leases, Mr. Tilley asked me whether the Government- would buy ow from the other leases- in the area held by Australian Oil Exploration Limited independently of Rio Tinto. I pointed out that this raised difficult problem. Nobody yet knew how much ore there was. Moreover, the ores in the district were of varying kinds, not all of which were amenable to the same treatment. For this reason, the Government could not give undertakings about buying ore, from these teases until substantial reserves, say. half a million (ons. <f average grade, had been proved and a suitable treatment plant had been erected or was well in sight. I also mentioned that, with such a treatment plant, in existence, the question of purchase of ore by the Government might well become irrelevant, because bis company could treat the ore and the Commonwealth, would buy the oxide. Mr. Tilley then left, expressing gratitude for my information, which he said had helped him greatly.
Two days later, in Saturday’s Daily Telegraph, the statement in question appeared under the heading “Uranium Company expects big dividend”. The Sunday Telegraph of the next day contained quite a different version of our conversation, accompanied,, however, by a leading article consisting of a violent personal attack on me. Ignoring the personal abuse, I repeat that the first statement was completely untrue. .1 made no promise- to establish an ore buying centre at Mount Isa or Cloncurry. [ did not say the Government’s minimum requirements were 50,000 tons of ore. I said nothing concerning the percentage <>f oxide.
– Is the Treasurer aware that the high cost of home furnishings constitutes a serious barrier to the marriage of many young Australians ? What loss of revenue would be involved in the removal of the sales tax from home furnishings? Will he take immediate steps to remove the sales tax from home furnishings ? I point out to the Minister-
– Order ! The honorable gentleman must not make a statement now.
– I am aware that home furnishing is a very difficult undertaking for young married couples.
– Why does not the Government do something about it ?
– Why did not the Labour party, do something about it during the eight years it was in office? I cannot say offhand the loss to the revenue that would be involved in a removal of the sales tax from home furnishings, hut I do know that the promises made by the Leader of the Opposition in that connexion during the last general election campaign would have involved a loss of something like £14,000,000. I know also that the imposition of sales tax on home furnishings and other articles has received continuous consideration by this Government. It will be considered again when the next budget is being prepared.
– Will the Treasurer inform honorable members whether he has received a report from the committee that he set up after his last budget speech to inquire into the rates of depreciation allowed under the income tax legislation ? If not, when does he expect to receive the report? If, however, he has already received the report, does he propose to present it promptly to the House, withhold it until his next budget speech, or withhold it altogether?
– Yes, J have received the report, and I received it very promptly - which is a fact that I appreciate. The report is at present before the Government for consideration. As to the publicity that will be given to it, that is a matter yet to be decided.
– Will the Prime Minister inform me whether a request has been received from the Premier of Western Australia for financial assistance on a £l-for-£l basis to establish a medical school in that State?
– I regret to say thai I have not heard of this matter lately. I heard of it during the last election campaign, and on that occasion I had to point out that the Commonwealth of Australia, under this Government, already makes very substantial payments to t.h»» universities of the States.
– Not enough.
– No payment made by the Commonwealth ever was enough, or ever will be enough, from the viewpoint of those who receive it. However, the Government pays about £1,500,000 a vear for the benefit of universities, and that money has been of great help to them. We indicated that we were not prepared to engage in the creation of a new practice of finding capital money? as distinct from revenue moneys, because on those matters the Commonwealth has already given very powerful support to the States in their programme of capital expenditure. How that money is spent by the States is for the States themselves to determine. They create their own priorities, and if they do not attach a high priority to the provision of a medical school, that seems to us to be entirely a matter for themselves.
Mr. Mullens having ashed a disallowed question,
– I rise to a point of order. I am not questioning your ruling about names, Mr. Speaker, because, in common with all other honorable members, I recognize the validity of that rule. However, I point out that when I inadvertently mentioned names, the names were not real names, but were names of the stage. I also indicate that in the case of Marilyn Monro, the name is purely a formal matter.
– I am afraid that I cannot agree with the honorable member. I am used to handling performers, every one of which must be known by a name other than his actual name.
Mr.WARD- I ask the Postmaster-
General whether it is a fact that the Australian Broadcasting Control Board, in its report on television, declared Efftee Broadcasters to be controlled by foreign interests. Is it also a fact that Efftee Broadcasters are the lessees of the Melbourne radio station 3XY, the licence of which was issued to an organization known as the Young Liberals or the Young Nationalists, one of the trustees being the present Commonwealth AttorneyGeneral ? If the position is as I have stated, having regard to the decision of this Parliament in November, 1952, which expressed disapproval of foreign control of broadcasting stations, what action does the Minister propose to take in this matter?
– This Parliament did not recommend that there should be no foreign capital in Australian broadcasting stations. The House carried a motion to the effect that foreign capital should not be substantially included. Efftee Broadcasters have a very minor interest in the new television station to be established in Melbourne. As far as the participation of the “ Young Liberals “ in a licence is concerned, I point out to the honorable members that radio station 2KY in Sydney also has an interest in a new television licence, and that station is controlled by the Labour party.
– Can the Minister for the Navy inform the House whether it is true that a recent applicant for enlistment in theRoyal Australian Navy was rejected because he was an aborigine ?
– The statement that appeared in the press was entirely incorrect. No aborigine in South Australia was rejected because he was an aboriginal. I am at a loss to understand why this matter has been raised. The youth in question made his application in August last year, but the matter was raised in the press only last week-end.
– My question is directed to the Prime Minister. I remind the right honorable gentleman that three members of the party that he so successfully leads at the moment referred last week to the Premier of Queensland as being dishonest, despicable and hypocritical. I ask the Prime Minister whether he believes that the Premier of Queensland is despicable, dishonest and hypocritical. If not, will he take steps to discipline those members of his party with a view to preventing a repetition of such statements?
– I am sure that, if any member of my party inadvertently slipped into such offensive observations, he must merely have been quoting what the Leader of the Opposition had said about the Premier of Queensland, with great publicity, and which I believe produced some rejoinder in kind. I ask that further questions be placed on the notice paper.
– Last week, the honorable member for New England addressed a question to me about the date of payment of certain Joint Organization wool moneys.
– I rise to order. I understood the Prime Minister to ask that further questions be placed on the notice paper. Unless the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture seeks leave to make a statement, I contend that he is not entitled to take this opportunity of replying to a question.
– Order ! I had already informed the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture that I would call him before I heard the Prime Minister’s request.
– But you called the Prime Minister.
– I called the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture.
– I informed the honorable member for New England that the next payment of outstanding Joint Organization wool profits would be made on the 29th April. The amount payable will represent 3.39 per cent, of the appraised value, compared with 4 per cent, in April last year. The distribution will be the final one for those people who submitted their wool for appraisement through brokers. The only profits which will then remain to be distributed, totalling approximately £2,900,000, will be those affected by the Poulton case.
– I ask the Minister for Labour and National Service whether, in view of happenings since the Parliament last met, it is a fact that amendments to the Stevedoring Industry Act 1949 which were passed during the last sittings of the Parliament have proved to be unnecessary and unwarranted. If the Minister still refuses to admit the arguments of Opposition members to that effect which were made during the debate upon the amending legislation, will he explain why he improved an agreement between the shipowners and the Waterside Workers Federation of Australia which leaves undisturbed the right of the federation to select labour for waterfront employment? Finally, is it not a fact that the present practice is exactly the same as that which obtained before he and the Government blundered so badly with the amending legislation?
– I am afraid that the honorable gentleman has not given this important subject the study that it deserves. If he had done so, he would not have been able to make a statement which is so much at variance with the obvious facts. The position that obtains to-day is quite different from that which obtained before the amending legislation was passed. Before that legislation was passed, the employer’ had no say whatever in the selection of labour that was to be employed by him. Under an arrangement that was agreed to by representatives of the employers and the unions at a conference at which representatives of the Government were in attendance, the employer now has the right of rejection. Both parties have agreed that, if the employer exercises the right of rejection, and if the union chooses to challenge the exercise of that right, the Stevedoring Industry Board will arbitrate and the decision of the board shall be final. Furthermore, representatives of the Australian Council of Trades Unions have agreed that, if the fcl oration fails to supply names in accordance with quota requirements that have been prescribed by the board, the shipowners shall have the right to invite -“plications for employment. In that event, the Waterside Workers Federation can expect no support from the Australian Council of Trades Unions. I believe that, since the amending legislation was passed, we have had a more satisfactory basis of recruitment, and that quotas on the waterfront have been filled to a. degree that we had not known previously. I am under no illusion about the fact that that result could not have been achieved if the legislation that was introduced by the Government had not been passed by the Parliament.
SOCIAL SERVICES. Mr. SPEAKER (Hon. Archie Cameron). - I have received from the honorable member for Adelaide (Mr. Chambers) an intimation that he desires to submit a definite matter of urgent public importance to the House for discussion, namely -
The serious plight of age and invalid pensioners due to the failure of the Government to provide adequate pensions for such pensioners.
Is the proposal supported?
Eight honorable members having risen in support of the proposal
.- I want to say, at the outset, that this matter is not proposed for discussion by the Opposition in an attempt to take any political advantage from the discussion
Government supporters interjecting,
– The matter concerns one of the most deserving sections of the community, and the straitened circumstances of age and invalid pensioners are of prime importance. Evidently, the Government and its supporters are not conversant with the grave difficulties with which these people are confronted. If they understood those difficulties, it would not be necessary for the Opposition to submit the matter to the House for discussion. My parliamentary colleagues and I daily receive from age and invalid pensioners of the community the complaint that their present pensions are totally inadequate for their upkeep and that they cannot keep body and soul together. Why do Government supporters take objection to the discussion of this matter?
Who are the aged and infirm citizens of Australia? They are women over 60 years of age, men over 65 years of age and invalids. Large numbers of them are parents who have reared larger families than are common to-day and who have borne the heat and burden of the day. In their working days they did not always enjoy the conditions that now exist in industry. They did not have the advantage of many of the benefits of the present mechanical age. and they are now worn out physically. They gave to Australia in their children the men who comprised our fighting forces in World War I. and World War II. These are the mothers and fathers, now aged and infirm, for whom I appeal to the House for consideration.
When the Labour Government went out of office in 1949, the basic rate of invalid and age pensions was £2 2s. 6d. a week, and the basic wage amounted to a little more than £6 a week. The basic wage has since almost doubled and is now nearly £12 a week, and the basic rate of age and invalid pensions has much less than doubled and is at present £3 10s. a week. That may not sound very dreadful, but, as a result of the actions of the present Government, the harm is much more serious than it seems to be. Labour realized in 194S that, without controls, prices would run riot, and, at a referendum, appealed to the people for power for the Commonwealth to continue to control prices. Commonwealth control of prices was vitally important. Members of the Liberal and Australian Country parties bear the responsibility for seriously reducing the value of the pension as it stood in 1948 and as it stands at present, because they urged the people to record a vote against the continuance of price control by the Commonwealth.
Let us compare the present prices of the basic commodities that are essential to pensioners - bread, butter, meat, jam, sugar, milk, tea, fruit, vegetables, firewood, tobacco, cigarettes, boots and shoes - and the present tram, bus and rail fares, with the prices and fares that prevailed in 1948 and 1949, and let us bear in mind at the same time that in the intervening period the basic rate of pension has increased from £2 2s. 6d. a week to £3 10s. a week. I am aware that Government supporters will declare that £3 10s. a week is a considerable increase over £2 2s. 6d. a week, but who can justly claim that £3 10s. in 1955 will buy more than £2 2s. 6d. bought in 1948 and 1949? Age and infirm pensioners are now in so precarious a position that they are barely able to hold body and soul together. As I have said, the Opposition has not brought this proposal forward in order to gain some petty party political advantage. My colleagues and I take this opportunity to appeal to the Government to provide relief for these important citizens not under its next budget but immediately.
Any one who stops to think will recognize the grand work that these persons have accomplished in the interests of the nation. They are the mothers and fathers of the present generation. Perhaps, the parents of honorable members are more fortunately situated than are the many thousands of aged and infirm persons who are dependent solely on the present age pension of £3 10s. a week.
The Minister, in his reply, will probably remind the House that the income which age pensioners are permitted to earn in addition to the pension has been increased considerably during the last few years. Is the Government so mean as to rest content in this matter because it has permitted women who have reached the age of 60 years, men who have reached the age of 65 years, and who have been burnt out by the toil and worry involved in rearing families, to earn an additional £1, £1 10s. or £2 a week in addition to the age pension? The Government might just as well say that it will permit them to earn £50 a week in addition to the pension, because those aged and invalid persons are not capable of earning anything in excess of the mere pittance which they now receive as a pension. I trust that the Minister will not advance that argument, I again appeal to the Government on behalf of these unfortunate persons. We should not be true to our political beliefs or be worthy children of Australia if we failed to recognize the great service that the age pensioners have rendered in the interests of the nation. We owe it to them to provide them with at least some relief as Boon as possible. These mothers and fathers reared the members of Australia’s fighting forces. In fact, they gave birth to the personnel of the Army, Navy and Air Force and to the nurses and members of the women’s defence services who defended this country in two world wars. These are the people for whom the Opposition now appeals to the Government to give relief in their dire circumstances. I ask the Government not to defer consideration of this matter until the next budget is introduced. I remind the House that the age pension has been increased by only 2s. 6d. a week since 1952. Since that year the Govern.ment has entirely forgotten these pensioners. In its famous 1953 “ nothing over 2s. 6d.” budget, the age pensioners received an additional 2s. 6d. a week.
– They were forgotten in 1949.
– I have already explained, as intelligent honorable members will appreciate, that the purchasing power of the age pension of £2 2s. 6d. a week in 1949 was double that of the purchasing power of the present pension of £3 10s. a week. That statement is based on an examination of the prices in 1949 of commodities which are bare necessaries for pensioners compared with present prices of such commodities. I again appeal to the Government to do something immediately for these grand people. I feel strongly on this matter because not only in my electorate but also throughout the State from which I come, I am approached daily by age pensioners .who are barely able to keep body and soul together on the present pension. Therefore, I trust the Government will give immediate attention to this matter and do something of real value for these grand and worthy members of the community.
– The Government is clear in its approach to this problem. The present is not an opportune time to consider general budget problems, such as increases of social services benefits.- They will be dealt with in due course when the budget is presented within a few months. As every honorable member opposite who served under Mr. Curtin or Mr. Chifley is aware, and as every honorable member on this side of the chamber realizes, problems of this kind are given the most careful consideration when the budget proposals are being considered. That is a recognized procedure which, of course, was followed by previous governments. It is a wise and prudent course for any government to follow, because under the budget the most effective consideration is given to competing claims having regard to the best interests of the community as a whole and the requirements of .national development. In the process, the Government approves certain claims and rejects others. I repeat that the present is not the proper time to enter into a general debate on social services problems, and I do not intend to do so.
Let me examine the arguments of the honorable member for Adelaide (Mr. Chambers). He protested that the Opposition was not actuated by any ulterior motive in bringing forward this proposal. On that score, he protested too much. There is no doubt that the Opposition has raised this matter, as it has raised other matters, for the purpose of diverting attention from the strife and discord that now exist in its ranks. In the course of this debate, the Government has no intention of prejudicing its future line of action in respect of social services policy. For that reason, I shall not enter into a general debate on what is, after all, a budget problem, or in any way compromise the Government’s position with respect to social services. The Government will act on exactly the same principles as it has acted during the last five years. As the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) has said, its policy in this matter will be as generous in the future as it has been in the past.
Here, I should like to make one point abundantly clear. What I am saying is not intended to be and cannot be interpreted as being discouraging, because the simple fact is that no decisions have yet been made in connexion with the 1955-56 budget. Therefore, if no decisions have been made, my remarks cannot be interpreted as being discouraging to any persons who may think that they have a claim to Commonwealth attention.
Let me return to the essential part of the Opposition’s argument, which is that the benefits are inadequate. That claim has been put in this House before. When we consider the terms of the definite matter of urgent public importance submitted by the honorable member for Adelaide, we are bound to agree that inadequacy of benefits is the essence of the Opposition’s claim. I venture to say that if we examine the proposal on a broad basis, and on the basis of the past actions of the Labour party, it must be conceded that the Labour party, if it was in office, and if it acted on the same principles as it did in 1949, would not increase pensions at the present moment.
What are the facts? In 1949, Mr. Chifley, who was an able Treasurer, refused to make provision for increasing pensions when he was preparing his budget. At that date, pensions were, and remained at, £2 2s. 6d. a week. Since that time, pensions have been increased to £3 10s. a week. If we consider the arguments of the Labour party in 1949, we must come to the conclusion that the Labour party, if it had continued in office, would not have increased the pension. The honorable member for Adelaide conceded that fact. He used the phrase that the pension to-day had a slightly greater purchasing power than the pension of 1949. Every honorable member knows, from the mathematical tests which can be applied, that the purchasing power of to-day’s pension is at least as great as it was in 1949, and, indeed, is perhaps fractionally a little greater.
But that is only a part of the story. Since 1949, at least four progressive reforms have been made which give the pensioner much greater help, and a much more secure position, than he had under the regime of Mr. Chifley. I mention four reforms. First, the Government has working - actually working - the national health and hospital benefits scheme, which is of great help to a pensioner. I emphasize that the scheme is working. It was not working in 1949. Secondly, very generous pharmaceutical benefits are provided for pensioners. That reform also is novel, and this Government should receive the credit for its introduction. Thirdly, provision has been made for homes for aged people, and the Government has put into-
– Be fair ! How many homes has this Government provided for aged persons?
– We are already committed to £4.50,000. If the honorable member for Adelaide had been awake, and if he had cared to make the effort, he could have come to the electorate of the honorable member for Sturt (Mr. Makin), where I recently presented a cheque and where more than 100 aged people are being provided with accommodation. Much more will be done. I mention another point. The means test has 1,een liberalized to give an incentive to those who produce. So, on that basis, the Prime Minister was quite correct when he claimed during the course of the genera] election campaign in 1954 that the Government had been generous in its approach to pensioners, and that it had a truly meritorious record in respect of granting increases of social services benefits.
If the House wishes, there are two tests which can be applied in order to determine whether or not social services benefits to-day are better than they were in 1949, when the Labour Government was in office. I shall deal with those two tests. Expenditure on social services, expressed as a percentage of the national income, has increased from 2.11 l>er cent, in 1938-39 to 4.03 per cent, in 1949-50 and to 4.68 per cent, in 1953-54. The estimate for 1954-55 is approximately 5 per cent., this is based on the 1053-54 estimate of national income and the year’s social services estimate, So, honorable members can see that, in terms of national production, the advance has been very substantial, and wholly for the benefit of the pensioner. The second test, which is also of importance, is that the total budget allocation for health and social services has increased from £93,000,000 in 1949-50 to £195,000,000 in 1954-55. Therefore, it is the claim of this Government, and I now repeat the words of the Prime Minister, that it has a wonderful record of achievement. I myself add, if the House will permit me to speak in the vernacular, that in comparison, the performances of the former Labour Government were what may very truly be called “ lousy “.
There is one other point on a somewhat academic basis that I should like to raise. The honorable member for Adelaide has discussed the matter of associating pensions with the basic wage. I point out straightaway that, in the past, Labour governments have refused to continue automatic ties between, say, the C series index or any other index, and the pension. “We on this side of the
House agree that pensions should not bt tied to the basic wage. If the two were associated, governments would not know where they were going and could not keep control of their spending. I want to show how little thought the Labour party has given to this problem, when its spokesman says that there should be an association between the basic wage and the pension. The basic wage is now £:ll 16s. a week. Of that amount £2 10s. is the prosperity loading. Therefore, the real needs basic wage - and pensioners receive their payment on the basis of needs - is £9 6s. a week. The Commonwealth Arbitration Court itself said that that amount was sufficient for a family unit of three. If we were to apply the reasoning of the honorable member for Adelaide, we should find that the Labour party, if it were in office, would allot as a pension not £3 10s. but £3 2s. a week.
– That was not the basis of my claim.
– The honorable member for Adelaide advanced that argument, and thereby showed that he had not considered, and did not understand the meaning of his argument. I want to expose his argument for the nonsense that it is. The Labour party has used this argument without knowing what it has said in the past and without knowing precisely where the argument would lead it. We on the Government side sum up our views in the following way: There is clear proof that, in terms of published statistics, which have since been verified, the purchasing power of the pension at present is at least as high as, if not fractionally higher than, it was in 1949. We say that without prejudicing or compromising our future position, or creating the impression that any decisions have yet been made. So, there is no reason for any dissatisfaction on the part of groups who may hope to benefit subsequently. In estimating the value of the pension we should also take into consideration other valuable benefits, such as health and pharmaceutical benefits, and housing, which have been granted to pensioners. I am sure that the House will accept the fact that this Government has done immensely more in terms of the real provision for the wants of the pensioners than was ever contemplated by the preceding Chifley Government. The pension has been increased, and housing and medical and pharmaceutical benefits are being provided for pensioners. So we have the pension, housing, and medicine - the three things that are so desperately needed if there is to be contentment in the heart and mind of a pensioner.
Before I conclude, I shall mention one other great improvement made by this Government, and that is the provision made for homes for the aged. I claim that this will be a monument to the Menzies Government. Such provision for aged persons was never thought of by the Labour party. We hope that, in future, thousands of pensioners will benefit from this scheme.
It is now recognized by most people that the Labour party, by using the forms of the House in this way, is trying to divert attention from its own internal troubles. Those difficulties will be bigger in the future than they are at present, and perhaps the Labour party will be compelled to submit other definite matters of urgent public importance for the consideration of the House. We say that we shall not compromise our position. We also say that, in comparison with the Labour party’s claims and actions, this Government has a truly meritorious record in the field of social services. For that reason we urge that the claims advanced by the Opposition must be rejected by the House.
– I rise to support the request of the honorable member for Adelaide (Mr. Chambers) that something be done urgently to relieve the plight of the pensioner. The attitude of the Minister for Social Services (Mr. McMahon) shows a callous disregard of the plight of the pensioner, particularly the base pensioner. Since this Government has been in office it has had the unenviable record throughout of having made the poor poorer. Although the present debate is mainly concerned with the miserable pittance paid to pensioners, analysis of the attitude of the Government shows that not only have its actions had a - detrimental effect on the pensioner, but they have also had a serious effect on the basic wage earner, the person who lives on a fixed income, and other people of that nature. How has thi? policy of the Government been put into effect? It was put into effect very cunningly and cleverly. First, the basic wage was pegged by the Commonwealth Court of Conciliation and Arbitration, to the applause of the Government, although the court had for many years adopted the principle that the basic wage should rise and fall in accordance with the cost of living. Later, the Government interceded before the court in regard to the payment of wage margins. But it interceded only on behalf of the people who were on the highest salary scales. As a result of its intercession, those highly paid employees received some benefit. But the intercession had certainly a detrimental effect on the claims of unskilled workers who had no margin, or only a small margin. I say, therefore, that the policy of the Government throughout has been, gradually but surely, making the poor poorer.
Then the Government immediately proceeded to grease the fatted pig. It increased the salaries of judges, and it gave high public servants-
– Order! This is no: a general debate.
– I shall show you in a moment, Mr. Acting Deputy Speaker, how the attitude of the Government ha-c been responsible for certain serious effects., because it gave some people marginal increases amounting to more than two and a half times the 1937 level of their margins, which was the figure prescribed by the court in relation to workers in the metal trades. I shall show you how the attitude of the Government has been responsible for an increase of the cost of living, and a consequent reduction of the real value of pensions. That fact has been revealed recently in figures issued by the Commonwealth Statistician, which give details of the cost of living. I shall not go into the details of those figures, but I shall, say that the Statistician pointed out how the cost of living had been affected. The commercial editor of the Melbourne. Herald points out, in the same issue of the newspaper which records the statistician’s figures, how inflation fears have, been revived by cost-of-living increases. I say that all this has had an effect, on the pensioner and the miserable pittance that he receives.
The Minister claims that when Mr. Chifley was Prime Minister and Treasurer the pension had a value corresponding to its real value to-day. I say that that is very definitely not correct, because under the Chifley Government’s budget in 1948 the pension had the value of 37 per cent, of the then basic wage, and that position had not changed very much by the time this Government waselected to office in 1949. As a matter of fact,, in case the Minister has any doubt about this matter, I quote to him statements made in the Melbourne Age of the 10th August, 1954, in an editorial in which that newspaper calls for a “better deal for age pensioners”. The editorial includes the following statement: -
There is still a general’ recognition that rises in pension rates have been far from commensurate with the shrunken value oil money, and that the increases did not keep pace with .the rises of prices and costs. In Hi48, the age and invalid pension was 37 per cent, of the basic wage;1 to-day, it te only 291 pex cent.
That editorial comment gives the lie to the Minister’s statement about the position of pensioners under the Chifley Administration. The same editorial makes this comment -
How a country treats those who have passed their working days without having acquired resources of their own affords an important test, of its concepts of welfare.
If the attitude of the Government is hu indication of the Government’s concept of welfare, it is clear that this Administration has no feelings for any kind of pensioner. The Minister said that he was not going to deal with pensions at this stage, and that that matter was something for the future. But that did not stop the Minister or the Cabinet from giving consideration to the payment of salary increases far above the standard set by the court to public servants who were already in receipt of high incomes.
As I have said, the pension is reduced in value to-day compared with its value in 1 949. It is still being gradually reduced in value as the cost of living rises, because the Government will not do anything in stop this trend. The pensioner in Western Australia is actually worse of! than is the pensioner in any other State. The basic wage in Western Australia is £13 12s. 6d. If appropriate cost of living adjustments had been made to the basic wage since it was: pegged ii would be £13 9s. 6d. Analysed, thai shows that the pensioner in Western Australia is- receiving a pension that i? worth only 25.8 per cent, of the basK wage, and is therefore worse off than ar’pensioners in other States. Do not Ici honorable’ gentlemen opposite contend that the basic wage is pegged because Western Australia has a Labour government in office. The facts are that that Labour Government did all it could io apply the automatic adjustments to th,basic. wage. It appeared before the Commonwealth Arbitration Court and spoke in favour of automatic adjustments, lt also tried to put amending legislation to give effect, to such a proposal through the Western Australian Parliament, but was prevented from doing so by an antiLabour Legislative Council’.
I say that justice should be given to the pensioners before anything is done for the heads and sub-heads of Federal departments. The Government may deny the charge that it has been making the poor poorer since it has been in office, out I suggest that it has to do more than merely deny it. It has to do something tangible that will increase pensions now, without waiting for the budget to be presented, if that is what it has in mind, until they have the same value of 37 per cent, of the basic wage as they had at the time of the presentation of the Chifley Administration’s last budget.
To realize how the Government has permitted the cost of living to rise since it has been in office it is only necessary to look at the position of tea, which is a basic commodity for pensioners. In respect of that matter, the Melbourne Age- called on the Government to do something about the price of tea for the pensioner. A report is published in the press to-day which shows, that the Government is now enjoying a profit on tea,, because it does not now have to pay a. subsidy, tea prices having fallen in
Ceylon and other tea-exporting countries, ls this not the right time for a reduction of the price of tea for people who so urgently need it? I do not know whether any further proof is required of the way in which the Government has maladministered the affairs of this country in allowing prices to rise. However, if honorable members opposite require any further proof, I suggest that they study the World Economic Report of 1953, which shows that prices in Australia, under this Government’s administration, have been allowed to rise more than in any other country. The report shows that they have increased by 43 per cent, since the Government took office.
I shall make one more quotation in regard to this particular matter. It is from the Perth Daily News of the 19th February, 1955. Under the heading, “ Poverty ranks high in sickness causes “, that newspaper publishes the following report : -
About 10 per cent, of patients in an analysis taken at Royal Perth Hospital were found in bc in ill-health because of poverty and poor living circumstances.
This was disclosed by Royal Perth Hospital clinical research unit director Dr. Eric Saint in a Perth address reported by the Australian Medical Journal.
Dr. Saint said that with a view to exploring the no-man’s land which lies between medicine and sociology and social anthropology, he had critically analysed the experience of his colleagues and himself with 250 new in-patients and 150 out-patients.
A third of their patients were older than ii0. With about a third of these patients, ill-health was the result of poverty and poor living circumstances.
– Order! The honorable gentleman’s time has expired.
.- Although I have great respect for the honorable member for Adelaide (Mr. Chambers) as a very sincere man, I regret very much that I cannot accept his word that this matter has been brought forward for discussion with no idea of political propaganda. The honorable member for Adelaide is a sincere man, as are many of the men who advocate better conditions for pensioners. They include, if I may say so, honorable members on this side of the House. But I say that this matter has been brought forward for discussion not with any idea of obtaining better conditions for pensioners, because the honorable member for Adelaide, with his political experience, knows full well that at this stage, when the presentation of the budget is only three or four months off, no government could lift pensions out of their context in the economy of the country and deal with them as an isolated case. Whether the honorable member was fishing in order to find out what the Government proposes to do about pensioners in the future, T do not know; but I do know, and I think all sensible pensioners in Australia know also, that this matter has been brought forward for discussion only for the purposes of political propaganda. It is political propaganda, of the worst kind, because the Opposition is using for the purpose defenceless people whom we know are suffering. That is probably the prime reason for the Opposition’s action. Another reason, as suggested by the Minister for Social Services (Mr. McMahon). may be that, because of the chaotic condition of the Labour party in Australia, the Opposition has to make some diversion. It wants to make political capital out of this matter in order to try to help the Cain Government, which is now going to the electors. [Quorum formed.~ 1 am very sorry that some of my time has been wasted by the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) directing attention to the state of the House.
I take second place to no one in my interest in pensioners. I know that in every community there are some pensioners who are suffering, and I should like to see something done for them. I sincerely hope that something will be done for them. But when the honorable member for Adelaide and the honorable member for Swan (Mr. Webb) spoke of pensioners, they spoke as though all pensioners were suffering in the manner so dramatically described by the honorable member for Adelaide. That is not so. Some pensioners are suffering and I believe the State and Federal Governments should get together to help them, but the help they require is not help that can be given through the general scheme of pensions legislation. Those pensioners who are suffering are suffering because of special conditions! Some of them do not own their own homes and have to rent rooms, some of them have no incomes other than pensions, and others are in bad health. Some are suffering because State laws have deprived them of the right to occupy their own homes. In New South Wales pensioners are being seriously hurt by the restrictive legislation of the State government in that held.
There are State welfare schemes through which needy pensioners can get a little help in addition to their pensions. Some pensioners are suffering, but there are many who find that their pensions, together with other income or earnings, are quite sufficient for their needs. Therefore, the problem is to find some way to help the people who are suffering. If any scheme for that purpose can be produced, I shall be all for it, because I should like to see something done for these people. But I stress the fact that Labour’s poor record in regard to pensions does not justify the action of .the Opposition in bringing this matter forward for discussion. In the first place, Labour did not even initiate the pensions scheme. It was initiated by a nonLabour government, of the same type as this Government. Nor did the Labour party at any time-
Mr. Whitlam interjecting,
-(Hon. Archie Cameron) . - Order ! The honorable member for Werriwa is a man trained in the law. He is able to read the Standing Orders, and he should know that honorable members are entitled to make their statements here.
– I have read the statutes too.
-Order! The honorable gentleman shall not quarrel with the Chair.
– Although Labour was in office for many years, never at any time did it improve the structure of social services.
– What is the honorable member talking about?
– The honorable member for East Sydney was in office for eight or nine years recently. What did his party do then? It made no effort whatever to improve the structure of social services. There has been some argument about the amount of the pensions. Did the Labour Government do the things that this Government has done? Did it provide free medical services and free medicine for pensioners? Did it introduce a scheme by which, in certain circumstances, an elderly married couple who receive an income of up to ?750 a year pay no income tax? In 1949, it was admitted that the cost of living was rising at the rate of 9 per cent, a year. On the 14th June, 1949, the honorable member for Mallee (Mr. Turnbull), who was then member for Wimmera, addressed a question to Mr. Chifley. He said -
I ask the Treasurer whether the Government intends to increase the rate of age and invalid pensions. If so, will the increase bc between 3s. and 5s. a week, as suggested in the press?
Mr. Chifley replied ;
Ivo consideration has been given to n further increase of pension rates.
He went on to say that there was no intention to make any such increase. That was in 1949. No one should talk about these matters unless he is prepared to act also. Members of the Labour party have talked about pensioners to-day, but although they had an opportunity to act during the eight or nine years that Labour was in office, they did not do so. As the Minister has said, the record of this Government in the field of social services i3 one of which any government could be proud. In addition to increasing the amount of the pension, it has eased the means test considerably. We all know that now a pensioner can own property worth up to ?1,750 without his pension being affected in any way. Previously the limit was ?750.
-Order ! The honorable gentleman’s time has expired.
.- 1 do not think the speech that we have just heard from the honorable member for Bennelong (Mr. Cramer) reflects a great deal of credit on him. I do not think it was very fair to assess wrongly the principles of the honorable member who raised this matter for discussion. I consider it to be a matter for commendation that this question has been brought before the House, because it is about caine that the Government gave ‘consideration to the plight of pensioners. All .this “ hifalutin “ (talk about percentage of national income, prosperity loading and expanding .social services budgetary provisions may sound very well when the Government .is trying to explain away something that cannot be explained away, but it does not fill the stomachs of starving pensioners, it does not clothe them, and Lt does not provide them with the warmth and accommodation necessary for their existence. Therefore I agree, as do the other members of my party, with the terms in which the matter was brought forward for discussion. If ever there was a time when such a matter should be brought before the House, it is now. Should not the Government be apprised of what is happening and, because of that apprisal, should not it make provision in subsequent budgets for more liberal treatment of those who deserve liberal treatment?
What is the position in Australia today ? The maximum rate of the age and invalid pension is £3 10s. a week. Would the honorable member for Bennelong or the Minister for Social Services (Mr. McMahon) like to live on £3 30s. a week? Would they like to see somebody near and dear to them trying to struggle along on £3 10s. a week ? I draw the attention of the House to the last report issued by the Director-General of Social Services. A study of that report will reveal very clearly that 85 per cent, of people in receipt of an age or invalid pension to-day .are entirely dependent upon the pension. Some honorable members seem to think that a large percentage of pensioners are in the relatively happy position that their pension is a useful appendage to other kinds of income, but a glance at the report will show very clearly that 85 per cent, of the people now receiving a pension are entirely dependent upon the pension. Of the 500,000 pensioners in Australia, the 15 per cent, who receive reduced pensions have, on the average, capital worth less than £509 in reserve. Consequently, one can say truthfully that most of the people . in receipt of an age or invalid pension to-day sadly need an increase. I have pointed out when this subject has been discussed previously that I represent - it is a great honour ito do so- -tone of the poorest electorates in Australia. It is not poor in the spirit, heart and willingness to make sacrifices of the people who live in it, but it is poor economically. Recently a survey was made of cities in the electorate that I represent and in other parts of Victoria. The results of the survey were published in a book entitled Old People in a Modem Australian Community. It was a social survey by Bertram Hutchinson, a bachelor of science and a doctor of philosophy of the University of London. The book was published by the Melbourne University Press. Some of the facts in that survey, which is most comprehensive, ‘completely support the statements that have been made by the honorable member for Adelaide (Mr. Chambers). I shall mention examples first, without dealing with figures, which may be produced at a later stage. In a chapter of the book to which I have referred, headed “ Material Conditions “ we may read -
Not all older people can afford enough food to satisfy their needs. The special investigation, reported in Appendix 1, covering some of the poorest older people, in Melbourne, gives a clear insight into the diets which some are obliged to adhere to. The sample survey showed that four per cent, of all people aged 55 and over are unable to buy sufficient food - or about 15,000 individuals throughout Victoria.
Four per cent, does not sound a very great number, but in considering that figure honorable members should also consider that ours is a very prosperous community, that wealth flows freely and that goods are produced in abundance. Yet, according to a comprehensive, independent survey, conducted with a great deal of diligence. 4 per cent., or 15,000 of the people in Victoria alone, are unable to get sufficient food on which to live.
– When was that book written ?
– Last year. Let now consider another matter which affects pensioners. The picture with regard to provision of warmth is similar to that of the provision of food. The author of the book stated -
In an allied field - that of providing warmth - we find a very similar picture. Although some 16 per cent, of our age-group complained that they “ often “ feel cold ( rising to about one-third among the oldest people of 75 ‘and oner),, this seems to be mainly a physiological rather than an economic problem. Most oS. those who complained about this added that they thought it was due to “old age” or “ poor health or similar matters.
We must also remember that most pensioners are compelled to pay rent. I am able to put certain figures before the House with regard to the rent position in the. poorer parts of Melbourne. In the electorate that I represent, which contains the economically poorer areas of Fitzroy, Collingwood, Carlton and central Melbourne, 68 per cent, of the house occupiers are tenants. Of that 68 per cent., 43 per cent, pay a rent of from. 20s. a week to 40s. a week, and. included in that group are most of the pensioners who live in that area. The whole of that argument indicates that many people, because they have raised, families or have suffered’ ill health or unemployment, have been unable to accumulate a nest egg for their retirement or incapacity to earn. When those people become eligible for social services, surely it is the duty of any government, and I charge this Government only with failure to realize the seriousness of the position, to act in accordance with the canons of the Christian faith - feed the hungry, clothe t he naked and succor the sick. This Government has lamentably failed to do those things.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has. expired.
’.- Whatever the motives of the honorable member for Adelaide (Mr. Chambers) in bringing this matter forward, and we assume that his motives were worth while, the effect of what he intended to convey to the House was dissipated by the reactions of those who were sitting behind him. Their attack on the Government has been characterized by recklessness, and a disregard for the emotions of those, whom they say they wish to- protect. As the Labour party’s suit is setting, it is most noticeable that honorable members opposite are employing the most desperate methods to delude the public into the belief that they are still an effective opposition. I know of no. more discreditable practice than that which has been indulged in by the Opposition this afternoon,, of exploiting distress and human suffering in order to gain a party political advantage. That is. a time-dishonored custom, and one which is current practice among pressure groups, throughout, the world to-day. Their tactics are to blame the other fellow for their own shortcomings, and to blame the other man for. not doing what they should have done themselves.
There is nothing more notorious in our political life than Labour’s failure in the field of social services. It- has been pointed out on numerous, occasions that the 1948-49 budget, in spite of the fact that, costs and prices had increased from 10. per cent, to 12 per cent, in that year, made no provision whatever for an increase of pensions. But the excuse if made to-day for the first time,, by the honorable member for Adelaide,, that the Labour Government of 1948-49 intended to do the impossible, that it intended to control prices and costs throughout the Commonwealth. That Government, which showed such a callous disregard for the welfare of the needy of the community on that occasion, was defeated before its policy on costs and prices could be implemented, and a more realistic government assumed office. Almost immediately the new government provided an increase of 7s. 6d. a week for the pensioners. Those who were previously members of that same Labour Government, red-faced by their own failure, then attacked the new government which had increased the pensions by saying that the increase was not enough. Was the pension ever intended to be enough? No pension, except perhaps the totally and permanently incapacitated soldier’s pension, has ever been considered to be, economically, enough, but this Government recognized the inadequacy of the highest pension ever paid in this or any other country and allowed the recipient to earn an amount equivalent to the pension itself.
If a man receives an age pension of £3 10s. a week lie can earn another £3 10s. a week without his pension being reduced. The honorable member for Adelaide said to-day that a woman of 60, or a man of 65, was not in a position earn £3 10s. a week. If he is sincere will he tell me, and the House, why Labour restricted the earning capacity of pensioners to £1 a week if it was not practicable for pensioners to earn anything? This Government, as well as providing that pensioners could earn as much as their pensions, also provided, in tho same year, free medicine, free medical’ attention and free hospitalization. Some have tried to put a monetary value on those services, but I consider that there is no way in which their monetary value can he assessed. ft can serve no useful purpose to reiterate statistical facts. We have proved this Government’s willingness to face up to pensioners’ problems, even while it is obliged to spend hundreds of millions of pounds a year on preparations to defend the source of all our money. However, I believe that it will be of some advantage to the House and the country to indicate the rates of pension through the years. From .1.915 to 1916 the age and invalid pension was 12s. 6d. ii week. From 1916 to 1922 it was 15s. a week, from 1923 to 1929 it was £1 a week, and from 1929 to 1932 it was 17s. 6d. a week. I shall not comment on that last figure, because if I had to fix it it may have been even less had I been obliged to face the problems that the then government had to face in that period of our history. From 1932 to 1939 the pension was £1 a week, from 1939 to 1941 it was £1 ls. 6d. a week, from 1941 to 1945 - during the tenure of office of the Labour Government under Mr. Curtin- it was £1 12s. 6d. After Mr. Chifley became Prime Minister the pension was increased to £2 2s. 6d., and it remained at that figure from 1945 to 1949. From 1949 to 1954 it increased to £3 10s. a week. Honorable members will notice that from 1949 to 1954 the pension increased by £1 7s. 6d. a week, whereas in any of the other periods that I have mentioned, the highest increase was only 10s. a week.
It has been said that £3 10s. will not buy as much to-day as £2 would buy during the period of office of the last Labour Government, but that is so much nonsense.
– The honorable member ought to try living on £3 10s. a week.
– I have lived on less than that. Now let us examine Labour’s case on pensions. The Opposition’s immediate requirement is an additional £1 a week for the pensioner. Every shilling increase of the age and invalid pensions costs about £1,250,000 a year, therefore an increase of £1 a week would cost about £25,000,000 a year. Therefore,, such an increase may or may not be practicable - I am not in a position to say. But the glib talk of completely removing the means test and giving the pensioners the basic wage, would mean an increase of about £8 a week for each pensioner. That would involve the country in an expenditure of an additional £400,000,000 a year. Surely that, indicates the completely irresponsible approach of the Labour party to our economic problems.
The honorable member for Adelaideasked who were the pensioners to-day. I reply to him that the pensioners to-day are the same as they have always been. The pensioners have always been in thesame economic position, and they have always needed the help of all governments. I do not take second place to any one in my endeavours to see that justice is done to pensioners, to all people in need and to all those who cannot fend for themselves, but I cannot stand the mealymouthed hypocrisy that we hear from time to time from supporters of the Labour party.
The Labour party’s attitude in this matter is designed for two purposes. The first is to effect a diversionary tactic to remove the flickering spotlight from its own internal failures, and to try to beguile the people into believing that it is still ready to devote some time to the needs of the deserving community. The second purpose of Labour is an old one. The Opposition is anticipating this Government’s budget, and is attempting to jump on the band wagon in case the budget gives more benefits to pensioners. If that should happen, the Labour party will then say that the increased benefits have been brought about by the pressure exerted on the Government by the Opposition. That is an old, dishonorable trick, but it still raises hope in the breasts of honorable members opposite that it will blind the public to their shortcomings and persuade the pensioners and others to return them to office.
– Mr. Speaker-
Motion (by Sir Eric Harrison) put -
That the business of the day be called on.
The House divided. (MR. Speaker - Hon. Archie Cameron.)
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Debate resumed from the 2.1st April (vide page 146), on motion by Mr. Kent Hughes-
That the bill be now read a second time.
– ‘The measure that is before the House is a form of revision and consolidation of Commonwealth land acquisition legislation since federation. The need for such revision is obvious to every honorable member. Times have changed, and the powers of the Commonwealth have been enlarged. It is the function of the House, as a deliberative chamber, to give the measure the full attention that it deserves. Section 51, placitum (xxxi.). of the Constitution gives the Parliament power to make laws for the peace, order, and good government of the Commonwealth with respect to the acquisitionof property on just terms from any State or person for any purpose in respect of which the Parliament has power to make laws. Therefore, this matter is one that comes within the jurisdiction of the Parliament.
It is quite obvious that honorable members opposite are more concerned with their internecine strife than with giving this measure the attention which it deserves. To that degree,it behoves those of us who are concerned about this problem to give to it full consideration. I say that, because this is a piece of legislation which touches individuals throughout the Commonwealth. Although it might be said that the big man is as much involved as is the small man, and possibly more so, in my humble opinion the big man, who has recourse to the norma] processes of law, is in a far better position to protect his rights than is the small man who, perhaps, has not so much at stake, but which nevertheless is of great importance to him, and who feels that the expense of a big legal action is not justified. It is a matter that concerns the community as a whole.
In times of war and of emergency, there is a tendency to regard the acquisition of land for Commonwealth or State purposes as something that should be done automatically, and I am afraid that that has led to the adoption of a certain attitude of mind amongst departmental officers particularly. When we study a measure <if this kind, we realize that there is a tendency to load its provisions to the advantage of those whom it is proposed shall exercise the power, and against those who will be the victims of that power. That point should be borne in mind when we are analysing such legislation. Honorable members know of glaring examples of acquisition by the States and the Commonwealth. It was the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Keon), I think, who referred to instances of the acquisition of building property within his own electorate during the past ten years in which compensation had not been paid. Honorable members on this side of the House have referred also to the form of confiscatory acquisition that has taken place in New South Wales. It is the intention of supporters of the Government to try to ensure that, in any legislation that is passed by the Parliament, injustices will be avoided. In my opinion, we should adopt two main principles in studying tho bill. First, the objective of such legislation should be the prevention of unwarranted or unjustified acquisition. That is necessary for the purpose of preventing the State from acquiring land and setting itself up as a land agent or landlord. Secondly, we should give great attention to the protection of the individual. There is a third consideration, of course, and that is that the Commonwealth has power without undue hindrance to acquire land for the benefit of the community as a whole. In times of emergency, that power is derived from the National Security Regulations, and it lias been availed of freely in the past.
The problem may be considered also on h legal basis, and there is a tendency on occasions such as this to treat the problem purely from that point of view. It is one which affects the community so widely that it really becomes a human problem. If we confine ourselves too much to the legal aspects of the measure, we might miss some of its undesirable features. 1 have stated that the Constitution provides that acquisition must be made on just terms. Honorable members on this side of the House aru pleased to note that clause 28 makes definite provision for just terms. However, although I am not a lawyer, I suggest that that clause tends to cast on the court of jurisdiction the onus of determining, in certain cases, the legality of the proposed legislation. That might be a weakness. The honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard), in his inimitable style, like an optimistic punter trying to select winners for the following Saturday’s races, took the measure, as it were, blindfolded, put a pin on one clause, and selected the clause appertaining to the powers of delegation. I had some qualms about the powers of delegation that were embodied in clause 59. I consulted my learned colleague, the honorable member for Balaclava (Mr. Joske), who assured me that the power of delegation would not be effective, except in cases where agreement had been arrived at between the vendor and the Crown. I ‘accept his judgment on that matter.
I refer now to clause 32, which seeks to fix at 3 per cent, the interest rate on deposits when the payment cannot be made immediately to the claimant. I know that the existing act prescribes this fixed rate of interest, but it seems to me that it would be far more appropriate to apply the current rate of interest, because there might be occasions’ when, due to difficulty in proving title and because of involved questions in relation to estates, the interest would amount to a very considerable sum. I suggest that the Minister for the Interior (Mr. Kent Hughes) review clause 32 and consider whether it should be altered to fix a rate of interest between, say, the current rate on government securities and that on bank overdrafts.
The bill makes no provision in respect of one matter, which should be brought to the attention of the House. Provision should be made to prevent the acquisition and retention of land if it has not been used for the specified purpose within a certain period of time, and the original vendor or vendors should be given the right to repurchase the property at the original price, subject to any adjustment for the improvement or deterioration of their former property. It is not the function of the State to set itself up as a landowner or speculator, nor is it right or proper that the State should seek, perhaps with difficulty, to justify its acquisition by “vesting the acquired property in a department other than that for which the acquisition was originally made, or in a statutory body, for an entirely different purpose.
A transaction of this type from which we in Australia could learn a valuable lesson occurred recently in Great Britain. Certain unsavoury features of the acquisition caused a public outcry which culminated in the rather regrettable event of the resignation of a minister, an event which, I am sure, the public and, it might be mentioned also, certain Government backbenchers would deplore. The property concerned was known as Crichel Down, in the county of Dorset. In 1937 it was acquired compulsorily by the Air Ministry for use as a bombing range, but in 1940 that ministry, which no longer required it, transferred it to the Ministry of Agriculture. In fact, the property had never been used as a bombing range, and one of the original three vendors, an ex-naval officer, who was one of the bulldog breed imbued with the spirit of Nelson, wanted his land back. It was suggested that the original vendors should be allowed to repurchase the property at a fair price. However, the Agricultural Lands Commission, which was .a corporate body under the administration of the Ministry of Agriculture, thought otherwise, having set its mind on establishing a model farm with this windfall that had come to it from the Air Ministry. Although tho establishment of the model farm would have cost vast sums of public money, the Agricultural Lands Commission - this doubtful progeny of the Ministry of Agriculture - pursued its merry course.
The (murmurs of protest gradually became increasingly audible and led to an inquiry, as a result of which very definite findings were made. The plan for the establishment of a .model farm, like several other well-known examples of lunatic socialist theory such as the Gambia eggs scheme, the East African groundnuts project and the Queensland sorghum scheme, was found to be financially unsound, lt is even more arresting to note that this fact had been concealed from the Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries. It was not revealed to him that the Ministry of Agriculture, instead of paying £20,000 of public money for the equipment of the model farm for the use of a model tenant, could have sold the property to the original owners, who had established reputations as first-class farmers, for £21,000. To cap this extraordinary sequence of events, and in the face of the findings of the inquiry, the Minister, acting on the advice of departmental officers, announced that the negotiations with the prospective new tenant had gone too far to be revoked; so the gallant ex-naval gentleman and his two colleagues were left in the air. As I have stated, the result was- that the Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries resigned.
I for one should like to see inserted in this measure a clause that would prevent a repetition of such an occurrence, at least in relation to lands acquired by the Commonwealth. This is not an imaginary situation. Certain Commonwealth departments at present hold lands that are not being used for the purposes for which they were acquired, and, in fact, are not being used at all. In the interests of the community and of common justice to the original vendors, the former owners should now be given the right to repurchase those properties at fair prices. I suggest for the Minister’s consideration the insertion, in clause 48, which deals with the disposal of land vested in the Commonwealth, of a :new sub-clause to provide that where any land acquired by compulsion is found to be surplus to the purpose or not used for the specific purpose for which it was acquired, within a period of, say, five years, it shall be disposed of by giving to the vendor or his executors a right of repurchase at the original purchase price, with an adjustment for any improvement or damage that occurred during the Commonwealth’s occupancy. Such a provision would recognize the rights of the individual and would curb the accumulation, at public expense, of large areas of land that would serve no useful purpose.
I compliment the Minister on the thoroughness with which the bill has been prepared. It deals with a number of matters that are not dealt with in the existing act. Although certain powers of delegation under clause 59 are not embodied in the existing act, they are practical and I am sure that they will not be abused. I ask the Minister to consider the matters that I have mentioned, especially the redrafting of clause 32.
– The bill is one of the most important, and in certain respects one of the most far-reaching in its possible consequences, of the bills that have been introduced in this Parliament for a considerable time. Because I have lived in New South Wales and know something of the struggle that has taken place in that State between the people who own land and the authority that resumes or acquires it - the New South Wales Government - I am aware of the underlying implications of this bill which may not be apparent to people in States more happily situated than is New South Wales. The title of the bill indicates that its purpose is to make provision for the acquisition by the Commonwealth of land required for public purposes and for dealing with land so acquired. The definition of “ Crown land “ in clause 5 is most interesting to me as a layman. It is as follows: - “ Crown land “ means land the property of a State., but docs not include an interest of a person other than the State in land the property of a State;
Clause 6, which prescribes the modes of acquisition of land, reads- (1.) The Commonwealth may acquire land for a public purpose -
by agreement; or
The implication of this clause is that, where land is not so reserved, it may be acquired by the Commonwealth, by agree ment or compulsorily, and, to me as a layman, it is very interesting that the Crown may compulsorily acquire land from the Crown. I leave it to the lawyers to sort out that mix-up. It is a little beyond my comprehension.
I say immediately that I am entirely in accord with the purpose of the measure insofar as it improves upon the existing act, by replacing it and bringing into action machinery designed to prevent the unjust exploitation of persons who own land. Under the law of New South Wales, values of land acquired by the Crown were fixed on the basis of the valuations in 1942. Subsequently, under protest, it was agreed that, if a person went quietly and did not argue that his land was being expropriated at one-third or half of its value, he should receive the 1942 value plus 15 per cent. The whole thing was corrupt and rotten from the bottom up. Either the land was worth 15 per cent, more than the 1942 valuation or it was not. The offering of a form of bribe of that kind, or an attempt in that manner to influence a land-owner against exercising hi3 just rights, should not be tolerated in a civilized community. I am well aware that Opposition members may argue that, iri New South Wales, the Crown was concerned only with obtaining land for returned soldiers at the lowest possible price. Such an argument is fundamentally dishonest and unsound. I am most anxious that ex-servicemen shall receive a fair deal, but a government that adopts in legislation a corrupt- and unsound principle of expropriating a person’s land on false terms and at unjust prices, even for the benefit of returned soldiers, sets a precedent in legislation for the expropriation of anything else. Associated with such a proposal is a principle that is. linked with socialism and communism - that the State, if it wishes, can take from a person, without compensation, that which is justly his under the law of the land. The State cannot in that fashion play with the vital and fundamentally sound principles of human relationships without starting a complete rot in public life, which will later, in all probability, extend to the private life of the people. The State cannot take land at less than its value and at the same time deny that a man’s home, land, means of transport, and all that he possesses may be taken from him at less than its value.
This measure is legislation of a type that many people have argued should be introduced so that the terms of placitum (xxxi) of section 51 of the Australian Constitution may be binding in a sphere over which the Commonwealth has a great deal of control and influence. This provision in the Constitution is known as the just terms provision, and it ensures that a person shall not be dispossessed of his property unless he receives compensation on just terms. Strangely enough, though that provision in the Constitution binds the Commonwealth it does not bind the States. Ho State government is bound by any such provision. It is high time that what is binding upon the Crown in the Commonwealth should be equally binding upon the Crown in the State, and that when an attempt is made in a State to pursue policies of this kind, which are basically dishonest and unsound, the people of that State should have recourse to their sovereign right to demand that the courts shall enforce the provision in the Constitution to which I have referred. Plainly, we have arrived at a stage when many of the ordinary sanctions which are regarded as being effective safeguards of our liberty are no longer effective. That is proven by the experience of citizens of New South Wales whose land has been taken from them and who have been paid in depreciated money. A person who is paid 1942 values, plus 15 per cent., for his property and invests that money either in some other business or with the object of providing an income will find, if he compares the value of money to-day with that of money in 1942, that he has been paid half, or a little more than half, of the sum to which he is entitled. In 1942, the index rose by approximately 1,000 points to the order of 2,100 points. That indicates the measure of depreciation that has occurred since that year. Nevertheless, the Crown takes land from a person and pays to him - for it half its value at the existing market price. Such a practice confers no benefit upon the soldier settler. He lives in the country and is subject to the effects of its laws; and if rotten and corrupt laws are passed, sooner or later he will be hit. Moreover, ex-servicemen did not fight to have unjust laws put upon the statute-book, even if such laws prove temporarily to be to their advantage.
That is what has been going on in New South Wales ever since the Government of that State decided that it would be not an agent State but a principal State. Three of the States elected to be agent States. The Australian Government advanced money .to them, and, so far as 1 know, the scheme was administered by the departments of lands in those States acting in conjunction with officers of this Government. New South Wales, Queensland and Victoria preferred to take another course. I ask myself, as I believe every honorable member is entitled to ask himself, why the late Mr. Curtin, when he was Prime Minister, gave to the States the option to become either agent States for the Commonwealth or to remain as principal States, expending money on war service land settlement, which they obtained, not by agreement but as a part of their general share of loan raisings as members of the Australian Loan Council. On that point, two things suggest themselves to me. Either there existed in the minds of constitutional authorities at that time a grave doubt about whether the Australian Government, could make legislation of this kind effective against the States; or Mr. Curtin may have had a real fear, which was perfectly reasonable, that it was undesirable that the Australian Government, if such a course could be avoided, should invade another of those fields which, under the Constitution, are exclusively spheres of State administration. It is acknowledged that the Australian Government is responsible for the repatriation of ex-service personnel. This measure is an acknowledgment of that fact. Following World War I., the Australian Government worked with the States as principal States. Then, Mr. Curtin offered the States the alternative of becoming agent States. But those States which elected to act as agent States entered into a binding agreement with the Australian Government similar to the Commonwealth and State Housing Agreement. I was wondering whether that course was followed in order .to make sure beyond peradventure that there could be no come back on the part of the States that would detrimentally affect this scheme. Nobody desires more than I do to see enforced the placitum of the Constitution that provides for the acquisition of land on just terms. If that provision were made binding upon the States in schemes of this kind it would prevent the downright, veritable black- mail of people who are forced to dispose of their land and accept payment in depreciated money when, if they disposed of their land on the open market it would fetch not an excessive amount but a sum that would compensate them for the decrease of purchasing power of money to-day compared with that of money in 1942.
Under a corrupt and unjust law in New South Wales persons have been despoiled of just compensation in respect of land which has been taken from them. . In order to head off suggestions which may be made by members of the Opposition, I point out that some of the greatest land-owners in that State have voluntarily come forward and literally given their land away whilst others have made their land available at very low prices because they wanted to make a contribution for the benefit of men who had fought in defence of this country. That was their particular decision, and they deserve credit for acting in that way. No government has a right to dispossess persons of their land for less than its value when they think they can use it to advantage. A government has no more right to apply dishonest and unsound principles in the acquisition of land than it has in any other kind of transaction. I am pleased that this measure has been introduced and I. trust it will be fully effective. Its introduction is long overdue. If the Australian Government has the power, which the introduction of the measure implies that it has, the- sooner this bill becomes operative the better it will be for everybody concerned, and for the good name of the State of New South Wales.
I trust that the implementation of this measure will not involve the establishment of a huge department to administer the land which is taken over, or that the administration will’ be centralized in Canberra. The administration of this scheme should be decentralized and, to a large degree, left to the departments of lands in the various States. The department in New South Wales has; a tradition of capable service, and I believe that tradition will be maintained if that department is entrusted as far as is practicable with the implementation of this measure in that State.
The honorable member for Werriwa (Mr. Whitlam) dealt with land values and the rate of interest payable in respect of acquisitions. Speaking with some knowledge of administration, in matters of this kind, I believe that one of the greatest of the injustices that are constantly being meted out to decent citizens in this country arises in respect of th° payment of moneys for lands which have been acquired by the Crown. I realize that in some instances, in the public interest, the Crown must act swiftly. lit such cases, a government cannot afford to dicker around in bringing- parties into agreement with it. But very often, after land has been acquired, years drag on before final payment is made and in the interim the person whose land has been acquired is paid interest at the rate of 3 per cent. Persons who have been deprived of their places of business or. perhaps, a site for a home, are kept waiting while the Crown pays interest at a rate which has no relation to the ruling rate. Charges can be made against every government in. this respect. It. appears to me that public officers, no doubt with the best intentions in the world, develop a sort of philosophy which leads; them to believe that their business is to stalk the prey and kill it with the least possible effort or expenditure of ammunition. My attention has been directed to instance after instance in which, after the process of resumption passed out of the department which 1 administered, the transaction dragged on and private individuals were black-mailed into accepting a price altogether too low, or were forced to appeal to the Land Valuation Court, which involved them, in further expenditure, or were paid in interest a sum completely disproportionate to the total value of the property acquired or were- paid interest at a rate that had no relation to- the prevailing’ rate. For these reasons’ I belive that this measure should be amended in order to provide that in instances in which land is resumed interest shall be payable at the rate prevailing in respect of overdrafts. If that were done it would have the effect of making departments accelerate the completion of transactions of this kind.
Provision is made in this measure for the payment of interest at the rate of 3 per cent. Let 113 assume that land upon which a person has built a home is acquired. He wants the purchase money as soon as possible for the purpose of building a home on another site. He has adequate security to offer to a prospective lender, who knows that eventually the money will be forthcoming, but for such accommodation that man has to pay interest at the rate of 5 per cent., that is the rate on overdraft, or even at a higher rate. In the meantime, he is receiving interest from the Crown at the miserable rate of 3 per cent. The House should not agree to that provision. The bill should provide for payment of interest at a reasonable .rate having regard to the rate prevailing in the community. Certain cases arise in which the Crown is not to blame for delay that occurs, but in an overwhelming number of cases these transactions drag on interminably and persons are left without their capital and, in the meantime, are obliged to accept interest at a miserable rate. As the object of this measure is to rectify one injustice that is being perpetrated at least in New South Wales under unjust legislation of that State, I trust that we shall not perpetrate another injustice under this measure. Apart from that objection, I commend the bill and again express my pleasure that it has been introduced.
.- This bill is a perfect illustration of the inevitable conflict that arises at some point between the individual and the State. In some types of political thinking in modern times, it has regrettably become fashionable to look with contempt upon the right to acquire possessions and to hold them undisturbed. Such action, one might say, is regarded as a violation of some ethical concept. What is not generally appreciated is that those who felt it proper to deprive individuals by legislative action of property rights could do so only by distributing that property in other forms of ownership, State or private; and if any Christian or other ethical precept were at stake, those who cried loudest for compulsion were probably guilty of the greatest violation. It is refreshing to see that honorable members opposite in general seem to recognize now, although it could not always be said of them, that so long as society is organized in such a way as to give the individual some freedom to act for himself, and some freedom to choose which of a number of material objects he wants in preference to others, then for so long must we respect, to a greater or lesser degree, his right to hold property.
One of the distinguishing features of our democracy has always been a tendency to avoid a tyranny of the majority - that majority which we elect to form a government - and to preserve the rights of the minority, often of one man, because we realize that actions taken in the sacred name of the majority of people may leave some very oppressive results. We preserve, in what we call the rule of law, this right of men to have their grievances heard and determined impartially before courts. ,
I lead up in that way to the bill at present before the House, because some suggestions have been put forward on both sides of the chamber to the effect that access to the courts should be avoided, and that a panel of valuers or some other persons not trained and not subject to the same judicial impartiality of the bench, should determine rates of compensation. I hope I have made the point clear that at no stage should. we deprive any individual of his right of access to the courts of the land, because that right is a fundamental part of our democracy.
The Minister is to be commended on his method of presenting this bill to the House. It is a most refreshing departure from procedures which, regrettably, have grown up in this chamber over many years. We have had a long time in which to consider the details of this bill. The Minister has promised, and I hope, having in mind some suggestions which I shall make in a few minutes, that he will recall that promise, to recommend the appointment of a select committee to examine some of the minor details of the bill before it passes through the committee stage. Some of the problems involved are so important that I consider the appointment of a select committee would be completely justified. I am sure that all honorable members have noticed the tendency to bring the second-reading debate on a. bill to completion, possibly exhaustively, possibly not so exhaustively, and then to rush the bill through the committee stage, often expediting the passage of the measure by considering it as a whole instead of clause by clause. I hope that such a practice will not be followed on this occasion. I trust that plenty of time will be devoted to the consideration of this bill in committee, and that private members will be given the opportunity, if the Government does not indicate that it is prepared to submit amendments, to make slight amendments which may have quite farreaching affects.
E desire to deal fairly briefly with one or two proposals at this stage. The first one to which I direct attention arises from clause 19, dealing with the making, acceptance and rejection of claims for compensation. There is a time limit in which claims must be served on the Minister. Sub-clause (2.) reads as follows: -
A claim sh all be served on the Minister within one hundred and twenty days after the date of acquisition or within such further time as the Minister allows.
It seems to me hardly necessary to insert a time limit in that clause. The Minister may say, in reply, “ “Well, we want to get the claims brought to finality”. The answer to that is, if the Minister is not satisfied with the speed at which claims are coming forward when he acquires a property, he himself is at liberty, under clause 26, to take action to have the matter determined by a court. So there seems to be no real object in imposing, in respect of the rights of individual owners, a time within which claims must be brought before the Minister.
It may also be argued that the Minister is keen to get before him all conflicting claims where two or three people claim an interest in land, and that, therefore, it is desirable to impose a time limit. Again, the Minister and the department seem to be perfectly covered by clause 19 (3.) (b), which reads as follows: -
Compensation is not payable to a person in respect of an interest in land acquired under this Act by compulsory process if -
the interest is inconsistent with an interest claimed by another person in respect of which the Minister has, in good faith, paid or agreed to pay compensation.
In other words, it hardly seems necessary to prescribe a time limit when the Minister is covered in that way. In any event, if it is still regarded as desirable to impose a time limit within which property owners must make their claims, then I hardly think that any extension of time should be completely within the discretion of the Minister; because if our purpose in this legislation is to protect the rights of individuals, and I imagine that this Government is eager to do so, then it is delivering the individual, metaphorically speaking, into the hand of ministerial discretion, and that, I think, is an undesirable feature. At the very least, if the time limit is set, it should be open to the court before which the claims are decided to allow such further time, according to such justification as’ is advanced to it, within which a claim may be presented. I suggest that the Minister should examine that particular clause.
The next clause to which I direct attention deals with interest rates. This subject has been mentioned by the honorable member for Corangamite (Mr. Mackinnon) and the honorable member for Werriwa (Mr. Whitlam). I agree that the rate of 3 per cent., which is fixed by this bill, seems to be too low. The point that has not yet been mentioned is that the court can order a higher rate of interest in the terms of clause 28 if, in the opinion of the court, just terms of acquisition require a higher rate of interest. But I think that, if it is the desire of the Minister to speed up the acquisition of land and property, and the payment for it, a higher rate of interest should be an incentive to the department. I agree that the Minister, if he sets the rate of interest too high, may deter persons from pressing their claims, because they may have a very good investment; but in some way or other, a balance could be struck. This matter would be suitable for examination by the select committee to which I have already referred. ‘
Another point that I wish to raise is possibly rather a technical one. It deals with the question of conflicting claims, particularly in regard to mortgages, where land acquired by the Commonwealth is subject to a mortgage or other charge. Reference is made in clauses 41 to 44 to the rights of mortgagees. In all cases, it is suggested that the moneys due to mortgagees will be paid by the Commonwealth. This point requires very careful consideration, because it could possibly hal)Den that moneys may be due but not recoverable at law. In other words, if the Statute of Limitations had expired in regard to interest or other moneys payable under a mortgage, it would be a most peculiar incidence of this legislation if those moneys due but not recoverable at law were to be revived by the acquisition of the land by the Commonwealth. [ suggest that the Commonwealth must take care that it does not do anything to make money recoverable between two parties which would not otherwise be recoverable. As I have said, this is a technical matter. I suggest that it would be appropriate for consideration by a select committee.
I also desire to refer in somewhat greater detail to clause 48, which deals with the disposal by the Commonwealth of land which is no longer required for immediate use by it. Reference has been made by the honorable member for Corangamite to the Crichel Down case in England, in which it was established as the policy of the government at the time that, in future, there would be no transfers of land from one government department to another but that so far as possible the land would be sold back to the former owner at current market prices as assessed by the district valuer. The responsible Minister of the day, Sir Thomas Dugdale, resigned over the matter. I note some variation between the suggestion of the honorable member for Corangamite and the policy of the British Government. The honorable member suggested that the land should be returned at the price at which it had been acquired, and the British Government proposed to return the land at the current market price. That is a matter on which I do not propose to comment, but, again, I suggest that it is a point which should be examined carefully by this Government - whether or not it is desirable to embody in the legislation a mere matter of policy of this particular Government, anil whether or not it is desirable to leave it free for successive governments to do things which we might now regard as oppressive and unjust. 1 think, when I make that statement, that I am speaking for the whole House.
The final point I wish to make is that nowhere in this bill is a direction given to the Government against the acts of future socialist governments, if there ever conies such a day, in regard to government instrumentalities. Imagine the Commonwealth Bank coming to a decision that the head office of the Bank of New South “Wales would make a desirable property for the purpose of carrying on its banking business. So far as I know there is nothing in this bill, or in any other legislation-
– Or in the Constitution.
– Or in the Constitution, to prevent, for instance the Commonwealth Bank from acquiring land and premises occupied by the Bank of New South Wales in order to establish a branch of the Commonwealth Bank. There are parallel cases in respect of airlines. So far as I know there is nothing in the legislation to prevent Trans-Australia Airlines from acquiring land and premises occupied by rival private airlines. The carrying on of such a business could be regarded, under the law, as a function of the Commonwealth, and after payment of compensation the airline, bank or other business concerned, which was so evicted, would be at liberty to carry on its business elsewhere, but it would, have been deprived of a substantial degree of its goodwill and have been put to a great degree of inconvenience. I appreciate that those ara matters which the court would have to take into consideration in assessing the compensation to be paid, but I suggest that there should be some distinction drawn in this legislation between land and property required for the legitimate purposes of the Commonwealth, as a government, and land or property that may be required merely for the purpose of a Commonwealth instrumentality. I mention that point because 1 consider that we on this side of the House, at any rate, are committed to a policy of protecting individuals and private businesses from unjust intrusions on their private affairs. I suggest that if any committee is appointed to examine this legislation, or indeed if that matter is regarded as a far-reaching question of policy, the Minister himself should take up the point with Cabinet, and agree to some protective measure being inserted in. the legislation.
The return of land after it has been acquired and then not needed for that purpose is a very live question, particularly in Western Australia at the moment. We have in that State a government which has done things in the name of land resumption for government purposes which are even more shameful than the actions of the New South Wales Government which have been the object of considerable criticism in this House. The Western Australian Government has embarked on large speculation in land. It has acquired huge areas of la.nd for housing projects at a nominal rate, and has established building schemes in which sites have been set aside for shopping areas, lt has later resold that land in shopping areas to people on the understanding that they are to have a complete monopoly of the business, and has then exacted a tremendous price by auction from the purchasers. In other words, the Western Australian Government has become a large-scale land speculator. There is a Case in my own electorate of land having been resumed for the purposes of a school thirteen years ago. There is no likelihood of a school being built there for many years. The person from whom the land was resumed has not yet been paid one penny in compensation. All those things show how necessary it is for us to be careful in respect of actions taken by governments in the name of a majority of the people;, which are oppressive to a1 minority.
– I suppose if the Western Australian Government sold the land at a loss in some of these cases it would be called incompetent?
– It possibly would, but. in any event that is the responsibility of that Government. If a government cares to embark on land speculation it should take the political consequences either way. I say that a government that does speculate in land should not be the winner all the time. I have, I think, sufficiently indicated the dangers of placing too large a power in the hands of any government, even though it does purport to act on behalf of the majority of the people.
– in reply - I wish to thank honorable members very sincerely for the manner in. which the bill has been debated in the second-reading stage. As I said at thebeginning of my second-reading speech,. I realize that this legislation will affectthe rights of, perhaps, 50 per cent, of the private citizens of this country. For that reason, copies of the bill, and explanations of its provisions, were distributed widely, not only to honorable members but also to the Attorney-General in each State and to interested bodies, for study during the parliamentary recess. As a result, I have received a certain number of suggestions from authoritative, sources. During the debate many honorable members have advanced other suggestions, some of which I think are valuable, and which I should like to consider carefully. Many of them might be incorporated so as to improve the measure. 1 think that it is the objective of every honorable member to try to make this bill a model lands acquisition bill for all State governments to follow. It is not within our power to compel them to do’ so, but we can at least try to set a good’ example.
The bill is mainly concerned with administrative matters. Any suggestions for improving the machinery of lands acquisition, other than those which have been already included in the bill will be. so far as I am concerned, very welcome.. I do not propose, therefore, to proceed with the usual method of debating the bill in committee at the end of the secondreading debate. I propose instead to move for the adjournment of the debate in committee on clause 1, so that honorable members who have made suggestions can have further time to consider the matter and arrange to submit amendments for discussion in committee.
There are one or two observations that 1 should like to make regarding some of the proposals that have been made by honorable members. One concerns the interest rate. That has always been laid down on the basis of the short-term bond rate, not on what might be said to be the long-term bond rate. The reason for that is that if the interest rate is too high some people have no real incentive to come to a. settlement, either by agreement or through court procedure, on the compensation to be paid. Therefore, interest has always been paid on the short-term bond rate values. That principle was recently upheld by the High Court in a case in Sydney, I think it was the Grace Brothers case, concerning property which was acquired during the war. I think there is considerable justice and value in the suggestions that have been made with regard to the disposal of property that the Government acquires, but does’ not use for the purposes for which it was acquired. I think, however, that some distinction must be made, for instance, between property required by the services for the purposes of defence and property acquired for other Commonwealth purposes. For instance, the Navy might consider it desirable to acquire a certain property in connexion with a harbour or port, which may not come into use for many years later. On the other hand, in the past acquisitions have been made for certain purposes, but in the long run policy has been altered, and buildings or projects have not been proceeded with. As a matter of ministerial administration I have been operating during the last two or three years on the basis that where a property had not been required for use within five years of its compulsory acquisition, the previous owner should have the first right to regain it at. a. reasonable valuation. However, when, a property has been sold by agree ment there is, perhaps, not the. same claim for priority for the owner, because he agreed to sell and received the price that he asked for the property. There, again, Ave may perhaps strike another administrative difficulty. If a provision to deal with such cases were inserted in the bill people would all decide to have their properties acquired compulsorily, because there would be no point in coming to a voluntary agreement. I mention that to show some of the technical difficulties with which we shall be faced if we put clauses of that nature into the bill. I do not wish it to be suggested, however, that I am against the inclusion of such provisions in the bill. If the Parliamentary draftsman can meet that position, and overcome the technical difficulties, I have no objection, and I do not think the Government will have any objection, to a. clause of that nature being inserted.
Various other suggestions have been made. The honorable member for Forrest (Mr. Freeth) made a suggestion regarding acquisitions by government instrumentalities. I have been asked by several government instrumentalities to acquire land compulsorily. On the principle of “ No names, no pack drill “ I shall not mention them by name. In most of those cases I thought the proposal was entirely wrong. They were trading concerns, and therefore, should operate in the same way as other trading concerns operate, and should not be able to acquire sites in the best positions in towns or cities, or anywhere else, just because the. Commonwealth has the power to acquire land for Commonwealth purposes.
– Was the Commonwealth Bank one of them?
– I have said, “ No names, no pack drill “. In some cases they asked for compulsory acquisition because there were difficulties in respect of the land title. That same difficulty applies to any other trading concerns which have to overcome it. I think that is another suggestion which is very reasonable, and should receive the closest consideration.
I do not wish to deal with all the suggestions advanced. I am merely mentioning a few of the outstanding ones.
As I have said, I propose that we adjourn the debate early in the committee stage in order to give honorable members an opportunity to consider the bill more carefully.
– Why not adjourn the debate at this stage?
– The honorable member was a member of the Victorian Parliament for as long as I was, and knows that in the Victorian House the debate is always adjourned at Clause 1.
Mr.SPEAKER.- Order ! The Victorian House is not concerned in this bill.
– I presume the method of procedure here is the same. In any event, as I am closing the secondreading debate, there will be no further opportunity for honorable members to speak on the second reading. I again thank honorable members for the excellent suggestions they have made and for the manner in which the bill has been debated.
Question put -
That the bill be now read a second time.
The House divided. (Mr. Speaker - Hon. Archie Cameron.)
Majority . .18
Question so resolvedin the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and committed pro forma; progress reported.
Sitting suspended from 6.8 to 8 p.m.
Debate resumed from the 20th April (vide page 54), on motion by Mr. Menzies -
That the following paper be printed: - Foreign Affairs and Defence- Ministerial Statement, 20th April, 1953.
Motion (by Sir Eric Harrison) - by leave - agreed to -
That so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent the Leader of the Opposition from making his speech without limitation of time.
– The statement of the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) on foreign affairs and also on defence demands a very critical analysis. I propose to enter upon that analysis to-night for the benefit of the Australian people, because I think they are entitled to something more than generalities or vague assertions. The Prime Minister certainly admits that we must constantly seek for peace, and he adds the qualification “provided that peace can be had with justice “. But be makes no attempt to apply this principle to the situation confronting the world to-day. He has no positive plan for promoting peace in South-East Asia, East Asia or elsewhere. On the contrary, his approach is almost entirely negative. It is the old method, the use of force. Of course, in self-defence force is required, but there must always be a readiness, a willingness and an eagerness to settle disputes without recourse to force.
The Prime Minister claims that he supports the Charter of the United Nations. In view of his public utterances during his period of office, he can hardly be reckoned as a very strong supporter of the United Nations, because he lias so often damned it with faint praise. I want to test the matter in this way. The Charter imposes on every member of the United Nations a definite obligation to settle international disputes by peaceful means. Then Article 33 provides that parties to any international dispute threatening peace or security shall, first of all, seek a solution by negotiation, or by inquiry, or by mediation, or by conciliation, or by arbitration, or by judicial settlement, or by resort to regional agencies or arrangements, or by resort to other peaceful means. A great variety of methods is suggested in that binding and primary article of the Charter, each of them connoting an attempt to prevent the necessity to resort to force. All those methods are to be regarded as conditions preliminary to the use of force being authorized or recommended by the United Nations. I say “ authorized or recommended” because the Prime Minister referred to the veto in the Security Council, which prevents the authorization of the use of force in the event of a veto by a permanent member of the Council. But the General Assembly of the United Nations’ may recommend action, and its recommendation, although not binding in the full sense, is treated as an authority to any nation to act within the scope of the decision of the Assembly.
During many previous debates, I have tried to point out that regional arrangements or agencies dealing with the maintenance of international peace in a region - arrangements and agencies which are now becoming fairly numerous - are unlawful unless their activities are, to quote the words of the Charter, “con sistent with the purposes and principles of the United Nations “. More than that, parties to regional arrangements are commanded by the Charter to use the regional agency in order to achieve a peaceful settlement, if that is possible. So it was and is the continuing duty of the South-East Asia Treaty Organization to observe these overriding mandates. So far, there has not been even a hint of Seato acting by way of the peaceful adjustment of disputes. Surely such peaceful settlement should go hand in hand with any. preliminary planning aimed, at the use of force in self-defence within the region.
In the present world situation, vastimportance attaches to the basic duty of all nations to seek the peaceful settlement of disputes. This applies whether the regional arrangement is regarded as being authorized by Article 52 of the Charter or by recourse to Article 51, which preserves the inherent right of individual or collective self-defence after an armed attack against a member of the United Nations has occurred. In short, both the clear words and the overriding spirit of the United Nations Charter are based upon the principle that military force is to be resorted to only as a last expedient, and that the rule of the Charter is to command the use of every possible means of conciliation and negotiation to prevent fighting. Even when armed force has been used, conciliation should always be adopted in order to bring the fighting, if possible, to a satisfactory end in accordance with the principles of the Charter.
This is not a matter of words. It is a question of fundamental policy. It should be Australia’s settled approach. Between 1945, when the Charter was signed, and the end of 1949 it was the policy of the Australian Labour party that Australia not only should assist attempts by the United Nations to prevent or stop fighting, but also should, where it thought fit, initiate United Nations action to do so. That was not only because, as a government and as a political party, we were pledged to the principles of the United Nations Charter, but also because, in a confused world endeavouring to adjust itself to new conditions brought into existence after the greatest war in history, we felt, as we still feel, that the life of every man, every woman and every child is an end in itself and should not he placed in jeopardy by the use of military force. No doubt the Charter does authorize collective action by force to repel forcible aggression by any nation but, to repeat what T said a moment ago, such United Nations action is a rule of last resort. It should not be undertaken rashly or -without investigation, and indeed should never be undertaken at all until every possible method of peaceful examination has been exhausted.
So, when the Prime Minister says, as he has said in his speech, that the Charter contemplates the use of force and therefore the existence of a nation’s military power, that is correct. But it is correct in part only. He quoted the part of the preamble to the United Nations Charter which declares that armed force shall not be used, save in the common interest. But the sentence from which that quotation, misleading by itself, is taken, should be read more fully. It shows the whole spirit of the Charter and proves the substance of the point I am trying to make. It is as follows : -
We, the peoples of the United Nations, determined to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war which twice in our lifetime has brought untold sorrow to mankind … to re-affirm faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person, in the equal right of men and women and of nations large and small and … to promote social progress and better standards of life . . . and for these ends to practice tolerance and live together in peace with one another as good neighbours and … to ensure, by the acceptance of principles and the institution of methods, that armed force shall not be used, save in the common interest, have resolved to combine our efforts to accomplish these aims.
That shows that the United Nations and its agencies are there to ensure, not only that armed force shall not be used, save in the common interest, but also that the principles and methods set out in the Charter shall constitute an assurance against resort to force. Therefore, while it is correct to say that Chapter VII. sets out provisions for the use by the Security Council of armed forces, the whole of that chapter ia preceded by and conditioned by Chapter VI., which deals with the peaceful adjustment and settlement of international disputes.
Contrary to the argument of the Prime Minister, the United Nations Charter puts peace and peaceful methods of settling international disputes as the first duty binding the member nations of the organization. It is about time that this more positive duty was given fuller recognition and put into regular and constant application. It is all the more necessary to emphasize it at the present time, when some people are speaking quite irresponsibly of the use of atom, hydrogen and other nuclear weapons by way of reprisal, retaliation or deterrent. I need say nothing of the sheer inhumanity of such weapons. I steadfastly believe that the evil we must all fight against is war itself, not merely the most outrageous and inhuman methods of war. Nevertheless the continuous threat exercising the minds of all men of goodwill is that, with .nuclear weapons, no one can assume that a small war will not develop into a world war, or that callous, evil or frightened men will not become “ trigger happy “ and, in order to prevent or win a world war, direct the use of nuclear weapons, thus sentencing humanity and perhaps the fabric of the world to complete destruction.
In any realistic examination of foreign affairs we must take into account the fact that we cannot go back to the way of peace or even to the way of war which existed before the first atom bomb was exploded at Hiroshima. We have reached, so to speak, a point of no return in world affairs. Those who drafted the United Nations Charter at San Francisco had finished their work in June, 1945, some months before the first atom bomb was exploded. It is said that the latest nuclear weapons may cause immeasurable loss of life, destroy or atrophy the generative functions of mankind, and wreak 25,000 times as much physical destruction as the tremendous devastation experienced at Hiroshima. It has recently been said that no effective civilian defence against such bombs is possible in “the greater and most beautiful cities of the world. That may well be true. But it is certain, that nian will never consent to be exiled indefinitely from the home he has won for himself and his family. This all adds up to the uttermost crisis in human affairs. Australia, as well as other nations, must face that fact. I now desire to cite the words of two of the greatest men of the atomic age. The first of those men is the late Albert Einstein, the great mathematician, and the second is Bertrand Russell, perhaps the greatest philosopher of this day. Just before his death Einstein said -
The unleashed power of the atom hae changed everything save our modes of thinking, and thus we drift towards unparalleled catastrophe.
It is the mind of man and his courage, initiative, perseverance and endurance which alone can save us. The present crisis of humanity must colour every question of international policy. Our modes of thinking have to keep pace with the developments of physical science, otherwise destruction will afflict not one nation alone, but all of mankind. Bertrand Russell has said -
For countless ages the sun rose and sst, the moon waxed and waned, the stars shone in iiic night, but it was only with the coming of Man that those things were understood. In the great world of astronomy and in the little world of the atom, Man has unveiled secrets which might have been thought undiscoverable. Fu art and literature and religion, some mcn have shown a sublimity of feeling which makes the species worth preserving. Is all this to end in trivial horror because so few are able to think of Man rather than of this or that group of men? Is our race so destitute of wisdom, so incapable of impartial love, so blind even to the simplest dictates of selfpreservation, that the last fruit of its silly cleverness is to be the extermination of all life on our planet? - for it will bc not only men who perish but also the animals and plants., whom no one can accuse of communism olof anti-communism.
I am well aware that the retort, implied if not uttered, of those who speak of massive retaliation by the use of nuclear weapons, is that we or our friends are invariably in the right and that it is always Russia or China which is really to blame. It is obvious that Russia and China have from time to time, whether in the councils of the United Nations or outside them, acted from injustice, folly and unwisdom. Nonetheless, those controlling the affairs of other countries, have also been partly to blame. It takes two to make a quarrel. It fakes many parties to make a cold war, in which material assets are so readily allocated to the manufacture of weapons of destruction which become either obsolete or obsolescent as soon as they have been completed. In international affairs, permanent blame and permanent error cannot be attributed to any one nation or group of nations. The instinct of selfpreservation and the dictates of common humanity show that to be true.
The war-time atrocities committed by our major enemies in World War II. are not forgotten by all. Yet to-day the Western democracies seek allies among those who between 1939 and 1945 were characterized as beyond human redemption. In that war, millions of Russians, more than the entire population of present-day Australia, were killed in action or died of wounds. The great leader of the United States forces, General Marshall, said that those men must have imposed their bodies between their homeland and the enemy and that largely by that means their nation survived. Barbarities and cruelties were committed in World War II. on so vast a scale that punishment for war crimes was, for the first time, adopted by conquerors. The truth is simple enough. In time of war
Ave witness sublimity of courage, fortitude and endurance to the end. Yet qualities of cruelty and wickedness also degrade some men to the level of the beasts.
The time has come when Australia, facing the possibility of a total war with nuclear weapons, should take the initiative within our area and within our jurisdiction, so far as it extends to help to bring peace to the nations of Asia and possibly the world. Such a war must injure or destroy us. The United Nations Charter not only tells us how international disputes should be settled, how international conflict should be averted or brought to an end, and how international aggression can be put down by collective action, but it also tells us how we. as a nation, should1 behave. Moreover, it indicates how every nation should behave. It is a code of conduct for the nations-, as well as being a charter.
A prime purpose of the United Nations is to develop friendly relations among the nations - I repeat those words - friendly relations among the nations. We are saddened by tragedies that occur in our own neighbourhood, such as the death of a child on the roads, but when disasters occur in other parts of the world such as at Hiroshima, and -thousands of people are killed, the tendency of mankind is quickly to pass over that affair and forget the distant scene.
The Charter regards all nations as having equal rights. It recognizes the basic right of peoples to determine for themselves their own government and the form of that government. It requires each member to settle its disputes with any or every other nation by peaceful means in order not to endanger international peace. There are many who claim, and I also refer to some Australians, that Australia can do little or nothing in international affairs. I deny that. I say that between 1945 and 1949 many disputes occurred in the world, and some of those were dealt with on a basis of justice and equity by the United Nations, and decisions were arrived at. In some of those disputes Australia took a prominent and sometimes effective part as mediator. We had no axe to grind, and we followed the light of justice and simple humanity. We were convinced that those whose lives were lost in faraway Palestine, or in nearby Indonesia, were just as precious to their own loved ones as were Australians killed in the desperate fighting in the two world wars, or in Korea.
Many of those disputes were settled or prevented by conciliation or agreement. People said - and governments in Australia will always have critics, even the present Government has some - “What has Australia to do with Israel and the problem of Palestine? “ It bad this much to do with it. that in the event of a. failure by the United Nations a general war throughout the Middle East might well have occurred,’ and Australia could easily have been involved for the third time in recent history. So, too, with Indonesia. Again we were criticized, especially by those who were quite ready to lay down the axiom that no colonial power should be permitted to hand over the right of
Dr. Evatt. selfgovernment to its colonists. In spite of the criticism we went on with the job. In the end conciliation triumphed. Probably that settlement saved a million lives in Indonesia. So, both Israel and Indonesia became members of the United Nations on the nomination of Australia. As it turned out, these were the last two nations admitted. Six years have elapsed, and not a single nation has since been admitted. That is largely owing to the bitterness and obstinacy of those who think that it is wrong to make a plain, sensible agreement with rivals or opponents in what is called a “ cold war “. But whether agreement is reached or not, the really unpardonable thing is to abandon the duty - the United Nations duty - of trying to settle disputes.
It is never wrong to try to settle disputes. One by-product of this sombre age, this mad era of “ cold war “ plus nuclear weapons, is that the top leaders of the great Powers have not met in council Together for nearly ten years. To me that omission is unpardonable. I have repeatedly advocated such meetings. 1 took the initiative to bring one. about in 194S-49 when I was President of the General Assembly of the United Nations, and acted in close concert with Trygvie Lie. Secretary-General, who did such a magnificent and non-partisan job for world peace, and received recognition from so few. I have always advocated meetings of the political heads of the great Powers in order to thrash out their differences around a conference table and try to reduce the area of disagreement. Those who demanded such meetings were disregarded. But two years ago Winston Churchill took up the running. He was supported by conservative newspapers which, until then, had frowned upon such meetings. So far no meeting has been held.
A study of the means by which the Churchill proposal was half-welcomed but gradually put into the temporary discard, will repay the careful student of international affairs. The Prime Minister’s speech completely failed to tak’; into account a spirit which is gradually sweeping the world of to-day as the implications of the atomic age affect and influence the most casual and the least imaginative. At times the fear of desperate ruin to man is succeeded hy the new hope based on the will of mankind towards peaceful co-operation. Bertrand Russell has said -
L would hu vo nien forget their quarrels fur a moment and reflect that, if they will allow themselves to survive, there is every reason to expect thu triumphs of the future to exceed immeasurably the triumphs of the past.
There lies before us, if we choose, continual progress in happiness, knowledge and wisdom. Shall we, instead, choose death, because «« cannot forget our quarrels? I appeal, as a human being to human beings; remember your humanity, and forget the vest. If you cun do so, the way lies open to a new Paradise; if you cannot, nothing lies before you but universal death”.
It seems to me that, in the plain and direct speech on world affairs that Mr. Attlee delivered at Vancouver on his recent lecture tour, he was inspired by the spirit of this age, which spirit I am trying to describe. He was frank and courageous. He struck the note of urgency as he warned of the danger of world war. That is the note that must lie struck. That is the note for which I believe the people are now listening, and which they want. He declared that the Western world must live with Communist countries. It has been living with them ever since the Russian revolution, and it will probably continue to live with them for many years in the future. It was Mr. Attlee’s belief that common ground with the Soviet could he found. At any rate, he said that he would continue to try to find it. He referred to the problem of Communist China, or continental China, which is just as good a description of it. Both terms are correct. If Mr. Attlee’s view is right - he said this in Australia, too - the new government of the continent has had success in important directions where Chiang Kai-shek has failed. However, Chiang Kai-shek remains in. possession of Formosa and tha two disputed off-shore islands. He does so, however - and I think this is a fair way of putting it - only by the grace of the great military and naval forces of the United States, which originally occupied Formosa as a military operation during the war in Korea. It seems that there is no reasonable chance to-day of the Chiang Kai-shek Government ever being able to resume the government of continental China. That fact, I think, can hardly be disputed.
On the other hand, the status o£ Formosa has not been made definitive by general agreement among the powers concerned, including the allies of World War II. At Cairo, in 1943, there was a meeting between the leaders of China, America and Britain, namely, Chiang Kai-shek, Roosevelt and Churchill. It was solemnly declared then that all of the territories that Japan had stolen from the Chinese, such as Formosa, should be restored to the Republic of China. Of course, that was not an international agreement, but it was a statement of intention of the allied leaders. Later, similar declarations were contained in the Potsdam agreement of 1945 and, later still, in the decisions of the Far Eastern Commission at Washington. Those declarations all showed, at that time, American agreement to the assignment of Formosa to China, but it must be added that the treaty of peace with Japan was deliberately silent on the point, and that Russia and China are obviously necessary parties to any agreement dealing with the problem of Formosa itself.
Some argue that Formosa is merely incidental to China, that it is part of Chinese territory, and that therefore the Formosan dispute is simply part of a civil war. I do not agree with that view, for the reality of the matter is that there is an important dispute in relation to Formosa because of the fact that the United Nations has come into the picture by its continuing agreements with the Chiang Kai-shek Government. The claims of Communist China must be resolved. Therefore, it is no longer merely a question of an incident in a civil war. Here, then, is a matter of supreme importance which is obviously one for the exercise of the United Nations jurisdiction. Even though the dispute between Communist China and ChiangKaiShek might be regarded as being a domestic dispute in the nature of a civil war, the stand of the United States could not be so regarded. Because of participation by the United States in the situation or dispute, it is clearly a matter of international concern, and, therefore, the United Nations could deal with it. Then this dilemma arises : If the matter comes before the Security Council or the General Assembly, who is to be the representative of the Republic of China which, under the Charter itself, is already a permanent member of the United Nations organization and of the Security Council? That raises a very complex constitutional question with which I. do not propose to deal, except to state that it is a matter fit for peaceful adjustment, in the first instance, before the Security Council, or, if that fails because of the exercise of the veto, before the General Assembly.
In the view of the Australian Labour party, an attempt should be made - this is not the first time such an attempt ha3 been suggested, and not the first time that it has failed - to reach top level agreement providing for the admission to the United Nations of all nations still awaiting admission. They would include Australia, Bulgaria, Ceylon, China, Finland, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Jordan, Korea, Libya, Portugal and Roumania. I mention only those thirteen nations; there are six or seven others. Their failure to obtain membership is the result, perhaps, of the exercise by Russia of its individual veto in the Security Council, because a nation cannot become a member of the United Nations organization except with the consent of all of the permanent members of the Security Council. Russia has exercised the veto against a large number of those nations. But equally so, the Western powers, to some degree by way of reprisal, have refused admission to membership to nations closely associated with Russia or satellites of Russia. Although, I suppose, the origin of this very prolonged and wretched dispute as to membership is not of the slightest importance, the long dead-lock has gradually brought the United Nations into some disrepute. That organization was established as a genuine world organization, and to-day it certainly requires the additional members to add to its stature and strength as a representative world society. That is what it was intended to be, and that is what it must be made. If all rejected applicants were admitted, no doubt Russia would gain a few supporters or adherents. On the other hand, the balance in the General Assembly would not be disturbed because, if Russia obtained three or four or five supporters, the Western powers would probably have ten or eleven or even more supporters.
With regard to admission to the United Nations, it seems preposterous to challenge China’s title - and I am speaking of continental China or Communist China - to United Nations membership when the nations of the -world, including even the United States, are continually engaged in some sort of negotiations with China, not directly but indirectly, sometimes through the United Nations secretariat, and sometimes through some other nation, such as Great Britain, which has diplomatic relations with China. The solution of the problem of individual recognition of China is one for each country concerned. The decision of the Australian Labour party is that the first step towards clarifying China’s status is to take action, through the United” Nations, to advocate the admission of all those nations that have been rejected, most of them frivolously, because, in view of their status in the world, they are entitled to admission. In that way, the United Nations would become, as it should become, what Senator Vandenberg described as the town meeting of the world where everybody may be heard. I believe that that would contribute a great deal toward.* the easing of world tension.
But far deeper than the question of recognition, judicially or diplomatically, of China by the United States is the important question of the attitude of the people of the United States towards the people of China. The interest of America in China has been active and friendly for many generations. The United States was one of the few great powers whose deliberate policy it was to minimize, or to oppose, the attempts of European nations and of the Japanese to take control over, or to seize, vital areas in continental China during the last century and the early part of this century. In the nineteenth century, we find France, Germany and Russia, and, to a lesser degree, Great Britain, exercising sovereignty or control within China and extracting special concessions from the corrupt Manchu dynasty, including the right of special concessions in matters affecting the particular foreign country. Later, we find Japan guilty of flagrant aggression in Korea, and making demands far bolder and more brutal than those of any European country. Owing to defeat in World War I., German interests in China were replaced by those of Japan, which, at the same time, succeeded to Germany’s interests in the Pacific and became the mandatory power for all of the ex-German territories north of the equator. European encroachment in China throughout that .period was quite unjustified when, looked at historically. It was not colonialism in the ordinary sense; it was’ just that one nation went in and therefore all the others had to go in. That was the good old rule, the simple plan.
Then we find that Japanese aggression followed in Manchuria in the north, and later in -the south. In the north, the League of Nations failed to act, anc! throughout that period the one nation - one amongst all, we might say - that showed any spirit of practical friendship and co-operation to the people of China was the United States. During the Boxer rebellion, indemnities had to be paid. All the nations which obtained the indemnities collected the money. The United States allocated the money liv the grant to Chinese students of scholarships which were tenable in American universities. That explains the enormous influence of . American learning and culture on the people of China. It came to its finest- flower, I think, during the presidency of the late President Roosevelt. To America, it was not a question of the composition of the Chinese government. Nobody could say that the Manchu Government was anything but one of the most corrupt governments in the history of China - and that is saying a great deal. But the American people and the American Government looked behind the Chinese Government to the Chinese people, and did everything that they could to help them. Two Australians played some part in those crucial years. One was a very great Australian, Dr. Morrison, known as “ Chinese
Morrison “, a correspondent of The Times, who became an adviser to the President of the Chinese Republic in 1911. The other was a newspaperman, Mr. W. H. Donald, who was an adviser of Chiang Kai-shek in his early days. They became famous. What were they? They were disinterested advisers of Chinese governments, seeking entirely the good of the people.
President Roosevelt, during his second period of office, adopted towards China a policy which, in effect, continued that of all his predecessors, republican, democratic and otherwise. The question of admission to the United Nations, in -a sense, is vitally important to the dignity and the self-respect of nations. Good relations between the people of the United States and of China would provide one of the master keys to world peace, especially in South-East Asia. I believe that events are moving towards that end. They do not move quickly, but I believe that a situation in which good relations between the United States and China exist may come again.
That is the most important problem raised in the Prime Minister’s speech from the point of view of international affairs. I turn from that problem now to the situation in Malaya. The position in Malaya has some analogies with the position in Indo-China. In my view the intervention of substantial armed forces might well exacerbate the Malayan situation. What is Malaya’s history? For generations the British possessions in Malaya were administered as a trusteeship, and steady progress marked the discharge of that trust. That situation was disturbed by the Japanese occupation of nearly four years. Resistance forces were organized in the jungle and did excellent work against the Japanese. In the resistance organizations Communists became active, and their activity was actually encouraged over a considerable period by the British forces. Many of the Communist resistance workers became the core of the guerrillas and rebels when they refused to disperse. I do not at the moment deal with the early part of their history and the question of rehabilitation and gratuity. Those matters are discussed in several books to which I shall refer later.
As I have stated, the situation in Malaya is similar to that in Indo-China, where Vichy France virtually invited the Japanese to enter. The Japanese occupied the country, and during their occupation a genuine nationalist resistance movement, which supported the allies and fought the Japanese, came into being. As it was a nationalist movement, its members after the war, were at first concerned only with attaining self-government. Why should they not have it? President Roosevelt and Mr. Churchill, as he then was, in October, 1941, signed the famous Atlantic Charter, the terms of which were not limited to the Atlantic countries. The document was called the Atlantic Charter because it was signed on a ship in the Atlantic Ocean. In substance, the charter promised the peoples of the world who were seeking self-government that the allies would grant self-government, not necessarily automatically. The allies assured those nations that that was their aim. During the war there existed in Australia an organization concerned especially with what was termed psychological warfare. This term embraced the dissemination of information, the dropping of propaganda leaflets, and the like. From Australia, from India, and from all places where .British, American or Australian forces were stationed, those promises of support for the cause of selfgovernment were repeated. The people of Indo-China believed that those promises would be kept. The gravest blunder in Indo-China, as we now know, was that of - delaying year after year. Gradually the Communists seized control of the nationalist forces and the consequence was the tragic events that occurred in Indo-China when the promises made by the great allied war leaders were not kept.
What would have happened in India, Ceylon, Burma, Pakistan and Indonesia., which demanded the right to govern themselves, had they not been granted self-government? The situation would have been a thousand times worse than that in Indo-China. We must remember the promises that were made to the people of Asia. During the war, we broadcast to them appeals to ignore the promises of the Japanese in relation to their so- called co-prosperity sphere in Asia, and promised that we would grant them selfgovernment in accordance with the terms of the Atlantic Charter. The assurance was not left there, but was incorporated in the United Nations Charter in terms that admitted of no doubt. The promise was not absolute. The claim had to be established. But that was the spirit of both the Atlantic Charter and the San Francisco Charter of the United Nations.
I have tried to establish that there are some resemblances - the situations are not entirely the same - between the position in Malaya and that in Indo-China. Writers such as -Mr. Justice Douglas, of the United States Supreme Court, Mr. Purcell and Mr. Vernon Bartlett, who all are recognized authorities on Malaya, refer to that resemblance in their writings on Malaya. As I have stated, the guerrilla warfare began. In 1953, the Singapore correspondent of the London Times stated that the position had reached stalemate. There have been steady losses by the guerrillas in the fighting, but the number of guerrillas apparently has remained almost stationary at between 5,000 and 6.000 men. Organized against them, though indirectly rather than operating directly, are 50,000 British troops, 20,000 regular police, 55,000 special police and 250,000 home guards, a total of 375,000 armed mon. There is no doubt that the guerrillas are now led by Communists, and doubtless they receive support from secret societies; otherwise they could not continue. Enormous armed forces are devoted to the task of crushing the guerrillas by force, but in spite of this effort the numbers of the guerrillas remain approximately the same. General Templer referred to that fact before he left Malaya.
The Prime Minister erred in describing the Chinese engaged in guerrilla activities in Malaya as foreigners or immigrants who have recently arrived in the country. That is not the position. The Chinese were early settlers in Malaya. They settled in the Malayan Peninsula before the first colonists came to Australia in 17S8. It seems to be generally acknowledged that most of those Chinese regard Malaya as their permanent home
This does not mean that they get on particularly well with the Malays. Internally, the outlook of the Malay races and the Chinese who regard Malaya as their home differs.
As I have stated, during World War IT., in the organized broadcasts to all territory in South-East Asia occupied by the Japanese, self-government was promised to the people of Malaya. Those broadcasts regularly reached the resistance forces in Malaya. They referred repeatedly to the promises of Churchill and Roosevelt in relation to independence or self-government for the countries of South-East Asia, and they denounced the Japanese co-prosperity sphere as a complete sham in comparison with the democratic self-government that would follow upon allied success. Doubtless, some of the broadcasts were more extensively qualified than were others, but the spirit of the message was broadly as I have outlined it. Vernon. Bartlett, who writes conservatively, suggests that the experiences of South-East Asian countries since the war show that -
Once the demand for complete independence reaches a certain temperature it is both stupid and criminal to resist it; resistance may involve all the misery and intolerances of a revolutionary explosion.
Bartlett applied those observations to Malaya. It is equally true that the Government in control of dependent territories should not relinquish its responsibilities until there . are persons able and ready to take over the government and administer it efficiently. These are the real questions that face Malaya to-day.
Purcell’s study of Malaya deserves special consideration. Purcell, who is a person of outstanding experience, has been denounced by the Communists as the apologist of imperialism. He was wartime Director-General of Information, and in that capacity ho always broadcast assurances that Britain would help Malaya towards nationhood. In 1950, Purcell visited Malaya, and on his return there in 1952 he regarded the clock of progress as having been stopped until the guerrillas were destroyed. Purcell name to the conclusion that a fatal error had been made in 1952 by treating the clearing up of the guerrilla fighting as only a military problem, and not as a social or economic problem, and still less as a political problem. His judgment was as follows: -
The result was a complete departure from the traditions of a century and a half in which the British possessions and protectorates in Malaya had been administered as a civilian trust and not as a. strategic outpost in the cold war.
A trust for the benefit of the people or a strategic outpost in the cold war ? Which is it to be? Australia’s choice between those two alternatives should be in favour of regarding it as a civilian trust, though it is not directly a matter of our responsibility.
T suggest that Purcell’s view is convincing. In his opinion ‘the strongest links in the chain of resistance to Communist expansion in South-East Asia were the independent nations such as India, Burma and Indonesia. India and Burma received their independence from the Labour Government of the United Kingdom, and Indonesia received its independence, through the United Nations, from the Dutch. On the other hand, the weakest links in the chain were those directly controlled by a colonial power, such as Indo-China before the recent settlement of the war there, and Malaya. The independent nations resist foreign interference and control, whether it comes from the East or from the West. Purcell concluded that if the present policy of concentration on military success against the guerrillas continues, Malaya may well become another China instead of a nation like India. This is the view of an experienced person who has studied the problem. Much the same point of view was expressed by Sir Cheng-Lock Teng, president of the Malayan Chinese Association, who was knighted by the late King George VI. for his public services, and who said early last year that Malaya had made no appreciable advance towards responsible self-government. This gentleman, who is anti-Communist, added -
The answer to Communism in Malaya wau to provide a government that is satisfactory to the people . . . This responsibility rests on the Metropolitan power who controls Malaya and the sooner it is met the longer will be her stay in this land . . . The minor benefits that an autocratic form of government. like the one in Malaya, confers on the country will never compensate for the spiritual degradation it involves.
Throughout South-East Asia many people have achieved self-government. No one could justly say that the people of Malaya, and particularly those in the area about Singapore, are not just as much entitled to self-government as are the people in other areas in Asia. They have just as much capacity for selfgovernment and they are entitled to it broadly in the same form. Purcell pointed to a similar conclusion when he agreed that Britain’s existing relations with India and Ceylon are a fair model for her relations with the Malaya of the future. He added -
But since the hour is late and there is not time for the gradual processes which have fashioned the constitutions of India and Ceylon, it will, in a race with Communism, be necessary to expedite the passage of Malaya towards self-government.
Here is the civil service position in Malaya. In a special article in the London Times towards the end of 1953. it was stated that there were 239 permanent British officials in the Malayan Civil Service, nearly 1,000 in other departments, 486 officers of police and 695 police lieutenants. In the whole of the Malayan Civil Service there were only 64 Malays and no Chinese. The Australian Labour party is satisfied that the proposed use, as outlined by the Prime Minister in his statement, of Australian armed forces in Malaya at present will gravely injure our relations with Malaya and her Asian neighbours. The guerrilla operations in Malaya have lasted for years. The eventual settlement or agreement seems certain to take the form of some amnesty and rehabilitation plan for those whose home is in Malaya. That was done in the Philippines where the rebels, the Huks, finally agreed to surrender and come in on the promise that they would be given an amnesty and would be settled on the land. The alternative of continuing operations in Malaya until every guerrilla is killed or disposedof is not in accordance with the best British tradition.
Australia’s true role in South-East Asia will not be helped but obstructed by the present proposal to send our armed forces to Malaya, either for garrison duty or to
Dr. Evatt. take part in jungle fighting. This will lead only to acute misunderstanding between the Asian peoples in Malaya and Australia. It will be easily misrepresented as an act of aggression. In fact, it will be an unnecessary demonstration and, indeed, an act of folly, possessing no real value at the present time. It was stated recently that 278 trade unions in Malaya have expressed strong opposition to the introduction of armed forces from Australia and New Zealand.
The Prime Minister also announced that he contemplates that on the outbreak of a general war in South-East Asia, Australia’s contribution will be of the order of two divisions. If that is so, the total military personnel could number nearly 100,000, allowing for supporting troops. That estimate has been published. I do not know whether it is correct. It may be an over-statement. At any rate, the military personnel that will be involved will be much greater than 40,000, which is the strength of two divisions.
– Where did the right honorable gentleman get that figure ?
– Can the Minister for Defence (Sir Philip McBride) tell the House the exact figure?
Honorable members interjecting,
– Order ! I am going to insist that the Leader of the Opposition shall be given an uninterrupted hearing.
– I obtained the figureI mentioned from an article by a military commentator that was published recently in a leading Australian newspaper. We do not know the correct figure, but the Minister will give it to us at the right time. What I say is that by the present arrangements the question of the employment of Australian forces may well be determined in a way which will be both unsatisfactory and almost irrevocable in the situation that may confront Australia. The argument that Malaya is the area in which Australia must be engaged militarily in the event of a third world war is unconvincing. It begs the whole question. It would be far preferable for Australia’s basic forces to be trained in Australia, or in Australian territories, which extend to the equator. Under modern conditions, they should be capable of being airborne to the area that matters most. In Malaya, similar mobility may become difficult or impossible! From a strategic point of view, the commitment of Australian forces to Malaya may put them out on a limb, and such vulnerability could turn out to be disastrous.
The problem of the guerrillas in Malaya is entirely outside the scope of Seato. It is not covered in Article IV. (1.) of the treaty, because no case of aggression by means of armed attack has taken place. In such cases, all measures must be reported to the Security Council, but such action is not even contemplated. In the case of other forms of attack, Article TV (2.) of the treaty requires consultation between the parties, but such consultation is not even alleged to have taken place. Nothing is more unreal than the Government’s propaganda in an attempt to justify the Malayan move as establishing Australia’s first line of defence 2,000 miles from our shores. This is where I should like an examination to be made by those experienced in military planning in order to see whether this i3 a sound move. Apparently, the Government thinks that it is better to fight 2,000 miles away than to defend 0111’ shores. To a degree that is true, but when such a doctrine is applied in time of peace by a nation with our limited resources, it is certain to be regarded as provocative. If it is right for Australia to establish a strategic reserve ‘ 2,000 miles away to guard against possible aggression from the Kra Peninsula, directed presumably from China, what would be said if Indonesia, China and other Asian nations made a pact similar” to the Seato pact? Would it be right for China to allocate armed units by arrangement with Indonesia in order to forestall possible military operations from Australia? Such a situation seems absurd because we would regard it as unthinkable and highly provocative to us. Therefore, we must not be surprised if Asian nations outside Seato regard what we propose to do in Malaya as being provocative or even aggressive in intent. We know that it is not, but some Asian nations are not of the same mind.
Similar illustrations may be multiplied indefinitely. Suppose a nation stations powerful forces 2,000 miles away from its own shores. It stands to reason that the possible enemy may regard such action as justifying the despatch of its forces 2,000 miles away from its shores in the opposite direction. If this practice were applied generally there would be almost a certainty of military collision and an implied threat to the peace, possibly warranting United Nations intervention. I admit that the analogy is not, perfect, but it is clear enough to show that, if one nation can advance its forces 2,000 miles against a possible enemy, then that possible enemy may with equal logic and apparent reason advance its defence line to the same degree providing it secure* the consent of the nation where the advance line is to be situated. Is this not the point? The trouble about advance allocation of substantial military forces is that other nations might do exactly the same thing and for similar reasons. We read about the dispute that has arisen over the islands of Matsu and Quemoy, where the concentration of Chinese Nationalist troops is regarded by China as being aggressive. In the case of actual or immediately threatened warfare the situation may be entirely changed. Action of the kind now proposed before there is war, or an immediate threat of war. will be regarded in Asian countries as unnecessarily provocative.
The Prime Minister was studiously vague when dealing with the recruitment of two divisions and supporting troops in time of war. He said -
The Government has quite deliberately adopted a policy which may be a new one for Australia in time of peace but which every other modern nation, at risk has long since regarded as elementary.
Therefore, it is proper that the right honorable gentleman should indicate clearly to the House the method of enlistment or recruiting- that is contemplated. We are asked, in effect, to approve of the Government’s war-time, as well as its peace-time, plan. Does the Government propose to introduce compulsory service for these troops overseas?
What is urgently required in Australia is a complete overhaul of the Air Force and, indeed, a review of the entire defence organization. During the past few years hundreds of millions of pounds have been expended on defence. There is very little to show for that expenditure in the form of modern equipment. Is the Government serious about the danger of nuclear bomb attack on our larger cities? If it is, what decision has it arrived at? The Chifley Government commenced to establish a civilian defence organization towards the end of 1949. Since then, this Government has not done a single thing to implement civil defence plans either alone or in cooperation with the States. Indeed, State Premiers who have asked for information about this Government’s plans have not even received a reply to their request. That is how the Government views this problem. An examination of these matters should be made immediately. If the Government is serious about nuclear attack on Australia, it seems to be almost nonsensical to establish our strategic reserve so far away from Australia instead of allocating it to Australia, or our vital island territories which, as I have said, extend practically to the equator. Mobility is a two-way argument. There must be mobility within Australia; and it is just as short a dash by air from Australia to Singapore as from Singapore to Australia.
I entirely, repudiate any suggestion that Labour’s- defence policy is based on isolation or selfish regard for our own interests. Labour’s war-time record speaks eloquently for the rejection of such a. doctrine. I also remind the House of Labour’s attitude towards the war in Korea. If an authoritative United Nations declaration is made either by the Security Council or the General Assembly, Australia would rightly act in accordance with its legal or moral duty to join in collective action to repel aggression. But it is a very different thing to send our armed forces to the Malayan area now when, by doing so, we shall tend to commit our forces in advance without regard to the changing situation. Resentment and local nationalist feeling are almost always stirred up where foreign or overseas soldiery is stationed in another country, particularly in an Asian country. Australia should preserve a policy of paying full respect to the feelings and dignity of all Asian nations and people. Positive assistance to them in the march towards selfgovernment is the best weapon against Communist infiltration or expansion. This is proved by the success of the action that was taken by the British Labour Government in India, Ceylon, Pakistan and Burma and by the success of the action of the Chifley Labour Government in assisting the United Nations agencies in negotiating the grant of selfgovernment to Indonesia.
The Prime Minister referred to Seato in connexion with the Malayan proposals. He made a statement on the 1st April, but it was not brought to the attention of Seato until the 7th April, at what is called an “ informal meeting “ of council representatives. This “ informal meeting “ merely welcomed the decision of the Australian Government to seek parliamentary approval for participation by Australian forces in a strategic reserve to be established in Malaya. According to the Prime Minister, that shows that our Asian friends regard the proposals now being made by the Government as being “ most acceptable “. But nothing has been said about what other members of Seato are doing or are proposing to do. There has been no planning. Yet, that is the purpose of Seato. Therefore, it is clear that the Government’s plan to join in a strategic reserve in Malaya has little or no relationship to Seato. Otherwise, purely, it would have been discussed at Seato, not after, but before the decision was made, and some joint planning would have been considered ‘ and effected. Nothing of this kind has happened.
There is vagueness, too, in the reference made by the Prime Minister to the United States. President Eisenhower and Mr. Dulles- have agreed to the right honorable gentleman’s statement, but no precise obligation has been assumed bv the United States in relation to Malaya because the United States has always refused to be committed in any particular locality. As I read the statement, the United States, in reply to the Prime Minister’s expression of “ his hope to be able to look to the United States for military supplies on some basis to be arranged “ merely stated that it would take up the matter on an official level and would consider methods for improving the deficiencies in Australia’s equipment. That is a two-edged document. Australia and the United States agree that there is a grave deficiency in Australia’s Air Force. That justifies what I have already said about the need to make a complete overhaul of our defence services. But I infer from that correspondence that there is no intention on the part of the United States to contribute any of its armed forces to the Malayan area. That is United States policy, because President Eisenhower made it clear previously that he would not, in advance, commit a single United States soldier to the Indo-Ohina conflict. On the contrary, I draw the inference that the Prime Minister’s attempt to secure more specific undertakings from the United States proved a source of embarrassment, as, indeed, the language of the document itself rather suggests. T think, in the circumstances, that we are entitled to more precise information about when the planning for the Malayan strategic reserve arose. I infer that it arose well before the Seato agreement was entered into in September last.
The whole point about Seato is that the treaty contemplates consultation with regard to military planning before decision and not merely attempts to get approval afterwards. At any rate, I do not understand that other parties to Seato like Pakistan, the Philippines or Thailand are themselves prepared to allocate any forces to Malaya. That is the position with regard to the Malayan proposals. At a. later stage in the debate, I shall submit an amendment to the motion proposed by the Prime Minister, which will deal with the Malayan position and will express the disapproval of the House to those proposals. The point I wish to emphasize again is that at the present moment, in regard to Asia, we are awaiting and are entitled to a new approach based on the true spirit of the United Nations Charter. The main purpose of the approach should be positive and urgent action designed to conciliate and reduce or end differences and disagreements. Conciliation is of the life blood of the United Nations. From the begining to the end of his speech, the Prime Minister .does not mention the word “ conciliation “ or indicate the absolute necessity for Australia always to be ready to take the initiative in assisting the growth of independent nations in accordance with the promises of the Atlantic Charter of 1941.
With regard to the problem of disarmament, the control of nuclear energy and the prevention of the use of atomic and hydrogen bombs, Australia should be most eager and active in the field. One vital difference of approach is illustrated by the statement of the Prime Minister when he said -
We all devote much of our time to considering what we ought to do about the Communist powers. The real hope of the world will come when the Communist powers sit down to COlsider what the)’ are to do about us. . . . If there is to be peace, it must come from them.
I entirely differ from that approach. 1 > say that the real hope of the world will come only when all the Powers directly concerned, whether Communist or not, are prepared to sit down round a table to consider what is necessary to prevent war, or limit war, or effectively forbid atomic warfare, and help to maintain peace and prosperity for their peoples. I say, contradicting the Prime Minister, that if there is to be peace, it must come jointly from all the Powers, not merely from Communist Powers. There must bc consultation and conferences. In international affairs of to-day, it is impossible to regard the position as ever static. We have to note a statement made recently at the London conference by a representative of the British nations, that the Western Powers will negotiate only if they have overwhelming strength in the particular nuclear weapon mentioned, which was the hydrogen bomb. But the truth is that the overwhelming strength of to-day may, with the rapid march of science, be the relative weakness of to-morrow, and on the third day, the whole situation may change again, because as a new invention replaces an earlier one, so the power of the bombs becomes almost limitless. It is even hard to speak of relative strength when two opposed groups of powers each possess the means of destroying the other and annihilating mankind. I say that is why a new approach is needed, and needed so urgently. The situation is unique, and preconceived habits of thought must go into the discard in order to prevent world catastrophe.
The Prime Minister says that the people of Malaya will welcome these military arrangements. I dispute that statement. I think it is incorrect. No doubt the wealthy individuals and corporations will do so, but will the ordinary people regard our entry as other than an intrusion? How absurd it is to say, as Government supporters do, that what we advocate is simply the erection of Marello towers around our coast 1 That is the kind of man-of-straw argument that the Prime Minister puts up for the satisfaction of knocking over. Our attitude is not isolationist. I claim, on the contrary, that our attitude is both realistic and sound. Had the Australian position been more carefully planned, we should have been secure entirely from the invasion which so nearly beset Australia in World War II. Nonetheless, there is a healthy spirit of self-reliant Australianism in this country, and it is nothing to be ashamed of. I hope that public men will never be afraid to put the Australian point of view, and criticize foolish and provocative military proposals, regardless of the words in which they may be wrapped. What happened in rho crisis of World War II.?
Government supporters interjecting,
– I had to go to America to get the equipment we needed. In Australia we had only five tanks, and it was admitted by members of the then government that one brigade or division of Japanese could have overrun the whole >f Australia. That is why I went to America ; and when I went there I got the equipment, too.
I claim that in the crisis of World War LT. the Australian Labour party leadership helped to save Australia from Japanese invasion, notwithstanding the neglect of the defence of Australia and its territories which characterized the previous administration. To-day, there is a tremendous job to he done in modernizing our equipment. The statement of the Prime Minister in relation to United States equipment proves this beyond doubt. What happened in our struggle for survival against Japan? The Curtin Government had to insist upon the return to Australia of Australian Imperial Force divisions which vere stationed in the Middle East and had fought there. Honorable members who represented the then Opposition, and many of them now sit opposite, favoured the diversion of most of those forces to Burma. Had that proposal been adopted, with Rangoon under Japanese threat, our troops would have been lost, New Guinea would have fallen and the north of Australia must have been occupied by the enemy.
It was only by insistence and persistence on the part of the Labour Government, in the face of powerful and almost violent opposition from Sir Winston Churchill and from some leaders of the anti-Labour parties in Australia, that we succeeded in organizing the return to Australia of those veteran divisions. Was our attitude isolationist? No! It was Australian. But it was more than Australian because it had the approval of General MacArthur. “We were able to hold Australia; Australia became a base for the United States; and General MacArthur was enabled to go north and regain the territories which had been taken by the Japanese. Was that isolationist? No! It was a part of a sound plan for the defence of Australia and the adjoining areas. I think that must be remembered when we deal with the decision to station forces in Malaya.
The Australian Labour party is convinced that positive action must be taken to remedy the grossly inadequate understanding of Asia by Australia, and of Australia by Asia. Exchanges of visit.; between the countries have become essential. This applies to both official and unofficial visits. The Labour movement will seek direct contact with Asian countries, and will exclude no Asian country from such exchanges. But for the present sitting of the Parliament, the Australian Labour party would have been represented by official observers at the recent AfroAsian -Conference at Bandung. The proceedings of that conference have been of importance. The importance lies not so much in the decisions and recommendations that have been taken as in the fact thai there were exchanges on vital questions of world affairs, that differences of opinion were expressed, that colonialism was discussed and that dual citizenship in Indonesia was considered. Even on the question of West New Guinea, a point of view was expressed which should encourage Australia to try to negotiate with Holland and Indonesia a security and welfare pact covering the whole relevant area.
The significance of the conference lay in the expressed views and the obvious desire of those representatives to improve relationships between Asia and Africa, :ind other nations, including our own. L regret that no reference to this conference was contained in the Prime Minister’s speech. However, the Minister for External Affairs has welcomed the conference, and I agree with most of his statement on that matter. I attach special importance to that conference, because of the limited Asian membership of Seato. For that reason, it was especially important that nations at the conference, whether Asian or not, should have been offered the hand of fellowship from Australia. Their representatives should have been invited to visit this country as our guests. Similar visits, leading to active friendship, would have been helpful to the delegates to understand the approach of the Australian people and our desire for a lasting and just peace with all our neighbours in these parts of the world. The opportunity was missed. The Prime Minister said -
Glib words are occasionally spoken about “ peaceful co-existence “.
That statement is perfectly true. But glib words are used against the conception as well as in favour of it. Personally, 1 do not particularly like the phrase, because with regard to the peoples of Asia, mere co-existence is not enough. In the physically contracting world society of to-day, what is required is active co-operation between nations for the exchange of information, for the right of freedom to travel, and for the breaking down of all unnecessary and foolish barriers to understanding. This view which, after all, is merely the civilized point of view, is more evident, T think, in Great Britain than anywhere else in the world. I note that, recently, a British parliamentary delegation visited Russia under the chairmanship of a conservative member of Parliament. Visits of scholars, scientists and sportsmen to Australia should be encouraged to the maximum degree.
The good relations to be aimed at between Australia and Asian nations should include economic and material assistance. I consider that to be most important. I say that our relations must, and can, be based on a scrupulous regard for the self-respect and dignity of those Asian nations and peoples, many of whom have a civilization which has endured longer than our own. I believe that the Australian people, or, at any rate, the great majority of them, have that respect for our Asian neighbours, and I want to see the Government and the Parliament engaged in this debate on the exploration of avenues by which the peaceful objectives of the United Nations can be pursued, and we can establish a lasting friendship with all the peoples of Asia.
.- We have been subjected to a very long lecture, which has reduced a great many of us to pulp. The listeners who began at 8 o’clock have had the advantage-
-(Hon. Archie Cameron). - Order! No account shall be taken of anybody, except the members of this House.
– Very well. I think .1 may say that well may the right honorable member for Barton (Dr. Evatt) be called the Leader of the Opposition, because he seems to be completely opposed to what the majority of the Australian people are for, and to cleave to our critics in any part of the world, wherever they may be. I shall try, to the best, of my ability, not to be dreary in this speech. I think the best thing that T can do at the outset, in an endeavour to get this discussion back on to the rails, is to compare what we took over when we came into office five years ago in respect of our relations with Asia, and what exists to-day.
We took over no relations with Asia at all. The last Government had completely ignored Asia. “We had no relations of any sort with Asian countries. In those vital four years between 1946 and 1950 when we came into office, when Indo-China was rapidly getting into the grip of the Communists, we had no posts and no observers of any sort in the whole of Indo-China. No effort of any sort had been made in those fateful and formative years to find out what was going on, or to try to help the people in their travail under the lash of communism in SouthEast Asia. Not one thing! Since we have come into office, we have put good Australian diplomatic posts in Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand, Burma, Viet Nam, Laos, Cambodia and Japan. When we took office the Australian Government had no diplomatic respresentative of any kind in any of those countries. We have been desperately trying, in the last five years, to regain some of the time that was so tragically lost by the Government in which the Leader of the Opposition was a Minister. Not only that, but my officers and I have spent about one month of each year in travelling around the whole of the area. We now know SouthEast Asia very well. We realize very well that a great factor in SouthEast Asia is raising of the standard of living of the people. We know that there cannot be a contented people, and stability and peace, in that area, unless the economic situation is attended to and improved. We have done that through the Colombo plan, which was launched in 1950, this Government’s first year of office. It was launched on the initiative of Australia. We took that on ourselves as a responsibility, and it has progressed and prospered ever since. Would that something of that nature had been done in the four years that were lost before we came into office. Nothing had been done. We inherited a complete lack of relations with Asia, but by a vigorous foreign policy we have created good relations with Asia, which we are constantly improving.
Let me take some of the points, so far as one can pick them out, with which the right honorable gentleman dealt. He started by accusing the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) of neglecting entirely
Mr. Casey. any reference to the peaceful settlement of disputes. That statement makes me wonder whether the right honorable gentleman has ever read the Seato treaty. I shall read a few reference to peaceful settlements of disputes from that treaty itself. It commences -
The Parties to this Treaty,
Recognizing the sovereign equality of all the Parties,
Reiterating their faith in the purposes and principles set forth in the Charter of the United Nations and their desire to live in peace with all peoples and all governments,
Reaffirming that, in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations, they uphold the principle of equal rights and selfdetermination of peoples, and declaring that they will earnestly strive by every peaceful means to promote self-government and to secure the independence of all countries whose peoples desire it and are able to undertake its responsibilities.
Therefore agree as follows:-
The Parties undertake, as set forth in the Charter of the United Nations, to settle any international disputes in which they may be involved by peaceful means in such a manner that international peace and security and justice are not endangered, and to refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force in any manner inconsistent with the purposes of the United Nations.
Article VI reads -
This Treaty does not affect and shall not be interpreted as affecting in any way the rights and obligations of any of the Parties under the Charter of the United Nations or the responsibility of the United Nations for the maintenance of international peace and security
In many places in the Seato treaty there are definite references to our obligations in regard to peaceful settlement of disputes under the United Nations Charter, but the right honorable gentleman apparently has not seen them.
I think that I should tackle first the reasons for. the bringing into existence of the Seato treaty, which do not seem to be understood by the right honorable gentleman. The facts of life in South-East Asia are that no single one of the countries of that area would have any chance of maintaining itself, individually, against the political and military might of Communist China. If left to their own resources, those countries would fall one by one into the clutches of
Communist China. They know that very well. Their morale was low. They knew that, from the point of view of morale and of force they could not maintain themselves. It was a situation which obviously called for the doctrine of interdependence. That is the doctrine which was enshrined in the Seato treaty. That treaty does a number of things. First, it gives heart and hope and confidence to the individual countries of South-East Asia. They now know that it is worthwhile to resist communism. Before Seato they saw and realized the might of Communist China, and they did not think it worthwhile to struggle against it. The power with which these small countries were trying to cope seemed so immense that they almost gave up heart, and thought it was notworthwhile to resist. Seato gave them the confidence to get together and resist the Communist colossus from the north. The members of the South-East Asia Treaty organization are, amongst other things, helping the countries, particularly in the threatened area, to deal with Communist infiltration and subversion. Secondly, if an attack does come, the small countries in the threatened area are guaranteed the support of the other members of the organization, which includes most powerful nations outside the area. Seato also takes account of the economic situation in those countries, and the need to improve their standards of living. So far as Australia is concerned, these things are being coped with under the Colombo plan. The countries concerned know that if they are attacked they will have the combined strength of the most powerful individual nation in the world, the United States of America,, and of Great Britain, which still has very great power and substance, plus a number of other countries of which we know. The morale in the threatened countries has greatly changed. They now have some hope for the future where little or no hope existed before. Had there been no South-East Asia Treaty organization, that position would not have come about, and those nations would have fallen one by one, like ripe plums, when Communist China wanted to get them.
The backbone of the resistance to communism is. and will continue to be, the
United States of America, which has very large forces in the island chain to the east of the Asian continent. These American forces comprise no fewer than 400 naval vessels, including some of the most modern aircraft carriers, and a total naval personnel of 350,000. The forces also include 30 squadrons of jet aircraft of various sorts, and five army divisions, aggregating a total of 300,000 ground troops. Not far short of 1,000,000 men of the fighting services of the United States are in that great force, which is situated as a strategic reserve to be used when and where wanted, wherever pressure from the Communists may possibly develop. They are supplemented by forces of the United Kingdom, which are by no means small in that area, and the forces of the Philippines, Thailand and Pakistan, as well as French, Australian and ]STew Zealand forces. So what China must realize is that there are going to be no easy pickings if trouble starts in that part of the world.
That is a general sketch of why Seato exists. Let me say a word now about the situation in Malaya, which came under criticism from, the Leader of the Opposition. In the first place, I think 1 should give a short outline of the Malayan situation. The Malayan people are a multi-racial group in which Chinese and Malays are almost equal in numbers, and in which there are lesser numbers of Europeans and Indians and some others. The United Kingdom has promulgated a programme directed towards eventual self-government in Malaya, in respect of which responsible communal leaders of Malaya have found no real grounds for criticism. It has been regarded as a reasonable programme leading to selfgovernment for the not very distant future. Singapore now has an elected government, and the Malayan Federation elections are to be held in July this year. It may be asked why Great Britain cannot give complete self-government to Malaya and Singapore now. The simple reason is that the fabric of order, in Malaya, has been for the last six or seven years, under grave threat. Also a national spirit in Malaya, due to the wide variety of races. is only now beginning properly to develop. There has to be developed a community of interests, between Malays and Chinese in particular. That has been fostered by the United Kingdom and also through adequate communal organizations. The fact about banditry in the jungle is that there has been a resolute attempt to create chaos by a relatively small number, only a few thousand, Chinese Communist bandits in the jungle, ever since the end of the war. Their professed aim has always been, to create a standard type of Communist People’s Republic under Communist Chinese control in Malaya. They have been called terrorists, not for any particular propaganda purpose, but because they are terrorists. They have gone in for a campaign of cold-blooded terrorism directed largely against Chinese and Malays as well, of course, as against the British. The casualties inflicted by the Chinese Communist terrorists in the jungle have been very large. They have inflicted no fewer than 4,500 casualties on civilians in Malaya, mostly Asians, and largely of their own Chinese race. They have caused no fewer than 2,500 casualties among the Asian police in Malaya. Sixtyfive per cent, of the civilians they have killed have been Chinese. They have killed also a number of British people, but the great majority of people killed have been Chinese and Malays. The responsible leaders in numerous communities in Malaya have all realized very well that their only possible safeguard for the future is the big security force, maintained largely by Britain in Malaya, which is coping with the jungle Communists. The Prime Minister of India, Mr. Nehru, who has no great love for colonialism in any form, said recently in the Indian House of the People - the lower House of the Indian Parliament - that Malaya was a “ special case He was speaking of colonialism, and he warned the members of the House of the People against any idea that the problem of M!alaya could be solved by an immediate grant of self-government.
The simple fact is that the jungle terrorists are not Malayan nationalists. The terrorist movement is more than 90 per cent, a Chinese Communist movement. The terrorists are more than 90 per cent. Chinese, and are 100 per cent. Communist. Those are the simple facts of the situation in Malaya.
The Leader of the Opposition said there would be resentment if Australian forces were to go to Malaya. No resentment has been expressed by anybody of any consequence in Malaya as a result of the manifold suggestions made and published about Australian- forces being sent to Malaya. After all, we have had one squadron, and frequently two squadrons, of the Royal Australian Air Force in Malaya for a considerable number of years. There have been no expressions of resentment about that. The Malayan press has been full of references in anticipation of the stationing of Australian ground forces and other forces in Malaya, which have evoked no resentment from any responsible communal leader in Malaya. I think it is complete nonsense to say tha t there would be resentment, either in Malaya or the rest of Asia, if and when Australian forces go to Malaya.
As I have said, the British have, for a number of years, been moving towards self-government for the Malayan people. It is not possible to set a date when Malaya will get complete selfgovernment, but the movement is progressing, and nobody has any serious criticism to make of the rate at which progress has been made.
There is one matter which may throw some light on the situation, and which may not be known to honorable members. I refer to the fact that the United Kingdom has for some time been training a number of Malays in government departments in London, who will eventually form the body which will attend to Malayan representation in other countries when Malaya gets complete selfgovernment. They are training in London now, and I expect that before the end of 1955 we shall see in the United Kingdom High Commissioner’s Office in Canberra at least one Malay, working under the United Kingdom High Commissioner as the first representative of his country. That is a movement towards the creation of more direct relationships between
Malaya and other friendly countries, designed to function when Malaya achieves self-government. It is proposed that such Malays should be employed in the offices of United Kingdom High Commissioners in Australia, India and Pakistan. That is. the beginning of an external affairs service for Malaya, in readiness for the day when the Malayans get their independence.
We have, as is generally known, an Australian Commissioner’s Office in Singapore. The task of Sir Alan Watt, our Australian Commissioner there, is to watch Australia’s interests, not only in Singapore and Malaya, but also generally in South-East Asia. Our relationships and our business with the Federation of Malaya are increasing, and when Australian forces reach Malaya there will be even more business to do. With that in mind, the Government has decided to open an Australian office in Kuala Lumpur, a decision which has been greeted locally with satisfaction. Then we shall be adequately represented, not only in Singapore, but also in the Federation of Malaya. I may say that before the Prime Minister made his recent announcement that Australian forces would be sent to Malaya, the Australian Government advised Mr. Malcolm MacDonald of its intention. He, in turn, advised and consulted with the executive councils of Singapore and Malaya about the prospective presence of Australian forces there. No resentment was expressed.
I should like to deal with some of the other comments made by the Leader of the Opposition in his speech. He assumed that the presence of Australian forces in Malaya would create resentment. I am entirely convinced that there will be no such resentment. It is realized in Malaya, not only by the wealthy sections of the community, but also by the people generally, that the only thing that is saving them from malignant oppression by the Chinese Communist terrorists is the security force, which, as the Leader of the Opposition said, consists of many tens of thousands of people. It is very largely a British force. [Extension of time granted.-]
Another point made by the right honorable gentleman was that an amnesty should be granted to the Chinese Communist bandits. Under present conditions, very generous terms are offered to bandits in Malaya, who give themselves up, by an amnesty - which means a complete and absolute pardon in all cases - has not been granted. In view of the number of people, British, Malay, Chinese and Indian, who have been slaughtered under the most brutal circumstances by those bandits, I think it would be super-generosity if an amnesty were granted to those people. T believe the present conditions are fair enough. I think an amnesty would be beyond the limits of human generosity, and I do not believe that one will come about.
The right honorable gentleman said that, for reasons which he gave, he thought Australian forces would be resented in Malaya. I wonder whether he has ever thought about Nato, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. Is there any resentment in Europe at the presence there of very large numbers - vastly larger than the numbers contemplated in this case - of American, British and Canadian troops? There is no such resentment at all. In fact, they are regarded as people who are helping to save Western Europe from the possibility of being overrun by communism.
The right honorable gentleman said a number of times that he rejected the charge that Labour was. isolationist. I do not think the charge is quite so easily rejected. A red thread of isolationism, has been running through the fabric of Labour for a great many years. I know very well that isolationism is not in the mind of every Labour supporter. I know large numbers of Labour supporters who are not isolationists. But it is not a political exaggeration to say that the official programme of Labour has been heavily tinged with isolationism for a great many years. In fact, the right honorable gentleman revealed one aspect of the isolationism of Labour when he clearly resisted the conception of Australian forces being used outside Australia for the defence of Australia. We remember the struggles that went on inside the Labour party after 1940, when there was a move to send Australian troops to a limited area in the islands to the north of Australia. We remember what the right honorable gentleman said about Seato, about the situation in Indo-China, :i nd, more recently, about Malaya.
The doctrine that we can defend Australia from the shores of Australia is tinged with isolationism. The right honorable gentleman ridiculed what the Prime Minister said about trying to keep the enemy as far as possible from the shores of Australia. One of the basic doctrines of modern defence is not to wait until the enemy is on your shores and your homes are being destroyed before YOU take steps to defend yourself. You keep him at the longest arm’s length possible. That, quite simply is what we have been trying to do. When the North Atlantic Treaty Organization was first mooted, although it had no direct relation to the situation in Australia, it was resisted strongly by the Labour Government then in power in Australia, on the ground that it would be provocative to the Russians and was an encirclement of Russia. Those phrases were used then and similar phrases were, used about Seato.
The red thread of isolationism is revealed by statements to the effect that we can live our own lives in Australia, and let the rest of the world go by. If we made no attempt to help or. to co-operate with other peoples, we should be left alone if ever we got into trouble. We sometimes forget that we are a nation of only 9,000,000 people. We cannot defend ourselves by the strength of our own right arm. We must rely, first nf all, on the maximum defence force that we can create and organize, but that of itself will not save us from destruction.Therefore, we must rely also on the combination of Australia with the most powerful friends that we can find. We have found them, but Labour did not. With the United States and New Zealand, we are a party to the Anzus Treaty. With the United States, Great Britain and five other powers of consequence we are a party to Seato. This Government is doing everything possible to provide for the future safety of Australia. It has a first-class record, especially in view of what it inherited five years ago. We have worked fast and hard, on both the foreign policy side and the defence side, with the object of being able to look the world in the eye and say that Australia is carrying the burden it should carry. That will never be so if we rely on isolationist doctrines.
It is not an exaggeration to say that the speech delivered to-night by the right honorable gentleman was a disappointing speech, although I expect it will be received with acclaim in quarters from which Australia can expect no help or friendship in the future. One could say a. great deal more about it than that. The right honorable gentleman asked, in effect, why we had undertaken military commitments in peace-time, and why Australian forces were to be sent to. Malaya. The time-table of any future emergency provides the answer. The simple fact is that, important countries of South-East Asia could be overrun and destroyed if we waited until war broke out before we in. Australia began to raise, train, equip and despatch forces to that part of the world. The time-table of any future war, especially if it occurs in the area immediately to our north, is likely to be very different from the time-tables of past wars. If we do not get ready before the event, we shall not be ready when the event occurs, if unfortunately it does. We should be grossly negligent if we sat down in our tracks here in Australia and conducted ourselves in the way in which the right honorable gentleman says we should. The most remarkable pledge of co-operation that the Prime Minister got recently from the United’ States is something for which all decent Australians should be thankful.
– It is all words.
– I do not think the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) has read what was said. If we could get in peace-time from any other country words of more co-operation and more commitments than those, I should like to hear them. Anyhow, they are completely satisfactory to this side of the House, and I think they have given immense comfort to every thinking Australian. I conclude by saying that I hope and pray that Australian foreign policy and Australian defence will one of these days cease to be made the’ plaything of irresponsible and corroding party politics.
– The first thing I want to say is that on the important subject of foreign affairs it is quite possible for the policies of the Government and the Opposition to be in accord, lt is not necessary for the Opposition to oppose everything that the Government suggests should be done in the. field of foreign affairs. It is quite wrong to say that the Opposition must not agree with any of the Government’s proposals. E shall devote some of my time to showing that agreement is quite possible and that, whenever practicable, it should be accorded, lt is highly desirable that there should be the greatest possible measure of agreement on this important subject, because any considerable friction or difference of opinion assists and encourages the enemies of Australia and, therefore, is a danger to our people.
If the Leader of’ the Opposition (Dr. Evatt) were really sincere in his desire for a new approach to the subject of foreign affairs, he had plenty of time during the last three years to do something about it. He was invited by the Government to join the Foreign Affairs Committee, but he refused to do so. The Leader of the Opposition made a long and wearisome statement. I say that it was a statement of his own views, not a statement of the policy of the Labour party. The Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Casey) said that the Leader of the Opposition bad been following a policy in the fabric of which ran the red thread of isolationism. I think the Minister was quite right in saying that, but I say that the policy of the Leader of the Opposition does not represent and never has represented the policy of the Labour party. The book of the Australian Labour party, to which I subscribe, has not one word of isolationism in it. I say that the statement made by the Leader of the Opposition was his own statement, an invention by him. The hallmark of his work is that it assists the Communists, whatever else it may do.
There is always in it assistance for and sympathy with Communist ideas.
He opposes the sending of Australian troops to Malaya. I shall try to show that to send Australian troops to Malaya is the obvious, logical and sensible thing to do. The Leader of the Opposition opposes it. He says that we should abandon the base at Singapore. The long and wearisome speech that he delivered, which started off very much like a talk on the United Nations for girls of the intermediate class, ought not to be taken too lightly by “any one. But, as a matter of fact, it was part of the very vicious technique that he has constantly employed. He lulls every one into thinking that he is making grand speeches and putting forward ideas that cannot be denied, but underlying his method is the one objective of doing something to help the Communists.
His policy is not Labour policy, it is the policy of the Leader of the Opposition, and an offshoot of the Australian Labour party. The policy of the Leader of the Opposition was agreed to by an unconstitutional and unrepresentative federal conference of the Australian Labour party, a conference which was convened by an abuse of the rules of the party and a denial of the just right of appeal. I wonder why the Leader of the Opposition was nowhere about when all this occurred. I suggest that he was not able to be contacted on purpose. This great man, who observes the final point, of the law at referendums, this great jurist who supports justice and the need to obey the rules, was not about when justice was being denied. He was not there because he was not interested. All the facts show the worst of techniques, and that there was chicanery and manoeuvring of the worst sort. Behind all those tactics stood the Leader of the Opposition. “We have been warned, by the very rules of the Labour party, about the situation that has now developed. The honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) might have a good look at those rules, because I suggest that such an inspection would do him quite a lot of good.
– Listening to the honorable member for Ballarat (Mr. Joshua) will not do me any good.
– Order! The Leader of the Opposition was given an attentive hearing by the House, and I expect honorable members to give a similar hearing to the Leader of tie Anti-Communist Labour party.
– Resolutions of the 1 948 conferences of the Australian Labour party warned the members of that party of what they might expect. One warning was in these words -
The Communist pholosophy .uses evil falsehood and ‘chicanery as instruments of penetration and domination, ami members of the Australian Labour party are expected to forthwith equip themselves to deal with those instruments.
And that is what we have done in the formation of the Anti-Communist Labour party. It is the usual practice of the Communists to impose their policy from above. The policy of the true Australian Labour party sprang from the people, and was not imposed from above. The present policy of the Australian Labour party lias been imposed by the Leader of the Opposition from above. It is his own policy, and he arranged things so that it would have to be accepted by the Australian Labour party. His idea, of course, was to bind, those honorable members here, by mere party pledge, to support his policy even though they had no wish to do so, and even though it was a policy with which they could not agree.
I challenge the Leader of the Opposition to say whether all the members of the Australian Labour party agree with his policy. I must say that the members of my party all agree with my policy. The Leader of the Opposition knew that his policy would not be acceptable to any properly constituted federal conference of the Australian Labour party, and so he remained in the background and took no part in sorting out the rights and wrongs of Labour ideas and in ensuring that the members of the party got a proper and just hearing. There is considerable agreement between what the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) said in his speech on foreign affairs, and the policy of the Australian Labour party. I again refer to the rule of the Australian Labour party which embodies the true Labour plat form on international affairs, to which. I subscribe. The rule reads, inter alia -
The Labour party believes in steady and unwavering support for the United Nations and for the purposes and principles declared in the United Nations Charter.
In his speech on international affairs the Prime Minister said that the Government’s policy was -
First, support for the United Nations and its Charter.
That, of course, is true Labour policy. Another principle of the Australian Labour party is -
Joint action by the British Commonwealth of Nations to bring about peace in the world based on justice and better conditions of lift’ for all peoples.
Let honorable members now listen to the Government’s policy. The Prime Minister said -
We support and closely co-operate with the British Commonwealth which existed before the Charter, whose strength is vital to the maintenance of the peace, and which offers no challenge to the United Nations, since it has for years acted through that body and in con formity with the spirit of its Charter.
The similarity between the Government’s policy and the policy of the true Australian Labour party is almost precise. A further point of Labour policy is -
Active promotion of economic welfare and improvement of living standards throughout the world.
I again draw attention to what the Prime Minister said -
We must seek to raise living standards not only for ourselves and for all those other nations which have been struggling towards a life that we have been privileged to enjoy for a long time.
This similarity between the Governments policy and the Australian Labour party’s real declared p’olicy is quite evident throughout the speech of the Prime Minister, and therefore it is possible for the Opposition to agree with the Government on this important matter. I suggest that the Opposition should try to agree and not disagree, because its disagreement will give a great deal of assistance to the enemy. A further point from the real Labour policy is that -
The Labour party believes in . . . active co-operation with the governments of the Pacific and South-East Asia to assist in economic and political development of those areas by .means of regional arrangements and by meatus of direct technical educational and material assistance.
The Prime Minister said -
Good neighbour policies - these apart from normal friendly trade and commerce, express themselves in economic and technical assistance under the Colombo P 1 a .n by co-operation in cultural matters.
– Doe3 the honorable member support the Government ?
– The true Labour policy to which I subscribe is in agreement with the Government’s policy as recently set out by the Prime Minister. I suggest that it is desirable that there should he unanimity between Government and Opposition on Australia’s foreign policy.
Mr. Ward interjecting,
– Order ! The honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) can make the decision for himself whether he will remain in the House or not. If he offends against the Standing Orders again by interjecting, I shall have to name him.
– It is not only possible that the established policy of the Australian Labour party can agree with that of the Government, but it must also be assumed that much of the present policies are in agreement. There is no doubt that tile Leader of the Opposition is completely innocent of knowing what is necessary for the security of this country. Hi3 remarks must go down in history as completely unworthy of the leader of any party of any consequence. The establishment of Seato was particularly sensible, and Seato is not, as the Leader of the Opposition said, an organization that was established without proper planning.
The speeches that have been made for some considerable time in this House show that the Government has done some careful planning, and Seato is one of the organizations that has arisen as the result of that planning. The attitude of Communist China and Russia has always been aggressive. They are not peace lovers at all, and they have not shown any respect for the Charter of the United Nations. It is ridiculous to say that Communist China should be admitted to the United Nations, while we have before ns the record’ of a Communist country that is already a member of the United Nations. It is quite apparent that Russia has not fulfilled the requirements of the United Nations, and that if that country applied for admission to-day it would not be able to gain it. It was a mistake to admit Russia to the United Nations, but the proposal of the Leader of the Opposition now is that a similar error should be made by admitting Communist China.
One of the important things about Seato was the enlargement of the scope of our defence operations. Seato was entered into with deliberation and care, and was important to the defence of this country, because it enlarged the scope of our operations. No general staff would ever consider that Australia was properly defended if it had such an enlargement of the area of defence and could not devote some attention to the matter of where it should place its forces. There is no doubt that what the Leader of the Opposition said about sending troops to Malaya, and his observations about a reciprocal move on the part of Communist China, are completely absurd. He does not know anything about modern trends in fighting, and I say that with some experience.
It has been established that if we should be involved in war, and we have bases behind the enemy, we shall find them more useful and better simply because they are behind the enemy. The Leader of the Opposition suggested that China might send, forces into Indonesia, perhaps in the same spirit that we might send forces to Malaya. All I say to that is that it is not a bad thought to bear in mind, and if we had a substantial base, and troops, in Malaya, the enemy’s position would not be as comfortable as the Leader of the Opposition seems to think. Everybody should bear- in mind the proper military use of the word “ strategy “ as against the use of the word “ tactics “. Those words were used a good deal throughout the Prime Minister’s speech. Strategy is the employment of troops before making contact with the enemy. When an enlargement of the area of operation occurs the military staff must, deploy its troops to the most sensible places. It is obvious tbat because of the trouble that has arisen in Indo-China, and the possibility that the whole of Indo-China may become Communist, countries such as Thailand may find Communist troops on their borders. They probably do not intend to send troops to Malaya simply because they are keeping their troops on hand to use them on their own borders where they consider that they will be most useful.
The situation in South-East Asia has been thoroughly canvassed, and we know quite a lot about it. South-East Asia seems to be a hot spot, and a place where we should have troops if we are to protect Australia. The establishment of a base in Malaya is of first importance. It is all very well for the honorable member for East Sydney to laugh about that, but if he had had the job of establishing 3ome of the bases in the Pacific during the last war he would not have found it such a laughing matter. During the progress of any war in which we might be involved, we shall have to get bases from time to time until the enemy has been finally overcome. The suggestion of the Government to send a strategic reserve to Malaya is very sensible, because Malaya is a base that we should secure; and if we do not get it now, we may not have it when we need it. The proposal is to send about a battalion of infantry, two fighter squadrons of aircraft, a bomber squadron and useful, if small, units of the Royal Australian Navy. That is a very small force, and is not capable of a great deal of defence activity for Australia. However, it is very important. The importance of it is that it will establish a base there. If troops are sent to Malaya, they will gradually build up a base, and institute supply arrangements. Such a base can be reinforced by air very quickly nowadays. It is a very sensible thing to have a base there. It is ridiculous for the Leader of the Opposition to say that troops can be trained in Australia and that, when they are trained, and if there is any trouble, they can bo sent overseas. What does the right honorable gentleman suggest should be done? Does he suggest that they should be dropped by parachute? He should have a bit of sense. I want to stress that the Govern
Mr. Joshua. incut’s action has not been thoughtless. The Prime Minister pointed out that the step has been taken as a result of inquiry and proper examination by the military staff. He also stated that it was as a result of an over-all plan which has been agreed to largely since ratification of the Manila, treaty.
The Prime Minister, however, did leave us in some doubt as to the use of these troops. I was anxious to learn whether they were to be committed, and whether they were to be committed to fighting the terrorists in Malaya. If that is intended that is the end of our strategic reserve. Perhaps a base is preserved, which is important, but once they are committed we have not any strategic reserve.I think that the Prime Minister should have been a little more frank on that point, and he should have told us if he intended to commit them to help the British troops. The British troops consist mainly of national service trainees who are youngsters with about twelve months’ training. If our boys were to relieve them or to help them, it may be a very commendable arrangement. However, the Prime Minister chose not to tell us about that. 1 should think, after listening to the speech of the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Casey), that he was endeavouring to suggest that they would be committed to fighting the terrorists. T prefer to see them retained as a strategic reserve. [Extension of time granted.] I thank the House for granting me an extension of time. Another point in the Prime Minister’s speech which requires amplification is his reference to the two divisions of troops which he says will probably be raised very soon. That matter is important to the Australian people. Howare these two divisions of troops to be raised? I support the true policy of the Australian Labour party, which advocates the enlistment of troops by voluntary methods, and I shall adhere to that policy until I am instructed by the true Labour party to depart from it. It isa flexible policy from which the Labour and not what is expedient. It must not be forgotten that Communist China is an aggressor nation. party has departed in the light of experience at a particular time. However, for the present I believe that the raising of troops by voluntary methods ensures much better morale than does the raising of troops by other methods. The Prime Minister, therefore, should have stated how it was intended that these divisions should be raised. If it is intended to raise them voluntarily, as I suggest they should be raised, it will be done only by proper means of encouragement. The Government is trying to run the Army on very much the same lines as those on which it was run in the western desert, when it was run on “ twopence with a shoe lace with which to throttle the enemy”. It is not fair. It is about time the Government awoke and gave a fair deal to the troops. . Their rates of pay are little better than those of tradesmen, yet they are expected to go overseas, to offer themselves as targets, and possibly come back maimed for the rest of their lives, all for a mere pittance, for a few shillings more than a tradesman receives. The Government should give these men proper conditions and rates of pay, and care for their wives.
I do not agree with remarks of the Leader of the Opposition about the equipment of the Royal Australian Air Force. I should say that the Air Force is in not a bad position in relation to aircraft. Much progress has been made. The action of the Prime Minister in going to America and obtaining an assurance about further equipment was very commendable, and something which I was glad to see. It is all very well for the Opposition to criticize, but where will the Government get the planes’ Where will it obtain those items of equipment that we do not make in Australia? Where will it get them in a hurry? The Opposition is thoroughly impractical, lt has no knowledge of the subject at all. In addition, the Manila pact requires that the United States of America, in addition to supplying us with arms and certain hard-to-get lines, will provide men, but it has been stated that the tactical use of those troops will be decided on the service level. That means, of course, when there is a war ; and
I would not imagine for a minute that the Prime Minister passed through America without mentioning this proposed strategic reserve in Malaya. I imagine that there is in the United States a very complete understanding of our needs.
I refer also to the lofty words of the Leader of the Opposition about being represented at the recent meeting of Asian powers. What is the representation that he has arranged? He sent over his chief Communist deputy, Dr. Burton, to represent him. He intended to send also the honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Haylen), but the honorable member for Parkes was too busy chasing the deputy leadership of the Labour party, so he stayed behind. The Leader of the Opposition makes a great deal of his appeals to the United Nations organization. of the manner in which appeals should be made to it from time to time, and how he has been appealing to its members over the past five years. All I want to know is what Russia has done all this time in its important place in the United Nations organization. Has it been appealing to the United Nations? No ! It has been shovelling troops into Korea and Indo-China as fast as it can. What a wonderful gesture it is making to the United Nations! Of course the Leader of the Opposition takes that line. He understands the Communists well.
When the Australian Labour party was under good leadership in 1950, Australia sent a bomber wing to Malaya. There was no objection to that; there was nothing but agreement by the Labour party. In those days the party was led by a decent leader. It is all very well to speak about seeking peace, but one has to be practical. The seeking of peace must be conducted by properly conceived methods for the security of Australia, but that point is completely overlooked by the Leader of the Opposition. Communist peace overtures are merely delaying actions so that they may get their troops into strategic positions. The suggestions advanced by the Leader of the Opposition in relation to China and Formosa reject the Labour party’s policy of accepting what is just and right
Let me say in conclusion that the Leader of the Opposition is not a Labour leader at all. His undoubted ability is not directed towards achieving any good purpose for Australia. He cunningly contrives - and he has done so for years - in every speech that he makes to obtain some advantage for the Communists. He spoke for an hour and a half to-night in the old style, with a lot of statements with which one could not possibly disagree, but with a view to obtaining some advantage for the Communists. That is his line. That is why I thoroughly distrust him. I say again that he is not a leader, that he is not fit to lead the Labour party, and I think every honorable member on the Labour benches should desert him. The foreign policy of the Government is one that is acceptable to the true Labour party, and I support it. But I denounce everything’ that the Leader of the Opposition has said as being non-Labour, completely impractical, and in favour of the Communists.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Bostock) adjourned.
Honorable members interjecting,
– (Hon. Archie Cameron). Order! If honorable members are not prepared to maintain order, I shall obtain it in another way - by a reduction of numbers. “Will honorable members please be seated ?
Bill received from the Senate, and (on motion by Sir ERIC Harbison) read a first time.
Bill received from the Senate, and (on motion by Sir Eric Harrison) read a first time.
Motion (by Sir Eric Harrison) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
.- Last week, in keeping with the attitude of the supporters of the right honorable member for Barton (Dr. Evatt), an accusation was made in the press, first, by the right honorable member for Barton and, secondly, by the honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Haylen). That accusation had no foundation whatever, but it was completely in keeping with the usual Communist smear tactics about which the Leader of the Opposition is always weeping tears. That statement was to the effect that the American- Embassy in Australia had provided ?7,000 to finance the Australian Labour party industrial groups in their fight against communism. I think that the Ambassador for the United States of America has shown the accusation to be the arrant nonsense that it is, but I do not think that that completely disposes of the matter. If a responsible member of the Parliament - and I presume that the honorable member for Parkes considers himself to be a responsible member of the Parliamentin a transparent attempt to divert attention from the exposure that was made by honorable members in this corner of the chamber, which was supported by evidence, about the receipt of Communist party funds by the party to which the Leader of the Opposition belongs, makes an accusation against the representative in- this country of the United States of America, a nation upon whose friendship our future depends entirely, he is not fit to sit in this House. I am glad to note that the Leader of the Opposition has entered the chamber. I challenge the right honorable member for Barton, who weeps crocodile tears when it comes to a question of Communists but who, according to the Royal Commission on Espionage, left a trail of slime behind him, and the honorable member for Parkes to produce any evidence whatever to support the allegations that they have made. They cannot produce the evidence, of course.
– The anti-Communist members did not produce any evidence.
– My friend, the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward), says that we did not produce any evidence. First of all, we produced the admitted conversations of the honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Beazley) with various members on this side of the House.
Mr. Ward interjecting,
– Order ! The honorable member for East Sydney must not i interject
– There are also tho minutes of meetings of representatives of Communist-controlled unions - the big five of the Communist party.
Mr. Griffiths interjecting,
– Order ! I insist upon a silent hearing for all honorable members who speak during the adjournment debate. A further interjection by any other honorable member will result in that member being named, regardless of the side of the House on which he sits.
– It is obvious that the honorable member for Shortland (Mr. Griffiths) would be prepared to sit in conference with the five leading Communists in this country in an attempt to justify his collusion with them on the ground that they were trade union leaders. He might like to do that, but I certainly would not do it, and I have not any doubt that three-quarters of his colleagues in this House would not do it, because they know perfectly well that those five people are not serving union purposes, but are the general staff of the Communist party in its relations with the Leader of the Opposition.
We have produced our evidence, and I challenge the honorable member for Parkes and the Leader of the Opposition to produce the slightest evidence in support of their allegations, or publicly to withdraw them. The allegations made against the representative in this country of a friendly power are most serious. The honorable member for Parkes and the Leader of the Opposition have suggested that the American Embassy passed money to certain people to enable those people to do certain things in relation to the political life of this country. That is a most serious allegation that no responsible parliamentarian should have made or would dare to make without producing evidence to support it. That charge should not have been made in the newspapers of this country even if it were true. It should have been brought to the Parliament and evidence in support of it should have been produced in order that a proper protest might have been lodged with the representative of the United States. Every one is aware that the same stale old smear has appeared in Communist publications for the last five or six years. Every word that is uttered on the front Opposition benches of this House can be read by any one who cares to pick up a copy of the Sydney Tribune or the Melbourne Guardian, which are both. Communist newspapers. Week after week and month after month, the same stale old smears are being repeated parrotlike, by the Leader of the Opposition and those on the Opposition side of thi House who ape him.
-Order! The term “’ ape “ may not be used and shall be withdrawn.
– I used it as a verb.
– Order ! It shall be withdrawn.
– I withdraw the word. The obviously desperate plight in which the members of the Evatt party - the party of the honorable member for Barton - now find themselves-
-Order! The right honorable member for Barton.
– The party of the right honorable member for Barton. The desperate plight of the members of that party is evidenced by the wild accusations that have been made by the honorable member for Parkes. I remember the member for Parkes-
– -Order ! The honorable member for Parkes.
– I remember the honorable member for Parkes saying, during our’ discussions in the party room, that when it came to foreign policy, no matter what he thought of the Leader of the Opposition he had to part with him there, because he had to think of his children first. What is he thinking of to-day? He is thinking of his seat before thinking of his children and before thinking of the nation. There is no question why the honorable member for Parkes is willing to make his accusations. Every one knows his position. If the Australian Labour party in New South Wales is directed to function in accordance with its rules and constitution, he will not be in this Parliament after the next election; so come what may, irrespective of his children, of the nation and of the welfare of the Australian Labour party, the member for Parkes somehow or other must protect his seat. Therefore we hear these wicked smears, the only effect of which can be to poison the relations between this country and the United States of America, a country upon which the future of Australia largely rests. I say to the member for Parkes-
– Order ! The honorable member for Parkes.
– I say to the honorable member for Parkes, and to the right honorable - by act of Parliament - the Leader of the Opposition, that, if they have any sense of responsibility or of the position that the Leader of the Opposition holds in this Parliament by virtue of the fact that he is, temporarily, the Leader of the Opposition, they will either produce evidence of the charges and the smears that the honorable member for Parkes has made in the daily press in relation to the American Embassy in this country and the members of the Australian Labour party’s industrial groups, or they will resign and get out of the Parliament.
– Where do you get your funds from?
– Order ! I warned honorable members that interjections were out of order and that I would name the next honorable member to interject. I name the honorable member for East Sydney.
Motion (by Sir Eric Harrison) put -
That the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) be suspended from the service of the House.
The House divided. (Mr. Speaker - Hon. Archie Cameron.)
Majority . . . . 6
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
The honorable member for East Sydney thereupon withdrew from the chamber.
Mr.HAYLEN (Parkes) [10.42].- The Yarra is in flood to-night and, as usual, the mud is on top. The asseverations of the deputy leader of this quaintly named party are easily refuted. The statements that he made are the usual exaggerations. He spoke of loyalty. He has forever been yapping at the heels of whatever leader has been over him. I suggest that the present member for Ballarat (Mr. Joshua) is an heroic man. He will need all his capacity for heroism to control the gangling mob of people who stand behind him.
In relation to a statement of mine which was reported in the press, I want to say that I made that statement with every appreciation of the move that I was making. I am not moved by pious platitudes and statements about offending other people. We are still living in the Commonwealth of British Nations. Australia is still a British realm. I am still, and I hope that I shall continue to be, a British subject. I thought it better to say what I thought should be said outside this House without seeking privilege, and I am now prepared to support the statement, and bring what evidence I have and explain the situation in this House.
– Yes. It came from the honorable member for Yarra.
– Order ! I name the honorable member for Yarra.
Motion (by Sir Eric Harrison) put -
That the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Keon) be suspended from the service of the House.
The House divided. (Mr. Speaker - Hon. Archie Cameron.)
Majority . . 6
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
The honorable member for Yarra thereupon, withdrew from the chamber.
I have nothing to withdraw in the statement that I made, but I wish honorable members to understand that, with a full knowledge of what I was doing, 3 thought it was fair to direct attention to this matter, and to submit that if the Australian Labour party and its associated trade union members, as well as members of the party in this Parliament, are to be pilloried about a fabled and fictitious payment of £13,000 - if that story can be aired in this House whenever the Leader, Deputy Leader or any of the “ sad seven “ members of the anti-Communist Labour party i.c driven to make another diatribe against the Labour party - it was fair to point to the sinister sources of the “ groupers’ “ finance. It is well known that ship-owners and business men in the capital cities have financed the “ groupers’ “ newspaper. No one can tell me that the “groupers” can produce a newspaper running to 50,000 copies an issue and with no advertisements and have no money coming to them from underground sources. Unlike the honorable member for Yarra, I have no intention to create an atmosphere thai is offensive to the great American nation. That nation can take apropriate action if one of its attaches in this country has done wrong. But, must all the smear come from the other side, from the cowards’ corner on this side of the House?
– I never thought in my wildest stretch of imagination that I would witness such a deplorable scene as I have witnessed this evening. One “week precisely before the honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Haylen) made this fantastic utterance, this chimera of an imagination that is distorted, the advocatus diaboli in the background, the right honorable member for Barton (Dr. Evatt), with his usual facility and extraordinary aptitude for seeing a conspiracy under every bush, disseminated that story and tied to it by innuendo the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Keon) ; and with the antiAmericanism which is the substratum of his political philosophy the right honorable gentleman spread a smear to the world that must inevitably and irrevocably be taken by our great friend and ally, our wartime helper, as a deliberate and studied insult. The right honorable Leader of the Opposition, with his tender solicitude for Communist China and his not submerged love for Russia, impeccable, without sin and without fault, and on the flimsiest foundation, as the honorable member for Parkes has shown, insulted the great United States of America to whom we are indissolubly and irrevocably tied in the task-
– How much is ham a pound ?
-Order ! I name the honorable member for Parkes.
Motion (by SiT Eric Harrison) put -
That the honorable member tor Parkes (Mr. Haylen) be suspended from the service of the House.
The House divided. (Mit. Speaker - Hon. Archie Cameron.)
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
The honorable member for Parkes thereupon withdrew from the chamber.
.- Well, Mr. Speaker, he is at it again. I thank the honorable member for Gellibrand (Mr. Mullens) for his attacks on me. Let me state what I know. I made no reference to the matter. I did not know what the honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Haylen) had said until I read it in the press. I knew nothing about it. Why do you get up and tear a passion to tatters, and make charges against me?
– Order ! If the honorable member for Gellibrand speaks, I will name him.
– I beg your pardon, Mr. Speaker. It was a rhetorical question. The honorable member should not make such ridiculous statements. I never knew what the reference was-
– You made it in Sydney.
– Order ! I name the honorable member for Gellibrand.
– I never even knew–
– Order ! I have named the honorable member for Gellibrand.
– I want him to be here.
Motion (by Sir Eric Harrison) put -
That the honorable member for Gellibrand (‘Mr. Mullens) be suspended from the service of the House.
The House divided. (Mr. Speaker - Hon. Archie Cameron. )
Majority . . . . 3 .
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
The honorable member for Gellibrand thereupon withdrew from the chamber.
The honorable member for Yarra may be confusing an entirely different incident, to which I shall now refer. I made a statement at a Labor meeting in Sydney about a fortnight ago to the effect that literature under the official seal of the United Nations Information Department
After the debate recently in this House, I went through my papers because the name of the honorable member for Fremantle had been mentioned. Again I found the same slander and false statements. I found a letter from the honorable member for Fremantle dated December, 1953. It was quite stale. In that letter, the honorable member told me that he was quite satisfied that nothing at all had been received by the Parliamentary Labour party from the Communist party. That was the basis of the whole charge. I have that letter from the honorable member for FremantleDuring the by-election for the Gwydir seat in New South Wales, the honorable member for Fremantle said that he had complete confidence in the Leader of the Australian Labour party. The opportunity to raise matters on the motion for the adjournment of the House has been abused, again by the honorable member for Gellibrand. I sum the situation up by saying, first, with regard to the statement made by the honorable member for
Parkes, that my name has been dragged into the matter gratuitiously without the slightest evidence that I had any connexion with it. I knew nothing of what he had done. When the honorable member foi’ Yarra made his statement in the House he might have given me full information. The distribution of the pamphlets is a matter of serious import. .1 did not know the explanation. The American governmental propaganda or information bureau is entitled to pui matter into letter-boxes in conjunction with the material of the honorable member for Yarra. There might be some explanation for this action. It has nothing to do with finance. I said that if the two sets of material were distributed by the American Government a wrong action had been taken. However, I made a publicstatement. An honorable member has a right to do so, just as he has the right to make a statement in this House. Whatever the American Government has done, it is the duty of a member of the Parliament to speak if he thinks that the action calls for explanation. I not only did that, but I also asked the United States Consul for an explanation. I am still waiting for it. Why was it done?
The other matter that was raised during this debate was a rehash of a stale slander and a lie. We got nothing from the Communist party. It is a complete untruth to say that we did. Every penny received by the Australian Labour party, of which the honorable member for Melbourne (Mr. Calwell) and the Leader oi” the Opposition in the Senate (Senator McKenna) were trustees, was received at that time from trade unions affiliated with the Australian Labour party. The practice adopted in the case of those contributions was the same a3 that adopted by all the previous trustees of the fund. I believe that these are matters upon which I am called to make a comment, but it is really quite disparate from what the honorable member for Parkes has said.
– I do not propose to detain the House, but a few plain words, should be said about this matter. I disregard almost entirely the irrelevant re. marks of the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt).
– They are relevant, because I was criticized.
– The right honorable gentleman has said - and I accept his word at once - that so far as the statement about money being contributed by the American Embassy was concerned, he had nothing to do with it. That is all right. There is no difficulty in accepting that, although I must confess that I am a little puzzled to know why the right honorable gentleman then proceeded to make a mystery about the distribution of some pamphlets or information sheets issued by the American Department or Bureau of Information. I had always thought that that was what information bureaux overseas were for. If anybody walked into an office and said, “ Can I have 200 copies of this pamphlet?”, he would be given 200 copies with the greatest pleasure. Now, the right honorable gentleman has said that there is some mystery as to how these pamphlets came to be issued by the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Keon). All these are irrelevancies.
The discussion to-night began with a reference to a statement publicly made by the honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Haylen). It was a statement which imputed to the Embassy of the United States of America a grossly improper interference in the local industrial politics of Australia. In those circumstances, the honorable member had a simple choice when the matter was raised. He could either undertake to prove his statement against the Embassy of the United States of America - a heavy task to undertake - or he could have said, “I was wrong, I withdraw, I apologize. The incident, I hope, will be treated as closed “. He adopted neither of those courses. Therefore, it becomes necessary for me, on behalf of the Government of Australia to say, in the hope that the United States administration may read it, that on behalf of this Parliament, I apologize to the United States of America for this gross insult offered to it by a member of this House. The grossness of the insult is not lessened by the fact that the honorable member for Parkes adopted the method of escape which is, of all methods when slanders are uttered, the most contemptible. He said, “ I did not say it. It was common gossip, and so I thought I would get a headline by publishing it”. That conduct is utterly contemptible, and every word that the honorable member for Parkes said to-night, so far from purging his contempt, added to the offence and made it even more necessary that our friends of the United States of America should be told that most of the people in this place, who are acquainted with the decencies of international usage, will have no part or lot in this kind of sneaking attack which is made for some local purpose, with utter disregard of the effect that it may have, if it is misunderstood, upon our relations with a country which stands so entirely and closely with us, and is so entirely associated with the whole security of Australia.
Motion (by Sir Eric Harrison) put -
That the question be now put.
The House divided. (Mr. Speaker - Hon. Archie Cameron.)
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Original question resolved in the affirmative.
The following papers were presented : -
Australian National University Act -
No. 16 - Board of Graduate Studies Amendment No. 2.
No. 17 - Academic Dress.
No. 1 8 - Convocation Amendment No. 3.
No.19) - University House (Sale of Liquor).
Australian Wool Bureau - First Annual Report for year 1953-54.
Coal Industry Act - Joint Coal Board -
Seventh Annual Report and financial accounts, for year 1953-54.
Report of the Auditor-General of the Commonwealth on the accounts of the Joint Coal Board for year 1953-54.
Judiciary Act - Rule of Court dated 23rd March, 1955.
Lands Acquisition Act - Return of land disposed of under Section63.
Norfolk Island Act - Ordinances - 1955 -
No. 2 - Boarding-houses.
No. 3 - Customs.
Public Service Act - Appointments -
External Affairs - C. R. Ashwin, A. D. Campbell, A. F. Dingle, K. I. Gates, I. E. Nicholson, J. A. D. Piper.
Supply- J. A. B. Cartmel, F. E. Ellis.
Public Service Arbitration Act - Deterinina tions -
No. 44 - Repatriation Department Medical Officers’ Association.
Nos.51 and 52 - Association of Officers of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization and Professional Officers’ Association, Commonwealth Public Service.
No. 53 - Amalgamated Engineering Union and others.
No. 54 - Amalgamated Engineering Union and others.
No. 55 - Federated Ironworkers’ Association of Australia.
No. 56 - Amalgamated Engineering Union and others.
No. 57 - Amalgamated Postal Workers’ Union of Australia.
No. 58 - Commonwealth Legal Professional Officers’ Association.
No. 59 - Commonwealth Public Service Clerical Association.
No. 1 - Transport Workers’ Union of Australia.
No. 2 - Commonwealth Public Service Clerical Association.
No. 4 - Transport Workers’ Union of Australia.
No.5 - Postal Telecommunication Technicians’ Association (Australia ) .
No. 6 - Professional Officers’ Association, Commonwealth Public Service.
No. 7 - Commonwealth Telephone and Phonogram Officers’ Association.
No. 8 - Australian Federated Union of Locomotive Enginemen and others.
No. 9 - Commonwealth Storemen and Packers’ Union of Australia.
No. 10 - Australian Workers’ Union and Association of Railway Professional Officers of Australia.
No. 11 - Commonwealth Public Service Artisans’ Association.
No. 12 - Amalgamated Engineering Union and others.
Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Power Act - Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Authority - Fifth Annual Report, for vear 1953-54.
House adjourned at 11.36 p.m.
The following answers to questions were circulated: -
n asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– A similar question, without notice, has been asked by the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward). I am having the information collated and will supply the honorable member with a copy of my reply to the honorable member for East Sydney as soon as it is available.
a asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
What was the total number .of .temporary employees in the Commonwealth Public Service at the end of March, 1055 ?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows : -
The statistics of Public Service employment at 31st March, 1955, will not be available for some weeks. The total number of temporary employees at 28th February, 1055, was 08,857 of whom 49,522 were employed under exemption. The statistics for March will be supplied immediately they are available.
b asked the Minister for Health,’ upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
z asked the Minister representing the Minister for National Development, upon notice -
Ma. Casey. - The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
It is estimated that Australian factories overall arc now producing more than twice as many goods as they did pre-war.
z asked the Minister representing the Minister for National Development, upon notice -
Mk. Casey. - The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows : -
a asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
What was the overseas balance of payments at the 30th June in each of the years 1946 to 1954, inclusive.
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows.: -
The following table shows movements in the main items in the Australian balance "i payments from' 1945-46 to 1953-54 :: -
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 27 April 1955, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1955/19550427_reps_21_hor6/>.