21st Parliament · 1st Session
Mr… Speaker. (Hon. Archie Cameron) took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
– My question, which is directed to the Minister for Health, relates to a recent report by Dr. Stoller on mental illness and mental hospitals. Certain selected portions of that report have been released to the press by the Minister or the Department of Health. Apparently the report came into the possession of the Government as long ago as last January.
Will the Minister release to the public the report, portions of which have been released to the press? Will he make it available to the Ministers for Health in. the States? Will he try to arrange aw opportunity for the House to discuss the vital subjects of mental illness and mental hospitals? Will he put forward definite plans by which the Commonwealth will assume its fair share of the financial responsibility for the great scourge of mental illness?
– I indignantly deny the suggestion that the Government is at all responsible for the publication of portions of the report in the press. Neither I nor the Department of Health had anything to do with that at all. We are not responsible for it in the slightest degree, and I indignantly repudiate the suggestion made by the right honorable gentleman. The report on mental disease will be. made available to the public when the Government has examined it. Surely that is a reasonable position for the Government to takeup. When the report has been examined by the Government, a statement will bo made by the Prime Minister simultaneously with its release to the State Premiers. They will have it in their possession as soon as the statement has been made. The ambition of the Government has been to secure 100 per cent co-operation with the States in the handling of a very difficult subject, a subject that was completely mishandled by the last Labour Government which put into operation what I have always regarded as the most stupid arrangement ever made between governments in the history of Australia, and: which postponed for six solid years the reformation of the state of affairs which now has been examined. I assure the right honorable gentleman that the matter has been dealt with in. the proper way by the Government and that, when the time comes, the Prime Minister will make a full statement on it.
Mr. CRAMER. In view of the continued propaganda in New South Wales about the national health scheme produced by this Government, I ask the
Minister for Health whether he is satisfied that- the New South Wales Government is giving proper attention to sick and mentally afflicted people and to hospitals in that State. Is it a fact that, notwithstanding that, in 1953-54, the State received considerably more money than ever before, it spent in that year over £.1 ,250,000 less on the sick and mentally afflicted and over £1,000,000 less on health, hospitals and charities? Is that due to the financial relief given to its institutions by the national health scheme? Is the New South Wales Government relying on that assistance, instead of spending some of its own money further to improve hospitals and the health of the people in that State?
– In view of the statement that I made in reply to the question of the Leader of the Opposition the House will readily appreciate that I have no intention of indulging in any controversial discussion on this subject ar this time.
– Will the Minister for Health state whether representations have been made to him by State Ministers for Health for the establishment of an eye bank? Have any representations been made to him for financial assistance to the .States for such a purpose? If such approaches have been made, from what State or States have they been received, and what was the right honorable gentleman’s reply to them?
– I have no knowledge of any suggestions or requests. I shall have the files examined to ascertain whether any have been received.
– Is the Minister for Health aware that many pensioners and their families are impoverished as a result of having to pay for oxygen required to keep their loved ones alive? In addition, those people must pay for the weekly hire of the cylinders which contain the oxygen. Will the Minister provide oxygen free to Commonwealth pensioners, if supply of it is authorized by qualified medical practitioners? I direct the Minister’s attention to the fact that free air is available to every motorist in Australia, and urge on him that the air necessary to keep, people alive should also be free.
– This proposal has been examined frequently by the Department of Health and its administration. The difficulties associated with it render it completely impossible to carry out.
– Will the Prime Minister inform the House whether it is a fact that, in his New Year message to the nation, he predicted a prosperous year for 1955? If so, will he state whether, at the time, he had in mind only the judiciary, top-ranking public servants, and those privileged members of the community, the captains of commerce and industry, who are benefiting enormously from tremendously enhanced profits ; or whether he intended his forecast to embrace the entire community? If the latter was the case, will the Prime Minister state just how much of the national prosperity he predicts will be enjoyed by the recipients of the niggardly amounts that are paid to age and invalid pensioners, war pensioners, widow pensioners, and those who are in receipt of social service payments generally, having regard to the present astronomical cost of living? In view of the action that the Government has taken to increase enormously the income of those whose need is not very urgent, will the Prime Minister state whether it is his intention to do anything immediately, or in the present financial year, to relieve the desperate plight of the worthy citizens to whom I have referred?
– I take it that the question is entirely devoid of argumentative matter. I had forgotten that I had issued a New Year message. I am glad to be reminded that I had. I certainly did wish for all sections of the community the prosperity that is now being enjoyed. I made no exceptions. It is the only time that I can remember when my language might have been described as all-embracing - embracing even the honorable .member for East Sydney.
– Is the Minister for the Army aware that, without previous warning having- been given, demolition practices are being held on the Langwarrin Reserve, which is 2£ miles from the heavily populated area of Frankston? Is he aware that considerable damage’ was done to property in that area and that consternation was caused in a large area farther afield? If, as the people in charge of these demonstrations have stated, this practice will continue for many week-ends, would it be possible to hold them at a place where the nuisance and damage would affect fewer people?
– My attention, has been drawn to the matter which the honorable member has mentioned. A practice took place at Langwarrin last week-end. It was the first of a series of only three practices by Citizen Military Forces personnel who are learning to use explosives. I have been advised by the Department of the Army that those who live in the area were warned that this practice would be conducted. I am having this advice checked. The only damage reported has been that in one house, approximately a mile away, a chandelier fell on to a table. This complaint is being examined. The area at Langwarrin was selected for practice because it is a military area and because the nature of the soil, which is sandy, serves to smother the blast. The area also has sand-pits from 25 feet to 30 feet deep which are used to deflate the blast. The explosives used were of the mildest type. At ground level 5-lb. explosives were used and, in the pits, 20 lb. These explosives are of substantially lower weight than those which were used in previous practices The alternative to Langwarrin would he Puckapunyal, 60 miles from the places of residence of the Citizen Military Forces trainees, and where the nature of the soil is not so suitable as that at Langwarrin. I shall have further investigations made into the point raised, by the honorable gentleman, as the matter has only just come to my notice.
– I ask the Minister for Civil Aviation whether it is a fact that tenders have not yet been called for the erection of the main terminal building for passenger airline and flying control facilities at the Adelaide airport in South Australia. If so, is that because the money allocated under the Estimates for the construction of the airport has already been expended? Will the Minister confer with the Minister for Works to ascertain whether it is possible to obtain sufficient money from the Treasurer during the next financial year to enable the project at the West Beach aerodrome to be completed fully? I know that the engineers and the staff of the Department of Works are quite capable of completing the job if sufficient money is made available for them to do so.
– I believe that the honorable member has been mis-informed about this matter. Foundations have already been laid on the West Beach aerodrome, and only last week I gave approval for the expenditure of about £200,000 on work to he carried out there. I hope that the whole job will be completed in the near future. The Department of Works is handling this project, and after its completion I believe that, Adelaide will have one of the most modern airports in Australia, and one of the most modern terminal buildings in the world.
– Will the Minister for Civil Aviation inform the House whether it is a fact that several airline operators in Australia have become interested in a new British aircraft that is being manufactured by the de Havilland Aircraft Proprietary Limited, called the “Herald”? Is it also a fac! that their interest in these aircraft is because of the fact that runway requirements for take-off and landing are similar to those required by DC3 aircraft, although the passenger and freight capacity of the Herald is greater than that of the DC3 ? Has the Minister any information regarding the proposals for the manufacture of the new aircraft, and when they will be available for delivery to Australian airline operators?
– I have some knowledge of the aircraft mentioned by the honorable member. I do not believe that any Australian airline has actually ordered them, but I know that fourteen letters of intention to purchase have been lodged with Handley Page Limited. It is hoped that the new aircraft will replace the DC3 aircraft, because it is pressurized, is capable of a speed of about 200 miles an hour and requires only the same runway for takeoff and landing as is required by the DC3. A prototype of the Herald is expected to fly next June or July, and if it is satisfactory, some of those aircraft will be corning to A ustralia.
– Is the Minister for Civil Aviation aware that Australian airlines, both internal and external, enjoy a well-deserved reputation for efficiency second to none in the world? Is he also aware that that reputation is impaired, to some small degree, by the inadequacy of terminal facilities upon aerodromes which are, for the most part I understand, under the control of his department? I refer particularly, of course, to the terminal facilities at Mascot, Canberra and Darwin. Can the Minister indicate to the House what plans the Government has in hand for remedying this situation, and what progress has been made with them?
– I would be the first to concede that terminal buildings in Australia are not what they should be, but I point out that we are seriously limited by two factors. One of them is man-power, and the other is money. The cost of civil aviation is very great indeed in this country at the present time. The Commonwealth has more than 500 licensed aerodromes, and on them are the equivalent of 1,600 miles of paved highway, such as there is in the States, and 100 miles of lighting on those strips. In all, in Australia, we have a greater area covered by navigational aids - 3,500,000 square miles, than has the United States, and all this falls on the tax-providing capacity of Australians. We have a programme. I think my colleague, the Minister forWorks, will agree with me that we are doing everything that can he done with the man-power available, on the aerodrome in Sydney. I know that work on some strips and aprons has been delayed for a long time. For the construction of three hangars at the Essendon airport in Melbourne, funds have been available for two years, but we have not been able to proceed with the work because of lack of man-power. The instrument landing system in Sydney is another case in point. As much as can. be done with the man-power and money available is being done.
-.- I address a question to the Minister for Civil Aviation. Has the Minister seen the report describing as untrue, unethical and deliberately misleading the statement last week that an area of land at Hexham had been acquired for an airport and that local authorities had been advised to that effect? The report also stated that the owners of the land were unaware of any resumption of their land having been made by the Commonwealth or any other authority, and that no advice had been received in Newcastle regarding permission to place filling on the land? In view of the Minister’s statement and the conflicting views expressed by the leaders of local government and commerce at Newcastle, will the Minister provide me with information about the date of the acquisition and with a copy of the advice forwarded to the Lord Mayor of Newcastle about this project?
– I have not seen the report referred to. As far as the Department of Civil Aviation is concerned, the land was cleared for acquisition some months ago. The resumption is made by the Department of the Interior and I shall discuss the matter with my colleague, the Minister for the Interior and ascertain the present position.
– I desire to ask the Minister for Civil Aviation a question that is suplementary to that asked by the honorable member for Mackellar about navigational aids. The Minister stated that a greater area was covered by navigational aids in Australia than in the United States of America. Is that a reference to the quality of the aids? Does it not in fact mean that in practice in Australia the aids have to cover an area that is far too great for their effective use?
– It does not mean that at all. Air traffic control and navigational control in Australia are the equal of similar controls in the United States of America.
– The Minister stated that there was a greater area in this country, mot that the Australian aids were equal to those of the United States.
– I remarked that “there was a greater area of land in Australia and New Guinea combined than in the United States. The right honorable gentleman need have no fears about the quality of the navigational devices used in civil aviation in Australia.
– By way of explanation of my question, which is directed to the Minister for Social Services, I remind the Minister that in the last budget the amount of advances for the purchase of existing homes under the War Service Homes Act was increased from £2,000 to £2,750. Is the Minister aware that despite the increase of the maximum amount of advance by £750, the regulations promulgated under the act provide that if an ex-serviceman is fortunate enough to have an option to purchase a house, he is obliged to submit an application to the appropriate authorities? As that application may be considered within a. minimum period of six months, does not that condition stultify the whole purpose of the Government’s increase of the advance for the purchase of war service homes?
– On two occasions during the last two weeks I have explained the purpose of the waiting period to honorable members. I explained that there was a waiting period, not only relating to advances for existing homes but also with regard to advances for new homes to be built under the war service homes legislation, or homes that might be built by private builders. If we were to give priority to those who wished, to purchase existing homes, then those who wanted new homes would have to do without. The complete answer to the question of the honorable member is that it was decided to provide about 12,000 homes this year through the War Service Homes Division. The total estimated, number will be provided, and the total allocation of £30,000,000 for war service homes will be expended.
– Is the PostmasterGeneral aware that all first-class mail to Lord Howe Island, and that between Melbourne and Tasmania, is carried by air, whether stamped at air mail or surface rates? If the Minister is aware of this, will he consider either applying the same principle to inland towns which possess a regular air service, or applying a flat rate to all first-class mail matter, whether carried by air or by surface transport ?
– Mail is carried by air to Lord Howe Island because there is no other practical way of getting it there. In respect of Tasmania, it is carried by air only between Melbourne and Hobart. If any one wants air mail delivery beyond Hobart, air fees have to be paid. Successive governments have examined the question of carryingcountry mail by air. but it is not financially practicable.
– Can the Minister for External Affairs say whether it is n fact that the third annual Colombo plan report, which was released recently, stated that the under-developed countries were not getting the money they needed for development, and that the gap between needs and achievements was widening rather than growing smaller? If this is the fact, can the- Minister inform the House whether the Government is satisfied with the progress of the Colombo plan?
– I would not say that that is a natural and broad inference that can be drawn from the report of the last Colombo plan meeting held at Ottawa last year. Admittedly, most of the money that is employed for developmental purposes in the free Asian countries has to be found from their own resources. From memory, I think the report stated that 18 per cent, of all the developmental moneys used by the free Asian countries is found from external sources, of which the Colombo plan is a substantial part, which means, of course, that 82 per cent, of developmental moneys is found from their own resources. There is a rate at which developmental moneys and activities can be absorbed in those countries. I have no doubt at all that they could employ rather more external moneys than are. now available to them, but I do not recall in any sense a complaint by the recipient countries in the direction that the honorable gentleman suggests. I believe myself that the Colombo plan, and its related efforts to aid with economic and technical assistance the free countries of Asia, has been a very considerable success. I also believe that only now, after what might be called four substantive years of aid under the Colombo plan, is it coming into its principal effect. I hope that the Colombo plan and other external aid to Asia will at least not diminish. My own personal hopes are that it will increase. T think that it is providing benefits for all concerned. It is providing them by way of improvement in the economies of those countries, and it is also providing them by means of instruction and information to the individuals who are coming to Australia and other countries from Asia. .They go back to their own countries better informed and, I like to believe, staunch adherents to the policy of the Asian countries and Australia being firm friends in the future. I think that the Colombo plan provides a third benefit, in that it provides opportunities, that would not otherwise exist, for contact between a country such as Australia and the other free countries of South and South-East Asia. In other words, I believe that the Colombo plan has been really a very great success, and I cannot conceive of future relationships between Australia and the free Asian countries without some kind of an instrumentality like the Colombo plan.
– Will the Minister for External Affairs inform the House whether the Government has decided to institute correspondence courses for 400 Asian students from India, Pakistan, Ceylon, Malaya, Indonesia, British Borneo, Thailand and similar countries? If so, what will be the nature of such correspondence courses? Will the Minister consider offering to Japanese students an opportunity to participate in this worthy scheme as a constructive method of rebuilding good relationships between Australia and Japan?
– Yes, a project for correspondence courses for the benefit of recipient countries of South and SouthEast Asia is just at its beginning. Japan is a donor country under the Colombo plan. I have some hope that these correspondence courses will fill an appreciable gap, particularly in respect of young Asians, both men and women, who are unable, because of their economic situation or their geographical location, to get to a place of education in their own countries or in another nation associated with the Colombo plan. I have not the list of subjects to be taught in my mind at the moment, but they are largely .trade subjects. The students will start with all the trade subjects that are normally taught in the Australian capital city technical colleges.
– Including how to vote Liberal ?
Mi-. CASEY. - I am afraid that I did not hear the interjection of the honorable member. We are co-operating with the technical colleges in Melbourne and Sydney and all the other capital cities, and all will participate. There will be what might be termed the middle range of trade subjects, going into the university range of subjects, but generally speaking they will be trade subjects. I hope the courses will be reinforced by the use of broadcasting services in the countries concerned, such as Radio Malaya and possibly, in due course, Radio Australia. This is an attempt at a new approach by Australia to assist the countries of South and South-East Asia and it has met with an enthusiastic response in the initial stages from the governments concerned.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Territories. In view of the increased demand by Great Britain for phosphatic rock from Nauru and Ocean Island, which eventually will lead to a reduction of the supplies available to Australia and New Zealand for the manufacture of superphosphate, will the Minister inform the House of the quantity and quality of phosphatic rock deposits at Christmas Island ?
– I do not carry in my head figures relating to the tonnages involved, but I shall be happy to obtain the figures and supply them to the honorable member. The Department of Territories has given the situation very close attention for quite some time. The Government is considering any action that may be taken, in. relation both to the discovery of new sources of supply and negotiations with consumers of existing supplies, to ensure that for a long period Australian users of phosphatic rock shall he assured of supplies. There is no immediate need for either the agriculturists or the manufacturers of superphosphate in Australia to feel that they will soon be faced with a shortage of supplies. The problem is a long-term one, and, as such, is receiving the close attention of the Government.
– Will you, Mr. Speaker, inform the House whether, on Thursday last, you invited, or gave permission to, the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Keon) to take a seat in the. Speaker’s gallery at a time when he was under suspension from the service of the House? If you did, did you give consideration to making the same concession to the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward), the honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Haylen), and the honorable member for Gellibrand (Mr. Mullens) who, like the honorable member for Yarra, were suspended on the previous night? If you did give that permission to the honorable member for Yarra, I ask you. in view of the motion that interrupted the attitude that has been adopted by you in relation to honorable members who have been suspended, how you propose to reconcile your action on that occasion with the fact that on previous occasions you have called on the Serjeant-at-Arms to remove members of the Opposition from, the precincts of the House when they have been suspended.
– I did not issue an invitation, so the remainder of the question is not relevant.
– The honorable member for Yarra says that you did issue an invitation. Yon had better have a talk with him about it.
– Order! If the honorable member wants to have a discussion, ho may have it, but it will not. be on his own ground.
– I direct a question to the Postmaster-General. By way of explanation, let me say that I have received complaints of delays amounting to several days to overseas telephone calls to the United Kingdom which have originated in Australia. Can the Minister do anything, in co-operation with the British authorities, to shorten these delays, and thereby save the commercial community considerable loss and inconvenience? I should say that the answer cannot be given, solely in terms of sun spots.
– 1 may say that that, practically, is the answer.
– Will the Minister for Supply state whether it is a fact that all Tiger Moth aircraft which are declared surplus to requirements, and which are disposed of through the Department of Supply, are not sold on the open market but are made available to aeroplane clubs at considerably reduced rates? As many aerial topdressing companies are anxious to obtain such aircraft, and as it has been suggested that some aeroplane clubs are storing these aircraft far in excess of their present, needs, will the Minister give consideration to selling Tiger Moth aircraft in future either by open auction or tender?
– For a good many years, the policy of the Australian Government, has been to make surplus Tiger Moth aircraft available, wherever possible, to aero clubs because of the importance of those organizations in training young men to fly. That training has considerable defence significance. I am not aware that any of those clubs are obtaining aircraft beyond their capacity and storing them. I shall have inquiries made, and furnish a complete answer to the honorable member.
– “Will the
Minister for External Affairs give the House some information about the situation in Viet Nam? Is it likely that circumstances there may concern directly the members of the Seato alliance?
– I would not attempt offhand to give any description of the very confused situation in southern Vict Nam beyond what is almost common knowledge from press reports. They indicate that the trouble appears to have arisen from the action of two at least of the three sects which are rebelling against the authority of Ngo Dinh Diem, who is the Premier of southern Viet Nam.
– And against Bao Dai.
– Possibly also against Emperor Bao Dai. It would take a considerable statement to cover the situation fully, and I shall take a subsequent opportunity to do so. As to whether the confused situation in southern Viet Nam would attract the attention of the Seato powers, I would say that, to the extent that the situation in southern Viet Nam is not the result of external aggression, it might not attract the Seato powers. Southern Viet Nam is one of the designated countries under the Seato pact and not a member country. The situation appears to be confined to an internal problem and not to be the result of external aggression. As such, I believe, it would not come within the terms of the Manila treaty.
– Has the Minister for External Affairs received any report on the latest position in Indo-China? If so, is he in a position to make a statement to the House about the present position in that country? If he has not yet received an up-to-date report, will he obtain one and make a statement to the House?
– We receive not only reports, but also, I suppose, from one source or another, six lengthy telegrams a day on the situation in Indo-China, particularly in southern Viet Nam, where, as the honorable gentleman knows, the situation is very confused indeed. In answer to a previous question, I said that I should refrain from giving offhand a summary of the situation. However, if honorable gentlemen so wish, it would be a very simple matter to make a statement to the House on the situation at some early and convenient occasion. 1 may say that the situation is largely as reported in the press. Perhaps a few aspects of it have not been reported in the press, but, generally speaking, assiduous readers of the newspapers already know, I should say, the greater part of the situation in southern Viet Nam, which is not by any means a comforting one.
– Can the Minister for External Affairs say whether, as a result of the disturbances in southern Viet Nam, there is any indication of a strengthening of Communist influence in that area, and if so, whether it has had any repercussions on the forces of communism that have been reported in Laos?
– So far as southern Viet Nam is concerned, the attention of the public and the attention of our post in Saigon has been almost entirely concentrated on the local confusion caused by the two or three sects there, and their antagonism and antipathy to the Government. In recent times, I have not heard so much about Communist activities in southern Viet Nam. There is nothing very new to report about the situation in the two north-eastern provinces of Laos. Pathet Lao occupies, I believe, the same relative position to the rest of Laos as previously. However, I shall see whether there is anything that it would be worthwhile to enshrine in a statement to the House about the situation in southern Viet Nam, Laos and Cambodia. If there is, I shall seek to make such a statement at an early date.
– Does the Prime Minister know, as ministerial head of the Public Service, that the application of retrenchment priorities announced by the Government in October, 1951, meant the dismissal last week of nine women, including three widows, these nine being the only women then employed as cleaners in government offices in Canberra? Does he approve this application of retrenchment priorities in a time of over-full employment? Will he recognize that these women will find it very difficult to find similar employment because they will be unable to comply with conditions of work laid down by a private contracting firm ? Will he have the position examined sympathetically with a view to having these women retained in government employment in -work in which they excel ?
– I am sure that the honorable member realizes that administration of this kind scarcely finds its way to my table. However, now that he has raised the matter and directed my attention to it, I shall certainly have it looked into.
– Is the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture able to give to the House any information about the conference that was held in Melbourne on Friday last which was attended by representatives of the Australian dried fruits industry and officers of the Department of Commerce and Agriculture?
Mr.. McEWEN Details of the conference which was, indeed, very important from the point of view of the dried fruits industry, have not yet reached me, but [ asked to be advised of the general issues that w»re raised at it. My advice is that the dried fruits interests proposed to ask the Government through me to make representations to the United Kingdom Ministry of Food to extend for a further period the underwriting by that authority of the sales of Australia’s dried fruits crop of last year at certain minimum levels of prices. We have already been granted one extension of that period. Secondly, I gathered that at the conference there were discussions, which were not brought to final terms, related to some stabilization scheme for the Australian dried fruits industry. That proposal has not yet reached me, but I gather that the industry seeks to have it considered as a matter of urgency by the Government. I assure the honorable member that when a precise proposal is submitted to the Government, there will be no undue delay in considering it. At the same time, however, I remind the industry that proposals that relate to stabilization plans involve expenditure of substantial sums of money and the making of commitments which are very difficult to determine. They cannot be dealt with in an off-hand manner but require careful study before the Government can reach conclusions on them. A third point was that it was proposed that representatives of the industry should meet representatives of the Irrigation Production Advisory Committee for the purpose of discussing planting programmes insofar as those programmes bear upon the marketing of the fruit and upon other matters, i assure the honorable member and other honorable members who are interested in this matter, and who have seen me in relation to it, that the Government recognizes the real problem confronting the dried fruits growers at the present time and that representations by the industry generally will receive sympathetic consideration by the Government.
– I wish to address a question to the Prime Minister, and I preface it by pointing out that at the opening of the Guthega power project recently, expressions of appreciation were made to many firms and individuals, but I felt that we had overlooked an expression of appreciation to the United States Government for the great work of its Bureau of Reclamation in design, in assisting us in checking our design, and also in specially training some of our engineers. I consider that this demonstrates how easy it is to forget some who assisted in the early stages of the scheme. In addition, a supplement which has recently been published, states that the broad concept of the scheme was probably due to an engineer, whom it names. This statement was quite wrong, because the broad concept was probably due to a Mr. Lewis more than any one else. He is still an officer of the Department of Works-
– Order ! The honorable member is not now in order.
– =1 am sorry, Mr. Speaker. I shall say that the broad concept was probably due to other engineers. That shows how easy it is to get our records wrong. Therefore, I ask the Prime Minister whether ho will consider having records of the scheme officially made, and directing that they be kept up to date, as has been done in respect of the Tennessee Valley Authority by the United -States Government, so that this will be a correct record of the largest engineering project in the world.
– I am grateful to the honorable member for St. George for having mentioned this matter. I had thought, though apparently erroneously, that reference had been made to the Bureau of Reclamation. the work done by which has been remarkable, generous and outstanding. I shall certainly take the necessary step’s to see that the United States Administration is made aware of our deep appreciation of the great work done by members of that bureau. I am also glad to be .reminded, even though the matter has proved to be out of order, of the identity of the local engineer who, I am. happy to say, is a very old friend of mine, and to whom I shall certainly make it my business to convey an expression of appreciation
– I ask the PostmasterGeneral whether it is a fact that all executive officers of the Australian Broadcasting Commission have recently been the recipients of substantial increases of salary. If that is a fact, will the Minister give this House an assurance that broadcast listeners’ licence-fees will not be increased from £2 to £3 a year as a means of offsetting the extra expenses involved by the increases of salary to which I have referred ?
– - The honorable member is too pessimistic in his anticipation. There is no intention of doing anything other than will be decided by Cabinet in due course.
– In view of the fact that by now a good deal of information should be available on the subject, I ask the Minister for External Affairs whether it is true that the ‘Chinese Communist terrorists in Malaya are locally born Chinese, or whether ‘the majority of them arc immigrants from China.
– I am not in possession of any very late figures on this matter, but some years ago the United Kingdom authorities concerned made a fairly close estimate, and at that time they came to the belief that the great majority of the Chinese Communist terrorists were not locally born, but were immigrants who had been born in China. In recent years, in which the flow of immigration from China has diminished almost to nothing, I have no doubt that reinforcements to the Chinese Communists in Malaya may have come from locally born Chinese. My information in this regard is a month or two -old, but that does not invalidate it. It is still the belief of the British authorities that at least a majority, and possibly a considerable majority, of the Chinese Communist terrorists of the jungle are not locally horn Chinese.
– My question, which is addressed to the Minister for Defence, relates to a. statement by the Prime Minister that under certain circumstances this country will find two divisions of troops for Malaya. Does the Minister propose to tell the House and the country at any stage how these troops will .be raised ?
– As soon as a decision has been made on this matter, the House and the country will be promptly -informed.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for Defence. Will the Minister investigate - the possibilities of establishing a naval base at Cockburn Sound? If a completely equipped naval base there is beyond Australia’s means at present, will the Minister consider making a start on the provision of a naval base at Cockburn Sound by establishing docking and shore facilities for smaller naval craft?
Sir PHILIP McBRIDE The question of establishing a naval base at Cockburn Sound has been investigated on numerous occasions. At present, it is not considered desirable or necessary that that project be undertaken in the general defence programme. I shall consider the honorable member’s suggestion that docking and shore facilities for smaller naval craft be provided.
-Having tried and failed to obtain information from the Treasurer, I address a question to the Prime Minister. Has the right honorable gentleman any knowledge of the stream of entertainers who are coming to this country ? Have these people the approval of the Government? What drain, if any, does their coming to Australia impose on the dollar pool?
– I have no first-hand knowledge of these estimable people, but I have seen references to them in the press. I do not know what is involved in the dollar provision. The Treasurer is not present, but I shall obtain information on this matter from the Treasury and shall make it available to the House.
– I desire to ask the Minister for Defence Production whether he is aware that many people in New South Wales are greatly concerned about a report in the press to the effect that the Government proposes to build, within a short distance of Sydney, a. £10,000,000 munitions plant. In view of the information about the highly destructive effects of possible attacks with atomic or hydrogen bombs that has been circulated, will the Minister inform the House whether the report is accurate or inaccurate ?
– The Government has made no decision about the establishment of what we term a new filling factory, for the filling of shells, bombs and the like with explosives. Investigations upon which may be based a recommendation to the Government in relation to the establishment of such a filling factory have been made, but I can assure the honorable member that the factory will not be established closer to a capital city than similar factories were placed during World War II.
– Will the Minister for External Affairs say whether, during one of his more recent -journeys overseas, he sought and obtained a personal interview with the Communist Premier of China?
If so, when does he propose to tell the Parliament something about the matters discussed? Will he state whether the meeting had any particular significance?
– At Geneva, I think almost a year ago, I did, as I think was currently reported, meet Chou-En-Lai, the Prime Minister of China. I do not propose to make public the matters we discussed. It was a private conversation, and was regarded as such by each side by arrangement.
– Has the Minister foi External Affairs any information about a policy announcement by the Thai Government to the effect that it would object to any foreign troops being stationed in Thailand? How does this affect Seato, to which Thailand is a signatory?
– I know of no statement by the Thai Government that it would object to foreign troops being stationed within its borders. I may say at the same time that I know of no invitation by the Thai Government for foreign troops to enter its territory. In other words, I know of no pronouncement by the Thai Government on the matter raised by the honorable gentleman.
– In view of the vulnerability of the road and rail link between Sydney and Brisbane, made evident by the recent floods in the Hunter River valley, does the Minister for Defence agree that the construction of a sealed inland highway and the completion of a rail link to by-pass the Hunter River valley would strengthen the defences of eastern Australia?
– It is true’ that any road or rail project which strengthens the economy of Australia is also valuable for defence purposes, but I repeat that the responsibility for arranging priorities for road and rail works is entirely the responsibility of State governments. Consequently at this stage, I cannot make any suggestion about how such priorities should be arranged. diphtheria.
– Will the Minister for Health arrange for the conduct as early as possible of a campaign of immunization against diphtheria in the Jervis Bay and Wreck Bay areas of the Australian Capital Territory?
– i shall be pleased to bring the honorable gentleman’s suggestion to the notice of the appropriate officer of the department.
– As there has been considerable unrest in the wool industry recently, due, rightly or wrongly, to a feeling that the Government is trying to interfere in the affairs of the Australian Wool Bureau, will the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture, when filling the present vacancy on the bureau, consider the appointment, as in previous years, of a person of outstanding ability in the industry, and not, as recently, just a public servant from the Department of Commerce and. Agriculture?
– A great deal has been said in certain quarters about alleged interference by the Government in the affairs of the Australian Wool Bureau. I give a complete denial to the suggestion of interference. There has been no interference whatever by the Government, by me or by anybody else connected with the Government, in the affairs of the Australian Wool Bureau. That bureau was established by this Parliament on lines suggested by the wool industry itself. It comprises six representatives of the wool-growers, chosen by the woolgrowers themselves, and one government nominee. The truth of the matter is that the wool-growers cannot agree amongst themselves. I should be delighted to appoint to the bureau as wool adviser some person competent to occupy that post and acceptable to the whole of the Australian wool industry. But, although I have given the most intense study to this matter, I cannot think of one person in Australia available and competent to fill the position, who would be acceptable to all sections of the wool industry. If the wool industry wants its affairs to be managed to its satisfaction, and if it is so terrified that one nominee of the Go vernment on a board consisting of seven people will influence the policy of the board unduly, the wool-growers must choose to represent them on the bureau competent and influential people in whom the industry as a whole has confidence. Surely six men will not be terrified of one.
– I have, to-day, learned with great regret of the death of our old friend, the former Governor-General of this country, Lord Gowrie. He was, as we all agree on both sides of the House, the very model of a Governor-General. Indeed, he was the very model of a man. He was a great character, a wonderful soldier, and a. great gentleman who was full of human understanding and personal distinction. I mention this sad news to-day because I am sure that it would be agreeable to the House that we should communicate to his widow - that most charming and most wonderful woman - the profound sympathy of the people of this country.
– I agree with all that the Prime Minister has said about Lord Gowrie. I think that his association with Australia was the longest of any representative of the Crown in this country. For a time, he was Governor of South Australia and, later, of New South Wales. He afterwards became GovernorGeneral of the Commonwealth. He was Governor-General throughout the most critical period of our history. Throughout World War II., not only did he perform his official functions but, because of his great military experience, he was a source of great strength and a splendid counsel to the Ministers of that time of whom I had the honour to be one. He was also associated with Australia in the course of World War I. at Villiers Bretoneux which seemed to determine the outcome of the war in 1918. He won the highest decoration that a soldier can earn. I think that it was his only son who was lost in the war in the Western Desert. To Lady Gowrie, who was such a helpmate to the GovernorGeneral, and a friend to all of us in those critical years, I am sure that the Prime Minister will express the sense of great loss to Australia and-, the. British Commonwealth that we all have.
– I hope chat the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) will include in his- message to Lady Gowrie an expression of my deepest sympathy on behalf of those who sit with me. We have lost a great friend. Lord Gowrie was one who endeared himself to. the people and one who was very noble. He was a recipient of the highest honour for bravery that can be awarded. In addition tor performing his many duties, he found1 time to go out into the field and see out- soldiers doing their work. He took’ a great interest in them. He endeared himself *o the people and to the soldiers. I -join with the Prime Minister in expressing my deepest sympathy to Lady Gowrie.
– I lay on the table of the House the following paper : -
Commonwealth Electoral Act - Reports, with Maps by the Commissioners appointed- for the purpose of redistributing: into, electoral divisions the States of New South Wales., Western Australian and Tasmania. and move -
That the reports be printed.
Debate (on motion, by Dr. Evatt) adjourned.
-(Hon. Archie Cameron). - I have received from the honorable member for Darebin (Mr. Andrews) an intimation that, he: desires to submit a definite matter of. urgent public importance to. the House for discussion, namely -
The urgent necessity of increasing war widows’ and widows’ pensions in order to provide these, women with adequate means, of subsistence.
Is the proposal supported?
Eight, honorable members having risen in support of the: proposal,
.- I very much regret the necessity once again to impress on. the Government the intolerable plight, of the war widow and widow pensioners. Taking a superficial view of the subject,, it. would, appear that the present plight of widows results merely from the. fact. that, they are not an organized group. Whilst that might be true of the civilian widows, it is not true of war widows. Every possible attempt has been made to publicize the plight of war widows by their own organization and they have received a good deal of support from the press-. But notwithstanding the amount, of publicity that the war widows have- obtained, an injustice has been done to their case which requires a good deal of consideration by the Government. If the Government is not willing, to consider the matter it must be considered by the Parliament which must impress the Government with the fact that these people are in a plight which the Parliament will no longer tolerate.
I feel sure that the members of the Government are not callous. I see no reason why a man should become more carious as a member of the Government than he was as an ordinary member of the Parliament. But there must be some reason for this intolerable position having been allowed to continue, and I should like the Government to indicate why it has been allowed to continue. It is obvious that the people who are in receipt of these pensions are utterly unable to keep body and soul1 together. The basic wage is merely a subsistence wage. In order to find out how people manage to live on considerably less than the basic wage I examined a number of home budgets. These budgets of people who are trying to scrape along- with the most inadequate allowance- imaginable are incontrovertibly genuine. The budgets that have been presented to me in respect of the war- widows cannot be questioned, because they all represent genuine household budgets. They indicate quite clearly that a great majority of the widows of this country are- labouring under very heavy burdens. I shall now refer honorable members to an article which appeared in the Argus of the 27th March. The article is headed1 -
War widows fight to live> on.
The writer of this. article, in describing the conditions of the war widows, stated -
In drab shabby rooms or little suburban homes,, many of them wilting from forced neglect,. 0,000 Victorian war widows each week sit down to work out their budgets of despair. But they are fighting a losing battle against debt, a savage war of accountancy where the bills they tot up do not tally with their paltry pensions. A weeping war where all that is left are bitter memories, shattered pride and gnawing hunger.
To-day the average war widow has three children.
That is a very interesting fact, and honorable members when considering the position of the widows will all realize that those children have to be reared. The article proceeded -
Which means she gets (one child being over twelve years) £0 9s. 6d. a week, but the basic rate- in Victoria is £11 15s. a week.
The article also indicates that in 191S, when the basic wage was £3 5s. 6d., the war widow’s pension was £2 2s. a week without allowances for the children. The article continued -
What is the results’
A continuous fight for existence, ti con tinuous life of self-denial, a huge incidence among, widows Qf T.B. and nervous breakdowns, a haggard, old-before-your-time look.
The article continued, in much the same strain.. I have before me a budget which indicates how war widows are trying to live on the pittances that they receive from this, country. The woman who prepared, the budget is 45 years of age and is the mother of two children, one thirteen and the other eleven years of age. Her income- is a mother’s allowance of £4 a week, children’s allowances of £2 5s. a week, a home allowance of. £1 14s. 6d. a week and an education allowance of Ils. 6d.. a week.. Therefore,, her total income is £S lis. a week. However, she spends 15s. 9d. a week for milk, Ss. 2d. a week for bread, £2 a week for meat, £2 5s. for groceries £1 3s. for- fruit and vegetables; £2 5s. for- rent, 10s.. for- firewood and 14s. for gas and electricity. Therefore; honorable members will per,ceive that her total weekly- expenditure i? £10 Op. 11d However, that- bud set excludes 15s. a week, child endowment from her income, and excludes expenses for clothing, school fees, chemists and entertainment. ft seems to me that, the writer of the article to which I have referred has merely painted an ordinary normal picture of the very sorry plight of war widows. The president of the “War Widows Guild (Australia) has pointed out that her members are not so much claiming increased pensions ss they are claiming ordinary normal compensation. If a. man is injured at his work his family receives workers’ compensation, and if he is injured in a road accident his family receives compensation under various insurance funds and legislation. Indeed, some persons who have been injured in road accidents have been paid as much as £20,000 as compensation. Yet. the family of a man who has given his life for his country receives only a miserable pittance, which is more in the nature of punishment than a benefit. War widows are punished because if they are receiving Commonwealth pensions they are prohibited from supplementing their pensions to the degree necessary to keep their families in reasonable comfort. [ shall now direct my remarks to the plight of widows other than war widows, because they are at least as badly off as the war widow. Indeed, some of them are worse off. About 40,700 widows in this country receive ordinary widow’s pensions, and 18,000 of those receive class A. pensions, being women who have one or more children. There are also 22,000 widows in. class B, who are over 50 years of age and who do not have any children under sixteen years of age. The total amount paid to that large group of pernsioners by this, country is, according to a report on the matter published in. 1953-54, £6,500,000-. One could consider that sum particularly small, in view of the large number of persons who benefit from it.
The class- A widow receives £3 15s.. a week, and a ceiling, is placed on the amount of money which, may come into her home. The ceiling at present is £5 15s.. a week. Such. a. widow may have one. os more, children,, but her total income cannot be more, than £5 15s.. a. week. However, the- basic wage in. Victoria is £11 15s. a week, and, consequently, honorable members will realize that the plight of such widows must be dreadful. These widows have to scrape and screw in order to rear their children, but they do not benefit from rearing their children as much as the community itself does. This Parliament is asking the mothers who have lost their husbands to struggle on with a mere pittance to rear children for the benefit of the community.
I do not intend to make this matter a political football, because I do not blame the present Government alone for the position. I blame the Parliament. If enough honorable members of this House were to bring this matter forward they would make a big enough impression in the Parliament to improve the position of the widows of this country. I do not know how a widow with a family can manage on £5 15s. a week or less. I consider that those women must be worn out by fear and worry through trying to manage on their paltry allowances. I suggest that to have a ceiling on the family income is particularly dangerous, and I do not know why a woman should not be allowed to add to her family income until it is equivalent to the basic wage. If she has merely £5 15s. a week she will perhaps be forced to do things which she would not normally do. That will have a bad influence on herself and on her children. Obviously, she is going to earn money under the lap and will not report the fact to the Department of Social Services. If she is unable to do that, undoubtedly she will receive a fair amount of help from charitable organizations which will recognize her plight and be willing to help her. I do not think that a woman who has the misfortune to be a widow should be thrown on to the charity of the community in that way. I believe that it would be far better if such assistance were provided at the expense of the Commonwealth, instead of widows being obliged to indulge in practices which, I have no doubt, in most instances are completely foreign to their nature, but to which they must resort because of force of circumstances. If a woman knows that she is doing something which she should not do, her children will also have that knowledge. It seems to me that the position is a dangerous one, and I think that the Minister for Social Services should give some thought and attention to it.
The B class widow, who is a widow over 50 years of age, is entitled to a pension of only £2 17s. 6d. a week. It must be increasingly difficult for such a widow to earn money with which to supplement that pittance.
– Order I The honorable gentleman’s time has expired.
– As the Minister representing the Minister . for Repatriation (Senator Cooper) in this House, I propose to take, during the limited time at my disposal, the opportunity to reply to the remarks of the honorable member for Darebin (Mr. Andrews) insofar as they apply to war widows and orphans. Nobody in this country could have other than the utmost appreciation of the difficulties of war widows. Nothing which any’ government or parliament can do can make amends for the loss of the breadwinner, the husband and the father of the children. This Government has always been most sympathetic in that respect and has shown practical appreciation of the plight of unfortunate people such as war widows. It has not dealt with this matter casually, as I shall show in the course of my brief remarks. The Government has made a very special effort to do all that it can for them, and these people have always been in the thoughts of the Government.
I am certain that the matter now before the House, having regard to the record of honorable gentlemen opposite, would not have been raised had it not been that the president of the War Widows Guild of Australia, Mrs. Vasey, saw fit to communicate with all the members of this Parliament. I commend Mrs. Vasey for doing so. She is doing a very good job. I appreciate all that she has done, and I always give the utmost consideration to the representations which she makes from time to time. In my opinion, the speech of the honorable member for Darebin, which was based almost entirely on research conducted by Mrs. Vasey, and an extract from a Melbourne journal, did not do him very much credit. When he was a supporter of the Opposition proper, and when he was behind the previous Labour Government, he was silent on this matter, and so were his colleagues. Very little was done for war widows in those days. When one contrasts the amount which a. war widow and her dependants receive to-day with the amount which she received when the previous Labour Government was in office, there can be no wonder that honorable gentlemen opposite are quiet. The contrast must depress them, as I was depressed when I was a member of the Opposition of that time.
Since this Government assumed office there have been substantial progressive increases in the amounts of money made available to war widows and orphans. Clear proof of that will be seen in the figures to which I shall refer in due course. I wish to make clear the point that this Government has tackled the problem as no other government has tackled it. It has appointed a special Cabinet sub-committee of ex-servicemen whose task is to examine all representations that came forward from the War Widows Guild of Australia and other organizations of ex-service men and women. The officers of the Repatriation Department [ire invited to attend in the Cabinet room, and the committee hears and examines all the claims that are presented. Then, this Cabinet subcommittee makes its recommendations to the full Cabinet. Those recommendations are examined, and it has been as the result of such recommendations that the increases which have taken place over the years have been made. Action such as that had never occurred before, in relation to war pensions, in the history of this Parliament. I say that that is forthright evidence, together with the fact that the Government has substantially increased pensions year after year, that this Government has shown real and practical consideration for the problems of war widows.
The Minister for Repatriation was present at the conference to which the honorable member for Darebin referred, and his officers were with him. They discussed all these problems with Mrs. Vasey and her committee, and they are carrying out the promise which they made then, which was to examine carefully and thoroughly all the representations that were made. Those representations will be further considered by a Cabinet subcommittee, and also by the Cabinet. That is practical evidence of the sympathy of the Government for the problems that Mrs. Vasey and other war widows are up against. The matter before the House has not been prompted by a desire to help war widows. It is a purely political gesture. As I have said, the honorable member for Darebin never raised his voice in connexion with this matter until he had the brief placed in his hands, as it was placed in the hands of everybody else here, by Mrs. Vasey.
This Government has given more practical assistance to ex-service men and widows than did the previous Labour Government, which went out of office in 1949. In 1949, the total vote for pensions was £19,000,000. Last year, it was £37,000,000, or almost twice as much, and that amount included substantial contributions for war widows and orphans. In connexion with service pensions, the vote in 1949 was £1,500,000 and, in 1954 it was £3,000,000. I am satisfied that ex-servicemen greatly appreciate the way in which this Government has co-operated and worked with them in an endeavour to provide the greatest possible assistance with the limited funds available to it. I also am sure that they appreciate the way in which we have discussed these problems with them. What a contrast to the position under the Labour Government ! The then Minister for Repatriation, Mr. Frost, was defeated in his electorate, which was a substantial Labour electorate, because of the obvious indifference which he displayed to the problems of repatriation and war pensioners. Mr. Barnard, who was the honorable member for Bass in those days, and also Minister for Repatriation, was defeated, too, because the people were dissatisfied with his attitude, and that of the Labour Government, to such problems.
The honorable member for Darebin referred to a Mrs. A., who had two children aged eleven and thirteen years. If the honorable gentleman will examine the circumstances, I suggest he will find a great difference between the amounts paid in such cases by the previous Labour Government and those paid by the present
Government. In 1949, the war widows’ pension was £3; to-day it is £4, an increase of 25 pel’ cent. In 1949, the domestic allowance was 7s. 6d.; it is now £1 143. 6d. The pension for the first child in 1949 was 17s. 6d. ; it is now £1 6s. 6d. For the second child, the pension was 12s. 6d. ; it is now !8s. 6d. In 1949, the education allowance was 9s.; now it is lis. 6d. The child endowment in 1949 was 10s. ; now it is 15s. The total payment to which this woman would have been entitled when the Labour party was in office would have been £5 16s. 6d., whereas to-day she is entitled to £9 6s., a difference of £3 9s. 6d. That sum gives an indication of the Government’s appreciation of the problems of these widows, and of the manner in which they are being treated at the hands of the Government.
The other example to which the honorable member referred was that of Mrs. 0., with six children under the age of sixteen years. In 1949, she would have been entitled to a war widow’s pension of £3, whereas she is now entitled to £4. In 1949, the domestic allowance would have been nil, but now she is entitled to £1 14s. 6d. The pension allowable for the first child in 1949 would have been 17s. 6d., whereas it is now £1 6s 6d. In 1949, five children would have been entitled to a pension of 12s. 6d. each, making a total of £3 2s. 6d., whereas the entitlement to-day is £4 12s. 6d. The child endowment that would have been payable in 1949 was £2 10s., whereas it is now £2 15s. If the Labour party had remained in office, this family would have received a total payment of £9 10s., whereas it is now entitled to £14 8s. 6d., or an increase, since the Government assumed office, of £4 18s. 6d. In 1949, the domestic allowance was payable only to a widow who had one or two children, but not more than two, under sixteen years of age. Because Mrs. C. had 3ix children, she would not have received any domestic allowance until four of her six children had attained the age of sixteen years. I have never been able to understand that fact, but that was the policy of the then government, and that is the policy that the honorable member for Darebin has been supporting for some time. That position was remedied by the Government after it assumed office.
The education allowance, -too, has been substantially increased by the Government. Probably the honorable member does not know these “facts. Otherwise he probably would not have occupied the time of the House by submitting this urgency matter for discussion. In 1949, under a Labour government, children between the ages of twelve and fourteen years who were attending school received, if living at home, an allowance of 9s. or, if living away from home, an allowance of £1 10s. For children between the ages of fourteen and sixteen years the living-at-home allowance was 12s., and the allowance when living away from home was £1 10s. For children over sixteen years of age, the allowances were £1 13s. and £2 10s. respectively. If they were doing a professional course, the allowance for children living at home was £2 5 s., and for children living away from home £3 5s. a week. Now, the allowances are as follows: - For children between twelve and fourteen years of age, lis. 6d. if living at home and £2 if living away from home; for children between fourteen and sixteen years, 15s. a week if living at home, and £2 if living away from home; for children over sixteen years of age, £2 if living at home, and £3 5s. if living away from home; for children doing a professional course £2 12s. 6d. if living at home, and £4 2s. 6d. if living away from home. Those figures represent substantial increases.
– They should represent an increase, in view of the present cost, of living.
– “What does the Minister think those allowances would buy? They would not buy a dozen apples.
– The figures to which I have referred make it quite clear, without any prompting from honorable members opposite, that, when possible, the Government has substantially increased the allowances. The domesticallowance is payable to a widow if she has a child or children under sixteen years of age. That allowance has been granted by the Government also to a widow who has a child over sixteen year? of age who is undergoing educational training, which includes apprenticeships, and who is not earning an adult wage, [t is paid also in the case of a widow who is over the age of 50 years, or who is permanently unemployable. Money made available from the Services Canteens Trust Fund is being used by the trust, with the approval of the Government, to assist war widows. During the year ended December, 1954, £18,101 was granted to children of deceased persons for the purchase of boots and payment of fares to assist them in their education. The trust also provided £29,183 for women and children who were in necessitous circumstances for the purchase of particular items for family use.
These facts are a complete answer to the arguments that were advanced by the honorable member who submitted this urgency matter. He would have done a better job of work if he had ensured that the party to which he belongs had attended to these matters when it was in office. A comparison of the record of the Government and the record of the Labour party reveals the sympathy that has been manifested by the Government since it assumed office. The Government has not done all that it would like to have done. Nobody can say that all that should be done for widows and orphans has been done, but what has been done is substantial. Let me assure Mrs. Vasey, and the members of the War Widows Guild (Australia), that the representations that were made to the Minister for Repatriation will be thoroughly examined by him, as he promised, and by officers of the Department of Repatriation. Those representations will be examined also by the Cabinet sub-committee that is responsible for considering such matters. That statement applies, not only to representations made by the War Widows Guild (Australia), but also to representations of the various ex-servicemen’s organizations. When the basis upon which the next budget will be framed is being examined, all of the points that have been raised by Mrs. Vasey will be considered, and there was no need for the honorable member to have submitted an urgency matter for discussion in the House. I am perfectly satisfied that the
Government will give all practical assistance.
– Order! The Minister’s time has expired.
Mr. CHAMBERS (Adelaide) [4.SJ - The Minister for the Army (Mr. Francis) has stated that he has put forward a defence to the case that has been submitted by the Opposition this afternoon, but I feel that the war widows and the civilian widows will not accept it as such. He has chided the Opposition for not having brought this matter before the House at an earlier date, or on another occasion, but honorable members know that, during the years that the Government has been in office, the Opposition has submitted many such urgency matters for discussion by the House. It was the intention of the Opposition to submit such a matter in November, 19541, but the House rose early in that month, and it resumed only in April of this year. It would he an everlasting disgrace to any government to have to accept responsibility for the Parliament being in recess for six consecutive months.
The position of the war widow and of the civilian widow has deteriorated gradually over the yeaTs. It is all very well for the Minister to cite figures to show the sums that war widows received under a Labour government up to 1949. and to compare those sums with the sums that they are receiving to-day. It is not so much a question of how much one receives as of what one can purchase with what he receives. Let us take the case of the civilian widow. When the Australian Labour party left office in 1949, a civilian widow received an amount that was equal to 37.4 per cent, of the basic wage. To-day, in spite of the increases to which the Minister has referred, she receive? an amount that is equal to approximately 31 per cent, of the basic wage. That is the complaint of the civilian widows. They do not complain that their pensions have not been increased during the past four or five years. As I stated in this House last week, the present Government did. the greatest disservice to the community when it advocated a “ No “ vote in the prices referendum of 1948. The defeat of that referendum iun.de increases of pensions necessary.
When increases are granted, the continual rise in the prices of goods puts a 1 > rake upon the value of the higher pension payments. Nobody can argue successfully against that statement. The war widows are in a desperate plight. We owe something to all widows, hut our debt to the war widows is particularly heavy. When World War I. broke out, many war widows of to-day were young married women with a hopeful future. They might have been married several years with a family of small children. Their husbands responded patriotically to the national call and left Australia. Their wives had to remain behind while their husbands were abroad with the armed forces. Many thousands of those husbands have shed their blood on foreign shores. Their bones have rotted in war graves throughout the world.
– The honorable member does not mean what he is saying,
– I mean that those men sacrificed their lives for Australia. Their bodies lie in war graves throughout the length and breadth of the world. The Minister for Social Services (Mr. McMahon) should not misunderstand what I mean. I remind him that thousands of the husbands to whom I have referred did not return, and many of the war widows do not even know where the bodies of their husbands lie. When the country was at war, we said that we would look after the war widows. They have made great sacrifices, and how have we looked after them? They have been treated so shabbily that it is mental torture for the war widows, and for the civilian widows also, to try to keep body and soul together and to rear their children decently. They look to the government in office, whether it is Labour or Liberal, to protect the interests of themselves and their children.
– The honorable member for Adelaide was a Minister in 1 Labour government. Why did he not do something about it?
– I have told the House how much better the war widows and civilian widows were treated by a Labour government than they have been by this Government, which has sacrificed all the conditions that were provided by the previous Labour Government. In their petty political desire to gain control of the treasury bench supporters of the present Government told the Australian people that price control was not necessary. They said that the States could handle the task better. Events have shown how wrong they were.
– Even the New South Wales Government has abolished prices control.
– Have I no protection against the Vice-President of the Executive Council (Sir Eric Harrison), Mr. Acting Deputy Speaker ?
– I was addressing the Chair.
– I am addressing the Chair, and the Minister should not interject.
– The honorable member for Adelaide should have protection against himself.
– The Ministers who have interjected do not like to be reminded of the facts. They and their supporters did a great disservice to Australia’ when they fought against the retention of prices control. Prices have risen continuously since then. I do not have to remind the housewives of Australia of that fact, because they have to find the wherewithal to keep body and soul together and educate their children. The widows of Australia know little about entertainment. It is a struggle for them to maintain themselves and their families. It is all very well for the Minister for the Army to say, as he did; that the matter will be considered when the budget is being prepared. If war were declared to-morrow, would the Minister for the Army say that the Government would examine the financial situation when the next budget was being prepared, and then provide forces to fight the war? Of course not. The Government would examine the situation immediately. I appeal to the Government again to do something for the widows, not in the distant future or when the budget is being prepared. It should do something now to relieve the plight of war and civilian widows in Australia.
Mr. MCMAHON (Lowe- Minister for
Social Services) [4.17]. - The honorable member for Adelaide (Mr. Chambers) did not attempt to put forward a reasoned argument why civilian widows should receive an increase of pension. I believe that most honorable members will agree that he tried to introduce a purely political note into the debate. He concentrated mainly on prices control and matters of that nature which are quite outside the subject under discussion.
– They are very important.
– The honorable member for Adelaide referred to prices control. In that connexion, it should be stated that the New South Wales Labour Government has recently abolished all prices control, and I think that most other State governments in Australia have done so also. I mention that matter only in passing as it has little or nothing to do with this debate. Since the matter has been raised, I believe that honorable members should bear in mind that a Labour or Socialist government in New South Wales took the active steps to remove prices control. A second point that I wish to make clear, because I do not know whether it was brought out effectively in the statement made by the Minister for the Army (Mr. Francis), is that r,o-day a war widow with three children receives a. pension of £10 14s. 6d. I am not arguing that that is a bountiful amount. The honorable member for Darebin (Mr. Andrews) has stated that the basic wage in Victoria is £11 15s. 2d., and I remind honorable members that the war widows to whom I have referred receive a weekly pension of £10 14s. 6d. In addition, a war widow can earn as much as she is able to earn, because she is free of a means test. I have dealt with these matters because they were mentioned by the honorable member for Adelaide.
As to the speech of the honorable member for Darebin, I wish to say on behalf of the Government that his arguments were reasoned and well put, and everything he said will receive the closest consideration. Two matters that will be considered in particular are the problems of widows’ pen sions and housing for the widows. I mentioned last week during the debate in this House on age pensions that the present is not an opportune time to consider increases in rates of pensions. That view is accepted by all responsible people including the president of the War Widows Guild (Australia), who, I believe, was one of the persons who inspired the .raising of this matter to-day. In a circular which has been sent to all honorable members, she made the following admission : -
This guild is perfectly aware of all the difficulties that face any Cabinet in adjudicating between the claims of the various section* of the community. Just at present the Government is being subjected to a great deal of pressure.
She accepted the fact that the budget period is the appropriate time to consider contending claims in respect of social services benefits and other commitments of the Government.
I do not think that a debate on this subject calls for the florid statements that were made by the honorable member for Adelaide. Consideration of this matter is far too important and demands too great a degree of sincerity to warrant indulgence in party political statements or stupid statements because, when dealing with this subject, we should consider, first, the needs of war widows and civil widows in order to see what we can appropriately do to satisfy their needs. If we are to evolve a real charter of social security and welfare for widows, whether they be war widows or civilian widows, we must consider many aspects other than the rate of pension, such as child endowment, allowances in respect of children and welfare payments generally. I am glad to be able to say that the New South Wales Government is now standing up to its responsibility and is providing a child welfare payment at the rate of £1 a week to a mother with two children. We must consider strengthening family life and increasing contentment in the home. One way to do this is to help mothers to look after their children. Educational facilities, must be developed. As far as practicable, day nurseries must be encouraged, and medical, pharmaceutical and hospital benefits should be made available to widows on as generous a scale as possible. War widows, of course; participate in those benefits. Consequently, this matter demands not the approach of the inflammatory domain orator but the most careful consideration find the greatest sympathy on the part of this Government and State governments charitable organizations and, above: all, the individuals affected. It is- useless so try to pass the buck in this matter. The simple fact is that if this class of widows is in need, this Government and other governments which participate in this honorable task will look at the matter not as one of party politics but as a. matter requiring their most careful consideration and deserving of sympathy.
Returning to the widows’ pension I should like to mention that during the last few years this Government has increased the Class A widows’ pension by £1 7s.6d. a week, which is an increase of 57.9 per cent. A widow who has the care, custody or control of an infant, now receives a pension at the rate of £3 15s. a week. If she has the care of two children: - that was the example used by honorable members opposite in this debate - she receives an additional 15s. a week, and from the Child Welfare Department in New South Wales she receives 7s. 6d. a week in respect of the first child and 12s. 6d. a week in respect of the second child. Thus, such a widow is entitled to receive allowances totalling £5 10s. a week. In addition, if she has the care of two children, she is permitted to earn £4 a week, which would make her total income £9 10s. a week, if she is capable of undertaking employment. She is permitted to own a home, personal effects and also a motor car for her private use. Furthermore, all widows and their children are entitled to free medical, pharmaceutical and general practitioner benefits. These facts prove that the Government is approaching this problem in a realistic and sensible fashion.
I repeat that this is not a matter for party political dispute or a subject for glib speeches which mean nothing and severely test the sincerity of the person who makes them. As my colleague has said, this matter will receive sympathetic consideration by the Government, but reason demands that the Government should consider it in conjunction with its other budget proposals. The Government will not raise false expectations or create the impression that; something might be done that will not be done.. Neither does the Government desire thatthe impression should be created that civilian widow pensioners have any real reason for discontent, because I make it clear that the Government has: not yet made any decision on. the matter, but will give careful consideration to the. needs of these persons at the appropriate time.
Motion (by Mr. McMahon) put -
That the business of the day be called on.
The House divided. (Mr. Speaker - Hon. Archie Cameron.)
Majority . . 10
Question soresolved in the affirmative.
Debate resumed from the 28th April (vide page 315), on motion by Mr. Menzies -
That the following paper be printed: -
Foreign Affairs and Defence - Ministerial Statement, 20th April, 1955
– I have listened intently to this debate on foreign affairs and defence, and, to my mind, it resolves itself into a question of which is the best method of combating communism in Asia. Members of the Government parties and of the party led by the honorable member for Ballarat (Mr. Joshua) believe that the best method of combating communism in Asia is by sending troops to Malaya, but the Labour party believes that the sending of troops to that country will not stop the onward march of communism. As a matter of fact, we believe that the despatch of troops to Malaya will most likely hasten the onward march of communism. That is our view. We are entitled to express it in this House and before the people, and, because we express that view, we should not be labelled as Communists or fellow-travellers. We are still living in a democracy, thank God, and a person who lives in a democracy is entitled to hear both sides of the question. We, as the official Opposition in this Parliament, put the opposite side to that of the Government and the people of Australia are entitled to hear it, and to make up their own mind accordingly on this very important matter.
If we were living in a totalitarian country, whether the rule was totalitarian from the extreme right or the extreme left, we should be entitled to hear only one side of the question. However, we live in Australia, and we are entitled to hear both sides of it.
The Labour party believes that it would be a colossal blunder to send troops to Malaya, because we claim that we shall not combat the march of communism by that method, or by resort to war in any shape or form. We say that such a move will most likely hasten the expansion of communism, and we submit to the House that recent history has shown after after each world war in this century communism hasgrown. Communism grew after World War I and grew rapidly after World WarII. If there is a third world war, I venture to say that communism will make even more rapid strides.
The Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) has stated in his speech that the people of Malaya will welcomeour troops. The right honorablegentleman has expressed only the conservative view. That is not the view of the ordinary people of Malaya. The supporters of foreign intervention were heavily defeated in the Singapore elections recently, when the Labour front, which is opposed to the sending of foreign troops to Malaya, won seventeen of the 32 seats in the Legislative Council. The view of the Prime Minister is not the real view of Asia. Honorable members who read the Melbourne Argus of the 29th April last could not have failed to be impressed by the editorial. The newspaper had sent its foreign affairs editor, Dr. Russo, to Singaporeto find out the real position. The editorial pointed out that Dr. Russo’s researches were not confined to the clubs of Singapore, which are the gathering places of orthodox political and financial leaders, but extended to a wide range to native language newspapers and other unprotected sources of rankandfile Asian opinion. Honorable members, if they will not acceptthat view, will surely accept the view of a well-known Asian leader, Sir John Kotelawala, who is the Prime Minister of Ceylon, and who cannot be said to have any Communist leanings. The West Australian newspaper, in its issue of the 14th December last, published the following report under the heading “ Ceylon’s Leader Cites Asia’s Case “ : -
San Francisco. Sunday - The Prime Minister of Ceylon (Sir John Kotelawala) said here last night that Asia had reacheda cross-roads of history and must make a choice between communism and Western democracy.
The millions of Asia, he said, had to make a choice which would enable them “to lose nothing except their hunger “.
He said: “The end of World War II. was followed by a social revolution in Asia, the significance of which has not, it appears to me. still been fully grasped by the majority nf tin; people, particularly in this part of the world.”
The reference then was to the United Slates of America. The news item continued as follows :
Leave us alone,” he said, “ and we will work it out for ourselves. The peace of Asia i« our business.”
We cannot afford to ignore the opinion of such a man.
The Prime Minister made the following statement in his speech on the 20th April last : -
What does the Prime Minister mean hy those words? Does he mean that after we send, troops to Malaya, we shall 1)0 looking around for other Asian countries to which to send battalions of troops? Such an inference may reasonably be drawn from the right honorable gentleman’s words. He has not explained his meaning very clearly. Honorable members should, make a close study of North From Malaya, by Mr. Justice William 0. Douglas who, as we know, was well received in this chamber, and whose addresses was listened, to intently by honorable gentlemen from both sides of the House. Mr. Justice Douglas, who is an eminent American, gave the real reason for the growth of communism in Asia. Me pointed out that, in some parts of Asia, 98 per cent, of the land was held by 2 per cent, of people, that the landlords charge the peasants extortionate rents for that land, and that when the landlords had the peasants in their grip financially, they acted as money-lenders and charged interest at rates of from 200 per cent, to 400 per cent. Mr. Justice Douglas, on page 98 of his book, makes the following statement about colonialism in Malaya: -
There is still talk of colonialism in Malaya. The British record in Malaya hits its seamy side. Britain to-day has important stake?in Malaya. It is estimated that Malaya makes the largest dollar contribution of any of Britain’s colonies to the sterling pool - an amount that has been running close to 500,000,000 dollars a year. In other words, Malaya, though acquiring dollars with its rubber and tin, is not allowed to spend them for steel, cement, and other needed materials. Five of its six dollars go into the sterling pool.
The Labour party is opposed to colonialism, whether it is led by the capitalists or the Communists in the community. That is our answer to that. Imperialism is objectionable, whether it be from the right or from the left. Under a Labour government Great Britain went a long way towards a solution of this allimportant problem. It gave India and Burma their independence. Although there had been considerable Communist influence in those countries, it was over come merely by giving the countries their independence and allowing them to resolve their own difficulties. I suggest that, had the French acted similarly in Indo-China, we should not have been faced with the disastrous situation that has existed in that country for some time. As a matter of fact, my remarks about India and Burma apply to all countries that have been granted their independence. As a result of their having gained their independence, communism has been kept in check in them. I do not say that communism has been defeated entirely in those countries, but it has been checked. It certainly has not been kept in check in some of the countries of Asia that have not been given their independence.
The Bandung conference of Asian and African nations indicated clearly that Asia wants to settle its problems in its own way. The dispatch of troops from this country to an Asian country will make no appeal to the Asian people, and will do more harm than good. Australia should be working with the Asian people, -finding ways and means, by international action, to give a greater measure of economic security to Asian countries. Those countries at present are looking to India for leadership, and the Prime Minister of India, Mr. Nehru, is giving them the leadership they want. Mr. Nehru has set down five principles which, if observed in all countries of the world, would end the present terrible state of world affairs, and would operate for the mutual benefit of all nations. Those principles are as follows: - 1, Mutual respect ; 2, mutual non-aggression ; 3, noninterference ; 4, equality; 5, peaceful existence. If we all observed those principles there would be no war and, very definitely, no question of dispatching troops to Malaya.
We, as a nation, cannot afford to ignore the voice of Asia. When Burma, India and Indonesia refused to join the SouthEast Asia Treaty organization we were naturally very concerned. It was a staggering blow to us. Still, that was the Asian viewpoint, and we cannot ignore it. We have had the privilege, over the last two centuries or so, of making the rules of the game and expecting all the other nations to abide by them.. So it came as a shock to us to realize that Asian countries not only wanted to have a say in the playing of the game, but also wanted to have a voice in the making of the rules under which it was to be played. We could not take it. But we have to realize that our thinking must be realined to go further towards meeting the Asian viewpoint, because the Asian determination for a place in the sun will not he crushed by force of arms. I say that the West can still win, but it will not win by force. We missed wonderful opportunities after the war. They are still there, however, and we can regain control of the situation if we are shrewd enough and wise enough to do so. After the war the Communists were more cunning than we were. They fed the hungry. True, it was mainly with promises, but they kept encouraging the Asian people, with the result that the people of Malaya and other Asian countries began to believe that the Communists, who promised them some easing of the conditions under -which they lived, were their real friends. The population of Asia is growing at a tremendous rate. Mr. Justice Douglas states that if the present rate of increase continues there will be, in Asia, at the end of the next fifteen years, an additional 150,000,000 people. The food supplies available to Asia now cannot feed the present Asian population and, therefore, cannot hope to cope with the natural increase. I wonder what the Asian people think when they read, occasionally, in the Australian, American and Canadian press, suggestions that food production should be restricted. What fertile ground that is for the Communists in Asia to work on ! They can point out to the people of Asia that democracies are countries which have bulging bins of food which they will not release to feed the hungry people of Asia. We can counteract this kind of propaganda by giving Asians evidence that we are prepared to produce more food for the hungry people of Asia. Surely some plan can be devised, whereby surplus foodstuffs from Australia, Canada, America and other countries could, by some means, be given to Asian people who lack sufficient food. Some people say that the people of Asia want only rice, and do not want to eat wheat. That is not true. Asian people will eat wheat even although their ordinary diet consists of rice. The proof of that fact is to be found in India, to which country the United States is now sending large quantities of wheat.
It has been said that the position in India is easing greatly as a result of independence. Despite that improvement, however, one of the latest reports available shows that the people of the United States have a standard of living that is 32 - times higher than the standard of living of the people of India. The same comparison applies largely to other Asian countries. It reminds me of the French queen who, told that the people of Paris were clamouring for bread, replied, “Let them eat cake She did not even realize that they had neither bread nor cake to eat. We must do something urgently about the position in Asia. We owe it, not only to ourselves, to do something about it, but also to the Asian countries. The bad economic circumstances of those countries are the result of the conditions in which their people live, and we must, do something to improve them. Recently we have heard a great deal said in this chamber about the procurement of monkeys from the West Indies to enable production of the Salk polio vaccine to be proceeded with. The manner in which those monkeys are trapped by natives provides an interesting analogy. The natives chain a. coco-nut to a date-palm. The coco-nut contains a lump of sugar., which the monkey, can grasp through a hole in the- shell which is large enough to admit its. paw, hut not large enough to permit withdrawal of the paw while the monkey still holds the sugar. The monkey grasps the sugar through the hole and will not let it go. As a result, it is captured. We have to be prepared to let the sugar go in the form of machinery, technical assistance and so on. We have to be prepared to help the people of Asia with education, land reform and the like. Unless we are prepared to do that, we’ shall not get far. According to the latest reports it is estimated that the amount of capital required to pull the Asian countries out of their terrible position is £5,000,000,000 a year for a period of years. That is a colossal amount. But we should be able to find ways and means of providing it. I am not suggesting that Australia alone should do so, but I suggest that the United States, with its colossal wealth, should be able, in concert with other countries, to find ways to do something about it. Remember, if they did do so they would only be paying back something of the wealth that they have taken from Asian countries. The Colombo plan is a great plan but, as has been said iti this House earlier to-day, it does not go far enough. What is required in Asia is a plan similar to the Marshall aid plan which, after the war, prevented European countries from turning to communism. Something on such a gigantic scale is needed in Asia. Communism in Asia will be beaten only by improving the conditions of life and the well-being of the Asian people. The Minister for the Interior (Mr. Kent Hughes) said last week in this House that the one ray of sunshine in Asia is the Nationalist Government in Formosa. I shall read to the House a quotation from Formosa To-day, which Mr. Justice Douglas quotes on page 280 of the book, excerpts from which I have already read. The quotation reads -
For the great’ majority of Chinese on Formosa the fearful feature of this situation! is the lack of legal, protection for the ordinary citizen. He can be arrested at night by a. squad of military police, tried by a military court-martial, and’ sentenced with little opportunity to appeal. Once taken into custody, the1 ordinary Chinese, is in effect at the mercy of the garrison head-quarters. A person may be arrested because he actually is a subversive. He can also be picked up because some one who wants his job or property has denounced him as a. Communist to the authorities.
Mr. Justice Douglas made the following observation about the elections in Formosa :: -
First, the local officials who are elected do not have full authority in local affairs. They exercise only those powers delegated by the central government. And they share those powers with officials appointed from on high.
Second, the elections in 1951 were noi honest ones. They started in the southern part of the island: and it soon became apparent that the Formosans were going to win the great majority of the offices. The Kuomintang stepped in at once and “ controlled “ the remaining elections so that their men won. Where their candidate did not win, they made up for the defeat by putting one of their m*m in the office alongside the winner.
That is the way of government that the Minister for the Interior considers is the one ray of hope in the Asian scene at the present time. We can understand; if that is his viewpoint, why he wants to send troops to Malaya. He indicated, last Thursday evening, that elections are to be held in Malaya at the end of this year. Does that account for the Government wanting to send troops there now? Why does it not wait until it. gets the opinion of the Malayan, people after they have attained self-government and held elections ?
The people of Malaya have not received the treatment that they should have received from the authorities there A Far-Eastern survey, the results of which were reviewed in a London journal, Eastern World’, in its issue for March, 1955, in an article headed “ Amnesty in Malaya “, clearly indicates the action that should be taken in this matter. The article stated -
The initiative of Tunku Abdul Rahman, President of the- United Malay National Organization, in proposing a general amnesty for, the terrorists in Malaya, and tha courage of Dato Sir Cheng-lock Tan, President, of the Malayan Chinese Association, in saying he would go into the jungle to discuss an amnesty with them, should, be applauded: The Government, as would be1 expected, opposed the idea of a general amnesty. What is the alternative ?
There is no end in sight to the five-year-old emergency” and1 the cost of it cannot be borate by the administration: for ever. The arduous operations by the army in thu Malayan jungles have brought a. number of surrenders, but the core of the problem is- as far out of reach as ever it was. The Government’s handling of villagers during the five years of activity has built up resentment among a great many people, and there have been times during the emergency when sympathy for the terrorists in the villages has increased as a result of government curfews and resettlements.
– Order ! The honorable gentleman’s time has expired.
.- Let me say at the outset that, at a critical time in Australia’s history, it is deplorable that a matter so vital as this country’s relationships “with the people almost on. its borders should be made the plaything of party politics in this Parliament, lt is obvious, from the statements of: those who oppose the methods that the- Government proposes to adopt to protect the people of Australia, that the Government’s opponents lack a knowledge of the situation. The honorable member for Swan (Mr. Webb) quoted lengthily from a book by Mr. Justice Douglas, of the United States Supreme Court, who visited the countries of ^South-East Asia, and who, after a. superficial examination of them, has written a book about his impressions. The honorable member for Fremantle (Mi-. Beazley) similarly told us a story about what he learned from superficial, contact, with a few of the head people. I. suggest to the honorable member for Fremantle and to other members of the Australian Labour party that the people f fora, whom the real facts of the Malayan situation may be gleaned are. those who have mixed with the Malayan- people- in general and not only with those- in authority in the country. The men of the Australian Imperial Force- who risked their lives in an attempt, to save: Malaya from those who would overrun it, will tell- honorable: members opposite whether Malaya, will, welcome- our assisttance Discussion, with the man in the street is a- better means of obtaining accurate information than is a. superficial’ contact, with the men at the top.
Th& honorable member- for- Fremantle: informed- us: that, the. greatest objection of. the Malayans was to the white: man’s; contempt. He did not- tell us< that among themselves they have a contempt for each other that has no equal. I can say from personal knowledge and experience that one of the greatest injuries that Mahatma Gandhi suffered was not the fact that the white people of Africa would not tolerate Indians; but. that the African natives considered Indians lower than the lowest native. Among the people in India who talk so much about equality a caste system is still observed. Indians, Chinese, Malays and other native peoples all look down upon the other races. Contempt for people of another race is not peculiar to the white races. The honorable member for Fremantle should have lived with the people and learned their innermost thoughts if he wished to give us information, and should not- have come back with, a story based on the most superficial communication with, the head people in Malaya.
What alternative to the Government’s proposal does the Australian Labour party offer? The honorable member for Swan stated that we should give the people of Asia charity ; that we have bins of wheat and other foodstuffs galore that we can pour out upon the people of Asia. But he then contradicted himself and. talked a:bout the standard of living: I have yet to learn that an ounce, a pound, a. ton or millions of pounds worth of charity has ever raised the standard of. living of any people; The result is quite the reverse : It sends them lower in their own estimation and in our eyes. The methods- of the Australian Government, in conjunction with the efforts of the free democracies, in assisting the Asian people are the only practicable- means by which their standards- can. be raised., That means is found in helping them to help themselves and in convincing them in that way that we entertain- no- class hatred. We want them, as a result of their own proud, endeavours, to enjoy the standards that we,- enjoy We- do. not want. them1 forever to- remain subjects of our: charity, our- commiseration, sinking even lower into, the depths of despair.
The Leader of the Opposition (Dr-. Evatt.) proposes- that we should rely on the. United Nations organization. Fax be it from me. to* decry the. wonderfulwork that- is- done by that organization. in many fields, such as research, education, health and science, in assisting the backward countries and even the more advanced nations. . The United Nations organization, however, in the field of security, has been an utter and damnable failure. I have no hesitation in making that assertion without equivocation. Down the years many nations, to their regret, relied upon the supposed security offered to them by the League of Nations. That body has now been replaced by the United Nations organization, which, through the Security Council, promises international action. How many nations regret the fact that they ever placed their faith in international conciliation and arbitration? Those nations to-day are nations no longer. I speak with authority on this matter, because I have before me the report of the ninth session of the United Nations General Assembly, which was held in December last. At page 6 of the report appears the following statement about what the delegates thought of the United Nations organization : -
Very serious doubts as to the present significance of the United Nations in international affairs were raised by a number of delegations. The ‘Canadian representative initially quoted the Secretary-General’s warning, given in his annual report, against by-passing the United Nations and urged that the danger be recognized. This warning was echoed by the great majority of succeeding speakers. Some felt that it was undeniable that the United Nations had in recent years lost prestige, for there was a most noticeable trend on the part of states to seek procedures and solutions outside the organization. The representative of Pakistan
Pakistan is one of the States that is not relying entirely upon the United Nations, but is doing something itself to secure its protection. Let me resume the quotation -
The representative of Pakistan said, “ In respect of its main functions, the maintenance of peace and security, the prevention and removal of threats to the peace and the suppression of acts of aggression, notwithstanding its action in Korea, there prevails a sense of disappointment and frustration concerning the United Nations “.
The representatives of the United Kingdom, France and the United States attempted to modify this disappointment. In the view of the representative of the United States, if many of the efforts for peace were conducted outside the United Nations itself, it should not bo forgotten that the organs of the
United Nations were themselves steadily carrying forward activities which contributed substantially, though not spectacularly, t>> peace.
I agree that the organs of the United Nations are doing that outside the field of security. On page 7 of the document the following passage appears -
The reasons for the decline, or at least fur the by-passing, of the organization were the subject of wide speculation. The Canadian representative endeavoured to provide some comfort. “ Perhaps a disproportionate amount of attention has been devoted to the United Nations’ failures, which are indeed not so much the failures of the United Nations as an institution a3 of the peoples and governments which make up its membership.”
That is an indication of the tone of the discussions at the last meeting of the United Nations. A gathering of representatives of nations all over the world expressed its disappointment at the fact that nations could, no longer rely upon the organization to maintain peace and make certain of their security. That is not only my opinion. It is an opinion held all over the world. I suggest it is far more worthy of acceptance by the people of this country than is the opinion of the Leader of the Opposition, who has been proved to be wrong so often. Perhaps he will suggest that that discussion by the United Nations was another conspiracy.
So we find that the grounds upon which the Australian Labour party is trying to resist the attempts made by this Government to secure the safety of this country are grounds upon which the people can place no reliance. The remarks that were made by the Leader of the Opposition when he spoke in this debate, showe’d that he had little knowledge of strategy. He said that if we decided to send Australian troops to Singapore, we should remember that Australia was no further from Singapore by air than Singapore was from Australia. That is quite right. But he overlooked the fact that if we held a line at Singapore, our potential enemy would be so many miles further away from Singapore and quite possibly this country would be out of his reach. Apparently the Leader of the Opposition contemplated two lines of trenches at Singapore. He failed to appreciate the significance of the change that has taken place in modern warfare.
What can we do to provide for the security of this country other than take the sort of action that a prudent individual would take to secure his protection and that of his friends? “What more can we do than take steps to make ourselves secure against the force of arms? We have made every possible peaceful approach to Russia and China. Perhaps the Leader of the Opposition and his followers have blinded themselves to the fact, but is there anybody else in the world who does not acknowledge that our danger conies from only one source, Russia? We have told Russia so time and again, yet we still look for something other than pious words that will remove our anxiety. We are still looking for some action from China to remove our anxiety about that country. China, like Russia, is the holder of illgotten gains, if I may put it in that way. Yet, it is suggested that we should bring China into our midst as a member of the United Nations. It is suggested that we should, so to speak, make a good fellow of China. I ask the Leader of the Opposition, who is learned in the law, whether he would be prepared to appoint a convicted habitual thief as the custodian of his valuable goods. Of course, he would not be prepared to do that unless he had made sure that his goods were under lock and key and were guarded by policemen. But he suggests that this nation and the other free nations of the world should jeopardize their freedom by doing something of a similar kind. The United Nations has told Russia and China that they are aggressor nations. Are we to ignore that? The obvious way in which China and Russia can satisfy the democracies of the world that they have no further territorial ambitions or imperialistic ambitions is to give up what they have so wrongly and so tragically taken from other people. If they were to give a sign of their sincerity, there would be a lessening of the tragic tension that exists in the world. Then we could believe that a peaceful approach to them might produce some results.
The honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Beazley) said that the Asians look for sinister motives when we offer assistance to them, I suppose on the old principle that when the Greeks bring gifts we should be suspicious of them. But many people look for sinister motives when somebody endeavours to do them a good turn. That is not confined to Asian peoples. It is not unusual. Even in this educated, enlightened and civilized country, we find a similar attitude among certain sections of the people. The honorable member for Fremantle and his colleagues refuse to allow the people they are supposed to represent in this place to accept rewards as incentives for the additional productive effort that is needed so urgently in this country. Opposition members tell workers that they should suspect the motives of the boss when he offers them additional pay. The honorable member for Fremantle might well look at the beam in his own eye in connexion with this matter. Good example can do much to remove the doubts that exist in people’s minds. No contribution that honorable members opposite have made to this debate will remove the doubts in the minds of the Asian people. I have no doubt that the people of Asia have faith in our bona fide interest in their welfare. But they are wondering whether we shall be able to do the job that we have suggested we should do. We have to convince them of our ability to do that. The only way in which we can convince them is by the Government convincing the people of Australia that they must make the necessary sacrifices.
I invite the Government’s attention to the fact that those who could be the very backbone of our fighting force, men in the 25 years to 35 years age group, have been left untrained under the national service training scheme. Instead of being reduced, the national service training programme should be expanded. That would be one means of showing the people of Asia that they can have faith in the promises that we make to them. In that, way we could assure them that their freedom will be retained or, if they have lost their freedom, that it will be restored.
.- This is an important debate. From the remarks of the honorable member for Moore (Mr. Leslie) it would appear that the Government is fully awakened to the situation and that the Government along knows how to defend Australia. The honorable member endeavoured to make it appear that members of the Opposition were a pack of disloyalists. Nothing could be further from the truth. The Australian Labour party has been criticized as a party which has not the interests of the Australian people at heart. In order to disprove that theory, one has only to relate the circumstances which existed at the beginning of World War II. At the beginning of that war, a government of the same political complexion as the present Government graced the ministerial benches. After a couple of years of war, so fearful were the Australian people, and so bad were our defences, that Labour became a government. Labour was voted into office,- not on the vote of two members of the then Opposition, but on the vote of two supporters of the Government.
– At what price?
– At no price. They were competent Australians. Who would attempt to decry the .seriousness and capacity of the then honorable member for Wimmera and the then honorable member for Henty? Since then, the Australian people have paid great tribute, on many occasions, to the former honorable member for Henty.
I should not have raised this matter but the honorable member for Moore has implied that I am almost a disloyalist. He alleged that I am not interested in the welfare of the Australian people. I am interested in the -welfare of the Australian people. The Opposition is interested in the welfare of the Australian people. We proved that during World War II., when the world paid compliments to the work that was being done by the Labour Government of Australia. The great American nation, in particular, paid tribute to the work of the Australian Labour Government. The people of Australia, at a later period, unanimously paid tribute to the work that had been done “by the Labour Government in time of war. The interests >of the Australian people are not ‘safeguarded by the Government alone. The Australian Labour party is a responsible Opposition. Its members realize *the seriousness of the world situation.
Perhaps I visited Hiroshima sooner than any other member of this Parliament after the atomic bomb was dropped there. I stood on a building in that city which was supported only by a little reinforcement and, as far as my eye could see, there was total destruction. In the course of its destruction, that bomb had killed many thousands of Japanese. Even that was not the worst of the great tragedy. Those who came in contact with the atomic rays had their arms withered. They died of various diseases. When I returned to Australia I said in this Parliament that if the people of the world could be shown the devastation and tragedy that had been caused by that experimental atomic bomb there would never be talk of a third world war. I said that the results had been very different from the aftermath of World War I. At the end of World War I., the man-power and industrial capacity of Germany was almost intact. Japan emerged from World War I. with its industrial capacity intact. When opportunity arose, Japan was able to build up another great war force. But I said that, after World War II., Germany had been totally destroyed as an industrial power. Japan, also, had been totally destroyed as an .industrial power. I had a firm belief, which I still hold, that the one great hope for the world was total disarmament. I was not satisfied in those days that there was any real attempt being made to .bring about total disarmament. I am not satisfied even to-day, with all the talk about the aggressive Russians, that there is .a real world-wide attempt to bring about the only state of affairs that would .save the world, that is, by total disarmament. I know that it has been said that we cannot trust the Russians, but I do not believe that if every other nation of the world agreed to total disarmament, the Russians would dare to hold out against that decision. What would be the incentive to -make them wish to hold out ? Therefore, I -say, even at such a late stage as the present time, that we must continue to press for total -disarmament.
I have seen the devastation caused by one small atomic bomb, and I -can well visualize the destruction that a hydrogen bomb would cause. Some people say that the .security of the world lies in the continued development of hydrogen weapons, but I do not believe that for one moment. I believe that if we continue to manufacture atomic bombs, and build up our armaments, then ultimately atomic weapons must be used. Quite recently a scientist told us, and his warning was not challenged, that one hydrogen bomb dropped in the heart of Sydney and one dropped in the heart of Melbourne would destroy a third of Australia. Is not that a state of affair!- that is too terrible to contemplate? But what are we doing about it, what has this Government done about it?
– What should the Government do about it?
– Apparently the honorable member for Gippsland (Mr. Bowden) is deprecating the United Nations. I believe that all the countries of the world, including China, should be admitted to the United Nations. I suggest that that is the only way in which we can ensure the security of the world. It is the only way we can solve our problem.
– How would that solve the problem?
– Surely it is logical to expect that if all the nations of the world came together in a round table conference, there would be some possibility of obtaining peace through their deliberations. Surely all those nations could agree upon a method of total disarmament. The foreign policy of the Government has not indicated that the Government has any remedy for the threat of war. The supporters of the Government, who have spoken in this debate, have not suggested any remedy. Tt was laughable to listen to the honorable member for Moore (Mr. Leslie) indicating that all our troubles would be over if we would only send a force to Malaya. I remind honorable members that the proposed force will consist of about 1,000 soldiers. Surely honorable members will agree that it would be far better for us to use all forms of peaceful negotiation with the Communists rather than to send 1,000 men to Malaya. Such a small force would only aggravate the position. The honorable member for
Moore said that the Malayan people themselves favoured the sending of Australian troops to their country. I do not believe that they will welcome our troops at all.
– Of course they will welcome them.
– What does the honorable member for Mallee .(Mr. Turnbull) know about these international affairs, or, for that matter, what does the honorable member for Moore know about them? I have before me a letter written by 24 Malayan students who are at present in Australia. I suggest that they know more about Malaya than either the honorable member for Moore or the honorable member for Mallee, who obviously know nothing about it at all. The letter from the Malayan students, which was published in a Sydney newspaper, read, inter alia -
It would tie negligence on .the part of Malayan students were we to allow the letters of 31r. Quek to pass without comment.
In both letters Sir. Quek wrote under the illusion that his opinion had the hacking of Malayan students in particular and the Malayan population as a whole. We, the undersigned, deplore this attitude, which we regard as unrepresentative and presumptuous.
I again remind honorable members that Malayan students have expressed those sentiments, and that they are not the remarks some Australians have read about Malaya in the newspapers.
– They are the opinions of young children.
– If young men between the ages of 21 and 25 are young children, it is time they grew up. It is also time that tie honorable member for Gippsland (Mr. Bowden) grew up.
– Order !
– The men who signed the letter to which I have referred are of the age of those who are required to fight the battles of the world.
– Age is not always a criterion of responsibility.
– The Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Casey) may believe that he has the backing of the members of the Government parties, and of all the constituents -who support them. That is far from the fact, as I shall show by reading a letter from a South Australian newspaper. This newspaper cannot be considered to be a Labour newspaper; in fact, it has been consistently conservative. In a leading article in its issue of the 30th April, the newspaper stated -
Thinking anew on our defences.
There seems to be need for a complete reassessment of the problem of defending Australia.
The dimensions of warfare have changed so fast and so rapidly in the past ten years that the thinking of the last World War is far mure out of date than the “ 1918 thinking “, which proved so costly to the democracies in 1040.
This conservative newspaper-
– I do not think that its publishers would like it to be so described.
– The newspaper is the Sunday Mail, of Adelaide, and there is no doubt that it is a conservative newspaper. The article continued -
The debate in the House of Representatives on Thursday indicated the growing alarm among ex-servicemen of nil parties at the Federal Government’s thinking. The Government is committing itself to sending the” best of our small trained force to a spot where they may well be cut off and by-passed at the outset of a major conflict.
The logistical problem alone of keeping these men supplied once war has broken out i.-i .in acute one. In their present numbers - unless they were part of a vastly greater international force- they could not possibly exert any effect in a combat in which the only potential foes dispose dozens of divisions.
Tn the atomic agc the aim is to deter all potential aggressors from ever launching a war.
Would not Australia’s contribution to the security of South-East Asia, to its Anzus and Seato allies, be greater and more reassuring if we spent this money in equipping modern bomber squadrons capable of carrying atomic weapons?
The physical presence of our troops on
Asian soil may provide the Communists with m trump card for propaganda.
And it certainly will provide them with a trump card for propaganda.
– In spite of 35,000 British troops and two squadrons of the Royal Australian Air Force, which have been in Malaya for years?
– -I believe that it will give the Communists a trump card for propaganda, and I agree with the views of the leading article that I have quoted, from a newspaper which has always supported the Government. On this occasion the newspaper has become completely Australia-minded, because it realizes the serious situation which confronts the world to-day. The article continued - lt is difficult for anyone thinking in terms of the lessons of the Korean War to imagine that a battalion, or even a division, ut Australian troops in the Malayan jungles can possibly act as a deterrent to Communist ambitions in South-East Asia. If our aius is to strengthen the free and independent nations of Asia and of the vast island chains between Asia and Australia, an overwhelming preponderance of expert opinion believes we can do it best in the air.
I believe that too, and I have said so in this House on many occasions. The article went on -
In Australia, man-power is at a premium. As Air Vice-Marshal Bostock pointed out, four bomber squadrons with all their ground staff and auxiliary services demand a mere handful of men in comparison with an army division. lt is getting late, but it is not too late to think again about our defence problems i” terms of 1955.
We on this side of the House have been accused of being completely out of touch with defence matters. Yet here is a leading article, in a newspaper which is circulated not only in South Australia but also in the rest of the Commonwealth, expressing the thought of leaders in public life.
It is to be regretted that, in a debate such as this, those taking part in it should indulge in personalities. In my opinion, it was deplorable that the honorable member for Moore (Mr. Leslie) had to attack-
-Order! The honorable gentleman’s time has expired.
.- The honorable member for Adelaide (Mr. Chambers) tried to prove the genuineness of the Australian Labour party by referring to the history of the party in 1941 and 1942. There has been a great change in the party since those days. . For instance, it did not then have the misfortune to be led by the right honorable member for Barton (Dr. Evatt) which, in itself, has brought about quite a change on the face of the party. The honorable member for Adelaide spent a good deal of his time in advocating the necessity for world disarmament and in expressing th, belief that if that could be accomplished the problems of the world would be solved. On previous occasions in this House I have referred to the fact that, in the middle 1920’s, Great Britain set an example of disarmament, believing genuinely that if it disarmed other nations would follow, and that the ideal objective of complete disarmament would be achieved. We know how unfortunate that experiment was. It was idealistic, and many people believed and hoped that it would be achieved, but we all remember the disaster that it was to the western democracies when war came in 1939, and how ill-prepared we were, compared with our enemies, who bad not undertaken any disarmament whatever.
In replying to the honorable member for Adelaide, it is well to remember that one week and one day ago services were held throughout Australia to commemorate Anzac day. Many people, including members of this Parliament, gave addresses in capital cities, towns and villages, and spoke of how the day originally commemorated a. battle when Australians showed a great deal of courage and initiative, made great sacrifices and demonstrated true comradeship. We believe that those qualities have been inherited by successive generations. During the recent world wars Australia, the British Commonwealth of Nations and their allies made a tremendous combined effort against the common foe. This was the result of a great co-operative effort amongst the individual citizens of those countries. This Government believes that an equal effort is necessary now, during the peace, to prevent any further war. We on this side of the House believe that the Government is responsible to do all in its power for the physical defence of the country and to ensure its national security, as well as to give a lead to the citizens of the country in order to rouse the nation to awareness of the dangers that threaten.
Throughout two world wars of this century, and even more recently in Korea, it was evident that Western civilization could not survive unless the democracies worked in close co-operation. Western civilization long ago became the cradle of Christianity. It has dedicated itself to maintain human liberties and human dignity. It is now being challenged and seriously threatened by an atheistic set-up which treats human beings as animated bits of matter to be ordered into conformity by means of dictatorial powers. Not only have the Western nations been given this responsibility to maintain Christianity, but also, they must maintain Western civilization. I believe that the time in which we are now living is probably our last chance, as a member of the democracies, to ensure the survival of our country as a place of human welfare.
In view of the contribution which members of the Opposition have made to this debate, and of the remarks of the Leader of the Opposition, I think it would be wise at this stage to present several facts. The first, which the Opposition seems to overlook entirely, is that aggression is threatened from only one source. It is the aggression to which I have just referred. May I support that contention by citing the words of Mr. Dulles, who is the Secretary of State in the United States of America, a country which is outside the British Commonwealth of Nations. He stated -
The threat we face is not one that can be adequately dealt with on an emergency basis. It is a threat that. may long persist. Our policies must be adapted to this basic fact. The Soviet menace does not reflect the ambitions of a single ruler, and cannot be measured by his life expectancy. There is no evidence that basic Soviet policies have been changed with the passing of Stalin.
That is one more element of support for the fact that aggression is threatened from only one source.
May I also refer to words used by the Prime Minister of Ceylon, a country which is one of the British Commonwealth of Nations, but not one of the Western democracies. It is a part of the Indian sub-continent. Ceylon’s Prime Minister, who was that country’s chief delegate to the recent Afro-Asian conference, twice denounced world Communist aims. His sharp attacks on Communist subversion through the Cominform were made at a meeting of the political committee, and later at a press conference where he enlarged on his earlier criticism of communism. At his news conference, he said that the worldwide Communist party aimed to weaken free countries and. tuan Olean into satellites of Soviet Russia- or.” Communist China’. He- is reported- to have said, also that vague? Communist talk of peacefulco’existence: had appeared all too- often in the> past “ like- the” wolf of Communist’ subversion ins the sheep’s’ clothing ofpeaceful talk”. That is- further support of the fact that aggression is- threatened* from Only one source-. The honorable member for Swan (Mr. Webb) and the honorable- member’ foi- Adelaide have complained this” afternoon that the- arguments” that have been put forward on this’ side of the House suggest that Opposition members are” disloyal or’ are fellowtravellers. It is: not. my- intention, to describe: them in that manner,.- but it is a; fact that’ what they have been saying fits into the Communist line in very manyways. It must also he realized that the Western democracies1 have found’ it necessary to form certain organizations outside of the United Nations- organization, such as Nato and, more recently, Seato. Another fact that I should like to p’Ia;ce- before the House- is that theWestern’ democracies have not shown any intention towards, Or desire for, aggression.
Whilst the outside organizations to which I have just referred are based upon the principles- that are written into- the charter of the United Nations, they also place emphasis upon the principle of national co-operation within certain areas. I have already referred to Seato, the treaty in relation to which was signed in. .September, 1954, which is the most recent, and the most important of such organizations to Australia. One: of the main- reasons why Pakistan, Thailand, the Philippines,- Australia,- New Zealand,. France, Great Britain and the United States of America have voluntarily entered into this’ pact- is that they have realized, that in recent months approximately 20,000,000 people have been, deprived of their personal liberties, and have been compelled, to live under condition* of dictatorial- government. These eight nations to> which I- have: referred have armed forces which total more than 6,000,000 men,- and a total population which1 is equal to approximately oneseventh of the World’s population.. They control 62 per cent, of the world’s1 petroleum products’, 60- per centi. of’ its coal’ production, 55- per cent, of its’, ironore deposits, 50’ per- cent of its’ steel products, and 40 per cent, of the total value- of world trade, As they co-operate they will be indeed a force for good and for peace- in the world. Another fact that must be remembered is’ that the Manila pact anticipates co-operation between the signatory nations’ in cultural masters and at economic levels as- well &s in the- military sphere1. The Manila pact, in. its military aspect; a:ets aa a shield to the area1 to> which it applies, but it also provides that members shall work together ite devising economic; measures and’ promoting social wellbeing.
That brings’ us- to a consideration of Australia’s role, halving special regard to what I. should like to describe as our northern, approaches. Australia’s role can be divided into three’ parts - first; the military aspect; secondly, the economicaspect; and, thirdly, our contribution to the promotion of the social well-being of the’ nations that lie immediately to the north, and of those nations that form the front line facing the Communist threat. Government supporters have spoken already in some detail about our military responsibilities. so I shall nol speak about them at great length. It seems that the Opposition believes thai our main bases of defence should be on the Australian mainland, with, perhaps, certain air’ force units’ to conduct reconnaissances and make some’ strikes when the enemy is well advanced along our northern approaches. Perhaps it is a selfish attitude, but we d’o not want the enemy ever to land on our shores. From the tactical point of view, it would be almost impossible to contain him if he did gain a foothold in’ Australia. Our northern neighbours’, who form the; pathway to Australia, do not wish to be overrun by the Communists. What help would any of our- near allies be to us, or what help would we be to them, if we were not. willing to accept, 011,r responsibility’ and ohe share in this plan of cooperation? The best way to maintain the defence of our country and that of our near neighbours is, as far as possible, to contain the enemy within his present boundaries. The Minister for
External Affairs Mr Casey pointed, out; this- afternoon in answer.- to a’ question;, that the details, of our commitments; audi ofl the. degree tar which we will he. able-, to. help, are being.: formula ted: at. the present rime;.
L have* referred very briefly- to- Ausralia’s role im tha- economic- sphere- andin the promotion, of; social: -well-being and national development, in. South-East Asian countries, as. a result bath of its, geographical position, and of the. trust; that it has been, able to engender in. those countries over the past few years. Australia should be proud of the fact, that that trust is growing. We have seen it on the government level, and we have seen it developing at, the community level particularly in voluntary organizations. Visitors from countries which benefit from the Colombo plan have been taken to various’ parts of Australia and have been entertained’ in the homes, of the people, and by” small groups, and organizations of people. In that way, they have learned to- know us- much more easily: There is need for us: to encourage greater numbers of- people from South-East Asiancountries to visit this country so that the flow of people- across– the bridge to Australia may be greater.. It- should be- a. two-way flow. At present, an insufficient number of Australians is- moving alongour northern: approaches to- these- other countries: Certain voluntary organizations in Australia -a-re- making plans, and I hope that, when those plans are submitted to- the Government,, it willgive every possible- assistance! I believethat it will’ do so. As’ I have stated in. this chamber before-; I believe that- members’of the Parliament should be- included. among1 those’ persons who visit SouthEast Asia, because after- all,, they have: been, elected, fon as particular purpose,, audi they represent a> cross-section. of: the- Austraiian1 community: If it were possible, for people; in. the. countries to’ our. near.- north to visit Australia, a? greater number- of South-East, Asians would have, the opportunity of seeing democracy at work, in this country.
.- The’ House is’ debating a. motion, for the pointing of. a; statement on foreign affairs1 audi defence.- that was? made- by the- PrimeMinister (Mr.- Menzies)) last- week., lui mgc opinion, there were’ important omissions; from; the statement of the’ right! honorable1, gentleman. I wish to refer first to: the significant fact that the. Prime’ Minister omitted’ entirely to refer te the. problem of- West New Guinea. That are poses one of the most important: problems– confronting! Australia;.. In- view of: the. immense; strategic- value of West. New Guinea to; Australia^ I should have; thought that the-, right honorable’ gentleman, would have made some reference to> it; even if only in passing;, when’ making a statement to the: House on the: matters, now under, discussion However; there’ was. absolutely no reference: to West- NewGuinea in: the statement and the reasons! far its omission can best be’ explained by the Government:
It was significant and interesting also to-note- the approach of the Prime Minister to the- question of Communist China. If honorable– members will study the references in. the statement to. Communist China; they will find that, like a very good general, the Prime- Minister- kept his- lines- of: retreat open. It is, a significant fact that the problem: of Communist China is one that the- Prime Minister has consistently avoided.. He. has failed to face up to that question. Obviously, the: trend of events and. other- straws in tha wind indicate- that,, sooner or- later, the.- Prime- Minister will announce- that the- Government will recognize Communist China. That is- tha inference to: bc drawn from: the: statement that the: right honorable? gentleman’ has presented! to- the. House:. At no- time has- the- Prime Minister made a forthright statement tothecontrary:. The only statements) of that: nature ha»ve come from supporters, of the Government below ministerial level. Those: two- omissions: from the. Prime1 Minister’s: statement) to. the; House are: important. The. right honorable gentleman dealt primarily with Australia: and Asia. It; is recognized that; geographically Australia, is- part- of Asia. If: wo do- not belong: to. Asia, to> what. part-, of. the world do: we belong? It isi trues that our listing conditions, being; of. the* west,, a-re- different from those of Asia-,, but. geographically we; belong, to; Asia. That means that our. point of. view in, dealing? with questions: associated, with; Asia must be,- different from that- adopted by other countries that are more remote from this area. It is true that the viewpoint of the United Kingdom on those matters must be different from ours, just as the United States of America has different views. Therefore, Asia means more to Australia, probably, than do happenings in Europe. It is impossible for us to remove ourselves completely from large-scale events in Europe. We are committed to Europe because Australia is part of the British Commonwealth of Nations. Therefore, it is impossible for us to contract ourselves out of Europe. On the other hand, there are other countries that can contract themselves out of Asia to our detriment. In my opinion, that is the vast difference between the two continents.
Asia is developing and, quite possibly, the affairs of Asia and the happenings there will have a greater bearing on events for Australia, in future than they have had in the past. It is obvious from the developments that have taken place in Asia that the centre of gravity in world affairs has momentarily passed from Europe to Asia. Therefore, while we cannot escape the influences of Europe, it is still more strongly evident that we cannot escape the influences of Asia. The Government seems to be obsessed with the idea that war is inevitable. Obviously, when a nation preaches war to meet war, the outcome is certain. Honorable members on the Opposition side do not adopt the attitude that war is inevitable. On the contrary, we maintain that every effort should be made to preserve peace. It has truly been said before that peace is indivisible. Therefore, the attitude of the Opposition in working for peace commends itself to all thinking people. I do not subscribe to some ideas that are circulated from time to time as to the cause of past wars. In my opinion, basically the causes of war to-day are the same as they have been throughout the centuries. The basic causes of war are hatred, greed, ambition, territory and trade. When those forces come into play, all other moral considerations are relegated to the background. Those influences that have contributed to war in the past are still playing a part in world affairs to-day. Power politics arc the same to-day as they were three or four centuries ago. It does not necessarily follow that because the force of power politics is dominant in the world to-day, one has to subscribe to that force or succumb to it. On the contrary, the demand is more urgent and the need more pressing than those people who stand for peace should be more vigorous in their attitude to it.
In his statement, the Prime Minister made some reference to defence. 1 believe that the Government is making a mistake in connexion with defence that, has characterized it throughout its life. In my opinion, the Government is trying to spread our defence forces too thinly. There are limitations to the demands that may be made upon Australia and to the things that it can do. I ask honorable members to take a cursory glance at the defence obligations that Australia has taken on its shoulders since World War II. Those responsibilities tax our capacity to the utmost. I need refer only to the question of the Indian Ocean. Before World War II., the Indian Ocean and the protection of Australia’s western shores were the responsibility of the Royal Navy. That responsibility was gladly and willingly undertaken, but the Royal Navy does not operate in this pari, of the world now as it did ten or fifteen years ago. As a consequence, a responsibility that was formerly undertaken for us has now been added to the commitments that we are called upon to meet ourselves. Those added responsibilities are taxing our capacity fully. Therefore, the decision of the Government to send Australian troops overseas is perturbing. Is the Government justified in following that course? It is significant that when the Prime Minister announced the intention of the Government to send Australian troops to Malaya, the right honorable gentleman did not make known to the House at whose request the troops were being sent. He did not say whether the request had come from the people of Malaya or from some other quarter.
Sitting suspended from 6” to 8 p.m.
– Before the sitting was suspended, I was discussing the wisdom or otherwise of the Government’s proposal to send Australian troops to
Malaya. Developments which have occurred, not merely in recent weeks, but, indeed, during the past few months, particularly as they relate to Asia, also raise serious doubts as to the wisdom and. even the validity of the Government’s proposal, i direct the attention of the House to an article published in the Melbourne Herald yesterday, which was sent from its special correspondent in Singapore, .lt reads as follows : -
Some opposition to the use of Australian forties is being shown in Malaya.
The Afro-Asian conference has so changed the South-East Asian situation in favour of the powers opposing defensive alliances that the need has become increasingly clear to clarify the Australian position.
The Prime Minister has failed to convince the House that, in proposing to send Australian troops to Malaya, he is acting at the request or the invitation of another country. On that matter, we have no information. We say definitely that the entry of Australian troops into Malaya will have a deplorable effect upon the population in that area. When I make that statement, I add, in passing, that members of the Opposition are fully alive to the dangers of communism in Asia. Our attitude to the despatch of troops to Malaya is shared by various Asian countries, the leaders of which are figuring prominently in the fight against communism in that part of the world. The Prime Minister of Ceylon, Sir John Kotelawala. is a leading figure in the anti-Communist forces in Asia, and he himself has expressed opposition to the proposal of the Australian Government. The fact that leaders of the antiCommunist bloc in that part of the world are opposed to the Australian Government’s intention, is an added reason why the Government should pause on this issue.
In my opinion, the Government is making the mistake of attempting to string our forces out in. a thin line. Such a policy can have only devastating, and even catastrophic, effects on this country. We should concentrate our strength; because history has proved that it is impossible for a country such as Australia, with its limited resources and capacity, to make any worth-while resistance, if our defences arc strung out very thinly. Australia was in precisely that position in World War II., when Japan entered the conflict. Our forces had been sent to other parts of the world, and when the break-through came in the Pacific, the Curtin Government found it necessary to seek the recall of two Australian divisions from the Middle East, in the face of the most determined opposition from some of our friends. It was only the return of those two divisions that enabled us, with American support, to mount a successful counter attack against the J Japanese
The Prime Minister has built a facade of words, as it were, about the subject of defence. This Government has been notable for the fact that, during each of the last two or three years, it has allotted sums of money ranging from £200,000,000 to £250,000,000 for defence purposes, yet as each financial year has drawn to a close, a goodly portion of that money haE remained unspent, and something amounting to a panic has occurred in the Government ranks to expend the allotted sum’s on defence before the expiration of each financial year. Notwithstanding those attempts, the Government, at the end of the last two or three financial years, has not expended the considerable sums that had been allotted for defence purposes.
That leads me to ask whether the picture of our defences, as painted by the Government, is precisely what the Government suggests it to be. The military situation of this country is, indeed, dangerous, if the Government’s efforts in respect of civil . defence are a reliable guide. Under conditions of modern warfare civil defence goes hand in hand with military defence, yet this Government has done practically nothing to protect the civilian population against an atomic attack. In comparison with the achievements of the governments of some countries in this field, this Government has failed deplorably. A few days ago, the responsible Minister, in answer to a question by me, said that he could not give any information about civilian defences, because the matter was being conducted on a high and confidential level. I should like to be told why the subject of the defence of Australian civilians needs to be .conducted /on . a high .and confidential .level. It is .evident that the effects of an ‘atomic attack ion plant :and (buildings in .this country cannot be escaped. However, the idea seems to be . held in some quarters that Australian civilians .cannot be protected in any way against the effects of atomic bombing. That situation is alarming, because it has been conclusively proved that the effects of an atomic attack .on the civilian population can be -minimized if adequate defences have been provided for that purpose. This Govern ment talks glibly about defence measures for Australia, yet its record in respect of civilian defence is almost a bankrupt one.
I have tried to .show that Australia is a part of Asia .geographically, that we cannot divorce ourselves from the happenings in Asia, amd that the centre of gravity of world politics and power politics has shifted, if not entirely, then at least .to .some degree from Europe to Asia, and that, therefore, what happens in Asia must effect Australia. Members of the Opposition are not unmindful of the menace or dangers of communism, and I think that honorable members opposite realize and appreciate that fact. The Opposition differs from the Government only on the methods that are to be employed to fight communism. We suggest, first, that the Government’s proposals for combating communism in Asia arc doomed to failure, because they completely ignore the fact that people who are fighting to-day against communism in Asia, and leaders of the antiCommunist bloc in Asia, are opposed to the proposal for sending Australian troops into that area. ‘Secondly, the effect that the entry of Australian troops into that area will have on the civilian population is a doubtful quantity. Thirdly, the Prime Minister gave no information in his statement to the House to show why the troops were to be sent to Malaya; whether at the initiative of the Australian Government, at the request of some other power, or at the invitation of the authorities in Malaya.
-Order ! The honor:able ‘gentleman’s time has (expired.
Mr. MORGAN (Reid) I.8.XO3.- I rise on .a matter of privilege. I should like to address a .few words to the House in regard to a matter which ‘has arisen since the last sitting. ‘1 am referring to a vicious .personal attack that has been made upon me by a newspaper, known as the Bankstown Observer, which circulates in my electorate. That newspaper has .impugned my personal honour as a member of this Parliament, and .has also challenged my fitness to be a member of this ‘Parliament, despite the fact that less than twelve months ago 1 was returned to represent my present electorate ‘with one of the largest majorities in Australia. On its facia the newspaper carries the following information about itself: -
Guaranteed largest circulation in ‘Bankstown and South Ward ‘Circulation Vi;000 copies. Circulating ‘through the ‘municipality of Bankstown . . lit then names tho other centres through which it circulates. That indicates the extent of the influence of the newspaper, at least on its own claims. The heading of the article to which I refer is ‘spread right across the front page ‘and .reads -
MM.IR. and (Immigration Racket.
The body of the article reads as follows : -
In the present Labour faction fight, all sorts of charges are being bandied about. Some are -no doubt true, and some are without foundation.
Nobody expects politicians fighting (for their political lives to bc fair.
However, the anti-Eva tt Group in N.S.W. are making charges that deeply concern tho residents of this area.
They claim that Mr. C. A. Morgan, M.H.R. who is supporting J)r. Evatt, .is, or was, .mixed up in what can only be described as an Immigration Backet.
– Order;! I ask the :honorable member for .Reid to take ‘his seat for a moment. I want to. assure the House that I have read this .article, and any honorable member who thinks it ;is a laughing matter had better read it first before .treating it as such
– Honorable members will realize, from the part of the article I have so far read; that the article questions my conduct as a member of this House; because it uses the words “ is or was “. The article then goes on to say -
Unlike some of the charges made, these charges are detailed, and give names and dates, upon which it is alleged certain happenings took place.
Despite: that paragraph, it mentions no dates. It then goes on to make certain allegations, and brings in the names of a number of people. I do not propose to deal with them, because I intend later to move that this matter be referred to the Committee of Privileges for inquiry. No doubt the gravamen of the charges will be thoroughly sifted by the committee. The article continues -
Whether or not these charges are true, “ The Observer “ has no way of knowing.
Yet the newspaper flaunts these allegations to the world and right throughout my electorate. It flaunts charges the truth of which it says it has no way of knowing. What sort of conduct is that for a so-called responsible newspaper? It broadcasts to the world serious charges, and then admits that it does not know whether the allegations-are true or otherwise, and it apparently has not taken any steps to substantiate them or otherwise. The article continues -
But we can’t help feeling that they are a good deal more detailed than the charges that Mr Morgan has made inside andoutside Parliament when it suited him, and upon which he demanded Royal Commissions.
If Mr.. Morganhas an explanation, then he should be provided with an inquiry at which he can refute the charges. If the charges are true, then in the opinion of this news.paper Mr. C. A. Morgan is totally unfitted tobe a Member of the Federal Parliament.
That is a challenge which I accept. I ask for an inquiry, and I hope that the people who have made these charges will come and let us see whether they can. substantiates them.
– Was it “Mr. Big”?
– It could be “Mr.
Big’”’. This will give him an opportunity of proving just how big he really is in the community: I have made a search of the company register at the Registrar-General’s’ office, in Sydney, for details regarding the ownership of this newspaper. Our page14 the newspaper gives the following information, in small type:-
Wholly set up, printed and published by the Proprietorsof the Bankstown Observer Pty. Ltd. at their premises,18 Meredith. Street, Bankstown.
I can find no evidence regarding the writer of the editorial itself. I understand that there have been some recent changes in the editorial staff of the newspaper, and that some special feature writers have been put on the staff. In fact, I detect a familiar touch, or twang, in some of the articles that I have read in the newspaper during the last two weeks, although I may be wrong in that. The Committee of Privileges will have an opportunity to discover who the present editor is, and what special feature writers have been engaged in the last few weeks.
This article is a. direct attack on my integrity and my conduct as a member of this House. At this stage I should like to say - and I do not want to go into all the details; or to prejudice the inquiry - that I now take the first opportunity of giving a categorical denial to those allegations, both in regard to my conduct as a member of this Parliament, and. in regard to my conduct before. I became a member of the Parliament. I wish to say also in regard to “Mr. Big”, or Mr. Fitzpatrick, the proprietor of this newspaper, that I have not mentioned his name publicly or in the Parliament for a matter of nearly ten years. Therefore, it is a very significant thing, and it may be relevant to certain things that have happened lately in Bankstown, that he should make this attackon me in his newspaper and spread it far and wide in my electorate. I regard it as a brazen attempt to intimi- date me in the course of my public duties <ra behalf of the people whom I represent here. No- doubt it has been caused by fears about disclosures that will be made in the near future as a result of inquiries that have been set iti train. The article is merely a rehash of n scurrilous, illegal and anonymous pamphlet which was distributed clandestinely throughout my electorate a few days prior to the 1946 general election, of which this man Fitzpatrick at the time produced a. printer’s proof, and gave certain promises that the pamphlet would not be published. It was published at the last moment. He claimed that it cost him £8,000 to help to defeat me. That pamphlet had no printer’s imprint on it. Now I am in the position that at last some organization has accepted responsiblity for it. The rehash of the pamphlet has a printer’s imprint which will enable me to defend myself against the charges in this scurrilous document and to disprove the allegations contained in it.
Ordinarily, one might let such things go as part of the hurly-burly of public life but I take a very serious view of this matter, not only because of my personal position, but also because every honorable member of this House finds it necessary, from time to time, to make representations on behalf of friends or relatives who want to enter this country. No honorable member would feel safe from intimidation in making representations to the Minister for Immigration or to the Department of Immigration on behalf of immigrants in the ordinary course of his duties as a member, if he were subject to smears, lying interpretations and blackmail by ill-minded people. [ would otherwise pass over the matter as I did another matter in 1946, when a foul blow was delivered at me and as [ passed over the damage that might have been done to me politically. It was sufficient that I was vindicated by my electorate, which returned me at the election in 1949.
I feel however, that I have a duty to my constituents and to other honorable members who might be placed in a similar predicament in the future. Some individuals attempt to ride rough-shod over the people and to dictate who shall be their representatives and what those representatives shall do in the places to which they have been elected, but such people must not be allowed to take the law into their cwn hands and exercise a tyrannical dictatorship over the people. In all earnestness I recently made certain remarks publicly. Certain individuals in the community who have adopted a course of conduct over a number of years must be brought to book and made to observe the law. If their activities are allowed to continue further excesses of a much more serious kind than those that have been committed against myself and against persons in Bankstown recently will occur. The Bankstown matters are being inquired into by other authorities, and I do not want to touch upon them at this stage.
I realize that I nin placing my career in the hands of my political opponents, because the ma jority of the members of the Committee of Privileges sit upon the Government side of the House. However. I have sufficient confidence in their impartiality and integrity to believe that they will sift the charges and do the right thing. If there were any substance in the charges that have been made, against me 1 should be prepared to resign my seat. In fact, I could not hold, up my head within this House for shame if there were the slightest suggestion of truth in any of the charges that have been levelled at me or even if honorable members on either side of the House considered that there was any substance in those accusations. For these reasons I take the opportunity to vindicate myself and also to give my traducers an opportunity to come forward, if they sec fit, and substantiate their charges. I leave the matter with the highest’ tribunal in the land - this Parliament. I move -
That the article headed “ M.H.R. and Immigration Racket “ appearing in the issue of the Bankstown Observer of Thursday, 28th April, 1955. In: referred to the Committee of Privileges fur investigation and report.
– The honorable member for Reid (Mr. Morgan) has raised this matter purely in his capacity as a member of this House. It is in no sense a party matter. The honorable member wishes to have it investigated by the Committee of Privileges. I gather that you, Mr. Speaker, have seen the newspaper article referred to. I think that the proper course is for the House to accede to the honorable member’s request, aud I ask for the support of the VicePresident of the Executive Council (Sir Eric Harrison). I second the motion.
– I might inform the House that during the suspension of the sitting for dinner the honorable member for Reid (Mr. Morgan) saw me. I read the newspaper article that has been mentioned. It is my firm opinion that the matter should be considered by the Committee of Privileges.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Debate resumed (vide page 352).
– 1 have no observation to make about the speech of the honorable member for Martin (Mr. O’Connor), except a reference to one of his concluding remarks to the effect that Australia is clearly a part of Asia. From that observation the honorable member proceeded to a certain conclusion. Australia is a separate continent. It Ls not to be regarded as part of Asia. Nothing but harm can come to the Australian people if one of the parties in this National Parliament propounds the doctrine that Australia is a part of Asia. I do not know whether the honorable member, in making his unique declaration, spoke for his party, but I hope that it will not be accepted. We of the party to which I belong do not agree that Australia is part of Asia and that, therefore, this country is inevitably involved for ever in all the problems of the Asiatic continent.
The Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) declared the Government’s policy apropos existing international circumstances. His remarks were followed by a speech by the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt) in which the right honorable gentleman purported to declare the policy of the Australian Labour party and to criticize the Government’s policy, and the people of Australia are invited to choose between these two declarations. We must have something to guide u3. What is the proper test to apply? Surely the right test, in determining the best foreign policy for Australia in given circumstances, is: What is best for the Australian people? What policy is in the Australian interest ? That is the only test that the Government and I recognize. But it is not the test that has been applied by the Leader of the Opposition. In examining the Prime Minister’s statement, he did not apply the test of what is right and best for the Australian people. He proceeded instantly and automatically, as ever, with the thesis that whatever the Prime Minister says is wrong and that, therefore, whatever he declares is in the interests of Australia must be declared bad by the Leader of the Opposition. In his view, not only is the Government always wrong, but also apparently all of Australia’s friends are wrong. However, the Com.tmunists are never wrong in his eyes and are never to be condemned. In a speech that lasted approximately an hour and a half, the Leader of the Opposition uttered not one syllable of condemnation of the Communists, who alone are causing tension in this world and are confronting us with all the worries and uncertainties that are forcing the world to expend its wealth, in prodigious extravagance, in an attempt to achieve somebalance and safety for Australia and the. other free countries. In the opinion of the Leader of the Opposition, the good faith and judgment of Australia’s friends and of the Australian Government can be called into question, but the good faith of the Communists must never be called into question.
The Leader of the Opposition, who is an advocate of the United Nations - aud I have no quarrel with that body, and. never have had any quarrel with it - can see nothing in the arena of international affairs but the United Nations. His policy gives no recognition to other factors that might contribute to the preservation of peace in the world. The sheer preponderance of strength in itself may be one of the gravest factors, and indeed the decisive factor, in ensuring, not only our security, but also permanent peace. The right honorable gentleman offered no insurance against the failure of the United Nations to preserve peace. There ure the two alternative policy approaches of the Government and . of the alternative government, if ,it may he so called Let us get our thinking straight ion this issue of foreign policy. Foreign policy is not a function or an activity of government that can be placed in a separate, water-tight compartment, isolated from all other functions and activities. “What does government “in a -modern, organized society exist for? Government in a modern sovereign ‘State exists to attend to the needs of the people lOt ‘.that State, to establish an -ordered society in :the State, and to preserve ;the ‘sovereign integrity of the State. Government does not exist ‘primarily to lecture other governments :and other peoples ‘on ‘doctrines or i ethics. ‘Government -does not ‘exist primarily ito see that ‘the (hungry of ‘other nations >are fed. Those are things that interest us, hut ‘they are mot the primary responsibilities of ‘government. The primary responsibility of government in this country is *o ‘establish ,a well-ordered society .’here.
The first essential requirement for that is that we should remain free, that our security should he preserved. Foreign policy is merely that element of government which ensures that in our .relations with other countries our sovereignty Ls not impaired The primary purpose df our foreign policy is .to ensure our own security. We .subscribe to membership of the United Nations. W.e have .high hopes for .the United .Nations. But :o.ur support for the United .Nations is mot a policy in itself. .Lt is one of the devices by which we hope to ensure .the .continuance of our .-security. We believe in the Colombo ,-plan. ‘We have -the ..spirit that prompts us to wish .to feed hungry peoples .and. help to train backward peoples, whether in technological and agricultural matters .or in the modern organization .of government. .But that is not our .first .responsibility. Out activity under .the Colombo jalan must not be regarded, as a separate policy .activity. It is a part of the pattern of the planning of .this Government to ensure .our own security, .establish friendliness with the countries which are beneficiaries under .the .plan, and see that we make gome contribution to their internal political stability, because political instability in neighbouring countries is of itself a- danger ;to our security.
So let us get our thinking straight on the ;place in the scheme of things of our relations with other countries. The Leader of the Opposition !has never spoken ‘in recent times on foreign policy without lecturing other ‘countries -or without lecturing his own people. He overlooks, or deliberately refrains “from reminding us, that our first responsibility is to see that we remain free “and secure. Our policy 1b ‘to look to the United Nations, hoping “that it :may secure our freedom, but also realizing that the United Nations in “itself ;is but ah experiment. .It is unproven. There is no guarantee that the ‘United Nations finally will prove to be “the solution of the problem <of ‘establishing world peace by means .other than the balance -»f power and military .strength. All through ,the history of mankind nations have ;planned and struggled to maintain their security. Up .to the present .time, there has been only unef formula that has preserved peace for long ^periods. .History :shows that single natrons, on rare occasions, but more generally groups ‘of nations maintained peace only by establishing military strength sufficient to ensure tha’t they would not he subjected to -attack by other groups. In ‘that -way, peace ‘was ‘secured and -prosperity followed. ‘Therefore, ‘we must not overlook the fact that “while we aTe engaged in the magnificent experiment of -the United Nations, -we -must ‘have as a second string to our ‘bow a strength -which will make others ‘unwilling ‘to assail our security, and which will preserve our safety and our ability “to -go on with outdevelopment of an ordered society.
The Leader :of the ‘.Opposition positively refuses to project .his .mind to the .possibility of the United Nations failing .as an instr.umen.t. for peace. .He says that war is too terrible to think about, jana a t that he -stops. Of .course modern war uterrible, .but it is not more .terrible than enslavement. There .are people in this and other countries, people who .have been prisoners of war and Jews in Europe with expedience of Hitlerite ‘Germany, who believe that peace .achieved -.at. the cost’ of -enslavement is a more terrible alternative. The leader of the Opposition and Jus party say that this country should have mo policy for the maintenance of its safety other -than .reliance upon negotiating in the .United Nations. Negotiating with whom? Negotiating with the powers which are .producing the world tensions of .to-day? Negotiating in good faith with Russia, .in the .hope that Russia will .not -destroy .the whole basis of .negotiation by invoking .its right to apply a veto in .any discussion in -the Security Council’? Negotiating to secure -peace, through the United Nations, .with Communist China, .which is not .member .of the United Nations? .Surely that is .not realistic thinking. Does the right honorable ‘gentleman .in his -own heart really believe that it ls? Do the members of the Australian ‘.Labour party who sit .behind .him really believe it is realistic to think .there is .no .need .to plan :for -our safety and .that all we .should do -about the things ‘.that .impinge upon our .safety is to debate them in the arena of the United Nations? :Some o’f the countries which trouble us are not .members of the United Nations and others have given no indication in recent times that they can be relied upon to .discuss issues there in good faith.
The .’recent history of -the United Nations .is .the history of a series of disappointments »and disillusionments -Soviet .(Russia has “been .completely .nonco.operative in .recent times. .It .has shrouded all its internal .activities with secrecy, set ihe stage for a world race in armaments engaged in United .Nations discussions with .an .intensity .of bitterness unmatched in ..other .arenas that T can think 6”f, maintained .slave . camps .in .its own .area, and .refused to release, prisoners of -war whom “it .has .held .for .more -than ten …years. Yet the ^Russians ,-are the people upon whom the Leader of the Opposition relies,. and -upon whom .he asks the .Australian people to .rely, as people with whom we can discuss matters in good faith on our .part, those discussions . being the only basis of. our. stability. .Russia.hau been exposed .as engaging in world-wide subversion - in the United .Kingdom, Panada, ‘the United States and. Australia. Yet the “Russians are the ^people with whom we are asked to sit down and talk in good faith, making no other preparations for our security. That is ,an extremely dangerous policy,, which .holds .out no hope of real security for the. Australian people
The policy of this Government, on -the other ‘hand, is a dual policy. ‘We lope that -the .United Nations can. be-so moulded as to .provide the means .of establishing ordered relationships .between .nations. We shall also use all the -capacity -tha t we have in -order to -establish friendship on the basis of justice. In short, we shall -make our full contribution “to the ^establishment of world -order through the United Nations, but, at the ;same time, we .shall not .expose :the ?people of -this country :to !the risk ‘that would follow should .that experiment break down. Therefore -not .only must we organize .all the ‘Strength that’ -we are able ito -marshal ourselves but we must integrate .our strength with that :01 anr friends -the ^United Kingdom, the United States o’f America and other parts of the British .Commonwealth’ df .Nations whose interests are ‘identical -with ours. That is the .policy .-of -this Government.
What is the policy of ‘the .Australian Labour party which was declared only a week or two. ago1? “No armed -forces for Malaya! No .use of the atom bomb! Communist ‘China, Hungary, ‘Rumania and -Bulgaria ‘.to be admitted to .the United Nations organization! This is the policy of the Australian Labour party. This is the policy .of the Communist party’! N o troops for Malaya! .No use of the atom bomb! Admit the red Chinese -to the United Nations organization”! That is the policy of the ‘Communist party which is being broadcast from this Parliament by the ‘Leader of the Opposition. There is cause ‘for dismay but not for surprise when we .recall the record of the -Leader of the :Opposition in war-time. He was the Attorney-General who released ^Ratliff and “Thomas, the subversive “Communists, ‘from prison. He was the Attorney-General who appointed the Communist, Healy, as government representative on the Stevedoring .Industry Commission -and the Communist Eliott as government -appointee to the .Maritime .Industry Commission. .He .is the .Leader of the Opposition who fought against the secret ballot. He is the Leader of the Opposition who fought against the anti-Communist party legislation. He inspired the opposition to that legislation in the Senate and led the opposition to it in the High Court. He fought against the Government’s proposal in the anti-Communist referendum. Why should it surprise us when this spokesman of the Australian Labour party declares the Communist party policy as the policy of the Australian Labour party? It dismays us, but it should not surprise us, for his whole public record in war and in peace has been as a defender of the Communists. Now, he has the once great Australian Labour party trailing at his heels, backing the Communist party. But does the Australian Labour party really represent the Communists? I do not believe that the honorable member for Melbourne (Mr. Calwell) believes in this policy. I do not believe that the honorable member for Grayndler (Mr. Daly) believes in it. I do not believe that the honorable member for Eden-Monaro (Mr. Allan Fraser) believes in it. I do not believe that the honorable member for Burke (Mr. Peters), who proposed to submit a motion of no confidence on this subject, believes in it.
– Order ! The right honorable member’s time has expired.
Mr. KEON (Yarra) [8.44 J.- I was glad to hear that honorable members on the Government side of the House had been partly converted to a policy of putting Australian interests first. I hope that the conversion is a permanent and genuine conversion. I only regret that at the time at which the Government parties have been converted to the traditional policy of the Australian Labour party, the right honorable member for Barton (Dr. Evatt) has been leading the Opposition away from that policy. The traditional Labour party policy has been that, subject only to considerations of justice and charity, the paramount consideration in determining foreign policy is the safety and security of the Australian nation. When we consider what Pandit Nehru, President Soekarno, Sir Winston Churchill, or President Eisenhower have said, we should consider their statements in the light of the safety and security of the Australian nation. Members of the Australian Labour party who still acknowledge the right honorable member for Barton as leader and who sit in this chamber are busily retreating from that policy. The Leader of the Opposition and those of his supporters who have spoken in this debate have talked about American imperialism, the menace of atomic weapons and the United Nations organization. But apart from a. few words which the honorable member for Martin spoke on this matter. I have heard hardly a word to the effect that we are facing a foe which is 600,000,000 strong with an army of 5,000,000, a foe which daily spits its hate of this nation over Peking Radio, and which has condemned this nation to death. Not a word has come from the right honorable member for Barton in relation to the realities of the position. No. such words have come from other honorable members who claim to glory in being members of the Australian Labour party.
The Anti-Communist Labour Party, on the other hand, in considering foreign policy, bears in mind the realities of Australia’s position in relation to SouthEast Asia. Because of that fact, we support whatever action is necessary to provide for the defence of Australia. Let me state the position in relation to Malaya. It is the considered opinion of the chiefs of staff in Australia and the United Kingdom that China’s only available path to Australia is by land because China has no fleet. It is considered that Chinese forces must traverse the narrow Malayan isthmus in order to deploy themselves southwards. It is only on that isthmus that Chinese land forces in sufficient numbers to invade Australia could be stopped. Therefore, the most economical means of defending Australia, New Zealand and Indonesia against the only foreseeable local threat to our security is by the use of concentrated forces in Malaya and Singapore. Having established that point, let us ask what ought to be the policy of all parties in this Parliament. Surely, if they accept the advice of the military experts that the defence of Malaya is vital to the defence of Australia, they should accept the necessity for Australia to play some part in the defence of South-East Asia.
We cannot expect other people to help us if we do not do something for ourselves. Surely it should be made clear to the Malayan people that Australian troops are not being sent to Malaya from a Country which has any colonial ambitions but from a country which has never attempted to oppress Asian people and which stands pledged, through Seato, to help them to self-determination. The Malayan people should be told that Australia, because of its membership of the British Commonwealth of Nations, stands pledged to help the Malayan people. Surely the Australian Labour party led by Dr. Evatt should have declared its belief that Malaya is vital to the defence of Australia. Surely it should have given an assurance that Malayan independence will be protected by Australia. We should say, “ Accept our troops and co-operate with us in the defence of your freedom and independence as members of the British Commonwealth, and as members of Seato “.
But what was the attitude of honorable members of the Australian Labour party led by the right honorable member for Barton? To-day, in. every bazaar in Singapore and throughout Malaya, the words of the right honorable member and his followers are used by Communist propagandists and radical nationalists to prove that Australian troops are to be sent to Malaya in an attempt to deny the people of that country their opportunity to achieve freedom. That is the sort of stuff that is being preached by Peking, and which is being spread through every bazaar and village of Malaya.
The honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Clyde Cameron) has stated that Australian troops will be sent to Malaya to slaughter the native people and force them to see the virtues of Western capitalism. Consequently, at the present time every Communist propagandist is able to tell the people of Malaya that the great Australian Labour party, whose representatives constitute nearly half the membership of this Parliament, is of the opinion that Australian troops are to be sent to Malaya to slaughter the people in defence of Western imperialism. Honorable members will surely realize that when it is most necesary for the future of this nation that the Malayan Peninsula should be held intact, the followers of the right honorable member for Barton, the members of the so-called Australian Labour party, are busy selling out the gateway to this country to the disadvantage of Australia and future generations of Australians, i hope that the names of all those people who have sold out this country are enshrined in Hansard so that future generations of our people will know from whom their woes have come.
The members of my party have no desire to see Australian troops sent to Malaya, or anywhere else, but we know that the future safety and security of Australia depends on our Allies, and that our Allies expect us to do something to help ourselves. In attempting to help ourselves we should do so at the point where the greatest danger to this country lies. According to the advice of experts in these matters, that point lies in Malaya. Therefore, no matter how reluctant we may be to see Australian troops going to Asia, the obvious fact is that we have to send them, and that if we do not send them we shall be selling the pass to the enemy. The sensible course for all honorable members of this House to follow in this matter is to co-operate with the Government and the people of Australia in order to convince the Malayans that the presence of Australian troops, far from menacing their opportunities to obtain independence, will be a guarantee of their future independence and will preserve their opportunity for orderly advancement, free from interference by the Communist hordes.
Everybody, I suggest, knows that if the British and Australian forces were withdrawn from Malaya the chances of the Malayans ever achieving independence would be nil. Their troubles under British imperialism would be as nothing to the fate that they would suffer if the British left Malaya. We make no apologies for our stand on this matter, and for saying that the whole of the Australian nation should speak with a united voice in order that the external enemies of the free countries will know that they are dealing with n united people which will steadfastly face the issues of the times.
My party’s; attitude1 in this matter is in line with the traditional! policy of the Australian Labour party, the policy adopted by Mr. J. B;. Chifley when he was the leader of the Australian Labour party in this- Parliament. I have before me a letter dated’ the 19th January, 1948, signed fay Mr. Chifley and addressed to the federal executive of the Australian Labour party: In that letter, Mr. Chifley emphasized that the post-war defence programme was to give practical and substantial support to1 the Prime Ministers’ declaration at the London conference of British Commonwealth Prime Ministers, which recognized that Australia must in the future make a larger contribution to the defence of the British Commonwealth in the Pacific: That was Mr. Chifley’s policy, which he emphasized again and again on behalf of the Australian. Labour party. The second point of that policy was that Australia should participate in arrangements for co-operation in British Commonwealth defence. Anybody who suggests that in co-operating in the defence of the British Commonwealth in Malaya we are departing from the traditional policy of the Australian Labour party, should be referred to the public statements of Mr. Chifley, and should be asked whether he is prepared to repudiate his policy and declarations.
It is apparent that the followers of the light honorable member for Barton support the policy that is being advanced by the Communist party, and their statements are very useful to the Communists in South-East Asia. If any one cares to read the issues for the last two months of the Communist Tribune, he will see almost word for word the policy of the right honorable member for Barton set out in that newspaper. The Tribune has said, in relation to Seato, that the Government should be putting emphasis not on military aid but on economic and social aid. We should all like to concentrate on economic and social aid, and we should all like to send trucks instead of tanks to Asia, but of what use is economic and social aid if to-morrow the places to which we have sent that aid are to be overrun by Communists? Every sensible man must put first things first, and must provide for the defence of the freedom of the Asian peoples before providing them with the economic and social aid’ to which they are- entitled-. However; the. policy of the- so-called Australian Labour party is not to protect those- peoples from the onrush of communism. Apparently-, the policy is to send the1 people of Asia- tractors, motor cars and railway engines, so that when communism’ sweeps info- the undefended’ countries the Communists will’ be able to take advantage of the goods that we intended- should provide the people with a safer and happier way of life.
To-day I heard honorable members of the so-called Australian Labour party ask questions about the supposed withdrawal of Thailand from Seato. The honorable members asked’ those questions with positive glee. They seemed to be glad that a country which is vital to our defence is likely to repudiate aid and assistance under Seato, and is likely to accept the fair words of Chou-En-lai as being a greater guarantee of its safety than the pledge of the Seato powers. I repeat, that those honorable members showed; positive glee in the face of what could be a major threat to the future security of this country. Nobody has complained more in this Parliament about the fact that a power of veto was incorporated in the United Nations Charter, than the right honorable member for Barton, but what does he now want? He wants to put another veto, that of Communist China, into the United Nations to render that organization completely impotent in time of threat of war. He suggested that we should not bother concentrating forces now. He suggested that we should wait until something happened and then rush about collecting our forces. He ignores the fact that it is impossible for the United Nations to gather its forces now because of the veto power of the Soviet Union on the Security Council. The admission of red China to the United Nations would be once again rewarding aggression, and denying every word in the Charter of the United’ Nations in relation to the punishment of aggression and the outlawing of war. If Communist China, as a result of those aggressions in Korea, Indo-China and elsewhere, is allowed to shoot its way into the United Nations, the very fabric of the United Nations wilh Ite destroyed. Sow coUld. we expect any country to> accept the decisions of an organization! which admitted to its ranks people, who had! publicly and openly, time and again,, by both. act. and- word, declared their complete detestation of the very principles upon: which the organization was: founded?
So, in. relation to Malaya, Seato, Communist’. China, and Formosa, which our friends would deliver over to- the Chinese Communists to-morrow, and’ also- in relation: to out friendship with the United States, we Sad, on every one of those points that just as- the- Communists want t& act so- too- do the followers, of the right honorable member for Barton. There: is not one variation between the policy points outlined in the Communist Tribune- and those- in the new bible of the Australian Labour party, the Alternative, by Dr. Joh Burton. There is not one iota of difference, between the: two. There is hardly a “ t “ that needs to be crossed or an “ i “ to be dotted. There is no difference between what the Communist Tribune says, what the Alternative says, and what was said in the foreign policy speech delivered: by the right honorable member for Barton on behalf of his party - the old policy of trust the Communists and insult your friends and allies.
Speaking on. behalf of the members who sit. in this- corner of the House, let me say that we believe our policy ought to be: to keep in with our friends in the democracies, to remember that we- belong with the British Commonwealth of Nations, and to remember, also, that very largely, our future security and defence depend on the co-operation and friendship of the United States. I well remember the sneers. which greeted my leader’s remarks when he said recently that ‘ he was’ glad) to hear that the Prime Minister had! secured’ ais assistance, aircraft, and. so- on, from the1 United States. He was tol’d to ga- over to the Liberal party side- because he said he- was pleased to hoar that we had. had’ a pledge of our future security and a pledge of aid, .on behalf of Australia, from the United States’. Every honorable member here knows that- when that was said by the honorable- member for Ballarat (Mr: Joshua-), there were sneers’ from those in the party- led. by the- right honorable member for Barton. There were sneers when we congratulated, the: United! States for offering: us aid. Those honorable members sneered: at the- promise- of. fast, modern aeroplanes. They alao sneered when we. stated that, as. far. as we were concerned, our efforts; would be devoted, as far as they possibly could be within the terras of the policy in which we believe, to trying, to secure a united voice from Australia ia relation to foreign policy, so that, faced as we are with the dangers which confront us in Asia-
– The- honorable member, should.- get- over with the Government supporters.
– The honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard’.) does not want a united policy on the- matter. No matter what the position was in Australia, he would still cling to- the fond belief that the best policy for Australia to adhere to would be to put its trust- in the fair words of Mr. Chou-Em-Lai and his Communist hordes in Asia. “We are prepared to support the British Commonwealth of Nations’ and the United States in working,, in every possible way, to try to avoid almost the worst of all possible disasters, another world war. But we do- not believe that the cause of peace is going to be promoted by allowing ourselves to remain defenceless in the face oi the enemy. “We do not believe that, the cause of the Malayan people is going to be advanced, by leaving them defenceless in the face, of the enemy, and we do not believe that the cause of any of the free peoples of Asia, who value their freedom just as- much as we do ours, will be advanced by refusing- to undertake the obligations which have- been imposed upon us. *
– Order ! The honorable gentleman’s time has expired.
Mr. WARD (East Sydney) [9.4i.- It is very good to see that at last, Mr. Speaker, you recognize that this nondescript group in- the corner really belongs to the Government side of the House.
– -Because, according to the Standing Orders, you call one honorable member from- the Government side and then one from-, the: Opposition side, and as you have called me following the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Keon), it is quite evident that you now recognize him as a supporter of the Government.
– Order! The honorable gentleman will take his seat. I told the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt) thai If un attack were made on his party’s policy I would consider calling an honorable member from his party to answer it, hut if it is going to be imputed that, by doing so, I am relegating those gentlemen to the position of supporters of the Government, then the honorable gentleman will not bc allowed to proceed.
– Mr. Speaker, I rise to order. I do not wish to take, up your time now, but I submit that that is completely wrong.
– Order 1
– You knew from the speech of the leader of the party that they were supporting the Government.
– Order ! I knew nothing of the sort.
– I also rise to order. As you have laid down certain rules in this regard, Mr. Speaker, and as the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) is clearly going to attack other honorable members, I wish to know whether you will allow them . to defend themselves in their turn, after the honorable member for East Sydney ceases.
– Order ! I shall exercise my own judgment.
– I do not require your assistance, Mr. Speaker, to put them in their right place. The members of this nondescript group ought to be over with the Government. Let us examine what the real leader of the party, not the man who acts as proxy - -
– We find that what the honorable member for Yarra, the real leader of this group, says, is that they support whatever action is necessary to defend Australia. But what do they mean by that? They mean that they support the policy of the Menzies Government unreservedly. The honorable member for Yarra talks about “ them “ giving pledges to the people of Malaya, that “ they “ will not support a policy of colonialism. What value can you place on their pledge f Did not they sign a pledge to come into this Parliament to oppose the Menzies Government? What are they doing about it? If they had the courage and the manliness to do the right thing, they would oppose the Menzies Government, the Government which they were returned here to oppose. If they are not prepared to do that, they ought to resign and put their policy to the test in the various electorates. The honorable member for Yarra had the audacity and the effrontery to refer to the statements of the late right honorable member for Macquarie, the leader of the Labour party at the time, in an endeavour to support their treachery. This gentleman, when he was-
– Order I The word “ treachery “ will he withdrawn. I will not permit it.
– Very well, then, I will withdraw it; but I do not want you to interrupt me too often.
– Order! The honorable member will take his seat.’ I call the Minister for Territories (Mr. Hasluck).
Opposition members interrupting .and continuing to interrupt, Mr. Speaker left the chair and, by direction of Mr. Speaker, the Serjeant-at-Arms followed with the mace.
Sitting suspended from 9.8 to 2. SO p.m. (Wednesday).
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 3 May 1955, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1955/19550503_reps_21_hor6/>.