22nd Parliament · 2nd Session
Mr. SPEAKER (Hon. John McLeay) took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.
– In reply to a question on notice, the Minister for Social Services has given me a detailed statement on the exclusion of aborigines from social services. Will the Minister give consideration to bringing down legislation as soon as possible for the removal of these exclusions from the legislation?
– There are limitations to the constitutional competence of the Federal Government to deal with aboriginal natives. The subject to which the honorable member has referred is one that can be described as a matter of policy and it will receive the consideration that is its due.
– As there still seems to be some misunderstanding in Western Australia about eligibility for the unemployment benefit, will the Minister for Labour and National Service make perfectly clear the conditions laid down in the act under which persons may accept casual employment before being disqualified from receipt of the benefit? Do these conditions show the allegations of the honorable member for Stirling to be malicious and irresponsible?
– Order! 1 ask the honorable member to withdraw that comment.
– 1 withdraw it. Do these conditions show that the allegations made by the honorable member for Stirling are completely without foundation? Finally, I ask the right honorable gentleman whether the honorable member for Stirling has tried to bring any evidence to illustrate or support the allegations that he has made?
– If there is some misunderstanding remaining in Western Australia as to eligibility for the unemployment benefit, following the statement that I made in the House recently on the matter, it may be partly due to what I bel;eve has been sonic failure on the part of what is a normally and very responsible and accurate journal of opinion in that State, the “ West Australian “ newspaper, to appreciate the point which 1 brought out in my explanation to the House regarding eligibility. There was, it will be recalled, a suggestion that in some way an officer or officers of the Department of Labour and National Service had been so manipulating offers of casual work as to take the names of unemployed persons off the list of persons receiving the unemployment benefit and so prevent them from receiving the unemployment benefit. What I said on that occasion expresses my view of the integrity and propriety of the officers concerned in this matter in the department. That point was taken up by the newspaper. 1 went on to say that, even if any departmental officer had been so disposed, or if any Minister had been so regardless of his responsibilities in the matter, as to issue instructions having the purport alleged by the honorable member for Stirling, the provisions of the legislation would have made such action not only quite unacceptable, but also incapable of performance. The fact of the matter is that once a person qualifies for unemployment benefit after the waiting period of a week, and his entitlement is determined, not by the Department of Labour and National Service, but by the Department of Social Services - so it is not a question of the Department of Labour and National Service manipulating eligibility in these matters - he must earn above the permissible income–
– Which is how much?
– He must earn it not in one week, but in four successive weeks.
– How much is the permissible income?
– May 1 proceed without interruption, Mr. Speaker?
– The Minister is not game to mention the amount. It is a miserable sum.
– Order! 1 ask the honorable member for East Sydney to refrain from interjecting.
– I think that the amount is about double what it was when’ the honorable member for East Sydney was’ Minister, but that is by the by. I can appreciate the embarrassment of the honorable member, because he and his colleagues do not want these- facts brought out. The real crux of the,, matter is that the person on unemployment benefit-
– Or his wife.
– The person must earn above the permissible income for a period of four weeks before he is taken off the unemployment benefit and before he is required to qualify again by waiting i;C prescribed period for entitlement to the benefit. If a man receives casual work for one week which puts him above the permissible income limit, he is taken off the list of those receiving the benefit for the week.
– He has to wait another week.
– Order! I ask the honorable member for East Sydney to obey the Chair.
– Quite contrary to the honorable member’s interjection, the man does not have to wait.
– Yes, he does.
– Order! I ask the honorable member for East Sydney to apologize to the Chair for continually interjecting.
– I apologize.
-The honorable member must refrain from continuing his interjections.
– I rise to order. I do not want to interrupt the Minister, but I point out that, by referring to the honorable member for East Sydney and making an argument, he invites interjections.
– To put the matter in a nutshell, my statement in this house went far beyond any claim that officers of the Department of Labour and National Service had acted with complete propriety in this matter. I had no doubt in: my own mind at all times that they had done so. But, even further, the legislation rnakes it quite clear what the situation is. Therefore, there is no ground for inquiry of the kind that the newspaper recommended. To deal with the final point raised by the honorable member as to any evidence of anything improper or not in accordance with the statute being found, I invited honorable members, including the honorable member for Stirling, to give me par ticulars of any instance in which the things alleged by him had occurred. So far, no instance has been forthcoming.
– J desire to ask the Minister for Labour and National Service a question. Is it a fact that, in November last, the Minister represented the Government al a dinner in Melbourne arranged by the proprietors of Wirth’s circus, at which two lions, George and Phillip, and three lion cubs, were present also? Is it a fact also that, while the guests were having cocktails in another room, George and Phillip broke their training routine, upset tables and scattered cutlery and glassware, thereby delaying the dinner for half an hour? Is it further a fact, as has been reported, that a lion cub disgraced itself while being photographed in the arms of the Victorian Premier?
– I rise to order. Questions and statements such as this about Wirth’s circus and lion cubs have nothing whatever to do with the business of this House. I submit that they should therefore be ruled out of order.
– Order! I think the honorable member for East Sydney is in order. He is suggesting that the Government was represented at this function.
– If so, does the Minister consider that he is being fair to his party supporters for the leadership in exposing himself to such danger, and does he not consider
– I rise to order. Under the Standing Orders, questions must relate to the administration of a Minister’s department. This is a series of somewhat filthy insinuations, which have nothing to do with departmental administration. 1 believe that the question is a disgrace to this House and I therefore ask that it be ruled out of order.
– Order! I must ask the Minister to withdraw the word “ filthy “.
– I withdraw it.
– I ask the honorable member for East Sydney to bring his question to finality.
– Finally, if so, does the Minister consider-
– I rise to order. Is the honorable gentleman in order in pursuing this line?
– The . honorable member is in order.
– Does the Minister consider that he is being fair to his party supporters for the leadership in exposing himself to such dangers, and does he not consider it advisable to leave such hazardous exploits to the honorable member for Mackellar, the honorable member for Moreton, and the honorable member for Bowman, who were to lead the heroic march into Hungary?
– I am quite intrigued by the close knowledge that the honorable member for East Sydney has of my social engagements in my home town of Melbourne. He will be interested to know that the occasion in question was one of the highlights of the events and engagements leading up to the Olympic Games. Wirths circus is a well-established institution in this country. I think that most of us, in our time, have enjoyed the entertainment which is provided by its animals and performers. And, of course, for those of us who have been a long time in Parliament and sit on this side of the House the atmosphere of a circus is almost like a breath of home when we contrast it with the events which occur in this place. I was happy to welcome many distinguished overseas visitors amongst other official Victorian and Australian visitors present on that occasion. While I felt no discomfort at the proximity of the lions, who seemed to bear a well-tamed appearance, I regret to inform the honorable gentleman that I could not imagine quite the same enjoyment in his own case because, so far as I was aware, there were no skunks, snakes or vipers in the tents.
– Has the Minister for External Affairs received an official protest from the Thai Government against derogatory remarks about the Thais made recently in this Parliament?
– The convention is that communications from one government to another are treated as confidential, but 1 can say without impropriety that 1 have positive evidence of high indignation on the part of the Thai Government at the derogatory remarks recently made about it in this House.
– I ask the Minister for Labour and National Service whether he has made a check of the 51 signatures attached to aletter dated 22nd March and addressed tohimsupportingmycontentionthat casual work was given to deprive men of social service benefits. Will he agree to an inquiry to ascertain whether casual work has been provided, as a result of which men have been deprived of the unemployment benefit?
– I made a reference the other night to the document to which the honorable member for Stirling refers. I personally regarded it as a bogus document, in that the letter was addressed from the Trades Hall in Western Australia and was unsigned. It bore the same date as the report in the “ West Australian “ of the matters which had happened in this House the night before, and 1 think even the most assiduous trades hall secretary would have found it difficult in the time to round up that number of genuine cases. The pages with the signatures bore no reference to the subject-matter at all, nor was there any evidence that the people concerned knew what they had been asked to sign. It was because I regarded this as a bogus document that I invited the honorable member for Stirling - and I now repeat the invitation - to produce one specific instance which can be examined where it is alleged that what I have said in this House has not represented the true position or the practice which has applied to the individual in that case.
– Can the Minister for Health give a general statement on the progress of the poliomyelitis vaccination campaign throughout Australia, especially in respect of the number and class of children treated? In what areas, up to the present, has the treatment been given? To what extent has co-operation been given by State and local government bodies and the medical profession in the campaign? Have there been any unforeseen difficulties in connexion with the preparation of the vaccine and is Australia now self-contained in respect of supplies?
– Approximately 1,300,000 children, about half the eligible population up to the age of 14 /ears and approximately 200,000 other per;ons have now received two injections of he vaccine. I cannot give the right honorable gentleman an accurate dissection of how many of these are children and how many ure adults. The number of adults is com.paratively small. They have been expectant mothers and nurses engaged in the nursing of poliomyelitis cases. The areas covered by the campaign have, of course, been within the determination of the States; that s to say, the actual administration of the vaccine is carried out by the State Health departments. They have covered not only city areas but extensive country areas as veil. The co-operation between State health Departments and the Commonwealth and between the medical profession md the Commonwealth has been excellent ind there has been no hitch in the giving if the vaccine. The only unforeseen difficulty that has occurred was an outbreak of disease amongst the monkeys used for testng the vaccine towards the end of last year. This occurred not in the monkeys from which the vaccine is made but in the animals on which it is tested after manufacture. It did cause some slight delay in he release of prepared vaccine, because the testing of some batches was delayed. How.ever, as it occurred, rather fortunately, during the period of school holidays, the actual effect on the rate of inoculation was almost negligible. We were able to secure fresh monkeys and the vaccine is now in full production. The answer to the right honorible gentleman’s other question, as to whether we are self-contained, is “ Yes “. We are producing all the vaccine in Australia that we can use.
– Has the Minister for External Affairs any knowledge of state.ments made by Sir Percy Spender, the Australian Ambassador to the United States of America, at a gathering in Florida if wealthy businessmen, when our ambassador was extremely critical of recent deci.ions of the United Nations, even to the extent of being hostile to that organization? Do those statements reflect the views )f this Government regarding the United Nations? If not, will suitable action be aken to ensure that our representative will refrain from making such statements in the future?
– I have not seen a report of the statements to which the honorable gentleman refers. I recognize his interest in the subject, springing from his own distinguished incumbency of the post in Washington. I have not seen such a report, but 1 shall investigate the matter. I doubt whether our ambassador in Washington would have said anything in regard to the United Nations that was markedly at variance with what I myself have said in this House on behalf of the Government. I shall, however, assure myself on the point, although I have every confidence that our ambassador in Washington holds views that are entirely consistent with the views of the Government and myself on this subject.
– Sir WILFRED KENT HUGHES. - In view of the importance of the price of tea and its relation to the cost-of-living index. I ask the Minister for Trade: What is the position of a person who is prepared to import good quality black tea into Australia to sell at possibly as low a price as 3s. 9d. per lb., and certainly not at a higher price than 4s. per lb., wholesale? Would he consider such a person as having a special case for the granting of an import licence, or would that person have to go on the black market to obtain an import licence from those who already have them, or would the tea have to be imported through those who are already importing tea and who. on account of certain business contracts, would not be in favour of dealing in this tea?
– I quite understand the significance of tea and the cost of tea in the Australian scene. I do not feel able to answer so general a question as the honorable member has asked, but I assure him that there is sufficient flexibility in the administration of import licensing to enable a full and fair consideration of any particular proposal that may be advanced. 1 should be glad to arrange for such a consideration to be given to a proposal of the kind outlined by the honorable member.
– Can the Minister for the Interior, as the Minister responsible for the control of the war graves, inform me when the war graves cemetery at Adelaide River, some 70-odd miles south of Darwin, will be dedicated? If a date has not yet been fixed for the ceremony, will the Minister consider holding it on the next anniversary of the bombing of Darwin, and will he extend to the relatives of those men who lie buried there an invitation to attend the service? 1 ask that the occasion be made a fitting one, as this war cemetery is certainly the largest, if not the only one, on the Australian mainland where servicemen and civilians who made the supreme sacrifice in defending the shores of Australia are interred.
– 1 am sorry that I have not the precise details regarding the Adelaide River cemetery, about which the honorable gentleman has inquired, but I shall certainly be glad to look into the matter, ascertain the facts, give him the story, and take into consideration the valuable suggestions he has made.
– Can the Minister for Primary Industry give the House any information concerning the production of instant milk in Australia? Has he taken steps to encourage the introduction of this revolutionary process which promises to solve many of the problems of the dairying industry and to offer opportunities for increasing our exports of dairy products?
– The discovery of this new process of instant milk is a fascinating development, the consequences of which, for women in any case, will have to be very carefully weighed. This is a product made from skim milk. It has a non-fat content. All the vital solids are kept in the powder, and therefore it can be quickly stirred into tea, giving both the appearance and the taste of normal milk, but without the excess fat which is likely to induce a condition which most people who want to keep either a boyish or a girlish figure seek to avoid. It is a really splendid development insofar as the primary industries are concerned, and already one factory is satisfactorily operating in Victoria, in the electorate of one of my colleagues. The product is not being manufactured on a large scale, but as soon as it is produced it is sent to retailers and quickly sold. There is an unsatisfied demand, and it is the hope of the Department of Primary Industry that, in time, other manufacturers will come into the field to provide an alternative use for skims. I think this is, as the honorable gentleman has said, a revolutionary development and one that could play an important part in ensuring that the dairying industry remained profitable. .1 can assure him that organizations like the Producers Co-operative Distributing Society Limited are investigating the possibilities at the present moment. Others are doing the same, and if they think - as I am sure they will think - that there are possibilities of further uses for this product, I am confident that they will try to get the equipment necessary to increase production.
– Has the
Treasurer been fully informed of all of the secret manoeuvres that have taken place between the Government and the private banks in respect of the proposed Commonwealth Bank legislation? If not, does he now approve of the final decision that has been arrived at?
– Answering the last part of the question first, this concerns a matter of policy that will be disclosed in due course. With regard to the first part of the question, no information has been withheld from me. 1 have chaired all the conferences that have taken place between the banks and the Government. There is no need for any secrecy in connexion with this matter, any more than there is need for secrecy about happenings at Labour caucus meetings.
– In view of Australia’s vast interest in the tension in the Middle East, and the natural wish of this House to be kept up to date with the latest developments, is the Minister for External Affairs in a position to give the House further information about developments there?
– Yes. There have been developments, and the matter is under fairly active attention. The United States has presented a note to the Egyptian Government, and the American Ambassador in Cairo has had discussions with President Nasser in the last few days. Without being able to disclose the details that we know of the discussions, I think I can say that the situation does not appear to be in any way satisfactory. What appears to be coming out of the discussions falls very far short ot the six principles that were the subject of a unanimous resolution by the Security Council only a shorttime ago. I cannot predict what will happen from now on. The situation is tense and, I believe, dangerous. What the next move will be,I cannot say; but 1 would expect that, as a result of the Tecent talks in Cairo, the matter will have to go back in one form or another to the United Nations in New York. I am afraid that I have no good news to give in respect ofeither Egyptian-Israeli relationships or the future regime of the Suez Canal. The thing is fluid and, I would believe, dangerous.
– The canal is fluid?
– Quite fluid.
– Is the Minister for Trade aware that importers who hold a large portion of the quotas allocated, particularly in the textile industry, have raised the prices charged to manufacturers, although there have been no increases of the prices of imported materials? If the Minister is not aware of that, I point out that I submitted evidence of it to the department some weeks ago. Will he take it into account and, as soon as possible, make a decision, or see that a decision is made, to prevent this practice from continuing?
– I do not propose that the import licensing branch of the Department of Trade shall become a price control authority, but I do recognize that, due to the severity of the limitation of exports last year, certain textile manufacturers could not be granted licences to import and, therefore, were obliged to buy from those who had licences. In the relaxations which have been announced, the Government has recognized that that is one of a variety of anomalous situations that do exist. Within the present relaxations, some provision is made to deal with that situation.
– I wish to ask a question of the Minister for Social Services. In both the South Australian and the Victorian press, I think only a week ago, the honorable gentleman was reported to have said in a speech which he delivered to the Advisory Council for the Physically Handicapped -
We cannot afford to waste the services ofolder people able and willing to work who are discarded by the near blasphemy of a compulsory retiring age.
I ask the Minister: Did he say that? If he did, is it to be presumed that he is opposed to a compulsory retiring age?
– I have to say with some pride that the report was substantially correct. To me, this is a matter of faith and conscience. I believe that the gift of life is the greatest gift of God. For any authority to reach the decision that at a certain age a woman’s effective life shall end and that at a later age, or at the same age, a man’s effective life shall end is a form of cruelty that 1 find it difficult to condone. To my certain knowledge, it leads invariably to a process of physical decay and spiritual desolation.
– I intended to direct my question to the Minister for Immigration, but I do not think he is in the House. He is not here this morning. I shall direct my question, therefore, to the Vice-President of the Executive Council.
– He is in the Senate.
– It seems that, as usual hardly any Ministers are on tap. I shall direct the question to the Minister for Labour and National Service. I take it that he is here. In view of the alarming increase of the number of unemployed generally, will the Minister take steps to establish the long-promised Commonwealth Employment Office at Rainbow-street, Kingsford, in the Kingsford-Smith electorate? Is the Minister aware that many unemployed in the electorate of KingsfordSmith are forced to walk up to 8 miles to register for work or unemployment benefit?
– Dealing with the introductory remarks to the honorable gentleman’s question, I do not know of the alarming increase in unemployment to which he refers. It is always something of a mystery to me why honorable gentlemen opposite should seek to exaggerate the economic problems of this country - behaviour on their part which cannot assist in the solution of the economic problem itself but can serve only to damage confidence in our economy and discourage people who otherwise might be disposed to provide employment opportunities. As honorable members know, there is a quite authoritative survey made by the department each month of the employment situation. The survey for the last month under review reveals a decline of something over 2,000 in that month in the number of people in receipt of unemployment benefits. The figure for the latest week, which reached my desk yesterday, showed a total reduction of 299 persons on unemployment benefit; there was actually a reduction of 372 in the number of males on benefit. Consequently, I cannot accept the honorable gentleman’s proposition that there is any alarming increase in unemployment. As to whether the facilities of the Commonwealth Employment Service in the district to which he refers are adequate to meet the needs of the area, that is a question of fact which would bear examination. 1 shall make that examination and supply the honorable gentleman with a considered answer.
– In view of the fact that some soldier settlers in South Australia are nearing the time at which they will be able to exercise their option to freehold, can the Minister for Primary Industry tell the House the basis on which the option will be determined?
– The honorable gentleman from Barker has shown great interest in the problem of. ex-servicemen settlers - a very great interest indeed. Since he has been a member of this House he has been making constant inquiries to see what can be done both in order to help the settlers in his electorate and to permit them to get prices fixed for the allotment of their settlements on a freehold basis. I remind the honorable gentleman that, prior to the coming into office of the Menzies Government, such properties were allotted on a perpetual leasehold basis; but this Government decided that the settlers should have the option to freehold. That right has been given to them at the expiration of ten years from the dates at which they originally took over their properties. /Vs the honorable gentleman has well said, that period has now almost expired for a number of settlers, and therefore the time is rapidly coming when the necessary decision will have to be made. The settlers have the right to take up their properties, either at cost or at th* reasonable market price, whichever is the lower. In South Australia, as propertiesare taken up on a zonal basis, the costa have to be allocated between the variousproperties within the zone. It is essential, as a first step, that the South Australian Government estimate the total cost and1 then allocate it as between individual properties. As soon as that is done the Commonwealth will try to ensure that the settlers are informed of the prices they will have to pay, which, as I have said, will be cost or the market price, whichever is the lower. I am glad that the honorable member has raised this question again, because 1 will now seek further information to see whether the process can be expedited.
– Will the Minister idi Health consider extending the provisionsgoverning the medical benefits scheme and the hospital benefits scheme in order to give” assistance to the chronically ill and to people in need of medical care for ari ailment which is stated by doctors as having been present at the time they joined either scheme, but which did not become evident until later? Does the Minister not consider that the prime purpose of any hospital or medical benefits scheme should be to assist, the sick and those in need rather than a source of profit to the actual company concerned?
– This matter is one of the problems of any health insurance scheme. The honorable member should not forget that Commonwealth benefits are available to all these people. Fund benefits are not always available but, of course, it is essential that fund benefits should be built’ up. With regard to his reference to profits I should remind the honorable member that the benefit organizations are non-profit making.
– My question without notice is to the right honorable the Minister for Trade. Is the right honorable gentleman satisfied that Australian interests are being satisfactorily safeguarded in the plans for the development of a common market in Europe? In particular, does the Minister believe that the United Kingdom will join this organization only on the understanding that it will not impair its existing practices concerning British Commonwealth trade?
– I could not give an unqualified assurance that Australian interests wm not be impaired by ihe European common market proposals. Ail L can say is that of all the information wc have been able to glean up to the present time - and we have been very assiduous in endeavouring to glean all possible information - I am not yet aware, nor is the Government in any sense aware, of any specific proposal that would impair Australia’s trading opportunities. However, we are watching the situation very closely indeed. It has to be understood that what I might describe as the inner group, spoken of as the Messina powers - Germany, France, Italy, Belgium, Holland and Luxembourg - have already decided to establish progressively. over I think a twelve-year period, i free trade area within their own boundaries. Their freedom to do that is of :curse within their own control, subject only o their contractual obligations under the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, ind there could conceivably be a conflict between their own proposals and their international obligations in that arena. The General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade organization is to meet during this month, ind a senior official of the Department of Trade will be in attendance. The purpose >f the meeting is, as we understand it up o the present, not so much to challenge proposals, but to be sure that there is a complete explanation of proposals so thai he governments concerned may examine hat situation. Whether the United Kingdom joins the common market subsequently s, of course, a matter for its own decision. Jut the United Kingdom, I remind the House, is not a completely free agent. It ms not only its obligations under the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade but also its obligations to Australia under he new agreement which replaces the Ottawa Agreement. That preserves for
Australia the preferential position that we had for our commodities in the United Kingdom and indeed adds on a contractual basis, some of the non-contractual preferences we were enjoying. The United Kingdom has taken the stand that it will not commit itself to an arrangement, thai would prejudice trade between the United Kingdom and the other Commonwealth countries in any broad sense. I do noi think that any of us would wish to obstruct what was, in total, a beneficial arrangement because of some minute ‘ detail that might not be completely acceptable. I believe that that is a reasonable attitude. I think that it is an attitude which our Government would subscribe to. But I have no reason to believe that, up to the present time, our major interests are threatened under this proposal. It is suggested that food items will be completely excluded from the arrangement which the United Kingdom may join.
– I wish to make a personal explanation.
– Does the honorable member claim to have been misrepresented or misunderstood?
– The honorable member may proceed.
– The personal explanation is necessary because of a remark made by the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) last evening about certain statements which 1 had made previously. You will recall, Mr. Speaker, that during a speech I had made the point that the Empire air training scheme was established before the Labour party gained the treasury bench. Tn answer to an interjection by the honorable member for East Sydney, who said that it was on paper, 1 mentioned that I had been overseas, training under that scheme. I concede to the honorable member for East Sydney that I made a mistake of approximately three weeks in the time of being overseas. However, I contend that my claim that the Empire air training scheme had been started before the Labour government took office has not been altered by the statement of the honorable member for East Sydney. I enlisted in the Royal Australian Air Force, according to the records, on 19th July, 1941, as aircrew, Empire air training scheme, approximately three months before the Labour party gained the treasury bench. I meant it as no personal reflection on the honorable member for East Sydney. The statement was in connexion with the facts I have stated, and my conscience is clear.
Presentation to the Governor-General.
I inform the House that the AddressinReply will be presented to His Excellency the Governor-General at Government House at 5.15 p.m. on Wednesday next. I shall be glad if the mover and seconder of it, together with as many other honorable members as can conveniently do so, will accompany me to present it.
Mr. SPEAKER (Hon. John McLeay).I have received from the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard) an intimation that he desires to submit a definite matter of urgent public importance to the House for discussion, namely: -
The failure of the Government to take any action to prevent the recent increases in overseas freights and fares to and from Australia, thus causing serious damage to the national economy, substantial losses to primary producers, exporters, importers and consumers. ls the proposal supported?
Eight honorable members having risen in support of the proposal,
.- The submission of this proposal to the House for discussion is prompted by the fact that there is undoubtedly widespread resentment amongst every section of the Australian people at the progressively increasing charges levied by the overseas shipping lines, not only on Australian exports, but also on Australian imports. The position has been accentuated by the fact that within the last twelve months or thereabouts - it might be slightly longer - two substantial increases have been made in the shipping freight rates. Australia and its people are in the grip of a monopolistic monster with a jaw like a hippopotamus. It is consuming an undue and unreasonable proportion of the reward and the return which the people of this country, directly through the producers and manufacturers and indirectly through the consumers sub sequently, should be receiving for the good; which they export. It is also reducing the quantity of imports available to the people because the prices of imported goods an affected by the increased freights.
Some time last year, in another place, a question was asked regarding overseas freights, and a return was presented by Minister indicating that freight increases have been going on for years. I shall quote only a few of them. In 1949 the general freight paid on exports was 154s a ton. By 30th September, 1956, it had risen to 224s. a ton. But more recently are announcement was made that the shipping companies proposed to increase freights or exports by 14 per cent. Another announce ment was made that a similar rate would apply also to imports. This prompts the question, “ Who are these people? Who are the shipping companies that are imposing this additional charge on the Australian community? “ It is disclosed in official documents that they comprise 22 operators - minor operators in the main - who are organized into seven British and five European lines as a group called, for reasons of respectability, the “ conference “ or “ conferences “ instead of “ organizations “or “ unions “. This great and powerful organization of overseas shipping interests is always referred to in those terms.
If anybody has any doubt as to what this means to our economy, let me cite the relevant figures. I speak from figures supplied in official documents. The” PrimeMinister (Mr. Menzies), on Monday last circulated a document to honorable members in which they were informed that our imports this year could amount to, I think. £779,000,000. But the cost of freight or our imports was £115,000,000. We know from the stevedoring industry report tha; our freights on exports amounted, untila recent date, to £100,000,000. With a14 per cent. increase, they now amountto £114,000,000. Combine the two, and the total of freight charges on the Common wealth of Australia and its people is £229,000,000. An honorable gentleman shakes his head. I assure him that they are official figures. I have been very careful not to use other than official figures and estimates. It is no exaggeration to say that at least £30,000,000 or £35,090,000 of that £229,000,000 amounts to downright extortion. This is known and recognized not only by the Australian Labour movement, but also by the whole of the Australian community.
– And by the press.
– It is known and recognized by the whole of the Australian community, including the press and those engaged in every exporting primary and manufacturing industry. To remove any possible doubts, and so that the House and the people may know that this is not merely Pollard speaking as a member of the Australian Labour party and putting up this case alone and unsupported, I shall read to the . House reports of some of the protests that have been made by all sections of the community. On 4th October of last year, the “ Sydney Morning Herald “ stated -
It is shocking to hear overseas shipowners saying in advance that freight between Australia and Europe will have to rise by IS per cent, in the new year.
Such a rise would stifle some new export projects at birth.
There have been many excellent leading articles on this subject in the Melbourne “ Age “, which declared on 10th January of this year -
There seems no reason why some stand should not be taken by the Government against the increase.
Government intervention two years ago was successful in winning a reduction in the demands of shipping companies.
There is no reason for an attitude of submission; of fatalistic acceptance of whatever rises or formulas the ship-owning .monopoly decided to impose.
Here are some of the protests made on behalf of the producers. The “ Age “ reports the views of Mr. Blake, of the Egg and Egg Pulp Marketing Board of Victoria, as follows: -
Because of the Boards’ ‘refusal to sign the new freight contracts it would be penalized by a further 10 per cent, freight, making the total rise it would have to pay 25.4 per cent.
The demand for a 14 per cent, rise would hasten the extinction of the Australian egg export industry.
Last year’s exports were worth £3,379,000. Shipping cost £540,000. The new freight bill would increase this by £75,000.
The opinion of Mr. T. C. C. Sanger, president of the Graziers Federal Council of Australia, was reported in the “Age” of 19th January, 1957, in these words -
The proposed formula for fixing freight rates on Australian exports was wrong in principle as it was a cost-plus arrangement.
He added that representatives of the Graziers’ Federation and Wool Growers’ Council had very satisfactory talks with Mr. McEwen.
I comment that they brought no concrete results. The “Age” in a report of the proceedings at a meeting of the Chamber of Agriculture of Victoria, held earlier this year, stated -
The Chamber yesterday entered a strong protest against the proposed freight increase of 14 per cent.
The President of the Victorian Dairymen’s Association said dairy farmers would have to pay an additional £250,000 and would have to bear the increase directly.
Sir Samuel Wadham said at this meeting that in any future agreement it was essential that some one representing the exporters should have the right to examine the books of the shipping companies and should not be expected merely to accept a certificate from a firm of accountants. He stated also -that a director of a large British Shipping company had gone to gaol in the early 1930’s for .misrepresentation of books that had been audited. I emphasize that comment by Sir Samuel Wadham, because the Australian Overseas Transport Association, in an apologia that it had published in the press explaining why it had agreed to these freight increases, stated that on its behalf a London firm of accountants had examined the figures given by the overseas shipping lines in support of the freight increases. Of course, that was not worth twopence. ] do not want to misinterpret the remarks made by Sir Samuel Wadham. Apparently he had that in mind when he added that it would be fatuous to accept the mere say-so of some firm of accountants as to a percentage of profits. Mr. Bryant, of the Victorian Wheat and Wool Growers Association, was reported by the Melbourne “ Herald “ as saying -
Failure to make public the figures could only result in increasing support for a plan to give Australia her own fast cargo ships.
I say: Why not? Mr. Bryant was reported further as follows: -
We told the Federal Government this country -should not be enslaved by overseas shipping companies who charge whatever freight rates they wish. Australia should have its own ships for oversea* trade.
There were many similar protests from the Graziers Association of Victoria and other -organizations.
I come now to the manufacturing interests. The Melbourne “ Argus “ reported, on 5th December of last year, that Mr. Latham Withall, Federal Director of the Associated Chambers of Manufactures of Australia, had said that the 14 per cent, increase would press severely on Australian manufactured exports. He added that the new freight agreement was being negotiated by a body on which the Australian exporters were not fully represented, and that representation had been sought for many years. The “ Age reporting the views of spokesmen for the export interests, stated -
Export interests to-day severely criticized the Australian Oversea Transport Association which they said had ratified a cost-plus formula without giving it a proper consideration.
They said the formula had been railroaded through the Committee in December after the shipowners threatened to increase freights from January 1st if it were not accepted.
That is a clear indication of the impudence of the shipping companies.
I am embarrassed by lack of time, but I should like to ask what the Government is doing about this.
– It is doing exactly nothing. We have just concluded the debate on the motion for the adoption of the Address-in-Reply to the Governor-General’s Speech. In the Speech, there was not one specific reference to this unreasonable impost on the Australian people. The Government chose to ignore the whole problem completely. His Excellency’s Speech contained reference to some piffling concession that the Government proposes to give to Tasmania by providing a ferry for transport between the island State and the mainland. But the Government has done, and proposes to do, nothing about an unreasonable financial burden of more than £30,000,000 that has been placed on the shoulders of the Australian people.
– The fact that it has done nothing indicates that it supports the increased freights.
– That is so. Where does it stand? It had a look at the matter, of course. The “ Sydney Morning Herald “ -reported, on 15th January of this year, that the Cabinet had had a general discussion about the problem at its first meeting in -1957, and that the Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen) had explained the Government’s position, lt added’ that the Cabinet expected to receive a more complete report at its next meeting. The public has heard nothing further. lt is all very well to be destructive. I have not tried merely to be destructive. I have stated the general view of the Australian people about this problem, lt is the view, also, of the Australian Labour party, and it has been stated in every Labour journal in Australia. I know the excuses that the Minister will advance. He will say that in 1930 - some 27 years ago - Mr. Scullin had the Australian Industries Preservation Act amended so as to exempt the shipping companies from the control of that act, which was intended to prevent and control monopolistic practices. That action was taken at the request of the Australian primary producers. The Australian Overseas Transport Association was given statutory standing, and it was believed by the primary producers who were responsible for haying the act amended that the association would prove a useful instrument for ensuring that ships arrived on certain dates and that representatives of the exporters would from time to time negotiate satisfactory agreements at fixed and adjustable rates. A lot of water has flowed under the bridge since 1932, and it is no exaggeration to say that it is long past the time for that exemption to remain in the Australian Industries Preservation Act. I am not sure that its removal would solve the problem, but it would at least enable an attempt at a solution to be made. It is a fact that, with the passage of the years, that exemption affords the ship-owning monopoly ever greater opportunities for extortion, particularly when conservative governments are in office, and that the shipping companies are thumbing their noses at governments.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
– I have listened closely to the remarks made by the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard) on a matter which, I assure him, is viewed with concern not only by the Opposition, but also by the Government and its supporters, as well as by the entire Australian community, because it deeply affects Australia’s economy. I make no protest about this issue being raised and thrashed out here. It is an issue of prime importance. We must bear two things in mind. We may readily express our disappointment - and carry it to an expression of disapproval - at the increase of shipping freights that bears so heavily on Australia’s economy. It is another thing to come to a conclusion about what the Australian Government, or the Australian interests concerned, may with justification, properly and legally, do about it.
– Get your own shipping line.
– There is the voice of a socialist. “ Get your own shipping line “, says the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward).
– The primary producers have said it, too.
– But the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard) did not say it.
– I say it now.
– He says it now. The socialist remedy for everything is for the Government to own everything and conduct everything, lt is not a doctrine that finds approval in the Australian democracy, or which, when put into practice, has often saved money for the community. Let me take this matter up for the moment. Is it proposed that the Australian Government should buy, or build, a shipping line that will carry all our cargo? I remind honorable members that 100 ships are engaged in this run. To build a fleet of those dimensions would cost not less than £150,000,000.
– It could be done over a period of years.
– Would they be manned under Australian terms?
– Qantas is, is it not?
– The honorable member immediately dodges the question. Would they be built in Hong Kong, or in Australia?
– In Australia.
– At what cost? Would the fleet be manned by Lascars, or by Australians?
– It would be manned by Australians.
– Tt would be built in Australia at’ probably double the cost. Already we have to subsidize Australian shipbuilding by not less than 25 per cent, because, demonstrably, our costs are between 25 per cent, and 33$ per cent, higher than those of other countries. If we were to follow Labour’s suggestion we would load ourselves with this huge capital cost, and would then man the ships under the Australian terms. We would, after all this, save money for the Australian community! What utter drivel and nonsense! The Labour party would realize, if it will have the mental integrity to face the situation, that that is no solution to the problem. The remedy is not to be found in a national shipping line. Is it proposed that we should have two or three ships - a sort of toeinthewater operation? What would we do with two or three ships built in Australia and manned under Australian conditions? I will tell honorable members opposite. We would merely make out a case for higher freight rates than now exist.
– That is what happened last time.
– That is so. That is why the Australian overseas shipping line was sold. In the ‘twenties the strongest possible justification that the overseas shipowners had for increasing freights was the fact that the proposed rates were still lower than the Australian costs of operating a government overseas line. That is history, and it cannot be disputed. I admit that this is a completely proper matter to bring before the House, but it will be most effectively raised only if a constructive approach is adopted. The basic fact is that neither the Australian Government nor even Australian interests own the ships upon which we depend for the carriage of our overseas cargo. In such circumstances we can examine, first, whether it would be better to own a line - and I immediately say that the virtue of this cannot be demonstrated - or, secondly, how we may best deal with a situation in which we depend so vitally, for the carriage of our inward and outward cargo, upon ships that are not owned by Australians.
This issue has been faced fairly and squarely before. The Australian Overseas Transport Association, which is recognized under statutes of this Parliament, has operated with satisfaction over the years. It enables the shipowners, collectively - and here, I take it, we are discussing the European and Continental trade, though the principles have a similar application to other trades - to bargain with the Australian export interests. The composition of the Australian representation was decided many years ago. I am not going to say that I believe it to be a perfect composition for to-day’s circumstances. Indeed, I have already said to various interested parties who have approached me that I will, with the aid of departmental officers and the best advice that I can get, study how it can be improved. I tell the Labour party now that I am receptive to constructive suggestions from that side of the House. The honorable member for Lalor said, pretty specifically, that the provision in the Australian Industries Preservation Act, which enables this structure to exist should be repealed.
– It ought to be looked at.
– The honorable member says now that it ought to be looked at. I have said that we will do that, but I gathered he said that the whole thing should be repealed. I do not want to engage in an argument on this, but I direct the attention of the House to the fact that one of the reasons for the Australian Overseas Transport Association arrangements was the operation of the previous “ free-for-all “ system. Under that system, freight rates charges on similar commodities were not always uniform as between shippers. To put it in simple language, a fairly natural state of affairs was disclosed as existing on certain occasions. The bigger fellows were able to look after themselves and the little fellows took the brunt of differential freight rates. One of the purposes of the Australian Overseas Transport Association arrangement was to ensure uniform freights on a given commodity. That is a very desirable objective, which I think the House would wish to preserve.
The second objective of this collective bargaining was born of a recognition that, important though freight rates are, they are not by any means the only consideration bearing upon the profitable conduct of Australia’s export trade. The programming of shipping, the placement of ships, and the obligation of shipowners to lift the whole tonnage of Australian production within the categories carried under this arrangement are all highly important. I would remind honorable members - and they certainly include the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard)- who have a practical knowledge of such perishable commodities as meat and fresh fruit that to speak only of freights and ignore contractual obligations for the placement of ships is to overlook half the problem - and perhaps not the minor half. I should think that the exporters of apples and pears were, if anything, rather more concerned with the programming and placement of ships than even with freight rates. That is not underestimating the importance they attach to the freight rates. Out of this collective bargaining arises a situation in which it is possible to negotiate a programme that places important obligations upon the shipowners. That is something to be taken into account. Ships have to be placed, whether there is a full cargo or not. That is a contractual obligation under the arrangement.
I am not here defending the arrangement as being perfect; I make that quite clear. What I say is that being concerned at higher freight rates does not mean that it automatically follows that I think there is no case for a higher freight rate.
– Ah! The big square-off.
– The honorable member for Lalor cited over the years the trend of increases in freight rates. “ He could equally have cited over the years the trend of increases in wage rates and in the charges for other transport services in this country, including transport services owned by Labour governments. I say without fear of contradiction that a graph of freight rates charged by Labour governments for the carriage of certain important Australian primary commodities by Labour-owned transport services produces a vastly higher curve than the upward trend in shipping freights. It suits the honorable member to ignore that, but it is a relevant fact. 1 want to say, as a responsible Minister, that what T am concerned ‘with’ is not simply whether there is an increase in freight rates but whether it is a proper and justified increase in freight rates. Surely that is a proper attitude!
Who is best equipped to judge whether the increase is fair or not? Surely the people who pay the freights! On two occasions since I have been ‘ a Minister iri this Government, the ‘ ‘people who pay the freights have come to me and said, “ Though you have not a statutory right to intervene, will you aid us in compiling the facts and in- assembling the arguments, and will you act as a mediator?” 1 have done so with some success on two occasions.
– Did the Minister get the facts?
– We got enough of the facts to produce results, anyway. On this occasion, the people who pay the freights, on a deliberate policy determination of their own, decided that they would negotiate right through to the end with the shipowners, and not invite the Government to come into the business at all. When great interests established in an organization set up by this Parliament are in negotiation with an authority Parliament provided, this Government does not consider that it is entitled to kick in the door and announce that it is there to tell them how to run their own business. The truth of the matter is that the exporters of Australia on this occasion decided to go to London.
– The honorable member may sneer at the wool and wheat growers if he likes, but I can tei! him the facts. The exporting interests decided to go to London. They hired a firm of accountants, and were satisfied with the facts.
Mr. ACTING DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr. Bowden). - Order! The Minister’s time has expired.
.- The Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen) happens to be the Deputy Leader of the Australian Country party, and in this debate he has appeared in his real role. He comes into this chamber, as >the defender of primary industry and - those engaged in that industry. He is their representative in this place defending their rights. But he was. never, at a greater disadvantage than he was to-day. He spoke about replacing labour on Australian ships with Lascars. In other words, he advocated . the lowering of living standards.
– 1 -. rise to order. The honorable member for Kennedy is deliberately, and with, knowledge, misrepresent.ing what I said. I uttered no word, as “ Hansard “ will- show, to indicate that I advocated the displacement of Australian labour. The honorable member knows that he is maliciously misrepresenting me.
– Order! The point of- order has been taken.
– The Minister also said that he was not supporting the action taken at the conference he mentioned. He said that he did not suggest that a case for an increase could not be made out. In other, words, he was trying to have a dollar, each way. My time is brief, but I want to say that, when the overseas shipowners proposed in December last that the rates be increased, it was a dogmatic decision on their part. Earlier this year, the oil cartel took action to increase the price of petrol, and fixed the retail price of petrol in every State except two. Then, just before this meeting of Parliament, the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) and the Treasurer (Sir Arthur Fadden) met the private bankers.
Order! The honorable member should return to shipping rates.
– What I am trying to show is this: First, the shipping cartel, by a dogmatic decision, foisted an increase of freights upon the long-suffering Australian people. Then the oil cartel took similar action. Finally, the bankers came in for. their cut of the cake. Lack of action by this Government on those matters shows where its sympathies lie. Its sympathies lie. not with the general community or with the primary producers, but with the monopoly capitalists. It is more concerned with gold and mammon than with the Commonwealth of Australia.
The main excuse used when the freight, rates were increased was that the Government had imposed import restrictions and,, in consequence, there was a falling off in, cargoes. The shipowners decided to increase the freight rates to offset some of the . loss caused by a drop in cargoes. The im- . port restrictions were imposed by this Government because of the fall in overseas balances. Later, we were told that an increase in freight rates was necessary because of the Suez position, which meant that ships had to be diverted around the Cape of Good Hope. That was an excuse, but it was not pushed. It was not pushed’ because once the Suez Canal was re-opened to traffic, the shipowners would be forced to reduce the impost of 14 per cent, that’ they proposed. Another excuse was that the turn-round of ships was slow. The committee which inquired into stevedoring revealed a 10 per cent, improvement in the rate of turn-round of ships.
The higher freights on our exports, though paid by the buyers, are, in fact, borne by the producers in this country. In addition, our national earnings are decreased by the amount of the increase in freights. The shipowners abroad decided to increase the rates. The exporters must carry the increase because the products are sold on the world market at world prices; that is to say. they are sold at prices fixed abroad. In addition, dairy producers are forced to sell their products in competition with the products of Holland and Denmark and on a market that has slumped at the present time. What will they get out of it? As the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard) indicated, the wool-growers are conscious of the fact that this increase in freight rates will affect their returns.
According to an article published in the Melbourne “ Age “ on 29th December, 1956, Mr. F. A. Brodie, president of the Australian Overseas Transport Association, estimated that the freight increases represent an increase of Id. sterling on 3 lb. of beef, of £A.l per head of cattle, of Id. sterling on 2i lb. of dumped wool - approximately 10s. a bale - and of Id. sterling on 3i lb. of butter. Nevertheless, the Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen) comes into this House and poses as the defender and protector of the primary producers of this country. In 1954-55 an amount of £88,000,000 was paid to overseas shipowners. In 1955-56 the payment increased to £103,000,000, and it is now proposed to increase the amount again to £115.000,000. Those figures refer to freights that must be paid on exports and imports. The freights on exports are borne by the Australian producers, primary or secondary. The freights on imports reduce the overseas balances that this Government is supposed to be so concerned to conserve and build up. The extra amount that will have to be paid will come from the overseas balances. In addition, the increase of freight rates increases the cost of the imported article, and so price levels in this country rise a little more. We do not hear so much of late- about the fight against inflation because Government supporters know that they cannot justify any further mouthings about’ fighting inflation when they permit overseas’ interests to force up living costs in the community by an increase in overseas freight’ charges.
A very serious aspect of this matter lies in the fact that the Australian exporters may be priced right out of the world markets as the result of increased freights imposed on our producers, and unemployment may be caused among Australians. The Minister for Trade talked about building or buying 100 ships. The Commonwealth has a line of steamships of its own. It has over 40 of these vessels, but not one of them was fitted with refrigeration space, despite the fact that the Labour government before 1949 originally planned to build, first, ships for the coastal trade, and then refrigerated cargo ships for use in competition with the Conference line. The Minister for Trade speaks of buying ships, but if he was as concerned as he should have been about exporting our primary products, his Government would, long since, have taken action to see that at least some of its steamships were fitted with refrigeration space, so that the Commonwealth line could have competed with other shipping lines. This Government is supposed to sponsor healthy competition and it could have encouraged healthy competition in this way, by using Australian vessels, manned not by Lascars but by Australians working under Australian conditions.
Because the overseas shipowners have imposed these burdens on the Australian community, one would think that they are in dire poverty, and that their incomes had fallen. The following report relating to the Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company appeared in the Melbourne “Herald” of 27th March, 1957:-
The company’s financial statement showed an expansion of over £2,100,000 to £228,025,856 in the group’s consolidated assets for the year ended last September. After charging taxation, the group’s profit rose by £663.564 to £6.266.635.
Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- It would be as well for honorable members participating in this debate to get back to a few solid facts. One matter that has not yet been referred to is the fact that inflation is world-wide, and that the increase of freights that we have been speaking of does not relate only to this country. Freights have been increased all over the world.
– The increase has been greater here than in any other country. The shipowners have put the screws on.
– The interjector is, as usual, far from being correct. I should prefer, however, to get back to a few facts. With rising inflation it is essential for all persons in business to increase their charges in order to meet their outgoings and so to carry on business. The overseas shipping companies have had an agreement for a period of 27 years. The object of this agreement is to provide a regular shipping service for this country so that we may be able to send our primary products overseas. The ships are provided whether or not the goods are available for export. When ships arrive in Australia a strike may be in progress and goods cannot be ‘ loaded. Droughts and other disasters may cause a shortage of goods, and ships again may not be able to take on full loads and may have to return to overseas ports in ballast, or partly in ballast. Notwithstanding these contingencies, the overseas shipping companies have regularly and properly provided a magnificent service. Not all of the money paid to them goes out of this country. They have to pay for services that are provided for them, and for goods that they need. In fact, the Statistician has estimated that they bring into this country over £60,000,000 in a year. The payment of the freight charges to them is not, therefore, an entirely one-sided affair. One must look at the activities of overseas shipowners as business activities and decide whether or not they are charging too much in increased freights. The position has not been examined from that point of view by any speaker on the Opposition side.
– Give us another quarter of an hour and we will tell the honorable member a few things
– It is true that the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard) referred to the fact that, on behalf of the exporters of this country, an accountant’s examination had been conducted of the position of the overseas shipping companies. But the honorable member wishes to sweep aside the results of that examination. I should have thought, in my innocence, that when one wants to understand the figures relating to the business of a company one should employ an accountant to examine them. I do not know of any person more qualified to undertake this task than an accountant. But the honorable member for Lalor, in his delightful fashion, just sweeps this aside. He says, “ Oh, they got an accountantha, ha, ha! “ That is his method of replying to these arguments. I do not know of a better way of dealing with a case when one has no argument with which to answer it.
– I quoted Professor Wadham.
– Yes, and Professor Wadham is a professor of agriculture. I should like to cross-examine him in the witness box on his statement. I think Professor Wadham would probably use the standard excuse of the politician, that his words had been somewhat misunderstood by the honorable member.
Let me return to this examination by the accountants. As a result of the examination, a formula was devised. Under that formula, to which the exporters agreed, an increase of 16.5 per cent, would have been warranted. The shipping companies were prepared to accept a 14 per cent, increase.
Opposition members interjecting,
– Honorable members opposite may laugh, but of course they do not know why it is that a 14 per cent, increase is necessary. I point out that that was regarded by the accountants who examined the matter as a proper and reasonable increase, having regard to the needs of the overseas shipping companies to be able to carry on their business in a legitimate way and to provide, by carrying on their business, the regular shipping service for our trade which, over the years, has been provided.
I go on now to deal with some of the matters that have been raised against the Government in this connexion, and I must be brief. First, with regard to the statement that the agreement is not good. It has been shown that the agreement has provided admirable service. It was originally introduced into the law by a Labour government. If, in fact, it was not working properly, one might have expected the two Labour governments that we have had since then - one under Mr. Curtin and the other under Mr. Chifley - to attempt to alter it, but no attempt was made.
Now let me deal with the matter of the establishment of a government line of ships, to which honorable members opposite have referred. The Opposition did not create a government line of ships during the time it was in ‘office. I am referring again to the Curtin Government and the Chifley Government. The Opposition had in mind, or it should have had in mind, that in the 1920’s the government shipping line was losing between £500,000 and £600,000 a year for eight years, and, in addition, its capital was written down by £8,000,000. Those figures relate to prewar money, not to present-day money. In other words, the government shipping line was a failure. The Minister for Trade has pointed out what it would cost to introduce a government shipping line to-day.
A suggestion, which seems to have come from a number of quarters of the House, has been made that as soon as this increase of freights was introduced, the Government should have said, “ We will get rid of this agreement “. What would have been the effect of getting rid of the agreement overnight? There would have been chaos instantly, and the fears of unemployment, about which the honorable member for Kennedy (Mr. Riordan) has spoken, would have been confirmed. We should have had unemployment straight away. It is indeed curious that the honorable member for Kennedy should be so solicitous for the wool-grower, whom last year the Opposition was attacking on the ground that he was making enormous profits. Now, apparently, the honorable member is a little sorry that the wool-grower will have to pay slightly more by way of freight charges.
The proposal before the House alleges that serious damage has been caused to the national economy. I should have expected that figures would have been produced to show in what way serious damage had been caused to the national economy, but all that the honorable member for Lalor did was to produce a screed of highly coloured material from newspapers and other sources. We know that articles of this kind have to be coloured in that way. But so far as concrete facts on this matter are concerned, we have had none from the honorable member for Lalor, nor have we had them from his successor, the honorable member for Kennedy.
.- After listening to the honorable member for Balaclava (Mr. Joske), I feel sorry for the Australian people, particularly the primary producers. I am convinced, having heard what has been said by honorable members on the other side of the House this morning, and having read what the Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen) has written in letters to me, that the only hope for the Australian people is a change of government at Canberra. This Government has failed tragically to protect the interests of the people in this matter of freights, and it cannot argue its way out of blame for the position that has arisen. If ever a government lay down and let the shipping monopoly walk over it, this Government has done so. lt has fought the monopoly with kid gloves. We of the Opposition have been battling for years in this chamber on this subject. We have made representations about it from month to month. We could see what was coming, but the Minister for Trade - and I shall read one of his letters shortly - did nothing of a constructive, practical nature to stop this rise. He merely brought certain people together at a conference. Apparently, he then said, “ O.K., boys. I have arranged the conference. Now you go to it “.
The formula that was mentioned by the honorable member for Balaclava was worked out in October and November, 1956. and* it guaranteed to the shipping companies a 14 per cent, increase of freights, on a cost-plus basis. 1 should like to refer, as my friend, the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard) did, to the statement of Mr. T. C. C. Sanger, the president of the Graziers Federal Council of Australia. When commenting on this formula, he said -
This is a rigid contractual obligation which makes no provision for consideration of the ability of Australia’s exporting industries to pay.
In other words, it is a case of “ Pay up, or else “ ! If we do not pay up, there will be no ships. That is the kind of agreement it is. No appeal from this decision, or anything of that kind, is available in the formula. It is simply a blackmailing way of getting the Australian exporters to sign on the dotted line.
I wish now to read from an article written by John Eddy, the Melbourne “ Herald “ economist, and not a Labour man, written on 17th January, 1956. He said -
The new rates are on the unsatisfactory “ costplus “ basis. The so-called low percentage of profit rate is on the basis of giving the shipping companies new and better ships for old at our expense, se inflating their capital. It shows that the exporters who succumbed to the negotiations in London were by no means unanimous.
The wool-growers and the meat men did not agree wholeheartedly to this arrangement, but they knew they were trapped by majority vote, and they had to give in to it. It provides a 10.4 per cent, profit for shipowners. Sir William Currie said, at the annual meeting of the Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company, last Mav -
The yards that have gone sleepy on cost-plus for a decade or more will have only themselves to blame if we have to do our shopping in a better market.
Those are the words of men who understand the situation from the inside.
The shipping freight rise of 7i per cent, in 1955, approximately eighteen months ago. has meant an added cost to our exporters of £10.000.000 a year. The 14 per cent, increase this year has meant an additional cost of £23.000,000, on top of our previous freight charges. Let us think of this matter in cold facts. Freights have increased by 2H per cent, in less than two years, adding £33.000,000 to our total freight bill, and bringing the total to £115.000,000. Some of our overseas markets for primary products are already only just holding on by the skin of their teeth. Any slight increase of freights could push us overboard, and the Argentine, European countries or South Africa could come in and say, “ Very well. We shall shoulder our way in now. You cannot compete with us any more “. The buyers on the other side of the world would no doubt say, “ Certainly “, and they would take goods from the other countries. These increased freight rates could topple us from the markets of the world.
Let us compare our position with that of South Africa. The Assistant Government Trade Commissioner in Djakarta, Mr. R. B.
Hines, in an article in the journal “ Overseas Trading “ about eighteen months ago, wrote as follows: -
Another factor affecting Australia’s position visavis South Africa is the lower freight rates from South Africa. This is counter-balanced to some extent by quicker delivery from Australia, but we are still in a disadvantageous position. In Malayan trade, too, Australia is burdened with dangerously high freight rates. Most of the shipping lines conducting this trade are controlled by the same Conference line companies which are seeking an increase on our freights to Europe. Their rate is 12s. on a case of fresh fruit shipped from here to Singapore. From South Africa, a longer voyage, it is 8s. 2d. a case. Our canned fruit carries a rate of £9 17s. 6d. a ton. Yet from South Africa it is £4 13s. 9d. a ton. Cut-rate non-European labour helps keep the South African rate down. lt was pointed out. however, that this was not the only reason for the lower charges. The article continued -
But this does not explain why there are these comparable rates on a ton of machinery imported into Singapore.
The writer pointed out that the cost of importing a ton of machinery into Singapore from South Africa was £5 12s. 6d., from Australia,’ £9 1 7s., and from Great Britain, the longest voyage of all, £8 8s. 9d. Those facts give one cause to wonder where the sympathies of the accountants who worked out the figures, lay.
The Australian Egg Board was mentioned by the honorable member for Lalor. In 1953, Australia shipped 500,000 cases of shell eggs and 17,000 tons of egg pulp to Great Britain, but in 1956 we shipped only 200,000 cases of shell eggs, or 300,000 cases fewer than in 1953, and only 8.000 tons of egg pulp - a reduction of 9.000 tons compared with 1953. The president of the Egg Board, Mr. Blake, said -
That tragic decline of our exports of eggs and egg pulp is due, in large degree, to excessive freights.
The cost of shipping about £3,250,000 worth of egg products was £540.000. In other words, 16 per cent, of the total earnings from those exports was used to pay freight charges. The 14 per cent, increase would mean additional freight of £75,000.
In my view, the recent 14 per cent, increase is a modern version of piracy on the high seas. I call it a modern example of buccaneering. The fact that a shipping monopoly of 22 shipping lines, operating as the Conference line, decided - at a secret meeting, mark you - to fix the freight rates for Australian exports clearly illustrates that the monopoly has a power beyond that of this Parliament. It calls the tune to which our primary producers, exporters and manufacturers must dance. It has dealt a blow at our economy from which 1 do not think we shall really recover for years to come. It is obvious that these shipping companies have the country and the Government by the throat. The Government retreated from its responsibilities by failing to promote a collective endeavour to prevent this rise. In January, the Minister made some very weak statements on the issue. On 17th January this year, after [ had made several representations to him on the matter, supported by my friend, the honorable member for Bass (Mr. Barnard), he wrote me a letter in which, amongst other things, he stated -
When the Australian Industries Preservation Act was amended in 1930 to enable this procedure to be followed-
He referred to the Australian Overseas
Transport Association - no basis was established for Government par ticipation in negotiations.
That is the great weakness of the procedure. Either this Government, or a Labour government, when we come into power, must ensure that the act will be amended. It is the responsibility of the Commonwealth Government to see that it has a voice in discussions which affect the pockets of every primary producer and every consumer in Australia. The Minister said, also, in his letter -
As I stated last week, I would support any justifiable stand against unreasonable freight rates.
Obviously he does not regard the present rates as unreasonable. Listen to this! He went on to say -
The Government, however, has not been furnished with any facts or evidence which would reveal the freight rate case.
What does he want? He had a conference with representatives of some of the biggest producers and exporting organizations in this country, who put the facts before him, but he says, in effect, that there was not sufficient evidence to warrant interference by the Government. We claim that an independent tribunal should be established to fix freight rates, as is being done in South Africa, and that a competitive Commonwealth shipping line should be operated on overseas routes in order to force rates down.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
. -I endorse the comment of the Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen) that there was resistance by honorable members on this side of the House to the recent rise in freight rates. I think it would be unfortunate if the members of the Opposition or the community generally were to believe that the Government simply accepted that rise as something which, having regard to all the facts, was completely unavoidable. 1 believe that the basis on which the increase was arrived at was a completely unusual basis for a price increase. In June of last year, the overseas shipping companies indicated to the Australian shippers that they believed an increase of freight rates to be desirable, and they invited representatives of the shippers to go to London to make the investigation which was referred to by the honorable member for Balaclava (Mr. Joske). Lest there be any misunderstanding, let me inform the House of the interests which were represented at the meeting which was held to consider that proposal to send delegates to London.
Among those present at the meeting were representatives of wool and meat growers, dairy producers, fruit and egg interests, meat exporting interests, wool buying interests, the Australian Canned Fruits Board, the Commonwealth Dried Fruits Control Board, the Associated Chambers of Commerce, the Australian Exporters’ Federation, the New South Wales Exporters Federation and the New South Wales Exporters Oversea Transport Committee. The proposal was well received by those people, although they were not completely unanimous. Certain representatives, including those of the wool and meatgrowing interests, expressed reservations, but they did not oppose the motion to accept the proposal, even though they did not vote for it.
Subsequently, a committee went overseas and the members appointed a wellknown firm of chartered accountants in the Old Country to assist them in their investigations. Later, reports were presented to the interested parties in Australia, and the following statement was made: -
The accountants have since supplied exporters with a most comprehensive report. This says that the accountants had received and examined detailed audited statements supplied by the shipping companies’ accountants, including the following: grand summary of voyage results (both to and from Australia) showing figures of each line separately; summary of profits earned during 1955 and capital employed in the Australian trade; analysis of fleet by age groups; comparison of statistical results for 1955, second part of 1955, first part of 1956; and voluminous information on the subject of fleet depreciation.
I believe that an accountant possessed of that kind of information would be in a much better position to make a determination and to offer advice to interested parties than are the members of the Opposition. As a result of the investigation, a formula was negotiated. The increase in freight rates would have been a 16± per cent, increase, because included in the formula was a return of 12 per cent, on the capital employed by the shipping companies, but the companies said that they were willing to take a 1 4 per cent, increase, which represented a return of only 10.4 per cent, on capital invested, before payment of taxes. ( believe that that is not an unreasonable return. I stress the fact that it was accepted generally by shippers’ interests in Australia.
It will not be unreasonable to look at the freight increases which have taken place since 1949, because the Opposition always talks in terms of what has happened since this Government came into power. In 1951, there was an increase of 15 per cent.; in 1953, 7i per cent.; in 1955, 7± per cent.; and as from 1st February of this year, 14 per cent. There has been a 51 per cent, increase of freight rates since 1949. Let us compare that with other increases of costs in Australia. Average weekly earnings for males increased by 89 per cent, between 1949 and 1956. The C series retail prices index indicates that in the same period prices of food and groceries increased by 96 per cent., and prices of clothing by 51 per cent., or the same as the increases of freights for overseas traffic. If the percentage increase in freight rates on the railways in Australia were calculated it would be found to be considerably more than 51 per cent. The Labour party, which is in charge of many of the State governments, gave little consideration to primary producers when these freight rates were increased.
I want to say, as did the honorable member for Balaclava, that there have been increases in freight rates right throughout the world, as between Australia and the United Kingdom, the United States and the United Kingdom and the European continent and the United States and Japan and other countries in the Pacific. Overall, there has been a freight rate increase which is comparable to the freight rate increase applied to goods shipped to and from Australia from the beginning of last February. The Opposition contends that the Government should do something about it. The Government, of course, could fix freight rates by legislation, but it cannot force the shipowners to provide the ships.
– So the Government surrendered to the private shipping lines?
– That is the whole point.
Order! There are too many interjections.
– The fact that there are no overseas ships controlled by Australian interests brings me to the point to which the Minister referred a little time ago in reply to the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward), that if we do as Labour wants us to do, and secure an overseas shipping line comprising 100 ships, it will cost no less than £150,000,003 in capital expenditure. I say that the people of Australia would not stand for that after Australia’s experience with the previous overseas shipping line, which lost between £500,000 and £600,000 in its last year of operations after having written £8,000,000 off its capital value. We have to accept the situation as it is. I believe that the recent increase of freights is justified having regard to the overall situation.
The honorable member for Kennedy (Mr. Riordan) made some reference to the Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company. I think it is advisable for us to examine some of the facts in relation to this company. The profit of the Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company line in 1954-55 represented less than 4 per cent, of its invested capital.
– Forty-eight per cent.
– Of course, the members of the Opposition know everything, but I am speaking in terms of the published accounts.
– On how much watered capital?
– Order! The honorable member for East Sydney will refrain from interjecting.
– That is the whole point.
– Order! The honorable member for Lalor has already spoken.
– If the honorable member for East Sydney wants to raise the subject of watered capital 1 remind him that that is still part of the invested capital whether it is in the form of paid-up capital or reserves. If it were transferred from reserves to paid-up capital it would reduce the reserves, but make no difference to the invested capital, lt is impossible to conaider questions of profits without having regard to the invested capital. In 1955-56 the company’s percentage of profit was 4.2. The Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company line has no fewer than 355 ships, the cost of which was £197,000,000 and the present book value of which is £I22,000,000. If the Opposition wants to think only in terms of paid-up capital, how. from a paid-up capital of £40,000,000, could be provided the capital cost of ships amounting to £197,000,000?
.- I join this debate far from satisfied that the Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen) has said anything that would convince me or any other honorable member on this side of the House that the party to which he belongs has not substantially endorsed the recent freight increases imposed by the overseas shipping combines. The Minister himself, it should be said in fairness to him, indicated that he believed that the freight increases were too high. The honorable member for Petrie (Mr. Hulme) indicated that he believed the freight increases were completely justified. In the final analysis the Minister told us exactly nothing. He did not refute the statement of the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard) that in recent years the overseas shipping combines had held the commercial and industrial life of this community to ransom.
I recall previous statements that have been issued in this House in this connexion. On the last occasion on which the matter was discussed, during a debate on a matter of urgency when the overseas shipping combines had announced that they would impose a further increase of 10 per cent, on freights to and from Australia and New Zealand, intervention by the Government led to the imposition of an increase of 71 per cent, instead of 10 per cent. Now, 60 per cent, of our imports and approxi mately 90 per cent, of our bulk exports arc carried by the overseas shipping companies, which belong to both British and continental owners. Of our total imports bill o: approximately £800,000,000 no less than £80,000,000 is charged by overseas companies for freight. I want to say, too, that in the last four years there have been four substantial freight increases. In 1951. freights were increased by 15 per cent.; in 1953, by li per cent.; in 1955, by 10 per cent., which was subsequently reduced to 7i per cent.; and in 1956, the increase was Ti per cent. To indicate to the House that during the whole of that period substantial profits were made by the overseas shipping companies I merely have to point out that the total profit for the year ended 30th September, 1952, was £6,900,000; for the year ended September, 1953, it was £5,500,003; for 1954, it was £5,600,000; and for 1955, it was £5,600,000. I suggest to the House that it is quite obvious not only that there has been an increase in each year of freight charges for cargoes carried to and from this country, but also that the overseas shipping combines have made up their minds that their profit will average out at approximately £6,000,000 each year, and they are determined to maintain it at that figure. I want to say, too. that the profits they have made in the last seven years have resulted in a net rake-off of £stg.34,974,367. Actually this is a yearly rake-off of several times the group’s paidup capital.
I believe that the shipowners have been generously treated by this Government. Under legislation enacted only last year the stevedoring industry levy was reduced from lid. a man-hour to 6d. a man-hour, which saved the shipowners £850,000 in the first year, a saving which has risen to £1,028,700. Of course, one of the arguments advanced by the shipping companies for the increase of freights is the increase of wharfage dues in this country. I now read from a statement prepared by the president of the Australian Overseas Transport Association. He said that criticism of its members overlooks the obvious fact that the formula will obligate the Conference lines to pass on, by way of reduced rates, savings in cost, including those which may be brought about legislatively, whether or not they are directly or indirectly within
Australian control. He said that there is a large field for the reduction of costs, as the accountants quoted have often pointed out. The shipping interests make that statement. They suggest that if there was another reduction in wharfage dues in this country that reduction would be reflected in their freight charges, but there was no attempt on the part of the overseas shipping combines to hand back to Australian importers and exporters by means of reduced freights, portion of the large amount which they obtained last year from a reduction in stevedoring levies. The truth is that shipowners have contributed towards pricing Australian producers out of the world’s markets.
The Minister for Primary Industry, who is now at the table, will, I am sure, be interested in figures on the export of wheat from this country, which I shall now quote. In August, 1954, the charter freight rate to the United Kingdom was 67s. 6d. sterling a ton, or in terms of Australian currency, 2s. 3d. a bushel. Since then, however, there has been a very substantial increase in freight rates, caused in the main by the growing trade in coal across the North Atlantic and the consequent demand for shipping. By December last the rate had reached 1 82s. 6d. sterling a ton or 6s. 2d. a bushel in Australian currency. Recently the rate was quoted at 187s. sterling a ton. The significance of this is that Australia usually sells her wheat on a c.i.f. basis. That is the price landed, say, in the United Kingdom, and in the last two years c.i.f. prices have been fairly steady. Because of the freight changes the f.o.b. price has fallen considerably. For example, in December the c:i.f. return of the United Kingdom market was 17s. Id. a bushel but the return to the Australian Wheat Board was only 1 0s. 11 d. Two years ago, the return would have been 3s. or 4s. higher. In other words, relative stability in wheat prices has been negated to a considerable extent by the upward movement in freights.
I say to the Minister for Primary Industry, who must be interested in these matters, that the main unfavorable factors in t!e wheat situation are the competition of subsidized soft wheat exports, particularly from France, and secondly, and more importantly, the high freight rates.
I want to say something about the old Australian Commonwealth Line of steamers, because that matter has been referred to by the Minister for Trade. We know that in 1926 the operations of this line were considered adequately by the Public Accounts Committee of those days. Because there was a suggestion in this Parliament that the then Commonwealth-owned line of overseas steamers would be sold to private interests, the Public Accounts Committee introduced into this Parliament an interim report in which it said that the line must be retained. Subsequently the Prime Minister of the day, at a conference with the Public Accounts Committee, persuaded it to state in its final report that in its opinion the line should have been sold. But many factors weighed by the Minister for Trade in regard to this matter, particularly in regard to costs-
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
– Mr. Speaker, I have listened with great attention to what has been said by members of the Opposition so that I could clarify and crystallize the issue before this House. I think that the issue that should have been debated here is whether there has been a failure on the part of the Government to take action to prevent recent increases in freights. That is the matter to which the Opposition should have been directing its mind. It should have been arguing, “ What has the Government been doing; what has it failed to do? “
Now, I straight away make the point that it is fundamental to the primary industries and to the exporting industries of this country that exports should in fact leave Australia and reach overseas destinations. Therefore, we do whatever we can to see that goods do leave our shores and get to their international destinations at times when they are required. Secondly, there is the question of cost itself. This Government is of liberal conception and philosophy, and therefore it believes that as far as it is reasonable and practicable, the negotiations should be left to the interested parties - the shipowners, the shippers, and the producers. The Government does not intervene unless it is asked to do so by the Australian interests concerned. The Minister for Trade and the Department of Trade have always let it be known that the knowledge and experience of the department, and the energies and intelligence of the
Minister, are always at the disposal of the industry. These have been availed of with marked success on at least two occasions. When the help of the Minister had been asked for, he has given it, and on each occasion there has been a substantial reduction of the freight increase originally asked for by the shipowners.
It is best to make the facts known: On this occasion, at the invitation of the overseas shipowners, representatives of the Australian Overseas Transport Association visited the United Kingdom in order to work out a formula by which freight increases could be assessed in the future. That was done, with the knowledge of the Government it is true, but the help of the Department of Trade and of the Minister for Trade was not sought. When it was disclosed just what the increase would be, it was too late for anyone effectively to give proper help. Therefore, 1 say it becomes immediately obvious that the Opposition has initiated this debate not with the idea of making a contribution to the effort to keep costs low for the Australian primary producer, but for purely party political purposes. ] would like to mention one matter on behalf of the Australian primary industries. They have suggested to the Minister for Trade and to myself that perhaps the method of negotiation might be altered. They have said that the shipowners are well Organized to carry on negotiations, but that the primary producers and the exporters are not sufficiently well organized to do so. Primary producers have, therefore, suggested that the Australian Overseas Transport Association should be re-organized so that the producers and the exporters can come together and can negotiate as a body with the overseas shipowners. I hope that this will be done. If it is, I hope that at least it will lead to confidence in the minds of the producers that they are being effectively represented.
I can say on behalf of the Minister for Trade that if he can give any assistance, on a voluntary basis, to the Australian primary industries, that assistance will be willingly given. I remind the House - and the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard) should acknowledge this fact - that the assistance given in the past has been successful and in my own humble opinion theprimaryproducerswouldhe well advised to seek that assistance in the future.
Motion (by Mr. McEwen) put -
That the business of the day be called on.
The House divided. (Mr. Speaker - Hon. John McLeay.)
Majority . . 23
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Sitting suspended from 12.50 to 2.15 p.m.
Motion (by Mr. Harold Holt) agreed to -
That so much of the Standing Orders he suspended as would prevent the Prime Minister making a statement in connexion with defence.
Mr. SPEAKER (Hon. John McLcay).Order! As it is now past the time provided for “ Grievance Day “, Order of the Day No.1willnot be called on. The Committee of Supply will be set down for a later hour this day.
Debate resumed from 2nd April (vide page 440), on motion by Mr. Casey -
That the following paper be printed-
International Affairs - Ministerial Statement, 2nd April, 1957.
– Earlier in this debate, the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt) strongly asserted that we should depend upon the United Nations to solve the differences and difficulties that beset world affairs, and he emphasized the importance of subservience to international law. There is no doubt that, in the interests of world peace, we must endeavour to proceed along those lines, but 1 think that the main issue, as the right honorable and learned gentleman must know, is that any law that is not capable of enforcement and is continually flouted becomes bad. Unfortunately, we have in recent years seen many examples of acts that flouted international law. Instances are to be found in events in Poland, Hungary, Egypt and Israel, where a coup de force has been used and jungle law has been allowed to transcend the directions of the United Nations. In our own country, Mr. Speaker. courts have been established to maintain our social laws, but without a strong efficient, well-equipped and well-organized police force, many of our laws could not be enforced or sustained, ft is in the absence of a force available to the United Nations for the enforcement of international law, and not in ils general concept, that we see its main weakness. The strength of the main powers makes it almost impracticable to establish a United Nations force of sufficient strength to be maintained as such unless each member country provides a quota comparable to its strength, accepts responsibility for arming, training and maintaining its component of the force within its own resources, and pledges it to the United Nations for use as that organization directs. Another defect in the United Nations structure, as I see it, is the principle of one vote for each member adopted in the
General Assembly. To take one illustration, this leads to the peculiar position of Liberia having a voting status equal to that of the United States of America.
On this occasion, I wish to direct my remarks to a matter that I have raised previously in this House - Indonesia’s claims to Dutch New Guinea. 1 intend to emphasize three important facts in rebuttal of those claims. The first of these facts is the utter dissimilarity, racially, between the Indonesian people, who have centuries of culture behind them, and the 750,000 natives of Dutch New Guinea, who have little culture and no common language. The Leader of the Opposition, referring to the dispute between Egypt and Israel, stated that in his opinion it was not due to racial differences, but was a grab for oil by the major powers. One of the bases of Indonesia’s claim to Dutch New Guinea is a suggested racial similarity between the Indonesians and the people that they allegedly wish to emancipate, but it appears that there is in fact an attempt to grab a possible oil-producing area. The second important fact that I wish to emphasize is the utter lack of national aspirations among the primitive inhabitants of Dutch New Guinea in their present state and for some considerable time to come. The third fact is that sterling work is being done by the Netherlands Government in improving the living conditions, education, and medical hygiene of the aboriginal inhabitants of Dutch New Guinea, and in developing its mineral potential and its limited pastoral resources. Despite these major facts, and, in addition, the fact that the agreement for the granting of self-government to the Indonesian Republic by the Netherlands Government expressly excluded Dutch New Guinea from the new republic, Indonesia persists in its spurious claims. It would appear that the Indonesians, having received most of the loaf, now want the rest, as represented by that part of Dutch New Guinea which they are pleased to call West Irian, with its potential sources of mineral wealth. In other words, they propose colonization for gain, which was the very essence of their charges against the Netherlands Government.
President Soekarno has clearly shown that he is an opportunist of the first order. Proof of this is to be found in his record as set out in a biography published in 1947.
During his years of revolutionary activity he employed several political philosophies, and accepted assistance from different nations to attain his ends. In 1926, finding that his Marxist philosophy was too extreme for the majority of Indonesians, he modelled his nationalist organization on the Congress party in India, and emulated Gandhi’s tactics of boycott and noncooperation, in 1929, he was sentenced to four years’ imprisonment for inciting armed resistance, but was released in the following year. In 1932, he was again arrested, and was exiled to the island of Flores, and later transferred to Sumatra. Although President Soekarno at that time naturally was anti-Dutch, he was also strongly antiJapanese. But when the Japanese invasion forces freed him in 1942, he became an active collaborator with the Japanese and in fact went to Japan personally to accept at the hands of the Emperor the insignia of an order bestowed on him. The Japanese proclaimed a republic in Indonesia, and Soekarno became president three days after the Japanese surrender and six weeks before British forces entered Java to disarm the Japanese. Whether rightly or wrongly, President Soekarno then explained away his collaboration with the Japanese by stating that they had tried to use the Indonesians for their own purposes, and that he had turned the tables on them and prepared the Indonesians for their own liberty.
More recently, the President has returned from a visit to red China and has again swung over to - if he has ever really departed from - his original philosophy. This time he has dressed it up carefully and called it “ controlled democracy “. This is, I maintain, merely another euphonism for communism.
Let us turn now to the present position of the Indonesian Government. The President is faced with the tremendous difficulty of avoiding the disintegration of the Republic. Development has been financed, to some extent, from Soviet funds and there has, of course, also arisen its concomitant, a demand for the inclusion of the Community party of Indonesia in the Cabinet. Communist activity was evident in the Netherlands East Indies long before Indonesia obtained self-government, but was severely curbed by strong and direct action on the part of the Netherlands Government. Under President Soekarno’s ad ministration the Communist party of Indonesia has grown into a strong and wellorganized body which, upon being admitted to the Cabinet, would undoubtedly have as its main aim the complete control of the government. The President’s “ conception “ for Indonesia is undoubtedly the machinery by which this would be done, lt is, indeed, the price that all satellite countries must pay for Soviet aid and protection.
I would like to quote some statistics of the general election held on 29th September, 1955, to illustrate the strength of the Indonesian Communist party, which is known as the P.K.I. The Communists polled a little less than 6,250,000 votes out of a total of approximately 37,750,000 - approximately 1 7 per cent, of the total votes cast. They gained 39, out of a total of 257, seats and became one of the four main parties among the many that are represented in the Indonesian Parliament. The other three are the P.N.I, or Nationalist party, which has 57 seats, the Masjumi - the moderate Moslems - which has 57 seats and the Nahdatal Ulama, or N.U., the traditional Moslem party, which has 45 seats. Quite recently the Nationalist party and the N.U. agreed, at the direction of the President, upon the formation of a compromise cabinet, but as this does not meet the demands of the other parties it has no real stability.
I turn now to the placing of the dispute over Dutch New Guinea before the Assembly of the United Nations. This has undoubtedly been done in order to strengthen Indonesia’s claim and show the world that she has the support of at least Soviet Russia, red China and other nations of the Afro-Asian bloc. But, as Sir Percy Spender said when addressing the Assembly of the United Nations, it was nothing more than “ the airing of political campaigns for the expropriation of territories “.
There is nothing to support Indonesian claims that the Dutch are blocking development in Dutch New Guinea. To the contrary, the Dutch Government has spent approximately £30,000,000 in excess of revenue in the last six years in developing the territory. For example, during last year alone it spent £10,600,000. Of this sum £694,000 was spent on public health, and £769.000 on education. The total revenue of the country for that year was on, £3,800,000. These large sums are mostly used for the purposes that I have mentioned and for developmental surveys of the mineral resources of- the Vogelkop Peninsula, which is, 1 believe, the main prize that Indonesia hopes to gain. The remainder is spent on pastoral development and consumer goods. If anything is blocking development it is the Indonesian claim which is preventing. Dutch and other investors from sinking money into developmental loans.
Cn ihe other hand, we find that Indonesia cannot manage its own affairs. Australian columnist Geoffrey Fairbairn was reported in the Brisbane “ Courier-Mail “ of 20th February last as saying of the Indonesian Republic -
The future of the country is beyond conjecture - there is no hope of economic improvement for years to come; if anything the reverse.
The truth of this statement notwithstanding, on the 17th March President Soekarno, in announcing his intention to form a new allparty cabinet, said -
How can any one say the Indonesian revolution was complete when West Irian remained under the heel of the Dutch?
Plainly, President Soekarno is using the old external whipping-post tactics, a common device of dictators to divert attention from domestic difficulties. He found such a. whipping-post near to hand in the pseudo claim to Dutch New Guinea.
The Indonesian Government has asserted that the future of Dutch New Guinea is of no concern to Australia. To realize just how ludicrous this is one need only think back to the last war, and consider how different the result would have been if, in 1919, Japan had been granted a mandate over German New Guinea by the League of Nations. As honorable members will realize, this was prevented by the untiring efforts of the then Prime Minister, William Morris Hughes. If Japan had been able to establish, over the ensuing twenty years, bases in German New Guinea, the result of World War II., so far as Australia is concerned, would have been very different.
The maintenance of a buffer state free of Communist direction and control is imperative to our own survival. There is no other real reason why Indonesia and Australia cannot act as good neighbours. If the price of goodwill is the closing of our eyes to an expropriation of territory for gain, with a strong possibility of a Communistcontrolled stepping-stone at our very front door, it is too big a price to pay. I am certain that the Australian people will realize this danger and strongly support the Australian Government’s policy of the maintenance of the present status quo in Dutch New Guinea.
.- Time does not permit me at this stage to offer extensive criticism of the statement made by the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Casey), as there are one or two things I desire to say particularly. However, later in my speech 1 hope to have the opportunity to pass a few comments on his attitude towards the United Nations and other relevant matters.
The recent federal conference of the Australian Labour Party in Brisbane decided amongst other things that -
Australia is, and must always remain, an integral part of the British Commonwealth of Nations, as well as of the United Nations Organization. Co-operation with the United States in the Pacific is of crucial importance and must be maintained and extended, in accordance with the spirit of thi* declaration.
These sentiments, to my mind, typify our relationship with the great Powers that have always been to the forefront in the fight for world peace and democracy. We must maintain this goodwill and, whilst retaining our right as Australians to determine policies, both national and international, of benefit to Australia, by consultation and understanding we must work together for peace and for the betterment of the peoples of the world.
Like all Australians, I realize and appreciate the great contribution made by the people of the United States when in the last great conflict they fought side by side with Australian men and women’ to protect and defend our country and to ensure the freedom and survival of our people. 1 also believe that because of our similarity in temperament and outlook, our geographical position, our place in the Pacific, and our belief in democracy and freedom. Australia and America are inevitably linked in the future as they were in the past, only infinitely more so. The Labour Conference decision, therefore, was most timely. I believe that all Australians - and particularly parliamentarians - should take advantage of opportunities to visit America and other countries in order to study at first hand the problems of those nations and to gain a knowledge of their outlook, both national and international.
About twelve months ago, I received an invitation from the United States Department of State to visit America under the programme of International Education Exchange, to study and observe the United States Congress in session and any other matters in which 1 might be interested. The object of this programme, amongst other things, is to further mutual understanding and goodwill between Australia and the United States. There were, of course, some who said it was a brainwashing expedition and, in addition, 1 had a few friends who said, “ That will not give them much trouble because he has not many brains “. 1 particularly mention, for the benefit of honorable members, that prior to my departure and before the invitation was issued, I was informed in writing by the American authorities that I was entirely unrestricted in my right to see and observe, to criticize, and to form and express my own impressions of all things that came to my notice. In other words, I was a free agent. This attitude was confirmed by the United States Department of State immediately upon my arrival in Washington. I make this point clear so that honorable members will realize that I was not directed towards any particular channel and also that 1 was not an exception to the general rule. Persons invited under these schemes from many countries were given similar unrestricted rights to see, observe and criticize. In these circumstances, 1 accepted the invitation and took the opportunity to see at first hand, in a way available possibly to very few members of the Parliament, the American way of life and to form lasting and firm impressions on their politics, both national and international, and on many other aspects of interest to me as a member of the Labour party and of the Commonwealth Parliament. lt is my belief, and it is confirmed by the Labour Conference decision, that if other nations, particularly many that are critical of the United States, extended invitations on the same basis as the United States and our own country, they should be accepted because only in this way will we ultimately achieve that mutual understanding and goodwill so necessary in our efforts to maintain world peace. Unfortunately, however, many of the most bitter critics of the United
States from countries other than our own, confine their invitations to conducted toursand praiseworthy statements only.
I was amazed, if I may say so, at the opposition to my proposed visit at that time and the efforts of certain members of thisParliament, some of them former members of a government that had appealed to America in the war years for assistance, to prevent me making this visit, in fact, strong pressure was exerted by certain people on the American authorities in an effort to prevent my acceptance of the invitation. I suppose, however, that criticism of this kind is to be expected from individuals who should know better and who in some cases have seldom travelled further than Randwick race-course. The short-sighted, narrow-minded, jealous individual or the drone is always to be found in the community, ever ready to criticize and misconstrue the real objects of a proposal, but rarely possessing the ability or the energy to undertake such a mission. Conduct such as that which took place prior to my departure for America by certain people is more in keeping, with goons or zombies than with supposedly responsible members Of the community.
In the course of my visit to the United States, completely unrestricted. I was able to obtain at first hand intimate knowledge of national activity. Government, labour, management and many sections of the American people contributed in their own way towards ensuring that I obtained a clear, unbiased picture of the American scene.- It is true that I was in disagreement wilh many of their policies and possibly their methods. The fact that I was their visitor did not mean that I had to agree with all that was being done in the United States or abroad. America is a democratic nation, and 1 found, for instance, that many people in that country were in disagreement with their country’s foreign policy in Asia and other places. I found, also, that there was an appreciation that, in the field of international affairs, Australia from time to time was well justified in adopting a line of action quite opposed to the United States, but yet undoubtedly very necessary from an Australian point of view.
I formed the impression that the American people displayed a keen interest in world affairs and had a genuine desire to assist people in other countries who were much worse off than themselves. There was a genuine desire to prevent the spread of communism at home and abroad and a feeling that this could be done to some extent by raising the standard of living of the people of Asia and other countries. The Foreign Aid Programmes and the fact that the American taxpayer, whatever his position, is making his personal contribution towards those programmes, showed the sincere desire of the average American to make his contribution towards an improvement in the living standards of the people of the world, and to ensure world peace and harmony amongst nations.
Undoubtedly the firm belief of the Americans in freedom, their great productive capacity, their population and their complete opposition to the forces of communism, place them in the forefront of the nations of the world in the fight against the Communist menace. I do not say that I agree completely with their methods of fighting communism. They differ to a great extent from our own method, and I believe that it is preferable to know who our enemies are, and where to fight them and pick them up if the occasion arises. That is the position in this country under the policy of Labour, and I believe it to be a sound policy.
I summarize these comments by saying that I am not one ever-ready to criticize America and praise iron curtain countries, which restrict freedom and, whilst preaching the doctrine of liberty, evidently deny to the vast majority of people within their borders those things that are fundamental to a free society. I believe that the sincere intentions of the Americans on many occasions are misunderstood and that they are not given full credit for their earnest endeavours to assist many nations badly in need of financial aid and capital goods, and for their efforts towards world peace. America, from my observations, faces problems with which we, at this stage, do not have to contend. It is true that the American racial problem is grave and serious. Internally, it presents a great problem for the Government and externally it most certainly must have an effect on America’s foreign policy, particularly in Asia. At a later stage I hope to be able to express my views on our important immigration policy known as the White Australia policy.
– It is not a White Australia policy.
– I suggest to the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Casey) that he should earnestly consider instituting a similar type of exchange system to that under which I travelled. I believe that money would be well spent in bringing to Australia people from other countries, so that they may study, observe and gain a real appreciation of our policies, our way of life, and our general approach to national problems. This might be termed an extension of the Colombo plan, but it would enable us to show to visitors the potential of our country and the freedom and the opportunities that it offers.
The Minister might also consider the appointment in diplomatic missions abroad of people skilled in labour affairs. The American Department of State has labour experts in its various overseas missions and offices. I believe that the appointment of these labour officers, particularly in Asian countries, would prove invaluable to Australia.
To the American Government I would say that I believe its system of international exchange visits undoubtedly makes a great contribution to goodwill and understanding between nations. The knowledge gained by those who participate in these visits is invaluable. I hope that ultimately the Government of the United States will be able to extend its programme to cover a wider field, so enabling this country and others to reap the benefits of the knowledge to be gained in the United States. I feel, in common with the delegates to the recent conference of the Australian Labour party, that continued co-operation with the United States, in conjunction with the maintenance of policies designed to further Australia’s interests, must inevitably bring mutual benefits to our two countries, which have so much in common.
I come now to another aspect of this matter with which I was particularly concerned during my American visit. There are many people in our community to-day who feel that our immigration laws should be changed and that a quota system should apply to Asiatic immigration. Only two days ago I listened to Sir John Latham in Sydney addressing a gathering on this very problem. Having closely observed the problem confronting the American people, internally and externally, of this matter of racial differences, I believe that any whittling down of our present immigration policy would render a great disservice to this country. I believe, as did Sir John Latham, that there are too many people in this country who are prepared to apologize for our policy, and that if we were to explain our policy to the peoples of other countries they would clearly understand our position and the fact that it is our right, as it is the right of every country, to decide who shall make up our population. The Colombo plan and the other ways in which we have given concrete aid are indications of our desire to promote goodwill among the peoples of Asia, but we will defeat our object if we allow people overseas to gain a false impression of our immigration policy. Possibly the greatest advocate of our immigration policy, as it affects Asian nations, is the honorable member for Melbourne (Mr. Calwell), and I shall read to the House an extract from an article by the honorable member, entitled “ I Stand by White Australia “, which appeared in the Melbourne “ Argus “ of 24th October, 1949, because I believe this extract summarizes our approach to the problem.
– I rise to order. While I take no objection, in general, to the speech of the honorable member, I suggest that he has, on several occasions, given a description of our immigration policy that is highly offensive to all the peoples of free Asia. Our immigration policy is not called a White Australia policy. I should like that to be emphasized. That offensive expression has never been used officially or in official documents, and I protest against its use in this chamber.
– The honorable member is in order.
– The following extract from the article in question summarizes our position, which, I believe, should be maintained -
If it is necessary to repeat it again - and I would have thought everybody knew it by now - I will repeat: Underlying the While Australia policy is no suggestion of racial superiority, lt began as a positive aspiration, and from it has resulted a positive achievement.
This achievement is a united race of freedomloving Australians who can inter-marry and associate without the disadvantages that inevitably result from the fusion of dissimilar races; a united people who share the same loyalties, the same outlook, and the same traditions.
We will avoid the evils that plague America, that distress South Africa, that embitter Malaya, and that worry Fiji.
Ingredients of an explosive character are inherent in the conditions existing in all those countries, and when the explosion occurs, as it did in Durban recently, there is civil war. The evils of miscegenation always result in rioting and bloodshed. We have avoided them in this country, thanks to the foresight of our forebears and our own innate common sense.
. We will continue to avoid them, if we are wise - and if we have the affection that parents ought to have for their children and their children’s children. We are heirs of a glorious past. We are also trustees for what can be an even more glorious future.
I believe that those remarks epitomize the attitude of the average Australian to this problem. 1 appreciate the Minister’s statement that the words “ White Australia “ may not appeal to some people, but this is the way in which the average Australian understands our immigration law. Our task is not to contend that we should not describe the policy in a certain way, but rather to explain it to people in Asia, so that they will clearly understand the approach of the Australian people to the problem. 1 hope that the Government will maintain that policy, and will explain it fully to our Asian neighbours, so that they will realize that it is fundamental to the Australian way of life. They will realize, too, that we can explain it, are prepared to do so, are not ashamed of it, and yet are not claiming racial superiority. In America I was able to explain it, and my explanations were accepted. Sir John Latham expressed the same views as I have put forward. He is well known in public affairs in the Orient, and he is a much-travelled man. He has a wide knowledge of this problem. My visit to the United States of America has strengthened my view on this all-important national problem.
I conclude this brief opportunity to speak on such an important subject with a few remarks on another aspect of it. The present Government has criticized the actions of the United Nations. It has said that to some extent the United Nations organization has failed. That may possibly be true. On many occasions I believe that the United Nations has not shown the same firmness of action against strong nations as it did against weaker ones. The events in Hungary provided a striking example of this, although the tragic happenings there’ were brought about in the main by a member of the United Nations not abiding by its decisions and not carrying out its Charter. But I believe that although it has many faults, no suitable alternative has ever been presented to us or to the world. If the United Nations fails, so also will go overboard the hopes of many millions of people in all countries of any chance of world peace. When we can achieve the ideals of the United Nations, when its Charter is faithfully followed by all the member nations, and when Russia is made to toe the line and shown, together with the other nations that have disregarded the orders of the United Nations, that it must, abide by the Charter, then only can we say that success has been achieved. It is very important that we should maintain the United Nations as a forum in which the various countries can discuss and solve their problems. If the United Nations should fail we would go back to the chaotic law of the jungle and to bargaining between nations. I hope that this organization will continue and that all Australians who believe in peace will give unswerving support to it and to the ideals and the Charter for which it stands.
In conclusion, let me say that at the Olympic Games in Melbourne last year we saw a glorious example of members of all nations working harmoniously together. There was tragedy behind the spectacle of Hungarians and Russians competing together in the various sports and standing on the victory dais. I suggest that we must try to bring to world affairs and to the United Nations the spirit of goodwill and co-operation that was evident during the Olympic Games. I hope that we shall live to see the day when nations will congregate in the great field of international affairs as they did at the Olympic Games. When the real spirit of Olympia is carried into the parliaments and other places of the world we shall have achieved the ideal of all peoples, of whatever race, of whatever colour, and of whatever religion - world peace and harmony amongst the nations.
Mr. HOWSON (Fawkner) [2.561.- While we on this side of the House cannot agree with all the statements that have been made by the honorable member for Grayndler (Mr. Daly), at any rate we must appreciate the courage he has shown in the remarks he made regarding his own trips abroad. We particularly must appreciate the reasons that he has given for the advantages of travelling overseas, and we hope that more members of the Opposition will see the wisdom of taking greater advantage of opportunities to travel to the Middle East and South-East Asia, areas with which this debate has been so much concerned, and see for themselves the actual situation that has arisen there. Turning now to the more material matters that are before the House, there is a maxim, attributed, I think, to Machiavelli, that while the foreign policy of a nation must have relation to its responsibilities it also must have regard to that country’s limitations. No country should attempt a bigger role in foreign affairs than it, in fact, can sustain. That maxim was well known to the first Queen Elizabeth, and I think that it is even more important that we should realize its truth in our daytoday relations with other countries.
In this debate I believe that the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt) has not had regard to that maxim. He, perhaps, is inclined to think that he has greater powers than he really possesses, and sometimes I think he would lead Australia to take a larger role than, in fact, it could sustain as a medium power in the United Nations. On the other hand, I believe that our Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Casey) has at all times shown his wisdom by realizing the truth of that maxim. In all his efforts in directing Australian foreign policy, at no time has he shown a greater awareness of our responsibilities than in the past critical months. It is vital, I believe, that our foreign policies should be related, not to theories of world government which should work, but to courses of action which have been proved by events to offer a reasonable chance of success.
I refer to the .present state of relations between Israel and Egypt. Whatever may be our views of what took place in November last, we must look at the situation as it is to-day. The important fact is that, at least for the time being, there is no armed conflict between these two nations. For more than four years, there were continual border incidents between the two countries. During all of that time, the United Nations tried to prevent such incidents, but was completely unsuccessful. To-day, there is no fighting, and at least a situation has been created that enables a United Nations emergency force to occupy an area between the opposing forces. That force is not large enough, and I hope that it will be expanded. There is some doubt as to the legality of its being there, and I trust that this will be resolved. But it is vital that that emergency force should be increased and that it should remain in the area until the outstanding differences between Egypt and Israel have been resolved.
The Leader of the Opposition referred to the importance, in his judgment, of the oil interests in the Middle East, and he also suggested that we should take it upon ourselves to attempt conciliation between the two nations. To any one who, like myself, has spent some time in the Middle East, it must be obvious that the main cause of conflict is the racial antipathy between these two nations - between the Arab and the Jew. Tremendous passions have been aroused and only time and a period of enforced peace can enable the tension to be relaxed. It cannot be relaxed at the present time by making speeches at the United Nations organization. I feel certain, sir, that the proposals submitted to this House by the Minister for External Affairs are the only ones that can lead to real hope of a solution of this most important problem.
Turning to the wider problems of the Middle East, we also must recognize that the influence of the United Kingdom in the whole of that area has diminished; but in recognizing this I think that the Opposition does not give sufficient credit to the United Kingdom for the work that has been carried on, for a very long time, in that area by loyal, hard-working officials, in bringing the opportunities and advantages of a stable, orderly government, and enlightened social policies, to those areas, especially Jordan and Iraq. Those nations have not yet attained to our standard of living, but the standard there is now very much higher than it was at any time in the past. True democracy and self-government can come only by evolution. The dangers of granting self-government too early are as great as are the dangers of granting it too late.
In answer to the proposals put forward by the Leader of the Opposition regarding the granting of self-government to Cyprus and to Algeria, I should like to put it to him that he should also have a look at the situation that has arisen in the Sudan. There, one can see the tribes in the south fleeing every day over the border into Kenya to avoid the ravages of the new rulers in Khartoum, and seeking once again the protection of Her Majesty the Queen. Here, in this area of the Sudan, we have granted self-government too early. We were unable to realize that the new rulers would not have the regard for minorities and tribes in need of protection that we had. I think that there are particular reasons at this moment for remembering the rights of minorities; for instance, of the Turks in Cyprus, and of the minorities in other parts of the world to which reference has been made during this debate. We should realize, above all, the dangers of granting self-government before the nation concerned has evolved to a true apprecia-tion of the advantages and responsibilities of self-government.
The withdrawal of the United Kingdom influence will leave a vacuum in the Middle East. It may be right in theory, as members of the Opposition have stated, that there should be such a vacuum, and that the governments there should be left to work out their own salvation, but in practice, that will not happen. That vacuum will be filled, and Russia will certainly make every effort to fill it. Therefore, I welcome the news of the Eisenhower doctrine. I trust that the United States of America will endeavour to meet its responsibilities as a world power and that, in conjunction with the United Kingdom, it will play its part, by firm advice and action, especially through the working of the Baghdad pact, to prevent an eruption of the seething volcano of world politics. In this connexion, I believe that the events of last November taught us many lessons. As we stood on the brink of the chasm of a third world war, we realized with horror the dangers of a split in the Anglo-American alliance. The United Kingdom has realized that no longer can she “ go it “ alone, and I believe that the United States has realized that she, too, cannot “ go it “ alone. The United KingdomUnited States rift must be closed. To my mind, that consideration transcends all others. It is of importance to every citizen of the Western world and every citizen of Australia.
I believe that the greatest function of Australia in foreign affairs is to act with other nations, such as Canada, as a catalyst to promote a bond of renewed friendship between those two great nations and to ensure common action by both in all the trouble centres of the world, especially the Middle East. That is a role that Australia is well fitted to play. By realizing our limitations, we can exert our influence to the full.
Finally, I should like to refer to our relations with South-East Asia. Here again, I chink it is important to look at facts, not at theories. Prior to 1954, we witnessed a relentless tide of Communist activity flowing southwards from Peking. In that year, the South-East Asia Treaty Organization was formed, and from that moment the tide was stemmed. For the time, communism in South-East Asia is being contained. A state of affairs has been created which is enabling a higher standard of living to be attained in the area, albeit not so fast as, in the name of humanity, we should wish. But the standard of living is rising at any rate.
In this debate, there has been much reference to the situation in Thailand. I think we all realize that the standard of living in Thailand has been rising steadily in the past few years. As I tried to show earlier, it is not possible to give complete selfgovernment in one fell swoop to a nation that has been accustomed for generations to an authoritarian regime. However, the elections that took place in Thailand only recently have shown that there is now a greater measure of self-government in that country and that it is coming nearer to taking its place as one of the true selfgoverning nations of the world. Other nations in the area are benefiting from the activities of Seato. Malaya is working towards independence and self-government within the framework of the British Commonwealth, and there is every prospect that, in time, Singapore will follow suit.
Looking at the area as a whole, I feel that we are witnessing one of the great political developments of the century - the resurgence of the peoples of Asia. That has been matched in even more recent times by a similar resurgence in Africa, a fact which was high-lighted only a few weeks ago by the celebration of the grant of selfgovernment to the State of Ghana. We in Australia welcome these moves towards political responsibility by the Asian peoples and wish to develop new friendships with the new nations that have emerged. But in the course of these developments there is, I. think, a natural reaction against the previous forms of government and administration. There is, possibly, a desire to jettison all that has gone before. But let us not forget that there were in the past a great many good things as well as evil things. The British peoples have given more good things to the world, particularly in the realm of political ideas and forms of political government, than have the peoples of any other nations in recorded history. We in Australia have particular cause to be aware of and grateful for all that we have received from our Mother Country. Let us hope that in the race that is going on in South and South-East Asia to jettison the evil things of the past, an effort will be made to preserve the good things. I believe that Australia has a particular role to play at this time by pointing out to the nations of that area some of the goods things that they have inherited. We ourselves, with our environment, can see them very well, and I think we could do a great deal to make the peoples of other nations see them also.
I believe that this Government has realized that to a great extent. To my mind, there could be no better monument to the work of our present Minister of External Affairs (Mr. Casey) than the high regard that all the countries of South and South-East Asia have for Australia. There, in particular, we have, within the limit of our resources, played our part and exercised our influence to the full. Our task, as I see it, is to provide a bridge between the East and the West. The Opposition may say that that is the task of the United Nations, but, important as is the role of that body, I believe that it has its limitations. One day we may evolve a true world government, but at present that vision is well beyond the horizon. I believe that the work of the United Nations to-day must be supplemented by more intimate ties between nation and nation. Those ties include, not only exchanges of views and the national friendships which flow from the personal contacts of diplomats and government representatives, but also the benefits that accrue from regional pacts and associations of nations that have common objectives.
The British Commonwealth of Nations provides the greatest example in recorded history of the tremendous value of such associations. The work of Australia and, in particular, of our Minister for External Affairs in South and South-East Asia could be the means by which a similar association could be formed, through friendship and common understanding. As we survey the immediate record of the past few critical months, I believe that we have every reason to be proud of the part that the Australian Government has played on the world scene. Within our limitations, we have played our part to the full. We have shouldered all of our responsibilities. In the paper that was tabled by the Minister for External Affairs on Tuesday night, we see a constructive policy - a policy which, if adopted, will give to all of us solid grounds for hoping that gradually we shall draw away from the brink of a third world war and achieve a stability of world affairs that has not yet been seen by our generation.
.- The fate of Australia will be determined more by events in Asia than by events in the Middle East. Many people, instead of facing the problem that confronts us in the north, prefer to steer away from it or to adopt an ostrich-like attitude to it because of its frightening magnitude and apparently insoluble nature. We are in the Asian sphere, whether we like it or not, and we must reconcile ourselves to that fact. We must play our part in forming relations with the peoples of Asian countries and learn to get along with them. In the past, we looked from afar at those countries. We knew little of the true character, customs and traditions of their peoples. Our isolation was our salvation, and we could afford to take little, if any, interest in these people and their welfare. But that holds good no longer. Fast means of communication in peace or war have brought to us a new awareness of the existence of these people and their importance in the scheme of things. Civil aircraft can take one from Sydney to Tokyo within 24 hours and bring one back within another 24 hours. The distance from Sydney to Tokyo is more than 4,000 miles. Jet war planes can travel much faster than that. Then we have the threat of guided missiles and other frightening weapons of destruction. Submarines could stand 300 or 400 miles off our shores and drop such weapons on our cities.
Our past attitude to the people of Asia has been conditioned by the fear of being swamped by them, either as a result of peaceful penetration or as a result of more forceful methods, or even by having our standards of living broken down by the unfair competition of coolie standards, which obtain in those countries. That is why we have raised trade and immigration barriers for our own protection and selfpreservation. That is understandable, and our viewpoint is acknowledged by all fair-minded Asian leaders. But there is another side to the picture, and one that is being exploited to the full by ambitious and powerseeking individuals in Asia. To explain that statement it is necessary only to direct attention to the map of this part of the world, in which Australia looms large, with an area of about 3,000,000 square miles and a population of under 10,000,000 people, as against the area of South-East Asia of about 3,750,000 square miles and nearly 800,000,000 people, or roughly 80 times Australia’s population. Communist China covers also about 3,750,000 square miles, and has a population of about 600,000,000. So approximately two-thirds of the world’s population lives in an area only two and a half times the size of Australia.
It is understandable, therefore, that, some people in Asia look with envious eyes on Australia, and regard it as a great unpopulated continent suitable for use in draining off their surplus millions of people. And their leaders have no great interest - and no great reason to care - in explaining some of the facts regarding Australia; for instance, that Australia is the driest and flattest of the continents, with no high mountains and wide, flowing rivers such as have fertilized great areas of South-East Asia. Those countries are immersed in their own problems and in what to do about their living standards and where to place their teeming millions. Communist China, with its population increasing at the rate of 15,000,000 a year, and Japan and India whose populations increase in a similar proportion, have had to consider the adoption of birth control as a means of limiting population. But that is not the full answer to the problem; nor is the help being given under the Colombo plan, or by the United
Nations, or directly by the United States, sufficient to cope with the problem, appreciated as it may be by the recipients.
A great proportion of the economic strength of the South-East Asian countries is expended on defence. In some cases the proportion is as high as 70 per cent, or 80 per cent, of a country’s total budget. That will continue to be so while the present state of world tension exists. That tension can be broken only by a better understanding between East and West and by our helping the Asian people to stand on their own feet and be more self-reliant, and to industrialize their countries. Some very constructive suggestions and resolutions in this regard resulted from the recent InterParliamentary Union conference at Bangkok, which I had the honour of attending, with other honorable members, as an Australian delegate. I commend those suggestions and resolutions to honorable members for their consideration, but I have not time to canvass them now.
If we do not help the Asian people in this way, and maintain their goodwill, another, and, for us, more unpalatable solution will be found for them. The sleeping giant of Asia is at last rousing, and there are ambitious men at the helm in some parts of that vast continent. That was well illustrated at Bandung when 27 Afro-Asian nations, half of which gained their independence only in the last ten years and are still politically immature, were welded into one solid group to speak and act with one voice on matters of mutual interest. One decision made at that conference, which vitally affects Australia, was to support the Indonesian claims to sovereignty over West New Guinea. That support was reiterated in Peking last October, at the celebrations of the October revolution, and supplemented by a similar number of nations, including the Soviet bloc, at the United Nations in December, when those nations actually succeeded in getting a majority of members of that body to support the Indonesian claim.
It was probably that gathering at Bandung which gave Colonel Nasser his inspiration, let him feel his strength as an Afro-Asian leader with visions of becoming another Genghiz Khan, and led him to take his stand over Suez. Also, Dr. Soekarno and Chou En-lai, who were prominent at that conference, pledged their mutual support.
It is what is in the hearts and minds of these leaders that deeply concerns us, and it is significant that Australia was deliberately excluded from participation in that conference, although some of the Commonwealth nations had suggested that we should be invited. We should not, therefore, be gulled because of the undoubtedly peaceloving, gentle and devout nature of the people ruled by those leaders, because the more sheep-like and peaceful people are the more prone they are to come under the heel of dictators, as happened in Germany, Russia, Italy and Japan under Hitler, Stalin, Mussolini and Tojo. They are also liable to become conditioned by propaganda, and have generated in them fear and hate of the peoples of other countries till the whole mass of peoples becomes demoniacal. Such a process is now taking place in Asia. I should like to quote, in that regard, from an article which appeared in the Hobart “ Mercury “, on Tuesday, 2nd April. The article was written by Mr. Francis James, the editor of the “ Anglican “ newspaper, who was recently a member of that muchpublicized delegation to Communist China led by Dr. Mowll. The heading of the report is, “ Only a handful of people in red China know what is happening in world “. The article reads, in part -
In short, the Chinese Government is very well informed, but it keeps the information very much to itself. My experience is that the Chinese people - including newspaper editors, let alone lesser journalistic lights - just don’t know what is happening overseas. *
Just how it is possible for any one to express an opinion, particularly about international relations, without free and continuous access to all the facts, I do not know.
If you are a journalist, you’re trapped. You must agree with the “ line “ or you just stop being a journalist.
And what is the line?
In the broadest terms, the line is by suppression, distortion, and careful regulation so to conduct a newspaper that its readers are given only such facts and views as will ensure their continued support of the Communist Government.
The Chinese press functions solely as an instrument of propaganda, in morally the most disreputable sense.
Then he goes on to tell how the news concerning Hungary was suppressed in China. He writes -
As for Hungary itself, I know this. Just over 200 people in the heart of the Chinese administration knew all the facts. And they were plenty worried.
Accordingly, the Australian people must have a greater awareness of, and take a more intelligent interest in, Asian affairs and the problems of the people of Asia, as was advocated at recent conferences of the Labour party in Hobart and Brisbane. Our own newspapers could give a lead in that direction by giving more coverage to hems on international affairs, and also by publishing more positive items of news instead of trie sloppy sensationalism that we have now in many of our Australian newspapers, which treat the great bulk of the Australian people as morons. 1 was surprised to find during my recent tour through South-East Asia the volume of coverage that is given in the papers of those countries to positive items of news and particularly matters of an international nature. 1 refer, of course, to the free countries that I went to. I did not have an opportunity to go behind the iron curtain or the bamboo curtain. I would suggest, as the Labour conference advocated, that frequent goodwill visits should be made by people of all sections of the community. In the past our ambassadors have been mostly our soldiers - they were sent away to fight, and no doubt acquitted themselves well as fighting men - traders, and V.I.P’s. Let us have trade unionists and young people and people from all sections of the community exchanging goodwill missions with the peoples of Asia. That is the only way that we can get the real facts on the situation that exists there.
My own visits have given me a much clearer picture than I held previously and have caused me considerable concern. I had an opportunity to go right along the bamboo curtain. As I said before, I was unable to get to the mainland, although I endeavoured to get there, as I was anxious to see both sides of the picture. However, I did glean something from many people who had come from behind the bamboo curtain, including some who had escaped from the mainland to Formosa. In one instance we met a number of the Chinese Communist volunteers, who had gone into Korea to fight the United Nations forces and had been made prisoners of war there. At the conclusion of the armistice between the United Nations forces and the Communists, they were given an opportunity to go back to the mainland of China, or to Formosa, and 80 per cent, of them chose to go to free China in Formosa. Many of them are among the commandos who are now there awaiting the opportunity to rein.vade the mainland. In Hong Kong there are 2,000,000 refugees from the mainland. In Viet Nam there are 1,000,000 refugees from North Viet Nam, which is under the control of Communist forces.
The Chinese are an inscrutable race. It is said that they talk mostly with their feet and that one can only tell what is in their minds by the direction in which they walk. Perhaps that is a clear indication of what the Chinese people really think of what is going on behind the bamboo curtain. They have no misconceptions whatever as to the nature of the terror that exists there.
Many of the countries of South-East Asia act as bastions to stem the red tide from sweeping further south. That is something that we, in Australia, must keep in mind when we criticize the regimes in these particular countries, whether or not they are backed by the United States. Not very long ago we were very glad to be backed by the United States ourselves and to see United States warships off our coast. Perhaps the time will come when we will be pleased to see them there again. To the Opposition the overriding factor in that area is that Communist China and Nationalist China are virtually at war and our fate will depend on the outcome of the struggle. I would like to quote the remarks of Professor Fitzgerald, Professor of Far Eastern History at the Canberra National University, in an address at Canberra University College, reported in the press of 27th March, 1957. The professor said that hostilities between Nationalist China, located on Formosa, and Communist China were in fact civil war. In its seven years of actual diplomatic relations with China, Australia had gained remarkable prestige with Chinese of both political factions, but the Australian people did not wish to become a party, even indirectly, to the civil war that still divided the Chinese of the mainland from Formosa. I quite agree. The Australian people do not want to be involved in that conflict in any way if it can possibly be avoided, but we may have no say in the matter. If Australia, by its good offices, could bring about in any way at all a better understanding between the peoples of the two Chinas, then we should make every endeavour to do so. Perhaps that could be brought about through the United
Nations. For instance, as I suggested when I was up there, a committee of the United Nations could be set up to survey the situation that exists in China and explore the possibilities of a reconciliation. But my own impression was that it was just wishful thinking, and that there seemed to be little hope of reconciliation at the present time. I wish it were otherwise, because the Chinese are a fine industrious race, but the situation as I gathered it is so tense and bitter that it will ultimately be decided by a showdown of arms. This could be triggered off at any time, just as World War I. was triggered off by the shooting of an archduke in Serbia, and just as the Mukden incident in Manchuria really started World War II. Australia could be drawn into such a conflict sooner or later. It is a situation that could develop overnight. Hong Kong could go in a matter of hours, just as Singapore went in the last war. That would no doubt automatically bring Great Britain into it and Australia ultimately would join her, as we have done on previous occasions.
Therefore, I submit that whilst strengthening our diplomacy to avert such a dire situation, we also should strengthen our defence to minimize the consequences, and that we should, while trusting in the Lord, keep our powder dry. We should always remember that the Communist leaders are dedicated Marxists. The present-day leaders in Communist China were trained in Moscow 25 years ago. They set themselves to conquer China in the space of 25 years, and they achieved just that. We should have no illusions about their aim; it is a completely Sovietized Asia, including Australia. A definite target date has been set for that. Ten years is the time mentioned, and already a couple of years of that has gone by. They plan to take over or dominate all Asia. With a Soviet Europe, the history of the days of Genghiz Khan, 600 years ago, will repeat itself, but on a much more stupendous scale. We should have no illusions about what is ahead in that regard, and if we do not sit up and take notice we deserve all that is coming to us.
Mention has been made of the recognition of red China, but that does not involve acceptance or agreement with that regime. There could be no more vital misunderstanding than to confuse these two things - recognition of red China and the acceptance of the regime there as being a proper form of government. I can personally find no virtue in or generate any admiration for a regime that has liquidated large numbers of its own people, variously estimated at 20,000,000 to 25,000,000, and which still has a similar number in slave-labour concentration camps. 1 agree with the right honorable member for Barton (Dr. Evatt) that any recognition for diplomatic and trade purposes would have to be accompanied by adequate safeguards, not only for the free Chinese people in South-East Asia and Formosa, but for the Australian people themselves. That must be the paramount consideration, as recognition for trade and diplomacy automatically opens up the channels of subversion which is the principal weapon of communism and red China.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- All members on this side of the House were in complete agreement with the very fine statement on foreign affairs made by the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Casey). I. think that each word that he uttered is capable of very close analysis, and any statement that he made cannot be questioned. It should also be possible for the statement made by the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt), who is the leader of the alternative government, to withstand very close study. I have made a close study of it, and it seems to me that throughout his address there is an unbroken thread of ideological thought. He introduced various arguments about the rival oil cartels. He talked about powerful shipping interests. He spoke, in a way, against the profit motive. The whole of his speech was a direct attack on the capitalist system. He even suggested that Colombo plan moneys should be used against fascist aggression in certain countries. We know that the greatest enemy of the Communist system is not capitalism. If you want to insult a communist, you call him a fascist. Curiously, the Leader of the Opposition seemed to direct his hatred very much against the fascist system. I want to stress this, because of this ideological and doctrinaire view that he has upon foreign affairs; and foreign affairs determine our survival in a very difficult world. lt struck me as unusual that there was a daring allusion in the right honorable member’s speech to the possibility of Russia having oil interests in the Far East. I may be biased, but I felt that it was intended to divert attention from the real issue. Russia’s interest in oil is dictated, not by the desire for oil but rather by a desire to break down the economies of the Western nations. That is the point Russia wants world domination. If Russia can break the economy of the Western world, she is well on the way to achieve it. 1 think his speech should be examined with a certain amount of care. We know that the enemies of one’s friends are one’s own enemies. His case requires examination, because it is curious that he should single out Thailand for a strong attack. He has stated that Thailand is a reactionary nation. Thailand is a very strong opponent of Communism. He has accused Thailand of having a military dictatorship. So, also, has Egypt. But in all his utterances on Egypt, and they have been many, he has never called Egypt reactionary.
A very strong case was made out by him and by every speaker from the Labour party for the recognition of red China. Even the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard) said that we should recognize red China. Let us examine some of red China’s aggressions in recent times. In the Korean incident, red China took an aggressive part against another nation. North Viet Nam is now a satellite of red China. But what about Tibet? Tibet is a nation which had no relationship, from the standpoint of ethnology, with China at all. When Tibet was occupied by red China, not once did the right honorable defender of minorities get up in this place or in any other place and attack red China. Why was that? Why, too, has the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard) defended the actions of his leader? Tibet was occupied -by red China. Red China is a proved aggressor in these modern times. Yet the Labour party still wants to recognize red China. What is the significance of red China? Communism and socialism are creeds which are opposed to spiritual guidance. Once any socialist creed is established in a country, it immediately attacks religion. Hitler attacked the Lutheran church. Mussolini attacked the Vatican.
Red China attacked the centre of Buddhism. That is the reason behind the attack by red China on Tibet. The Leader of the Opposition did not mention Tibet, yet he desires us to recognize red China.
Now I should like to discuss the Middle East, because this is the main seat of conflict in the world. The Leader of the Opposition said -
That is what he said was the cause of trouble in the Middle East - the present point of world conflict. He went on to say -
That explains the attempt to get control of territories in the Middle East. The struggle of cartels to keep their rivals out of the scene - it has been obvious during the last twelve months since World War II.
That is the basic factor, according to the right honorable gentleman - the war of the oil cartels, lt is a mischievous statement, because it precludes any general conception which is supported by irrefutable historical evidence. The Arab world has never accepted Israel. The right honorable member also completely ignored the military pact made by Colonel Nasser with three Arab nations around Israel. That pact was known to everybody in the world except the right honorable gentleman, who said that the source of conflict was the war between oil cartels. But Nasser created this pact. He arranged an alliance under an Egyptian general so that he and his allies could have unified military control against Israel. Does that tie up with the oil cartel war?
Suppose we analyse the thing more closely. What the right honorable member really meant was that one long-sighted member of the oil cartel must have bribed Nasser to purchase arms, because we know that a vast quantity of Russian arms were supplied to Nasser. According to his argument, that must obviously have been at the instance of an oil cartel. Also, this oil cartel caused Nasser to carry out a constant, misleading and frenzied radio campaign against Israel and the Western democracies. I suggest that that was given as the cause of conflict in the Middle East by the leader of the alternative government. It is just plain nonsense, and it is mischievous. But there are people ia this country who believe it because, after all, the Labour party has some supporters. I have quoted the reasoned statement of the Leader of the Opposition on this question. Of course, that line suits the Brisbane conference of the Australian Labour party. : o; the intervention by Great Britain and France in Egypt, there is more and more justification as time passes. I am entirely in agreement with that action, because there are occasions when the vital interests of a great nation are affected, and it must take action. The action, in that case, anticipated the landing of Russian volunteers. What would have happened if 50,000 Russian volunteers had landed in Egypt when Israeli forces reached the canal? Would we ever have got them out of Egypt? That is a point the Opposition might answer later. It is interesting to note from the Eisenhower doctrine the recognition that there are vital interests in the world, and America realizes it is necessary sometimes to take limited military action in respect of them. Under that doctrine, the United States Congress has agreed that the President of the United States of America may take military action without reference to Congress. Therefore, the United States agrees that, in certain circumstances, it may be necessary for America to do what the United Kingdom and France did as the result of a quick decision. Indeed, the United States is taking such action in the Formosan Straits. Does any one think for one moment that the United Nations would have intervened if Britain and France had not taken the action that they took? I cannot believe that it would have done so. It must be remembered that, in the entire conduct of their operation, Britain and France were from day to day prepared to withdraw if the United Nations acted. But had the Allies withdrawn, the United Nations would not have acted; we should have been presented with a fait accompli, and the Russians would have been astride the world’s most important waterway.
The Leader of the Opposition would have us replace our present foreign policy by a policy of complete reliance on the United Nations, as is evident from the manner in which he attacked our participation in the South-East Asia Treaty Organization. What is the United Nations?
If one examines its structure one finds cause for concern. It has 80 member nations, of which eight are subject to military dictatorships headed by persons who, in the jargon of the Communists, are reactionaries. Cuba, the representative of which proposed the resolution attacking the United Kingdom and France, is governed by a military dictatorship. But that is not all. So far as I can ascertain, although 1 find it difficult to assess the position clearly, at least 32 of the member nations do not rank as democracies by our standards. By “ our standards “ I mean the standards of Government supporters. There are 32 United Nations member countries that do not have what Government supporters regard as a democratic form of government. They are either dictatorships or have a form of one-party government similar to that in Russia and its satellites.
The record of the United Nations must be considered very carefully. Has it a record of action? The only occasion on which it acted was an occasion when the Russian representative was absent from the Security Council. However, I shall deal with that in more detail later. The Leader of the Opposition - I think in an endeavour to give an air of respectability to his speech - quoted from a letter written to Marshal Stalin by Sir Winston Churchill, then plain Mr. Churchill, on 29th April, 1945.
– It was a good letter, too.
– It was a very fine letter. The Leader of the Opposition spoke very enthusiastically cf the sentiments expressed by Sir Winston Churchill, but he failed to read the next sentence of Sir Winston’s letter, which is as follows -
I hope there is no word or phrase in this outpouring of my heart to you which unwittingly gives offence.
The letter in question was an appeal to Marshal Stalin brought about by fears and worries over the occupation of Poland by the Russians. At that time, the news filtering through indicated that Polish patriots were disappearing in large numbers, and Sir Winston Churchill appealed for Stalin’s co-operation in the most moving and beautiful language of which he is capable. The letter in question appears in volume VI. of “ The Second World War “, by Sir Winston Churchill. Had the Leader of the Opposition turned the page he would have seen the result of the appeal to Stalin, which was reported by Sir Winston in these words -
I now received a most disheartening reply from Stalin to the lengthy appeal I had made to him on April 29.
That was the net result of Sir Winston’s impassioned appeal to the dictator of Russia.
– Is the honorable member trying to water down what the Leader of the Opposition said?
– I am not trying to water it down. I am merely trying to show the kind of people with whom we have to deal in the Communist world. Sir Winston Churchill’s letter was written at a very disquieting time when large numbers of Polish patriots were disappearing from Poland. The satanic actions of the Russians had led to the destruction of the Polish liberation army in Warsaw which had held back the brutal Nazis. The Russians destroyed these magnificent patriots in Warsaw by deliberate delay. It was not known at that time that 10,000 Polish officers had been murdered in the Katyn Wood. Responsibility for all these outrages may be laid at the door of this murderous fellow Stalin and his regime. These were only a few of the 15,000,000 people who were killed by the Russians. In view of the conduct of the Russians, and their attitude towards Sir Winston Churchill’s appeal, can we rely on anything that they say? Can we rely on anything that the Communists anywhere say? Can they ever stick to the truth? It is interesting to note that a favourite technique of the Communists and their fellows is to attack the very things that they want to introduce. The socialist attacks monopolies because he wants to introduce monopoly. In the same way, Soviet Russia attack colonialism because it seeks world domination. The Communists do everything back to front. Since the Australian Labour party adopted the philosophy of democratic socialism, its adherents attack all those things that they wish to introduce, such as privilege and monopolies.
Let us examine the history of Russia since 1940. Since that year, Russia - allegedly an anti-colonial power - has partly or wholly absorbed eleven nations, including Esthonia, Latvia and Lithuania, with a total area of 264,200 square miles, and a total population of 24,396,000. The colonial satellites brought under Russian domination since 1940 contain a total area of 4,890,947 square miles, and 707,306,000 people, if Communist China is included. If it is excluded, there are ten colonial satellites with a population of more than 100,000,000. The Russians accuse Great Britain of being a colonial power. What has been the history of the Western nations since the turn of the century? Great Britain alone has raised to independent nationhood fifteen nations with a total area of 6,472,407 square miles and a total population of 549,404,000. Those countries are completely self-governing as a result of the efforts of this so-called colonial power. It is interesting to note that every country granted self-government by Great Britain has maintained the free democratic system that we in Australia uphold. France has granted self-government to ten nations which now have completely free democratic rule over a total of 49,467,000 people. The Netherlands and the United States also have given independence to former colonies. The powers that Russia stigmatizes as being colonial have followed a policy of granting self-government to colonies, whereas the Russians have continually enslaved even more people. I trust that honorable members will now understand clearly the Communist technique of always attacking the thing that they want to introduce. It would be well worth while for members of the Australian Labour party to examine Labour’s policies and see whether the cap does not fit them.
My time is short, but I should like to make one further point before I resume my seat. I have said on previous occasions that we must expect this constant struggle between the Communist powers and the Western nations to continue for many years. The honorable member for Grayndler (Mr. Daly) made a very fine and impassioned speech in support of the United Nations. I support that organization myself up to a point, but I think that it is a waste of time to place much reliance on it so long as Russia continues to take part in its councils.
– What is the alternative?
– The Russians should be directed by the United Nations to act in accordance with United Nations resolutions. Russia was instructed by the United Nations to withdraw from Hungary. It should be instructed to act in accordance with that direction, and if it does not withdraw, it should be expelled from the United Nations. Only if that is done do I see hope for a brightening of the future prospects of the world. One has only to consider the frequency with which Russia adopts the veto to understand how impossible the present situation is. Russia has resorted to the veto on 67 occasions in opposition to the policies and will of the rest of the world. France has used the veto four times, the United Kingdom twice, and Nationalist China once. What is the position in Communist countries? It is well for the people of Australia to understand clearly what is happening in Hungary at the present time. Each day in Hungary, a few people who are against the regime are arrested. No socialist state has yet been able to survive if it has allowed an opposition to exist. I have in my hand a report that scores of freedom fighters-
Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- It is my good fortune again to follow my friend, the honorable member for Hume (Mr. Anderson). I gather from the tenor of his arguments that if one opposes something one really supports it. However, I am afraid that 1 must oppose some of the sentiments he expressed. He accused us - us democratic socialists - of being anti-Christian, irreligious, generally Communist in derivation and, on the whole, a poor lot. Those points can be disproved in debates on other subjects.
I should like to turn to the problems of the times, as they arise in the debate on international affairs. After all, it is in international affairs that we can consider the main principles of human conduct. The honorable member for Hume and other honorable members opposite can rest assured about our feelings about tyrannical or terroristic regimes, such as that which prevails in Russia. But we have more things on our minds. There are more things to do than to spend all our periods of debate in considering places, people and the actions of governments over which we can have no control. After all, there are a considerable number of governments in the world over which we can exercise some sort of persuasion. J should say that one of the great failures of this Government has been to exercise persuasion of a peaceful nature on other peoples of the world. Australia has a particular duty arising from its geographical location and its historical background, to be free and independent in the councils of the world and to offer advice of a constructive nature on problems that arise.
I shall deal now with the speech of the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Casey). Though honorable members on the other side of the House have congratulated him on his speech, it seems to me to be simply a superficial study of world affairs; it is a leaving certificate essay, perhaps, but it is not what 1 expect from a man whose record has been so great. I have referred to “ Who’s Who in Australia “, for information about the background of various honorable members, and I am astonished that honorable members on the other side, in view of their achievements in other fields, can be so completely superficial in their approach to politics, and particularly international affairs. We are now going through what I believe to be a great time in history. I believe this is a time similar to the Renaissance of four or five centuries ago. It is a time of change in the outlook and attitude of people, lt is a resurgence of common humanity, and our part in the struggle should be to help.
For 300 years, the rest of the world has learned to live in terror of Europeans. It did not matter much whether one was a Lama on a hill in Tibet, or an aboriginal in a wurlie in Arnhem land; at some stage a European would come along, and take a plaster cast of one’s head, sell a poor watch or take over the territory. The people of Asia, if they have any historical knowledge at all. must look with some disfavour on the attitudes of Europeans over the last 300 years, lt is our duty to show them that the constructive works and the great things in the European way of life can be brought to them. This Government has failed to introduce that kind of thinking to the councils of the world. The Government has a big majority in this House, it exercises authority in the country, and it is in favour with the great organs of public opinion, but its attitude causes me a great deal of despondency. I fear for the world if we have no more creative or constructive thoughts than we have heard here to-day. 1 do not believe that there will be a general world war, In the twenty minutes at my disposal, I shall not have the time to analyse the situation completely and to show why I think that. But we have simply to consider the case of President Nasser of Egypt. Twenty years ago, 30 years ago or 40 years ago, President Nasser would have been swatted like a fly. He would not have lasted for five minutes. He is in charge of one of the poorest nations of the world, and he is not, perhaps, treated with respect, but at least other nations are pondering - biting their fingers, so to speak - on how they can solve the problem of Nasser. Gunboat diplomacy has gone out! lt finally collapsed last year with the Suez escapade of the British and French. But one comfort I derive from the situation is the knowledge that Nasser is able to survive and is able to defy much of the world’s opinion in the way that he has done, because it shows that most of the leaders of the world, faced with the problem of a world war, draw back from its terror. I believe that there is hope for us in the future.
In international affairs to-day we should be thinking more of hope than of fear. We in Australia have something to offer. Australia’s influence cannot be measured in terms of battleships. The great things in our civilization have often sprung from small communities. Let us turn back 2,500 years to the people of Athens. Statistics at that time were not very reliable, but the city had a population of, perhaps, only 10,000 free men. Yet a great deal of our civilization and culture has sprung from it and we have heard here to-day tributes to the Olympic Games and the Olympic spirit. Our own homeland of England is a small island off the coast of Europe and is not much bigger than Tasmania. It was populated 300 years ago by only 4,000,000 English-speaking people. Yet its influence has been so great that now, 300 years later, one in every eight people in the world speaks its native language, and its culture and many of its great achievements are part and parcel of the fabric of civilization itself.
The authority of Australia in the councils of the world cannot be measured in terms of battleships. Some of its tradition can be seen now. We have the unfortunate military venture in Malaya, but Malaya will soon be completely free of colonial or imperial conquest. On two occasions in the past - three, if Korea be included - Australian people have been ready and willing to defend other peoples of the world against aggression and invasion. That is the tradition we should be following. We do nol want to associate ourselves with the last relics of colonialism that, unfortunately, still remain in the world to-day. The times give us cause for hope - the hope for a great release of physical resources made possible by research; the hope that human suffering will be reduced through medical research; the hope for great advances in this country under the auspices of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization and other research institutes, leading to the increase of the food production of the world. There is the challenge to find some way to raise the standards of less fortunate peoples to those that we enjoy. That is an idealistic concept, I know, but unless one’s vision is on the furthest light, one will not travel very far. I believe that -
Or what’s a heaven for?
Despite these things, despite the great international events, we run into what I consider are the childish attitudes of many of the leaders of the world. Last year the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) banned the Chinese opera-
– That is not right.
– Politically, it is certainly not Left. “ Banning “ can be defined in any way, but the Chinese opera was not allowed to appear at the time and place it wanted to appear. The Chinese Government itself was no better. Because a Formosan team was coming to the Olympic Games, the Chinese Government would not allow its team to come. It is an odd world; when we have national leaders of that calibre, it is no wonder we are in trouble.
I thought that the speech of the honorable member for Lyne (Mr. Lucock) was well delivered, but I disagree with the opinion he expressed - not so much on the inevitability of war - on the inevitability of the division of humanity into two irreconcilable power blocs. I do not think that view need be accepted. We should bend our efforts to make it untenable. When 1 give some consideration to the problems of the world and the things we should be considering, I see no answer at all in the speech of the Minister for External Affairs. We have problems such as the strengthening of the United Nations, the abolition of international friction as now exists between India and South Africa, and between Israel and Arab nations. Some attempt should be made to control such international monopolies as the oil, shipping and financial combines. We have the incredible poverty of many of the nations, and we do not need to seek any further than Egypt to find an example df that attitude. I wish also to refer to slavery, unhappily still in existence, as reported in the “ Canberra Times “ only yesterday, and to the very strong forces of colonialism that are still extant. I shall expand these points a little later.
In this and other debates we have heard Ministers of the Crown sneering at the suggestion that the United Nations is capable of effective operations. I do not in this connexion refer to such comments as that of the honorable member for Maribyrnong (Mr. Stokes), who said, quite fairly, that the United Nations has no forces with which to enforce its decisions. We should, however, at least expect Ministers of the Crown to bend every effort towards increasing the prestige of the United Nations in the public view.
I turn now to the matter of friction between Israel and the Arab nations. On this question I am on the side of the Israelis. Israel is an oasis of freedom and democracy in the Middle East. But what do we do to solve this problem? There is no point in talking of racial hatred. There is no such thing as permanent, continuing racial hatred, unless it is continually stirred up by people talking about it and advocating it. There is no reason why the Israelis and the Arabs should not live peaceably side by side. But there are two or three ways in which we must attack the problem. We must do something militarily about the borders of Israel. We should guarantee and, if necessary, police them. We must do something socially about the refugee problem. We must also do something politically and economically about raising the living standards of the Arabs, because the Arabs will be constantly provoked by the sight of the Israeli nation apparently raising its liv ing standards while the Arabs continue in a state of poverty.
One of the challenges that should be taken up is that of the international oil monopoly. Apparently “ monopoly “ is not a clean word. It is in the dictionary, however. It describes a situation that we have seen many times. We have seen our own country defied by the shipping companies and the oil companies. We have also seen India carry on a fight with the shipping companies and make them accept India’s terms. When we know the way in which these monopolies operate, it is the duty of the Minister for External Affairs to be on guard against them and to integrate action to curb them. These Middle East countries will, in the end, rise as great national states. There is no international section 92 to restrict their field of action. The Opposition agrees that by means of the Colombo plan we are making some small contribution to the alleviation of the great poverty of the people of the East. We should, however, do more than continue to extend aid in the form of charity. We must trade with China and with the other countries of South-East Asia. That is the only effective way to cope with the situation. We may even be able to devise a quid pro quo, some lend-lease system under which those people can establish trading credits with Australia.
I have mentioned the matter of slavery, which is still extant. Nothing was said about this great human problem in the Minister’s speech or by any honorable member on the Government side of the House. In the “ Canberra Times “ of 3rd April, 1957, there appeared an article, based on the report of the Anti-Shivery Society, extracts from which arc as follows: - “ It cannot be claimed any longer that slavery is a dying institution “, says the society’s secretary. Commander T. S. L. Fox-Pitt. “The new wealth coming to the Arabian slave owners from ofl royalties has created a more effective demand for slaves.”
Here we have another effect of the operations of the great oil companies. The article goes on: -
In Saudi Arabia, the society reports, slavery is a “ well-known trade patronised by the Royal family . . .”
I have no further time to dilate on that matter.
During the last ten years we have seen, unfortunately, colonialism and imperialism and all the evidences of racial discrimination in the various nations of the world. Let us consider the experience of Formosa, which country has been given quite a hearing in the debate this afternoon. When we look at the history of that unfortunate and unhappy island, we find that it was invaded by the Japanese in 1896, and an article in the “ Far Eastern Survey “, a journal of the American Institute of Pacific Relations, of 11th April, 1945, gives us the following information: -
In attempts to force the countryside to rid itself of rebels, entire communities were punished for acts by individuals. For example, the garrison troops at Toroku village in Taichu Province were ordered in 1896 to kill all living things within a radius of 4 miles of the village.
We know the habits of the Japanese sufficiently well to realize that this would have been done very effectively. The issue of the same journal of 5th November, 1947, gives the following description of events that occurred in Formosa in that year: -
That night, by eight o’clock, the debarkation area at Keelung, port of the capital city, was cleared by machine-gun fire and thousands of Kuomintang Army forces landed and swarmed toward the capital, armed and equipped with American and Japanese materiel … It is reliably estimated that from 50,000 to 70,000 troops were moved into Formosa in March. A correlation of all foreigners’ reports and reports of reputable Formosans and of some mainlanders shocked by Chen Yi’s brutality indicates that approximately 10,000 Formosan-Chinese men and women were slaughtered or, disappearing, are presumed dead.
We associate ourselves with this by supporting the rights of the rulers of that island to speak for China and sit on her behalf in the United Nations, not merely to sit as ordinary members, but as representatives of one of the Big Five. That is indefensible on any basis, whether on a basis of numbers of population, of the rights of these people to rule, or of the position of Formosa as a world power. We cannot support such a proposition.
I now wish to say something about the Minister’s remarks concerning Cyprus. When I mention Cyprus and Kenya I do not want honorable members to think that I am anti-British. I am, however, opposed to the actions of the British Government in these places, and I sympathise with the ordinary people of Britain who have to police the dreadful policies applied there.
We read a week or so ago of a youthof nineteen who was hanged in Cyprus for having carried arms. Either we believe in self-determination or we do not. We cannot support such actions while we criticize similar actions of other nations. It seems incredible to me that the events in Kenya, Cyprus and Ghana should be occurring at the same time. The honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Howson) mentioned Kenya as a place of refuge. Turning to the debates of the House of Commons, I find that in the three and a half years up to the end of last quarter of 1956, no fewer than 1,071 people were executed in Kenya. They were executed for all sorts of crimes, 337 for unlawful possession of fire-arms, 95 for carrying ammunition, and 54 for administering unlawful oaths. These are matters that have been kept quiet. These are things of which we have heard little. The Minister for External Affairs, by his very refusal to answer straight-out questions in this House, has participated in the endeavour to keep these matters quiet.
Government supporters interjecting,
Mr. ACTING DEPUTY SPEAKER.Order! There are too many interjections.
– They are completely irrelevant, Mr. Acting Deputy Speaker. The Minister said in his speech that Colonel Nasser is a master of evasion. The Minister has shown himself to be a master of evasion by the way in which he has side-stepped questions in this House. I believe that the happenings in Hungary are also indefensible. The records are there for every one to see. Do not, however, talk with tongue in cheek, attacking people for things that have happened in Hungary, while ignoring similar events elsewhere. Whether people are Christians or Jews whether they be black, brown, red or white, their lives are equally valuable, and our duty towards them is clear.
My analysis of international affairs can be reduced to this statement: I do not want my children, or yours, to lie in some muddy trench or on some jungle trail lining up in the sights of their rifles, their rockets and atomizers some one else’s children.
Government supporters interjecting,
Mr. ACTING DEPUTY SPEAKER.Order!
– I understand their restiveness, Mr. Acting Deputy Speaker; honorable members opposite are merely alining themselves completely with the militaristic policies that have resulted in barbarism, riot, destruction and tyranny during 6,000 years of human history. The bomb, the spear, the bayonet and the sword have been the measures by which the people whose policies Government members support have ruled other people. I might adopt a thought from the works of Robert Louis Stevenson and add a little to it, and 1 say that all the children of the world, and ail the people in the world, and all the parents in the world must be treated with the same spirit. We have to attempt, by persuasion, by our authority, and by the example of our past history, to persuade the other peoples of the world to use the same sort of policies towards humanity that we expound in this place and in the councils of the world, and unless the Government does this, it will deny us our place in history.
– During the course of this debate an opportunity has been given to honorable members to cover a tremendously wide field of subjects, but the speech of the honorable member for Wills (Mr. Bryant), to which we have just listened, and the myopic views expressed in it, must have astounded every one who heard it. I shall not try to destroy more than one or two of the arguments he put up. The first of his extraordinary views with which I wish to deal is that, over a period of 200 or 300 years, the white races have done nothing for the coloured people of Asia, except to exploit them. I understand that the honorable member has had some association with the teaching profession, and even he must remember hearing, in the days of his youth, when he was learning history, about the years of faithful, devoted and unselfish service given to those people by the people of European countries. He must remember hearing of the vast monuments in the form of public utilities that have been constructed in those countries, and of the devoted efforts that have been made to help these people forward on the paths of progress. He must remember, too, that one of the greatest contributions made for their benefit was the blessing of a code of law and justice, lt is extraordinary, therefore, that such views as those expressed by the honorable member for Wills should have been introduced in a serious debate of this nature.
The only point on which I can agree with the honorable member - and on this I agree with him sincerely - concerns his statement that this is a great time in the history of the world. It also has been an extraordinarily difficult time, a time when tremendous strains have been imposed on the people of the world. It has been a testing time for the new world organization, the United Nations, and it has, I believe, brought home forcibly to the people of the world certain lessons from which they could well profit. In case there may be any attempt on the part of honorable members opposite to imply that we are not sincere in our support of the United Nations. I want to stress that it is our genuine desire that the United Nations should occupy the highest pinnacle of international respect and confidence. The background, therefore, of the remarks I propose to make - and they concern, to some extent, criticism of the operations of the United Nations - or of any analysis that I make of its present trend, has the object of preserving and strengthening its influence and of eliminating its weaknesses, so that it will not, like the League of Nations in an earlier period, decline in influence.
Honorable members opposite have suggested, or implied, that it is heresy to offer any criticism of the United Nations, or to suggest any alteration of its set-up, but I feel that we must face the facts in this matter. While humanity continues to be blighted by the frailties and failings which make difficult the relations between human beings and nations, it is wholly unrealistic to suggest that any organization can be better than the people who compose it. Similarly, in the case of the United Nations organization, it can hardly be expected to produce results better than those that will stem from the capacity, purpose and dignity of those who compose it. I agree to a considerable degree with remarks attributed to Mr. Macmillan, the United Kingdom Prime Minister, in the press during the last day or two. in the course of which he said that no country could abandon its own foreign policy and rely slavishly on the force of the United Nations organization.
– What is the alternative to that?
– I shall try to bring out some points later in my remarks for the benefit of the honorable member for Wilmot (Mr. Duthie).
I want to read to the House a section of a speech made by Sir John Glubb who, honorable members will remember, probably has had a more intimate association with the affairs of the Middle East than has any other European. He had no axe to grind; be believed that he was giving service to the people of the country in which he lived. I am of the opinion that he is a great man who has made a most valuable contribution to world affairs. In discussing this very question of the value of the United Nations, and of the way in which it is tending to work, he said -
One of the really vital things in our situation to-day is the position of the United Nations. 1 feel rather strongly about this because for eight years I was primarily involved in a situation which the United Nations was supposed to be handling. We came to the conclusion that under certain circumstances UNO can actually be a help to aggressors. How it works is this: UNO regards as its primary object the prevention of wars - I assume that is correct - and it is possible to have a very good technique by which, if you want something, you snatch it, whether by political action or military action. If you do so, the other party is taken by surprise. It lakes him a few days to consider the situation or to put in his military counter-attack, if it was a military action. In the interval while the victim is pulling himself together UNO steps in and orders a cease fire. The cease fire comes in when the aggressor is still in possession of what he has taken. That is perfectly true. Then of course the aggressor himself appeals to the Security Council and by that means he completely whitens his copybook and if the victim puts in any counter-attack he becomes the aggressor. The whole dispute is then transferred to Lake Success and remains there for an indefinite period while the aggressor is still in possession of the spoils. It really is an extraordinary paradox which, as I say, I have again and again experienced in public affairs in which I myself was involved. The fact remains that as it functions to-day UNO can be used as to be a great help to a would-be aggressor.
In discussing the events of recent months, particularly in relation to the Middle East, and following the line of thought expressed by Sir John Glubb. I think that we have been inclined to fall into the error made by the Opposition and many other wellmeaning people, which is precisely the same error that was fatal to the world in the 1930’s. It was then commonly believed that everything could be left to the League of Nations. People continued that thinking, even after it was obvious that, at least where a great power was concerned, the league was ineffective. It could not stop the Japanese in Manchuria, or prevent Mussolini from occupying Ethiopia, lt made almost no attempt to stop Hitler in his repeated aggressions, and if it had made any attempt it would have failed. All these troubles followed on the trend of our so-called international consciences to make cowards of us, whilst those of us with national consciences would have fallen over backwards to avoid precipitating war.
The present danger is that the same thing will occur again, and that we shall think that we can leave everything to the United Nations organization and divest ourselves of all obligations except our strict obligations to that body. We may tend to think that we can watch passively every form of international outrage with the comforting, but cowardly, conviction that these matters are the business of the United Nations and have nothing to do with us. Yet, the unfortunate truth is that the United Nations has shown itself little more effective than was the League of Nations in disciplining its difficult members, lt is true that the Security Council took decisive action in Korea: but it is also true to say that, by a coincidence in no way connected with Korea. Russia was sulking .and was absent from the deliberations of the Security Council and, therefore, could not exercise the veto which, if she had been represented, she undoubtedly would have used. This point, therefore, cannot be over-coloured in appreciating the value of the United Nations. In fact, it was only a fluke that the United Nations acted in Korea.
On the other hand, the Security Council was quite incapable of preventing the military overthrow of the democratic Masaryk Government in Czechoslovakia,, the blockade of Berlin, the overrunning of ‘Tibet, the undeclared war of raids and forays carried on by the Arabs and the Jews, and, more recently, it has so far been unable to arrive at a satisfactory and acceptable solution of the Suez Canal problem. The Security Council could not even prevent Egypt from stopping Israeli ships from using the canal. At the beginning of last November, even the staunchest supporters of the United Nations were daunted by its obvious incapacity to stop the brutal Russian attacks on Hungary. 1 do not want to be misunderstood in what I have to say now. It seemed to me to be unreasonable for President Eisenhower and Secretary of State Dulles to hold up their hands in horror at the Anglo-French action. They appeared to forget that not so very long before that they had sent a powerful American fleet to defend Formosa against a possible Communist attack and that there was at that time the deepest concern in the minds of the British people that they would become involved in large-scale hostilities. Let us judge these things truly and fairly. As everybody knows, Formosa was not an American possession. If there was any suggestion then of referring the dispute to the Security Council, press publicity seems to have been carefully avoided.
In private life, a citizen is not encouraged to take the law into his own hands so long as a police force exists to deal with criminals and to check crime, but when no police are present or available, a citizen has not only a right, but a duty to intervene to prevent a crime. I admit that such a comparison is not particularly applicable to the’ dispute between Israel and Egypt. However, at present, the United Nations is acting like a policeman who not only arrives too late at the scene of the crime, but also - this is the farcical aspect - has first to ask the criminal’s permission to bring his baton with him. The Suez affair makes it even more obvious that we must have a proper international police force immediately available. 1 agree with my colleague, the honorable member for Maribyrnong (Mr. Stokes), that, if the United Nations is to work, it is essential that the member nations accept their obligation to provide a proper international police force in the form of a standing army. In other words, we must give the United Nations teeth so that it will be able not only to pass resolutions, but also to translate those resolutions into appropriate action. That is the first point that I make for the benefit of the honorable member for Wilmot. I hope he is listening to me.
My second point relates to the veto. I realize that any proposal for modification of the veto power would involve tremendous discussion, if. ever it reached that stage in the United Nations, but if we want the organization to succeed in the future, one of the first things to do must be to modify the existing power of veto. At present, a veto can nullify the effect of general world opinion and effectively block satisfactory action by the organization.
But possibly the most important approach to the problem of the United Nations is the moral approach. It is of paramount importance to the future of the United Nations that if the Security Council is to be a court with power of punishment, it shall learn - perhaps in the hard way - to exercise its power with justice, not with emotion. The representative of a member nation must not vote in a particular way only because he is a Communist or because he dislikes Communists, or because he has a prejudice against what he chooses to call - in most cases he does not understand what he is talking about - colonialism. He must not vote on the basis that if he supports power A on one occasion, he will have the support of that power on a future occasion. He must not cast his vote automatically in favour of a small country merely because it is a small country, or in favour of a large country merely because it is a large country. To reduce the matter to the simplest terms, there must be genuine responsibility and an honest approach to voting in the United Nations organization. I realize that that is asking a great deal and certainly is assuming a civilized, rational attitude to international disputes which, apparently, the world does not adopt at present.
This is the point that should be brought home to the loud-mouthed critics of AngloFrench action, especially those in this place. Until a totally different state of affairs prevails, people have no right to condemn a country which acts for itself and by itself when it considers that one of its vital interests has been challenged, or when it has good reason to doubt the ability of the United Nations to see that justice will be done, or when prompt action would prevent a small war from turning into a big one. The present lack of a sense of responsibility by the Security Council was made evident by the resolutions that condemned Israel, Great Britain and France as aggressors but completely ignored the blood-thirsty and highly organized provocation by Egypt. Let me say in passing that if Sir Anthony Eden made any errors as the Prime Minister of Great Britain, they were, first, to underestimate the probable reactions of the
United States of America and, to a lesser extent, of some of the Commonwealth countries, particularly Canada; and secondly - this is more important - to over-estimate the patriotism of the socialist Opposition, which was prepared to jettison the international and economic interests of its country and, by appealing to the natural fear of war in the public’s mind, attempt to gain party political advantage.
I want to sum up in this way: I think every honorable member accepts the proposition that if the United Nations does not work, we shall be back in the jungle. We have got to make it work, but we shall not do so merely by paying it a sort of placid lip-service. We have got to shake the mothballs out of it. We have got to see where its weaknesses lie and then we have got to devote ourselves to correcting those weaknesses that can be corrected. It is essential to the future of the United Nations that there be a force available immediately to stop conflicts, that the veto be exercised in a more rational and sensible way, and that member nations be persuaded that the present system of block voting is not only harmful to the organization, but might be the cause of a future world war.
.- 1 am glad that the honorable member for Capricornia (Mr. Pearce), the honorable member for Hume (Mr. Anderson) and certain other honorable members are in the House, because I am going to reply to their oftrepeated question, “ What did the Labour party do about Hungary? “ The honorable member for Capricornia appears to have been appointed as the deputy screamer in the night because the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth) is resting his larynx. If the honorable member is seriously concerned about the tenor of this debate, he should listen to what I have to say about Hungary and refrain from repeating political slogans. Conditions are so dangerous that a debate of this kind should be lifted above the party political level. Sometimes, of course, I transgress in that regard as much as do other honorable members, but that is only because of my peculiar Celtic deficiencies in logical debate. I think that admission is abject enough to satisfy even the honorable member for Mitchell (Mr. Wheeler). I should like to say, in regard to the Hungarian situation, that the
Australian Labour party has been most unfairly treated on all counts by both the newspapers and the government of the day. As long ago as 16th November, 1956, a declaration was made by the executive of the party in New South Wales, and afterwards repeated in just as aggressively strong terms by the federal section of the party, in regard to the Hungarian situation, which was violently active at that time. The central executive of the party in New South Wales said -
The Central Executive of the New South Wales Branch of the Labour party condemns as inhuman the Soviet attack on Hungary and calls upon the United Nations organization to do everything possible to end the mass deportation of Hungarian workers to Soviet prison camps. Labour denounces the Australian Communist party for its support of the Soviet Onion’s attack on Hungary and joins with the democratic socialists throughout the world in declaring its abhorrence of this attack. The Executive repudiates the fraudulent and impossible charges by Communist propagandists in Australia that armed intervention by Britain and France in Egypt in any way paralleled in intensity or ferocity the Soviet attack on Hungary. The Executive, however, supports the attitude of the Federal Labour party and the British Labour party that armed intervention in Egypt by Great Britain and France has gravely injured and undermined the moral leadership of those two countries in the struggle for peace throughout the world. 1 should like the Government to remember, in all fairness, that this is the declared policy of the Australian Labour party, both in New South Wales and in the federal sphere, on this matter. To enter a debate in which we had to come down to the question, eventually, of the preservation of the human species, and to shout at us, “ What are you going to do about Hungary? “ is not what we expect from rational people. I think that the statement that I have just read is clarity itself. We are proud of having made it, and we are proud of having made it so early in the chain of events. The only thing that we regret is that due publicity was not given to us. The declaration contains the complete answer to the charges made on the other side of the House in relation to the Labour party’s attitude on Hungary.
Now, as to the Minister’s speech on foreign affairs. I was delighted to note the new attitude, evinced in it, towards Israel. There is a document in this House, bound and printed and distributed to honorable members, called “ Hansard “; and if ever there was a domesday book for the changing thoughts of the Government on foreign affairs it is that document. If you con through its pages you will see where Israel was defamed and denied in the years when it was first being formed. The thought was still that of the existing mind of the British Foreign Office of the day. The then Opposition, which is now in government, sat on this side of the House and had nothing favorable to say about this new modern state of Israel. At least, there was no favorable word amongst its most prominent speakers for this new struggling democracy which was to be created in the Middle East. But now that has changed, miraculously, because the position has been changed by events. It reminds me of the famous, and cynical, statement by Lord Palmerston that no great country has permanent friends, only permanent interests. So the permanent interests have slewed round to the case of Israel, and now the light gleams above Israel, and all its actions are justified. We, on the Labour side of the House, have been the friends of the little democracy of Israel since its inception and indeed, I say to this House, and to the Jews of Australia, that were it not for the leader of the Labour party in this Parliament, the right honorable member for Barton (Dr. Evatt), there would be no Israel to-day. The ad hoc committee created by him, when he was president of the United Nations, and the fight that he put up for Israel, are historical. They cannot be denied, and I think we feel quite firmly that we can talk to our friends in the general interest of peace by saying that the action of Israel in regard to being led under the flail and the scourge of circumstances to commit an error of judgment in partaking of aggression, was wrong. We have the right to say that, because that action does spoil the master plan created for the loyal people throughout the world who believed in the inevitable victory of the United Nations over the Moloch of war.
I was disgusted to hear a normally pleasant, decent and typically gentlemanly supporter of the Government, the honorable member for Corangamite (Mr. Mackinnon) emulating the Russians in damning the United Nations with faint praise. Why does it not do this? Why does it not do that? He is a simple country man and he must observe the birds and the bees and everything else that completes the circle of life and the cycle of life. Does he not know that there is more slaughter in the world than peace? Does he not know that for every action of peace there are a thousand actions of aggression? Does he not know that there have been wars since the dawn of history? But he expects, in the few short years of its existence, that the United Nations will not make mistakes. What it did wrong there! What it did wrong here! That is a counsel of despair. We have got to bear with that, because the United Nations is the only light burning for civilization in the world to-day.
The honorable member for Angas (Mr. Downer), another splendid gentleman and. I hope, a personal friend of mine, who is blinded by his loyalty and very splendid patriotism, said something derogatory to the United Nations by way of interjection. Well, of course, the United Nations cannot do everything. But it is the guiding line for the future to which we must cling. And the Labour party is determined, come weal or woe, that it will stick solidly to the United Nations in its decisions, because you must have solidarity - a word we understand very thoroughly on this side of the House. I do not use that word in the sense that honorable members opposite who have a superficial knowledge of the dictionary definition understand it. I mean that in the deep solid foundations of life you must have solidarity for an ideal, and we feel that there is an ideal in the United Nations.
The Minister damns the United Nations with faint praise because it did not conform on the question of what obviously was a wrong action by Britain and France. But that does not mean that members of the Opposition are opponents of Britain and France. It only points out that, in the tortuous techniques of international relationships which break through and become aggression, it was utterly wrong of Israel to have precipitated itself into the conflict. It was utterly wrong of Great Britain and France - and we say so - for the scorn of the moment and the richer reward of the future, to do what they did. There are times when you must submerge your nationalism, when you must submerge the song in the blood sometimes and decide which side you will be on for the ultimate future.
The Minister turned to other subjects, particularly the atomic bomb. He sounded a warning to all of us as to which way we are going. Are we going to waste our time talking about the sins of omission and sins of commission of the United Nations, and about which side was right in something that has been concluded? Because the canal is open again, except for some reservations in regard to Israel which will be, and must be, ironed out. The pressure of these people in conferences to-day has more power than all the cannons in the world, because they have reason behind them and, eventually, tin-pot tyrants of the Nasser kind, and others, will all conform to the sober thought of peace as against the anger of war. We know that, as does the Government of the day.
Then we turn to the threat that lies behind all these debates. It is not who was right and who was wrong, but the question of nuclear experiments and the dropping of nuclear bombs, and the radiation and the fall-out - that awful word that has come into the language - and its component parts which are alleged by one side - by a group of professors - to be highly dangerous, and by the other side to be harmless. On which side will we lean in seeking the truth, because on that decision depends the future of the human race - not any section of it, but the whole human race?
When I was leading a parliamentary delegation to Japan I saw the ruins of Hiroshima and I gathered some statistics which I should like, in all humility, to present to honorable members regarding the devastation of the atomic bomb - an experimental bomb, dropped at the wrong time, in the wrong place, a bomb that broke every rule in the book in regard to bombing by a new and horrible weapon of war. But look at the awful achievement in terms of the destruction of human life! The bomb fell at 8.15 a.m. on 6th August, 1945, on a little city which resembles Canberra somewhat, with a perimeter of blue hills and in a saucer-shaped valley, like that in which Canberra stands, except that it is watered by four or five small rivers or streams. Into that natural ,net for an atomic bomb this bomb descended on a bright August morning. The casualties were - dead, 78,150; wounded, 37,425; missing, 13,982; refugees - that is. the homeless - 176,987. A total of 306,444! I took the trouble to try to obtain the census figures of population - a very difficult thing in Japan. But the 1940 census, which was reasonably conducted, showed that there was a population in that area in 1940, five years previously, of 343,968. The point I am making to honorable members is that 306,444 out of 343,968 people were killed, wounded, became refugees, or later became victims of atomic radiation. The nuclear bomb to-day, of course, is one thousand times more deadly, and the real point is that by carrying on experiments that we are not sure about, war is actually being waged against the total human population.
It is all very well for professors in the misty isles of Europe to say that there is absolutely no danger of radiation from this bomb; that opinions to the contrary are a lot of poppy-cock, immature nonsense, and probably Communist-inspired; but that to make sure, they will not explode a bomb in their own European countryside. So, it is taken into the Pacific. I would rather accept the evidence of people who suffered from the bomb. The Japanese accuse us of one thing. Not of winning the war, because they are a valiant race in many ways, and with the turn of the wheel of fortune they have accepted their conquest. But they do not accept our dropping of the new horror upon them. They say it was because they were not white men, but one of the inferior races of the world; one of the lesser breeds within the law; and so it was not so harmful to try it out on them as it would have been to try it out on the Germans, Italians or other enemies of that day.
So we come to the views of the Japanese on atomic radiation. They are the witnesses, the cloud of witness against the world, because the bomb has been dropped upon them twice. The first was at Hiroshima and the other at Nagasaki, and by a queer and cynical coincidence, all it did in the main was destroy all the Christian institutions and the work of Francis Xavier, the sainted missionary who came to that country very very many years ago. It made nonsense of the spiritual talk that we were giving to Tokyo and of the democracy that had taken possession of the land of Shinto and the idol. So to-day the Japanese are witnesses against the atomic bomb because they are experienced. They live in fear. If you read their newspapers, socialist and conservative alike, you find that every branch of the printing and publishing industry in Japan stands in terror. It talks of Christmas Island as if it was next door because it knows what the winds and the tracks of Heaven can do.
I was talking yesterday to one of the men who have ridden the uncharted spaces of the sky, Sir Gordon Taylor, better known, perhaps as P. G. Taylor, famous as a member of the crew of the “ Southern Cross “. He told me that when we exploded the atom bomb at Monte Bello, although the wind was away from Australia, that was only about 10 miles high, and above that was a raging westerly that blew the radiation and the other effects back over the continent. That turbulence can be observed all over the Pacific. No man - and Sir Gordon Taylor is a pilot and a navigator - can swear which way the wind will carry the fall-out from an atomic explosion. We have to be careful, before it is too late, to see that we do not commit ourselves to the great indiscretion, which is the simplest way to describe it. Surely man in his own heart would not perpetrate this horror if he thought it would do the things some sober scientists say it will do!
So any debate on foreign affairs is to-day just footling if it burkes the issue of the atomic bomb, and we have not been able to drop our politics sufficiently in this House to talk about it in an objective and rational way for the sake of the people to come after us. We have not been much of a parliament. We have not displayed much humanity. It does not matter a hoot what the Russian thinks of the bomb. The Russians are only men on two legs. Russian blood can flow and Russian bodies burn. The Russians are no less vulnerable than the French, the Italians and the Turks. So, if this is a threat to the world, if science persists in policies of destruction instead of remedies for the ills of the world we will have to stop the scientist. The only thing we can look to now is the common sense of the people of the world - the ordinary Joe Blow, the ordinary man and his wife in the community, who face this thing with horror. Do we understand what is in their minds when they present us with petitions? Am I to spurn every petition handed to me and say, “Did the local branch of the Communist party tell you that? “ I would not dare. I will examine every petition and see if in any way possible I can further its demand for the banning of the bomb throughout the world. I admit that great forces are being organized against it. The Bermuda talks had some significance. The highly glamorized Seato conference, which is merely a special agency of the United Nations, should have a formula based upon peace; but all one can find in the Minister’s statements are allocations of strength to beat the Corns. Has not our . philosophy of the world told us that once you fight a man you concede half his case? We fought the Germans and now we cry for them as immigrants. We fought the Italians, and to-day we demand that they come in in their thousands.
Can we not, before things become impossible, get some sort of round-table talk on the question of the atomic bomb? We cannot deal with this matter in hatred. I do not suppose the Russian is any less fearful than we are of all this. There is no matter more important to this House than the question of the banning of atomic tests. We have had them in this country. Some people ascribe the starvation of the Warburton natives - one of the blots on our escutcheon - to atomic fall-out, and any one who has seen the film produced by a former Liberal member of this House, Mr. Grayden, will agree that he has made his case. Why are these natives hungry fugitives in their own lands? Because something has happened. The game has been scared. The experiments have been dangerous. There has been atomic fall-out. I do not think that happened at Maralinga, where it was controlled, but if the world becomes nothing but a conglomeration of bomb-dropping idiots, where are we going? If the world cannot stop at this stage and say, “This is the brink; we are not going over it “, the only thing that can save it is the courage of men in high places; men who represent constituents in this House; men who, whatever their political brand, will show their courage and their desire to do something for the people who sent them here, by getting up and saying, “ I, too, join the procession of witness against this murder of the children of the future, this crippling of the bones of children yet unborn, and this potential destruc- tion of all that is great and valuable in the world “. Most honorable members are past middle life. Those things may not be extremely valuable to us any more, but the preservation of all that man has cherished since the dawn of time is threatened by man’s own stupidity. We should discuss that matter and nothing else in this debate.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
– There is no time in a debate of this nature to deal with the whole of the very comprehensive speech given by the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Casey) in opening the debate, so I want to take only a few points from it. I want to speak first about the Middle East, and I come at once to the remarks of the right honorable member for Barton (Dr. Evatt). He said that the basic economic issue underlying the whole of the Middle East situation, including the Suez crisis, was the struggle of the world monopolies to control oil supplies. A little later he said that is the cause of the whole Middle East crisis. I want to say these are very large assumptions and very superficial ones also. Of course, the causes go far deeper than that, and we shall not find a solution by dodging the issues.
Let us refresh our memories about some of the facts and events of the Middle East. First, I remind the House that the Arab States have never recognized the State of Israel. In fact, they have quite openly declared that it is their policy to destroy Israel. Great Britain, after discharging first of all the mandate it held under the League of Nations and then some form of interim control during and after the war, finally relinquished its responsibilities to the United Nations. In doing so, the Prime Minister of Great Britain said -
The fact has to be faced that there is no common ground between the Arabs and the Jews. They differ in religion and in language; their cultural and social life, their ways of thought and conduct are as difficult to reconcile as are their national aspirations. These last are the greatest bar to peace. Both communities lay claim to Palestine; the one on the ground of a millennium of occupation, the other on the ground of historic association and of an undertaking given to it during the first world war. The antithesis is thus complete.
The United Nations recognized the State of Israel, lt was not recognized by the Arab nations, which attacked it in 1948. They were repulsed by the Jews. Ever since, hostilities have been carried on especially by Egypt which, in its endeavour to assume the leadership of the Arab world, has maintained consistently that it is in a state of war with Israel.
The Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt) spoke of the necessity for doing something to prevent fascist aggression in the world. If he is looking for an example of fascist behaviour in the world to-day, the right honorable gentleman has not far to look because the Government of Egypt, in both its internal and external policies, is confronting us with a perfect example. It has consistently used its military power, such as it is, to close the Straits of Tiran and the Suez Canal to the ships of Israel.
I am not here to say that the United Nations has been completely ineffective. ] am not one of those who often attack the United Nations. 1 am saying that the Government of Egypt has, for years, carried on these activities in open defiance of the United Nations, and it is a plain fact that Israel has maintained its existence, not through the assistance and the help of the United Nations, but, in plain language, by force of arms. No doubt Israel has faults and excesses on its own side, too, but it has furnished the modern world with a modern example of the centuries-old maxim that freedom is possessed only by those alone who have the courage to defend it.
If we are going to speak of aggression and the United Nations, let us recognize the further fact that had it not been for the military action of Great Britain and France, there would have been no action, effective or ineffective, by the United Nations in the Middle East crisis at all.
How effective can the United Nations be in the present circumstances? Perhaps nobody could answer that question. I do not pretend to answer it, but this I will say. that there can be no real solution in the Middle East unless it is based on adequate power. Do not let us imagine that we live in a world where power no longer exists, or where it no longer counts because that :s not true. In whose hands does the power lie? It does not lie in the hands of the United Nations organization, which is weak, but in the hands of the great nations such ;t-) the United States of America, and great countries have great responsibilities. It may well be that, considering the violent racial and religious antagonisms in the Middle East, there is no solution to be found unless it is a solution based on power - not necessarily, perhaps, by the use of military force, though it may come to that. The fact is that there will be no real solution which does not rest on adequate power, which exists only in the hands of the great nations of the world. They must be prepared to exercise it, even in a military sense if necessary, to ensure that the situation in the Middle East, and in other places as well, does not finally lead to a world war.
The problems are great, but they will not be solved merely by some scheme such as that to which the Leader of the Opposition referred, or some form of internationalization of the production of oil. They go far deeper. Although the Leader of the Opposition was ready to demand some form of international control in the case of oil, he had nothing whatever to say about the internationalization of the Suez Canal on which the trade of half the world depends or about the freedom of the Gulf of Aqaba. They are problems just as great as, if not more important than, control of oil supplies.
I turn now to the problem of the admission of China to the United Nations. Honorable gentlemen opposite are entitled to their own opinions about whether that is advisable or not. It is remarkable, however, that although that course of action is advocated quite frequently by them in this House, none of those who support the admission of China to the United Nations ever has anything to say at the same time about the fate of the people of Formosa. The Leader of the Opposition made no reference to it when he spoke on Tuesday. So far as I can remember, it is never referred to by the Opposition.
What is to be the fate of the people of Formosa if China is admitted to the United Nations? That is worthy of a passing thought, at least. They are a people almost as numerous as our own. They are living now in freedom. Are we on the Government side of the House to infer that the policy of the Opposition is that the people of Formosa are to be abandoned to their fate? Are they to be dismissed from the United Nations? Are they to be left to take their chance, because we should not forget that mainland China has declared quite openly that it, and nobody else, will settle the fate of the Formosans? Are we to understand that that attitude is supported by the Leader of the Opposition and his followers, because they are all mute upon this subject?
I pass now to the question of the explosion of nuclear weapons. This is a matter of great gravity, but I want to make only a few remarks about it. The first point I wish to make is that it is easy to excite exaggerated fears about it. No great problem was ever solved by people who were afraid of it. No service is given to the people of Australia if we are to speak in exaggerated terms or if we are to belittle the importance of this matter. I believe that if we are to discuss it at all, at any rate in technical terms, we must be certain that we know what we are talking about. It will not be resolved by giving way to fear. I intend to say nothing technical about this. But I want to make one or two other observations and the next thing I want to say is that the problem will not be solved by the unilateral cessation of atomic experiments.
– Tell us how it will be solved.
– It will certainly not be solved by the unilateral cessation of these experiments. This is made more plain by the announcement of recent discoveries which make it essential that if these experiments are to stop on our side - on the Western side - and if we are to forgo our ultimate guarantee of the power to preserve our freedom - and let us make no mistake that these weapons are the ultimate guarantee of the power to preserve our freedom - it can only be done after an agreement which implies adequate supervision, inspection and control of armaments and preparation. Of course, every government in the world really wants to reach agreement, but unless we can reach an agreement like that, it would be the height of folly to abandon the experiments we have been conducting with great care and great responsibility.
What are the basic differences in policy between the Labour party and ourselves on speech in this House and also by the recent federal conference of the Labour party in Brisbane that there are certain things in Labour policy to which we on this side of the House do not subscribe, and to which 1 would be very surprised if, upon mature consideration, very many people in Australia would subscribe. 1 should like to indicate to the House four things which do not constitute a comprehensive statement of Labour policy but which are implicit in declared Labour policy. I give them to the House as an indication of this policy.
One of them which has already been mentioned is the recognition and admission to the United Nations of red China. Another one is the withdrawal of Australian forces from Malaya. The third one, which may not be stated in quite such explicit terms but which most Australians have been led to believe by the Labour party is part of its policy, is the banning of further atomic tests in Australia without regard .for the activities of other countries. The fourth is the alteration of the Seato pact. 1 think it was remarkable that in his speech the Leader of the Opposition, although he spoke for 45 minutes the other night, and found plenty of time to attack a friendly and an allied power, made no attempt to spare one word of condemnation for the wanton cruelty with which the freedom of Hungary has been oppressed. I believe that those four things I have mentioned are implicit in the declared policy of the Labour party. What will they lead us to? In the first place, in our relationships with the rest of the world and with our allies, they will obviously lead us to an end of the close association which we have with many of the Western States. It will be the end of our close security associations with our allies. They will mean the end of the trust and confidence now reposed in Australia by our allies. They will mean the drying up of foreign investment in this country on which so much of our prosperity depends. They will mean that, instead of being a nation which is great out of proportion to our numbers in the world, we will sink back into an inferior position.
This foreign policy is apparently part of that process which is nowadays described as democratic socialism, a phrase which, to most of us, seems very like the claptrap used in those countries which describe themselves as peoples’ democracies. I suggest that it is part of the policy which has split the Australian Labour party into two - or is it three - factions. I want to remind the House that the two major factions which have found themselves unable to follow the Australian Labour party or its leader have given themselves names of some significance. The first breakaway party called itself, “ The Anti-Communist Labour party “. The second breakaway party called itself. “ The Democratic Labour party “.
– I wonder what the third will be called.
– I wonder! They have done this in order to make it perfectly plain to the Australian people that large sections of the Labour movement no longer regard the Parliamentary Labour party here as anti-Communist in practice or democratic in principle. The two breakaway parties have given themselves the names that I have mentioned. I say, in conclusion, that here is the basic difference between our policy. Even large sections of the Labour movement have branded the policies which are put forward by the Labour party in this House as neither antiCommunist nor democratic.
.- The House is debating a statement by the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Casey) dealing with the foreign policy of the Australian Government. Nothing that the Minister has said has helped in any way to increase friendship among the nations of the world or, in any way, to minimize the feeling of hostility and bitterness that pervades the world at the present time. Nor has the Minister for Health (Dr. Donald Cameron) made any contribution to the solution of world problems. Not one ray of hope has emerged from the speech of the Minister for External Affairs.
I should like to commence my remarks by asking, “ What is the basis of a foreign policy? “ In my opinion, it should be the preservation of our way of life, and our form of society and our cherished institutions. It ought to have regard for the rule of law, for the secret vote, parliamentary democracy, freedom of religion and freedom of assembly, habeas corpus and our free trade unions. We should never forget the strivings that were necessary to win these victories for the people of Australia and the people of the world. Any consideration of foreign policy ought to have regard for all those features. In considering the preservation of them, it is all-important and should never be forgotten that we also ought to think in the terms of the years in which we live and of the dread weapons of war and destruction which hang over the heads of the people of the world. If we do all these things, we will be rational in facing the problems which beset mankind at the present time. Before there are any excursions into the realms of international affairs or any acts of aggression which could result in a world war with its wanton destruction of human life and the destruction of society as we know it at the present time, sensible people - people who are concerned about mankind and the things we have won for mankind - ought to weigh these issues. If we weigh these issues I think we will try to seek a means of real peace.
Despite the views expressed by the Minister for Health concerning the exaggerated fears of the Opposition, I think there is room for real fear. Anybody who stands in his place in this Parliament or outside it to-day and says that there is no room for fear or concern, while atomic and hydrogen bombs are being prepared as guided missiles with ranges of 1,500 miles and more, should tell us precisely what is cause for concern to-day. I suggest that there is room for concern about these matters. Those honorable members who recently attended a school to consider these matters came back with thoughts quite different from those expressed by the Minister for Defence (Sir Philip McBride). I understand that they were told quite clearly that there is no positive defence against attack with nuclear weapons.
What has this Government done in an endeavour to protect the people of Australia? It has simply continued to encourage the growth of big cities on our coast. In New South Wales, in the very heart of the iron and steel industry, in the area in which we now have tha large cities of Sydney, Port Kembla and Newcastle, the Government is continuing to build. For example, it is building a nuclear reactor at Lucas Heights, in the metropolitan area. This Government’s policy has been to build up big cities on the coast to the detriment of the development of country districts and the dispersal of industries and services essential to our survival. We ought to be concerned about these matters. I venture to suggest that the recent statement by the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) in connexion with defence should be discussed together with the matter now before us, because both subjects are closely related. It is necessary that we pay some attention to these matters. We should even consider the question of the investigation into wool, and its development. Where are those laboratories situated? They are in the metropolitan area of Sydney! Would it not have been better to have had them at Bathurst, Canberra, or somewhere in the electorate of the honorable member for New England (Mr. Drummond), somewhere behind the Great Dividing Range? Of course, it would have been. Yet, this Government, which talks about the defence of this country and professes to be so concerned about the security of this land, exposes us completely to enemy attack. It is little wonder that the people are apprehensive about these matters.
I desire to speak about the need for peace. There is need to proceed with a campaign for real peace in this world. I deprecate as much as anybody else does any attack by any honorable member upon a friendly country. That should not be done here. We ought to be trying to build bridgeheads of understanding and friendship with the countries of the world. It is easy to list the nations which played their part in the various struggles that have taken place. It would be an easy matter to declare that Great Britain stood alone, that certain other countries came in only at the last minute and made no contribution at all. It would be an easy matter to say that certain leading parliamentarians and politicians of certain countries collaborated with the Japanese. That could be said about many leaders in the world, but I do not think we should single out individuals in that respect. We ought to be trying to build up greater friendship in the world, especially with our neighbours immediately to the north. In striving for peace, we should never cease to develop everything we have at our disposal in our attempt to build up better understanding. We should never in any way try to magnify the differences which divide the various countries of the world. It is important that we preserve what we have. At no time should we be prepared to subtract in any way from the things we have fully established in this country. We should never surrender them in any circumstances at all. If we are to retain them, we can do so, first, by trying to work for peace; and, secondly, by doing the essential things which any government ought to do in order to preserve our way of life.
We should insist upon building up the United Nations organization. It is pleasing to know that this Government is making a contribution in that respect, but it is a sad and tragic state of affairs when we hear responsible Ministers in this Parliament attacking the United Nations organization because it is not prepared to concede to governments the right to take certain attitudes and actions without collaboration with the United Nations. I point to the Suez issue as an example, and I say more in sadness than in anger that it was a great tragedy that the United Kingdom Government failed to consult the dominion governments in that matter. How can we be partners in these questions unless there is consultation? Again, in a matter of this magnitude, why should the United Kingdom Government take a course of action without consulting the United States of America? Surely, such consultation was necessary? I say these things more in sadness than in anger because I believe that they are important things which must be said. I believe that the outcome of that action has been mischievous; it has been dangerous and it has been charged with difficulty from the point of view we hold in the world at the present time. lt endangered the North Atlantic Treaty Organization; it injured the British reputation, and ours, to some extent, among the Asian people. In doing that, it hurt Australia’s cause in a part of the world where there are many millions of people with whom we ought to be developing friendly relations. Because the Government of the United Kingdom failed in that respect, and because this Government, willy-nilly, carried Australia along with that policy, we were involved, despite the fact that Parliament was not given an opportunity to express itself upon the matter.
Hungary has been mentioned. 1 have no intention of evading that question at all. 1 think it is one of the greatest tragedies that have occurred during my lifetime. It is comparable with the great tragedy of Warsaw where, when trying to overthrow the German overlords near the termination of the war, the people were shockingly murdered. The Russians, who were our allies in that fight, were prepared to allow those people to be destroyed. One reason why 1 think the tragedy of Hungary unfolded was that Great Britain was committed and involved in the Suez Canal problem. If it had not been for that fact, I believe the Russians would not have returned to Hungary, and that there was quite a possibility that the Hungarians would have won their freedom. I believe, too, that the Hungarians were then engaged in a mass expression of their opinion. It was an expression by people of all shades and walks of life - students, miners, people of all occupations, soldiers - all joining in to say, “ We, the people of Hungary, want to run and rule our country in our own way, free from the imposition of the will of anybody outside our country “. I do not think any honorable member in this chamber would refuse to subscribe to that point of view. That unhappy state of affairs has occurred; it belongs to history. I trust that in my lifetime such a thing will not be repeated.
Quite recently, I had the privilege, with other honorable members, to visit certain Asian countries. I assure the House that the reactions of our neighbours in the near north to the Suez crisis were very unfavorable. It was a most unfortunate state of affairs for Australia. But I can also assure the House that Australia’s reputation in the near north is extremely high with the Asian people, who believe that the Australians are a freedom-loving people. The Asians are satisfied that we have no territorial aspirations, that we do not want any one else’s country, and that we do not want to impose our will upon any other nation or groups of people, and they are also well aware of our great generosity under the Colombo plan. They are mindful, too, of our great development from colonial dependence to nationhood, and of our great advantages which I enumerated at the outset of my remarks, including the right to form trade unions, the rule of law, and government under a parliamentary democracy. All of these things are appreciated by our northern neighbours.
Representatives of the Philippines whom the parliamentary party had the privilege of meeting overseas told us with considerable satisfaction that our system of voting in parliamentary elections, which the Filipinos had adopted, had helped them along the road to nationhood under a democratic form of government. We were well received everywhere, and Australia is well respected. But I should like to take the opportunity to say that we should go farther in trying to establish closer ties with our neighbours to the north. I pay tribute to the Minister for External Affairs for his wisdom in providing a fund to make it possible for members of the Parliament to visit Asian countries. I think it is vitally necessary that we should achieve a better understanding of the people to the north of Australia, and that we should be able to meet the leaders, trade unionists, and people from all walks of life in those countries in order to understand them and their problems better. Not one of the people that I met in the countries to the north of Australia said a word against our immigration policy, but many words of appreciation were said about our activities under the Colombo plan in giving aid to Asian countries by sending them mechanical equipment, poultry, and animals of various kinds. All of this aid is very much appreciated by the people of the countries to which it is sent. But most appreciation of all is accorded to the way in which we have taken Asian students into this country to study at our universities, and especially to the way in which we have accepted them into our homes. The kindness and generosity of the Australian people which has been shown in this way is greatly appreciated. Any Australian who has helped in even the smallest way in making Asian students happy in this country deserves the gratitude and thanks of the Parliament and the Government for assisting, in a true sense, in building a bridgehead of understanding between the people of Australia and of Asia, with whom we have to live, and greatly improving relations between them.
The Colombo plan has been very successful, but I think future emphasis should not be placed so much on material assistance. Perhaps it is wise to make small gifts of poultry, animals, and the like to the poorer people of the villages in Asia, but the most important need of all is education, and we must direct our efforts towards educating them and giving them a proper understanding of our way of life. We should give Asian students in Australia technical knowledge so that, when they return to their villages, towns, and cities, they will be able to speak with appreciation of our way of life, which is the Western way of life, and translate that understanding into an expression of the goodwill that they bear towards the people of Australia.
Indonesia, our immediate neighbour to the north, is one of the troubled parts of the world. We should think constructively about the great difficulties being encountered’ there, lt will not solve any problems if we attack any of the Indonesian leaders. It is tragic for Australia that the vast collection of islands in Indonesia, stretching from Sumatra through Java and the Celebes to Borneo, which could become an important security screen and a bulwark of Australia’s defence, has been divided and now lacks a secure government. We should be infinitely more secure than we are at thepresent time if there were in Indonesia a government with secure and complete control of all Indonesian territory functioning in much the same fashion as the government of a parliamentary democracy such as Australia, and viewing the world’s problems generally as we view them. Indonesia’s difficulties are the difficulties of Australia also. However, when I say that, I do not suggest that the people of Australia have the right to impose their will upon the people of Indonesia, to attempt to impose upon them any particular form of government, or to tell them that there is only one road to travel and one course of action to take. But we should endeavour to promote solidity, strength, and permanence of government in Indonesia in order to provide a very necessary screen and buffer between us and the countries to the north of Indonesia from whence trouble could eventually come. We should do our utmost to promote strength of government in Indonesia in our time and to bring closer together the leaders of the various groups in that country. Perhaps there is hope that the Moslem parties there will achieve that. I sincerely hope that they will unite the people of Indonesia more closely and give them a better appreciation of their own problems. If they come to understand the attitude of Australia and the other western countries a little better, it will be much better for Australia in particular.
I cannot deal with all the other countries of Asia this afternoon, but I should like to mention particularly the kindness and hospitality with which we parliamentarians were received in Malaya, South Viet Nam, Singapore and Thailand, the hospitable and generous people of which treated us magnificently. I should like to pay tribute especially to the people of South Viet Nam, who have taken more than 1,000,000 refugees from Communist North Viet Nam. Even in the brief period that we spent in South Viet Nam, we learned that more than 650,000 of those refugees had been settled, mostly on the land. That was an outstanding achievement. We were assured that those who had not already been settled would be settled by the end of this month. That magnificent achievement has been made possible only by the generous aid given by many countries. Australia has contributed generously to this help. I ask the Parliament and the people of Australia to look with kindness, sympathy, and friendliness upon our northern neighbours, and to try to understand and appreciate them. Let us all go forward in our efforts to make this a better world for all to live in and enjoy a fair share in the great prosperity that every one is entitled to share.
Mr. SPEAKER (Hon. John McLeay).Order! the honorable member’s time has expired.
– The honorable member for Macquarie (Mr. Luchetti) has said so much with which I agree that I regret the necessity to turn briefly aside from the theme of his remarks and refute the suggestion that this Government is responsible for the concentration of population in the metropolitan areas of Australia, particularly in New South Wales. The people of Australia as a whole are responsible, because they have had political power. Various historical reasons have brought about this congregation of population. I do not deny for one moment that governments have played their part in the process. We live under a system of representative government in which the Government is responsible to the representatives of the people. Unfortunately, the people have congregated so much financial, commercial and industrial power in the metropolitan areas that governments that are representative are sometimes forced, against their will, to continue a policy that is just plain suicide. In that, I agree with the honorable member for Macquarie.
This debate was initiated by a rapid, comprehensive, and extremely fine review of international affairs by the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Casey), who most capably discussed Australia’s relationships with other countries, and gave us an excellent picture of the world situation as it affects Australia, so far as he could cover this immense field of discussion in the 45 minutes available to him. When the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt) who took up the debate for the Opposition, came to deal with the United Nations and the part that it can and does play in the world’s affairs, he exhibited a singular blindness in refusing to acknowledge the human factors that influence every society. Without wishing to be unkind to Opposition members, I want to say that it is extraordinary that a man who leads a party that is so deeply divided that it has split into distinct component parts should yet think that all the nations of the world can be brought together in conference, or in a kind of parliament, to which the United Nations may be likened, and induced to express a balanced and reasonable view that would enable us to feel a sense of security in, and to depend upon, the United Nations at this stage of its development. I think that we should expand the United Nations organization and endeavour to maintain its ideals. But I hope that, for the sake of this nation, we will detach our idealism, and our chance of arriving at it in the near future, from a consideration of those who are at least 1,000 years behind us in outlook, and do not understand the meaning of democracy. Many people who preach about the freedom-loving democracies, and that kind of thing, do so with such complete detachment from realism that their observations are ludicrous. 1 should like to refer briefly to two related matters - the recognition of red China, and its admission to the United Nations. Of course, they are separate things. Although Great Britain recognized red China some years ago, that does not mean to say that it would vote for red China’s admission to the United Nations. What would red China’s admission to the United Nations imply? It would imply that red China would be able to send its consuls and ambassadors to all of the countries that have not yet recognized the de facto government there. If you want a red Chinese Con-l-General in, say, Rabaul, that is the way to get him there. If honorable members opposite believe that the admission of red China to the United Nations would make our administration of New Guinea any easier, I must say that I entertain considerable doubt in the matter. The Minister for Health (Dr. Donald Cameron) asked, quite rightly, what would become of Formosa if red China were admitted to the United Nations. There is one point that my friends of the Opposition should not lose sight of. For good or evil, Formosa is an island of refuge for thousands of Chinese who fled from the mainland. Some went of their own accord, while others submitted willingly to capture by the South Korean troops. Do honorable members opposite believe that those refugees should be handed over willy-nilly to a power that has shown that it has no time for people who disagree with its policies? I believe that it would be a sin against Christianity to hand over to red China people who have accepted refuge in Formosa under an antiCommunist flag.
There is another consideration. Upon what basis are nations admitted to the United Nations organization? According to the Opposition, they are not required to comply with any particular rules. When the United Nations organization was established, there were admitted to membership all of the nations that had fought on our side during World War II., as well as other friendly nations and those that we thought, for various reasons, would be prepared to trim their sails and play the game in the future on our side. Do honorable members opposite contend that any nation, irrespective of its record, should be admitted to the United Nations? If that were done, we might admit nations which would play merry hell with all the nations that are trying to keep this world upon an even keel. Quite frankly, that procedure does not appeal to me as containing any element of common sense.
From the actions of red China, I suspect that its particular form of communism is different from Russian communism. At some future time, it is quite possible that the red Chinese will have a slight disagreement with Russia, which the United Nations will have difficulty in resolving. I recall that it was the red Chinese who brought things to a head in Korea. Communist forces were concentrated in North Korea before the attack was launched upon South Korea.
The honorable member for Macquarie referred to Viet Nam. That part of Viet Nam north of a treaty line about 62 miles from Hue on the northern border of South Viet Nam is now in the hands of the Communists. How did they gel it? They got it as a result of the pressure that was brought to bear by the Chinese Communists to the north of Viet Nam. The proposal of the Opposition that red China should be admitted to the United Nations could be likened to a proposal to admit members of anti-Labour parties to the Labour party, in the belief that every one would get along very nicely together. I do not think that that would be a practicable arrangement, although I personally would get along very well with some of my friends opposite. t should like now to refer to the parliamentary delegation that recently attended the Inter-Parliamentary Union conference” at Bangkok, which was mentioned by the honorable member for Macquarie. It is rather extraordinary that, though this body had been in existence for about 60 years, this was the first time that the Parliament of Australia saw the value of being associated wilh it. The fact that the venue was Bangkok, which is the capital of Thailand, one of the Seato nations, and that New Guinea was to be discussed at the conference possibly quickened our perception, and so we went there. 1 am sure that the honorable member for Macquarie and others will agree with me when I say that Australia should be represented at these conferences in future.
The conference was attended by some 500 delegates from no fewer than 40 nations. We met men at the parliamentary level. They were able to say things that representatives of governments could not say at the United Nations, and they made their statements with force and vigour. There was a virility in the conference - the virility of a parliamentary institution. It was not a matter of people moving polite resolutions and others seconding them; there was a vigour and keenness throughout the conference.
The delegates included people from iron curtain countries, Brazil, South-East Asia, Asia, India, Ceylon, Israel, Iraq, Iran, all the countries of Europe, and the United States. Russia was represented by 40 members, the United States by 36 and Australia by six. Though the Australian party included members from both sides of politics, there was a feeling that we were there as Australians. We expressed an Australian point of view on almost every question that arose. That attitude continued throughout the conference. Our leader spoke with great courage and wisdom, and must have impressed all who attended the conference.
I shall probably never attend another of these conferences, but I ask the Parliament to ensure that what has been started will not be permitted to stop. I believe that the free exchange of views and the presentation of Australia’s opinion and policy are necessary. Though our political views here are different, we agree far more than we disagree, despite things that are said in the course of a debate such as this. The things that unite us - the life of this country, its greatness and its future - bridge the narrow gaps we try to make from time to time: I hope that the good work will continue.
As my friend, the honorable member for Macquarie, has said, we were the guests of the governments of Viet Nam, Malaya, Singapore and, for a short time, Indonesia. During the course of an intensive and extensive tour of Viet Nam, we saw something of what war can do in forcing upon a civilian population the immense task of shifting 1,000,000 people and absorbing them into a population of 9,000,000. For seven or eight years, Australia, with all its resources, has been combating inflation caused by 1,000,000 people being brought into the country. Viet Nam has been torn internally by a war between various elements trying to secure control of the government, and has been fighting Communists outside its borders. Yet in the three years since the French have left, Viet Nam has been able, with considerable success, to settle and provide for an additional 1,000,000 people.
Those of us who met President Diem felt that he was a man of courage, great sincerity and real moral worth. In eighteen months he defeated the scally-wags who called themselves the War Lords of the Three Sects and obtained control of his country, put it into shape for defence, if need be, against the Communists without and cleaned up the Communists within. He is indeed a great leader.
Australia’s immigration policy has been introduced into this debate. I do not think this question should be shirked. One of the greatest problems in Eastern countries is the problem of a Chinese minority. The Chinese form a racial group which is highly intelligent, and tremendously industrious but apparently has not any real attachment to the country in which they live. That attitude may have been caused by the policy of countries which have refused them the right to come into the comity of the country and to take part in it, or it may be their own policy. I do not know the reason, but the fact is that in every one of those countries the people have had to face up to the control of this faction. The leader of Viet Nam was tackling them with very great courage.
The tour upon which we were sent extended for about 5,000 miles from where I am speaking to-day, right through Thailand to the South China Sea. In that area there are 120,000,000 or 130,000,000 people called Thailanders, Indonesians, Malays and so on. With the exception probably of Cambodia, those people belong to the Indonesian race and the areas in which they live extend to only a short distance from our shores. Every one of them needs sympathy and understanding, and, most of all, the Indonesians who are trying to overcome the difficulties created by their suddenly taking over the government of the country without the proper administrative machinery. The greatest gift that we can give them is trained people from this country.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- In a discussion on international affairs, all arguments should have the calculated purpose of maintaining Australia’s sovereignty. The views of honorable members on either side of the House may differ in many respects on the attitude we should adopt in relation to that all-important question. We on this side make no apology for advancing the policy of the Australian Labour party as the best means of maintaining in a very safe condition our all-important sovereignty. Labour’s policy has been formulated for one purpose and one purpose only - the preservation of Australia and the Australian way of life. In trying to achieve that objective, many side issues must necessarily intrude. We have to declare ourselves on international issues that may not have much relevance to this country, but nevertheless the focal point of all our discussions - this country’s survival - must never be neglected.
Having made those few preliminary observations, I desire to say something on what should be our attitude in relation to the recognition of red China. During the Seato conference the United States Secretary of State, Mr. Dulles, reiterated the impregnable hostility of his Govern.ment and of the people of America to the new regime in China, and he re-stated America’s determination never to recognize it. This point of view stems primarily from America’s national interest, and Mr. Dulles, doubtless, thinks that it is the best policy for America. I freely concede that as the spokesman for America he has every right to put forward that point of view, but I suspect that when he put it forward - as a matter of fact, I understand that it was not on the conference agenda - it must have been met with opposition and caused actual embarrassment to the United Kingdom delegation. I concede his right to put it forward from the point of view of the national interests of the American people; but when he suggested that this idea was of international interest, it was quite obviously a hint for the other members of Seato to follow suit.
One of the very important members of Seato is Great Britain which was one of the first countries to recognize the de facto control of China by the Peking Government. It was the Attlee Government that was instrumental in implementing that policy, but since that time there have been three Conservative Prime Ministers - Sir Winston Churchill, Sir Anthony Eden and
Mr. Macmillan. There has never been the slightest suggestion that the policy originated and promulgated by the Attlee Government should be rescinded. I cannot put it forward too strongly that recognition of a regime does not imply approval of that regime, but is simply a realistic admission of the fact that the Mao Government in China is in effective control of the numerically largest nation in the world. 1 should also like to point out that Great Britain and the United States both maintain diplomatic relations with Soviet Russia; but, surely, nobody would ever seriously suggest that that recognition implies any approval of the Soviet Union’s action in relation to very many matters.
As a near neighbour of Asia we should treat with the greatest reserve Mr. Dulles’s remarks in relation to what he things about the non-recognition of China, and we should consider how the position affects and will affect this country. 1 do not think I am doing America a disservice when I state that we should remember that America’s attitude in relation to China originated from the fact that after the war the American Government backed the wrong horse in China. Despite enormous American lendlease support given to him, Chiang Kai-shek failed to maintain control of his country. When he was defeated, as he certainly was, and sought refuge on the island of Formosa, the United States was not only deeply angry but was also deeply committed to that regime because it had supported it through thick and thin; and, no doubt, all sorts of promises had been given in the case of certain eventualities. I can understand the American point of view because of the commitments made by the United States to Chiang Kai-shek. It is wrapped up emotionally and diplomatically with the idea that the leader of an island in the Pacific, leaning on American support, is one of the five great leaders of the world. That is only a very polite fiction; nobody believes it.
While that may be America’s idea it is not necessarily Australia’s idea. We must weigh the pros and cons of recognition from an Australian point of view. As a self-governing entity, whilst we can consider very courteously the view of Mr. Dulles, or those of any other statesman of world renown, we are not necessarily tied to any ideas of their own particular thinking. No one in this House seriously doubts Australia’s implacable hostility to communism. It is true that some honorable members opposite say that some members on this side of the House are friendly disposed towards it, but I frankly do not believe they mean what they say in that respect. Labour knows full well all that communism stand for. We also are well aware of the international dangers which spring from communism.
Sitting suspended from 6 to 8 p.m.
– Before the suspension of the sitting I was discussing the controversial question of whether this Government should recognize continental China and I said that no one had any doubt of Australia’s implacable hostility to communism. 1 stated also that practically all Australians are aware of the international dangers that spring from communism. Nevertheless, we must recognize the fact that we have to live in a world not of our choosing, and that we have to co-exist with nations whose policies we dislike. As realists, we must admit that the Chinese Government controls the lives of 600,000,000 people, and that it has done so for eight years, in spite of the thunder emanating from Formosa.
This vast nation, continental China, has terrific possibilities for Australia, either for good or for ill. On the credit side, the immediate possibilities for trade are enormous. There is no doubt that China’s anxiety to increase her trade with us, particularly for wool, wheat and machinery. On the debit side, we know what would happen should we fall out with her in the future. But we have to recognize the fact that we cannot hope that the new China will cease to be a living entity if we look the other way. It. is there, whether we like it or not. While we ignore the most powerful nation in Asia in our trade dealings and exclude a quarter of the human race from the councils of the world, we are surely allowing emotion to take the place of common sense. Irrespective of what Mr. Dulles may feel, the Commonwealth Government should consider this question on the basis of what constitutes Australia’s interests, and I hope that it will give this matter very serious and sympathetic consideration in the very near future.
During his speech, the Minister for External Affairs referred to the Seato conference that was recently held in this building. 1 must say that a perusal of his speech and of the press statements failed to reveal what really transpired at the conference. Any fair assessment of the work of this conference and of the value of Seato generally would require access to the detailed records of its performances in the realm of military and police security, and, of course, that is not available to me. I hope that Seato will, in the future, devote itself more to the economic and social advance of Asia, so that Asian countries will be enabled to defend themselves, and so that they will be less subject to Communist subversion. I very much doubt whether specific emphasis on military preparations, which has been such a feature of Seato, makes very much sense in Asia at this time. Countries like Pakistan should not be encouraged to waste any more of their substance on military preparations which have only a minor connexion with defence against communism. We must remember that the Asian members of Seato are least likely to fall to a Communist coup, and also that they are impotent to prevent this happening to their neighbours. There is a place in the SouthEast Asian area for some such organization as Seato, and, for the benefit of Government supporters who are so fond of deriding the decisions of the Australian Labour party’s conference recently held in Brisbane, I should like to say that the Labour party’s policy with regard to Seato is quite specific. It is as follows: -
The Seato regional organization must be both an instrument for the peaceful settlement of SouthEast Asian disputes and for the mutual defence of the area in case of attack and operating strictly within and through the framework of the United Nations.
Every one can see, therefore, that we are not opposed to Seato. Nevertheless, I, as one who has given this subject some study, because I well remember the initial debate that took place after the Manila Treaty in 1954, cannot feel elated about Seato, as it is working at present. Asian participation in it is far too small, and the Asian countries represented are open to the suspicion that they have become members for ulterior reasons. For example, Pakistan, in my opinion, seems to use Seato as another forum in which to inveigh against India.
Although I do not wish to offend the Minister for External Affairs, who, I know, entertains very friendly feelings towards the Thai Government, I must say that I believe that the present Thai Government, which came into power by a subversive act, wants to classify all its opponents as Communists. The Philippines, a nation that has the most genuine reasons for supporting Seato, is the least Asian in culture and outlook. In my view, Seato has failed to live up to initial expectations. I hope that in the future every encouragement will be given to those Asian countries that have not, up to the present, seen fit to participate in Seato. They should be encouraged to join the organization, because I feel that the ultimate purpose of Seato will never be realized while it has such a small Asian representation.
It was interesting to note that the Minister, in his speech, gave details of the amounts that were paid to recipient countries under the Colombo plan. I have been unflagging in my support of the Colombo plan, and I suppose I have spoken about it in this House as much as any other honorable member has. I must admit, however, that the information that the Minister gave was rather disappointing. If I remember correctly, the Colombo plan was inaugurated in 1951. It was a sixyear plan, and we were told that Australia’s contribution during those six years would be £31,250,000 for economic development and £3,500,000 for technical assistance, making a total of just under £35,000,000. I was particularly aggrieved to hear the Minister say that in the six-year period the Government has spent only £20,000,000 on the Colombo plan. In other words, it has underspent on this plan, if one considers its originally stated intentions. I could understand a change in the amount if it was due to the fact that the countries who receive assistance under the Colombo plan had sufficient capital equipment, but while I appreciate the technical assistance that has been given, and which has done so much to engender friendly relations between Asians who come here and the Australian people, I still contend that the main problem confronting the Asian countries is lack of technical equipment, and the provision of that equipment will cost much more than the amount that the Government has so far been prepared to pay. It has paid only £20,000,000, when it should have paid £35,000,000. I should like to know why the Government has underspent to the extent of £15,000,000 on the Colombo plan. There may be a good reason for this, but if there is I should like to hear it. The Minister did not vouchsafe any reasons when he told us that £20,000,000 had been spent in this very deserving cause.
The question of Colombo plan aid opens up the wider question of foreign aid towards Asian economic development on a much broader basis. This aid to economic development of Asia is a development of the post-war era, and it is one to which the Labour party, of course, heartily subscribes. Clause 7 of the decisions of the Australian Labour party’s conference in Brisbane, which has been criticized so much by Government supporters, reads as follows: -
The Labour party advocates generous assistance by Australia to Asian peoples suffering from poverty, disease and lack of educational facilities.
It can be seen, therefore, that the Labour party is right behind the Colombo plan and any other plans that have for their purpose the encouragement of Asian economic development and the increasing of productivity in this area. An examination of the amount of foreign aid that has been given to South-East Asian countries shows that one of the most undesirable features is the unevenness of its distribution. I thought that there would have been a concerted plan to ensure that all the countries suffering from the chronic disabilities of poverty, under-production and consequent undernourishment of the people received a reasonable amount of money for the purpose of increasing productivity.
I am not talking about the Colombo plan, but of the several aid programmes covering South and South-East Asia. Since 1950, of the total United States grants to Asia, 30 per cent, has gone to South Korea, 20 per cent, to the Philippines, 16 per cent, to Japan, 13 per cent, to Formosa and 11 per cent, to Viet Nam. Excluding Japan, 75 per cent, of the total direct United States aid to Asia has gone to four countries, whose combined populations total only 60,000,000. The combined populations of India, Pakistan and Indonesia are more than 550,000,000, but until recently they have received very little United States aid. They are now receiving fairly substantial amounts, and I very much regret to say that cynical
Asians are saying that the reason for this is the large amount of Russian aid that is being offered to many Asian countries.
It appears to me that the United States economic aid to Asia is governed by political and strategic considerations rather than by economic planning. No such criticism can be directed to the Colombo plan, because none of the grants made under it has been connected in any way with military equipment or defence purposes. There is little doubt that the Colombo plan, with its emphasis on mutual co-operation, is a form of foreign aid held in great esteem by most Asians.I was very pleased to hear the Minister say that this plan would continue for another four years. However, this is not such an act of generosity when it is realized that, during the first six years, the original allocation of money was underspent by £15,000,000. When we review the position, it must be admitted that foreign aid to Asian economic development has, unfortunately, not achieved very much. At present, Asian countries are not in the most favorable condition for achieving a high degree of economic development, and the question that must be asked is this–
– Order ! The honorable member’s time has expired.
Debate (on motion by Mr. HaroldHolt) adjourned.
– I present to the House a review of overall Government policy on Australian defence. Following upon a close examination by the Defence Department, the Chiefs of Staff and relevant departments. Cabinet has given comprehensive attention, first, to the chances and nature of hostilities; secondly,to the strategic basis of Australian defence policy; and, thirdly, to the composition and equipment of the Australian defence forces.
A review of defence policy and of the defence forces is. of course, at any time, a matter of outstanding importance. But the present review has even greater significance because it is made against the background of the great scientific and technological developments which have occurred in the recent past. These are of direct relevance to the consideration of risk, the nature of the forces and the equipment which those forces should have. This has led to a number of new decisions which set a new pattern for Australian forces and the most modern standard of equipment.
It is, for obvious reasons, not desirable that the whole of the military appreciations which have guided our analysis should be made public. But it is possible and desirable to say certain things. The first concerns the possibility of war. In earlier days one could speak of war or of peace without the need to add further words of description. Now it is necessary to speak of “ global “ or full-scale war, “ limited “ war, meaning, by that, armed conflict short of global war; and “ cold “ war.
In considering the risks of “ global “ war, great weight is attached, not only here but in major countries abroad, to the deterrent effect of nuclear and thermo-nuclear weapons. There is, we believe, a clear realization on the part of all the great powers that a major war would be, almost inevitably, a thermo-nuclear one and would, almost certainly, lead to mutual destruction. Global war is, therefore, we think, unlikely to occur as the result of deliberate planning, but it could occur as a result of sudden passion or miscalculation.
A “ limited “ war is always possible, as we have seen in the Middle East and IndoChina, and such a war could break out with little or no warning. It may, in fact, be that the powerful persuasions which exist not to engage in “ global “ war may tend in the minds of the Communist powers to increase the temptation to engage in “ limited “ wars. A “ limited “ war, of course, might grow into a “ global “ war, but this would depend on circumstances, none of which can be calculated in advance.
On the whole, we believe that the Communist powers, notably the Soviet Union and China, will continue to seize every opportunity to attain their aims by means of the “ cold “ war; that is, by infiltration, internal subversion and the propagation of revolutionary ideas, terrorism and other forms of lawlessness, sabotage and economic destruction. These are the methods by which the Communists pursue their objectives of extending the boundaries of communism and narrowing the boundaries of freedom. But here again, the line between “ cold “ war and a “ limited “ war is one all too easily crossed by those who have aggressive intentions. 1 say these things because we have reason to fear that when it is said that the common judgment is that the fear of “ global “ war is reduced there may be many people who are tempted to believe that we can forget about war altogether. This is, unhappily, not true.
In a “ global “ war, Australia’s role would, having regard to our population, be significant but relatively subsidiary. Our chief task would be to co-operate with our allies and to take our share on a basis consistent with our interest, our resources, and our sense of responsibility.
If a “ limited “ war broke out in SouthEast Asia and did not at once develop into a “ global “ war, it would, in all probability affect those countries in South-East Asia whose safety and independence are significant and perhaps vital for us. For example, any recrudescence of Communist aggression in South Viet Nam, in Laos or Cambodia, in Thailand or Malaya, would at one affect the safety and defence of Australia.
It is of immense importance to us that the free countries of South-East Asia should not fall one by one to Communist aggression. Security in the area must, therefore, be a collective concept. We believe that participation in regional arrangements for collective defence is the most effective method of securing the safety of Australia and the other countries who are parties to these arrangements. Such participation also provides the best means of coordinating our defence policy and planning with that of our allies. We cannot stand alone; and therefore we stand in good company in Seato, in Anzus, and in Anzam.
The association of the massive power of the United States with the regional arrangements 1 have referred to, and her assurances of support in the event of Communist aggression, are vital factors in maintaining security in this part of the world. United Kingdom forces, though substantial, are necessarily smaller than the United States forces in this region. Despite the re-organization of her forces which is now in hand, the United Kingdom will continue to maintain substantial and flexible striking power in this region.
At present Seato - somewhat slightingly referred to a few days ago - is very important for the defence of South-East Asia. lt has already achieved significant progress, as was demonstrated during the recent conference at Canberra. Putting aside for the present purpose the economic and political associations which are involved in the South-East Asia Treaty, it is good to know that on the military side much planning has been done, the stage having been reached when it has become necessary to set up a permanent military planning office at Bangkok, the head-quarters of the Seato organization. The ability of the armed forces of the Seato nations to work together has been developed in a number of combined exercises, and contact between military advisers has been provided by means of annual schedules of combined training exercises. In addition to all this, our own defence co-operation continues effectively with the United Kingdom and New Zealand, and with the United States under the Anzus treaty.
I remind the House of these matters because I want to give emphasis to the belief of the Government and, I am sure, of the Australian people, that we would not, except at our peril, think of the defence of Australia as a purely local matter, confined within the Australian coastline. For if our coastline becomes the subject of invasion it can only be because our great friends have already been defeated. Even in what is called a “ limited “ war, therefore, and in the less obvious aspects of the “ cold “ war, it is an essential ingredient in Australian defence that we make and keep ourselves ready to co-operate with our allies. We cannot expect the defensive assistance of the great democratic Powers unless we are ourselves prepared to take a proper part in the common defence. There is nothing new about this conception. Australia has demonstrated acceptance of it in two world wars already.
It may be thought by some that, with the advent of nuclear and thermo-nuclear weapons, conventional arms are becoming irrelevant. This is by no means true. The fact is, that nuclear potential is available, so far anyway, only to the United States, the United Kingdom and Soviet Russia. How far nuclear weapons would be used by these countries either in attack or in defence in a limited war we cannot foresee. At any rate, for all other nations there will continue to be a requirement for conventional arms.
Accordingly, our present planning and preparations are proceeding on the basis of an operational contribution to allied strategy of highly trained men armed with the most modern conventional weapons and equipment. The emphasis is not, any longer, so much on numbers as on mobility, equipment and fire power. This is not to say that man-power is unimportant. It will still be necessary in the event of a great war to commit large forces to the struggle, but in the upshot speed and the capacity to hit will determine victory.
It is obvious that defence policy and economic policy must run together. This at once brings up special considerations. In Australia the vast programme of national development and industrial expansion and migration currently puts rather more strain on national resources than it does in many other countries. To a large extent, the Government has had to finance this development from revenue because loan raisings have fallen short of the total funds needed. These things are not without impact on the amount of the resources which we can devote to defence. But the Government has concluded that for the year 1957-58 the broad figure of the cost of the defence programme should be of the same order as that provided for defence during the present financial year, that is, £190,000,000.
This is a large sum, but modern weapons are extremely costly and it would be useless to raise fighting forces without giving them the most modern weapons with which to fight. For the third time, sir, I hear a heavy yawn from the front Opposition bench. This is, of course, a boring subject. Large capital expenditures are necessary. Research and development programmes, which include the highly technical and highly skilled work which is being done in the field of testing at Woomera in conjunction with the United Kingdom, are costly. However, the Government believes that the people of Australia will accept the fact that our national defences must be maintained at an adequate level to enable us to play our proper part in the mutual security arrangements to which we adhere and, therefore, in our own defence.
This brings me, sir, to the question of the composition of our forces. BeforeI proceed to describe our plans on this matter, I should make three points -
First, under both Seato and Anzus, it seems clear that in the event of war we will be fighting side by side with the United States. Particularly in the event of a “ global “ war, it would be manifestly difficult for the United Kingdom to maintain a line of supply in South-East Asia, though the United States undoubtedly could. Common sense dictates that under these circumstances, we should pay considerable attention to the logistic aspect of war, and standardize so far as we can with the Americans. Though this is a wholeheartedly British nation this is not a heresy. It merely recognizes the facts of war. It is based upon exactly the same reasoning as that upon which. I am sure, the United States would wish to see Great Britain, France, Germany and the other European Nato countries standardizing as among themselves their own weapons and techniques so as to eliminate the necessity for excessive stocks of spare parts or precarious technical reinforcements over the waters of the Atlantic.
It is for this reason that, as I will point out, we have decided both in aircraft, in artillery, and in small arms, to fit ourselves for close cooperation with the United States in the South-East Asian area.
Second, we have for some time been greatly disturbed by the fact that an undue proportion of our annual expenditure has been laid out upon the maintenance of existing forces, the bulk of whom are only partially trained, while too small a proportion of our expenditure has been available for equipment. We have, quite frankly, disturbing deficiencies on the equipment side. Such, however, have been the immense social advantages of national service training that we have been reluctant to modify that great scheme. I say “ modify “ because we have never thought of abandoning it! In addition to this, we have encountered some inevitable delays in getting into production the F.N. rifle and its related ammunition, while on the aircraft side, technical advances have been made so rapidly that it has been difficult to determine within any feasible financial limit how our re-equipment should proceed. This problem is not peculiar to Australia. It has been vexing the United Kingdom authorities for a long time. We have now concluded that we should reduce the proportion of our defence vote which goes to man-power and increase the proportion which goes to modern equipment.
Third, this problem is not solely a problem of money. A considerable proportion of our regular forces has been exclusively devoted to the basic training of the Citizen Military Forces and of national service trainees. This fact, while it has enabled us to give basic training to something like 180,000 men, has inevitably reduced the number of regular troops available for immediate use in the event of war. I will not need to tell honorable members that it needs more than a government decision to expand the regular army. In these days of high competing wages and full employment, the number of recruits for the regular forces is limited. We certainly cannot afford to make an inadequate use of them.
Having made these observations, sir, I pass to the important question of the composition of the forces we think it proper to maintain to meet the possible threats. We cannot prepare for every eventuality, but a judicious balance of highly trained regular forces possessing mobility and power, and adequate reserve forces capable of rapid expansion in time of emergency, can and must ensure that we can meet our regional and local defence tasks.
I will, quite briefly, take the three services in turn. I start with the Navy. Our review has shown that the present structure and organization of our naval forces is sound having regard to their strategic role, and no major changes are proposed.
The function of the Navy in war will be to ensure the defence of sea communica tions, to act in convoy where necessary for military forces, and to co-operate aiong lines already worked out with our allies in general operations. We have for some time been conducting a programme of naval construction and alteration designed to produce craft of the appropriate kind. This programme is being accelerated. The Fleet Air Arm will continue to consist, operationally, of one aircraft carrier, one naval air station and a front line establishment of 40 aircraft in five squadrons, but because of the availability of a second carrier - H.M.A.S. “ Sydney “ - which has been used during recent years as a non-flying training ship, and of Sea Fury aircraft, it has been decided that this second carrier should be restored to a flying training role. This will permit aircraft now operating from the naval air station at Nowra to be embarked from time to time. Naval construction will, as I have said, be speeded up to correct the present shortage of ships of the appropriate kind, and as a means of reducing overhead costs.
The strength of the permanent naval forces will be maintained at an average figure of about 11,000 for the next three years.
I now turn to the Army. I have already explained that we are seeking in particular mobile well-equipped and readily available regular forces. Moves have already begun to organize a brigade group of over 4,000 as a cohesive battle formation trained to the highest pitch. This force will be equipped with the most modern weapons available. Special attention will be paid to mobility and the requirements of tropical warfare. The force will be additional to the infantry battalion group which will continue to serve in the Commonwealth Strategic Reserve in Malaya, which has a great part, and will continue to have a great part, to play in the “ cold “ war.
It may be appropriate to explain our proposals in relation to national service training. This scheme has given great benefits to our country in instilling ideals of personal discipline, loyalty and service. We introduce it, and we are very proud of its results. Largely as a result of its introduction, we have to-day, as T have already indicated, a total of over 180.000 men who have received basic training. But we are no longer able to count defence potential interms of numbers of partly trained men.
We have been forced to consider whether devotion of the same effort to the initial training of national servicemen would cost, in time, money, and man-power, a disproportionate amount as compared with what should be expended on quickly available defence forces. We have, therefore, decided most reluctantly to reduce the size of the national service intake.
The Navy and the Air Force are both services which require the continuous engagement of men for service at home or abroad. They have not been able to secure much advantage as military organizations from national service training. We have, therefore, decided that in the case of the Navy and the Air Force, national service training will end.
In the case of the Army, the call-up will be on a selective basis, which will be subsequently announced by my distinguished colleague and will amount to 12,000 trainees annually. We do not propose any change in the present system of universal registration. All young men on reaching eighteen years of age will continue to have an obligation to register. The universal liability to serve remains, but the call-up will be limited to 12,000 each year. Selection will be made by ballot. This will not affect the present geographic and other types of deferment including the deferment of rural workers as at present. The new scheme will commence with the second callup for this year, which will beg:t in July. The total period of training will remain at 140 days, but in future this will be served in an initial period of 77 days continuous training, followed by three years in the Citizen Military Forces for an equivalent of 21 days training each year. After completing their training, national service trainees will remain on the reserve for the balance of five years from the date of callup as at present.
This announcement will, quite understandably, produce disappointment in many minds. I should, therefore, point out that the physical savings of employment of a good deal of Regular Army man-power in the reduced training scheme will contribute substantially to the build-up of the Mobile Brigade Group, while the reduced expenditure on maintenance will permit some most important increased expenditure on the re-equipment of our fighting forces.
Approximately 2,000 regular soldiers will be freed for active duty in this way.
National service training will, of course, not cease. It will continue, within its numerical limits, to provide a reservoir on which the Citizen Military Forces can draw. The Citizen Military Forces itself is, of course, vital to the rapid expansion of our forces in time of emergency.
This whole concept of rebalancing the forces in favour of effectiveness and equipment is, of course, in line with the trend in modern defence provision overseas, and reflects both the increased fire power of the new weapons and their greater complexity and cost.
In our consideration of the Army, we have, in accordance with the principles 1 have already described, decided to provide modern equipment standardized or compatible with that used by the United States. Our re-equipment plans - I am talking about the Army - can involve expenditure of nearly £40,000,000 over the next three years. These plans include provision of the new F.N. rifle and its related ammunition and the United States 105 mm. field artillery equipment. The F.N. rifle, because of its ease of operation and rate of fire, will greatly increase the effectiveness of the infantryman, while the fact that it uses the small arms ammunition which is already in use by the armies of the United Kingdom and the United States of America, will contribute considerably to flexibility of supply. The 105 mm. equipment has trajectory characteristics enabling it to operate effectively in wooded and hilly country and is, therefore, most appropriate to the difficult areas in which it is likely to operate. In brief, it combines the virtues of the howitzer and the 25-pounder. Overall total Regular Army strength will be maintained at about 21,000.
I now turn to the Air Force. The Air Force should include fighter aircraft of the most modern kind to ensure local air superiority and to deal with any raiding bomber. It must have transport aircraft of the highest quality also. The cost of modern aircraft is extraordinary and reequipment will therefore prove a very considerable burden. We already have a substantial Air Force, including light bombers, fighters and modern maritime reconnaissance aircraft. We are planning to re-arm with fighter aircraft of a performance equivalent to the Lockheed F104, which has been accepted by the United States Air Force, and with transport aircraft of the type of the C.130. which is already in operational service with the United States Air Force.
It may be thought by many honorable members, as it was thought by me when the proposals first came forward, that it is unfortunate that we should adopt a reequipment plan which appears to produce some divergence from the United Kingdom. But it seems to us clear that, having regard to Anzus and Seato and to our geographical situation, Australian participation in any future war must be in close association with the forces of the United States of America.
The Air is the most mobile of all arms. It is, therefore, in the air that we have felt it desirable to standardize on types of aircraft which would enable the Royal Australian Air Force to co-operate with American Air Forces, with common lines of supply. We have, of course, thanks to Australian ingenuity and industry, a powerful provision of Avon Sabres, still in the first rank of fighters, and the celebrated Canberra bomber. We are developing a powerfully equipped and efficient air force. The strength of the regular Air Force will build up from its present level of 15.000 to 16,725 by June, 1960.
Two other important new projects in Air Force preparedness will be the introduction of the first ground to air guided weapons unit and the setting-up of mobile control and reporting units at Darwin and at Perth. lt will be understood that, as modern aircraft operate at greater speeds and altitudes, electronic control and reporting have become more difficult and more complicated. The guided weapons unit will be located in the Sydney defence area and will, therefore, be used for air defence training in a place where a modern control and reporting unit has already been established.
This year will see the completion on schedule of the much-abused but little understood St. Mary’s filling factory. This plant has been erected on the advice of our military experts that it is of the highest order of priority. It will be essential for the filling of bombs, shells, and other projectiles. Without it the country would be grievously handicapped in the event of war. As my friend, the honorable member for Macquarie (Mr. Luchetti) was glad to learn two days ago, the Small Arms Factory at Lithgow will shortly commence the production of the F.N. rifle.
– Will the right honorable gentleman say something about ammunition?
– Production of the Jindivik pilotless aircraft in Australia is continuing. Deliveries have already commenced against orders placed by Sweden, and inquiries have been received from other overseas countries. If I may say so to my friend from Macquarie, we give a great deal of thought to the problem of Lithgow.
– Thank you very much.
– On the side of research and development, I have already mentioned Woomera. Our co-operation with the United Kingdom in the long-range weapons establishment has been both dramatic and productive. We know how much importance the United Kingdom attaches to this venture. Our effort in relation to it will be maintained vigorously at about the existing level for at least some years to come. Indeed, 1 should point out that what has been done at Woomera and Maralinga contributes to the development of the nuclear deterrent and, therefore, relates to something which has the highest priority in the global strategy of the Western Powers.
I wish to refer, before I conclude, to the matter of defence administration. The head-quarters of the Defence Department itself, and of all the other departments in the defence group, are in Melbourne. The chiefs of staff of the three services have their head-quarters in Melbourne. This separation between the centre of government in Canberra and these important, and indeed vital, branches in Melbourne has created difficulties. We believe that, for complete efficiency, the head-quarters of the Cabinet, of the Prime Minister’s Department, of the Treasury, of the Department of External Affairs and of Defence should all be within immediate reach of each other in the Federal Capital. Defence policy is inseparable from other aspects of Government policy and, in particular, foreign and financial and economic policy. The Government has, therefore, decided that it should take steps to repeal the separation and to improve the swift co-ordination of policy and action. To this end, we are initiating a movement to Canberra of those elements in defence which deal with policy.
– You will meet a resistance movement, will you not?
– Oh, we have met it; but 1 am a bit long in the tooth. The Minister for Defence and the Minister for the Interior are in consultation about the details of the transfer. The Government will provide the additional money for the necessary development of housing and other elements in Canberra. The first part of the move will be accomplished in two sections. At the beginning of 1959, some 500 officers from the Department of Defence and from the Departments of the Navy, Army and Air, who are associated with the operation of the Defence Committee, the Chiefs of Staff Committee and others will move. Later in that year, another 600 persons from the service departments will move, so that the service boards will meet in Canberra. Office accommodation will be available for all these people in the new permanent secretariat, while the provision of housing is being actively dealt with by my colleague, the Minister for Works and Minister for the Interior. The date of later moves has not been fixed, but there will be no undue delay. I have no doubt that the result of this transfer will be to add enormously to the efficiency of our defence and to the coordination of national policies.
Wc have also made some important changes in the higher defence organization.
The Defence Committee, which today comprises the Secretary of the Defence Department and the three Chiefs of Staff, is being made a more comprehensive body by the addition of the secretaries of the Prime Minister’s Department, and the Departments of the Treasury and of External Affairs.
The present practice of co-opting representatives of other interested departments and specialized advisers from time to time will bc continued. The Chiefs of Staff Committee, consisting of the three Chiefs of Staff, will meet regularly on purely military matters - the three Chiefs of Staff and nobody else - so that there may be no restraint placed on the expression of professional military views. In addition to this, of course, the Chiefs of Staff will continue to attend at Cabinet and Cabinet Committee meetings dealing with defence and will be in regular consultation not only with their own service Ministers - and 1 trust that that will happen with growing regularity - but with the Minister for Defence, who has an overall responsibility for defence policy.
May I conclude with some brief but general observations. In 1950, I brought down in this House the first Defence programme of my Government. The facts of Communist expansion in Europe prior to 1950 imposed an obligation on all Australians to heed the warnings of these events, and subsequently I sought a mandate to strengthen our defence system. The continuance of the greatly enlarged programmes then instituted has been justified by subsequent world events.
Prior to the death of Stalin in 1953, Communist expansion had been characterized by dramatic coups which came to be accepted as a regular occurrence. Honorable members will recall that those countries which were unfortunate enough to be occupied by the Soviet Union were taken under control. Expansion and re-armament on the part of the Communist Powers proceeded in the face of extensive disarmament by the West. When Germany surrendered after the last war, American armed strength in Europe amounted to 3,000,000 men. Within one year after the end of the war this enormous force was diminished to 390,000. The United Kingdom strength in Europe at the armistice was 1,300,000. It fell to 488,000 in one year. The Soviet Union, on the other hand, kept in active service some 3,000,000 men.
The rapid reduction of armaments by the Western Powers was an act of good faith which the Soviet Union chose to disregard. The free world had no alternative, in the face of this accumulated Communist power, to getting together in a common defence. In 1949, Nato came into being.
But international communism continued to find outlets for- its dreams of expansion. In 1950, the Communists instigated an invasion of South Korea by North Korea, and once again the shadow of war fell across the world. This event was for us one of prime significance. International communism was for the first time engaging in overt aggression in Asia. The challenge was promptly taken up and, in response to that challenge, Australian forces of all arms operated in Korea. The Soviet Union found itself blocked in its efforts to crush Europe by force and therefore decided upon new tactics in its vision of world conquest.
If only it could expunge from memory, or the memory of most of us, the suppression of the Baltic States, the coups in Bulgaria, Hungary, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Korea; if only all these things which seemed to condemn communism in the eyes of the world could be made to fade in human memory, then the way would be open for renewed efforts at expansion. The central idea of the new policy was to create an air of innocence around Soviet diplomacy in order to disguise the Communist subversions which were designed to ensure Communist success. In February of last year, Mr. Kruschev, the Communist leader, tried to dissociate communism from the personality of Stalin and from the odium attaching to his post-war works. He made a notable speech. It was published. The point about it was that the speaker made no attempt to criticize the immoral side of Stalin’s behaviour internationally. It was rather a speech of a man seeking world power and condemning his predecessor. At first the world was startled, but perhaps relieved, by these revelations, and hopes ran high that the “ cold “ war would be called off. The new tactics looked like being successful. Indeed, world commentary on Soviet affairs seemed to be dominated by those who wishfully thought that the Communists had mended their ways. At home and in the satellite countries, the Russian leaders made some small adjustments in favour of their dependants. These were enough to give some of the people who had known freedom a taste of freedom again. For example, the Hungarian people set up a government which was free from the secret police terrorism which is the normal sign of Communist government. What happened? The free regime lasted for a few days and was crushed by Russian tanks.
But the memory of Hungary in the free world is still alive, and more alive than ever having regard to recent horrors, lt speaks more clearly than all the hypocritical protestations of the apologists of international communism.
Other things happened. From our point of view they happened with particular eloquence in South-East Asia. The Communists were busy provoking mischief where they thought mischief could do most good to their own cause. In the Middle East, the Communists promoted mischief when they thought it could do most damage to the economic ties of the Middle East and European countries. I will not dwell on this matter. I may have, I hope, an opportunity of speaking about it, perhaps next Tuesday night before the debate on foreign affairs concludes.
But while the events in the Middle East have captured the attention of the world, we cannot forget that in South-East Asia, communism has intensified its programme of subversion.
The “ cold “ war has taken a savage toll of the lives and cultures of the people in South-East Asia. For example, in a period when the Federation of Malaya has been working hard, with active British cooperation to mobilize its resources for nationhood, Communist terrorists have waged a wicked campaign to destroy the very basis of the social life of the Malayan people. We are proud to think that troops from Australia have been helping the people of Malaya to defend themselves against this menace. Malaya is not, of course, a single example. There are other free nations who are struggling to maintain the free institutions necessary for the survival of their ancient traditions and the achievement of a modern independence. Those who try to excuse Communist terrorism in SouthEast Asia by suggesting that it represent a stand against colonialism ignore the fact that there are only two colonies on the South-East Asian mainland - Malaya and Singapore. In both of these States, the Governments have been elected by popular vote and are, with the active assistance of many independent nations, including our own. drawing up constitutions which will ensure eventual independence.
The aggressive Communist attitude and the slogans about “ colonialism “ also ignore the situation in free Burma where, since independence, the Communists have been waging a ceaseless campaign in arms against the Government. They are undismayed by the fact that the leader of the Burmese nation is distinguished internationally for the honesty and courage of his approach to the problems of world peace.
In view of these Communist intentions and the subtlety of the machinations and dangers which inhere in their immoral approach to international relations, the defence programme is for us of paramount importance. Let us remember that communism is still advancing in spite of the fact that it has had set-backs which may and will, as we hope, finally prove disastrous. But we have no cause to slacken our efforts to defend ourselves in co-operation with our neighbours and our friends.
I lay on the table the following paper: -
Defence - Ministerial Statement. and move -
That the paper be printed.
– I rise to order, Mr. Speaker. I direct your attention to Standing Order 61, which provides that a member shall not read his speech.
– Order! There is no point of order involved. The honorable member is out of order.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Calwell) adjourned.
The following bills were returned from the Senate: -
Without amendment -
Trading with the Enemy Bill 1957.
Removal of Prisoners (Territories) Bill 1957.
Cotton Bounty Bill 1957.
Lands Acquisition Bill 1957.
Apple and Pear Export Charges Bill 1957.
Debate resumed (vide page 571).
, - The defence statement which the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) has just finished making to the House is a sombre reminder of the dangerous, difficult and uneasy times through which we are moving. It is an aspect of security which might well linger in our minds as we resume this debate on foreign affairs.
This is a debate in a very real sense of that word because, from the outset, there have been revealed basic differences between the Government and the Opposition. There has been revealed a basic difference of approach. There have been displayed by members of the Opposition deep and wide differences of policy from that put forward by the Government. There is no need, nor would time permit me, to go over the ground of the policy so ably covered by my colleague, the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Casey). He has put before the House a positive statement of our attitude on the issues he mentioned. We are indebted to him for his reasoned and realistic exposition of Government policy. It is my purpose to examine the alternative - for that is what the speech of the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt) represents for the people of Australia. It is not sometimes appreciated by many people outside this chamber that the Opposition - honorable gentlemen opposite - provide the alternative government to the government made up of the parties joined in the Menzies-Fadden coalition. We believe it to be vital for the continued good government in this country that Opposition policy statements be scrutinized with the greatest care. The need for this scrutiny is nowhere more important than in the sphere of foreign relations, which affect the security of all of us in Australia.
On this occasion, we do not have to wander very far afield in our researches. The Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt) is the acknowledged specialist and authority of the Australian Labour party on foreign affairs. Inside the Australian Labour party he is an unchallenged authority on foreign affairs. There were some challenging voices in this Parliament not so very long ago, but those who were sufficiently vocal have been removed both from their party and from this Parliament. To-day, there is no challenging voice on the Opposition side which would question the foreign policy statements of the Leader of the Opposition.
– Hear, hear!
– I am glad to have the confirmation of the honorable member for Hindmarsh that the words that came from the Leader of the Opposition on Tuesday night fully expounded the views of the Labour party as a whole. I heard the right honorable gentleman’s speech right through. I have since taken the opportunity to read thoroughly the whole text of the speech as it is recorded in “ Hansard “. I am appalled to think - and I am sure that most thoughtful Australians who performed the same task for themselves would be appalled also to think - that what was put forward on Tuesday night by the Leader of the Opposition would be the policy of an Australian government if he ever came to power in this place.
Let me deal first with the difference of approach between the Government and the Opposition, and apply that difference of approach to what I think would be the agreed objectives of both sides of the House on a foreign policy for Australia. Our large objectives are our national security, our economic progress, the prosperity of our people and a full measure of freedom for the individual in a peaceful world. These we would agree upon, but our differences begin as to the way in which we can best go about achieving those objectives.
The Opposition, for its part, is clearly of the view that, so far as Australia is concerned, what is needed is a socialist government that places its complete reliance on the United Nations organization. With the Opposition it is United Nations first, United Nations second, United Nations last and United Nations always. On that basis, Australia would have one voice in the 80 nations that make up the membership of the organization. That would not be a very strong voice, I think it will be agreed, having regard to our members and our military and economic strength, although there have been times when the
Leader of the Opposition was active in its deliberations. Then we appeared to try to make up in stridency of voice what we lacked in actual strength.
This Government has a very different approach. We support the United Nations organization. It enshrines one of the noblest ideals of mankind. We are active members of it. We shall continue to do what we can to strengthen its effectiveness, but we do not allow ourselves to be blinded to its weaknesses and its imperfections. We have a role to play in its discussions, but it is not as big or as significant a role to play in international affairs as I believe we can usefully discharge in other directions. We believe that Australia could exert a significant influence on world affairs, not by going it alone in the councils of the United Nations organization, but through our intimate association with the United Kingdom and other countries oi the British Commonwealth, through om strong friendship with the United States of America, through our adherence to certain important principles, our belief in democracy and parliamentary institutions, our belief in free enterprise as a basis of out economic system, and our belief in the guarantee of individual liberties.
Those things unite us in sentiment with many other like-minded countries around the world. The fact of our geographical situation and the processes of economic development through which we are passing, enable us to exercise some friendly influence upon other countries of the SouthEast Asian area. Our influences are stronger, thanks to the personal contribution made in terms of character and ability by our Prime Minister and our distinguished Minister for External Affairs. These factors have combined to give Australia a significance and a moral and political influence far in excess of what might have been expected from our numbers or our material strength.
I turn now to the basic differences of policy because they will reflect the difference of approach by the political parties to which I have just made reference. The Leader of the Opposition covered a wide range. He included the Suez Canal episode, the crisis in the Middle East, the situation in Cyprus and Algeria, the meeting of Seato, the question of recognition of Red
China, the conduct of atom bomb experiments and various other matters. On every one of those he expressed a view that is contrary to the applied policy of the Australian Government. Most of his views are contrary to those held by the Governments of Great Britain and the United States to whom Australia looks for assistance in any emergency with which Australia may be confronted in years to come. They are governments from which we have had in most recent times a welcome re-affirmation of the weight of support they are prepared to bring to our aid should the need ever arise.
The Leader of the Opposition has given us a foreign policy which conflicts, so far as this Government is concerned, on every item. In the case of the United Kingdom Government and the United States Government, it conflicts on all but one viewpoint. That is the foreign policy of the Australian Labour party. It is the foreign policy of democratic socialism. It is a policy consistent with the Hobart conference decisions which, it will be recalled, marked a definite turning to the left on the part of the Labour party in Australia after it had purged itself of some of the most moderate elements in its membership. It is entirely consistent with the line taken at the recent Brisbane conference - the new Brisbane line of the Australian Labour party.
– Hear, hear!
– Honorable members opposite confirm by their applause the appreciation I am making of their policy. It is fully consistent, as I shall demonstrate fully if time permits, with the exposition of Dr. John Burton of a desirable foreign policy for the Australian Labour party, which he published in his booklet named appropriately enough “ The Alternative “.
– So what
– That is most appropriate, because what I am trying to give is the alternative to the policy of this Government. The honorable member for Hindmarsh said, “So what!” when I alleged that the policy set out by Dr. Burton is, in substance, the policy of the Labour party at this time. What is no less significant is that the policy views expressed by the Leader of the Opposition are entirely consistent, on every major policy aspect he has mentioned, with the foreign policy of the Communist party of Australia as revealed in its publication “ The Tribune “.
In the course of my duties as Minister for Labour and National Service, I come into contact with the industrial movement in which there are Communist influences, and for that reason I read “ The Tribune “ regularly. I have noticed repeatedly how consistently the foreign policy line taken by the right honorable gentleman in this place measures up to the foreign policy statements of “ The Tribune “ and other Communist publications. I am not denying that on every one of the policy matters put forward by the right honorable gentleman in this House there is room for some honest difference of opinion. But when we find that on every one of them, without exception, the view expressed by the right honorable gentleman, speaking on behalf of his party and with its authority, is entirely consistent with the view taken by the Communist party of Australia, what conclusions are we entitled to draw? Are we not entitled to draw the conclusion that Dr. John Burton’s statement is entirely consistent with what honorable members opposite believe? I have in my hand Dr. Burton’s pamphlet, “ The Alternative “. Recently a senior journalist, in this capital city, sent the following report to his newspaper: -
I have stood on the Canberra aerodrome while Dr. Evatt attempted to thrust down my throat with the tip of a stabbing finger that “The Alternative “ should be adopted as Australia’s external affairs policy.
I have yet to hear the right honorable gentleman deny that. I have yet to hear him repudiate Dr. Burton’s pamphlet as a statement of general policy and attitude which might well be adopted by the Labour party. Indeed, there are members opposite here to-night who have spoken with approval of the views of Dr. Burton. The honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Clyde Cameron) endorses them as expressing a true Labour view, and so do other members of the Opposition. If time permits I will quote one significant passage from page 71, chapter six, of “ The Alternative “. This chapter is headed “ Australia, Fear, and the
United States “ and appears in part 2 of the book, “ Australia and Asia “. The chapter opens in these terms -
It has been argued-
That is, argued by Dr. Burton in the early part of his book -
It has been argued so far that there is no basic conflict between communism and the welfare state which could threaten the security of the latter; that reasons for conflict between America and Communist centres lie in the refusal of the United States to contemplate adjustments within its own economy; that this affects all other countries endeavouring to maintain stability and prosperity; that the fear of communism in Britain is fundamentally fear of attack from the continent and not fear of communism as such; that present Western policies towards communism, based on the maintenance of the status quo, are meeting with economic, political and strategic difficulties, and in particular, are antagonising Asia; and that an alternative policy designed to eliminate the cause of unrest in backward countries is practical, and consistent with the purposes and principles of the United Nations.
Australia, like Britain, has nothing to fear from communism because it has made progress toward the welfare state, and economic justice is at a high level.
That, I suggest, is the tone of the whole approach. I am not challenging the honesty of its author. He is one of the few men of the Labour party who have the courage and the capacity to present, quite fairly, what they believe democratic socialism stands for.
When one examines the speech of the Leader of the Opposition in its detail, what becomes significant is not merely the substance of the speech, but also the tone of the comment, which frequently can be just as revealing as the substance of the speech itself. Although the Brisbane conference held that there should be co-operation with the United States, we find in the right honorable gentleman’s speech a completely offensive reference to the American Secretary of State for what is termed an abuse of the Seato conference process. Arising from the issue of red China, we find him attacking the United States on its policies in SouthEast Asia, its policies in relation to Anzus and Seato, and other matters of that character; attacking the Secretary of State for his failure to recognize red China; attacking the presence of American troops in those countries of Europe which they are obliged to defend; and attacking the presence of Australian troops in Malaya, although we are making our contribution to the security of that area. Wherever one turns, whether to a comment on my colleague, the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Casey), for his attitude towards Seato, or a reference to a so-called reactionary government in Thailand - a friendly power allied with us - one finds, repeatedly, that not merely the substance of the right honorable gentleman’s statements, but also their tone, indicate all too clearly where his sympathies lie at this time.
So, we have on the one hand the policies put forward by this Government, a government respected and valued by other countries with parliamentary democracies, free institutions, and a basic system of free enterprise. We know that our strength and security lie in the view taken of us and of our policies by the United States and by the United Kingdom. On the other hand, we have the alternative - the alternative as set out in the speech of the right honorable gentleman, a speech which has been so consistently in line with what the Communists themselves are preaching. I invite anybody to find one aspect of the right honorable gentleman’s speech to which the Communists would demonstrate any antipathy. Certainly I can point to passage after passage which would give them the greatest encouragement and comfort.
The choice for the Australian people is between a government led by the present Prime Minister and the Minister for External Affairs, run on sound judgment, and respected by the countries of the world, and a government led by the right honorable member for Barton and his colleagues with the policies that they espouse. Where would Australia look for friends if we adopted the policies followed by Labour? It is obvious enough that we would be casting off our present friends. Where we would have to look for new friends consistent with Labour’s policy is hardly less obvious.
.- On an important subject such as foreign affairs, one would have expected from the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Harold Holt), who is the Leader of the House and the deputy leader of the Liberal party, a speech that would have done credit to him and to his office. But all we have listened to for the last twenty minutes has been a farrago of nonsense. It is completely untrue for him to say, as he did, that the Labour party relies on the United Nations alone for the safety and security of Australia. He knows better than that. His colleague, the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Casey), who, I am glad to see, is in the House at the moment, and all the rest of the Government supporters burn with what they think is a politically profitable zeal whenever the word “ communism “ is mentioned. They drag it in at every opportunity. The speech of the Minister for Labour and National Service was notable for that. If it were not for the Communists presumably they would not exist politically at all. Certainly they would not have a policy. The Labour party, in its Hobart declaration, in its Brisbane declaration, and, of course, in its platform, which is available for all to see, states very specifically -
Australia is and must always remain an integral part of the British Commonwealth of Nations as well as of the United Nations Organization.
From that it will be seen that the Labour “party puts its association with the United Nations after its membership as an integral part of the British Commonwealth of Nations, and then it asserts quite properly, too, that co-operation with the United States in the Pacific is of crucial importance and must be maintained and extended. Yet the Minister for Labour and National Service has implied that a pamphlet written by a gentleman living in Canberra who was once the permanent head of the Department of External Affairs and who was sent by this Government as its High Commissioner to Ceylon is to be accepted as the gospel of the Labour party. As far as I am concerned, Dr. John Burton is entitled to express his views on anything, as is everybody else in the community; but what Dr. Burton says is not what I believe, nor is it what other honorable members of the Labour party believe. Mr. Chamberlain, the president of the Australian Labour party, made it quite clear in a statement, only a few days ago, that Dr. Burton is not the spokesman for the Australian Labour party.
– Is your leader’s speech your idea of co-operation with the United States of America?
– The Minister’s misinterpretation of the speech of the Leader of the Opposition would not be accepted, here or in the United States of America, as a fair interpretation of what he said. If the matter of co-operation with the United States is to be raised, I point out that it was the Curtin Government which .included the present Leader of the Opposition, that invoked the aid of the United States, and most Ministers sitting in this chamber at the present time, who were then members of the Opposition, protested because Mr. Curtin invited United States aid. One minute they talk about associating themselves with the United States but in reading the comments of their press supporters and even of their supporters in this House, one would think that the greatest enemy to world peace was the cabinet of the United States, and that President Eisenhower was an enemy of all progress. They come here in their unctious way and make their pretence of friendship with the United States.
I do not imagine that I need to read any more from the declaration of the Brisbane conference to show where we stand in regard to membership of the British Commonwealth of Nations.
– The honorable member does not dare read the rest.
– I shall accept the challenge. I never run away from anything. The next declaration reads as follows: -
Australia must give greater practical support to the United Nations for the purpose of carrying out the principles of the United Nations Charter, and in particular for their wholehearted application in the Pacific and South-East Asia areas. These principles cover both collective action to repel military aggression, and also - a factor which is usually forgotten - continuous action by way of conciliation and peaceful intervention for the purpose of preventing war and of bringing all armed conflict to an end.
Is there anything wrong with that as a statement of principle? The whole of the document is permeated with sentiments of that sort. The Minister for Labour and National Service sneers at the Labour party because, he says, it is a democratic socialist party. So it is! So is the Labour party of Great Britain a democratic socialist party, and it is quite on the cards that the Labour party in Great Britain will win the next election in Great Britain. Will this Government co-operate with the democratic socialist Government of Great Britain or will it refuse to have anything to do with such a government because, presumably, it will not stand for free enterprise?
How free is free enterprise? How free has free enterprise ever been since the growth of monopoly capitalism? The control of all the forces of production and distribution by monopolies, cartels, combines and trusts makes mockery of the very word “ free enterprise “. New Zealand will have an election soon, and there may be a democratic socialist government in that country. Germany will have an election at the end of this year, and it may be that the social democrats will win in Germany. Will all those countries be put outside the pale by this Government because they have not the same obscurantist ideas in regard to progress as the members of the Menzies Administration?
– They prefer socialites to socialism.
– I do not know whether the distinction is between socialists and socialites. We shall leave that to the future to decide.
The Minister for External Affairs occupied the time of the House for 45 minutes and spoke about 6,000 words to say nothing that was new and nothing that had not already appeared in the overseas and Australian press. This was particularly true of that part of his speech that referred to the Suez Canal and the Middle East crisis. His speech was another failure. It consisted of ponderous platitudes, clumsy distortions, and very little else. He, too, spoke about communism. He said that at the conference at Brisbane, apart from a defence of Communist China, there was no reference by the Australian Labour party to any specific country in Asia. The first reference was to Thailand. The Labour conference at Brisbane made no defence of Communist China, or Communist Russia, or Communist Czechoslovakia. Its declaration on Hungary and on Poland, its aversion to and condemnation of communism was just the same as it always is in matters of this sort.
We know the evil of communism. We have always protested against communism. If it were not for social democrats and democratic socialists throughout the world, communism would have triumphed long ago. There is nothing in this Government or their supporters or any of the interests that maintain and sustain them that could defeat communism. We offer an alternative, on the one hand to monopoly capitalism and, on the other hand, to communism which enables us to hold the affections and support of the great mass of peoples throughout the world. We will triumph when the Government parties die, as they always dic as a party and then resurrect themselves under a new name with a new set of principles and a new declaration of intentions.
The Minister for External Affairs could not say anything worthwhile because Cabinet would have prevented him from relating the course of events properly. Cabinet did not want him to tell the truth and discredit the Government. The Minister used words, not to express his views and give the facts, but to cloud the issues and hide their real meanings. Sir Anthony Eden at least had the decency to resign when he and the French Prime Minister, Mr. Mollet, outraged world opinion by attacking Egypt. The United States Government did not support them, nor did Canada nor South Africa. In the British House of Commons, Mr. Gaitskell, the putative and the likely Prime Minister of the United Kingdom in the very near future, said that the only country that came out of the Suez crisis with clean hands was the United States. The Menzies Government not only supported the Eden-Mollet act of aggression against Egypt but actually encouraged it. The Prime Minister of this country went to England and urged full-blooded economic sanctions. What did that mean? It meant trouble in the world. If he had been as wise as the Prime Minister of Canada, he would not have associated us with the Egyptian affair when the United Kingdom and France attacked Egypt. We did not attack Egypt. We should have followed the Canadian example. It would have been better for this country.
The Prime Minister’s action was an incredible aberration - almost as incredible as the election of the Minister for Labour and National Service as the Deputy Leader of the Liberal party. At least, when Sir
Anthony Eden had to walk the plank, no Australian Minister showed equal decency in resigning his office, lt is a notorious fact that the Minister for External Affairs was snubbed publicly by his Prime Minister in Europe and Australia. It is equally wellknown that in an attempt to be helpful - that can be said with justice of the Minister for External Affairs - he tried to meet President Eisenhower in order to see what could be done to help out in the situation. But the President would not see him. I believe that he presented himself at the front door, and they would not let him in. He could not even get in through the tradesmen’s entrance. It is a notorious fact that the Minister disagreed violently with his Prime Minister and with his Prime Minister’s clumsy interference in the Middle East. Either the Minister for External Affairs should have resigned in disgust or the Prime Minister should have resigned in disgrace. That is the alternative. But they both rub along together, and that is why we get this jargon of words, this series of meaningless phrases that convey nothing to the Austraiian people, and are not meant to convey anything, either. We of the Labour party have always known where we stood in regard to these matters. We did not want to bc associated with the Malayan campaign, and we do not want to be associated with it now. It is not because we love communism or that we want to see the success of communism in Malaya, any more than we want to see the success of Nasser in Egypt. Wc are not a colonial people. We have never been exploiters, and the association of our troops with Malaya can be, and has been, interpreted as an attempt to assist the maintenance of colonialism in that area, in order to defend the interests of the rubber planters and oil kings and the rest. It would be far better for the British Commonwealth of Nations, and far bet:er for Great Britain, that we should stand out of Malaya rather than engage in what has been euphemistically called police action. The invasion of Egypt was called police action. When British warships were actually shelling Egyptian soil, and British bombs were being rained down on the Egyptian people from the skies, our Prime Minister told us that it was only a police action. It was the same kind of action that the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics took against Hungary and Poland. But it was war to the victims. It spelt war to all who were hit by a bomb or a bullet, and that is not the way to get peace in the world to-day.
Our Prime Minister, and those associated with him, particularly the British Government, from which Sir Anthony Eden has resigned, and Old Bobbity, the Marquis of Salisbury, has gone, brought the world to the brink of a third world war, and the prospects, the awful prospects, that are conjured up by even the thought of hydrogen or atom nuclear warfare are so terrible that everything should be done to bring about a settlement of the problems by peaceful means. This is what the Asian Socialist Conference that was held in October last - attended by Mohammedans for the most part - said about the situation in the Middle East -
The Arab States and Israel, all of them members of U.N.O., should refrain from the use of force and explore all available methods for the peaceful settlement of their outstanding disputes, as indeed they pledged themselves to renounce force when they subscribed to the United Nations Charter.
The Arab States, faced with the fact of Israel’s existence, should give due recognition and work with her in harmony for the peace and prosperity of the region.
The Big Powers - the United Slates of America, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, Great Britain and France - should use their good offices to restore peace in the region rather than increase tension by abetting the arms race in any direct or indirect way.
The Colombo Powers - India, Burma, Indonesia. Ceylon and Pakistan - should use their friendship with the Asian and African nations to offer their good offices to restore peace in the region.
Everything that is being done by those who are associated with the Labour party’s philosophy throughout the world is being done in the direction of maintaining world peace. As for the Suez dispute, the desire of the Australian Labour party, and of the Federal Parliamentary Labour party, which is under fire in this House, is to preserve peace, and that can only be done through the United Nations. It cannot be done by any one power, or any group of powers. If we cannot work through the United Nations, and the United Nations cannot be made effective, there is no hope for humanity. This is the last chance. As President Eisenhower said in his first election telecast, taking peace as his theme -
Peace is linked to all persons, all problems, in all lands.
That is our faith, too. I commend this other sentiment uttered by him in more recent times -
We cannot face the future simply by walking into the past - backwards.
We have to face the future looking at it, studying the problems and realizing just what we have to do to ensure peace for our posterity. It does not. matter much to most of us in- this Parliament what happens in the next few years, but what happens to our children and grand-children is of paramount importance, and that is true of the feeling of every human being throughout the world.
The Prime Minister is leaving us in a few days time. I do not know in which role he journeys forth next week to make his deferred visit to the Emperor of Japan. We do not know whether he will depart in the role of the great mediator, or just that of the happy wanderer. He is going off, and I hope that when he comes back things will be better than they are now. We know that statements such as have been presented to us do not lead us anywhere. The Minister for External Affairs has uttered many banalities. He said -
However, the whole situation is tense and dangerous.
Then he went on to assume the grounds on which Egypt is acting. He said -
On the other hand, there is no doubt that Israel has evacuated the Gulf of Aqaba and the Gaza strip, on the clear assumption that these two areas would be taken over by the United Nations force … If this assumption is violated then the situation between Egypt and Israel again becomes critical and dangerous. Good faith, 1 believe we would all agree, is essential.
You do not settle world events on assumptions; you settle them on facts and goodwill. Good faith is essential. We of the Labour party are prepared to trust the good faith of humanity.
.- The Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Casey) has made an excellent analysis of the world situation, and has put before the House a practicable policy for the Australian Government to pursue, as it must, in association with its friends. 1 do not propose to repeat what he said, but 1 shall state my views si mpi and plainly. First, I wish to make som comment on the speech of the Leader oi the Opposition (Dr. Evatt), because 1 take it that he expressed the official attitude of
Ih.e Labour party on foreign affairs to-da Secondly, 1 propose to make some com ment upon the present and future roles oi the United Nations. What is the reason for the problems that beset the world to-day in the Middle East? It is not the existence of racial antagonism, according to th> Leader of the Opposition. The Minister made some reference to that. He spent some time in the Middle East, where hi occupied a position of great responsibily and high authority. In regard to his sei vice, he might say, as a certain Moroccan did, “ I have done the State some service and they know it “. The Opposition knows the service that he rendered in that part of the world and the experience that he has. gained from it. Fortunately, there are not many Australians who will believe the Leader of the Opposition when he says that racial antagonisms betwen Arabs and Jews do not exist, because thousands oi Australian ex-servicemen know very well that such antagonisms do exist. Many Australians have heard opinions expressed by Arabs about Jews, and by Jews about Arabs, and have heard them stated in the most emphatic, not to say the most coarse, terms. Therefore, the Leader of the Opposition will not mislead many Australians when he passes over those antagonisms as if they did not exist.
Once again, the Leader of the Opposition has spoken as if there were no dictator in Egypt who had written a book - it was referred to the other evening by the honorable member for Perth (Mr. Chaney) - setting out, as plainly as Hitler set out his ambitions in “ Mein Kampf “, his design to bestride the Middle East and to drive Europeans and their interests, bag and baggage, out of that part of the world. The Leader of the Opposition has spoken as if there were no dictator who had been the architect of an alliance of all the encircling Arab powers designed to drive Israel into the sea; as if that dictator had not used the radio to blare haired against Israel in every bazaar and village throughout the Middle East; as if that dictator had not instigated Fedayeen raids across the border between Egypt and Israel; as if he had not compelled the Israelis, in their villages surrounded by barbed wire and protected by watch-towers and searchlights, to lie, both men and women, beside loaded rifles for long periods alert to repel such raids; and as if that dictator had not obtained Russian arms and used them to threaten Israel. I heard the Leader of the Opposition’s speech with close attention, and I later read it in “ Hansard “ with great care. So far as he is concerned, these things do not exist, and the reason for the unrest in the Middle East, and the cause of all our problems, is “ the struggle of the world monopolies to control oil supplies “. For him, it is a simple squabble between the oil monopolies! Furthermore, the right honorable gentleman suggested international control of oil in the Middle East.
Opposition Members. - Hear, hear!
– I wait for the “Hear, hears! “ which are sure to come. International control of oil in the Middle East through the United Nations must mean control exercised by Russia among others. Is not Russia a member of the United Nations, and has not it a representative on the Security Council? So, if the Leader of the Opposition has his way, we shall have Russia presiding with others over the flow of oil from the Middle East. That is a very clever design! I shall deal more fully with oil in a moment. The Leader of the Opposition is horrified at imperialism and colonialism in the Middle East - the imperialism of Great Britain as shown in the Suez crisis, and in Cyprus; and the colonialism of France in Algeria! Apparently, the right honorable gentleman has not observed the advance of colonialism in eastern Europe from the Baltic Sea to the Adriatic Sea. He made no reference to that. He condemns only one colonialism- the alleged colonialism of Great Britain and France.
The Leader of the Opposition also turned his jaundiced eye to the Far East and to the South-East Asia Treaty Organization, which he said was an organization “ for the purpose of opposing radical, socialistdemocratic or Communist governments “, and he stated that the Minister for External Affairs should throw his weight equally “ into stopping fascist aggression within a country “. Those were the right honorable gentleman’s, very words. Presumably, therefore, Mr. Acting Deputy Speaker, the villains of the piece in South-East Asia are Mr. Pibulsonggram, in Thailand, whom he attacked specifically, and, I suppose, people like the late President Ramon Magsaysay. of the Philippines, and Mr. Suhrawardy, of Pakistan. I suppose that these are the villains of the piece, and 1 suppose that the right honorable gentleman’s heroes would be people like Ho-chi-Minh, the leader of the Communists in North Viet Nam, and Chin Peng, the leader of the Communists in Malaya, who, I suppose, are the people who are trying to establish radical, socialist-democratic or Communist governments in the countries of SouthEast Asia. Apparently, these radical, socialist-democratic or Communist governments are those with which we are very familiar^ - those which use the whole apparatus of tyranny, secret police, torture, peoples’ courts, slave labour, mass purges, and the mass slaughter of minorities that do not conform. I repeat for the third time that these are the “ radical, socialistdemocratic or Communist governments “ that the Leader of the Opposition would like to see firmly installed in South-East Asia. The right honorable gentleman would like to see red China recognized by this country, so that it might have an embassy here from which, no doubt, it would be able to conduct activities similar to those formerly conducted by Mr. Petrov from another embassy that was established here until comparatively recently. The Leader of the Opposition would like also to see red China accepted by and established in the United Nations where it could reinforce the Soviet Union and its Communist satellites in their use of that organization as a forum for their propaganda, which they use to throw a spanner into the works wherever it is possible to make matters more difficult for the Western Powers. The right honorable gentleman would like to see that position attained by red China, which, as the Minister for External Affairs has pointed out. has an army of 2,500,000 men,and which at this moment is waging war through guerrilla forces that it sustains in Lacs, Malaya and Burma.
The right honorable gentleman would like also to see abandoned thenuclearteststhat are to be conducted by the United Kingdom at Christmas Island, which he describes as shocking. Many such tests have been conducted by Russia, but has the Leader of the Opposition ever protested about them? He once wrote an infamous letter to Mr. Molotov, a friend of his in the Soviet Union, but he did not gain very much applause in this country for doing so. Letters written to Mr. Molotov, if he is still in a position of influence in Russia, urging that the Soviet Union desist from these tests, might be of some value, but the suggestion made by the right honorable gentleman that tests of this kind should be unilaterally abandoned by the West is tantamount to a suggestion that we should stand naked and unarmed before our enemies. It is true, of course, that we should at all times deal justly with other nations, and that we should urge right courses upon our friends.But, above all, we must stand shoulder-to-shoulder with those friends even though we disagree with them in some details. That is only common sense.
Having made those observations about the views of the Leader of the Opposition, I turn to the problem of the Middle East. I suggest that there are three vital factors in the situation there. The first is that oil is vital to Western Europe. Without oil, the wheels of industry will not turn in Western Europe, all activity will cease, its people will become unemployed, and its strength will be gone. Without oil, it can no longer defend itself or play a part in defending the Western world and Western traditions. So oil is a vital interest to Britain and Western Europe generally. The second factor is that there has arisen in Egypt a dictator whose expressed design is to remove Europeans from the Middle East, and to prevent Western Europe from getting oil from that part of the world except upon such terms as he and his friends may decide to extort from the West. The third factor is that this dictator, although not important as the leader of a people about whom Australians at least have an opinion that there is no need for me to express in this place, has the aid of Russia, which enables him to sit astride the oil resources that are the vital interest of Western Europe.
That is the fundamental position in the Middle East. A solution was attempted by the British and the French, taking advantage, I think, of the initiative of the Israelis, but not in concert with them. ] take it that this attempt at a solution was made on the basis of the old Latin maxim, “ Salus populi suprema lex “, which means, “ The welfare of the people is the supreme law “, and which justifies even war.
What is aggression? One can have aggression where not a shot has been fired and not a bomb has been dropped. ] suggest that if oil is cut off from Western Europe, then Western Europe will die as surely as will a tree that has been ringbarked; and one can kill a tree by ringbarking it as easily as by chopping it down. So, the British and the French stepped in and resorted to armed force. They may havebeenrightorwrongaboutthatIam notarguingthatpintnow,Iamsimply sayingthattherewasavitalinterest,and that was the action they took. They might have been right or wrong in the means they adopted to safeguard that interest, but that they had a right to safeguard it, there can be no doubt. So, I say to-day the position is that it is the United Nations which is in the dock. The Leader of the Opposition, and every speaker on the opposite side, has got up and pilloried Great Britain and France, put them in the dock and accused them of every kind of crime; but I say that to-day it is the United Nations that is in the pillory - it is the United Nations that is in the dock, and it is the United Nations that has to answer the charge. The British, the French and the Israelis have left Egypt. The United Nations ordered that they should, and they did. They have purged any crime they may have committed- if it was a crime to look to their interests and their safety in the way they did.
But what has Nasser, the dictatorof Egypt, done? Egypt is in breach of the Constantinople Convention. It is in breach of the six principles for the control of the canal as laid down by the Security Council; it is in breach of the armistice agreement made between Egypt and Israel, because Nasser maintains the right of belligerency in his attitude in respect of the canal and the Straits of Tiran; and it is in breach of the decision of the United Nations a few years ago that Egypt should allow Israeli ships free passage through the canal. So, Nasser is clearly in breach of the agreement and clearly in breach of the decisions of the United Nations. Now we have the extraordinary paradox that honorable members opposite are condemning not the person who is now in breach of these things and who is defying the United Nations, but the people who, if they did defy it, have now purged their crime and are now exculpated. The British and the French have withdrawn from Egypt. It is not they who should be condemned.
– And there are hundreds of Egyptians dead. That cannot be purged from the record.
– And I should have mentioned that the Leader of the Opposition did not mention the thousands of dead in Hungary. The United Nations was absolutely powerless so far as Hungary was concerned. It has shown that there is one law for Russia, that Russia can do what she likes where her vital interests are concerned - as I. concede they were in Hungary - but if the British and French take the same kind of action to safeguard interests equally vital to them, the United Nations can compel them to toe the line. So, there is this disparity in treatment. An institution like the United Nations must fall into contempt unless it can enforce its will equally among all. It has failed in regard to Russia. That is bad enough. What is it going to do now about Egypt, because it is Egypt that is in contempt of the United Nations to-day? Honorable members opposite ought to be urging action against Egypt. They are upholders of the United Nations; we are all upholders of the United Nations. We all want to see it succeed because, in the nuclear age, we know there is no alternative. Rather, we hope we are not going to be forced to rely upon other alternatives. We want to see the United Nations succeed, but how can it succeed except by having its will enforced?
Now, I want to have a look at the United Nations. The Minister mentioned that the Security Council was originally designed to be that place where the Great Powers could use their influence. Of course, the veto destroys its utility. Then, we have the resolution that was passed some years ago during (he accidental absence of Russia at the time of the Korean crisis - the “ combining for peace resolution “. That resolution transferred power to the 81 members of the General Assembly. I remind the House that 37 of those 81 members belong to the Afro-Asian bloc and eleven of them belong to the Communist bloc; and in Africa, within the next five years, three, four or perhaps, five new States will come into existence and will adhere to the Afro-Asian bloc. Then, within a very short time, Malaya, Singapore and the West Indies will be members of the United Nations. If all people were prepared to look upon the problems of to-day without a jaundiced eye -if they were prepared, first of all, to do justice; and secondly, if they were prepared to use their forces to put teeth into the United Nations itself - if they were prepared to have implemented with armed force the resolutions that they so readily pass - then it would be a very effective assembly. Too many of those nations that vote so readily in the Assembly are prepared to move neither men nor ships nor guns to enforce the decisions that they endorse so easily.
The honorable member for Corangamite (Mr. Mackinnon) has referred to the fact that they have shown themselves to be moved by all sorts of extraneous considerations - race, colour, colonialism - or, perhaps, by mere log-rolling; you vote for us on this and we will vote for you on that. So, it is a heterogeneous assembly of 81 nations, many of which have no interest in justice, and are prepared to do nothing in a substantial way to implement the resolutions they pass. Many of them are moved by prejudices connected with race, colonialism or something else; and the majority of them are going to rule the world within the next few years. All I can say is, let the United Nations succeed. Let it enforce its will against Egypt. Let :it forget about Britain and France. Its will has been enforced against them. I shall listen with interest to hear the honorable member for Bonython (Mr. Makin) tell us how it is going to enforce its will against Egypt. This institution of the United Nations has yet to succeed.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- The honorable member for Bradfield (Mr. Turner) followed the accepted party lines of debate, and I suggest that is a poor substitute for a constructive argument to justify the Government’s policy on this matter. I am confident the constituency can be trusted to assess correctly his disparagement of the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt) and of the Australian Labour party. I suggest to honorable members opposite that the time has surely come for them to realize that the political party which enjoys the support of the majority of the Australian people at the polls is deserving of something much beter than the traducing and maligning to which we have become accustomed to hear from the Government side.
I am glad that this debate upon foreign affairs has been initiated because it is desirable that the public mind should be informed upon the great issues arising in world affairs. Those issues are deserving of their deepest interest. I am afraid that to date there has been a tendency to look upon them as something rather removed from the interests of the ordinary member of the community. With the development of atomic energy and other forms of power now identified with weapons of war, the public is becoming increasingly concerned about these issues which are of vital importance to the community in general. That being so, it is desirable that we should make a correct assessment of our responsibilities and of the influence and power we should use to support causes that will help to preserve world peace. Improved world relations, no less than any other reform, do not come easily. During crises, when some countries have been demanding self government and the differences between others have needed to be reconciled, it has been a grand achievement to steer the world clear of serious consequences. The issues in dispute could have precipitated another world conflict, but the United Nations has done signal service in avoiding such a calamity. This world authority should receive loyal and consistent support. For countries such as Australia, and for the smaller nations, the United Nations is the one place in which their voices can be heard on matters in dispute. I know of no other place in which our voice could be heard with equal effect and our views given the consideration and respect that are rightly due to them.
I have had the opportunity to judge the worth of the United Nations. For many years it was my great privilege to lead the Australian delegation to the United Nations and to act on behalf of the Leader of the Opposition, who was at that time the Minister for External Affairs, in presenting the Australian policy to that organization, 1 found that Australia’s views on international affairs were respected. We were, therefore, able to work for a better understanding of the world’s problems. Unfortunately, Australia has now lost its position, mainly because of the lukewarm and half-hearted attitude adopted by members of the Government. The affairs of the United Nations are regarded as of minor importance by honorable gentlemen opposite. They look more to military action to make people submit to their will, and do not pay regard to the rights or wrongs of those people. Some of the interests that support this attitude have unmercifully exploited areas for oil, rubber and minerals, and given mighty little in return. They have had no consideration for the people who have made those wonderful resources available to them. But since the war we have entered a new era. To-day, people in those exploited areas are demanding that they share in these great riches so that they may have a better standard of living. They have a perfect right to enjoy the better standards of living that could thereby be made available to them.
No one can deny to the Leader of the Opposition the credit due to him for the part- he played in helping to establish a world authority which has as its objects the preservation of peace and the reconciliation of differences between nations. Unfortunately, the world press has been unfavorable to the United Nations. The press is more concerned with conflicts and provocative matters, and brings contention into the lives of people. When I attended the first meeting of the United Nations in London, I found that the world press did not regard it as worthy of support and encouragement. i asked myself whether there was any relation between that attitude and the attitude of those who resent any moves for world peace. When a move is made to establish permanently good relations between nations, the value of shares owned by certain people fall on the stock exchange. I have noticed frequently that when there has been a possibility of agreement between major nations, the complaint is made that such agreement would depreciate the value of stocks and shares. The way in which agencies to-day are prepared to exert themselves in vital ^natters does them no credit.
I hope that, when the Prime Minister <Mr. Menzies) visits Japan in the near future, he will include in his itinerary a visit to Hiroshima and Nagasaki. He will then learn something of the realities of nuclear warfare and what it meant to many innocent people who had no voice and took no part in deciding that war be made upon other nations. The people of the world are becoming very concerned about the effects of nuclear explosions on people who are removed possibly from the immediate realm of conflict but who can be affected by conditions caused by such explosions which can bring suffering and permanent injury to future generations. Because of that, I support the suggestion of the Leader of the Opposition that a meeting should be held of the principal countries concerned with the object of coming to some agreement with respect to the proper direction and application of nuclear science. The leaders of these nations should be brought together with a view to arriving at some proper understanding of ‘the use of this power. Unless that is done, our civilization will be threatened with extermination.
That danger is so grave that an earnest effort must be made to avert it. A sincere appeal should be made to those who are responsible so that we can have some proper understanding as to how this power can be used, not to exterminate, but to benefit mankind. The Government should exercise its influence by direct resolution upon this matter in the United Nations. There is no reason why the Government cannot initiate negotiations of that character in the organization. I believe that it would be possible to secure unanimous support for such action among the nations of the world. The labour party earnestly makes this appeal to the Government in an attempt to bring in a new era and give fresh hope to the people of the world and so help to dispel the fear that now prevails so universally in regard to this matter.
Members of the Labour party have been criticized because they have dared to question the attitude adopted by other governments, even those of other British countries. We have also been criticized because we have suggested procedures that should be adopted to give expression to democratic ideas and principles. Honorable members opposite feel that we have acted reprehensively in questioning the policy of the United Kingdom; but our view is in line with the majority opinion of the British people. Sufficient proof of that has been given at the successive by-elections in Great Britain. The results of those elections have proved that the Government of Great Britain does not express the view of the British people; and that fact confirms the view that we have been prepared to express. It is consistent with the common view held by the great British community. In that respect, therefore, we have nothing for which to apologize to honorable members opposite or to any one else. Our attitude conforms to the forward thinking and policy that will lead this world towards a better expression of life and give it the security and well-being that every man, woman and child deserves.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Downer) adjourned.
Motion (by Mr. Casey) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
.- I have a very important, and, in my view, a serious matter, to raise regarding the Department of Labour and National Service. I have received a complaint with regard to an application for a vacancy that was advertised by the department for a research officer in Brisbane. The complaint made to me was that the interviewing officers, instead of restricting themselves to ascertain the academic qualifications of the applicants, were evidently greatly concerned as well to ascertain their political viewpoint. There is no doubt, first of all, that an applicant for such a job has to get a clearance from the security service and then, if he gets through the security service check, he has to be interrogated by the interviewing officers as to his political viewpoint. Members of the Labour party, who shun deceit and lying, and answer the questions honestly are, therefore, disqualified for appointment.
– Does the honorable member really believe that?
– I certainly do believe it, and I can prove it from the communication to me from the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Harold Holt). I will read first the original letter I. wrote to the Minister on 22nd February this year. 1 wrote -
I have received a complaint regarding the methods employed by Interviewing Officers of the Queensland Branch of your Department when dealing with applicants for appointment to various Departmental positions.
This particular matter refers to the filling.late last year, of the position of Research Officer, Grade 1, Department of Labour and National Service, Brisbane.
My information is that applicants were questioned, not only on their qualifications, academic and otherwise, but had questions directed to them which could only have been designed to ascertain the political views of the person concerned.
I received a reply from the Minister. He wrote to me on two occasions, and honorable members will notice that the second communication is completely at variance with the first. In the letter he wrote on 8th March, 1956, he said -
It would, of course, be completely contrary to Departmental Policy and Public Service practice for applicants to be asked such questions and. after making inquiries, I am satisfied that there was no departure from policy or practice in this case.
No record is kept of questions asked in the course of such interviews nor of the answers given by the applicants. The three officers who conducted the interviews for this particular position were, however, asked to recall the subjects on which the applicants were questioned. It is clear that the questions were directed to ascertaining the academic qualifications of the applicants, their experience within or outside the Public Service or during war service relative to the work to be undertaken, their experience in the compilation and interpretation of statistics, their general knowledge of industry and commerce in Queensland, their experience in research and investigational work, their general knowledge of current employment trends in Queensland and their knowledge of and interest in current economic problems such as the economic effects of migration and the possible effects of automation. Applicants were also questioned on their knowledge of the White Paper “ Full Employment in Australia “. Questions related to these subjects are obviously relevant to the suitability of applicants for a position involving analysis and interpretation of employment statistics and the economic factors affecting employment. Each of the interviewing officers has given an assurance that he does not recall asking any question that would have any bearing on the political beliefs of the applicants, or involve any expression of political attitudes.
Then I again wrote to the Minister, and this time I was able to give him samples of the questions that were asked of these applicants. I ask honorable members to keep in mind the various kinds of qualifications to which the questions to these men, as claimed by the Minister in his original letter, had been restricted. Here is a sample of the questions -
Do you think the present unemployment is the result of deliberate Federal Government policy, particularly recent policy?
What are your views on Government immigration policy? Should it be suspended, should it comprise a greater quota of British or nonBritish?
What are your views on import and credit restrictions and are they necessary and effective?
Can any honorable member claim that questions of this kind should be asked of an applicant for a research officer’s job? These questions have no relation to the duties or functions of a research officer. Questions asking an applicant’s opinion regarding important political matters were,
I submit, quite improperly put. Let us now examine the Minister’s final reply, because it is very interesting. On this occasion, when he is put right up to the hurdle, the Minister does not deny that this kind of question was asked. In his letter to me, dated 4th April, 1957, the Minister said -
My enquiries reveal that the type of questions asked and method of interview to which you have directed attention, have been developed in the Department over a period of years-
He does not say that the questions were not asked, but that they were developed over a period of years. He went on to say - and are regularly employed for that kind of purpose. They are, in no sense, a product of some Ministerial direction from myself-
The Minister, realizing the significance of these questions, now says, “ 1 had nothing to do with directing this kind of question to be asked. These questions have been developed over a period of years “. He went on to say - and certainly do not possess the partisan political significance which you have attached to them. While it could be possible for someone in such an interview situation to misinterpret the purpose of questions put to them, it is difficult to imagine the type of person who would make a successful Research Officer in the Public Service, regarding such questions as designed to elicit his political beliefs, when they are put to him by senior and responsible officers of the Public Service.
Does it matter particularly who it is who directs the questions? The important thing is the type of question and the kind of information that the questions are designed to obtain. Whether or not the questions were asked by a public servant and the information later submitted to the Minister, the fact is that these applicants for a research officer’s job were asked questions that had nothing to do with research at all but were designed to find out whether the applicants were members or supporters of the Australian Labour party, whether they had radical views, or whether they were opposed to the policy of this Government. If they were opposed to it they disqualified themselves.
Let me tell the Minister one thing before I conclude. It is rather significant that every applicant who answered the questions in the way that a Labour man would answer them did not succeed in getting an appointment. The person who got the appointment was a person who had evidently answered the questions to the satisfaction of the Minister. It is rather interesting, also, to note that the Minister, in order to try to avoid his responsibility in the matter, said that while there were appeals in this case against the appointment, all the appeals were dismissed, and the selection committee’s nominee was the man who eventually got the job. What has that got to do with the question? It do3s not matter whether the appeals failed or succeeded. What I am saying is that this Government, in making its appointments in the department in question, has set out deliberately to place a disqualification upon anybody who has views sympathetic to the Labour party and is endeavouring to have a carefully selected staff, based on the knowledge that the individuals who occupy these positions are supporters of the Government and its policy. I am certain that this is a practice that will not be approved by a majority of the Australian people, and the sooner this practice is known to the public, the sooner we can expect some action to have it discontinued.
– I wish to bring to the notice of the House a somewhat serious matter. As honorable members know, after the recent Russian attack on Hungary Australia gave refuge to a number of Hungarian immigrants. They fled from Hungary at the risk of their lives, leaving behind them their possessions. Included among them were some tradesmen who came out without the documentary records of their qualifications. This matter was referred during last December to the Central Trades Committee, Engineering Section, and that body passed a very proper resolution to the effect that if these Hungarians, being victims of Communist aggression, claimed to be tradesmen and produced prima facie evidence thai they were tradesmen, they should be tradetested in the normal way, and, if they passed that test and subsequently swore statutory declarations that they were tradesmen, they should be accepted and registered as such.
This, of course, was not an unprecedented circumstance, because in the case of immigrants from countries other than Hungary, where the normal certificates are not given, such tests have been applied for a long time. Some time later, the Australian
Engineering Union endeavoured to have these people refused registration. The matter is set out in a circular of 19th February, 1957.
It may be said that this matter is unimportant. That is not so. What happened was that at the beginning of the year the Australian Engineering Union fell once more under Communist control, and these are the first fruits of that control. Does not this House find it somewhat obscene that the long arm of the Kremlin can stretch out here into Australia and persecute the people who have fled from Russian murder in Budapest? I hope the House is seised of the enormity of this affair. It is unfortunate that the Australian Engineering Union has once more fallen under Communist control, but what is even worse is that this fall has been engineered and helped by the members of the party which the right honorable member for Barton (Dr. Evatt) leads, the so-called Evatt Labour party. There is complete and conclusive evidence of this. The Australian Engineering Union is governed by a council of five, of which only three have voting rights. The president has only a casting vote, the secretary not a vote at all.
– What is his name?
– The president is a Mr. Horsburgh. The secretary is a Mr. Deverall, but I understand that he is later to be succeeded by a Mr. Garland, a Communist sympathiser, who has the active support of the Australian Labour party. The voting members of the council at present are a Mr. Stone, a left-wing member of the Labour party, a Mr. Hennessy, whom I have seen described in the press as a Communist - the “ Sydney Morning Herald” so described him on the 19th October last - and a Mr. Wilson, another Communist who got in on a unity ticket. He ran linked with a Mr. O’Brien, and with the support of the Evatt Labour party. This is, unfortunately, the undisputable fact. What is happening is that the Evatt Labour party has two weapons by which it endeavours to get the Communists back into control of the trade unions. The first weapon is the dirty ballot. It tries, when it can, to prevent clean ballots and to support the practices of ballot rigging.
– I rise to order, Mr. Speaker. As a member of the Australian
Labour party, I regard it as absolutely offensive that the honorable member for Mackellar should say that we are supporting dirty ballots. 1 desire the withdrawal of that word.
– Order! I think that the honorable member for Mackellar should* withdraw the word.
– I shall so withdraw it, and I shall say “ obstructing clean* ballots “.
The second thing that the Evatt Labour people do, when this method fails, is even, more treacherous. They support the socalled unity tickets on which the Communist and the Labour man run side by side, and they deceive the members of the union into supporting Communists in Labour guise. They give them an alibi so that honest opponents of communism in the union are induced to vote for Communists without knowing what they are doing. This has happened in the Australian Engineering Union with the result, as I have just described, that these Russian agents, these Soviet agents in the union, are able to project into Australia the terrorism which the Russian troops used against these Hungarian refugees in Budapest only a few months ago. That is a dreadful thing, and the House had better take notice of it.
Let me go a little further! Just recently, there has been another election for the secretaryship of the union. A Mr. Garland is, I understand, the winner of that contest, with the support of members of the Opposition, against the other candidate, a Mr. Bourke, who, I understand, is antiCommunist. Mr. Garland’s history is this: In April, 1956, a Mr. Thompson wrote a letter to the federal executive, which was then investigating the affairs of the New South Wales branch. He was a justice of the peace and he made certain allegations about Mr. Garland’s part in a Communist intrigue to get Communists into key positions inside the Australian Labour party. The federal executive refused to investigate these circumstances. Subsequently, Mr. Garland was expelled by his Labour branch - I think it was the South Waverley branch - for some other Communist intrigue. The result of that was that, within a couple of months, the Labour party dissolved that branch, and when they reformed it they refused entry to it of all anti-Communists on whom they could lay their finger. One of the people to whom they refused entry was a member of this House, Mr. Gordon Anderson. I think he was then the member for KingsfordSmith. He was refused entry into his -own branch because he was an antiCommunist. Not only was he refused entry, but his whole family also were refused entry, and eighteen people who lived in the same street as he did were refused entry, too, because no anti-Communist taint is allowed inside an Australian Labour party branch these days.
It is most regrettable, sir, that this has happened. 1 think it should be a warning to the country of the new tactics of the Communists and of the new co-operation they are receiving from the right honorable memtier for Barton and his cohorts.
.- The honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. “Wentworth) has stated that certain tradesmen who escaped from behind the iron curtain, after the Hungarian revolt, came to this country and were not permitted to practice as engineers because of the action of the Australian Engineering Union. He said that that proved conclusively that that union was doing the work of the Communist party.
Government Members. - Hear, heart
– Honorable members opposite say “ Hear, hear! “. I point out that, throughout Australia to-day, medical practitioners are being refused permission to practice because of pressure by the British Medical Association upon governments, irrespective of the fact that these medical practitioners have diplomas and are able to provide prima facie evidence of their capacity to act as medical practitioners. But 1 do not say that that proves conclusively that all the members of the British Medical Association are Communists, or that they are dominated by the Communist party. I do say, however, that the illogical and absurd attitude of the honorable member for Mackellar indicates that he will take any action that he can to enable him to cast reflections upon the members of the Australian Labour party. Why does he do so? What is his record in fighting communism in this country, either within the trade unions or outside them?
– He evicted a returned soldier from his land
– Honorable members on this side of the House have fought against the Communists within the trade unions.
– You have not since you changed your politics!
– Order! The honorable member for Lilley (Mr. Wight) will cease interjecting.
– The honorable member for Lilley says that I have not fought the Communists since 1 changed my politics. 1 say to him that my politics have always been the same. Let me refer to some of the members of the Anti-Communist Labour party who have been lauded by supporters of the Government. They include Mr. John Cremean, a member of the Federated Clerks Union of Australia, and Mr. Keon, also a member of that union, neither of whom was present during the four years in which the fight took place within the clerks’ union to exclude members of the Communist party. Then there is Mr. Mullens, another member of the Federated Clerks Union of Australia. Did he take part in the fight within the industrial movement to exclude from office members of the Communist party?
– Tell us what you did.
– I did so, but they did not. They were willing, within the precincts of this Parliament, to give lip service to anti-communism, but on the battlefield where communism has to be fought they have been conspicuous by their absence, as has the honorable member for Mackellar. In days gone by, when communism was on the “ up and up “, the honorable member for Melbourne (Mr. Calwell) and I were fighting Communists on the street corners in the electorates, while the honorable member for Mackellar was presenting them with a cup.
The only object of these persistent attacks on the Labour party is to divert the attention of the people from the economic ills from which they are suffering under a government which is looking after its own supporters particularly well, indeed too well, but is disregarding the claims of the age pensioners who have been denied quarterly cost of living adjustments and some of whom are living in fowl houses and sheds.
In my electorate, 37 people are living in one house of eight rooms, and the landlord is raking in £40 a week. Those are the things from which the honorable member for Mackellar and the playboy deputy leader of the Liberal party, who is sitting at the table, wish to divert the attention of the people. But I assure the honorable member for Mackellar that Nemesis is catching up with him. As the honorable member wanders through the King’s Hall, I frequently see him looking furtively over his shoulder. If I were he, I would be doing the same thing, because, with an uneasy conscience, I would be wondering what the people behind me and around me were thinking about me.
Mfr. HAROLD HOLT (Higgins- Minister for Labour and National Service) [10.51]. - The honorable member for Scullin (Mr. Peters) has produced a herring which could very fittingly be described as a red herring. I do not want the House to divert its attention from the very important and, I believe, very serious matter which has been ventilated to-night by the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth). Whether or not honorable gentlemen opposite agree with what is being done by the Australian Engineering Union, they have a responsibility to examine the facts and to come to a conclusion upon them. I shall try to place before them the facts as they are and as they have been authoritatively represented to me, because this is not the first occasion on which this matter has come to my notice. Long before the honorable member for Mackellar evinced to mc any interest in it, it had attracted the interest of the Department of Labour and National Service and of myself, because we could see the very serious implications which were developing from the action that was being taken by the Australian Engineering Union in relation to Hungarian refugees who had been brought to Australia by this Government to become permanent settlers.
I pay a tribute to the way in which the trade union movement generally has cooperated with this Government and the previous government in assimilating in the industrial life of this country people who have come here from other countries. There has been good sense, goodwill and co-operation in the arrangements that have been worked out and which, on the one hand, have safeguarded the trade standards of the Australian unionist and, on the other hand, have provided reasonable opportunities for those who had the appropriate trade skill in their country of origin or former employment to enter corresponding employment in Australia. I think most honorable members have some knowledge of the Tradesmen’s Rights Regulation Act and of its history. It dates back to the war period, when the unions accepted a programme of dilution of labour as part of their contribution to the war effort. We, as a Government, gave them some protection so that in the years after the war those who had made it possible for people, who lacked the trade standards and the degree of apprenticeship required, to be admitted to the unions did not suffer as a result of the concession they had made. The original legislation had a limited life; but it has been renewed from time to time, just as legislation giving preference to exservicemen has been renewed. On the last occasion on which we examined it, one of the powerful arguments that were advanced by the representatives of the trades unions was that it not only gave proper protection to Australian trade standards but also facilitated the admission into Australian unions of people who come here under our immigration programme. In that respect, it has worked well.
There have been established central trades committees on which are represented the employers and employees, with a chairman drawn from my department. There is a local committee in each State, which functions under policy laid down by the relevant central trades committee. Normally, an immigrant is required to produce papers to indicate the kind of training he has had or the length of apprenticeship he has served, and where they are accepted as being satisfactory no difficulty arises. In some cases documentation is not entirely adequate, and, in suitable circumstances, provision is made for a trade test. These facts may not be interesting to the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard), who has just yawned, but they are of vital importance to people who have fled from the threat of death in Hungary and have come here to make their lives secure.
– The Minister ought to spend a week at the Williamstown hostel. Tt would do him good.
- Mr. Speaker, it is not easy to present this story in a consecutive manner, and I ask for your assistance.
– Government supporters ought to think about that sometimes, too.
– Order! I ask the House to come to order. If time permits, all honorable members will have an opportunity to speak.
– I was saying that there have been situations in which, with the agreement of the parties concerned, a trade test has been carried out. Sometimes they have been conducted in Europe and sometimes in Australia.
It is quite significant, as the honorable member for Mackellar rightly pointed out, that there has been a change in the composition of the Australian Engineering Union so far as its top direction is concerned. There is now Communist control of policy in the union. Of the five top members, the secretary and the chairman do not have a vote. However, the three members of the council all have a vote, and of those three members two are Communists. As the honorable member for Mackellar stated, they have been assisted into office by the unity ticket technique which has been made possible through the co-operation of members of the Australian Labour party. It is significant that, following the change in top direction, there was issued this instruction regarding, not all immigrants, but Hungarian immigrants; and that misleading propaganda has be:n scattered about in typical Communist fashion.
I have in my hand a printed copy of a resolution which was circulated at the Newport railway workshops. I shall quote a passage from it, because it demonstrates the technique which the Communists employ in such cases. It reads -
That this mass meeting of A.E.U. members employed at Newport railway workshops condemns the action of the federal Government and the central trades committee in flouting the tradesmen’s rights regulations.
The reference to “ flouting “ is a reference to the action of the central trades committee after it had looked at this matter and had discovered that some of these unfortunate Hungarians had to flee their country with virtually nothing more than the clothes they stood in. I have no doubt that, in some cases, if they had attempted to return to their homes to obtain the documents which would have established their past experience, they would have run the risk of imprisonment or even death. The central trades committee, on which the employers, the employees and the Government are represented, unanimously came to the conclusion that in a case where suitable documentation could not be provided, if the Hungarian immigrant concerned produced a statutory declaration which, on the face of it, established his experience in this type of occupation, a trade test would be given, and if he passed the test he would get a certificate admitting him to the union.
That is the reference to flouting the Tradesmen’s Rights Regulation Act. But the significant fact is that Italians and Dutchmen have been permitted to do this. There has been no suggestion that in their cases there has been a flouting of the Tradesmen’s Rights Regulation Act. This allegation is suddenly made in respect of Hungarians who have the misfortune to come from 3 country which is being oppressed by communism. The Government of that country, therefore, has the support of the Communists in this country. Those people who flee from Communist oppression there incur the spleen and the malice of the Communists here. [Extension of time granted.] I thank the House for its courtesy. I want to make it quite clear that, in the view of the Government, this is a blatant example of political persecution. It is not directed to the preservation of trade standards. Everybody who has any knowledge of the way in which these arrangements have worked knows that, throughout, this Government has acted in a way calculated to preserve the trade standards of this country. That has never been seriously denied. This is an example, not only of political persecution, but also of the attempts that are being made to smear responsible but non-Communist officials of this and other unions, as I could demonstrate if time permitted. It is a part of a pattern. It is in keeping with the smearing and intimidation that are being practised by Communist party trade union leaders in their efforts to prevent the use of this Government’s secret ballot legislation.
I want to tell the honorable member for Mackellar that, so far as we have ascertained, the union has not yet been able to implement these instructions. As yet, we do not know of any case in which a Hungarian immigrant has been affected by the decision that has been made. The Tradesmen’s Rights Regulation Act was the creation of this Parliament. If we believe that an amendment of it is necessary to give justice and protection to these people, we shall not hesitate to invite the Parliament to give that protection.
As the House has been good enough to give me a little more time, I shall say two or three words about the matter raised by the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward). I do not think that anybody regards what he has said as a serious charge against me or, for that matter, against responsible members of the Public Service. 1 am not attempting to run away from my own responsibilities in this matter, but I have already made it clear to him that I have not sought in any way to indicate the methods which the officers of the department should employ in the selection of members of the departmental staff. I go on to say that since I have been a Minister of the Crown in this country I have never once sought to interfere with. staff matters in a department. 1 regard that as the function of the secretary of the department. The function of the Minister is to determine policy. The function of the permanent officials is to look after staff matters and the general administration of the department. I have no doubt that the chairman of the Public Service Board has his own opportunities to examine the methods employed inside a department for the selection of recruits.
I do not know what methods should be employed to determine whether a man will be an efficient research officer. I leave that for decision by those who are more experienced than I am in these matters. I point out to the House that there is legislative provision permitting an appeal to be made by an officer who feels aggrieved by the appointment of another person to a position to which he believes he has a better right. It is a matter of some satisfaction to me that my department has a record of fewer successful appeals than almost any other Commonwealth department.
– What is your’ opinion of the. questions that were asked of the applicants?”
– I shall not: attempt to discuss the type of questionsthat should be put to a man who appliesfor a position as a research officer. Those; who would have to work with him in that’ capacity are in a much better position tojudge that than I am. The most serious, aspect of the honorable gentleman’s statement, in my view, is that it was another example of an attack by an honorable member opposite, not so much on a Minister., who can stand up in this place and speak for himself, but on responsible, experienced and long-serving members of the Public Service, who have no such opportunity to protect themselves.
.- I express my very great regret that the Tradesmen’s Rights Regulation Act, which is so essential to the welfare of the industrial life of Australia, has been made the subject of a purely political debate to-night. It is a very important measure, the object of which is toenable us to get the very best results from the productive efforts of Australian industry. It’ has functioned only because the trade union movement has agreed to the principleson which it is based. As the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Harold Holt) has said, the trade union movement has co-operated wholeheartedly in the task of making the legislation effective.
I regret that the Minister spoke as he did to-night. If he felt that the trade union movement had taken some action or had made some decision which was likely toaffect adversely the smooth working of the legislation, the right thing for him to do was, not to participate in a purely political debate of the kind that has taken place here to-night, but to take the matter up with the Australian Council of Trades Unions - the body which enables the legislation to function properly. I say, with due respect to the Minister, that his participation in a political debate on this subject, in which he has raised the question of communism in trade unions and the action allegedly beingtaken by one union to thwart the Government, has done more damage than anything else that might have occurred in this chamber could have done.
I deny absolutely the suggestion that theAustralian Engineering Union is under Communist control at the present moment.
I deny absolutely that the persons who were elected to the federal council of that union were elected purely on unity tickets. Anybody who knows what is taking place in the Australian Engineering Union would not be so foolish as to make statements of the kind that have been made here to-night, particularly in view of the importance of this legislation to the smooth working of Australian industry.
I know that when some persons who have come here from overseas claim that they are tradesmen, their claims often are made perfectly honestly, but what we have to bear in mind is that some people who are regarded as tradesmen by the standards of other countries are not regarded as tradesmen by the standards of this country. In Australia, the apprenticeship, training and ultimate graduation, so to speak, of craftsmen are on the English lines, but in many of the countries of central, eastern and western Europe, men who are regarded as having been trained in engineering frequently have been trained only in a specialized branch of engineering. In those countries, apprenticeships are for periods of two or three years, but very seldom four years. Many people who believe themselves to be engineers, and who can produce papers to that effect, cannot meet the requirements of Australian industry. As a consequence, it is essential under those circumstances that there should be examinations by competent tradesmen to ensure that those persons who are admitted as tradesmen in Australia are up to the standards which Australian industry requires.
– Why do they single out Hungarians?
– It is no good for the Minister to put that over. Whatever is said, that policy so far has not been put into operation, and if it were put into operation, the last place in the world that we would be able to accomplish any alteration in the policy laid down by the union would be in this chamber in a debate in which charges are made against the trade union movement. I know enough from my experience in the trade union movement to be able to say that, if it is desired that these matters be settled, the Australian Council of Trades Unions has the machinery to settle them. The Australian Council of
Trades Unions has shown, by its cooperation ever since dilution of labour was permitted in World War II., ability to work with the Government to ensure that these things are righted. Whatever trouble there is can be righted if the Government goes about it in the right way. I say again, with great regret, that the Minister has done much to damage himself and the trade union movement in regard to the Tradesmen’s Rights Act, by being a party to this debate to-night.
Finally, in regard to the second matter raised by the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward), I would earnestly suggest to the Minister that he should make some inquiry into the questions which were stated to have been asked of the applicants for these positions. I can understand questions being asked of a person to prove his qualifications to be a research officer. 1 can understand his being asked questions to show that he has the necessary experience; but those questions should not be framed in such a manner as to require an answer, either “ Yes “ or “ No “, in relation to government policy. The applicant is entitled to a fair go, and I suggest that the Minister, in his own interests and in the interests of the Department of Labour and National Service, inquire into this matter.
.- -For all that the honorable member for Bendigo (Mr. Clarey) might deplore the fact that the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Harold Holt) spoke on this subject to-night, the honorable member for Bendigo has not denied that the central trades committee did decide, after giving full consideration to the special problems associated with the Hungarian refugees, that it would have been virtually impossible for these people, lucky as they were to escape with their lives in the face of Russian guns - many of their comrades lost their lives - to think to search through their papers for a document to bring to Australia to enable them to obtain a job in the engineering field.
– I accept that statement.
– The honorable gentleman accepts that. He cannot deny that the executive of the Amalgamated Engineering Union was responsible for a complete reversal of that decision. He cannot deny that that executive at the moment is made up of Stone, who is a left-wing Labour man, Hennessy, who is a Communist, and Wilson, who is also a Communist. If two out of three members of the executive of the union are Communists, we can easily understand why the union decided that it would completely change the determination of the central trades committee, because naturally the Communists are antagonistic to new Australians who have fled from Communist countries. Any new Australian who stays in this country will be determined to fight communism in the trade unions, if he becomes a member of a union. And that is why the Australian Labour party has altered its own policy on compulsory trade unionism, to ensure that new Australians are kept out. New Australians in the trade union movement would be opposed to Communists.
Can the honorable member deny that the Australian Labour party, the new Evatt Labour party - it is a new Labour party - has fought against every section of the trade union movement and every section of the Australian Labour party itself which has at any time raised its hand in opposition to communism? What is the situation in Queensland at the moment? Mr. Gair, the Premier, is a Labour Premier; but Mr. Gair is anti-Communist, and so he, like all the other people in the Labour party who have any antagonism towards communism, is being destroyed by the new Evatt Labour party. I suggest that the new Australians in this country are quite familiar with the tactics that have been employed by the Labour party. That is clearly evident from a letter which I have received from a new Australian living in Queensland, who makes a very special reference to the recent Australian Labour party conference in Brisbane. I should like to read extracts from that letter -
At the time of the top ALP conference in Brisbane a certain decision was reached by those-
Mr. Riordan interjecting,
– The honorable member has not enough intelligence to think of an interjection, so he takes one from the honorable member for Kingsford-Smith (Mr. Curtin). The letter continues- a certain decision was reached by those in conference to the effect that Labour propaganda should he carried right to the homes of European migrants through pamphlets, literature, &c, plus people who speak foreign languages. This in itself is a preposterous idea, not only on account of the moral turpitude of the party in question who for years have tried to harass and frustrate anti-Red migrants and now have dramatically turned coat only to catch the vote, but apart from the moral point of view it is also a pretty hopeless proposition with migrant* such as Germans, Hungarians, Estonians, Czechs. Poles, &c, who all feel that they have a score to settle with the Communists and will fight an> organization that even tolerates communism.
– -Is that signed. “Yours sincerely, Ken.”?
– The honorable member is doing a lot of interjecting. I remind him that when the Anti-Communist Labour party was formed from within the Australian Labour party he was one who sat on the fence, who stayed away from meetings of caucus, and who was frightened to face his own people. He was one man who could not make up his mind which side of the Labour party he would join and he tossed a coin to find which side was going to win. Now he is trying to establish himself with his friends.
– I rise to order. The honorable member for Lilley (Mr. Wight) has made references which are personally offensive to me. He informed the House that I sat on the fence. He made reference to certain things which, he says, transpired in caucus. I do not know from where the honorable member got the information, unless he got it from the Leader of the Liberal party in the Queensland Parliament. As the statement made by the honorable member is personally offensive to me, I ask that it be withdrawn. I have been a member of the Australian Labour party in this Parliament for 21 years.
– The honorable member for Lilley has imputed improper motives to the honorable member for Kennedy, and I ask him to withdraw his remarks.
– They were meant to be offensive, but I withdraw them. However, Mr. Speaker, the honorable member certainly was not in Canberra - he was in Brisbane - at the time that caucus was meeting on this issue and when the Anti-Communist Labour party broke away from the Australian Labour party. He can make up his mind about whether that is offensive. 1 should like to go on with the contents of this letter, which reads -
The other point in the Australian Labour party’s discussions was a proposed non-insistence on compulsory unionism. European migrants are natural!) disinclined to join any union, but if they have they will soon find out who is Communist and make things difficult for him. 1 fully agree with this new Australian cai this point -
The Labour idea is to keep them out, because then new Australians can in no way interfere, with the result o£ union ballots and the unions will be is red as ever.
Now, those are the views of a new Australian, and they represent the views of not only one new Australian but also the great majority of new Australians in this country. Many of those people were brought out here when Mr. Chifley was Prime Minister and when the honorable member for Melbourne (Mr. Calwell) was the Minister for Immigration and had initiated our virile immigration policy. But the Labour party has now changed its immigration policy. It is now opposed to people coming to Australia because members of the Labour party see in new Australian tradesmen a threat to the trade union movement and to the red control that is sought by the new Labour party in this country.
I wish to conclude my remarks by saying that the point brought forward by the honorable member for Mackellar to-night should not be lost sight of. These Hungarian workers are entitled to earn a living in this country, and entitled to give their families a chance of living in decent conditions. The Labour party claims that it represents the workers, but it is supporting the attitude of the Australian Engineering Union, which is denying those people the opportunity to pass a trade test. There is no suggestion that these Hungarian workers are not capable of doing the work that they seek to obtain. Their capability or incapability to do that work can be readily proved by submitting them to a trade test. But the Labour party is supporting the action of the Communist executive of the Australian Engineering Union in depriving these men of the opportunity to prove their capability for the work and their right to be employed under award rates and conditions fixed by the industrial courts. I support the arguments advanced by the honorable member for Mackellar and the Minister for Labour and National Service.
.- The honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth) and the honorable member for
Lilley (Mi-. Wight) both suffer from a prolonged morbid juvenility. The time has arrived when they ought to grow up. They cannot always come into this National Parliament and, under a pretence of making a statement in support of certain Hungarian refugees who are allegedly being denied admittance to a trade union, finish with an attack on the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt) and state explicitly that he is the person who is responsible for a particular policy of a trade union.
The Labour party has made its position clear time and time again in regard to communism, and we will wear down this campaign of misrepresentation and distortion. Let me put on record here to-night what the Leader of the Opposition said in his policy speech, delivered at Hurstville. in New South Wales, on 6th May, 1954. He said-
Dealing with national defence, I desire to add that Labour’s attitude to any subversive or seditious activity by Communists is absolutely definite and clear. When in 1949 we were faced wilh evidence of an organized attempt to injure the essential defence project of the Woomera Rocket Range we never hesitated for a moment. We acted. V/e passed special legislation through the Parliament and we ended any threat to defence security. Similarly, whenever facts came before us warranting charges of seditious activity or breaches of a security law by Communists and others, we acted. Convictions were obtained and punishment imposed. Similarly, during the coal crisis of 1949 we did not talk, we acted Deeds not words.
In matters of vital defence security the Labour party will act vigorously, energetically and without the slightest delay.
I am certain that the Leader of the Opposition knew nothing of these allegations until he had read them in the newspapers. His position, as Leader of the Australian Labour party, in regard to the activities of trade unions, is not that of a master who can dictate or direct what shall be done. He acts properly by consulting the trade union movement on matters that are principally political. What Mr. Monk, the president of the Australian Council of Trades Unions, and Mr. H. O. Davis, the president of the Australian Workers Union, have said about the revolution in Hungary, and the praise they bestowed on the social democrats, the university people and the students intheir attempt to overthrow communism, could never have been better stated by anybody in this House or elsewhere. Even if there was some justification for the charge that has been made to-night by the honorable members opposite who have spoken on this matter - which I do not admit, because 1 do not know the facts any more than the two honorable gentlemen who have spoken know them - there is an Australian engineering union other than the Amalgamated Engineering Union that these people can join. I am sure those honorable gentlemen are no more concerned about the Hungarians than they are about any other people in the community. They are using them as a stalking horse. I am satisfied of the integrity of the Hungarian people. I am satisfied that the Communist party will always strive to prevent immigrants from coming to this country. I had experience of that in 1949 when the Federated Ironworkers Association of Australia tried to deny new Australians, brought in by the Chifley Government, the right to work in the steel industry in Newcastle, Port Kembla and other places. We fought a good fight, and won. That fight was won by the trade union movement, as the honorable member for Bendigo (Mr. Clarey) has said. I am prepared to leave all these things to be decided by the trade union movement, because I trust the good common sense and the basic Australianism of the members of that movement and their desire to help their fellow workers in a spirit of mateship.
– They are true democrats.
– Yes, the average trade unionist has no compeer when it comes to democracy. He treats his fellow worker as a mate, regardless of race or creed or colour or anything else, and he certainly does not set out to exploit him for political or other purposes.
I hope that these attacks on the Leader of the Opposition, particularly when he is absent from the chamber, will cease. I hope that we shall see an end to this organized campaign waged every now and then during debates on the motion for the adjournment of the House by three members of the Liberal party who want to pose as the great champions of anti-communism in this country, and whose allegations are not being accepted by even their fellow members in the Government parties to-day. I think that Government supporters are sick and tired of the activities and the nonsense of the three honorable gentleman 1 have in mind. They remind me of three people in England who petitioned the Parliament at Westminster, claiming to speak for the whole of the people of England. They were the three tailors of Toolcy-street. They began their petition with the words, “ We. the people of England “. The three honorable gentlemen to whom I am referring say, in effect, “ We, the people o£ Australia “. 11 they think they can bluff the people of this country with anti-communism of the spurious type they promulgate and propagate, they are making a serious mistake.
.- Most of us on this side of the House respect the honorable member for Bendigo (Mr. Clarey); but that honorable gentleman did pass strictures on, or question the propriety of the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Harold Holt) in taking part in a debate on the subject of a man’s right to work in this country. He suggested that the National Parliament was not the place in which to raise that matter. I ask the honorable member for Bendigo: Is it not right that this National Parliament and the Minister for Labour and National Service of the Commonwealth should discuss any question which involves the freedom of a man to work? 1 also ask him: Should this National Parliament delegate to the Australian Council of Trades Unions the decision on the question of a man’s freedom to do so? I do not think it should. I think that the Minister was perfectly in order in answering the question raised in the debate. The National Parliament is the right place for a discussion of a man’s right to work.
The only other thing I should like to say is that yesterday we on this side of the House were accused of protecting the monopoly oil interests, in connexion with the legislative action taken in the Queensland Parliament. To-day. the antiCommunist “ Grouper “ Premier of Queensland is having legislation passed against the socalled oil monopoly, whereas his party colleague, Bukowski, is seeking to protect its interests. I am surprised that honorable members opposite have not raised that question in the House to-day.
Mr. CLYDE CAMERON (Hindmarsh) [11.301. - I believe that the honorable member for Bendigo (Mr. Clarey) has struck the light note to-night in his reply to the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth) and the regrettable threat by the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Harold Holt) that, unless the Australian Engineering Union bowed to the order of the honorable member for Mackellar, the Government would introduce legislation into this House to alter the Trademen’s Rights Regulations Act as the honorable member for Mackellar desires.
I have watched with growing admiration the improvement in the general demeanour of the Minister for Labour and National Service since he became the Deputy Leader of the Liberal party in this House. I had hoped that this improvement in his status and sense of responsibility would have continued. But for the break to-night and his reference to a question this afternoon, 1 had begun to think that we would see the Minister developing into a responsible person who might one day become the Prime Minister. But that prospect seems to be disappearing now that we see him as a party to what is obviously a concocted arrangement, because the Minister knew in advance what the honorable member for Mackellar was going to say. He had his answers prepared.
It is obvious that there was some collusion between them. The arrangements were for the honorable member for Mackellar to raise the matter that is under debate. Then the Minister was to come in and make this threat against the trade union movement.
It seems remarkable that persons like the honorable member for Mackellar should come into this Parliament and criticize members of the Australian Labour party and members of the Commonwealth Council of the Australian Engineering Union for being Communists, because the association of the honorable member for Mackellar with the Communist party is well known, and is worth repeating now. He was the gentleman who at one time started a newspaper on the south coast of New South Wales called the “ Illawarra Star “. Because he was not able to sell that rag, he decided to approach the Communist union officials of the Waterside Workers Federation. After several secret conferences in the lounge of Mr. Roach’s house at Port
Kembla, the honorable member for Mackellar eventually decided to present what he called the “ Illawarra Star “ cup to the union which marched best in the sixhour day celebration.
What made it better was that, as a result of the arrangements made between the honorable member and Mr. Roach, it was decided that the six-hour day march would be held on May Day to give it the international flavour which they both thought should be given to the procession. To make sure that no anti-Communists would win the cup for the best marchers, it was arranged that some other Communist would be the judge of the best marchers. As a consequence of this arrangement, the Waterside Workers Federation members - who were by no means the best marchers in the procession, according to persons who were present - were awarded the cup.
The honorable member for Mackellar then said that he had great pleasure in. handing the cup over personally to Mr. Jim Healy, the Communist secretary of the Waterside Workers Federation. lt is recorded that, as he handed the cup to Mr. Healy, he said, “ I hand you this cup wilh very great pleasure and congratulate you “. Thereupon, he shook hands with Mr. Healy before a camera, and we have a photograph in the Australian Labour party office in Sydney showing the honorable member for Mackellar shaking hands with Mr. Healy as he handed over the cup.
To prove that he was not just a pink, but a full-blooded Communist supporter of Mr. Healy and company, the honorable member for Mackellar decided to make a donation of £10 to the Communist members of the Waterside Workers Federation at Port Kembla, who were engaged in a strike in connexion with the pig iron dispute. So the people who were responsible for carrying on the pig iron dispute could boast that they were able to drink beer and eat pancakes, towards the cost of which the honorable member had made a contribution.
As time went on, the attitude of the honorable member for Mackellar to communism changed somewhat. He developed great solicitude for the Hungarian workers, but not for the Australian workers, particularly if the Australian was an ex-serviceman with six children. In the case of one such “ Digger “, who lived on property owned by the Wentworth family in Port Kembla, arrangements were made, as a consequence of instructions given by the Wentworth family, for a bulldozer to be pushed into the house that was occupied by the
Digger “ and his six children. The exserviceman was evicted from the home and put on to the street with nowhere to take himself and his family. The honorable member poses as a great friend of the Hungarian workers. The “ Digger “ with his six children, who was evicted, only wishes that the honorable member would show the same feeling towards Australian workers.
Having said that, I turn now to this other remarkable character, the honorable member for Lilley (Mr. Wight). I recollect clearly when the honorable member made a terrific speech in this House against compulsory unionism, which he described as a sort of Communist authoritarianism. Now, to the amusement of everybody who heard that speech, the honorable member has criticized the federal conference of the Australian Labour party because it abolished the plank of its platform on compulsory unionism and adopted something that is more moderate in its place.
I can remember the honorable gentleman telling this House time and time again what a rotter Vince Gair was, especially at the last election when he told us that Mr. Gair was the person responsible for all the ills in Queensland. He could not say anything bad enough about the Queensland Premier. Then, lo and behold, to-night we learn that Mr. Gair is a lily white. He is not such a bad fellow after all. The honorable member shed crocodile tears because Mr. Gair is likely to be pushed out of office.
Then he made an unfair attack on the honorable member for Kennedy (Mr. Riordan) by accusing that honorable member of deliberately staying away from caucus to avoid having to declare himself. The fact is that at that time, the honorable member for Kennedy had been involved in an unfortunate accident.
– That was six months later.
– It was not. He was paralysed, and was unable to leave his home. When he was well enough, the honorable member for Kennedy was in his place in the caucus, and at no stage did be hesitate to state where he stood in this matter.
Reverting to the statements made by the honorable member for Mackellar, 1 remind honorable members of his statement concerning the unity ticket and the ballot in the Australian Engineering Union. Associated with the Australian Engineering Union ballots, there is an organization known as the rank and file committee. This committee is sponsored and financed by the grouper friends of the honorable member for Mackellar. I have in my hand a photostat copy of the instruction sent out by the committee in connexion with the Australian Engineering Union ballot. It is as follows: -
For a number of years the rules of this union have prohibited a candidate from issuing or causing to be issued printed, duplicated, cyclostyled or typewritten matter, lt is usual therefore to confine the How-to-Vote material &c. to handwritten letters … In this election members will have posted to them printed How-to-Vote circulars supporting Arthur Horsburgh. This circular has been authorized by a Rank and File Committee. In the course of the canvass members may be asked about this or about the Rank and File Committee. They should quite truthfully say that they do not know who issued the printed propaganda, nor do they know any one associated with the Rank and File Committee. If you happen to have a printed How-to-Vote in your pocket do not show it.
Persons canvassing should merely state that they are canvassing for support for Arthur Horsburgh in the A.E.U. election.
– Order ! The honorable member’s time has expired.
– I wish to make a personal explanation. Since personal remarks have been made by the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Clyde Cameron)-
– Order! Does the honorable member claim to have been misrepresented?
– Of course.
– ls the honorable member claiming that he has been misrepresented or misunderstood?
– Yes. 1 have denied in the House frequently - I do not propose to go all over it again - some of the things the honorable member for Hindmarsh has said. I made a full statement in this House about a fortnight ago in connexion with recent incidents, and I have nothing to add now.
.- I would not have spoken this evening if it had not been for the rather unfortunate remark passed by the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Clyde Cameron). Of course, he is adopting the technique of any person who does not find himself in agreement with those who stand solidly against all forms of Communist activity. Last night, we heard an attack by the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) on the honorable member for Lyne (Mr. Lucock). He tried to smear the honorable member for Lyne. Why did he try to smear him? He tried to smear him for the simple reason that yesterday afternoon the honorable member for Lyne-
– Order! ls the honorable member reviving a debate?
– No, 1 am merely illustrating the methods-
– Order! The honorable member is making reference to a previous debate. He cannot pursue that line.
– It was an adjournment debate.
-Order! The honorable member is making reference to a previous debate, and he cannot follow that line.
– Then I will not pursue that line; I will simply say with added force that this evening we saw further evidence of the Communist technique of smearing those who stand solidly against all forms of Communist activity. The honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth) has done this Parliament and this country a service this evening by directing attention to the plight and position of Hungarian refugees in this country. When the honorable member for Hindmarsh rose this evening, did he turn to the case presented by the honorable member for Mackellar? No, he did not; he merely launched upon a story I have heard recited in this House on two or three occasions. On each occasion, it has been an indifferent performance, and possibly the worst player would be the honorable member for East Sydney. Not one solid argument has been set up against the points raised this evening by the honorable member for Mackellar. When the honorable member for Bendigo (Mr. Clarey) says that he is surprised and discounts the fact that the Australian Engineering Union is under Communist control, he simply staggers me. I propose to read very hurriedly from “The Tribune” of
Wednesday, 28th November last, an article under the caption “ A.E.U.’s Firm Socialist Stand on Hungary “. It reads -
The following statement on Hungary has been issued by the Sydney District Committee of the Australian Engineering Union:
To-day, no executive of our union can discuss Hungary without due regard for our declared Socialist objective, which for many years has been “control of industry in the interests of the community “…
Socialism is now a way of life that is factual for one-third of all people on earth.
For the past twelve years, it has been flowering in Hungary.
The enemies of Socialism have struck and have been defeated in Hungary . . .
The working people of the whole world will applaud the defeat of those who attacked Socialism in Hungary.
Only the advocates of exploitation - the capitalists and their agents - will bemoan the victory of Socialism . . .
We affirm our adherence to our union’s objectives, our confidence in their ultimate realization, and our confidence also in the ability of the Hungarian people to deal with their own problems.
Now, I come to the official organ of the Australian Engineering Union, and quote from its issue for February of this year. The article I propose to quote was written by Brother C. G. Hennessy, now one of the top three, one of the three who have voting power in the Australian Engineering Union. Let the honorable member for Bendigo and the Deputy Leader of the Opposition heed this -
Carefully analysing all this material I have to submit these conclusions-
These are a few of the conclusions -
The House will recall that the Australian Council of Trades Unions had condemned Soviet brutality and thuggery in Hungary. The second conclusion arrived at by Mr. Hennessy was -
That the Interstate Executive had unfortunately acted on the unreliable partisan information supplied by the I.C.F.T.U.
Other conclusions were -
That the A.C.T.U. failed to seek further information from alternative sources, i.e., through the W.F.T.U., the body to which the Hungarian Free Trade Unions are affiliated, in order, as it were, to obtain the other side of the picture.
There can be no doubt that the pre-October Hungarian Government led by the Hungarian Workers Peoples Party, were out of step with the Free Hungarian Trade Union Movement on matters of economic policy and social reform. lt should not be overlooked that on many occasions in this, our country, the Trade Union Movement has differed sharply wilh prevailing Labour Governments, and in some respects, do so today.
The record is there for every honorable member to read. 1 repeat that it was written by Mr. Hennessy, who, I understand, is now one of the lop three having voting power in this union. For the honorable member for Bendigo to submit this evening, no doubt with sincerity, that the Australian Engineering Union has not fallen under Communist control is complete nonsense. Those Hungarians who came to this country came here under the most desperate conditions, conditions that warranted not only our assistance but also our understanding. Above all, they warranted from us - and this should spring quite spontaneously from every Australian - human understanding. When the Australian Engineering Union takes the stand it has taken in the case of the tradesmen, it indicates that those who stand four square and solidly against all forms of Communist activity invariably attract to themselves the smear technique and the suggestion that the solid anti-Communist is something in the nature of an eccentric. I have said before in this House, and I make no apology for saying it again, that I will fight communism until I die. It makes no difference who cares to oppose me, whether it be the honorable member for Hindmarsh, the honorable member for East Sydney, or any other honorable member, in his place. If they want to attack those who stand against Communists, let them attack us. They will not frighten us, and they will not discourage us in our activities.
– As a member of one of the great metal trades unions, 1 rise to defend 70,000 members of another metal trades union. For the benefit of the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth), I point out that the Australian Engineering Union has 70,000 members. It is a world-wide organization with head-quarters in London. This union co-operated with the federal Labour government in no uncertain way in bringing the war to a successful conclusion. The Australian Engineering Union, in common with other metal trades unions, co-operated with the federal government. After certain inducements had been held out to the government, it agreed to cooperate in the formation of a tradesmen’s rights committee. For the benefit of the picture show operator, the personnel officer and other honorable members opposite - the non-worker and the non-producer - 1 shall outline how it works. The Tradesmen’s Rights Committee, of which I was a member representing the boilermakers’ section, is comprised of three members. The chairman is Mr. Doug Apsey, who is a senior officer of the Department of Labour and National Service. He is a very capable man. The employers and the employees each have a representative. The employees’ representative from the engineering section is Alan Wilson. The independent chairman and an employers’ representative can always outvote the engineering representative.
The talk about trades tests is all baloney. There is no such thing as a trades test in the metal trades section of the union. If a man cannot satisfy the Tradesmen’s Rights Committee that he has the qualifications to be tried as a tradesman, he does not receive any consideration. He has to produce proof of his qualifications to the committee and the committee decides whether that proof is sufficient. The personnel officer, the honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Killen), of course, knows the technique that was used by employers generally to try to break down conditions. A big metal trades union such as the Australian Engineering Union with a membership of 70,000 has different sections. There would be the highly skilled man, the less highly skilled man and so on down the line. If the employer, through the personnel officer, could approach the court in an effort to break down the conditions and wages of the second, third, fourth and fifth grade men, that would suit him down to the ground. But, in co-operation with the Labour Government during the war, longsighted members of the union foresaw that such a position could arise when the war was over, and they blocked all entry to those categories. If a man can do the work of a tradesman, the tools need only to be placed in his hands.
– Can the honorable member do it?
– I can produce more in a week than the honorable member could produce if he lived for another 50 years. Once a man holds the tools in his hands, it isobvious whether he can use them or not. If he is qualified, he has the right to work. The trade union movement will see that he retains that right to work. If things get bad, as they are getting now, he will not receive any consideration from honorable members opposite. They will not create any situations for him when times are bad.
The Tradesmen’s Rights Committee was formed purposely by the unions concerned to protect the apprentices of the future and to protect the sons of the immigrants who later will have to serve terms of apprenticeship to make them skilled tradesmen. The Hungarian who was refused a trades test will in the future be very pleased that such a rigid system operates to protect his son when he wishes to serve his apprenticeship. Some honorable members opposite are professional men. All professional men jealously protect their professions. The trade unions will also ensure that their professions are jealously guarded. A boy has to serve an apprenticeship of five years between the ages of sixteen and 21 years. He then sits for a higher trades certificate, which takes another twelve months. Finally, he seeks to obtain his honours certificate, which means another twelve months. For seven years, the mother and father of that boy have to sacrifice and struggle. After the boy has obtained his honours certificate, other scientific study may follow. Boys following their apprenticeships right through continue to attend technical colleges up to the age of 40 years. They become the complete tradesmen of whom Australians are so proud.
After the hysterical outbursts of honorable members opposite against the trade union movement, I felt compelled to rise in defence of my fellow trade unionists. 1 have been a member of the boilermakers’ union for 43 years.I still hold my o.k. card and have remained a financial member. The honorable member for Hume (Mr. Anderson), a vicious member of the Australian Country party, said that every man has a right to work. The graziers’ organization did not think so in 1930. That is the complete answer to the honorable member. He. and those like him, would not give the ordinary trade unionists a feed. The history of Australia shows that to be so.
The honorable member for Moreton spoke about “ The Tribune “. He seems to be a very avid reader of “ The Tribune “. He must be one of its best subscribers. He cites some comment made by the Sydney District Committee of the Australian Engineering Union. For his edification, I inform him that the Sydney District Committee is a local body which meets every Thursday night. It is not a policy-making body for the Sydney branch. It is just a local body which meets to discuss ordinary union matters.
I shall mention, briefly, the five top men of the Australian Engineering Union. The first is Horsburgh. Then there is John Garland, who is a member of the Waverley South branch of the Australian Labour party. He is a bright upandcoming Australian and we are proud to know that John won such an exalted position at such a youthful age. Next is Alan Wilson, who is a member of the Communist party. The fourth is Mr. Stone, who is a member of the Australian Labour party. Horsburgh, Garland and Stone - three of the five - are members of the Australian Labour party. We have all heard the hysterical talk about Communists in the trade unions. Those three members of the Australian Engineering Union were elected under the auspices of the court-
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 11.58 p.m.
The following answers to questions were circulated: -
m asked the Minister for External Affairs, upon notice-
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
The General Assembly, having considered the item on the agenda of its Tenth Session entitled “ The question of West Irian (West New Guinea,”,
Hoping that the problem will be peacefully resolved,
Noting the joint statement issued by the Governments of Indonesia and the Netherlands on 7 December, 1955,
Expresses the hope that the negotiations referred to in the said joint statement will be fruitful.
This resolution was passed unanimously and without a formal vote.
In favour - 34 (Afghanistan, Argentina, Bolivia, Burma, Byelorussian Soviet Socialist Republic, Costa Rica, Cuba, Czechoslovakia, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador. Ethiopia, Greece, Honduras, India, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, Liberia, Mexico. Pakistan, Paraguay, Philippines, Poland, Saudi Arabia, Syria. Thailand, Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic, Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, Uruguay, Venezuela, Yemen, Yugoslavia).
Against - 23 (Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, Colombia, Denmark, Dominican Republic, France, Iceland, Israel, Luxembourg, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Norway, Panama, Peru, Sweden, Turkey, Union of South Africa, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland).
Abstaining - 3 (Guatemala, Haiti, United States of America).
The resolution passed by the Political Committee at Eleventh Session called for appointment of a Good Offices Commission to assist in negotiations between Indonesia and the Netherlands and to report back to the next session of the General Assembly. In Plenary the resolution failed on a vote of -
In favour - 40 (Afghanistan, Albania, Bolivia, Bulgaria, Burma, Byelorussian Soviet Socialist Republic, Ceylon, Costa Rica, Czechoslovakia, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Ethiopia, Greece, Guatemala, Haiti, India, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Japan, Jordan, Lebanon, Liberia, Libya, Morocco, Nepal, Pakistan, Philippines, Poland, Roumania, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Syria, Thailand, Tunisia, Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic, Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, Yemen, Yugoslavia).
Against - 25 (Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, China, Cuba, Denmark,
Dominican Republic, France, Honduras, Iceland, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Norway, Peru, Portugal, Sweden, Union of South Africa, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland).
Abstaining - 13 (Argentina, Cambodia, Chile, Finland, Laos, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Spain, Turkey, United States of America, Uruguay, Venezuela).
m asked the Minister for External Affairs, upon notice -
Between what dates has an Australian Minister or Ambassador to Indonesia been actually present in Indonesia?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows: -
The first Australian Ambassador to Indonesia took up duties on 24th June, 1950, and relinquished his post on 26th February, 1952. During thisperiod he was absent from Indonesia from Sth November, 1950, to 15th November, 1950, and 25th October, 1951, to 19th February, 1952. The dates of appointment and rank of his successors are as follows: -
Minister- 11th March, 1953-15th April, 1955.
Ambassador - 7th April, 1955-10th December, 1956 (absent from 10th May, 1955, to 27th May, 1955, and 19lh March, 1956, to 13th May, 1956).
Ambassador - 28th January, 1957.
t asked the Minister for
External Affairs, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
d asked the Minister in charge of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
d asked the Minister for Territories, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
Guinea was recently appointed Assistant Administrator and not Acting Administrator, in that service. Towards the end of November, 1956, requests were received in my department from the Public Service Commissioner, Port Moresby, for the temporary engagement, from Australia, of a Specialist Medical Officer (Surgery) and a Specialist Medical Officer (Ophthalmology) to relieve officers due to proceed on leave at an early date. Because of the short notice given, the Department of Territories first tried to make arrangements through the Commonwealth Department of Health and the Repatriation Commission for the desired relief, with the result that a Specialist Medical Officer (Surgery), who was previously with the Repatriation Commission, recently took up a temporary engagement with the Papuan and New Guinea Administration and it is hoped that another surgeon from the same source will do so in the near future. As no assistance was forthcoming in regard to an ophthalmologist, an advertisement was placed in the “ Australian Medical Journal “ but brought forth no response. However, an interested specialist has since been located and will, it is hoped, be proceeding to the Territory at an early date.
m asked the Minister for Health, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
z asked the Minister representing the Minister for National Development, upon notice -
– The Minister for National Development has furnished the following replies: -
d asked the Minister representing the Minister for National Development, upon notice -
– The Minister for National Development reported to Cabinet a few weeks ago on the housing situation. The attitude of the Government was stated by the Prime Minister in this House on 20ih March, 1957, and is recorded in the “ Hansard “ record of the House of Representatives debates for that day.
e asked the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
m asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
t asked the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
What is the basis upon which decisions to establish new post offices in metropolitan areas are made in relation to (a) distances from existing post offices; (b) density of population; and (c) any other considerations which prompt the Department to expand its facilities?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows: -
There are no hard and fast bases governing the establishment of new post offices in the metropolitan areas either in relation to distances from existing post offices or density of population. As a general rule a new office is not established within half a mile of an existing office and the need for such services is determined by the department in the light of the degree of inconvenience occasioned local residents in reaching available facilities. As development expands, consideration is given to the provision of additional outdoor facilities such as letter receivers and public telephones.
d asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– No part of the question asked by the honorable member can be answered without expressing opinions on questions of law. It is not the practice to deal with, or express opinions on, matters of law in reply to questions.
d asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 4 April 1957, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1957/19570404_reps_22_hor14/>.