22nd Parliament · 2nd Session
Mr. SPEAKER (Hon. John McLeay) took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.
– I address a question to the Treasurer. I should have preferred to address it to the Prime Minister, he being the architect of the plan to demolish the Commonwealth Bank which was forecast in the statement that he issued yesterday. I should also have liked to thank him for giving the Australian Labour party the best fighting platform it has had since before 1949, by the naked brutality of his statement on the future of the Commonwealth Bank and his total surrender to the trading banks. I now address my question to the Treasurer, with respect to his known views on this cut-up of the Commonwealth Bank, which, in the secret places of his heart, he abhors as much as we do. I ask, first, what virtue does the Treasurer see in the creation of two boards to run what the people know and believe to be the one and indivisible bank of the people? Secondly, what isto become of the £740,000,000 in the savings bank? Which of the new banks will administer it, and how far will the Government defer to the advice of the trading banks, which have their own savings banks, on this matter? What is the point in causing anxiety in the minds of the people regarding the savings bank? Is it simply to ease the clamour of irresponsible backbenchers with Cabinet rank in mind? Thirdly, how is the Government to justify the credit squeeze and its alleged antiinflationary policy, which has brought industry to the borders of bankruptcy, if it now drops that plan and puts the special deposits in a thinly disguised drawing account for the trading banks to feed on at will like donkeys from a hay-stack?
– I rise to order!
– I am surprised at the-
– The honorable member has not finished his question.
– Mr. Speaker-
– An honorable member has taken a point of order.
– I will take a point of order-
– Order! The honorable member for Forrest will state his point of order.
– I submit, with respect, that the honorable member for Parkes is out of order on a great number of counts. In the first place, the Standing Orders clearly provide that questions must be confined solely to questions, and must not contain unnecessary epithets or comments or other such matters. In the second place, the Standing Orders provide that an honorable member may ask a question, but on the honorable member’s accounting he has already asked three questions. Thirdly, one question is allowed supplementary to a question that has already been asked. I suggest that if the honorable member wishes to ask a question he should be permitted to ask one question only.
– Speaking to the point of order-
– The honorable member-
– If you are going to rule on the point of order, Mr. Speaker, Ishall resume my seat.
– Does the Treasurer wish to speak on this matter?
– Order! The honorable member for Parkes may speak to the point of order.
– The main point raised by the honorable member for Forrest is that I have asked more than one question. If the honorable member will look carefully at this question as it will be reported in “ Hansard “, he will find that it is really one question with a series of dependent clauses.
– The question by its very nature is one that involves very grave and important policy matters, and the honorable member for Parkes will have every opportunity to express his views and comments during the course of the debate on the legislation that will be introduced.
– Order! The position is that there has been a great deal - I think far too much - relaxation in regard to questions. Questions are becoming too long, and the replies to them, in many instances, can be charged equally on that score. I draw the attention of the honorable member for Parkes to the undesirability of his taking advantage of the goodwill of the House. I ask him to come to his question.
– There are only two more points. They are: Fourthly, will the Treasurer give categorical evidence of the terrible things that the Commonwealth Bank is alleged to have done to draw the vengeance of the trading banks upon it and the Government’s projected legislation? Fifthly, is touting-
– I rise to order. Is it not a fact, Mr. Speaker, that questions cannot be asked on policy? As this is clearly a matter of policy, I contend that the honorable member for Parkes is out of order.
– Order! Whether a question relates to a matter of policy is for Ministers to decide.
– I also rise to order. I invite your attention, Sir, to Standing Order 144, which provides that -
Questions should not contain -
ironical expressions; or
Questions should not ask Ministers -
for an expression of opinion;
to state the Government’s policy; or
for legal opinion.
In view of the clear rules laid down in that standing order, I respectfully suggest that the honorable member for Parkes is out of order.
– Order! I rule that the honorable member has the right to ask his question. If it involves a question of policy, the Treasurer will be quite capable of dealing with it.
– I shall do so. Fifthly, is touting by the private banks, as revealed by the honorable member for Werriwa in his question yesterday, propaganda by their officers-
– Order! I must ask the honorable member to resume his seat unless he completes his question.
– Is that the end of the question?
– Order! I ask the honorable member for Parkes to complete his question.
– I shall do so immediately. What I am about to say is most important and directly to the point. I ask the Treasurer, in the interests of Australia, whether he will make a statement to-day, before this Parliament goes into recess, on the size of the Easter egg that the Prime Minister intends to give to the trading banks and the measure of the restrictions to be imposed on the bank of the Australian people?
– The question, of its very nature, involves an important matter of policy which has not yet been decided in all its aspects and implications. The honorable member will have every opportunity to give vent to his ideas and criticisms when the legislation is before the House.
– In view of the serious threat that the interruption of Qantas overseas air services may hold to Australia’s standing and prestige internationally, will the Minister for Labour and National Service give the House some information about the threatened strike by Qantas pilots?’
– Discussions have been going on, I understand, for some considerable period between the representatives of the pilots and of the management of Qantas. The differences had been narrowed very considerably, and it was hoped that a settlement was in sight. If the reported news of a likely strike of Qantas pilots is correct, it is not only a very unhappy development but also a deplorable one. because it cannot fail to damage Australia’s standing in international commercial aviation. I think I can say with justification that Australia’s commercial aviation record, both internally and internationally, is unsurpassed by that of any other country of the world. We have a splendid body of capable men in the service. They have served the nation well and have established an excellent record for safety and efficient operation. Having said that, and without wanting to canvass the merits or the details of the matters in dispute, I want to say that one proposition has been put forward on which something should be said quite emphatically. I refer to the proposition that justice will not be done to the Australian pilots while they are not in the same position as the pilots of international airlines operated by other countries. Honorable members have only to reflect for a moment to see where that proposition would take us if it were applied to Australian industry generally. Would it be argued seriously, for example, that Australian seamen, because they serve abroad, should be given the same rates of pay and the same working conditions as the seamen of other countries who serve abroad? Would it be argued seriously that Australian coal-miners should receive the same rates of pay as coalminers in some European countries or in other parts of the world? I do not think it would be argued seriously that politicians in Australia should be paid as much as politicians in the United States of America or Canada, although the rates of pay are considerably higher in those countries than in Australia. The proposition is absurd on the face of it. Wages in Australia must be related to the Australian scene and to Australian conditions. Tribunals have been established to determine just rates of pay and working conditions and to do justice to the different sections of the Australian industrial community. So I say that that proposition cannot be accepted, but, having said that, I would most certainly urge - speaking not only on behalf of this Government, but also on behalf of the Australian people, who have an interest in the standing of our international air services - that the men reflect on where their course of action is taking them and that they recognize that impartial arbitration tribunals are available to determine the merits of their case. Arbitration for the settlement of industrial disputes is resorted to almost without exception by Australian industry, other than on some occasions by those sections which are Communist controlled. I urge the pilots to accept the general practice of Australian industry of submitting disputes to the appropriate arbitration tribunals.
– I address a question to the Treasurer. Is it a fact that large numbers of Asian students are coming to Australia, with and without Colombo plan sponsorship, to receive educational help ranging from secondary school training to higher university degree courses, and that these numbers are expected to increase substantially in the next year or two? Does the Government recognize that this increase will mean that Australia’s hard-pressed educational system will have to be expanded to accommodate additional students? Has the Government any plans for assisting the States in this matter?
– Perhaps I might venture to reply to the question. I am not aware that any of the Asian students who have come to this country under the Colombo plan are at secondary schools. The students are mainly at universities, technical colleges and hospitals, or are working in State and Federal Government departments and the like. I forget the precise figure, but I believe that slightly over 800 Colombo plan students from Asia are here now. Those students must not be confused with the something like 4,000 Asian students who have come here under their own steam.
– I mentioned students other than those who have come here under the Colombo plan.
– There are just over 800 Colombo plan students and there are about. 4,000 private students. The Government has no control of the numbers of the private students or where they go. The Department of External Affairs co-operates closely with the Commonwealth Office of Education in respect of Colombo plan students, and, through that instrumentality, with universities, technical colleges and the like. We are constantly receiving information as to the number of vacancies in particular schools and particular branches of learning at universities,, and we adjust our invitations in ‘ respect of new Colombo plan trainees from Asian countries to the number of vacancies in medicine, various branches of engineering, and the like, available at the appropriate educational establishments. So I think it can be said, with complete truth, that no Australian is denied a place at a university or a technical college because a Colombo plan student has filled a vacancy that he might otherwise have had. As to the increase of the number of students, it has been my policy, on behalf of the Government, to regard the present numbers, or something not very much in advance of them, as the ceiling. In other words, I regard a total of towards 850 Colombo plan students as being the ceiling, with our accommodation in universities as it is. From the financial point of view, also, I regard that as something like the ceiling. The numbers of Colombo plan students have increased on a fairly steeply ascending curve, and now we are going to ensure that they taper off. We believe that a maximum number of about 850 Colombo plan students is not only a fair, but also a very generous total for Australia to accommodate and look after. The honorable gentleman’s inference that the numbers of Colombo plan students taken by Australia would increase considerably in the future to the detriment of Australians seeking admittance to educational institutions, and that it would impose an undue burden on the finances of universities, will not, I think, hold water. I am very glad to assure the honorable gentleman in that direction.
– I ask the Minister for Trade: Has there been a falling-off in the sales of Australian wheat and wheat products to Indonesia and similar natural Australian markets, during the past few months? If so, is there any justification for the charge that has been made against the United States of America that the decrease in our sales to those markets has been caused by the dumping of surplus American wheat stocks?
– My attention has- not been drawn to any suggestion that there has been a recent falling-off in the sales of wheat and wheat products to Indonesia, but I do not deny that that may be so. I merely say that I have no information on the point. To deal with a longer period than the last few months, Australian sales of wheat and flour to Indonesia have remained on a fairly stable basis in fact, but not without a good deal of concern to the Government and the Australian Wheat Board because, on more than one occasion, there has been a suggestion that the United States of America should make wheat or flour available to Indonesia on concessional terms and, we believed, in such quantities as would have impaired Australia’s trading opportunities. After strong and prompt representations to the United States State Department whenever this situation has appeared to be imminent, arrangements have been concluded with the American Administration, and as between the American Administration and the Indonesian Government, that have avoided any diminution of Australia’s normal selling opportunities for wheat to Indonesia. However, we are watching the situation very closely indeed.
– I direct a question to the Treasurer. 1 desire to know, in view of the legislation that has been foreshadowed in regard to the Commonwealth Bank-
– Order! Any question in reference to banking will be out of order as the Treasurer has declared that banking is a question of policy.
– I was wanting to ask-
– Order! The honorable gentleman is out of order.
– May I ask whether-
– Order! The honorable gentleman is out of order, and I ask him to resume his seat.
– I address a question with out notice to the Minister for Territories. Are native children in Papua and New Guinea being sent to schools in Australia? What is the purpose of this system and is it showing the desired results?
– For the past three or four years the Government has been providing a number of scholarships each year to enable children of the indigenous people of Papua and New Guinea to come to Australia for secondary education. At the present time, I should think there may be something in the neighbourhood of 1 00 such children attending secondary schools in Australia.
In passing I may remark that a great number of them are at secondary schools in Queensland and I would like to express this Government’s appreciation of the cooperation it has received from those schools in providing for those children. The reason for the system of scholarships is that first of all, the primary education system of the Territory is beginning to produce a number of children who are ready for secondary education, but up to the present time we only have one secondary school in the Territory. It would be wrong to deny these children the opportunity of secondary education because we have not yet organized a complete education system in the Territory. Further than that, we feel that it is very important in the carrying out of our general administrative policy in the Territory that the people should have a better and a closer understanding of Australia. Starting at the secondary education level means that gradually, over the years, a number of children will be going back to the Territory as young men and women with an understanding of what Australia is like.
Furthermore, it is hoped that children who have the advantage of secondary education in Australia will return to their own country to become leaders in education, in public service, in medicine and so forth, and help to advance the welfare of the remainder of their people. The basis of educational advancement in the Territory must surely be the training of more and more of the indigenous people to become the teachers, the doctors and the public servants of the Territory.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Territories. Has the Minister’s attention been drawn to an advertisement which appeared in the Sydney “ Truth “ last Sunday announcing a Northern Territory farm project? The advertisement claims that negotiations are proceeding to obtain .1,000 square miles of agricultural and pastoral land adjacent to the Northern Territory rice project. The announcement states that a sum of £1,000,000 will be required from the public to finance the scheme in its initial stages, and that for the sum of £250 young Australians can establish themselves on 1,000- acre farms. I ask the Minister whether the negotiations referred to are taking place between the Government and the interests concerned and whether the Minister has any knowledge at all of the details of the project.
– Mr. Speaker, two days ago a press correspondent brought this advertisement under my notice and I made some inquiries. The Lands Branch of the Northern Territory Administration has no knowledge of any negotiations. The
Administrator of the Territory has no knowledge of any negotiations, and certainly I have no knowledge of any negotiations. If there are’ negotiations, they must be taking place between the person who inserted the advertisement and some private owner of land. Of course, if any large transfer of land was involved it would eventually have to be referred to the Lands Branch. There is a certain amount of freehold land in the Territory, as the honorable member knows. Up to the present, neither the Administration nor myself has any knowledge of such a transaction.
– I direct a question without notice to the Minister for Primary Industry. In view of recent claims that egg producers are facing a surplus in production and that eggs may have to be dumped, would the Minister indicate what steps are being taken to deal with this situation and what steps are being taken to protect and safeguard the interests of the industry? I feel it would also be of interest to this House if the Minister would indicate just how egg producers have fared during the current season.
– I think that all statements that eggs are likely to be dumped or destroyed are not only premature but quite irresponsible. That is so for two reasons. The honorable member for East Sydney, who interjects, does not know anything about the primary industries, so it is not wise for him to comment. The flush of the egg-marketing season will not arise until October or November of this year. Therefore, the person who makes comments now about the destruction or dumping of eggs in October or November is making forecasts about events that are more speculative than those that can be made by the Department of Primary Industry or by any one else concerned in the industry leadership. The second reason is that the egg producers and their agents are not completely devoid of imagination. They are now looking for ways and means of coping with what could be greater production than anticipated demand. The industry is, therefore, examining whether they can sell in alternative overseas countries; whether eggs can be pulped instead of being sold in the shell; and whether, so I read, it might be possible to accept a lower price in New South Wales than at present. These methods are being looked at.
– The Minister is moulting.
– Obviously the honorable gentleman who has interrupted is not very interested in the problems of primary producers. He is more interested in his own somewhat foolish comments. The marketing problem is being looked at. I deplore statements being made at this particular juncture as to whether or not Australian eggs should be dumped or destroyed. So far as return is concerned, the honorable member for Higinbotham will be glad to know that, up to the present time, compared with last season, there has been , a slight increase of return to the producer throughout the Commonwealth with the exception of Queensland where, despite the fact that there has been a pretty substantial increase in production, there has been a slight fall in the return to the producer.
– Will the Minister for Air inform the House of the number of pilots who have left this country for overseas service during the last three years? If the honorable gentleman has not the figures, will he admit that a considerable number of pilots have left for overseas service - such a considerable number that action has been taken to prevent the representatives of foreign airlines from approaching our pilots in order to induce them to go overseas where they secure much better conditions than operate in this country?
– I am not aware of any concerted or individual approach by representatives of overseas airlines to pilots of the Royal Australian Air Force.
– I was referring to civil airtines.
– If the honorable member was referring to civil aviation, his question is a matter for the Minister for Civil Aviation, who is in another place.
– I wish to ask the Minister for Air a question concerning his recent visit to Ghana, where he represented Australia at the opening of the new Parliament in that independent state. What is Ghana’s constitutional position within the British Commonwealth? What is Ghana’s relationship to the Queen and to Australia and the other countries of the British Commonwealth? Was the question of Australian representation to Ghana raised during his visit? Will the Minister state whether he was well received as an Australian representative? Did he form an impression regarding the continuance of stable government in Ghana?
– The honorable member’s question raises important and detailed matters which I will endeavour to answer as shortly as I can. The constitutional position of the new independent state of Ghana is precisely the same as that of Australia. Canada and New Zealand. It is an independent dominion within the British Commonwealth.
– I rise to order, Mr. Speaker. Is the Minister entitled to read a prepared answer to a question without notice?
– The Minister anticipated the question.
– I made notes as the question was asked. The honorable member can see them for himself as I hold them up now.
– Order! The Minister is in order in referring to notes.
– The constitutional position of the new state is exactly that of Australia, lt is an independent dominion within the British Commonwealth of Nations, a status which it has chosen voluntarily. The Queen has been recognized as the Queen of Ghana. So, in every respect, its constitutional position is the same as ours. I was asked whether the question of Australian representation had been raised while I was there. It was. Indeed, I myself raised it with the Prime Minister of Ghana, and told him, with authority, that Australia desired to be represented in Ghana as it is in the other dominions, and that this question would receive attention in due course. That is, of course, a matter for my distinguished colleague, the Minister for External Affairs, and it was with his knowledge that I took that line. The difficulties of the Australian Government in providing representation in many additional parts of the world are well known. The new state of Ghana has naturally even greater difficulties in providing representation for itself in the other dominions and in countries outside the British Commonwealth. So the question is not an issue at the moment, but the Australian Government does wish to be represented in Ghana, and I hope it will be in due time. I was asked, also, whether I was well received in Ghana as Australia’s representative. I am happy to say that I was received with the greatest courtesy and friendliness by the representatives of the Ghana Government, as were also the representatives of the other dominions. The new Government gave the most conspicuous place and attention to the representatives of the United Kingdom and of the Dominions, and I think it showed in this way that the people of Ghana value their new dominion status and intend to hold to it. I believe that there is every prospect of stable and effective government in Ghana. If I may be permitted to say so, Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, the new Prime Minister, is a remarkable man and one to whom I felt myself drawn on terms of warm friendliness.
– There is one doctor a prime minister, then?
– Indeed there is, and he commands the unwavering support of his own party and the respect of his people. I believe that there is every reason to expect continuing stable and effective government in Ghana. The British Commonwealth has been strengthened by the addition of another dominion which will form strong and friendly relationships with the rest of the Commonwealth.
– I desire to ask the Minister for External Affairs a question about the Colombo plan, which was initially to continue for a period of six years, and which terminates in June, 1957. Have the donor countries made any decision about extending the plan? If so, what part does Australia intend to play in the extended plan? Will the Minister also inform the House what is the value of Australia’s contribution to the plan up to the present time?
– The honorable member is entirely right in saying that at the commencement of the Colombo plan in, I think, 1951, it was to continue for six years. But at the annual ministerial meeting of the representatives of the countries participating in the plan, held about eighteen months ago,., it was decided to extend the life of the plan. The period escapes me at the moment, but I think it was for three years.
– Four years.
– Four years. At the end of that period, the matter will be considered again. Speaking entirely as an individual, 1 would expect the plan to continue indefinitely. In saying that, I do not speak on behalf of the Government, but merely voice, my own impression, not only with respect to Australia, but also with respect to all the other so-called donor countries. Speaking in the roundest of figures, Australia has spent very nearly £20,000,000 up to the present time, and it is committed to a contribution of about £12,000,000 in the future. That is in respect of the countries of South and South-East Asia. Those are round, figures. The commitments will mature, the material will be delivered, and the services in respect of the £12,000,000 will be rendered, in the course of the years immediately ahead - and I am speaking of the next two or two and a half years.
– I ask the Minister for Labour - and National Service: What stage has now been reached in the effort to man “ Kumalla “? Has the Minister any knowledge of secret payments being made to unions by some shipowners to allow their ships to be brought to, and taken from, Australia by non-Australian crews?
– I imagine that most honorable members have followed in the press the reports of the legal proceedings which have led to the manning of the other ships that were immobilized as a result of the “ Kumalla “ dispute. They indicate that, so far, the company has not succeeded: in engaging a crew for “ Kumalla “, though the failure or omission of the union to supply a crew would appear to be in direct contravention of the order of the tribunal in relation to that particular matter. It would appear to leave the union open to the imposition of a penalty for, I think, each day during which the failure to comply with the terms of the order continues.
– Is all this not sub judice?
– Not ail of it at -.he moment. The second matter raised oy the honorable member is - that is, whether some payments have been made by ihe shipping companies to the union in order to secure its acquiescence in the working of ships coming from overseas to Australia, ay other than Australian crews. All that I can say on that is that when I saw in the Melbourne papers yesterday the report of what the learned judge dealing with these matters had said, I asked for the transcript so that I could get his remarks in full. I shall confer with my colleague, the AttorneyGeneral, when we are both in a position to study the complete transcript.
-I ask the
Postmaster-General whether it is a fact hat, within the last two or three years, the Postal Department has ceased to keep a record of postal notes that have been cashed. Is it a fact that there is now no trace of postal notes that do not reach their destination, and that, in particular, this has caused a number of complaints from people who have sent money to Tattersall’s in Victoria, but have received neither Tattersalls tickets nor information from the Postal Department as to the thereabouts of the postal notes forwarded, although the numbers of the postal notes have been supplied?
– There are circumstances under which that is illegal.
– This use of the mails was illegal, too. If what I say is correct, I want to know from the Minister what benefit there is to the public in purchasing a postal note and sending it to another State, or even within a State, if there is no way by which the Postal Department can tell people what happens to it.
– The alteration in the postal notes system was made some time ago. It was found that to keep a close record of all postal notes taken out was very expensive and that the number of persons using postal notes who, from time to time, used these records, was so very, very small that the cost far outweighed any advantage derived therefrom. Therefore, a different system has been instituted. The postal note is simply a method of enabling people to send small amounts of money by post. The Postal Department does not make any charge which would enable it to compensate foi any loss; the charge merely covers the printing of the postal notes. Therefore, it is considered that, if any valuables or money are to be sent by post for which the person sending them desires some security, the registration system is available and should be used. The postal note system is not designed as a registration system and, for the reasons I gave earlier, the system of keeping records, which gained enormous proportions, was costly and was practically never used, has been cut out.
– Has the Minister for Labour and National Service seen the reported opposition of the Deputy Leader of the Opposition to the proposed ballot for national service training on the ground that such a ballot would be used unfairly against the sons of those in the lower income sections of the community? Does the Minister think the honorable gentleman is attempting to make partypolitical capital out of the defence preparations of this country? Will the Minister give an. assurance that such a system of balloting will be devised that not even the Deputy Leader of the Opposition will be able to question its integrity?
– I would find it difficult to believe that a person holding so responsible an office as the Deputy Leader of the Opposition would make such an irresponsible statement as that attributed to him by the honorable member for Barker. I have not seen the printed report of the statement and, therefore, I am prepared to give my opposite number the benefit of the doubt, unless the allegation is completely proven. But I say for the information of honorable members generally that a good deal of thought has already been given to the character and to the details of the balloting to be conducted in relation to the revised national service training scheme. As soon as practicable, I will inform the House and the public of the precise character of the ballot. All I wish to say at this stage is that this Government will conduct a ballot that is simple, fair, and easily understood by all who will be affected by it and that will in no way lend itself to the possibility of manipulation. There can be no question, so far as this Government is concerned, of any person being given preferential treatment over another.
– I draw the attention of the Acting Prime Minister to question No. 1 on the notice-paper, notice of which was given on 26th March, which reads as follows-
– Order ! The question is on the notice-paper.
– Very well. I ask the right honorable gentleman whether he will hurry a reply to that question.
– 1 certainly will do all I can to expedite a reply to the honorable member before he goes away to-day.
– My question is directed to the Minister for the Army. As recruiting for the Army has been retarded to a large degree by the lack of married quarters, and as the new Commonwealth and State Housing Agreement provides for the allocation of finance to build homes for servicemen, will the ‘Minister state the total number of houses which are to be provided under this agreement during the current year and, further, the number of houses already provided by each State in this connexion?
– The question raised by the honorable member for Maribyrnong is a very important one. It is true that we have been very worried about married quarters for members of the Army, and, as he says, that a certain number of houses were to be provided for the Army under the new Commonwealth and State Housing Agreement, which commenced about a year ago. Under that agreement the Army was to have received, for use as married quarters, 327 homes from the States. The year has almost expired, and up to date we have received only 129 of those homes. The strange feature of the matter is that, of those 129 homes, 104 have been received from two States, and 25 only from the other four States. I do not know whether there is significance in the fact that the two States that have provided the larger number of homes have Liberal governments, and that the four States which have provided only 25 homes are controlled by Labour governments. Victoria and South Australia have done magnificently in helping the Army in this matter, and Tasmania has done a very good job. The outstanding feature is. though, that New South Wales, from which we would have expected the greatest number of homes because it is the State with the greatest population, has provided precisely one house during the year. I remind honorable members that New South Wales, as I understand from recent discussions in this chamber, has had ample materials and man-power available to carry on building activities. It appears that while the money is available, the State of New South Wales is not using it even to provide houses for the Army and other services, which it previously contracted to do.
– I desire to inform the House that on Friday, 12th April, Mr. W. J. M. Campbell will retire from the position of Principal Parliamentary Reporter after 34 years’ service with the Commonwealth Parliament. Mr. Campbell has been associated with journalism and reporting all his working life. He began newspaper work in Broken Hill in 1908, when he was sixteen years of age. In 1913 he transferred to Adelaide and worked on metropolitan dailies there. From 1918 to 1921 he worked in the press gallery of the South Australian Parliament, and he then became a member of the South Australian “ Hansard “ staff. Two years later he was appointed to the Commonwealth Parliamentary Reporting Staff and he is now the only member of the staff who reported the Parliament when it sat in Melbourne. Mr. Campbell became Second Reporter in 1947 and Principal Parliamentary Reporter in 1948. In 1949 the Parliament was enlarged, and in 1955 the daily “ Hansard “ was introduced on the recommendation of a select committee. To Mr. Campbell fell the task of introducing the new system, reorganizing the staff and working out the necessary procedures with the Government Printing Office. Quite recently he was called upon to arrange for the preparation of a verbatim report of the proceedings of the Seato conference here in Canberra. Heads of visiting delegations publicly expressed their satisfaction with the quality of the report.
Now the time has come for Mr. Campbell to terminate his long association with the Parliament, and I think that we should record our appreciation of the valuable services that he has given over the years.
Honorable Members. - Hear, hear!
– 1 know that he will carry with him into his retirement the good wishes of all honorable members.
Honorable Members. - Hear, hear!
– We hope that he is long spared to enjoy the retirement that he justly deserves.
Honorable Members. - Hear, hear!
– by leave - I have very much pleasure in supporting the remarks that you have just made, Mr. Speaker, regarding Mr. Campbell, the services that he has rendered and his imminent retirement. One does this, of course, with mixed feelings. From any viewpoint, 34 years is a long time to have served in one position. In addition to the information that you have given us regarding Mr. Campbell’s record, Mr. Speaker, I should like to point out to the House - and it is appropriate for me to do so - that during his period of service with the Parliament he has seen fourteen different Parliaments and has served under nine Prime Ministers and nine Speakers. He has served not only the House of Representatives but also the Senate and the various committees of the Parliament that have been set up from time to time. I think we all must appreciate that this is a very fine record, and one of which Mr. Campbell can be justly proud. The fact that he has seen fourteen different Parliaments come and go is evidence in itself of the number of good speeches for which Mr. Campbell must have been responsible in his capacity as official “ Hansard “ reporter. Mr. Campbell carries with him the appreciation and the good wishes of honorable members on this side of the House and, I am sure, of all members of the Parliament, not only those who are here but also those who have been here and have benefited from Mr. Campbell’s splendid co-operation and other very fine characteristics. We extend to him, and to Mrs.
Campbell and their family, our best wishes that he will enjoy long life and a pleasurable time in his well-earned retirement.
– by leave - I have been asked by the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt) to express his very deep regret at the fact that illness keeps him away from the chamber this morning,, because he would most certainly have liked to be present to pay his tribute to Mr. Campbell for the excellent services that thiskindly and helpful gentleman has rendered to him and to every honorable member of the Opposition, both while we have been, on this side of the House and when we sat on the other side. He has been associated with the “ Hansard “ staff for over 34 years, and for nine years he has been the chief of that staff. The statements made by the Acting Prime Minister (Sir Arthur. Fadden) have the full concurrence of the Leader of the Opposition and all members of the Opposition. The Leader of the Opposition asked me to associate the Opposition with all sentiments uttered this morning in praise of the work that Mr. Campbell has performed so unobtrusively and so generously. He has always been available when any honorable member, from the newest to the oldest hand i» Parliament, has wanted some assistance.
Honorable Members. - Hear, hear!
– He has applied theinflexible rule of syntax, that every sentence must have a noun and a verb. No matterhow honorable members have departed intothe subjunctive mood, and no matter how long they have taken in reaching that necessary verb, Mr. Campbell has always seer* to it that we have not become lost in our parentheses; that we have on all occasions and in every speech, emerged from our sentences with the necessary predicate tucked under our arm. That, sir, is aremarkable feat of reporting. Enthusiasm, tiredness and various other human emotional weaknesses, of course, sometimes have made us terminate our sentences before we really reached the end and used that verb.
Mr. Campbell is not merely a “ Hansard “ reporter - and that is a very high profession - but he also has engaged in a lot of other activities. He is an author in his own right, and he has rendered great service to this community, in which he came to live when the Parliament was transferred from Melbourne. He has written three brochures dealing with the lives of three of the pioneer families of Canberra, and for that contribution to our historical knowledge all the people of the Territory and Australia are indebted to him. He, of course, had some historical precedents to inspire him. I understand that Charles Dickens was once a reporter in the gallery of the House of Commons, and even Thomas Babington Macaulay was a member of the “ Hansard “ staff of the British Parliament. We in this Parliament have known of two Commonwealth “ Hansard “ reporters who have achieved great fame, and I would hold this out as an encouragement to Mr. Campbell. There was the “ Hansard “ reporter who moved from his post to become Professor of History in the University of Melbourne, the late Professor Ernest Scott; and one of the first “ Hansard “ reporters in the Parliament in Melbourne was Charles Edward Frazer, who became a member of the second Parliament itself and, later, a Minister in the Fisher Government. I do not want to encourage Mr. Campbell to become a member of Parliament, although there are some seats any one of which he could win easily at the next general election. But at any rate, he will continue his good work for his church and for the community generally. He has been president, for one term, of the Young Men’s Christian Association, and has been associated with that body for quite a long period of years. He has been a good churchman, and I am not speaking flippantly when I say that he has practised what he preached. In that respect, he has given a fine example to everybody else in the community.
I join with the Acting Prime Minister in hoping that Mr. Campbell will have a long and happy life in retirement, that his wile and family will be long spared to share his company, and that health and happiness await them too, whilst their husband and father is doing good work for the community. From the point of view of his staff, there never was a more genial or kindly man. He has enjoyed and deserved remarkable popularity with all his colleagues on the “ Hansard “ staff over the period of 34 years that he has been here - the last man of the “ Hansard “ reporting staff in Melbourne to quit the staff since the National Capital took the National Parliament into its final possession.
.- by leave - I wish to associate myself in my official capacity, and also the members of the Liberal party, whose spokesman I can claim to be on this occasion, with the remarks that have already been made. We join very warmly in the tributes to a distinguished, loyal and able officer of this Parliament. Reference has been made to the remarkable and unique link which Mr. Campbell has maintained with the Parliament from the time when it functioned in the City of Melbourne to the present day. He is the only member of the reporting staff, I understand, with any personal link with the Parliament when it was located in Melbourne, and he is the only one who was on duty when the new parliamentary era commenced here in Canberra.
References have already been made to the work he did in Broken Hill and Adelaide, where, from time to time, his duties called for close contact with governmental and departmental activity; and so, when he now retires, it is after almost 50 years of close association with national and State affairs. Reference properly has been made to the diversity of his activity and interest in Canberra itself. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition, the honorable member for Melbourne (Mr. Calwell), has spoken of Mr. Campbell’s publication of historical pamphlets, and he has referred, too, to his work as president of the Young Men’s Christian Association and his activity in the church of which he is a member. Mr. Campbell also has been, I understand, president of the Rotary Club, so that although the Parliament has made heavy demands on his time, he has been able to give enthusiastic and energetic public service in these other fields as well. But it is in his capacity as our Principal Parliamentary Reporter in recent years, and as a member of the “ Hansard “ staff in the years before that, that most of us in this chamber have come to know him so closely and to value him so highly. He has succeeded in doing something that our mothers set out to do in our early years; he has made better men of us than we would have been had we been left to ourselves - at least, the record of “ Hansard “ would suggest that. Where we have dropped a grammatical stitch, he has been there to pick it up. Where there has been a break in the thread of our logic, he has been there to remove the knot and see that the line ran smoothly.
– You have kept him very busy!
– I have not kept him as busy as has the honorable member for East Sydney. “ Hansard “ has the reputation of being a great leveller, Mr. Speaker, but so skilfully have the Principal Parliamentary Reporter and his staff done their work that, although they have presented in intelligible English what has been said here for those who care to read the record of our proceedings, they have managed to retain something of the atmosphere and the flavour of this place. The record has not been so completely sterilized that there cannot be a recognition of what goes on. There is the levelling process, but it is still possible to detect differences of style, language and quality between, say, a speech from the right honorable member for Kooyong and i speech from the honorable member. for East Sydney. And long may this process continue!
I want Mr. Campbell to know that we remember him not only for having given us a record of our proceedings and yet retained, as I say, something of the character and flavour of this place, but also for the most welcome innovation which, I am happy to say, appears now to be permanent and well established, and which is of great convenience to honorable members and the public outside as well, our daily “ Hansard “. That has been a very great advance during the term of his leadership. I want him to know that there are many members of the Parliament who wished to take part personally in these expressions of goodwill and of commendation which are being made to him to-day. The members of the daily “ Hansard “ committee particularly, to which the honorable members for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth), Macquarie (Mr. Luchetti), Parkes (Mr. Haylen) and others made their contribution, were anxious to participate, as I know were many other members of the Parliament. We shall think of Mr. Campbell as a Principal Parliamentary Reporter who has become firmly established in our memories, not only by able service and by the warm, human qualities which he demonstrated that he possessed during his time here, but also as one who, by the innova tions brought about as a result of his own skilled, intelligent leadership, has made t» lasting contribution to the functioning of thi.Parliament. I join with, those who have assured him already that our good wishes, will accompany him in his retirement. He will go from this Parliament knowing that all of us who have come into contact with him regard him as a friend whom we would wish to retain for as long as our paths mav cross.
– by leave- I admit to a niggling sense of guilt in supporting these tributes because it may be that talkers such as myself, with terrific pace but not a great deal of direction, have driven Mr. Campbell from this House in his prime. However, we have all sinned in that regard. As a fellow journalist, a> a parliamentarian and as a member of thi- “ Hansard “ committee which gave to thi* Parliament a daily record of its proceedings, I thank Mr. Campbell for the splen did work he has done over such a long period and in so self-effacing a manner Mr. Campbell has suffered for a long time from speeches made in this House, but 1 am sure that the speeches made on this occasion will not cause him any suffering, because they convey our sincere appreciation of the work of a great servant of the Parliament.
I am told that, in addition to being a splendid reporter, he writes a copperplate shorthand. I have just looked at some of his shorthand outlines. Believe me, they have the pristine clarity that one would expect of a chief reporter. So we are not only reported perfectly in the round, but we are reported in perfect shorthand outlines. I have heard of his duties outside the Parliament - of his church work and his welfare work. I have heard that he has written books. I, too, have fallen into that mortal sin. I dare say that as he has sat in this House over the years and herded the working bullocks of debate into the paddocks of “ Hansard “, he has often sighed over what we were doing.
I suppose that, like myself, he has often wondered about some of the phrases that recur in this place. Perhaps in his retirement he will lead a crusade outside against phrases such as “ Honorable members rising in their places “. I am sure that nobody believes that there has been a transfiguration, that the members have been lifted up hy some outward force. A man just stands up. Mr. Campbell and I know that. Every man in the gallery knows it. Then there is that unique and almost Rabelaisian phrase, “ The honorable member who has just resumed his seat”. Surely it is not a detachable sort of thing! If it is, I have not *een it. In any case, I should deplore it. Then there is the final absurdity which Mr. Campbell must have recorded thousands -rad thousands of times - “ Our revered -colleague who has passed on “, Let us face ti. He is dead. That is all there is to it. I say those things in defence of journalism ind in defence of writing. Those phrases pierce the heart more than do ungrammati.:al utterances from this and other parts of he House. Ungrammatical utterances can <ie tailored, pruned or pumiced into shape, tout those awful bomb-shells hit us from Jay to day and eventually create in a man the desire to retire and grow tomatoes or something of that sort.
But let me return, Mr. Campbell, to your most honorable career. I envy you for the magnificent job that you have done. You nave done it as a servant of the people and n circumstances that redound to your credit in every way. On the executive side, ( should like to say that we felt for many rears that “ Hansard “ was a very dusty home indeed. It is so rare for me to pay a tribute to the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth) that I shall be very happy to do so on this occasion. He *as a dynamic member of the committee wat was appointed to see whether we could make “ Hansard “ a newspaper. If ever the electors of Mackellar were to desire - t is a highly desirable thought - to discharge the honorable member for his sins ?n this House, he could get a good job as a sub-editor on a suburban newspaper, provided that he had my recommendation, and probably Mr. Campbell’s too.
But let me return to the compliment that t intended to pay to the honorable member for Mackellar, and also to the honorable member for Macquarie (Mr. Luchetti). With the drive of the Principal Parliamentary Reporter behind us, we have been ible to create a “ Hansard “ which is, in truth, our daily paper. It is a magnificent thing, but it took a great deal of effort. We had not only to create it, but also to overcome a certain inertia. If a locomotive has been standing idle in a siding for two years, you have first to lift it up, in a sort of metaphysical process, and then you have to get steam up. In this case, we had to convince the Government Printer thai what we wanted ought to be done - and that, of course, was a work of major importance, as we all know. Then we had to convince many die-hards.
– And the Treasury!
– Of course, the Treasury can never be convinced, as the head of the Treasury knows, but it can always be bypassed, as he knows also.
– The Treasury may not be convinced, but it is always convicted.
- Mr. Campbell gave us a great deal of help in that job by his common-sense approach to it. In many ways, the greatest monument to his work in this Parliament lies in the splendid, typographically good, clear exposition of our speeches, reported in the good, round manner in which “ Hansard “ reports them.
Many speeches have been made on this occasion, and I do not want to add a long speech to them. I dare say that Mr. Campbell’s last chore here will be to record this debate, but at least he will be recording our heart-felt, sincere thanks for his grand services to the community and to the Parliament. As a working journalist myself, I thank him for the magnificent job he has done for our profession. As an Australian, I thank him for his devotion to the Parliament. We are all proud to have had a man of his calibre in the Parliament in charge of “ Hansard “. We hear that “ Hansard “ reporters have ascended from the floor of the House to the gallery, or have descended from the gallery to the floor of the House. Whatever Mr. Campbell is going to do in the future, I suggest to him, in all humility, that he seriously consider my first suggestion about good works outside the House, tomatoes, herbaceous borders and such things.
On behalf of the Opposition - our Deputy Leader has already spoken - I should like to add, on a more serious note, that we thank Mr. Campbell for his devotion to duty in this House. We know that his successors, trained by him, will maintain the standards of parliamentary journalism of which we are immensely proud. Our parliamentary journalism is, indeed, the best in the world.
– by leave - I want to add a few words to the expressions of goodwill that have already been extended to Mr. Campbell. I pay tribute to him as a member of this community, as one with whom I have been associated in various ways for the past ten years, as one for whom I have the greatest respect, and as one whose friendship I enjoy. Mr. Campbell has brought lustre to the profession of journalism. 1 had the privilege of being associated with him in the days when he was an active member of the Canberra Division of the Australian Journalists’ Association, and I know that the members of the division much appreciated the value of his thoughts on the problems that were then confronting them.
Mr. Campbell has been a true friend of every member of this House and of every member of the Senate. I admit that in earlier centuries it would have been most unusual for a Fraser to pay any kind of a tribute to a Campbell, but between this Fraser and the Campbell we are honouring there has always existed, and I hope there always will exist, a feeling of friendship.
It is true that the select committee on “’ Hansard “, of which I was a member, made the decision to establish a daily “ Hansard “, but it was on Mr. Campbell that the task fell of organizing and preparing for the production of the daily “ Hansard “ which has become a part of the life of this Parliament.
It seems to me that Mr. Campbell is far too young to retire from his position. That is clear on the face of it, as it were. I hope that the years that lie ahead will be years of pleasure and prosperity for him, and that the community will continue to profit from his activities in many spheres, including his great work for his church.
– by leave - On behalf of the daily “ Hansard “ committee, I should like to add a few words to what has been said. But for the technical assistance, the advice and the encouragement that we had from Mr. Campbell, I do not think that that task could have been performed successfully. Those of us who were on the committee would like to take this opportunity to express our gratitude to Mr. Campbell. I think the House will agree that what he has been able to achieve in the production of the daily “ Hansard “ has been well and truly worth while.
– by leaveI associate myself with the tributes that have been paid this morning to Mr. Campbell. I very earnestly express, is common with other honorable members goodwill towards him. I have known Mr. Campbell since boyhood, we having had mutual associations long ago. I knew him later in young manhood, also, and we have had constant contact through life. I was a member of the Parliament when it was located in Melbourne, at the time that Mr. Campbell came to be .associated with the “Hansard” staff.
I know of no man whose life and work have been higher in quality than Mr. Campbell’s. In his private life, as in his public duties, he has exemplified standards that we might all seek to emulate. He has been a man of tremendous worth in his. every association with community life. In his church life, of course, he has been very devoted, and has indicated in his own efforts that his activities in that sphere were truly a part of the faith that he professes. I feel that, with the retirement of Mr. Campbell, we are losing a man of great quality, a man who has proved to be a great inspiration and help to those who have worked with him. I hope that in the course of time I shall feel that I merit the goodwill, kindly respect and universal regard that this good man has earned by the wonderful offices he has rendered in his public duties as well as in his private life.
In common with other honorable members, I wish to say how much I have appreciated the good services rendered to the Commonwealth by Mr. Campbell. He has the unique distinction of being the object of unanimous agreement on the pan of this Parliament - because we all are agreed that we owe to him a high tribute for his merit and the sterling work he has performed as Principal Parliamentary Reporter of the Commonwealth. To him. and to his good wife, we express our very best wishes for a happy and a long life capable of expressing itself still in channels of great usefulness to the people of this country.
Honorable Members. - Hear, hear!
Motion (by Mr. Harold Holt) agreed to-
That the House, at its rising, adjourn until Tuesday, 30th April, at 2.30 p.m.
I have received from the honorable member for Hunter (Mr. James) 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 help in stabilizing the coal-mining industry in New South Wales by encouraging the establishment of new industries including those using coal and by not taking other measures to prevent dismissals and unemployment and consequent dislocation of communities.
Is the proposal supported?
Eight honorable members having risen in support of the proposal,
.- As the representative in this Parliament of a coalmining district I live in the midst of a community whose members have been extremely loyal to this country. On the occasions on <which appeals have been made to the coalminers of New South Wales to produce more coal they have nobly responded. They have, in fact, responded to such a degree that in my electorate there are mountains of coal at grass around every mine. It is a tragedy that, after having responded to the appeals for increased production, after having shown their loyalty to this country and the Mother Country in times of great need, coal-miners should now find themselves thrown on the industrial scrap-heap. In World War I. coal-miners in New South Wales enlisted in greater numbers, proportionately, than did the workers in any other industry. In World War II. the Commonwealth declared coal-mining to be a reserved occupation, and thereby forbade the enlistment in the armed forces of coalminers.
The present position on the coal-fields is shocking, particularly in view of the record of the miners in responding to appeals to increase production. For almost nine years I was a coal liaison officer, and in that capacity I appealed to the miners to increase production. They responded to my appeals, but, at the time, some of them were hostile to any suggestion of increased production. There are always some people in an industry who take a view contrary to that of the majority. I shall not mention the names or the brand of politics of these men. The point is that they said that the miners had produced so much coal during and after World War I. that the accumulation of stocks of coal at grass enabled the mineowners to lock the miners out of the mines for fifteen months in 1929 and 1930 and force a reduction of 12i per cent, in wages despite the fact that the miners were working under an arbitration award. It was that experience which, during World War II., made some of the miners reluctant to respond to appeals to increase the production of coal.
During the terms of the Curtin and Chifley Labour Governments the miners were told that there would be no more sufferings on the coal-fields, that industries would be established on the fields. Mr. Curtin started an industry there when he established the Rutherford munitions factory which, after the end of the war, was converted into a cotton mill, and still exists. As a result of electoral redistribution that factory is no longer in my electorate.
We want to see the establishment of industries on the coal-fields proper. The miners:, and those who represent them, particularly in the Cessnock area, are urging the establishment of a plant to extract oil from coal, such as I have been advocating for many years in this Parliament. On occasions when I have mentioned in this House the imperative need to establish such an industry in Australia, not only from the point of view of the welfare of the coal-mining industry but also from the point of view of our defence, industrial and transport requirements in the event of an interruption to overseas oil supplies in war, I have been asked why the Labour government did not establish such an industry when it was in office. My answer has been, and is, that the Labour government was in office for four years during the last war when every penny that it could raise had to be devoted to winning the war, and for four years after the war when all available funds had to be used for the transition to a peace-time economy, which included the rehabilitation of thousands of men and women discharged from the forces and their absorption into industry. The Government had no money at that time to invest in an oil-from-coal plant.
A committee known as the Committee for the Advancement and Promotion of the Coal Industry has been established under the efficient chairmanship of the Lord Mayor of Newcastle, Alderman Jones, which proposes to attack the problem of the coal industry through the work of special commissions comprising parliamentary and local government representatives, representatives of trade unions and churches, and businessmen. The committee has found that the coal crisis is due to a falling off in the demand for coal because of inadequate national development and the lack of an oil-from-coal industry in Australia. It says that, as a result of intense competition, more coal is now being produced by fewer miners. In the last five or six years the increase in the production of coal, with fewer men in the industry than before, has amounted to 40 per cent.
Already this year’s production far exceeds that of last year for the same period, the average weekly increase being in the vicinity of 40,000 tons. Wasteful methods of coal extraction and a lack of planning arc threatening the existence of the major mines, such as the rich Bellbird colliery. That is a colliery where honorable members will remember a disastrous explosion occurred about 1922 or 1923. Only when an explosion takes place and half the mineworkers are killed is there some little sympathy for these “ bad “ coal-miners, as they are termed. Yes, these men sometimes sacrifice their lives in the interests of the community, but they do not enjoy the amenities that city dwellers enjoy. Although the miners produce the fuel that makes the gas and the electricity, many mining areas have no gas or electricity themselves. It was estimated some years ago that because of wasteful, profit-dominated methods, up to 70 per cent, of available coal in the main Greta seam was likely to be lost. Already this year many mines have been closed and between 700 and 800 men have been dismissed. This figure is in addition to the 2,000 men dismissed during the past two years.
The mining communities depend on the coal industry. The failure to develop secondary industries in big towns like Cessnock and Kurri Kurri is threatening them with destruction. Are they to become ghost towns like John Brown’s Minmi? It is a tragedy to go through such towns to-day and see what is happening. This situation will be discussed by the Coalfields Convention, which will have before it specific proposals from the mining unions, councils, business people, and other sections of the community. These proposals include the development of an enterprise for the extraction from coal of its valuable chemicals and oils, the setting up of secondary industries, building of electric power stations, instituting of proper measures to safeguard the coal reserves, and adjustments in working conditions which it is essential that the coal-mining community should enjoy.
That is what this convention proposes to do to rehabilitate the coal industry. When I refer to the plight of these coal-miners and the extraction of oil from coal, I refer particularly to this present Government’s action in importing slush oil to compete with coal for power-raising purposes. That is a tragedy. A few years ago I went overseas at the request of the Labour government to interview various people. I attended a convention in London on the future of coalmining as it affected the world in general. I went through England, France and Germany, and I inspected plants which were extracting oil from coal. I was amazed to see that Germany had a far better process than Britain or France in this regard. Theirs was termed the Fischer-Tropsch process, whereas the other processes were the high temperature carbonization process and the low temperature carbonization process. These two latter processes are outdated by the German process. Germany did not have sufficient oil to carry on World War II. and coal resources saved Germany at that time.
Mine workers in this country have been extremely loyal and they are now very concerned about the fact that this Government is doing nothing to save coal towns. Why are those towns to go out of existence? Why should the coal industry suffer from lack of markets? What is this Government doing about it? Why do we have oil furnaces instead of coal furnaces in this building? We are setting a great example for others!
In the mining industry sons follow thenfathers into the mines. It is the only industry available for them. They have to become coal-miners. They have to take the risks that their fathers took before them. Some of their relatives may have been killed in mines. 1 am the youngest of twelve children and my eldest brother was killed in a mine. My father was crippled in a mine. That is the sad experience coalminers have and that is why they become bitter when the community refuses to do anything for them by setting up secondary industries. How would honorable members of this House like to go into a coal mine where their father or brother had been killed? That has been my experience. Honorable members may say that old Rowley is pretty tough, and perhaps I am, hut I think that secondary industries should he established in these coal-mining areas.
What happens to the daughters of these families? They have to go to Sydney to seek work. There is no work available for them on the coal-fields. There are no other industries there.
The Curtin Government did try to set up industries on the coal-fields, but what has this Government done? It has done nothing to assist those industries and most of them have gone out of existence now, but not because of any strikes. When the Rutherford munitions factory was proposed it was said that there would be nothing but strikes. And who said that? The present munitions head said it - I forget his name. It was some time before that factory was set up. However, eventually it was established at Rutherford, and not one day has been lost through a strike, either when it was a munitions factory or in its present capacity as a cotton mill. Therefore I say that the miners are not the striking people they are made out to be. There is generally some good reason for a strike.
There should be a national plan for new industries on the coal-fields. Miners have always been known to be very good and loyal workers - men who will never strike except when they have a cause. The munitions factory and the other undertakings that have been set up in those areas have never given the miners cause to strike. They have never tried to reduce their conditions in any way. Therefore I claim that this Government is deserving of the strictest censure when it will not attempt to set up other industries on the coal-fields to absorb the mine workers and their families. It would be something for them to look to. They know full well that the country depends upon them and they always respond to the country, but at the same time they will respond adversely if the boss is. trying to take advantage of them.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
– I have listened to the honorable member for Hunter (Mr. James) with interest and sympathy. He is a man who* has been immersed in the coal industry all his life. He knows a great deal about it. He has dealt warmly with a human problem - the problem of displacement of men in industry. Therefore he was entitled to be listened to with respect. But as he made the charge that the Government had failed to stabilize the coal industry, I want to make this reply. I do this knowing that it isperfectly true that, as a result of dislocation and re-adjustments in the industry, some men have lost their jobs and some have had to change their jobs. That is a human problem which anybody with understanding would treat with the sympathy it deserves.
But let us look at the state of the industry because that is the crux of all these matters. Have we failed to stabilize it? What have we done? I do not want to enter into recriminations or make charges or exacerbate anybody’s feelings, but in order to understand the industry in Australia to-day we must look at what it was a few years ago. May I remind honorable members of the state of the industry in, say, 1949 or 1950? Everybody knows the story, lt was a story of desperate shortage of coal. It was the story of an industry being riven and torn by strikes and dissensions which caused shortages of coal. It was a story of black-outs which citizens in other Stateseven as far away as Adelaide, which depended on New South Wales coal, had tosuffer. It was a story of the intolerable inconveniences which those black-outs and shortages caused. It was a story of lost markets, one after the other. It was a story of other industries turning to oil and alternative means of power rather than rely upon coal fire power. That was the position in 1949. Again, without recrimination, it must be said that if ever a group of men bestowed self-inflicted wounds upon themselves it was the miners’ federation and the coal-miners of those days. That was the picture in 1949 and 1950.
Now I want to quote one sentence out of the celebrated report by Mr. Justice Davidson, who was the coal commissioner appointed by the government some years ago and whose report, I know, is treated by all members in this House with the respect it deserves. It was a most distinguished report by a most distinguished judge. He said -
A stage has been reached in the industry which borders on disaster. The threatening crisis demands bold measures.
That was in 1946. By 1949, the position had got even worse.
Let us look at the picture to-day, compared with that brief vignette that I have given of the state of affairs seven or eight years ago. The picture to-day is one of steadily rising production to which the miners themselves have made their contribution. In 1949, black coal production was 9,388,600 tons. In 1950, the output was 1 1,196,000 tons. In 1951, production rose to 11,224,200 tons. With the exception of 4a setback of a few tons in 1953, production has gone up steadily and, in 1956, it was 14,029,900 tons. That is an indication of increasing health in the industry. It is an indication of a steady and remarkably good raising of production.
Capital investment in the industry is also important because it indicates the rising confidence of the people who are risking their money in the industry. In 1953-54, about £3,991,000 of new capital was invested in the industry. The amount rose in 1955. It dropped a little in 1956, but the estimate of the amount of capital that will be invested in the industry in 1957 is £5,000,000. That is another useful indication of increasing health in the industry. We have also been able to recapture some of the export trade that we lost in the tragic years of which I spoke earlier. This year, the export trade of the industry will amount to about £1,500,000. That is due to the efforts of this Government and also to the efforts of the Joint Coal Board in seeking markets abroad. That amount of £1,500,000 would have been larger if the port of Newcastle had been able to handle more coal.
Another indication of the increasingly healthy state of the industry is that the cost of production has been falling quite steadily over the years of which I have spoken. Of course, that is really the crux of, and the key to, this situation, because the factor that made States such as South Australia and Victoria turn away from New South Wales coal was the cost of production. However, that has been falling steadily in spite of competition. The reason for it is increased efficiency and better output. When I say “ better output “, I mean better output by the men as well as the management. There has been more peace in the industry. There has been a better atmosphere. The men have had a better attitude towards the work in which they are engaged. Output per man shift has increased in the years from 1950 onwards. The output per man shift in 1950 was 3.21 tons. In 1951, it rose to 3.32 tons. In 1952, it was 3.35 tons. There was a slight drop in the faint recession period that we had in 1952-53. There was a drop to 3.34 tons in 1953, but by 1954 output was up to 3.45 tons. In 1955, the figure was 3.52 tons, and in 1956 it was 3.69 tons - again an indication of a new attitude and of a healthy industry.
All that means, in the terms of Mr. Justice Davidson’s report, that the bold measures which were taken have been bringing their reward and that the crisis which threatened the industry, bringing it, as he said, to the borders of disaster, has been overtaken. That has meant the changes, fluctuations and dislocations which are likely to happen in any industry at any hour of the day in every place in the world. It is not possible to have complete stability at all times. The closing of some mines which have become uneconomic in some districts has resulted in changes of employment in some fields and a degree of unemployment in the industry. But there is not a great degree of unemployment in the industry. There has been a falling off in the total number of men employed in the industry, certainly. But in the whole of the Newcastle-Maitland district only 36 miners are drawing unemployment relief at this time. That is not to say that there are not men there who want to get back into the coal industry. But the statistics issued by the Department of Labour and National
Service do indicate that the degree of hardship has not been great, because men have been re-absorbed into other industries.
– The Minister does not know what he is talking about. That is the lawyer’s approach.
– Let the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) laugh this one off if he can. I agree entirely with the statement of the Premier of New South Wales, as reported in this morning’s newspaper, that he thinks that this crisis, as he calls it, is temporary. I believe that we now have a healthy industry and that the dislocation that has taken place and the hardships that have been suffered are temporary.
– Does the Minister think that it is not a crisis, but merely a problem?
– Here is another “ no crisis “ Minister.
– It is like Alice in Wonderland: “ Words mean what I want them to mean,” says the honorable gentleman from East Sydney. I agree with the New South Wales Premier that what he describes as a crisis is something temporary. The Commonwealth, through the Department of National Development, the Department of Labour and National Service, and the Joint Coal Board, which is a joint Commonwealth and State enterprise, has all the time, with loving care, done its best to cushion the shocks that are suffered by individuals, and not only to maintain and improve the healthiness and prosperity of this industry, but also to avoid the human problems involved.
– What has this Government done?
– As I have said, we have been vigorously pursuing the search for new markets, and we have obtained new markets. The South Australian railways trade is beginning to come back to us, I read; the power station trade from other States is beginning to come back also; and the Electricity Commission of New South Wales is constructing vast generating plants that will increase the consumption of coal. Now that our prices are lower and more economic, and now that missions are going abroad, as they have done at the direction of this Government, we are optimistic about the future of the industry, Mr. Acting Deputy Speaker. But, of course, the coal industry is not only a Commonwealth responsibility. In fact, in terms of constitutional power, the real responsibility lies with the New South Wales Government, which has the coal-fields under its jurisdiction and has nearly all the constitutional power. The Commonwealth can do only what it hasbeen doing under the joint Commonwealth and State legislation within the terms of which the Joint Coal Board operates.
Rail freights also are involved in the problem, and the responsibility for increased freight charges must be laid at the door of the New South Wales Government. Wharf facilities also are involved in the problem, and responsibility for the inadequacy of those facilities must be laid at the door of the New South Wales Government. The establishment of other industries on the coal-fields has been talked about, and some additional industries are being established. That also is primarily a matter for the State Government. The Commonwealth, for its part, will do what it can to make the industry healthy and more productive, to increase its output, to make its product cheaper, and to enable it to recapture more and more of the world’s markets. We believe that this Government, has a good record. We understand the problems involved. If I may repeat my own words, all the Commonwealth departments and agencies concerned have approached the personal problems of the miners with loving care, and the Commonwealth proposes to do all that it can to sustain the industry and take care of the men engaged in it.
.- I support the remarks of the honorable member for Hunter (Mr. James), who pro* posed this subject for discussion as a matter of urgent public importance. I congratulate him on the presentation of the case that he put to the House. The Minister for Supply (Mr. Beale) has not answered the honorable member’s arguments, and 1 am extremely disappointed that the Minister, in discussing this matter, did not offer any ray of hope, made no reference to brighter prospects for the future of this industry,, and did not indicate how the mining towns; villages, and districts are to be stabilized. The honorable member for Hunter painted a tragic picture of the circumstances of workers engaged in an important industry. In view of the importance of the coal industry to the people of Australia, especially in the difficult days of war, and in the post-war period, one would have expected the Minister for Supply, more than any other Minister, to indicae what is to be done to maintain the industry and to take care of those people who, the Minister said, have adopted a better attitude, and in his own words, “ Have increased coal production in such a splendid fashion “. What is to be their reward for that work and service? Is it to be subjection to a continual process of sacking until the industry ceases to have any importance in Australia?
The Minister stated that there is nothing seriously wrong with the industry, and that we shall soon overcome our difficulties. In that statement, the Minister disagrees quite considerably with the view of the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies), who, in reply to a question on notice asked by me, stated yesterday, referring to unemployment in the coal industry -
This has happened already, it will continue to happen and some displacement of the workers concerned will be unavoidable. I am well aware that such a situation creates an upheaval in the lives of the miner displaced and of his family.
The Prime Minister admits that. He admits that there have been mass dismissals from ihe industry and that dismissals will continue. This is not the fault of the workers in the industry. Some 1900 fewer men than were engaged in the industry two years ago are now employed, but despite the reduced employment, production has continued to soar. One would think that, out of gratitude to a body of workers who have served the nation so well, the Government would so plan the economy, either through the Minister for Supply or the Minister for National Development (Senator Spooner), as to preserve the industry, if not to make spectacular development, at least to meet future needs for coal occasioned by Australia’s development. Who among us who sit in this house would suggest for a moment that Australia has already reached the zenith of its development and expansion? Surely we who are trying to plan a greater, better, and more prosperous Australia must think in terms of economic expansion! This Government apparently considers that Australia can absorb vast numbers of people. If we are to take into our community large numbers of immigrants and greatly expand out population in building a greater Australia, surely we must stabilize a vital industry such as the coal industry in order to enable it to play its part in this development.
We should view the matter from another stand-point also. The important coalproducing centres that have played their part in the nation’s development, and have provided the fuel for the generation of heat and power in both war and peace, ought to be maintained on a stable basK I say to the Minister for Supply and th:Government that it is this Government’* responsibility, through the agency of the Joint Coal Board, and with the support oi the State governments, to try to overcome this crisis. One reads from time to time of the Government’s attitude in planning the development of Australia. I ask it, in its planning for development, to save the mining towns. On the northern coal-field^ of New South Wales practical action ineeded now. It is not enough to allow i> to wait for the future. If the town of Cessnock is to be saved, it must be saved now. Its salvation cannot be left to the future. This is not a matter of planning new settlements as part of some visionary scheme. It is a matter of preserving the rich coal resources of the northern coalfield and the other coal-fields of New South Wales, enabling them to meet the present needs of the people of Australia, and keeping them available for greater production when the need arises in the future, because, as I have said, Australia has not reached the zenith of its development.
In the Lithgow district, employment in the coal industry has been reduced by 1,350 men, and mines are continuing to close. One colliery, which employs 216 workers, will close its doors permanently on 30th June next. The Government should take up the challenge presented to it by this state of affairs, instead of attacking the miners for what it alleges they have done in the past. That is no answer to the problem, because it has been admitted by the Minister for Supply that, in recent times, the record of the miners has been remarkably good, and that production has greatly increased. In the first nine
Weeks of this year, the average weekly production increased by 39.000 tons. The situation presents a challenge to the Government. What is it going to do about ft, for it is largely responsible? In the first place, clear-cut promises were made to the members of the miners’ federation, and others engaged in the mining industry, that if they would apply themselves to the task of producing coal their jobs would not be in jeopardy. All that I ask this Parliament, and the Ministry, to do is to honour that promise and obligation. The community owes a debt of gratitude to miners, and to mine workers generally, for the part thai they have played. That gratitude could be expressed by doing something practical to safeguard the mine-fields and the mining industry.
What is required? Surely it is simply a matter of getting on with the extraction of by-products from coal. There is undoubtedly a shortage of coke in this country, and New Caledonia cries out for coke, to use in its nickel industry. The Australian Government could help to set up a byproducts industry . for hydrogenation, for low-temperature carbonization, and for the production of coke and other synthetics. All these things are important and should engage the attention of the Government. If the Ministry is not prepared, as it should be, to develop this industry and look after the miners, I ask it, please, to get on “with the job of providing alternative employment. Many men who have applied themselves earnestly to acquiring great mining skills are approaching retirement, and cannot be expected to look for work in other fields. It may be said that very few miners are registered as unemployed. I believe that to be true, but the miners are very independent and will seek jobs in other fields. Is it right that they should be compelled to leave their homes, their friends, and the amenities and services that they have enjoyed? If that happens the Commonwealth and the States will have to develop new Communities, new schools and new shopping centres and the mining towns will be deserted and neglected.
Order! . The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- The honorable member for Hunter (Mr. James), in moving his motion this morning, referred to the loyalty of the coal-mining community as a whole. I quite agree with him. 1 have had the opportunity of growing up in a coalmining area, and of going to school with many who are now coal-miners. I agree with the honorable gentleman regarding their service in World War 1., and 1 had the privilege of serving with their sons, in World War II. Therefore, so far as I am concerned, the community effort of the coal-mining people is not the question to be decided in this debate.
As I understand the motion, it is suggested that because of alleged lack of leadership from this Government, the industry finds itself in its present position. Nothing is further from the truth. Certainly, the industry finds itself in a change-over period after a long series of difficulties resulting from lack of leadership. But that lack of leadership is to be found in the miners’ federation. That is the great tragedy of the Australian coal-mining industry. For many years it has suffered from bad leadership within the miners’ federation itself. For instance, the Minister for Supply (Mr. Beale) referred to the Davidson report, made in 1946, when the Chifley Government was in office, and the honorable member for Hunter himself was coal liaison officer. The report stated -
A stage has been reached in the industry which borders on disaster, and the threatening crisis demands bold measures.
The industry was in such a bad state that the Chifley Government, in conjunction with the New South Wales Government, decided to set up a joint coal board; but that board did not come into its own until this Government took office in 1 949. After that, as a result of the measures that were taken, the industry did become stabilized. To support my argument about bad leadership in the miners’ federation I remind honorable members that in 1949, during the regime of the Chifley Government, and when conditions had reached their worst, Mr. Justice Foster, in addressing Messrs. Williams and Grant - the two chief miners’ leaders - during contempt proceedings, said -
You two gentlemen and your organization have set yourselves against the law, as personified by this Court and by your Parliament. You have professed the loyalty to your own members against the interest and welfare of all other workers in Australia, against the community as a whole and against all law and the Government. That is a big thing to do. It is ais.) a terrible thing to do and should not lightly bc undertaken. There are institutions in this country set up by the will of the people, which il is commonly believed are competent to solve the problems thai you two gentlemen and your organization are anxious to solve. They can be solved without hardship to you or to the great mass of people. You not only have refrained from pursuing that course, hut you refuse to follow it, and so you impose upon the community for whom 1 speak the great distress and hardship that you have inflicted on them.
This bad leadership accounted for the terrible conditions that existed in the industry at that time. The Minister for Supply told us again this morning of the progress that has been made through the coordinated efforts of this Government and the Joint Coal Board. The Government has provided a far better atmosphere for stability and progress in the industry. I remind honorable members that when the honorable member for Hunter and his colleagues were in government there was very little investment or progress in the industry, but the confidence engendered by the leadership of this Government, in co-operation with the Joint Coal Board, in introducing more modern and efficient methods of coalmining, has resulted in far more investment than hitherto. For example, in 1953-54 it was £3,991,000. In 1954-55 it was £3,672,000; and in 1955-56 it was £5,079,000. That is merely another example of the effect of the good leadership shown by this Government.
The conditions which have been described as characterising the change-over period are not new. They have been present for some time. One wonders why the Opposition should suddenly decide to put this motion before us. it is common knowledge, of course, that next Saturday there is to be a State by-election in Kahibah. The Opposition is trying to obtain some benefit by highlighting the troubles of the coal-mining industry, which no one denies, for the sole purpose of trying to make some political capital and obtain a few more votes.
The important thing to realize is that the leadership of the democratic socialists who sit opposite is going closer and closer to the left. One has only to look at the miners’ own paper, “ Common Cause “, to see their solution to this problem. It is given on page 5 of the issue on Saturday, 6th April, 1957 - “ Nationalize mines! Introduce 7 hr. Day! “
Opposition Members. - Hear, hear!
– 1 hear approbation from honorable members opposite. They have the answer completely within their own power. The sovereign State of New South Wales can nationalize the New South Wales mines if the government so desires, lt is also common knowledge that the mention of nationalizing the coal mines made hy the New South Wales Government is only a gesture to the leaders of the miners’ federation, who desire it. It is well known that the New South Wales Government has no desire and little intention to nationalize the coal mines within New South Wales.
To support my point regarding how much closer to the left the leaders of the democratic socialists are, 1 mention thai on the same page 5, immediately after “ Common Cause “ asks for the introduction of a 7-hour day in Australia, I find the announcement that hours in Russia have been reduced and that Mr. W. Parkinson, the general president, has received a letter from Mr. Paul Plikhin, president of the Soviet Coal Miners Union, which concludes b> saying that Mr. Plikhin hopes “ that this exchange between our organisations will, in the near future, lead to ‘ establishment of direct contacts and exchange of delegations which will be a further contribution to strengthening friendly relations between miners’ trade unions of Australia and the U.S.S.R.’” I feel that it is wise to bring that matter to the notice of the House and of the people, especially at the present time when certain people within the Australian electorate are being called upon to make their choice between candidates offering from one side or the other.
.- Mr. Acting Deputy Speaker-
Motion (by Mr. Beale) put -
That the business of the day be called on.
The House divided. (Mr. Acting Deputy Speaker - Mr. W. R. Lawrence.)
Majority . . . . 18
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Suspension of Standing Orders.
Motion (by Mr. Harold Holt) - by leave agreed to -
That so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent Notice of Motion No. 1, General Business, being taken as next business and consequent motions being moved for the first and second readings of the Matrimonial Bill 1957.
Sitting suspended from 12.44 to 2.15 p.m.
Mo:ion (by Mr. Joske) agreed to -
Thai leave be given to bring in a bill for an act relating to marriage and matrimonial causes and. in relation thereto, parental rights and the custody of infants.
Bill presented, and read a first time.
.- “I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
This is a bill relating to marriage and matrimonial causes, and in relation thereto, parental rights and the custody of infants. The bill seeks to bring about a uniform set of laws for the Commonwealth, to take the place of the diverse sets of laws which at present exist in the various States and Territories of Australia.
I think it is only right that 1 should sax something about the background and history of the bill and pay some tribute to those who have helped to bring it to its present stage. In 1947, the right honorable member for Barton (Dr. Evatt), who was then Attorney-General, set up a committee of three members of the bar, Mr. S. V. Toose, later Mr. Justice Toose, Judge in Divorce in New South Wales, Mr. Harry Alderman. Q.C., and myself. This committee formulated a draft bill. I must express my gratitude to the right honorable member for Barton for having given me the opportunity to direct my energies towards the production of the draft bill, and for having put me in a position to work on the bill, which I have been doing ever since that time.
Subsequently, the Law Council of Australia requested Mr. Alderman and me to prepare a bill on the subject. We considered that the best bill that we could produce was the one that we had already drafted in association with Mr. Justice Toose. That bill was circulated among the law societies of Australia. It was accepted by the majority of them. In fact, it was accepted by all of the societies from which replies were received by the Law Council of Australia. Various amendments were suggested by the different societies. Mr. Alderman and 1 gave most careful consideration to those amendments, and we accepted those that we thought would be useful and valuable. The bill was then accepted in its final form by the Law Council of Australia. Since that time, various discussions have taken place with regard to the original draft, and some amendments have been made to it. but the bill as presented to the House to-day is in substance the bill which was originally drafted by Mr. Alderman and me, incorporating some amendments made by the law societies. l should like to pay tribute to the work done by Mr. Justice Toose and Mr. Harry Alderman, and to thank them for the great help and encouragement that they have at all times during the last ten years given to me in my work of endeavouring to produce a bill that will satisfy this House. 1 should also like to thank those members of the public and many associations who have encouraged me to persist in this work of preparing the bill and bringing it before the House. I think that 1 should thank the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies), the Leader of the House, the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Harold Holt), and members of the Cabinet for their undertaking to allow sufficient time for debate on the bill so that the House may be able to consider it fully. I also thank the clerks of the House for the assistance they have given me. I wish to pay tribute to the Parliamentary Draftsman, and particularly to his assistant, Mr. Comans, who has taken a tremendous amount of care in the preparation of this bill. One may say that the latter has shown real devotion in the way in which he has applied himself to the task of putting the bill into a form that will meet all possible constitutional objections, and would even satisfy the meticulous eye of a chief “ Hansard “ reporter.
This bill will be enacted, should the Parliament so choose, pursuant to the constitutional power. There is full power under the Constitution to make laws upon this subject of marriage and matrimonial causes. It is intended that the laws of the Commonwealth shall take the place of the existing State laws, but, as various persons may have vested rights under the State laws, it is not intended that those State laws should be superseded until the end of 1958. That should allow ample time for those with vested rights under State laws to take their proceedings under those laws.
I come now to the policy contained in the bill. In the first place, it is a matrimonial bill. What it seeks primarily lo bring about is reconciliation of married people who are living apart and who are estranged, lt is strongly opposed to separation. In that respect it is not only sound in principle but also well justified in law. At one time all separations were entirely opposed to public policy, and even to-day agreements between husband and wife for future separation are considered contrary to public policy.
Reconciliation is sought to be brought about, under this bill, in three ways, by a request made by one of the parties to the other, by proceedings, being taken in order to bring about reconciliation, or, even at the late stage when the parties are in a divorce court, by the judge himself interrupting the proceedings and taking steps to reconcile the parties. I shall deal with these three ways in which it is hoped reconciliation will be effected. At the present time, when parties are living separately and apart pursuant to a verbal arrangement, one party may say to the other, “ Come back “, and if that other has no reasonable excuse for not coming back and fails to come back, desertion starts as from the date of refusal to come back. The bill provides, with regard to all agreements for separation, whether they be verbal or in writing, or even formally made under seal - by deed, as it is called - that where one spouse says to the other, “ Come back “, and there is no reasonable excuse for failing to come back, and in fact there is a refusal to come back, then as from that time desertion shall start. In other words, the bill endeavours to dispel the idea which is fairly widespread in the community to-day that one may live in a state of being both married and unmarried. Persons who have this idea will be told, “ Either you become reconciled or you will be liable to be divorced “. The second way of effecting reconciliation is by taking proceedings for restitution of conjugal rights, and I emphasize, taking genuine proceedings for that purpose and not proceedings for any specious purpose of getting a divorce. It is provided that those proceedings may be taken. It is not provided that, if there is a 21 days’ breach of the order to return, divorce proceedings may then be taken. That provision, which exists under the law of one State, is noi included in this proposed law. It is intended that the procedure of restitution of conjugal rights shall be a genuine procedure, used only for the purpose of genuinely endeavouring to obtain reconciliation of the spouses. If three years pass from the date of the order for restitution and there has been no return, then the period of three years’ desertion will be complete, and the position will be the same as with any other period of three years’ desertion - there will be a right to divorce. But I emphasize that restitution proceedings are provided for in the bill only for the genuine purpose of obtaining reconciliation.
The third way in which it is hoped to obtain reconciliation is by providing that, even at the late stage when divorce proceedings have been started, and even, if necessary, at the trial of the proceedings, if the judge thinks that there is a chance of bringing the parties together, then, of his own motion, he is entitled to intervene, to interview the parties and endeavour to bring about reconciliation. Should a husband decline without just cause to accept reconciliation which is offered to him, he will, of course, be liable to pay maintenance to his wife. A new procedure will be provided by the bill which will apply not only to the case in which reconciliation is refused, but also to any case in which a husband has wilfully neglected to pay reasonable maintenance to his wife and children.
Up to the present time in this country, maintenance can be obtained by a wife outside the divorce proceedings, or judicial separation proceedings, only by going to a police court and there obtaining a maintenance order; but that procedure has proved defective. Frequently, wives are not able to get orders, and in many cases they are not able to get adequate orders because of the defects of that particular jurisdiction. This new jurisdiction is. therefore, to be given to the higher courts so that they may make a direct order for the maintenance of a wife and children. This does not mean that the jurisdiction of magistrates to order maintenance is being taken away. No doubt in the future, as in the past, most maintenance orders will be made by magistrates, but the bill provides a new jurisdiction, so that wives who previously could not get either an order at all. or an adequate order in a lower court, will be able to obtain one from the Supreme Court.
The result is that it will be no longer necessary to have any provision for judicial separation. The whole notion of judicial separation springs from the past, lt comes from the day when the husband had practically a patriarchal authority over the wife; when he not only possessed all her property and was able completely to control and have absolute custody ot the children, but also was able to exercise physical restraint over his wife. Those days, happily, have passed. To-day, a judicial separation, on the occasions when it is used - and it is very rarely used - is only employed for the purpose of getting maintenance. The new procedure by which the wife may get maintenance from the higher courts will make the procedure of judicial separation completely outmoded. Since the policy of the bill is against separation, the judicial separation, or the separation by court order, is dropped. Just as the bill is opposed to separation, so there is no ground of divorce provided because of separation.
That, Mr. Deputy Speaker, represents the position with regard to the change in the nature of the jurisdiction of the court and the policy behind that particular part of the bill. The next matter to which I wish to invite attention is the question of domicile. An Australian domicile is provided by the bill. Domicile, as honorable members probably know, is, in the main, the basis of divorce jurisdiction. Domicile is a technical, legal, conception which I must very briefly, and from the point of view of a lawyer, inadequately, explain. Domicile, in effect, means that a person must have a permanent home in a particular country. That is where he is regarded as being domiciled; but by technical rules of law, a woman, on marriage, takes the domicile of her husband, and even though she has never lived in the country in which he is domiciled, she has to go to that country in order to obtain matrimonial relief. That is so whether she has the money to be able to go there or not. She must go to that country. This House has, on occasions, introduced legislation which has greatly alleviated that position, hut that legislation has been subject to certain technicalities. Residence, as distinct from domicile, has been made a qualification, but “ residence “ also has a technical, legal meaning. The case of a person moving from State to State without ever acquiring a permanent home in a particular State raises the question of whether he was ever domiciled in any part of Australia. Similarly, the case of a person chancing his residence from one State to another raises the question of whether he has changed his domicile from one State to another. There are various legal technicalities in regard to the matter, and therefore it is proposed in this bill that, instead of there being a State or territory domicile, as there has been in the past, domicile in the future shall be domicile in Australia, so that wherever a person lives in Australia he may take proceedings in that particular part. But in order that women shall not be deprived of their pre-existing rights, it is also provided that a deserted wife shall still be able to take proceedings here; that a wife who has been resident here for three ye;irs, which is the usual period for a man to acquire domicile in a country, also shall be able to take proceedings in Australia. She is to be regarded, for the purposes of this bill, as a person domiciled in Australia. In this way, not only have we created Australian domicile, but also we have put men and women on exactly the same basis before the law, so that both may take the legitimate proceedings to which they are entitled under the bill. It is also provided, with regard to matters such as nullity of marriage and so forth, the original jurisdiction of which comes from the old ecclesiastical procedure, that the same grounds of jurisdiction which have always existed with regard to those matters shall still be continued.
I have already mentioned some of the matters concerning jurisdiction covered by the bill, and 1 shall recapitulate them briefly. The bill provides for jurisdiction in matters of restitution of conjugal rights, the dissolution of marriage, the nullity of marriage in what is called jactitation of marriage - that is. holding oneself out as married when one is not married; and it also provides this procedure for maintenance. In addition, power is given to make declarations as to the validity of marriage, or as to the validity of decrees of dissolution or nullity of marriage. Provision is made for the creation of a federal divorce court but, as it will be for the Government to determine whether it will have a federal divorce court, it is provided that that part of the bill shall be subject to proclamation by the Governor-General. For the rest, jurisdiction is vested in the courts of the territories, and federal jurisdiction is given to the supreme courts of the States. The supreme courts of t*ie States will retain their present jurisdiction, as I have already said, until the end of 1958, and from then on they will be able to exercise federal jurisdiction only pursuant to this legislation.
Provision is made in the bill for uniform grounds for divorce. At present, not only are there separate systems of law relating to divorce in the States, but the grounds for divorce vary greatly from State to State. In fact, there are over 30 grounds for divorce in Australia, and many of them overlap, lt does not seem to be right that in one nation there should be separate systems of law governing such vital, personal rights of citizens. The fact that people live in different parts of Australia is no reason why their personal law should be subject to different rules. Consequently, it is regarded as proper to have brought in a uniform series of rules with regard to divorce and to have set out uniform grounds for divorce.
The questions arise: What are those grounds to be? On what basis are we to approach the matter? Of course, much depends on the point of view. One must realize that the subject of divorce has vexed and perplexed the minds and the consciences of many people. Notwithstanding that divorce is now 100 years old in England - the first divorce court was established there under the act of 1857 - and that we have had divorce in this country for well-nigh 100 years, there are still many people who say that they are so opposed to divorce that the only divorce that they would regard as satisfactory is no divorce at all. There are many other people who say, “ If you must have divorce, make the grounds as narrow as possible “. There are others who are quite satisfied so long as you give them a divorce for the reasons they themselves want divorce. They are not worried about the anxieties of other people. Then, if we go in the other direction, we find people who say, “ If you are going to make divorce reforms, make your reforms drastic “. None of those views appeals to the people who wish to bring about uniform grounds for divorce in this country.
The justification for divorce is that the law should meet the requirements of life; that divorce is not a disease, but a remedy for disease; that marriages are not broken by courts, but by various causes; and that where marriages have completely broken down for substantial reasons, this matrimonial relief should be given. To-day, divorce is not regarded in any sense as u stigma, as it was at one time. Divorce is regarded as a remedy in those cases in which marriages have broken down f jr substantial reasons. Consequently, peo, le are prepared to approve of reasonable divorce laws, based upon human needs, which will terminate improper social conditions and which, in fact, do not lessen the sanctity of married life.
If the approach is made from that angle, the question then is: What is the test of reasonableness? As I have pointed out, we have had in each of the States a set of divorce laws for close on 100 years. When one comes to examine the various grounds for divorce, one sees that in many of the States the same grounds recur and that, over the years, the States have approved of divorces being given on certain grounds. Therefore, it has been thought that we may safely say that the people of this country reasonably believe that those are suitable grounds for divorce. Consequently, the grounds which have been named in the bill are grounds which have been accepted in all or in most of the States for a long period of years. 1 propose at this stage to indicate to the House the grounds for divorce which are named in the bill. Eight grounds for divorce are named. As I have explained, there are over 30 grounds for divorce, in *11. throughout Australia. In the bill they have been brought, down to eight in number. They are, first, adultery, secondly, three years’ wilful desertion without just cause or excuse; thirdly, three years’ habitual drunkenness, coupled, in the ca e of a man, with habitual cruelty or habitually leaving his wife without means of support for the like period, or, in the case of a woman, habitual neglect of domestic duties tor the like period; fourthly, unnatural offences on the part of the man; fifth’y repeated assaults and cruel beatings; sixthly, that within a period of five years the husband has been frequently convicted, has been sentenced in the aggregate to imprisonment for over three years and has habitually left his wife without means of support; seventhly, incurable insanity. coupled with detention in a government institution for five years of the six years preceding the petition; and finally, the ground known as presumption of death, that is, that the respondent in the case has been away from the other party for such time and under such circumstances, and has not been known to be alive during that time, that he should be presumed to be dead.
I have said that those grounds have been accepted in al! or in most of the States, Three of them - adultery, three years’ desertion and unnatural offences by a man - have been accepted in all the States. Three others - habitual drunkenness, insanity and frequent convictions - have been accepted in five of the States. The ground of repeated assault and cruel beatings has been accepted in four of the States, although in one State the term used is somewhat different. In three of the States, the ground of presumption of death has been accepted. That ground, which is noncontentious, has been accepted also in New Zealand and in England. It covers cases where a person who was originally a deserter has been away for so long that a court would be reluctant to grant a divorce, on the ground of desertion, because it would say that the person probably was dead. Because of that attitude, this sensible ground has been brought in. The bill provides that seven years’ absence without having been known to be alive is sufficient prima facie evidence of death and, until the contrary is proved, is sufficient to found a case.
In addition, various provisions designed to remove anomalies and technicalities from the law of desertion have been introduced into the bill. I have already mentioned the fact that a separation can now be terminated by a request to return, and if there is no reasonable excuse for refusing to comply with the request, desertion starts. That is a considerable improvement in the law of desertion, which previously was anomalous in that respect. Many people who had been living apart for years could not get a divorce. Now, as I said earlier, either they must accept reconciliation, or they are liable to be divorced. Then there” is the other provision I mentioned with regard to the breach of a restitution order. It is only after the failure to comply with such an order has continued for three years that a period of desertion is completed, and that proceedings can be taken in respect of that breach on the ground of desertion.
There are two other amendments with regard to the law on desertion, both concerning the intention of the deserter. For years, we have had a doctrine of constructive desertion known to the law, according to which, if a partner to a marriage behaved in such a way that no self-respecting person could put up with his or her conduct, and the other party to the marriage left the home, that was regarded as constructive desertion, and the party who was forced to leave was able to bring proceedings for divorce on that ground at the end of the Statutory period of three years. But, in recent years, the courts have fogged themselves up on the question of intention, so that one finds cases like that of a man who brutally ill-treats his wife and then says to the court, “ 1 did not intend her to leave me. The only way I could get her to be dutiful was to treat her in the way I did, but I wanted her to remain with me”. Honorable members may think I am being facetious, but that is not so. That sort of case crops up again and again, and judges who once held that a man’s intention was to be inferred from his conduct, now say that they are not quite so sure of that. The law has got into a hopeless state through trying to decide whether the real intention was different from what the conduct showed it to be.
I believe, and trust, that the House will accept the provision that where a man or a woman has behaved in such a way as to render it impossible for the other partner of the marriage to remain in the home any longer, that is a legitimate cause for leaving, and legitimate cause for a divorce action, after the statutory period, on the ground of constructive desertion. I believe that that is in accordance with the views of the courts in earlier days, for instance the High Court in the days of such great judges as Chief Justice Griffith and Chief Justice Isaacs.
The other question of intention in regard to desertion has arisen in cases such as that of the man or woman who is a deserter, but who. during the period of desertion, becomes insane. At one time the courts took what I think to be the sensible view, which was that had the deserter not become insane, the desertion would have continued. During the last fifteen years, however, judges have decided that once a person becomes insane that person cannot make up his or her mind one way or the other and. having no mind at all, the intention to desert ceases. The legislature in South Australia and the legislature in New Zealand have both provided that where desertion has commenced, and would probably have ‘ continued, but for the insanity of the deserter, it shall be deemed to have continued. Victorian judges who had a recent case of this sort before them recommended that a provision similar to the So,,th Australian provision should he embodied in the Victorian law, and in fact a committee of the Victorian Parliament made a recommendation to that effect after a very careful inquiry. That particular provision, which is found in the laws of South Australia and New Zealand, and has been recommended for inclusion in the Victorian law, is included in the present measure. The measure provides that desertion is not terminated by insanity if it would probably have continued had the insanity not occurred.
In those various ways I believe we will establish sound, sensible and sane grounds for divorce in this country which should be able to meet the cases where marriages have been broken up for serious reasons. The bill does not make for either easy divorce or quick divorce. I believe it makes for divorce in proper cases where it is necessary, from the stand-point of public policy, that divorce should be permitted.
The bill contains the usual provisions which are found in divorce acts. There are the usual bars to divorce in the nature of provisions regarding connivance, collusion and condonation. There are the discretionary powers concerning adultery or misconduct by the petitioner, and so on. There is provision for the plaintiff to seek damages from the co-respondent. There is provision for the intervention by the Commonwealth Crown Solicitor should the case appear to be one in which intervention is appropriate. In fact, prior to the trial, either a private individual or the Commonwealth Crown Solicitor may intervene, and at any time the court may request the Commonwealth Crown Solicitor to intervene if it wants his assistance. That is a great improvement on the provisions in some acts that the court may intervene and which do, in effect, make the court a party and partisan. This provision enables the case to be properly dealt with by the Con>monwealth Crown Solicitor, evidence to be properly produced by him, and allows the court to remain impartial.
There are the usual provisions with regard to alimony, maintenance, custody of children, settlements and so forth. Very wide powers indeed are to be provided with regard to these matters. I have endeavoured to make the best use of my experience in this particular jurisdiction in order to see that cases which have not been previously met by the existing State acts can be met under this law. If honorable members peruse the bill they will see the wide powers that are to be conferred in relation to these matters and the great discretion which is to be reposed in the court in order that it may make such an order as is fair, just and proper under the particular circumstances of a case.
I have referred to the custody of children, and, of course, provision is made also with regard to the maintenance and education of children and the power to vary settlements for the benefit of children. The term “ children “ is sometimes interpreted as meaning only children born in wedlock. That has been proved, particularly in these days, to be inadequate. Consequently, it is definitely provided in this bill that “ children “ includes adopted children - children adopted by the parties or one of them since the marriage - and also children legitimated since the marriage. The old form of nullity decree by which a voidable marriage is voided resulted in making children illegitimate. That has been overcome by providing that a decree of nullity shall operate only from the date of the decree and shall not void the marriage from the beginning. The result is that children who formerly were rendered illegitimate by such a decree will remain legitimate. That is a very valuable provision indeed.
There is one matter which called out for relief. That is the question of marriage within the prohibited degrees of consanguinity and affinity. In some of the States, the tables which are found in the Book of Leviticus have been extensively dealt with, and in other States they have not been dealt with very much. The application of the tables varies in each State. In some States, marriages of persons within these tables are valid, in other States such marriages are voidable, and in still others they are void. The result has been that a person married in one State could obtain a nullity degree in another State or, in a third State, could be in a position of never having been married. That is not a proper state of affairs. In
South Australia and Tasmania, the tables have been modernized, and quite a number of degrees of affinity have been removed from them. In Western Australia, the position is practically identical, and New Zealand1 has followed the example of those three States. This bill therefore provides tor’ those degrees which have been accepted by the majority of the States. In other words, in that way also we will have followed existing procedure and what has been accepted previously by most of the States, or Li least a greater number of them, will, be accepted in this bill. Instead of it being queried, “ Are you married ? “ or “ Are you not married ?” according to where one. is in Australia, it is provided, definitely, that those marriages which come within the table as set out in the act are void marriages. Other marriages not set out in that table are valid and can be entered into.
There is just one other matter I should refer to in the bill, and that is the recognition of decrees granted elsewhere in the British Commonwealth. Quite recently, in my own State of Victoria, a divorce which had been granted in England was not recognized. It is a lamentable state of affairs that a divorce granted in one part of the British Commonwealth should not be recognized in another part. The result is that, within our British Commonwealth, a person could be both married and unmarried at the same time. Consequently, provision has been introduced for the recognition of decrees granted elsewhere within the British Commonwealth.
Mr. Speaker, that represents, in very broad outline, the general purpose and nature of this bill. The bill, as I mentioned at the commencement of my speech, is the product of many years’ work, and of a great deal of thought and experience on the part of many people. Uniform divorce laws are accepted as proper policy, as I understand it, by both the party in opposition and the parties on the Government benches. This bill, I believe, should meet a real want and I trust that it has been drafted in a sufficiently careful and cautious, but, at the same time, sound and sensible form, to enable it to meet with the approval of this Parliament.
– I second the motion and reserve my right to speak at a later date.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Calwell) adjourned.
Dei lute resumed from 3rd April (vide page -154) on motion by Mr. McMahon -
Thai (he bill be now read a second time.
Mi. CALWELL (Melbourne) [2.58].- The Opposition does not oppose the passing of this measure. By arrangement this debate was postponed last evening after the Beer Excise Bill had been disposed of. Now that the Opposition has had the opportunity of further considering this measure, it will allow its passage without further comment.
Bill read a second time, and reported from committee without amendment or debate: report adopted.
Bill - by leave - read a third time.
Debate resumed from 9th April (vide page 673) on motion by Mr. Casey -
Thai the following paper be printed: -
International Affairs - Ministerial statement, 2nd April, 1957.
.- The last speaker in this debate on international affairs on Tuesday night was the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward). As one might have expected, he used his time in engaging in a typical outburst, not only against the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies), but against what he is pleased to describe as capitalist interests. The honorable member presented a completely distorted view of the situation in the Middle East. First of all I want to refute with all the strength at my command the honorable member’s charge that the Prime Minister is a warmonger. The only other place where I am used to seeing that expression is in the Communist “ Tribune “ and in other publications of that party. The honorable member went on to say that the Prime Minister was disappointed because his exte - nal efforts had not been successful in producing an armed conflict affecting this and other countries. Now. sir. 1 claim that iven coming from the honorable member for East Sydney that is a most disgraceful ind unwarranted statement. The honorable member engaged in what I might describe as a hymn of hate against all capitalists and what he described as the oil monopolists of the Middle East. He went on to make what T can only say must have j.cn a deliberate misinterpretation of a statement by i he Australian permanent delegate to the United Nations, Dr. E. R. Walker, in relation to the Suez Canal. Dr. Walker said -
Egypt’s action in nationalizing the canal could have big repercussions on the flow of capital ti> undeveloped countries.
That was Dr. Walker’s statement, lt was quoted correctly by the honorable member for East Sydney, but in his remarks the honorable member obviously attempted to make out that Dr. Walker was trying to protect certain people who had vested interests in the Middle East, thereby trying to present a completely distorted view of the true historical and political set-up in that part of the world. Obviously Egypt’s action in nationalizing the canal was going to have a very deterimental effect on the development of not only this country but also many countries in east Asia, south Asia, and elsewhere. The honorable member went on to say -
Communist philosophy is opposed to that of the Labour party as a democratic organization, but. just as we are threatened by the Communists, so we are threatened by the fascists.
Let us just examine that statement for a moment, because it certainly is news to me that the doctrines as propounded by the honorable member for East Sydney and b> some other members of the Labour party are opposed to the interests of the Communist philosophy. I believe that since the Brisbane conference - and 1 am sorry to have to say this - it has been perfectly obvious that the official foreign policy of the Australian Labour party, as enunciated by the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt), by the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Clyde Cameron), the honorable member for East Sydney, and some other speakers on that side of the House, is practically on all fours with the foreign policy that one reads in the “ Tribune “. It is a terrible thought that the once great Australian Labour party, which a bi? percentage of people in this country look up to, should have descended to such depths that it has now espoused a foreign policy which is scarcely distinguishable fro-n that which one reads in Communist publications.
Mr. Evan ; Mr. Speaker, I rise to Order. T regard those remarks as offensive, and, in accordance with rulings given in the last few days in respect of statements from this side of the House, I ask that they be withdrawn.
Mr. SPEAKER (Hon. John McLeay).The honorable member for Ryan is in order.
– The honorable member for East Sydney went on to refer to fascism. He said, as his leader had said in his speech, that the fascists were a threat to the free world. During the few years that I have been in this House, I have been quite accustomed to hearing charges levelled by the honorable member for East Sydney against those who sit on this side of the House of being fascists. On a number of occasions, he has accused Government supporters of being fascists and of being fascist-minded. If that is an indication of his interpretation of the word “ fascist “, I am sure that the people of this country will realize that they have nothing to fear.
In response to an interjection, the honorable member for East Sydney made some reference to Spain. 1 am opposed to fascism. Government supporters are opposed to fascism just as they are opposed to communism. But I draw this distinction between fascist Spain under Franco and the international communism which is threatening the world. Spain is entitled to set up a government within its own boundaries and to run its own affairs in its own way provided it does not interfere with other countries, does not attempt to impose its will on other countries, and does not seek to extend its boundaries and domain beyond its own legitimate boundaries. In that case, I say, Spain is entitled to have a Franco government or any other kind of government that suits it. That is a clear distinction in relation to both fascist Spain and international communism.
There is no doubt in the minds of intelligent people that the great danger in the world to-day comes from international communism - a cause which, I feel, is too nearly espoused by the honorable member for East Sydney and, indeed, even officially espoused since the Brisbane conference of the Australian Labour party. But I want to make it quite clear that there are certain members of the Australian Labour party, both in this House and outside it, who are most strenuously opposed to the new line of foreign policy which has been officially adopted. If any one wants an illustration of the points of identity between the kind of foreign policy that one reads in the “ Tribune “ and the kind of foreign policy described by the honorable member for East Sydney and those who think like him on the Labour side, apart from the question of drastic reduction of defence expenditure there is the question of the withdrawal of troops from Malaya, which is on all fours with Communist foreign policy; there is the recognition of red China and the admission of red China to the United Nations, which is also strongly propounded by Communist journals; and there is the banning of nuclear tests, a subject on which the Leader of the Opposition spent quite a considerable part of his time during this debate.
I was very struck by the remarkable similarity between many of his remarks and the contents of a letter which I received a fortnight ago from a branch of the Communist party in my electorate on this very subject of the tests at Christmas Island. I regret very much having to say this, because I should like to feel that the Australian Labour party was still espousing a foreign policy that was in the best interests of this country. But because I feel very strongly that it is not espousing a foreign policy which is in Australia’s best interests, I think that it needs to be exposed to this House and to the country, because grave dangers are inherent in it.
It is more remarkable that, time after time, when the Leader of the Opposition speaks in foreign affairs debates and when the honorable member for East Sydney and some other members of the Labour party speak in foreign affairs debates, they make no denunciation of international communism. They never warn this House and the country of the grave dangers that this generation and future generations face from this dreadful onward thrust of international communism. We did hear some reference to Great Britain and France and their action in relation to Suez. I think that one honorable member even drew a comparison between the action taken by Great Britain and France in Egypt and the action taken by the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics in Hungary. There could be no two cases more widely apart. The action of Britain and France in relation to Egypt is now, perhaps, of historical and academic interest, and I do not propose to spend any time in talking about it. I only mention it to elaborate my point that the police action taken by Britain and France in relation to Egypt was a most timely action to separate the combatants - an action which history will prove has succeeded in halting Communist influence in the Middle East, perhaps to the point where this world has been saved from a third major conflagration, at least for the time being.
Perhaps we are too close to events at the moment to see all these things in their true perspective. On the other hand, 1 contrast as strongly as I can the case of the brutal, wicked, savage and inhuman onslaught by Soviet Russia on that poor little country in the middle of Europe.
– What about the 6,000 Egyptians who are dead?
– The honorable member for Hindmarsh is most adept at saying what he does not mean. The other night, he made a specious “ attempt to make out that the Labour party was bitterly opposed to communism in its new foreign policy, whereas, judging by the remarks of Opposition speakers in this debate and judging by what we have read of the decisions at the Brisbane conference, the left wing of the Labour party, which is now in a predominant position, has a foreign policy which is so closely akin to that of the Communist party that there is scarcely any differentiation.
As I have said, perhaps the question of British and French action in Egypt is now only of historical and academic interest. But at least it had the effect of galvanizing the United Nations into action. Ineffective, perhaps, as the United Nations’ action has been, at least it did take some action which it would not have taken if it had not been so galvanized by the action on the part of Great Britain and France. There is plenty of evidence of a major arms build-up in Egypt and in Syria on the part of the Soviet. There is plenty of evidence of a conspiracy between the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and Egypt to oust Western influence from the whole of the Middle East area. Although we on this side of the House do believe in the principles of the United Nations, we feel that the United Nations should be capable of being regarded as our ultimate protection and that we should be able to regard it as a world-wide organization, commanding universal respect.
Unfortunately, the position is not so. I hope that by bending our efforts towards helping the United Nations we will make it such an instrument; but at the present time we have to face the facts.
The honorable member for East Sydney claimed that the Labour party’s approach to foreign policy was realistic. I believe, in the face of world events, moving fast as they are, with the situation changing day by day, that the only safe foreign policy for this country to adopt is one of utmost precaution - one of peace through strength. I believe it is imperative, in the interests of this country, that we foster and pursue regional pacts within the framework of the United Nations’ charter that have already been entered into. Unfortunately, it is a fact that the United Nations has become primarily a sounding board for Communist propaganda. The Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) pointed out the other night in a most able speech that there appears to be only one rule for the democracies of the free world and another rule for the Soviet and its friends. While that is so, the United Nations will not be in a position to command world-wide respect or to enforce its principles against any aggressors.
– What about saying something more on “ the Brisbane line “?
– Naturally, “ the Brisbane line “ is very close to the heart of the honorable member for Hindmarsh.
I should like to pay a tribute to the Minister for External Affairs for his very capable exposition, the other night, in relation to the world situation as a whole, and, in particular, for his very constructive approach to this big problem which is facing us in the Middle East. Time will not permit me to say very much about it. but I feel that he has put forward a fourpoint programme which has all the hallmarks of being a successful way of attacking this problem. I think it is dreadful that a tin-pot, upstart dictator like Nasser, who is only a 1957 version of Hitler in a very poor way, should still be strutting the world stage dictating terms and laying down the law, and getting away with it. Although I do not like to say so, I feel that that is a direct reflection upon the capacity and standing of the United Nations.
The other day, I heard a radio news commentator point out that two-thirds of the former users of the Suez Canal were now avoiding it and sending their ships round by the Cape of Good Hope. The more 1 think about it. the more it appeal a to me that the best way of bringing Nasser to his knees would be lo impose economic sanctions, because if the nations of the world declined to use the canal and to pay tolls in order to hil his coffers, the time would come, perhaps not very far in the future, when he would be forced to his knees by bankruptcy. He would then grovel and be prepared to come to terms instead of strutting arrogantly as he is doing at the present time. Obviously, this man has no more respect for international treaties and obligations than Hitler had, and we must regard him in much the same light as we did Hitler. He cannot be trusted, and I for one have felt rather shocked at the manner in which the United Nations Secretary-General has, almost fallen over backwards in trying npt to offend President Nasser.
I think that one of the most heartening developments in the Middle East has been the decision of the United States of America to participate in the Baghdad pact, even though to a very limited degree. As honorable members know, the United States is to participate only in the Military Committee of that pact, but this is a positive step in the right direction. It is interesting to note, in studying the history of the Baghdad pact, that Egypt has always bitterly opposed it. From the very first suggestion of this pact, to which the United Kingdom, Turkey, Pakistan, Iraq, and Persia are signatories, Egypt has bitterly opposed it. To-day, Egypt is merely a Soviet puppet, and Nasser is saying and doing exactly as Moscow tells him. We should understand the situation very clearly, and I am pleased and heartened at the decision of the United States to participate in the Military Committee of the pact. 1 want honorable members to cast their minds back to a speech made in this House on 22nd February, 1956, by the Minister for External Affairs. On that occasion, the Minister quoted the following remarks from a speech made by Mr. Khrushchev on 29th December, 1955 -
If certain politicians think that our confidence in the victory of socialism, in the teachings of
Marxism-Leninism, is a violation of the Geneva spirit, they obviously have an erroneous notion of thai spirit. They ought lo remember, once and for all. that we have never gone back and never will go back on our ideas, on our struggle for the victory of communism. They need never expect any ideological disarming on our pan.
-Order! The honorable gentleman’s time has expired.
.- 1 think that every honorable member who takes up a position in opposition to the Government in this debate is in honesty bound to state quite simply and directly what he believes ought to be the objectives of the Australian Government in the situation that he is discussing. Therefore, at the outset, I should like to say what I believe about the Middle East. First, I believe that it ought to be the objective of our policy to obtain a guarantee of the frontiers of Israel, and to make those frontiers rational. Secondly, I believe that we should acknowledge Egypt’s full ownership ot the Suez Canal. In terms of international law, all the evidence that I have seen is that the Egyptian Government’s action in nationalizing the canal was legal. 1 am not at the moment discussing whether it was right or wrong; I am discussing its legality. The United Kingdom Government at no time challenged that action in the International Court ot Justice at the Hague, because of its experience before that court in relation to the nationalization of the Persian oil-fields. Thirdly, I believe that we should insist that the Arab refugees driven out of Israel and living in the Gaza strip should be re-settled in Israel. Fourthly, 1 believe that Israel should be given, by the Western Powers or the United Nations, the capital needed for the resettlement of these people. Fifthly, I believe, on the basis of this just agreement being reached, that if Egypt were still to exclude Israeli ships from the Suez Canal, the United Nations should forcibly assume control of the canal and continue to pay to Egypt the revenues received from it. I believe that those ought to be the objectives of Australian foreign policy in relation to the Middle East.
The Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies), in the course of a number of speeches on the Middle East situation, seems to have confused a number of facts. He always speaks as if the blow at British power in the Middle
East has been dealt by Nasser’s act of nationalization. The truth is that British power in the Middle East disappeared with the withdrawal of British troops, and that Nasser’s act of nationalization was a consequence of that withdrawal of British power and not the act that ended British power. The architect of the withdrawal of British power was Sir Anthony Eden, who, as early as 1936, entered into a treaty agreement under which British troops were to be withdrawn in 1956. When they were withdrawn in 1956, the Suez Canal passed into the power of Egypt, lt is always the tendency of mind of the Australian Prime Minister to confuse a number of facts. First, he plays upon the resentment of the Australian people at what they see as the spectacle of the disappearance of British power, and he makes a false diagnosis of the point at which that power disappeared.
Secondly- and this was a most conspicuous feature of his speech on Tuesday evening - he asserts that the motive of American policy in the Middle East was an uncritical surrender of authority to the United Nations. The United States of America at no time indicated such a motive. On the contrary, all its official pronouncements were to the effect - the Prime Minister has never dealt with this contention - that, if the United Stales were to be identified with Anglo-French policy in the Middle East, all influence of the Western Powers among the Arab peoples would be ended. I believe that the prestige of the United States, in the eyes of both the Arabs and the peoples of Asia, stands unprecedentedly high, and that the entire resources of Soviet propaganda are directed, not at the destruction of the credit of Britain and France, because they have virtually no credit in the Arab world at the present time, but at the destruction of the credit of the United States. The United States may be right or wrong in having such a motive in her foreign policy; but the motive was not that imputed to her by the Prime Minister, and he has never dealt with, or refuted, the contentions of President Eisenhower as to the motives of the United States.
The third, and the constant, implication by the Prime Minister is that Nasser excluded Israel from the canal as one of his dictatorial whims. The truth is that the original exclusion of Israeli ships from the canal was carried out by Farouk, in 1949. It was not carried out by Nasser at all, and for seven years, while 80,000 British troops were in occupation of the canal zone, Israeli ships were excluded from the canal That is the point. The ownership of the canal at that stage was vested not in Egypt but in the Suez Canal Company. I do not justify the Egyptian action in excluding Israel from the canal, but when she did, Britain, with 80,000 troops, did nothing. Secondly, in 1954, Britain entered into a treaty with Egypt. It was signed by Mr. Anthony Nutting and stated that Britain could return all her troops to the canal in the event of any serious disturbance in the Middle East, wilh one proviso. That proviso was that if Israel were to attack Egypt, it should not be regarded as the case in which British troops could return to the canal. And no member of the Government has ever pointed out that the ground of Mr. Nutting’s resignation was that he had signed the specific provision making the one count on which British troops could not come back to the canal, that of an Israeli attack on Egypt. And yet we treated that as the “ casus belli “!
I cannot accept the contention of the honorable member for Ryan (Mr. Drury) that the British action was to separate the protagonists; that the mounting of British power in the Mediterranean took place because of an Israeli attack. It is quite impossible to regard the naval actions in the Gulf of Suez, where there was absolutely no Israeli power of any kind, but where Egyptian corvettes were sunk, as separating two contending parties. I feel that the honorable member for Ryan knows as weD as I do that what British prestige in the world suffered most of all from was the succession of contradictory explanations of her action.
As a great deal has been said about the failure of the Labour party adequately to condemn Russian aggression in Hungary, let us come now to one very significant fact: The Soviet attack on Hungary took place two weeks before the British action in Egypt, and at no stage, until after the Soviet Union had attacked the action in the Middle East, did either the British Prime Minister or the British Foreign Secretary say one word in condemnation of Russian action in Hungary. I draw the conclusion that the British Prime Minister’s hands were morally tied by his intentions, and I believe that that is one of the greatest tragedies of the whole situation.
I believe, passionately, that the tragedy about British foreign policy under Sir Anthony Eden was that it was irrelevant; that while the Soviet Union was holding the vital areas for the future control of the world - the heart of Europe and China - Britain was fiddling around with an obsolete diplomacy based on the route to India, the vital importance of Cyprus - which no British strategist believes matters twopence in a hydrogen age - the canal, and all the obsolete conceptions of the route to India, which had great validity in the nineteenth century, but have none to-day.
The fourth contention of the Prime Minister was quite important, because 1 believe that it comes on to his blind spot, Asia. I want to pay this tribute to the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Casey): I was convinced that he was fiercely resented in India because of his role as Governor of Bengal. On the contrary, I found, when I was in India, that no man stood higher in respect. Indian civil servants and Indian leaders would tell me about his battle during the famine, and I believe that he enjoys a tremendous amount of goodwill in Asia. The Prime Minister is quite unaware of the feelings of Asia. I want to draw attention to the fact that in one of his original speeches during the Suez crisis, he spoke as if Indian foreign policy in this matter would be motivated by a strictly material consideration. He asked the House on a number of occasions to consider how badly India would be affected by the closure of the canal. If India were conducting her foreign policy in. terms of pounds, shillings and pence, no doubt that would be so, but there are many honorable members, such as the honorable member for Hume (Mr. Anderson), who have shown a sensitive sympathy for Great Britain. They believe that she is being ejected from all sorts of positions unjustly. With them, it is not just a material question. If that is their feeling, they have only to look into their own hearts to see the situation that exists in Asia, and to realize that no material consideration would weigh as much with Indian foreign policy as the thought that here was another instance in which a coloured power was being pushed around. From many points of view, the Bandung conference was absurd, lt decided nothing, but psychologically it meant a tremendous amount to the Afro-Asian powers to be able to get together and say, “ At last we have a situation in which the affairs of our countries are not determined in London and Paris”. If we are not prepared to look at that situation, and conduct our foreign policy accordingly, we are going to forfeit Asia to communism.
Another of the Prime Minister’s constant tendencies in these debates is to speak of French foreign policy towards the canal as if it existed “ in vacuo “; as if it were purely a canal situation divorced from the whole Middle East situation. The truth is that France has been bitterly at war with most of the Arab peoples, for they aspire to independence. We have come to recognize in the British Commonwealth of Nations, with the conspicuous exception of Cyprus, that that is an inevitable demand. In point of fact, because of the leadership of the Neo Destour in Tunisia and Morocco, and because of Mendes France, a sane solution has been arrived at in those countries, but in Algeria there has been a continuing situation of war, and Colonel Nasser’s propaganda has been directed at inflaming that situation. The foreign policy of the French was directed towards smashing what they regarded as the source of Arab resistance to themselves. I think that is understandable, but I also think that, in totality, French foreign policy in indefensible. It ought not to be the aim of a wise diplomacy to encourage France in a flat refusal to make concessions to the Algerians, or the Arabic peoples. It is contrary to all our own experience in the British Commonwealth of Nations, and it is true that Nasser can inflame that situation. It is also true that France has very systematically piled up the straw into which Nasser can throw the matches, and it is not adequate merely to look at his match-throwing activities and take no notice of the straw-piling activities of France.
In my time in the United Kingdom. I had the opportunity of meeting many British generals and service chiefs, and I never found one who believed that in the event of war the Suez Canal would be of the slightest importance, or that anybody could keep it open. That is not, of course, to say that it is not immensely important in peace, but I am speaking at the moment strategically. I did not meet one general who believed that in the event of war anybody could move a gallon of oil from the Middle East. They believed that, if we possessed the Persian oil wells, nothing could stop the Russians from destroying them by atomic warfare; if Russia seized them, nothing could stop us from destroying them from Africa by atomic warfare. The likely situation in the Middle East would be that no one would have the resources of that area in their possession.
The Middle East is vital, not from those narrow considerations which the Prime Minister seems to regard as important, but from other considerations. The Middle East is still the junction of continents. In the strategy of communism, the taking over of both Asia and Africa is envisaged and then, with that flanking movement, bringing down the Western Powers. The Middle East is still the strategic area through which that policy must pass, and, for utterly different reasons from those that existed in the past, the Persian Gulf has become again one of the great strategic areas of the world.
I believe that in this situation we ought to have a diplomacy that is slow to lose patience. We ought to have a diplomacy that looks for a way to be constructive. We ought to have a diplomacy that is not possessive, not anxious to impress and not cherishing inflated ideas of the importance of this country. There is no need for a lot of passionate activism in diplomacy. We also need one which, in relation to Asia, has good manners, is not touchy and does not pursue selfish advantages. Finally, we want one that is not despairing and liable to write off nations as inevitably opposed to us.
– I listened with very close attention to the very careful and sincere, though perhaps somewhat circular inquiry into current international events which we have just heard from the honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Beazley). I paid, perhaps, less close attention to his words than I did to the demeanour of his colleagues because, from this side of the House, it was most noticeable that when the honorable member was at his most scholarly and, from my point of view, most persuasive, a look of tedium came across the faces of members of the Opposition. But whenever his circular argument came round to a point where it seemed as though he was saying something which meant, in effect, that England was wrong and Egypt was right, then smiles of approval blossomed on the faces of the occupants of the front bench and the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Clyde Cameron) nodded with approbation.
– I rise to order. I ask for a withdrawal of that remark. 1 find it offensive to me. The Minister said that I sat disapproving of the first part of the honorable gentleman’s speech.
– Looking bored.
– The Minister says, “ looking bored “. He corrects himself. He stated further, that I smiled and showed some form of approval only when the honorable gentleman started to praise Egypt.
– Order! Is the honorable member speaking to a point of order?
– I am saying that the Minister made a remark that is offensive to me, and I am telling you what part is offensive. I say it is offensive, and I ask for a withdrawal.
– Order! The Minister is in order, and may continue.
– I do not wish to pursue that line any further. In the brief time that is available to any member in this debate, I think there is some advantage if we each address ourselves to a single point. The single point to which I wish to direct the attention of the House concerns the functioning of the United Nations throughout the sort of international crises with which we have been faced in recent months. The reason I wish to speak on this aspect of international affairs is that, in the debates in this House, it is quite customary - we have all heard it - to suggest that if honorable members use such and such an argument, they are “ against the United Nations “. It is also customary in debates in this House for the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt) to put forward again and again the text “Take it to the United Nations “ as though that were a cure-all for every malady and as though that were a policy sufficient for every crisis.
Outside this House, we also find the disposition to erect the United Nations into something that is on its own a miraculous force that can work wonders.
The point 1 wish to establish at the outset is a very simple one, but one that needs to be remembered again and again. It is that the United Nations, as its very name denotes, is an association of nations. [Quorum formed.] 1 was saying that a very simple point that is often overlooked, but which should not be overlooked, is that the United Nations, as its name denotes, is an association of nations, lt exists in a world which is, as a matter of fact, divided into national states. Because the members of the United Nations are nations, it is to be expected that they have interests which are national interests and policies which are national policies, and, as members of the United Nations, they continue to have those interests and policies and try to serve them. We cannot regard the United Nations as anything in the nature of a super-state, a world government, a federation, or any of those things. It is an association of nations which exists in a world in which nations move to serve their own policies and to advance their own interests.
I apologize for saying something which may seem rather trite, but I feel that it is essential to make that point clearly. Through the failure to recognize it, many people fall into the error of imagining that the United Nations is an oracle which moves by its own impulses, and has its own institutional existence apart from its members. I want to discuss one or two aspects of the working of the United Nations consequential on the fact that it is composed of nations represented in its deliberations by national delegations.
The first point is that the decisions or the recommendations of the United Nations are arrived at by a process of debate followed by a vote. That vote is decided by a majority. Different majorities are provided for different circumstances, but the general rule is the rule of majority. Personally, I do not accept majorities as having any particular wisdom. I think that minorities can sometimes be right and that majorities can sometimes be wrong. A majority, as such, need not be right simply because it is a majority, lt is necessary to inquire how the majority was made up.
Inside the United Nations, whenever a vote is taken, one may count quite easily the nations that vote for and those nations that vote against. One can pick out the nations which were so cagey that they abstained from voting, and one may discover those nations which were so embarrassed at the prospect of having to declare their minds that their delegates were conveniently absent when the vote was taken. Any decision arrived at in this way represents a variety of opinions, the same vote being exercised for a number of different reasons. Indeed, those who are accustomed to working in and about the United Nations cannot only tot up the votes, but they can also specify the various alinements that caused the nations to vote in the way they did. Even before the voting takes place, the officials can predict, with a good deal of certainty and a very small margin of error, what the result of the vote will be. They can predict that such and such a group will be on one side because the vote is being taken on a certain subject. They can foretell that some other group will be on the other side when the vote is being taken on a particular subject. They can, with a great deal of certainty, predict what any United Nations vote is likely to be. In the shaping of a resolution that is put before any United Nations organ, the diplomats have an eye to the possibility of enlisting support for this, that or the other cause. Because of these facts, I believe that we would be a very long way from reality if, in the present world situation, we gave a United Nations vote on any subject the status of oracular wisdom or of objective judgment, although very many people are inclined to regard a vote of the United Nations in this way. [Quorum formed.]
Mr. Acting Deputy Speaker, the persistence of the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Clyde Cameron) in robbing me of some of the brief time available, makes it necessary for me to curtail my argument and hasten to the main point with which I should like to deal. One point that I should like to make in passing is that when I direct attention to these realities of the position inside the United Nations it is not to be inferred that I am attacking the United Nations. I am simply asking honorable members to accept the fact that the United Nations can at any time do no more than reflect the prevailing standard of conduct among the nations of the world. The United Nations, in other words, is exactly what the member nations make it. lt can do nothing different from what its members want it to do, nor can it be used except in the way in which its members choose to use it. In the present state of world affairs, it is, 1 think, correct to say that the United Nations’ decisions and recommendations are subject at every point and at all limes to the ebb and flow of world politics, to the contest of power, to the rivalries for influence, to the stirring of new nationalisms, to the bitterness, envy and resentment that are seeping through all those fissures in the structure of power that have come with the emergence of the new nationalisms and with the adoption ot communism as a State religion.
– Mr. Acting Deputy
Speaker. I direct your attention to the state of the House.
– What about the fifteen- minute rule?
Order! The honorable member for Hindmarsh is in order in seeking the presence of a quorum. [Quorum formed.]
– The honorable mem ber for Hindmarsh has once again demonstrated that he is no disciple of reason and is noi receptive to reason. I was saying, when the honorable member directed attention to the state of the House, that in the present state of the world, with these new resentments and envies, these newly emergent nationalisms, the adoption of communism as a state religion by one great power, and with the general rivalries that are being contested in various parts of the world, we cannot expect the United Nations to be either above or below these rivalries of national interest and the like. The United Nations is surrounded by them and is submerged in them.
One ot the reasons why I wanted to stress this point of view is that I wish to direct attention to a new element that has entered into the handling of the kind of crises with which we have been confronted in various parts of the world during the last two or three years. It is an element which has been noticeable in the handling of situations in the Middle East, in Kashmir and in SouthEast Asia, and which has entered into any discussion of disarmament. It is the fact that the United States of America, for motives which 1 think do credit to the goodness of Ls heart, has given a great deal of prominence 10 ils support for the idea that the approval of the United Nations should be sought for any kind of international action. Those of us who have followed international affairs for some time have, I think, always deplored the fact - although we have accepted it as one of the facts of the situation - that the capacity of our great ally, the United States, for prompt and effective action is limited in a way in which the capacity of other great nations is not limited, by reason of their own constitutional arrangements. Under a constitution in which there is a division of powers, the executive of the United States cannot act as promptly an J as effectively in international affairs as can states with a unitary form of government. We have accepted this, because it is a part of the constitutional structure that the American people have chosen for themselves. We have also accepted it, I think, because, by and large, most of us believed that the American Congress did stand for a set of principles in which we could have some confidence, and that it did represent a patriotic national integrity in which we should have some confidence. But it seems to me that the United States has now added to its handicaps by placing on itself the necessity to seek at all times the approval of the United Nations. That handicap has. perhaps, become rather greater as a result of changes that have taken place in the United Nations itself. The charter provided that the Security Council should handle most, if not all. of those questions relating to the pacific settlement of disputes, or the removal of threats to security. On the Security Council we had an arrangement under which power was represented, and under which power was intended to be dedicated towards keeping the peace of the world. But because of the failure of the Security Council, for reasons which I will not canvass here, there has been a tendency for these matters to be referred, to an increasing extent, to the General Assembly.
What is the General Assembly? Against the background of what I have said earlier about the conflict of power which enters into the deliberations of the United Nations, the General Assembly is a congregation of national states, each one of which has its own policies and interests, most of whom are divided into blocs and groups. Before they approach any subject you can predict with a great deal of certainty what their reaction to that subject will be. Without disrespect to any group, you can say that on such-and-such a subject the Arab states will do this, and on such-and-such a subject the Afro-Asian bloc will do this, and on such-and-such a subject the satellites of the Soviet Union will do this. One never expects a satellite of the Soviet Union to enter into a vote which is in any way critical of the Soviet Union, or the Arab states to enter into a vote which is condemnatory of any one of the Arab states. You can predict these things. Yet this is the sort of body to which the President of the United States, I think with all sincerity, with all honesty and with high purpose, shows an increasing tendency to refer the foreign policy of the United States itself. I think that the United States is perhaps gaining an easy conscience for itself, but it is doing so at the price of a troubled world. I would conclude by saying that we look for greater leadership from the United States.
– Order! The Minister’s time has expired.
.- No one would suggest that the machinery of the United Nations is perfect by any means, but the Australian Labour party is of the opinion that that machinery, creaking as it may be, is the best machinery that is in existence for the peaceful solution of the problems of the world. Two things might be said about the United Nations organization at this stage. The first is that not all nations of the world are members of it, which is a considerable deficiency, and the second is that there is not a great deal of unity among the nations that are within its framework. Nevertheless, that simply illustrates the kind of tensions that in fact exist in the world to-day. Sometimes emphasis is placed upon the military aspects of these tensions. At other times, emphasis is placed more upon the economic, social, religious, or other motives behind those tensions.
In the world to-day there are two particular areas of tension. First, there is the area vaguely known as the Middle East, and, secondly, there is the area of South-East Asia, where the tensions are much closer to us in Australia. When disputes arise, there are arguments, and if those arguments are not resolved peacefully, there is discussion as to the kind of physical conflict which may result. We hear talk about atomic warfare, broken pact warfare - whatever that is - limited warfare, and also cold war. The Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) referred in this place recently to each and every one of those in his statement on defence. 1 suppose that, basically, it is not possible to segregate defence from considerations of foreign policy. However, the Prime Minister seemed to me, at any rate, to disparage the efficiency of the United Nations machinery in securing world peace. In referring to the Australian Labour party, and particularly to the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt), the right honorable gentleman said recently -
Taking a matter to the United Nations is not a foreign policy at all. Every nation must work out its own policy, the foreign policy that it want* to see adopted and operating, and when it has done that it may then properly seek acceptance of that policy in the United Nations. The two steps are entirely different.
That seems to me to be one of those splendid examples of what my colleague, the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Clyde Cameron), has called the wordspinning that is indulged in by the Prime Minister of this country. Nobody would suggest that merely going to the United Nations is a foreign policy in itself, nor would any intelligent person suggest that a foreign policy was something that could be worked out in a vacuum. A foreign policy must take account, on the one hand, of the feelings and aspirations of the people, and that, in a democratic community, is an important consideration; and on the other hand, after a foreign policy has been evolved, there must be a forum in which to convince other nations of the propriety of that policy. It seems to me that that is one of the reasons why the machinery of the United Nations has been evolved. Membership of the United Nations, as the Leader of the Opposition has pointed out on previous occasions, does not preclude the forming of separate pacts, if necessary, by groups of nations in particular regions to work out a common policy. The United Nations is a forum to which nations ought to be able to go as a last resort.’
As I suggested earlier, there are two areas of tension in the world at the moment.
I refer first to the Middle East. Whatever some people may say 10 the contrary, we on this side of the House believe that oil is one of the fundamental problems in the Middle East situation, and that that is the reason, rather than the welfare of the people of the Middle East, for certain great powers being so concerned about the area. The two powers that are primarily interested are the United States, on the one hand, and the Soviet Union, on the other. Each, in its own way, is attempting to influence the policies of the group of nations in the Middle East by bringing along gifts or promises of aid. The American approach is vaguely known as the Eisenhower Doctrine, whilst Russia, for its part, is making all kinds of promises of economic aid to the countries of the Middle East. Nobody will deny that those countries are in need of economic assistance to promote the welfare of their people. Thai brings me to the suggestion, which has been made by members of the Labour party in Great Britain, that economic aid which is offered to these countries ought not to be offered directly by interested powers, but should be arranged through the United Nations. Otherwise, it has been suggested, the people of the Middle East and of South-East Asia are entitled to be suspicious and to think that self-interest, rather than philanthropy, is the motive behi nd the offer, of assistance. But if aid were channelled through the United Nations - if the United Nations does not already possess the necessary machinery, it is capable of devising it - that would help to lessen the suspicion that rightly exists in the minds of the peoples of the Middle East and the peoples of South-East Asia about the bona fides of the nations which come to them bringing gifts. It would tend to dispel the feeling that the motives underlying the offers of gifts are not necessarily the purest motives. Honorable members opposite are critical of the Labour party when it questions the motives of certain powers, but 1 do not think it can be denied that to-day nearly every country is concerned with fostering its own interests first and those of other countries second. I doubt that that is the right way to secure peace.
The problem that faces the world to-day is not a problem of opulence. The great problem that faces most people is bow to mitigate their desperate poverty. I suggest that that is true particularly of the average person in the Middle East and in South-East Asia. The peoples in those areas see the great economic strength and the great wealth of the Western Powers. They see the advantages of technology, if applied to their countries. They feel that they are entitled to some of the things that are really the products of the civilization of which we are all a part. To-day, by reason of aeroplanes and other means of communication, the world, in a sense, is very much smaller than it was 50 years ago. It is very difficult for diplomacy to be carried on in secret, as it was in the past - although, unfortunately, there still seems to be a tendency to have secret agreements or agreements not very openly arrived at - because, due to improved channels of publicity,, the people in one part of the world generally know what is going on in another part of the world.
Naturally enough, the under-developed countries are seeking to improve their lot. If only a small proportion of the vast sums that are now being spent by the various powers on what is called defence were siphoned off - I suggest through the United Nations - to improve the lol of the underdeveloped countries, some of the things against which we claim to be preparing to defend ourselves might cease to exist. I do not think that the people of countries such as ours always ask themselves: Against what are we preparing to defend ourselves? We often hear it said in Australia, “ If we do not develop this great country of ours, the people of Indonesia, Indo-China or other countries will come here in hordes to take it from us “. 1 do not believe that that will happen. I believe that the Indonesians see that there are great prospects for an exchange of goods between Australia and their own country. They do not want to leave their own land, any more than the average Australian wants to leave his, but they do want a better standard of living for themselves and their families.
It is only by greater co-operation on the economic level, and perhaps also on the social and cultural levels, that we shall he able to break down the very real tensions that exist in the world. Professor Sir Douglas Copland, a great Australian who has had wide experience as a representative of Australia in the councils of the world, has repeatedly stated since bis return to this country that if we - to take only one country - were to set aside only one-half of 1 per cent, of our national income to assist the under-privileged nations, that would, perhaps, be the greatest contribution that we could make to making the world a safer place for everybody. One-half of 1 per cent, of our national income is about £25.000,000, which, compared with the amount of nearly £200,000,000 that we are spending each year on defence, is not a very great sum.
Sir Douglas Copland has cited the Colombo plan. We on this side of the House support the Colombo plan, although we do not believe it to be adequate. Sir Douglas has described it as a pilot project It is a pilot project for assistance to the great countries to the north of us which need to be developed. Contrast that kind of possible action with present activities in the field of defence! Many of the descriptions of the new weapons that are being developed remind us of the horror comics, whose effect upon the children we so much deplore. As an illustration, let me quote a very sober and reputable journal, “The Economist”. In the issue of “The Economist “ of 15th December, 1956, there was an article headed “ To-morrow’s Arsenal “, in which there was a description of the type of weapon that is being scientifically developed in the United States of America. The article stated -
Another new device, genially termed “ Lulu,” is regarded by the Navy as the most important single anti-submarine weapon yet devised. It is the essential element in a weapons-system which includes detector and launcher. Its importance is related to the fact that the Soviet Union is believed to have the largest submarine fleet in the world to-day, with numerous components able to navigate and Operate very far below the surface. This permits a submarine to cruise under a number of those varying thermal levels of sea-water which deflect normal sonar systems as well as visual lightings; during the last war these deflections enabled countless submarines to escape the depthbombings which over-confident destroyer commanders felt sure would hit the foe.
Lulu meets this situation by mounting an atomic war-head whose explosion is effective for a very considerable radius (over a mile). Combined with a materially improved sonar system which permits better detection than ever before, either by aircraft or surface ships, this greatly widened destructive power is formidable against a submarine. The weapons-system includes also, for shipboard operation, a launching device which will throw the missile accurately to a distance sufficient to let the ship itself keep clear ot the hull-shattering powers of Lulu.
The only comment one can make is that they seem to have thought of everything so far as destruction is concerned. I submit that no consideration has been given to the possible effect on marine life of the explosion in the sea of an atomic war-head. Those sorts of things do not appear to be considered. I, and other people on this side of the House, believe that nobody is capable of saying with accuracy what are the destructive effects of the so-called fallout of atomic weapons. We are playing with forces that nobody understands, and the effects of which nobody has yet had a real opportunity to judge, except through the means that were described so vividly and passionately by my friend, the honorable member for Parkes (M r. Haylen), when he dealt with the dropping of the two horrible bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki There is no reason to-day why the womenfolk of the world and, in particular, the womenfolk of Australia, should not be horrified by the potentialities of these weapons. After all, it is they who bear the children, nourish them and raise them to ages at which they take their places as citizens and, perhaps also, as soldiers in any future war, and they watch with horror the extent to which science is being prostituted to-day to produce weapons to enable us to defend ourselves against potential aggressors. When we get down narrowly to it and ask, “ What are we defending ourselves against? Why does one bloc of nations want to launch itself against another bloc of nations? “, we get down to this very basic problem of the sharing of the resources and the potential wealth of the world - the same world in which each and every one of us is born. Chide us as he will on the score of whether or not recourse to the United Nations is a sufficient foreign policy in itself, we say to the Prime Minister that, deficient and all as it may be, the United Nations is the sole, the only effective machinery that exists to enable a small nation such as Australia to make its voice heard in the world and to make the voice of any democratic country heard. I submit that the Australian Government cannot ignore the feelings of people of this country, particularly the womenfolk, when it is framing its foreign policy. li is all right for the Prime Minister, who was appointed to preside over an international conference on Suez because apparently nobody else wanted the job, to come here and talk as though Australia was a great power in terms of economics or anything else. Australia can be a considerable power if it goes to the right place to put its views.
Mr. ACTING DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr. Timson). - Order! The honorable gentleman’s time has expired.
.- I am very glad to be relieved of the responsibility of criticizing the speech of the preceding speaker, because, as is his custom, the honorable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr. Crean) has made a very thoughtful contribution to the debate. But world politics or foreign affairs, whichever term be used, no matter how much they are padded, how much they are affected by incidents that happen in different parts of the world, fall into two simple categories. One of those is the determined efforts of Communist influences not only to subvert the peace and good order, but also to undermine the stability of the free democratic nations. The second category consists of those who, by divers means, are trying to protect themselves against this form of attack. I make no pretence that I will be able to offer anything in the way of a solution to world problems, and. although it may seem strange to some people. I am not feeling the slightest bit lonely in this House as the result of that.
I should like to comment briefly on two aspects of foreign affairs. The very full and factual statement of the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Casey) on the world political situation initiated a debate in which we have heard expressed various shades of opinion. Unfortunately, as the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) suggested, some of the speeches have been condemnatory of our friends and, therefore, must be uplifting and to the great advantage in morale of those who, we think for the moment, are our enemies.
I must pause for a moment to ask why this is so. Are Australians becoming less resolute in their determination to manage their own affairs than they were a few years ago? Is it because of the moral decadence of this world, and particularly of the political world? Or is it because of this insidious communistic propaganda to which I have referred, which never relaxes? Whether in victory or in defeat, it is continued and its effect would be to induce in weaker elements among the nations a defeatist attitude which would cause them to ask, “What is the use of resistance?” Which of these things have we got to look for as the reason for statements by Australians which, I think, will be advantageous to our enemies and uplifting to their morale? We are all familiar with the saying that Nero fiddled while Rome burned. To translate that into modern terms, the free world is fiddling while Communist propaganda is undermining the resistance “of several countries whose geographical position is important to the success of the cold war being waged against us by the Russians. This cold war is being relentlessly waged and, I will say, against Great Britain in particular.
Russia has hemmed herself in, or ringed herself round, with a number of small nations whom she has jackbooted into submission. Russia has resorted to threatening or trying to bluff European nations that, if they dare to allow to be established in their territories bases that may mean their survival as free countries, they can expect to come under duress, possibly from Russia. But, to their credit, those nations have shown that they are not bluffed easily.
If my contention is correct, and the cold war with its accompanying Communist propaganda is directed chiefly against Great Britain - and here I am at variance with a distinguished member of the Opposition, the honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Beazley) - I think we should look for the reasons why that is so. For hundreds of years, Great Britain has been the greatest civilizing and the greatest colonizing power in the world. Great Britain has been ever ready to go to the defence, at great sacrifice to herself, of the weaker nation. She has ever been willing to take up arms in defence of the nations that she considered to be in the right. She has ever been willing to provide a haven of refuge for the politically oppressed of all nations, regardless of the class, colour or creed of the refugees. Wherever the flag of Britain has flown, it has meant peace and security to whoever has sought protection under it. Of course, if the cold war is to succeed for Russia, the great prestige and influence of Great Britain and the British Commonwealth and Empire have to be undermined. Therefore, every device that is known to twisted, and, I will add, godless minds, has been set in motion in the cold war which, 1 repeat, is directed particularly against the British world.
I say that this cold war was halted - or at least an attempt was made to halt it - by the intervention of Great Britain and France over the Suez Canal. I will say, further, that I believe that if Great Britain and France had not so intervened, Egypt, and possibly other countries of the Arab world, would now be in the process of becoming satellites of the Soviet Union. Great Britain and France moved in on Suez with split-second timing. They knew exactly when to go in, and I think that they averted, as the honorable member for Melbourne Ports suggested, at least for the time being, a Russian take-over in the Middle East, lt is said that Great Britain and France have lost prestige as a result of the action that they took. I agree that they have lost prestige - but not as a result of going into Suez. They have lost prestige as a result of coming out again before they had finished the job.
The Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt) knows perfectly well that the Governments of Great Britain and France are elected on a democratic franchise, exactly as is the Government of Australia. Vet, he sought to drive a wedge between the people of Great Britain and France and their governments on this issue. He said. ‘’ lt is not the people’s fault; we do not blame them; it is purely and simply their governments”. Can we believe that that right honorable member ‘‘as not seen the result of gallup polls held both in Britain and Australia subsequent to the intervention in the Middle East? Those polls showed that a substantial majority of people in both countries were on the side of the governments of France and Britain. Furthermore, a large percentage of that majority agreed that France and Britain should have completed the job instead of getting out when they did. Therefore the honorable member loses ground by trying to interfere in the domestic and political affairs of other countries, trying to create false impressions or trying to drive these wedges between the people and their own elected governments.
It has been said that if you want to lose a friend lend him some money, or in some other way place him under an obligation which he might find it difficult to get out of. That is equally true of nations, and it is noticeable that the nations which owe the greatest amount to Great Britain are the ones which are kicking the hardest. I think I can understand it when irresponsibles regard repudiation of a contract or an obligation as the simplest way of paying, but I find it very difficult to understand anything of a derogatory nature being said in Australia about our own Mother Country. We should remember that in the first 100 years of our existence we developed in peace and security, without any responsibility at all for our own defence, because of the existence of the British Navy - a navy that was ever ready to come to our assistance if we were threatened. I say that with all due regard to the fact that we have played our own part since. When we grew to nationhood we took our part and helped defend ourselves, but since the factors of time and space are no longer important in defence, it would appear that there are people who believe that we can do without Britain’s protection and that we can jump on the band wagon of her enemies and pui the boot in just as they are doing. 1 think it is to our shame that such voices should be raised in this Parliament, and there have been many voices so raised.
– lt has not come from anybody in this House.
– The pattern in the Middle East has been perfectly clear from the beginning to any discerning person. No matter what day-to-day excuses were offered, the pattern was the same. Behind all the excuses was the fact that Britain had to move out of the canal zone and out of Egypt. Next, for no apparent reason at all. Britain had to leave Jordan. Next Britain was urged to leave Cyprus. If 1 may use an inapt analogy, this is the point where the worm turned. Britain refused to get out of Cyprus. The Leader of the Labour party condemned Britain also because she did not jeopardize her security by surrendering to a Communist-inspired uprising and walking out of Cyprus, regardless of what t’->e consequences of giving self-determination to this small state might have been.
– Does the honorable member contend that the uprising in Cyprus was Communist-inspired?
– I want to say again to the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Cairns) that the Leader of the Labour party had not one single syllable to utter when Communist China, by force of arms, annexed probably the most inoffensive country in the world - Tibet. So we have to conclude that his attitude is that what is wrong for Britain and France to-day is eminently right for Russia and red China.
Now it is said by certain members of the Labour party that it is heresy to criticize or to speak in derogatory manner about the United Nations organization. But how many honorable members in this House have expressed themselves very forcibly on the inadequacy of the United Nations organization in such matters as this Middle East dispute? If we take a line through a number of speeches of honorable members opposite on foreign affairs we find that the Opposition’s foreign policy consists of complete reliance on the United Nations to resolve all difficulties, domestic and otherwise. The United Nations was never created for any such purpose. I agree that the United Nations organization is a splendid ideal and that if it were given a fair trial by all its members, not just some of them, it could become. the greatest stabilizing force that this world has ever known. It must be given a fair trial, but its continued importance depends on its ability to enforce its decisions, and if it is no more successful in this regard in the future than it has been in the past, it must inevitably become a monument of blasted hopes buried in the oblivion which is the resting place of another great ideal - the old League of Nations, which was started in exactly the same way.
Up to date the United Nations organization has been effectively defied by Egypt on the passage of ships through the canal. It has been effectively defied by Russia in the problem of Hungary. The Korean question remains unresolved. An armistice line has existed there for something like two years, and armed forces are still on either side of it. The same can be said of the Israeli-Jordan dispute - another armistice line with armed forces on each side of it and the solution of the problem as far away as ever. So with all the goodwill in the world, the United Nations organization will never be entirely effective as long as the reactionary powers in the Security Council have the power to veto every single thing that is advanced by the democratic powers of the world.
The General Assembly, which we have looked upon as being a body capable of doing something in spite of a veto, is dissolving to-day into groups which vote en bloc, regardless of the international merit of the question they are deciding. We saw what happened in the Middle East dispute where a group called the Afro-Asian group voted en bloc regardless of merits. If the United Nations continues on those lines it might as well be wound up, because it is supposed to be a deliberative assembly and not an aggregation of self-interested blocs of countries.
– You will get it wound up if you can.
– I would wind it up if it were not effective. I would not pretend. I would say to the public of the world, “ Put your faith in this. Your hope lies in building it up so that it will be effective; but if it is not effective, do not let it deceive you any further “. In the last war there was a song called “ Praise the Lord and pass the ammunition “. Well, 1 would say in regard to the United Nations, “ Strengthen it and support it to the very maximum of your ability, but in matters of national security keep your powder dry “. On the subject of Korea, the honorable member for Yarra may be better informed than I am. But I can say without any fear of contradiction that if America had not provided its mobile forces in Japan at the time of the North Korean intervention, South Korea would have been over-run before the United Nations could have acted.
I challenge the honorable member to say that if the United Nations had been presented with a “ fait accompli “, it would have dared to intervene and risk a major war with Russia at that time. Unquestionably, Russia was behind that aggression by North Korea. I say with equal confidence that if Britain and France had not called the tune in the Suez Canal business the United Nations would never have moved in. If Britain and France did no more than that, they did, at least, spur the United
Nations into some form of activity that has met with some success up to date. But the canal position to-day is exactly as it was before they went in.
– What did they achieve?
– They stopped the fighting. Nasser apparently dictates the policy for the operation of the canal as he did in those days. Time will not allow me to talk for too long on this subject. I want to go on to another matter. I warn people to put their hope, if they like, in the United Nations, but in order to be effective, the organization must be reconstituted or given something whereby it can do the things which it says it will do.
On the matter of nuclear experiments, various opinions have been expressed. The cessation of all nuclear experiments would place at a disadvantage all the democratic nations. I have no doubt whatever that many very worthy people, who are actuated by purely humanitarian motives, are joining in this demand. But they know perfectly well that there is no chance whatever of compelling Russia to do anything that it does not want to do.
Mr. ACTING DEPUTY SPEAKER.Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- My modest contribution to this debate will emphasize, firstly, this note: That there has been a’ great tendency to highlight the nationalization of the Suez Canal as the only factor that has influenced the trouble in the Middle East. In my opinion, many factors, prior to the nationalization of the Suez Canal, influenced the action that President Nasser took, it is interesting to note that at the beginning of his speech, the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Casey) said -
Let me start by speaking about the Middle East, which has held the anxious attention of the world since July of last year, when President Nasser seized the Suez Canal.
I feel that that is a contradiction of the facts, lt is true to say that the Middle East has held the anxious attention of the world since 1946, and that it held it for many years prior to 1946. After World War II., Cairo broached the question of revising the 1936 Anglo-Egyptian Treaty which authorized Britain to maintain military bases on Egyptian soil. Overtures were also made to settle Egypt’s differences with Britain over the status of the Sudan. lt is factual to state that these negotiations went from deadlock to deadlock until 1952 when Farouk was forced to abdicate. Following the abdication and the months of negotiations that followed, did not the American Ambassador in Cairo support Egyptian demands and bring pressure to bear to such an extent that Britain consented, in February, 1953, to settle the controversy over the Sudan and, finally, in October, 1954, agreed to evacuate the Suez base over an eighteen months period? Yet the Minister has implied that the Suez question had only been a vital one since July, 1956.
Ever since the Suez crisis exploded in July, 1956, we have been blaming Nasser for the woes that have befallen the West in the Middle East. But if we are honest with ourselves, we must admit that we have only ourselves to blame. The negotiations on the Sudan and the Suez base were noi completed overnight. There was time to press for agreements to match the concessions given to Egypt when, for the first time in its history, Egypt found itself with a government openly dedicated to serving the interests, not of one class, but of the country as a whole. Were not the Western Powers, particularly America, favorably impressed? In view of the anti-British campaign that was conducted during the preparation for the self-government elections in the Sudan, and the hostile campaign in Cairo directed at the United States as well as England, would it not have been advantageous for Britain’s diplomats to have tried to enter into trade and military agreements with Nasser in order to offset this hostility and to prevent the penetration of Soviet policy and agreements into Egypt? lt is correct to say that proposals were made to Egypt after ils requests for military aid. But were not the responses to these requests of such an imperialistic nature that Egypt flatly rejected them? Did not America, because of this rejection, offer reimbursable military aid, well knowing that Egypt did not have the dollars to pay for the modern tanks and jet planes that were required?
The Minister for Externa] Affairs, in the course of his speech said -
Let me say something at this stage about the entry of Soviet Russia into the Middle East picture’.
Two or three years ago, the Soviet Union directed her diplomatic, propaganda and trade weapons against the Middle East on what might be described as the grand scale. The particular targets for Soviet attention were Egypt and Syria. lt has been one of the traditional aims of Russian policy for many generations to get access to the warm waters of the Mediterranean and of the Persian Gulf.
Yet, in spite of this, there was further backsliding which continued from October, 1954, to September, 1955, relative to the demands of Egypt. Did not this give Russia the opportunity, as the Minister has stated, to contract with Egypt the CzechoslovakiaRussia deal in September, 1955? Was not the Soviet-Egyptian arms transaction the price that both America and Great Britain had to pay for failing to strike a bargain with Egypt in 1954 when they still had a firm grip on the situation?
Last-minute attempts were made to divert (he Egyptian Government from the course on which it had embarked. America and England, without waiting for President Nasser to make any appeal, began pleading with Cairo to accept Western financial aid for the construction of the Aswan High Dam in order to forestall a possible Soviet offer. It is true to say that these moves led to the building up of Abdel Nasser as a great leader and popular hero everywhere in the Arab world and influenced him to raise Egypt’s demands in reply to our bid on the Aswan Dam with the result that negotiations stalled for nearly a year, and finally failed.
These moves, of course, underlined Britain’s shrinking prestige and allowed Nasser to frighten Jordan out of joining the Baghdad Pact. Taking all things collectively, cannot we say that the cancellation of the Aswan High Dam offer was the real cause of the nationalization of the Suez Canal?
– lt was the immediate cause, anyway.
– Certainly it was. The Minister for External Affairs said also - lt can be said that the United States encouraged m 19SS the creation of the Baghdad pact, under which Turkey, Iraq, Iran, Pakistan, and the United Kingdom agreed to co-operate for their security and mutual defence. This so-called “ nor hern tier” defence system, as Mr. Dulles has called it, has been well supported by the United States although it has never actually joined the Baghdad pact.
But was not America’s acceptance of the pact due to the bungling and disunity that were apparent prior to the events that I have mentioned? The fact that there was a serious breakdown of relations and a withdrawal of the American offer to finance the construction of the Aswan High Dam confronted us with a challenge to our prestige throughout the Middle East, and even in southern Asia, lt is true to say that, even if the armed deal between Soviet Russia and Egypt had destroyed the British monopoly over the modern weapons market in the Middle East, the United States, Britain, and France could have re-affirmed their position as the ultimate guardians of peace in the area. In April, 1956, Russia gave unmistakable signs that it was prepared to soft-pedal its support of the Arabs in order to ensure the success of the efforts being made by the United Nations to reduce local tensions. The United States, Britain, and France should then have shown unequivocally that they meant to work through the United Nations to achieve an ArabIsraeli armistice. It is hardly likely that, if this had been done, it would have been challenged. Failure to take this step undoubtedly destroyed our military prestige in the Near East, and, in spite of what the honorable member for Gippsland (Mr. Bowden) said, gave Russia an opportunity to surround itself to the south with the same kind of buffer zone that it had established in eastern Europe, and showed quite clearly the danger of working outside the spirit of the United Nations.
The Minister for External Affairs stated Australia’s policy on the Middle East in these words - . . a realist beginning must be made towards a solution of the long-standing ArabIsraeli problem. To this end, belligerency by either side must be controlled, and a mutual pledge of non-belligerency required, which is no more, of course, than a re-affirmation nf what was contained in the Egyptian-Israeli armistice agreement.
But this would have been the proper policy in the first place. That action should have been taken before Britain and France reached the stage of going in with armed force. Instead of blaming Nasser, we must admit the blunders that we have made in dealing with Egypt and the Middle East. We must recognize that we can no longer keep the states of the Middle East in line by unilateral declarations of policy. Since we can hardly expect Russia to join with us in promoting stability in the Middle East, we must acknowledge that the Middle East disputes, and recurring threats to the peace of the world, can be dealt with only through the United Nations Security Council. I believe that that body alone can provide a neutral meeting ground to bring together the foreign ministers, not only of the four Great Powers, but also of Egypt, to consider the Suez Canal dispute in an atmosphere conducive to negotiation. 1 want to say further, Mr. Acting Deputy Speaker, that it is time for us to play down the military aspects of the situation and to play up its economic features. If we did this, we should be able to combat the barter agreements between Russia and the countries of the Middle East. Trade is the lifeblood of politics, both international and domestic, and instead of blaming Nasser for all that has occurred, we should profit from the mistakes that we have undoubtedly made, and endeavour to re-orientate our thinking and direct it towards helping the not-so-fortunate nations, succouring the starving, and trying to improve their conditions until they are comparable with our own. We should thus combat the very factors that breed communism. If we are to command respect, in the Arab world or elsewhere, we must show that we are determined to support the United Nations in order that world peace may become a reality and not remain just a plaything of international politics. We should accept without question the fact that the Middle East has held the anxious attention of the world since long before July, 1956, when President Nasser seized the Suez Canal.
The Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) and Government supporters generally went through many contortions in the process of levelling unjust charges at the Opposition, but the Minister for External Affairs, in his final analysis of the international situation, declared himself in favour of the policy that the Australian Labour party has advocated, not only in this debate, but also in the years before the Suez Canal dispute arose. The Minister went on to say -
There is, unfortunately, no basis for believing that the United Nations Assembly will automatically provide a just and effective solution for any and all problems that come before it. lt is the Government’s view that there is a compelling need, in the United Nations and outside it, for the great democratic powers to assert joint leadership directed towards peace and stability which is entirely consistent with the Charter of the United Nations.
In this, the great Australian Labour part)’ entirely concurs.
.- Mr. Acting Deputy Speaker, I, like the Minister for Territories (Mr. Hasluck), wish to confine my remarks to the United Nations. However, I fear that I cannot bring to the task the same practical and intimate knowledge of the workings of that organization as he does. I agree with honorable members on this side of the House who have indicated that any one who has listened to the speeches made by Opposition members, and particularly that made by the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt), could be forgiven for believing that, if only we would put our complete trust in the United Nations, we should have nothing to fear. Of course, the Opposition’s assessment of the position is such a fantastic parody of the true situation that it could be termed a delusion, and all delusions are dangerous. I am aware that, in socialist eyes, it is reactionary to be realistic; but, in my opinion, so much harm could be done, both to the cause of world peace and to the best interests of Australia, by representing the United Nations as something that it is not, that I make no excuse for attempting to put that organization in its true perspective.
It is worth while to recall the assumptions on which the United Nations was established. It was assumed that the peace and security of the post-war world would be guaranteed by the continuation in the postwar years of the war-time co-operation oi the five Great Powers, and the whole structure of the United Nations was piled tier upon tier on that assumption. The Security Council, in which the Great Powers had a permanent seat and a veto, was created to be primarily responsible for the maintenance of peace and security. It was given wide powers, both in the initiation of action for the peaceful settlement of disputes, and, in the event of a determination that a breach of the peace had occurred, to undertake enforcement action. Under Article 43 of the United Nations Charter, the Security Council was given, by the negotiation of special agreements with member nations, military strength to enforce its resolutions. Further, under Articles 39, 40 and 41, resolutions of the council were made mandatory on all members of the United Nations. This system. Mr. Acting Deputy Speaker, appeared to have everything. By giving the Great Powers a permanent seat in the Security Council, it placed responsibility squarely where power lay. By making advance provision for military forces and planning, it gave the Charter the teeth which the League of Nations Covenant had lacked. By making it quite clear that the primary responsibility for the maintenance of peace and security lay with the Security Council, it ensured that the frustration that sprang from divided jurisdiction would not beggar the United Nations as it had the League.
With this system, the peoples of the world could be excused for believing that a new era in international relations had begun, that anarchy and power politics had at last given way to the law of rule and justice, backed by an effective system of collective security. That was the confident expectation. The reality, as all honorable members will know, has been very different. It has been different because the assumption upon which this superstructure was built was proved to be false almost as soon as it came into existence. From the very first meeting of the organization it became clear that the war-time co-operation of the Great Powers would not be continued into the post-war period. 1 ask the House to consider what this has meant, lt has meant that the United Nations has been absolutely incapable of performing its function in relation to the dominating, and overriding, international problem of our time - the conflict between the Communist and free worlds, lt is not easy in those circumstances to repose in the United Nations the confidence that honorable members opposite repose in it.
In the face of the impotence of the Security Council in the East-West conflict, there have, of course, been attempts to give the General Assembly a more active role in the field of the maintenance of peace and security. This was the purpose of the “ Uniting for Peace “ resolution, and the establishment of the Collective Measures Committee. The advantage of dealing, through the General Assembly, with matters relating to the maintenance of peace and security is that the work of that body cannot be frustrated by the veto, lt can, therefore, discuss the really important issues of our time. On the other hand, the disadvantages are numerous. First, the General Assembly can only make recommendations. Members are not required to obey its resolutions or to place forces at its disposal. It is worth noting in passing that, for this reason, Britain was not legally bound to withdraw from the Suez Canal zone when she did, in response to the December resolution of the General Assembly. Secondly, and this is probably a much bigger disadvantage, is that it would be difficult to imagine, as many honorable members on this side of the House have said, a more inappropriate body to discuss vital and delicate questions relating to the maintenance of international peace and security. It numbers 81 members, of every conceivable size, nationality and political creed. Delegates are instructed by governments which, for the most part, seek only their own national advantage. Bloc voting of a most flagrant type is rife and standards of objectivity are. to say the least, very low. Decisions are taken by majorities made up of small states which have neither the power, nor, indeed, the intention, to contribute to the action necessary to give effect to such decisions. lt was considered in 1945 that a small body, in which responsibility was firmly welded to power, was the only suitable medium for dealing with complicated questions of international peace and security. That is why the Security Council was created in its present form, and why it was given the primary responsibility for the maintenance of peace and security. That the Security Council has been shown to be unworkable in the circumstances of the cold war does not make this any less true. Nor does it make the General Assembly a more suitable body for dealing with questions of peace and security. It merely means that, so far as the conflict between the Communist and free worlds is concerned - and I repeat that this is the outstanding international question of our time - the United Nations has. or should have, ceased to count as a factor in our calculations of security. Nothing but harm will be done to the cause of world peace, and to the United Nations itself, by pretending otherwise.
In view of the United Nations’ impotence in the East-West struggle, it is easy to become cynical and advocate its dissolution. A feeling ot frustration is created which is akin to that of the man who is constantly being hounded for petty parking offences when the daily newspapers are full of stories about unapprehended murderers. Such a feeling is natural, but it should, I believe, be r-‘is’.ed. lt is extraordinary how often discussions about the United Nations are bedevilled by the assumption that you must bc either for it - meaning uncritical support - or against it - meaning unthinking denunciation. People who would never dream of discussing this Parliament, for example, in that way, fall into it quite naturally when talking about the United Nations. That is exactly what honorable members opposite are doing when they tax those of us who are on this side of the House with ignoring the United Nations.
I am not against the United Nations. I believe that it has a most useful function to perform, lt has many tasks, particularly in the economic, psychological and social fields, which are not frustrated by the EastWest struggle. They are tasks which, if I may say so, have greater significance for the long-term peace and security of this planet than the day-to-day handling of breaches of the peace. It lays down a code of international conduct which members cannot flagrantly ignore without having their actions exposed to the spotlight of a large section of world public opinion. Even in the field of peace and security it has performed useful functions in settling disputes outside, or on the periphery of, the cold war. In a world where conventional methods of diplomatic representation and practice are often consigned to the ash heap, it provides an opportunity for negotiation and contact. The events which led to the settlement of the dispute over Berlin are an outstanding example of its functioning in this respect. Above all. if the United Nations remains in being there will be a perfectly efficient instrument, ready to hand, should circumstances change and the powers decide to use it for the purpose for which it was intended.
If the United Nations is to be preserved for this purpose, there must be restraint. The great western powers must refrain from attempting to use it as an active instrument of collective security in the cold war. The smaller powers, and particularly the
Asian-African members, must remember that some of their actions in the United Nations can work against peace, rather than for it. While the West must make allowances for their nationalism, they must realize, as the “ Economist “ put it recently, that even the most patient elderly western nation, apparently resigned to the Iocs of its place in the sun, and tolerant of endless baiting, can be nagged to the point of madness. They can. if they wish, press on regardless, but they will thereby destroy the basis of world peace.’ It is they, because they are weak, who will suffer most.
Does any honorable member imagine that the present conflict between the Communists and the free world is the ultimate decisive point in the history of human civilization? It may appear as such to us, who have to live with it, but so have other conflicts in history appeared to their contemporaries. If we look back to the views of . those who lived during the period of the religious wars of the sixteenth and the seventeenth centuries, it is clear that they saw their cootemporary conflict, as we do ours, as the culminating point in the history of the world, lt was not so in their case, nor do I think it will be in ours. Most of us - I hope on both sides of the House; certainly those on this side - have enough faith in the immortality of human freedom to believe that the Communist world will ultimately collapse of its own accord. No tyranny in history has survived the corruptness that it inevitably generates and the instinct for freedom that is innate in every human being. Why should this, the most monstrous example of the species, suffer any different fate? The overthrow of communism may not happen in a decade or even in a century, but when it does the United Nations will come into its own. Then perhaps it will satisfy the aspirations of people everywhere who look to it as a symbol of world security based on justice and international law.
But until that day comes, it is the task of the free world to stand firm lest, while waiting for the inevitable, we are destroyed. That is why we must keep clearly in our minds, in view of the criticisms of the Opposition, the complete impotence of the United Nations as a source of security in the face of the only threat which at present overshadows all others - the menace of militant communism. Learning from our mistakes in the 1930’s, we have joined with like-minded Powers in regional agreements, and we have kept our defences at a high level. Even if the Opposition has forgotten the lessons of its experience, and some of the great new nations of Asia have never learnt their lessons, there is no reason for us to forget where our real security lies.
Mr. E. JAMES HARRISON (Blaxland) (5.8]. - The honorable member for Barker (Mr. Forbes) said that he wanted to underwrite, if he could, the view expressed this afternoon by the Minister for Territories (Mr. Hasluck). He went on to say that he did not hope to be able to present the case as clearly as the Minister had. I was glad that he was not able to present the case as the Minister did, because I hoped that nobody else, even on the Government side of the House, would carry this debate to the point where the Minister left it. The Minister had the audacity to question the action of the United States of America in referring, as he said, all major matters to the United Nations. That was a deliberate attempt by the Minister to write down the importance of the United Nations, and to write down America for having some faith in the United Nations. Broadly, that attitude shows the difficulties that have arisen in this debate and why we are opposed to the line being followed by the Government.
The honorable member for Barker has said that all he can glean from the speeches of Opposition members - and I think he is correct in this - is that we place our true faith in the United Nations. He considers that that is an illusion, and all illusions are dangerous. Honorable members opposite at this stage of nuclear development are certainly prepared to write down the United Nations to the standard of an economic and social organization, and the honorable member for Barker admitted that that is so.
We on this side of the House are condemned and branded as Communists because we say that red China should be recognized. Though supporters of the Government are prepared to condemn every one who says that Great Britain was wrong in entering the Egyptian dispute in the fashion she did. they are full-bloodedly on the side of Great Britain. Let the issue be clear! There is not one honorable member on either side of this House who is not on the side of Great Britain. But, if we are on the side of Great Britain, why do honorable members opposite brand us as Communist sympathizers because we want to recognize red China? After all, the Conservative Government of Great Britain has recognized red China for some considerable time. Honorable members opposite should get their thinking clear, if they can! Great Britain feels that, in world diplomacy today, red China should be recognized, and we agree with that view. But it suits some honorable members for narrow-minded political ends to brand as Communists those who think as Great Britain thinks. If this debate has done one thing, it has shown that all honorable members in this House should try to make up their minds on where they are going in the future.
If the United Nations is to be reduced to the status of an economic and social organization, as the honorable member for Barker said, what is to be put in its place? I am not second to anybody in this House in opposing communism and all that goes with it. Do we throw everything to the wall and say, “We will meet the Communists when they attack us “ or do we say. “ We will go out after the Communists right now “? There is no middle course in this issue. In the arms race that has taken place over the last five years, we have seen the development of nuclear weapons and the hydrogen bomb. Those weapons are held by three great nations - America, Great Britain and Russia, all of which are represented in the United Nations. At this stage in the world conflict, the United Nations is the only place where those in charge of these dastardly weapons can be brought together. Much could be said for the work done by the United Nations in the social and economic fields, but we should not condemn other aspects of its work.
It has been said that time will prove that, in the Suez Canal dispute, Great Britain and France were right and the United Nations was wrong. But even if that view is proved to be correct in the years that lie ahead, the action taken by the United Nations at least gave the world breathing space and time in which to analyse the possible results of a nuclear war. We sincerely believe in the strength of the United Nations; that is the policy of this party. But, quite apart from our policy, our moral training, and our understanding of individuals and nations, make us realize the truth of the saying that you must recognize the other fellow’s point of view if you want him to recognize yours.
Many nations, in common with Australia, disagree with the general lines of Communist policy, but we must try to understand all the other nations that are opposed to the Communist line and make sure that they are also opposed to the trampling down, by any method whatever, of the honest, decent people of the world, in whatever country they may live. Those nations must be opposed to despotism in any form. One could not imagine any method of government more wicked than those which follow the theories of communism or fascism.
I realize that a number of blocs exist within the United Nations. I suppose it could be said that we in this House are divided into two and a half blocs, represented by the Liberal party, the Australian Labour party, with the Australian Country party making up the odd half.
– The quarter!
– Perhaps only a quarter. We do not apologize for the point of view that we have expressed in this debate. The honorable member for Angas (Mr. Downer), at the conclusion of a particularly hostile reference to the United Nations in his speech on 9th April, made a remark which illustrates a thought that is running through the minds of Government supporters, and which is a dangerous thought for this country and its international relations. The honorable member for Angas said -
What confidence can we possibly derive from ihe manner of its proceedings?
He was speaking of the United Nations. He continued - lt is fast becoming a partisan, a group-ridden assembly.
That is the language of a destroyer, and there is no place in world affairs for those whose only object is destruction. One can well imagine that of all the comments that have been made in this debate, that is the one most likely to gladden the hearts of the Russian leaders, because they would welcome a general acceptance by the English-speaking people of the belief ex pressed by the honorable member for Angas - that the United Nations is now becoming a partisan, group-ridden assembly.
– That is a matter of fact. The honorable member will not face the facts.
– I am facing the facts. Those are the actual words of the honorable member for Angas. When I heard him use those words I was staggered.
– Those are not merely words; those are the facts regarding the United Nations.
– Russia has always given the impression that it regards the United Nations as a partisan, group-ridden assembly. It has always endeavoured to belittle the work of the United Nations, in the hope that one day that organization would be destroyed.
Having listened to the speech of the honorable member for Angas, I awaited anxiously the speech of the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies), hoping that in the interests of world security and the security of this country he would repudiate at least some of the statements of the honorable member for Angas. However, he did not repudiate those statements. Rather did he leave us with the impression that he agreed with the views expressed by the honorable member. Looking back on those speeches that were made on 9th April - and I listened to every word of them carefully - one must be impressed by the fact that the Prime Minister’s contribution consisted of a series of selected questions and a few answers. During the 42 minutes of his speech, he asked himself a question every 90 seconds. From the type of consideration that the Prime Minister gave to the question, thepeople of this nation are expected to arrive at a conclusion as to what is best for Australia in the realm of international affairs.
We on this side of the House believefirmly in the principles of the United Nations. We believe that the world must be given some hope that it will not be exposed to a war in which nuclear and’ thermo-nuclear weapons will be used. We are not prepared to endorse a view suchas we have heard expressed by the PrimeMinister, because the expression of such views must lead to one dreadful end for us. all. The Prime Minister gave the show away when he asked the final question at the end of his long series of questions. He asked whether the intervention by the United Nations was good - not for the immediate cessation of fighting, but whether it was good at all. He said that it was good tor the immediate cessation of the fighting, but that it was not good for peace in the long run.
– That is quite right.
– My friend says that it was not good for peace in the long run. The Prime Minister enumerated four reasons why it was not good, the fourth one of which was as follows: -
If a major war seems unlikely to-day it is because of the deterrent. It is because of the deterrent primarily, and the concerted friendship and organization of free powers backing up the deterrent. But a great war might still be produced by an incautious arrogance on the part of the Soviet -Union, flushed wilh the success it has been having. That is always a possible cause of some mad stroke that may produce a war.
Let us analyse those words. Do the nations of the world lack appreciation of the effects of nuclear war? I commend to all honorable members the remarks made by the honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Haylen) during this debate. Are we merely to sit by, as the Prime Minister suggests, and trust that there will not be a war, and that one of the great powers will not make some injudicious or incautious move that will produce a third world war? The United Nations was established by five great powers. Quite contrary to the view expressed by the honorable member for Barker (Mr. Forbes), it was set up with the distinct purpose of ensuring that the world, having emerged from two major wars, would not suffer a third one. At the time of the establishment of the United Nations, the effects of nuclear warfare were not considered in the way that they are to-day, but those five great powers must have understood that if we cannot arrive at an understanding in respect of the use of nuclear weapons, the world must perish. Is it not the duty of every person in a free parliament anywhere in the world to demand that all nations shall observe the decisions of the United Nations? That is our job in this Parliament, and we must recognize that any nation, whether it be Russia, Great Britain, France or the United
States of America, which flouts a decision arrived at by the General Assembly of the United Nations, jeopardizes world peace.
I know that honorable members opposite are wondering what will happen if Russia takes the fatal step. I agree that we shall be in great danger if Russia does so. but what should we do in the meantime? Do we go on from day to day hoping that no incautious act on the part of one of the nations will cause a nuclear war? ls the United Kingdom Government to be condemned because it faced the issue only recently and said - for which it was criticized by the American press - that if a nuclear war were to start. Great Britain could not be defended? Having seen a film on atomic weapons in this building only about ten days ago, I looked forward with eagerness to another speech of the Prime Minister, that on defence, which the right honorable gentleman made here recently. He spoke of ringing Sydney with some kind of defensive equipment, although we all know - and no one better than the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth) - that one hydrogen bomb would wipe out the City of Sydney.
Are we in the hopeless situation that the world is doomed, and that we can only await the day when Russia drops a nuclear bomb? We on this side of the House do not believe that that is the position. We believe that the United Nations is strong enough to save the world, provided that we have the will to see that its decisions are carried out, and provided that it is supported by the free peoples and in all the free parliaments.
– Why does not the honorable member speak up?
– We believe that the United Nations is strong enough to save even Scotland, from which country the Minister for Social Services (Mr. Roberton) came. We think that the United Nations can save the world from those things that the British Government has said are inevitable in a nuclear war.
I say quite frankly. Mr. Acting Deputy Speaker, that the only hope for the world is a strong United Nations and adherence to its charter. That, after all, is the policy of the Australian Labour party, which has resolved to support, on all occasions, the efforts of the United Nations to save the world from the things that we know could happen. It is wrong to brand that organization, as the honorable member for Angas branded it. We have an obligation to the people that we represent, and to the other peoples of the free world, to give them some hope that we are capable of building an organization that will free the world of the thought of nuclear annihilation in the very near future.
– It is natural that we, as a small nation, should look, first, at the details rather than the principles of foreign policy, because the details, we think, lie within our own power, whereas the principles lie rather within the power of the big nations. I do not want to follow that theme this afternoon, because I feel that we, and everybody else, have a right and a duty to be looking back to first principles. We have to look at the failure of our foreign policy, measured not in the last year or two, but over the whole span since the end of the war. We think first, perhaps, of the tragedy of Hungary, a recent thing; we think of the disaster in the Middle East, and it is natural that these things should come to our minds. But I want to speak, rather, of the failure of our policy as a whole, because, in these years since the end of the war, it is not merely the case that we have passed from a position of complete superiority over the Soviet to a position of ambiguity. The position is much worse than that, because we and the Russian people, all peoples of the world, have passed from a state of relative security to a state of almost absolute jeopardy.
I think that this has happened because we have endeavoured to bring to the new problems old methods. We have not realized the magnitude of the changes which have taken place in the forces which determine not only national history, but also human destiny. We need new principles of action. In the few minutes that are available to me, I want to speak of three things, not entirely related - the three main factors to which, I think, honorable members and all peoples of the world should direct their attention if they want to live. They are, first, the atomic position and the development of the other new weapons which may emerge side by side with the grim advance of atomic science; secondly, the position of the United Nations and how that has been abused, or could be used in this new crisis; and thirdly, the way in which free men must endeavour to unite against the forces of tyranny which once appeared in nazi guise and now appear in Communist guise, because in both cases they are the same forces.
Let me turn, first, to the atomic position. As honorable members will know, this is not the first time that I have endeavoured to speak of this matter in the House. I have heard honorable members on both sides of the chamber, during the course of this debate, refer to this crucial factor in human affairs. But the unfortunate thing is that, in the earlier years, when this factor was more amenable to treatment, when it was not so intractable as it is to-day, they would not turn their minds to it. They did not realize the magnitude of the new force which was coming into history, or, perhaps, even to end history.
Only a little while ago, this new force resided in one hand. The United States ot America was the only country that had it, and the United States was willing to turn all its power and all its knowledge to an international body, provided only that that international body had the means of seeing that there was no clandestine violation of an international atomic pact. It was a generous offer, and its good faith was evidenced by the fact that the United States did not use its atomic monopoly, while it had it, for its own ends. One would have hoped that it would use it for the ends of humanity, because if it had been willing to show strength, there would have been no war. There would have been permanent peace, permanent security, and before mankind the vista of a prosperity such as never occurred even in the wildest dreams of the earlier philosophers and economists. But that chance has been wasted. This power is now out. It is held not by one nation, but by three nations, including two nations whose ways of life are entirely opposed one to the other. And it is not merely the small power that it was ten years ago; it is now a power growing fully lethal as the small atomic bomb burgeons into the monstrous hydrogen weapon. But that is not the most vital thing. The most vital point is that it is becoming multilateral. It is getting into more and more hands. Only last week, the German Government announced that it saw every reason itself to become an atomic power, and who shall say it nay? Only a few months ago other powers announced their intention of so developing their forces; and other powers must, because; even to those entering this rat race, woe to those who fall behind. While there is no force for international control, every country, to its own people, has the duty of ensuring survival by keeping in the van. This brings a position which, sooner or later - it may be 10, 20, 30 or even 50 years - spells death to the whole of the human race. We come to an end unless we can find a means of controlling these new forces. Therefore, all efforts should be devoted towards obtaining and perfecting those methods of control before it is too late. It is of no use crying over spilt milk. The architects of irresolution bear their own guilt, but that brings us no solution.
We cannot devise a practicable means of doing this in one shot. We must rather devise the most practical approaches by which we can approach and get near to this goal. I suggest to the House that we have been guilty of a dereliction of duty in not more actively backing the plans of initial inspection which were put forward by President Eisenhower a couple of years ago, and which appear to be going into the discard as people turn to matters of less consequence and erect them into matters of moment. I know that there has been a concerted Communist campaign to stop the peoples of the world from realizing the necessity for inspection as the prime requisite to any system of control. Inspection, of itself, does not solve the problem; it is the essential first step which makes a solution possible, and T hope that this House and this country will turn their attention to backing that essential plan.
We do not want to stop there. We must go on to other measures. It is of no use to talk about banning the bomb until we have the power to ban it. Without inspection, there can be no power to ban, and an agreement to ban becomes merely a fraud perpetrated upon the nations of goodwill by those who mean to dishonour their pacts. Unless a nation consents to inspection as part of an international plan of control, that nation stands self-convicted of bad faith. The other measures follow, or could follow. They certainly should follow.
What are we doing about looking at this in its logical sequence? Why do we allow ourselves to be diverted by catch-cries of less significance which are only meant to divert the attention of our people from the real thing that can help? I wish I could speak on this longer, but I must now, against the clock, go back to the United Nations. I agree with the honorable member for Barker (Mr. Forbes) that the United Nations is a broken reed. That is unfortunate, because we need a reed.
– Who broke it?
– I shall come to that in a moment. The United Nations is an organization which, by its very structure, and for the reasons the honorable member for Barker gave, is weaker than the old League of Nations it was meant to replace. It has checks and impediments to its operations which even the league did not have, but - and this is the but; I think the House should bear it in mind - we cannot do without it. So, there are two disservices, not one, that can be done. The first disservice is to think that the United Nations, as it stands, is adequate; it is a broken reed. The second disservice is to say that, because it is a broken reed, we should have none of it. Rather, what we have got to do is to set about the reform of the United Nations. In the long run, that is our only hope. Over the short run, we need to put our reliance upon other things; but those other things are expedients only for the short run. They may be necessary for us to get the power of survival into the long run, but in the long run, it is only an international consensus that can save humanity from obliteration.
It may be - and this position has been put forward by honorable members during this debate - that the reform of the United Nations has to be of so fundamental character that it virtually means the abandonment of the present system. I, personally, would not feel that, although it is a tenable view. The first thing upon which we must all surely agree, is that there has got to be an effective international organization which can police and supervise the control of the new weapons which, if uncontrolled, spell humanity’s doom. Do not let us be diverted by smaller things of less moment. Let us look at those small problems in the light of whether they contribute towards that ultimate end.
Now, because the clock presses on me, I must turn to my third point, conscious as I am that I have dealt only sketchily and inadequately with the two preceding points. The United Nations, unfortunately, came into existence at a time when it was necessary to have an effective international organization. The two things that made that imperative were, first, the atomic situation of which I have spoken, and, secondly, the thing of which I am now to speak, namely, the impact of tyranny, the impact of its last assault on the free world. It is the last assault, lt must end either in the end of tyranny, or the end of freedom, or in the end of all. This assault is only a continuation of the assault of the nazi creed. In a way, communism was older than nazi-ism. Historically the roots of nazi-ism were in communism; it was an aberration on the main stem. Looking at the process altogether, here we see an assault by these totalitarian powers on the freedoms which we believe to represent the ultimate values in human history. It is true that the existence of the atomic bomb poses problems for us, but it is also true that it poses the same problems for the Communists. We have our weaknesses, about which I have spoken, but they have their weaknesses too. There is no need for despair. When we contemplate our own weaknesses, let us remember that our potential enemies suffer from the same weaknesses.
For us and for them there is a deadline. For us, as for them, the continuance of life means the achievement of effectual international control. Therefore, when new systems of international control are proposed we may not find Russia so treacherous and so intractable as she has been in the past. Doubtless she will endeavour to evade. Doubtless she will play in the future, as she has played in the past, her game of delay, but she is up against the same dead-line as we are.
Mr. ACTING DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr. Freeth). - Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- Let me deal briefly with the three points made by the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth). First, the atomic problem is a problem which concerns, not only the three great powers, America, Russia and the United Kingdom - in that order - which are possessed of atomic and hydrogen bombs, but every other country in the world, not least Australia, because it is in our hemisphere and in our ocean that experimentation now proceeds with the most lethal forms of those weapons.
The problem resolves itself into this question: Who shall be the first to desist from these experiments? At present, we are engaged in a mad race in which neither side is willing to be the first to announce that it has discontinued the experiments but each competes with the other by offering to discontinue the experiments. I can think of nothing which would expose more definitely the bad faith of the Russians than a declaration by the United Kingdom and the United States of America that, for the following six months, they would discontinue all experiments with these weapons. If, in the face of such a declaration, the Soviet Union were to continue with its experiments, we should be morally justified in resuming ours. The initiative could be ours, but we resolutely refuse to take the initiative and, at the same time, condemn the Russians for refusing to take it themselves.
The next point made by the honorable member was that the United Nations is a broken reed, but apparently, though broken, a necessary reed. If the United Nations has failed, it is because the members of the United Nations, including Australia, have failed. The United Nations cannot, spontaneously, take any step. Any action by the United Nations must be initiated by one of its members. During the last year, Australia has been a member, not only of the General Assembly, but also of the Security Council. In that time, it has been grossly deficient and renegade by failing to propose motions in both the General Assembly and the Security Council which would have reduced tension in the world and which would have helped to prevent the tragic actions which we have seen in the Middle East in the last six or eight months.
The third point made by the honorable member concerned the necessity for free men to unite in the face of the Communist threat to the whole of the world. In the last six months in particular, and during the last two years or eighteen months in general, the actions of the Conservative Government of the United Kingdom have resulted in the greatest expansion of Communist influence in the last decade. The British policy in Cyprus has done more than anything else in the last six or seven years to bring about a resurgence of communism in Greece, a country with which 80 per cent, of the inhabitants of Cyprus feel an enduring affinity.
The British and French action in Egypt resulted in all the Arab countries being faced with an alternative which most of them disliked - that is, the influence of Russia. In betrayal of all the best British and French traditions in foreign policy and domestic democracy, we made an assault on one of the Arab nations. As a result, those nations have now turned more than they otherwise would have turned to what appears to be the only alternative among the big powers of the world. The tragedy is all the greater because Russia, in Hungary, was guilty of an act which brought about an unparalleled revulsion among her satellites and among all people who had been prepared to believe that there was some hope for a more moderate system in Russia. The impact of Russia’s action there has been dulled and blunted by the fact that the British and the French - who, until then, had kept their noses pretty clean - themselves were guilty of an act of like kind, even though of lesser degree.
– They stopped the Arab war.
– The United Nations stopped the Arab war. In the last six months we have seen the culmination of a tragic situation in the Middle East, brought about by the British Conservative Government. Before the attack was made on Egypt, the position was that Egypt had offered compensation on just terms to the Suez Canal Company for the remaining twelve years of its concession, had announced its adherence to the 1888 Convention, had agreed to the Security Council’s six principles and was piloting ships through the canal in undiminished numbers. But, in face of that, the British and the French attacked Egypt.
The first sin that they committed there, of course, was a flagrant defiance of the charter of the United Nations, the supreme law in international affairs, under which all members - and Britain and France were founding nations and permanent members of the Security Council - undertook to settle their international disputes by peaceful means and to refrain in their international relations from the threat or the use of force. Britain and France defied those two basic, preliminary provisions of the United Nations’ charter. In addition, they ignored their 1950 tripartite declaration with the United States, which was supposed to guarantee peace in that area. In fact, they did not consult with thi United States at all, because there was no doubt in their minds what the United States would have said if she had been consulted.
Furthermore, Britain broke its 1954 agreement with Egypt. That agreement, which was quite favorable for Britain, enabled British troops to re-occupy the canal bases in the event of an armed assault on any Arab nation or on Turkey, except if the assault were by Israel. This was an assault by Israel, but Britain presumed to restore her troops to the Suez Canal area in breach of the 1954 agreement - an agreement in which Britain recognized, to use the precise words, the fact that the canal was an integral part of Egypt. Then the United Kingdom and France - I do not suppose that we have any responsibility for France, but we have for the United Kingdom because our Prime Minister connived at this procedure - vetoed the resolutions in the Security Council. The United Kingdom, for the first time, exercised its right of veto in that council. They then opposed these resolutions in the General Assembly, being in a smaller minority in the assembly than the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics had ever found itself.
What was the result of the United Kingdom’s participation? The canal was blocked for six months; the Mosul-Tripoli pipeline was sabotaged for five months; the British bases in Libya and Jordan were lost; and the 1954 agreement with Egypt was denounced. Take the less discernible, but nevertheless very real, results. Our mora? force in the world was dissipated, British prestige and moral standing in the world are at a lower ebb than at any time since the Boer war. British and French in fluence in the Middle East is back where it was before Bonaparte’s and Nelson’s excursions in that area.
Then let us look at the human consequences of the British Government’s action. Thousands of British were stranded in Egypt or had to go as refugees to the United Kingdom, a fact which no newspaper in Australia has mentioned, although, of course, the Australian Broadcasting Commission has done so. There are at least 5,000 British refugees who were formerly in Egypt but are now stranded in the United Kingdom, and the Australian Government has belatedly said that they can come to Australia if they pay their passages. They are to get no assistance of any kind to come here, although they are in every respect eligible to come here. Incidentally, very little sympathy seems to be spared for the Egyptians, or the wogs, as so many Honorable members on the Government side jail them. There are 30,000 Egyptians in refugee camps outside Port Said at this very moment.
Sitting suspended from 5.58 to 8 p.m.
– Before the suspension of the sitting I was tracing the tragic consequences to the material well-being and moral standing of Western Europe wrought &y the Conservative Government in the United Kingdom. It is significant that the Minister for External Affairs a week ago .ought to justify the action of Israel, but did not try to justify the action of the United Kingdom and France. If Egypt is a threat to peace we should raise the issue in the Security Council, of which we are one of the present members. If Egypt is breaking international law the matter should be brought before the World Court, where the Soviet has no veto. It is idle for honorable members to complain about the inaction of the United Nations and the World Court when we fail to initiate action in either place. Israel was a voice crying in the wilderness until the conservatives found it would be a useful weapon against Egypt.
Now I want to refer to the tragic consequences to Australia of our Prime Minister’s actively and vociferously identifying himself with Sir Anthony Eden’s action. Our friends and neighbours now tend to identify Australia with the archaic, illegal and immoral attitude of the Eden Government. For many weeks the United States Government snubbed our Prime Minister, our Minister for External Affairs and all our representatives in the United States and at the United Nations.
Two nights ago the Prime Minister made a plea for the United States in future to back us and England and France, right oi wrong. I, for one, am thankful that the United States did so much in recent months to preserve the reputation of democracy in Asia and Africa. We did not confer with the Asian members of the Commonwealth, although they stood to lose more economically in the Suez crisis than we in Australia; nor did we confer with Canada and South Africa. It is the fault of Australia’s Prime Minister that Australia herself is now so isolated and so suspect among all her neighbours. Our ponderous pro-consul may bulk large in the literal sense but, in the diplomatic sense, he does not cut a very good figure. His was the hour of glory and his is the continuing guilt.
It is greatly to be deplored that the Minister for External Affairs did not succeed in having his policy endorsed by his government, and that his voice was not heard as our representative in the United Nations. It is significant that in this House a week ago he did not endorse, or even refer to, the Prime Minister’s attitude.
I think that our attitude over Suez is just another instance of our disregard of out neighbours. Let me give three other instances: Our failure to recognize the Government of China; our attitude towards Indonesia; and our attitude towards India. Let it be said straightaway about China that there is no question of handing over the people of Formosa to the Government in Peiping without reference to the people of Formosa. The people in Formosa have never had an opportunity to say whether they want integration with China, separation from China, or links once again with Japan. The arguments we have been given against recognizing the Government of China are twofold. It is said that we would offend the United States. I need only point out that half of the nations in Nato recognize the Government of China, that all the nations in Meto recognize it, and that two of our colleagues in Seato recognize it also. It is also said that we would lose the support of the overseas Chinese, numbering 10,000,000 or more. Are we to believe that the guerrillas in Malaya would lay down their arms, or the people in Singapore, the largest Chinese city outside China itself, would cease from civil strife if the United Kingdom reversed its stand on the recognition of China? Every country in Asia, except Thailand, recognizes the Government of China. It would be better for us, if we do not want to recognize that Government, to withdraw our recognition of the Government in Formosa rather than to let it be thought that we encourage its aspirations of reconquest of the mainland or, still worse, to preserve the irritating pretence that it is entitled to a permanent place on the Security Council and on the World Court.
Now I turn to our attitude towards Indonesia, our nearest neighbour, the sixth country in the world in population and the largest in population in the Southern Hemisphere. There are two continuing forms of irritation there. One is the long gap in our diplomatic representation, and the other is our fruitless attitude towards the control of West New Guinea. We have recognized the Government of Indonesia now for more than seven years, but for four of these years we did not have an accredited representative in that country. We had a man there for two of those four years who did not have the status of an ambassador. He was a mere charge d’affaires.
Now I refer to West New Guinea. We persist in misrepresenting Indonesia’s claim’ to that territory. It makes no geographical or racial claim; otherwise the Indonesians would make a claim to East New Guinea or to eastern Timor also, or to North Borneo and Sarawak, or to Palawan and the Sulu Archipelago. But Indonesia’s claim is based on the ground that Indonesia is the successor state to all the Netherlands East Indies, in which West New Guinea was included. We are often given a strategic justification for Australia’s attitude, but only by those who ignore the fact that the Kai, Tanimbar and Aroe Islands, lying between that territory and Australia, are occupied - and we acknowledge the occupation - by Indonesia, and were occupied during the war and used as bases, by the Japanese.
– Are they nearer to Australia than New Guinea?
– Yes, much. They are about half the distance. We cannot assert that the inhabitants of West New Guinea should govern themselves, since we assert that the inhabitants of the eastern half are not fit to do so. Indonesia can scarcely claim she could govern them when she finds so much difficulty in governing Sumatra,
Borneo and the Celebes. One thing is certain, however, and that is that the Netherlands can have only an ever-decreasing tenure in this territory, and Australia is backing a dead horse instead of promoting some idea of trusteeship such as we ourselves maintain in our area of New Guinea. Let it be realized that every year in the last three years the United Nations has, by a large majority, rejected Australia’s stand in favour of the Netherlands, and that every country in Asia, including all the Seato and Meto powers, voted against us, and on every occasion the United States abstained from voting.
I come lastly to our attitude towards India. India comes in for more criticism in this place than any power associated with us. except in recent months the United States, which Government members continue to criticize, albeit mostly covertly. It is the most populous democracy in the world. It inherits and maintains the British political, judicial and administrative tradition and. above all, it is a great adherent to the United Nations. All our neighbours take the United Nations seriously, and therefore it is all the more appalling that the other night the Prime Minister should refer to the Secretary-General of the United Nations as “ bowing to Colonel Nasser with bated breath and whispering humbleness “. It is a contemptible affront-
Mr. Leslie interjecting,
– It would not be a contemptible affront to the honorable member for Moore, but it is a contemptible affront to a man who has the task of bringing order and reason out of the situation our Prime Minister did so much to entangle and exacerbate.
.- If I may be permitted to use mild terms, may ] describe the arguments presented by the honorable member for Werriwa (Mr. Whitlam) as quaint. As he was speaking, several lines of a poem kept racing through my mind. They are -
When the monarch Reason sleeps the mimir wakes
A medley of distorted things.
In a debate of this nature one is very heavily hemmed in by time. It is not possible or practicable to cover the points of view canvassed by the previous speaker.
I wish to turn to the various questions that I regard as commanding pre-eminent importance.
First, I turn to the issue of AngloAmerican relationships. Only a mental hermit, I suppose, would run away from the idea that Anglo-American relations have not been seriously damaged in recent times. As a result of the Suez issue, we saw the hostility to the United Kingdom resident within America rise to its zenith. We saw many millions of Americans quite’ vocally attacking what my friend and colleague from South Australia described a few nights ago as “ their most valued ally - the United Kingdom “. 1 come straightaway to this point and say that it is essential for the preservation of peace in this world that there should be the utmost harmony between the United States of America and the United Kingdom.
Quite plainly, it is the grand strategy of Moscow to destroy harmony between the United Kingdom and the United States. Having said this, may I add that it would be completely dishonest to say that there are not grievous faults on both sides of the Atlantic? If those faults are to be absolved, and if harmony is to be restored, then I believe that not only must we address ourselves to the problem with complete frankness, but also with complete friendliness.
There are many people, including myself, who quite genuinely, but nevertheless with a degree of humility, believe that there is m unfortunate influence at work on merican foreign policy. One could give many illustrations of it. I am not con.demning the United States of America. I am not interested in personalities. I am interested in functions and in principles.
To give an illustration of the sort of thing I have in mind, may I point to a declaration by a former presidential assistant, Mr. C. D. Jackson? Mr. Jackson was Mr. Eisenhower’s adviser on psychological warfare from 1953 to 1954. He was reported to have said that Mr. Dulles was out to try to engineer a situation to draw the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics to a certain point. The conditions that Mr. Jackson submitted that Mr. Dulles regarded as critical in arranging the situation were, first, that the area chosen for the show-down should lie outside the Communist orbit; secondly, that a large amount of money should be involved; and third, that the area should be one that might turn to Russia for aid.
What would be the effect upon a person who saw that declaration by a former presidential adviser on the attitude of Mr. Dulles? Whether we like it or not, we cannot resist the conclusion that, in the absence of any plain declaration that the statement or submission by Mr. Jackson was completely false, there must have been something in it. If I may give the House another illustration, I invite honorable gentlemen to read the book “ Inside the State Department “, written by Bryton Barron, a former historian in the American State Department. What he has to say in this book, which was recently published, is disturbing and challenging. We must face up to these things if harmony is to be restored. 1 submit with respect, Mr. Speaker, that if harmony between the United States and the United Kingdom is to be restored - and I insist that it must be restored if the peace of the world is to be preserved - then it is incumbent upon the United States to remove from the centre of influence what many people believe to be a grievous unAmerican and undemocratic influence. Where suspicion, distrust, disharmony and misunderstanding lurk, there lie the seeds of trouble and, in this case, of disaster. We must strive with great purpose to resolve the differences that have arisen between the United Kingdom and the United States. If we do not succeed, or if we are prepared to dismiss these matters as being of no importance, we shall be the designers of our own destruction.
I turn now to the Suez Canal issue. I do not propose to make an elaborate postmortem of that dispute. I have listened to many honorable gentlemen opposite putting forward their views, no doubt quite sincerely. I was reminded this afternoon of the historic occasion upon which Gladstone described Disraeli’s acquisition of the Suez Canal as an act of insanity. If I could fiddle with Disraeli’s reply, it would express my view of some of the honorable gentlemen on the Opposition side. The reply, of course, would describe them as “ unsophisticated rhetoricians inebriated with the exuberance of their own verbosity and gifted with an imagination that can at all times command an inconsistent series of arguments to malign their opponents and to glorify themselves”.
Nothing would be solved by conducting an elaborate post-mortem of the Suez issue, but I believe it is essential, as my colleague, the honorable member for Ryan (Mr. Drury), said this afternoon, that we recognize that the Soviet Union saw in the Suez Canal all the elements necessary to mummify freedom in that area and, in turn, to make a valuable contribution towards the consummation of its ultimate objective. The Soviet build-up in the Middle East in the past few years can be described only as fantastic.
I believe that when the history of the Suez dispute has been cleared of emotionalism and has been written in a sensible and intelligible fashion the only thing that will emerge against the United Kingdom Government and the French Government will be the fact that they did not accomplish the mission on which they se: out. There was Nasser, a declared dictator by any measure. If honorable members turn to his book “ Egypt’s Liberation “, they will find the words -
I will continue t i dream oi the day when I will find in Cairo a great African institution.
If honorable members trace the Suez issue back to its genesis - I do not care where they strike upon it - they will see example after example of this man’s arrogance and his contumacious attitude to international authority. They will find him saying in the plainest words that he was prepared only to consider his own terms, and was quite willing and ready to ignore any other influence, persuasion or argument. I believe with all genuineness that the United Kingdom’s action in Suez was right, and I regret that it was not completed. That brings me to my next point. In the United Kingdom there is a by no means small number of people who believe that once again a queer pressure and an odd influence was at work. I turn for example to a statement made by Major-General J. H. Churcher, Commander of the Third Infantry Division, who gave a first-hand account of events in Egypt when he spoke at the annual dinner of the Colchester Division of the Essex Constabulary. He said -
We made many plans. The first, by far the best, was not allowed to be used for various reasons, but if it had been carried out, not only would Nasser have been off his perch by now, but the Suez Canal and the whole of Egypt would have been under French and British domination. Perhaps we would have been in a better position in that part of the world than we are now. Unfortunately, external pressure, mostly political, prevented the operation from going through. We did not fail from the military angle. It was on the political side that we failed.
While on the Suez dispute I want to bring to the notice of the House what I describe as a monstrous statement made in thu chamber last year by the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt). Referring to the Menzies Committee that went to Cairo to try to reason with Colonel Nasser, the right honorable gentleman had this to say-
The Prime Minister of Great Britain said that Egypt’s move was “ an act of plunder “ and, in effect, what the Menzies Committee, representing eighteen nations, said to Nasser was, “ We do not mind the plunder if we can share in it with you “.
I believe that is a monstrous statement. I do not know whether the Leader of the Opposition was under some form of mental aberration at the time, but if the right honorable gentleman was expressing a deep conviction, he should be called to account for that statement.
– Why do you not shoot him?
– In more sensitive days he would have been impeached. It is all very well for honorable members opposite to scoff at something. That is characteristic of them. They try to sustain their own depleted and miserable arguments by cheering, and they try to destroy sound arguments by jeering.
I turn now to a more sombre subject - Hungary. I say at once, as the clock is racing against me, that the attitude of the Western democracies towards the Hungarian issue was spineless, wretched, and one that fills me for one with intense shame. lt is true that in the various chancellories and consortiums of the world we passed fine resolutions calling upon the Soviet Union to comply with the proprieties of international law. It is true that we received into this country some thousands of refugees. But nothing can hide the factand this is heavily stained on the pages of history - that when the Hungarian people rose against their oppressors, we did nothing to help them. The simple truth is that, foi years, the British Broadcasting Corporation and the “ Voice of America “ have beer broadcasting to Europe and exhorting the people of satellite countries to rise up against their oppressors. Well, in Hungary they did, and they were butchered in their thousands for their trouble. I have with me some photographs taken during the Hungarian holocaust, and I invite all honorable members interested to view them. The photographs reveal unconcealed horror. One sees the wreckage created by minds destroyed by a brutal, savage and materialistic philosophy. Yet, as you look into the photographs you see also the quiet spirit of the people, determined and courageous, and possessing high purpose that one day they will relieve themselves of the burden that rests upon them.
Years ago, Hungary earned the title of the shield of Christianity. I believe that title has been earned again, lt has been earned again by immense sacrifice, by great fortitude and by a tragic loss of life. I believe that there are some times when we must put prejudice and partisanship to one side and try to appraise our actions and conduct selflessly and honestly. No matter how far we may depart from fundamental principles; no matter how often we may shun their existence and despite their application, we cannot desert them. I say with regret, but nevertheless with a sense of responsibility, that the Hungarian revolt demonstrated our cynical support of the great principles of truth, justice and equity. I say, further, that seldom, if ever, have people of civilized countries strayed so shamefully from the highways of international virtue and decency. Events in Hungary challenged us to show our sense of fitness. We rejected the challenge. They prompted us to remind ourselves that there is a code of human behaviour that no manner of government dare outrage. We pretended to deafness. The events in Hungary invited us to say, with all the power resident within our society, that this appalling act would not go unchecked and unheeded. I do not advocate that we should have declared war on the Soviet Union. I simply advocate that we exercise much greater realism in our dealings with the Soviet Union.
In the last fifteen years, the Communist powers have bluffed and bullied their way into controlling an empire that now stretches from the Elbe River to the Pacific Ocean. The Hungarian revolt presented the West with an opportunity to say to the Kremlin, “ While murder, thuggery and gangsterism are employed by you, we will have no further truck with you “.
The last thing to which I refer is this, the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth) has drawn the attention of the House to the great danger of thermonuclear warfare. No one will discount that danger. Science has brought mankind to the stage where life on this planet can now be obliterated. If thermo-nuclear weapons are to be used in a total war, it simply means that neutrality can no longer be maintained, victory can no longer be gained and defeat can no longer be suffered. One wonders whether the solution lies in international control.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- The honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Killen), in the humble opinion of the Opposition, takes himself far too seriously. If he could get a sense of humour, I am sure his contributions to debate in this Parliament would go down far better on this side of the House and probably throughout the country. To-night, he advanced a philosophy which was very strange and which, because of its intolerance, was very dangerous. His attitude to our leader, the right honorable member for Barton (Dr. Evatt), can be summed up in the following statement: “ If you do not agree with me, you should be impeached “. The honorable member never makes a speech without attacking the Leader of the Opposition; but he will not succeed in destroying our leader. His speeches savour of Communist tactics, because he smears other people and displays intolerance towards them. The Communists try to destroy people by smearing and slandering them and by uttering untruths, and time after time this honorable member has contributed that kind of thing to debates. I am sure that he has ability. If he were to abandon the negative approach and make positive contributions to debate, he would, indeed, be worthy of his place in the Parliament and in the electorate.
Since its federal conference in Brisbane, from the 11th to 15th March, the Aus. tralian Labour party has been constantly attacked by the press and by Government supporters. Those attacks have consisted of distortion and misrepresentation of
Labour’s policy. Labour’s critics have endeavoured to aline its policy with communism. The press seems determined to give a wrong twist to everything that Opposition members say in this House. There is no possible way in which the people of Australia can get a fair understanding of Labour’s position other than by listening to the broadcast of parliamentary proceedings. I should like to pay a tribute to the Australian Broadcasting Commission for providing this channel through which the Labour party can express its thoughts to the people. The people can get both sides of the story only by listening to the broadcasts of debates.
Let me say a few words about Labour’s foreign policy. For the last three years, I have been a member of the federal executive of the Labour party, and I have been present at the federal conferences of the party for the last nine years.
– The honorable member was a member of the drafting committee, too, was he not?
– Yes, I was a member of the committee which drafted Labour’s foreign policy. Therefore, I have a right to speak on the matter and to let the House know the way in which we formulated that policy. The press has published all sorts of twisted ideas about it. In the Sydney “ Sun “ of 9th April, a journalist poses the question -
Who formulated this a.l.p. foreign policy?
Then, he set out incorrectly the members of the committee which dealt with it. The honorable member for Stirling (Mr. Webb), Mr. Bukowski of Queensland, Mr. Tony Mulvihill of New South Wales, Mr. Dinny Lovegrove, M.L.A., of Victoria, Mr. Dunstan, M.L.A., of South Australia, and I comprised the committee. From time to time our leader was with us to give us advice and help. The press has made the charge that there was collaboration between our leader and Dr. John Burton. I say quite truthfully that neither at Hobart, when I was a member of the drafting committee, nor at Brisbane did John Burton have anything whatever to do with us or our policy.
Honorable members know that at big conferences delegates form themselves into committees to deal with various items on the agenda. We had six committees at our federal conference, with six delegates on each, and the committee of which I was a member dealt with immigration, rail standardization and foreign policy. We spent hours and hours working out our foreign policy. Each of us made contributions in full committee. Then we would retire and record the points that had been made. Those written contributions would then be brought back to the committee and be added to 01 subtracted from. When the policy was finally formulated, it was typed and next day was presented to the conference item by item by our chairman and either approved or rejected by the full conference. That was the democratic way in which Labour’s foreign policy came into being. All the scare stories that the press and honorable members opposite have tried to present to the country are just so much rubbish.
The policy is as follows: -
In fact, we removed five headings from the decision of the Hobart conference in relation to foreign affairs and brought the policy up to date in the light of current events. Certain events had taken place since the Hobart conference, and it was no longer necessary to retain certain points in the policy. I again quote -
The Middle East crisis has been fully commented upon by my colleagues, but let me quote Labour’s policy in that regard. It is as follows: -
That is a masterly understatement. The statement of policy continues -
On the contrary, the Australian Government has, by the Prime Minister’s action in the Suez crisis, completely abandoned the principles of the Atlantic Charter, deliberately repudiated Australia’s pledged adherence to U.N.O., and gravely injured Australia’s reputation throughout the world. Its open abandonment of arbitration in favour of force has destroyed the confidence of other peoples in the Australian Government.
Conference declares that the basic economic issue underlying the Suez dispute is the struggle of world monopolies to control oil, other resources, and international communications indispensable to the peaceful development of all peoples.
On the question of oil, let me read what Dean Acheson, a former American Secretary of State, said to the Foreign Affairs Committee in Washington, on 10th January. Speaking about the vital part which oil played in the canal dispute, he said -
The dependence of Europe on Middle East oil is Colonel Nasser’s trump card in getting the canal cleared at the expense of others without concessions on his part. So long as Europe must draw down its gold and dollar reserves for Western Hemisphere oil, Colonel Nasser can bleed Europe to death.
Do you know, Mr. Speaker, that crude oil reserves in the Middle East at the end of 1955 totalled 126 billion barrels, and that during the last eleven years 2.4 billion dollars have been invested in oil development? Oil concessions have been jockeyed about over the years and have passed from group to group. To-day, 52 per cent, of the petroleum reserves are held by America, 33 per cent, by British concerns, and the remaining 15 per cent, by French and Dutch interests. Revenues are flowing to Arab governments and sheikhdoms at the rate of one billion dollars a year. What a vast field that presents for secret oil treaties! What a power oil monopolies have over governments and countries! How much pressure did they exert on Sir Anthony Eden and France to go to war in Egypt to preserve their interests in the Middle East? We tried to point out in our statement of policy that oil has played a major part in the struggle in the Middle East. Any one who will not recognize that is like the ostrich with his head in the sand.
Regarding Australia’s relationship with China, we have said, in our policy -
That the admission to the United Nations of continental China should no longer be delayed. We have said that it is in the best interests of
Australian development that, in line with the policy initiated by the British Labour party seven years ago and since supported by the British Conservative party, normal and friendly diplomatic relationships between continental China and Australia should be established and strengthened at once.
The United States, followed by Australia, has consistently refused to accept continental China as a member of the United Nations. The reasons are, first, that the de facto government of China is Communist; second, that it has acted, and is acting, harshly to get its regime accepted; third, that it is a puppet government, driven by Moscow; and fourth, that it does not represent the Chinese people and is, therefore, a dictatorship.
With reference to the first reason, it must be said, of course, that it is a Communist regime. But how can the Australian Liberal Government keep China out of the United Nations and allow Poland, Czechoslovakia, Roumania, Yugoslavia, Bulgaria and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics itself to remain inside the United Nations? This attitude is inconsistent, and is humbug. The United States of America has diplomatic relations with all these six Communist countries, which are inside the United Nations at the present time.
The second reason given for the exclusion of China is that it is acting harshly. It must be remembered that the governments of the other countries that I have mentioned have also acted harshly within their own borders. May I also instance Saudi Arabia and Spain? What hypocrisy it is to overlook the persecution of minorities in Dictator Franco’s Spain, the detention of minorities in prisons, the silencing of free speech and of a free press, the passing of laws against minorities and the refusal of the great United Nations principle of freedom of worship! What did Franco do at the end of last year in Spain? He closed the British and Foreign Bible Society’s office and printing press in Madrid and refused to allow it to set up an office in any other part of the country. This is happening in Spain. Yet Spain is in the United Nations. The Australian Government has the hypocrisy to let one nation in and leave the other out when both are denying basic freedoms to their people.
The third reason that I have mentioned is, in effect, that China is allied to Russia.
Of course, it iS! But not as a puppet. It is allied to Russia as Poland, Roumania and Bulgaria are allied to Russia for political and ideological reasons and for considerations of security. We know that like attracts like, and those countries have a common ideology. That is only natural. Obviously, the attitude of the United States of America and Australia will strengthen the Peking-Moscow axis. The attitude of the United States and Australia is doing nothing to drive a wedge between Peking and Moscow. Rather it is having the oppo: site effect.
I think that the task of the Western nations should be in every way possible to drive a wedge between Peking and Moscow. One way to do it is to accept China as a member of the United Nations. China, interestingly enough, is a different Communist country from others that we have dealt with because of its intense nationalism, which is a great safety valve. They are Chinese people before they are Communists. Their nationalism is inborn over the centuries and comes from the grass roots of their people. Their communism is superimposed on the nation and forced from above. Their nationalism is a native plant, enriched in China’s soil. Their communism is a foreign ideology, imposed from without. It is their nationalism which will prevent Moscow from utterly and completely dominating China. Once Russia tries to dominate China as it has dominated countries in Europe, that will be the rock on which it will perish.
The fourth reason that I mentioned was that the Chinese Government was not representative of the common people. That is true. China is not a political or economic democracy. Nor is Spain, Roumania, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics or Yugoslavia. If one Communist or Fascist group can be recognized and admitted to the United Nations, why is not China? It is such an inconsistent, humbugging attitude that one wonders at the mentality of people who say that China should be kept out of the United Nations. That is what the Opposition feels about the position of red China.
I come now to Seato. We say that the Seato regional organization must be both in instrument for the peaceful settlement rf South-East Asian disputes and for the mutual defence of the area in case of attack. It should operate strictly within and through the framework of the United Nations. This is what we went on to say at the Labour party conference -
This conference is of the opinion that Seato ha» failed to perform its basic functions.
We are not against Seato. We believe that it is not being used rightly and that it is fast becoming an instrument for bolstering reactionary regimes, as in Thailand, and that the Liberal-Country party coalition Government has contributed to Seato’s ineffectiveness. The conference statement continues -
Further, we are of the opinion that the bolster ing of reactionary regimes in South-East Asis . . merely assists the Communists by giving them the opportunity to take over genuinely democratic nationalist movements.
The Labour party advocates generous assistance by Australia to Asian peoples suffering from poverty, disease, and lack of educational facilities. This is only part of our task. Asian peoples als( demand - in accordance with the United Nation: charter - the end of colonialism whenever ann wherever the people are fit for self-government. Even more, Asia rightly demands recognition of the dignity and self-respect of Asian nations and peoples.
It is about time that the West did this. 1 remember quite well my attitude to Asia before the war. At that time, I was at school and at the university and all that 1 knew of Asia was that it was a good place to study in your history and other studies I thought no more than that of Asia. 1 had no real interest in the countries there I studied them only in an impersonal way - disinterestedly and objectively. I never saw the Asian people as people with the same needs that I have, with the same hopes, the same weaknesses and the same problems. I sheltered, as so many of us in Australia shelter, behind our continental shelf; behind our White Australia policy; behind the smug complacency of white superiority. That has been the Western attitude to Asia, but at last we are gradually going to break it down. If we do not, the Communists will take over long before we do the right thing.
I shall now briefly discuss Malaya. The Labour party’s foreign policy states -
That ideological and economic weapons should be employed by the Australian Government rathe than armed force in any endeavour to help Malaya in its internal fight against communism and fascism.
Australia has 1,500 troops in Malaya, and the cost is £2,500,000 a year. What are we doing to solve the great Malayan Communist problem? It cannot be solved by armed force. It can only be solved by the instrument of psychological and ideological warfare.
Concerning Algeria, Hungary and Cyprus, the Australian Labour party believes as follows: -
That the present policies of the French Government in Algeria, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics Government in Hungary, and the British Government in Cyprus, are contrary to the principles of the United Nations charter and that selfdetermination for people capable of selfgovernment is their right.
Since the war Britain has given freedom in the form of self-government to 600,000,000 people in Asia. We feel that that should be done in Hungary, Algeria and Cyprus - three of the places which are at present fighting for self-government and self-determination. The Australian Labour party pledges itself to do everything possible to achieve it.
In conclusion, I wish to say that I feel that the great weapon that we need to use, plus the political and economic weapon in Asia, is the ideological weapon to wage war against communism which is hammering at the minds of the people. They are not firing off cannons or dropping bombs. They are winning the battle for the minds of men day after day while we are piling up our defence armaments. We need to become ideological-minded and use this great weapon. With it, I believe, we can win the war in Asia. Without it, we will lose. Ideologically speaking, we fiddle while Asia burns.
-Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- I do not intend to discuss the foreign policy of the Opposition to-night because it is quite plain, as one listens to speeches of the Opposition, that it is a policy of appeasement. All sensible people know that it is impossible to appease a totalitarian power. In advocating such a policy, the Opposition is out of step with our friends overseas - Great Britain, the United States of America and France - and, what is more important, it is out of step with the views of all thinking Australians. It is an irresponsible and mischievous policy and I intend to disregard it to-night. Instead, I should like to direct the attention of the House to what I consider are the most vital points in foreign affairs as they affect Australia. In March of last year, during the debate on international affairs, I made three points. I said, first, that I considered that at that time there was a chink in our armour of defensive pacts, and, secondly, that our system of granting aid to under-developed countries was faulty, because it allowed some of those countries to bid the West against Russia. My third point was that in our training of technicians from the Asian countries we were dealing with too narrow a section of their communities.
The first point that I made last year has been brought home to us by the tragedy of Suez. There was, as it happened, a chink in our armour, a gap in our system of defensive treaties in the Middle East, which led to the events of last October in the Middle East. Since that time, the United States of America has realized the necessity for drawing our bonds closer together, and we have closed that gap. But I believe that we will not satisfactorily complete the job of defending the Western nations and the smaller, newer democracies against Communist imperialism until we link all these treaties together, or, at least the major ones - Nato, the Baghdad pact and Seato - by a common planning authority. If we did that, we should be well on the way to establishing a system of world government. We should then have the power to make laws and do what the United Nations now cannot do - enforce them. I believe that by establishing a common planning authority and linking together all our military alliances with Western and Asian countries, we should have a very considerable backstop to the United Nations organization. There is no need to do away with the United Nations. It is an admirable sounding board, but we all know its limitations. It cannot make laws, still less enforce them.
Reverting to the second of the aspects of foreign policy which I mentioned last year, the granting of aid to the underdeveloped countries, we saw what happened in Suez when finance for Nasser’s Aswan Dam was refused. President Nasser seized the Suez Canal. Prior to that, he had been bidding Russian aid against Western aid. He was, in one sense, compelled to take the action that he did and bring down disaster upon the countries of the Middle East. In considering this question of the aid which all the Western countries are giving in one form or another at the present time to the under-developed countries, it is important that we should know clearly our objective. We cannot allow small countries like Egypt to outbid us with Russian aid. We cannot afford to have another Egypt in the small countries round the perimeter of Russia.
More than that, we really want to make the money that we are giving to the small countries serve a useful purpose. Surely the most useful purpose that it can serve is to raise living standards in the underdeveloped countries. That is one way in which we can most effectively stop Communist expansion into those countries. If that is our objective - and it is the only reasonable objective - we should realize the consequences of giving aid in its present form. We should realize also that the population pattern in Asia is changing very rapidly, and, consequently, that the aid we are giving to the Asian countries is completely wasted and does not have the result of raising general living standards in those countries.
The Colombo plan countries now have a population of some 650,000,000. The present rate of increase is 10,000,000 a year, but that rate is accelerating as we move in with health protection measures and reduce the death rate in the Asian countries. This stupendously rapid rate of increase has been described as “ explosive “. That is a fair description. The tensions that are being produced are extremely strong. These countries are so crowded now that practically all the arable land is in use. It is estimated that in forty years’ time the present population will have doubled. By giving these countries aid in its present form we are simply trying to bail out the ocean with a bucket. The effort is completely wasted.
We receive a great deal of literature about the Colombo plan but not one of the publications that I have read has contained a suggestion of how to deal with this serious population problem. They do not hint that by building dams, supplying railway cars, and so on, we are not really helping to solve the population problem or to raise living standards. We are, in fact, simply enlarging the problem and making it harder to cure eventually.
A very good example of what happens when aid is given to a country without thought of the consequences is to be found in the little island of Puerto Rico in the West Indies. That island was acquired by the United States in 1898, and has been sustained by it ever since. In 1935, the United States decided to engage in some really serious developmental work to try to raise the standard of living of the Puerto Ricans. As a result it increased the amount of money it had been allocating to aid Puerto Rico, and in the last twenty years it has spent £500,000,000 there. The immense resources of the United States were made available to develop this island, but the result has been that whereas in 1900 there were 1,000,000 people living in poverty on Puerto Rico, there are now 2,000,000 people living there in poverty. As a sort of by-product of this effort, about 500,000 Puerto Ricans are now living on the United States mainland and are creating first-rate racial tensions. We do not want that kind of result from our aid to Asia. I believe that we must give this matter serious thought and that we must re-examine our methods of giving aid to these under-developed countries.
The famous Krupps armament firm in Germany last year advanced a plan, which, apparently, has been lost in the archives of the United States State Department, because it has not been heard of since. That plan proposed that, instead of granting aid from government to government as we do now, we should grant a proportion at least to private firms, or syndicates of private firms, in the United States, Germany, the United Kingdom, and France to permit those firms to establish business houses and expand technical training in the under-developed countries of SouthEast Asia. I can think of no better way of achieving our objectives than by adopting that plan. In granting aid from government to government, we very often find that we are propping up a government or a regime long beyond its useful life, or. possibly, a corrupt government or one that could not stand in the face of public opinion if it had to run the gauntlet of the polls in the ordinary way. Further, by expending these funds under government schemes tor training in the Western countries technicians and skilled men who will return to their own countries and become government planners, we are, in effect, laying the foundation for socialism in the countries ot South-East Asia.
– What is wrong with that?
– Socialism provides no defence against communism. That is quite plain. The only defence against the encroachment of communism and subversion is to be found in trade and commerce. Since private enterprise brought this great civilization of ours to its present peak of achievement, it is through private enterprise that we should be aiding the underdeveloped countries of Asia. I commend that thought to the Government, and urge it to ensure that the proposal made by the Krupps organization is given the consideration that it warrants by the governments of the West.
It is easy to give aid in the present form fi om government to government, and it is highly dangerous. But even worse, it is completely futile, because it does not solve the problem of raising general living standards in Asia, lt merely accentuates it. It is true that even the proposal that I have mentioned would not raise general living standards in Asia as we would wish, but I believe that it would raise standards for a substantial section of the Asian people much more rapidly than any other means would permit. We could start in a small way by improving the standards of a relatively small section of an Asian community, such as workers in industry and on farms, and from that beginning we could proceed gradually to improve the lot of the rest of the community concerned, until eventually all would enjoy reasonably high living standards. I believe that that method would be far more practicable than the one that we have adopted so far, and I urge the Government to give it earnest consideration.
This matter is vital for the freedom of the countries of South-East Asia, and for Australia. We scarcely realize the rale at which the population of Asia is increasing. We must do something about Asian living standards urgently, or we shall lose the race, and shall find, within the next generation, communism and war on Australia’s doorstep. We must tackle this problem seriously, and, what is more important, in the right way and without delay. If this pressing problem is not solved within the next few years, we cannot expect the countries of South-East Asia to preserve their democratic and free way of life.
greatly disappointed me. I would point out to him that the question of raising living standards is referred to not only in the preamble to the South-East Asia Collective Defence Treaty, but also in the preamble to the United Nations Charter, in which it is a vital principle. I think it is very clear that the danger from communism is least in those countries in which the people enjoy the highest standard of living, and that in countries such as those to which the honorable member referred, where the standard of living is low, the danger is greatest. May I remind Government supporters, as they have so often reminded the Opposition, that living standards can be improved only by increasing production. It is only by improving the productive capacity of the nations of Asia and the Pacific area that we have any chance of increasing food supplies and raising living standards as we desire. Dams are necessary to make arid lands productive; agricultural machinery of all kinds is necessary to enable the land to be properly cultivated; and railway rollingstock is needed for the improvement of transport services. All those things are essential if living standards are to be improved.
However, Mr. Speaker, I desire to direct my remarks this evening more to world affairs generally. The present world situation is both grim and frightening. There is tension between India and Pakistan, between Indonesia and the Netherlands, between the Arabs and the Israelis, between Hungary and Soviet Russia, and between mainland China and Formosa China, and there are internal troubles in Algeria, Cyprus, and Indonesia, to say nothing of the dispute over the Suez Canal. All of this makes a picture that is far from pretty. I suggest that of all these troubled areas the Middle East presents by far the most explosive situation. Indeed, the position there has been made much more explosive recently as a consequence of statements made by President Eisenhower and Marshal
Bulganin, the Soviet Premier. On the one land, President Eisenhower has stated that, t any of the Arab States is attacked by a Communist country, the United States will go to its aid. On the other hand, Russia has advised the Arab States that, if they are attacked by a country other than an Arab nation, Russia will go to their aid. I think the first question we must ask ourselves is: Why has such attention been shown by the two big nations of the world, Russia and the United States of America, to the Middle East? My leader, the right honorable member for Barton (Dr. Evatt), in addressing the House on this question, indicated that in his opinion the whole trouble was associated with the oil reserves of the area. I hope in the few minutes at my disposal to be able to show that the causes of the difficulties and tensions in the Middle East are much deeper than has been stated in the House or realized by honorable members as a whole.
Of course, we are used to trouble between the Arabs and the Israelis because there has been tension between Israel and the neighbouring Arab states for a period of some seven or eight years. The tendency has been to look upon the whole trouble as being racial, as the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Casey) put it, on the part of the Arabs on the one hand and Israel on the other, but there are some facts in connexion with the position in the Middle East which, I think, should be studied. When Israel was established by the United Nations in 1947 the vote in that body was almost unanimous. However, the Arab nations opposed it and indicated that they intended to resist the creation of Israel by force, but the Soviet at that time was friendly towards Israel and voted for the establishment of Israel. It is the remarkable change of attitude in that respect on the part of the Soviet in recent years, and the reasons why that change has taken place, that I particularly desire to stress here (his evening.
Tension between Israel and the Arab States has continued since the war of liberation ended. Since then, the Western nations have been supplying arms to the Arab States and Israel, and in the supplying of those arms the attitude taken by France. Great Britain and the United States has been that the distribution of arms in the
Middle East should be on a basis that did not give the Arab States greater military strength than Israel but would maintain a balance in the armed strength of the striving nations in that area. However, some four or five years ago the previous friendliness of the Soviet towards Israel suddenly disappeared and we found, in the first place, that the Soviet refused to grant visas to the trickle of Jewish people who desired to leave Russia and journey to Palestine. That was followed by a successful attempt to break up Jewish communities in the Soviet itself. Following that, the satellite countries also declined to permit Jewish people to leave particular areas in order to journey to Israel.
In the meantime, the tension between the Arabs and the Israelis was growing. Russia then commenced to move into the Middle East. The first thing it did was to make an agreement with Syria and Egypt for the supply of arms, with the result that the Arab States very soon had a superiority of armament over Israel. As we know from documents which were captured during the expedition on the part of Israel into the Sinai Desert, preparations had been made for an early invasion of Israel this year. In addition to the supply of arms, technicians, military experts and political advisers were also sent to both Egypt and Syria.
Only one thing unites the Arab nation - and that is their general hatred of Israel In respect of all other questions the Arab nations will be found to be divided, even in the councils of the United Nations; but on the question of the destruction of Israel the Arab States are united. Because the Soviet had provided them with additional arms, Russia came to be regarded as the great friend of the Arab nations, and 1 have no doubt that in the course of the troubles that have taken place in the Middle East during the last twelve months the Arab States have been very closely guided, counselled and advised by representatives of the Soviet, which had a particular axe of its own to grind. This is the point I want to make clear. Why should the Soviet be so anxious to secure the friendship and goodwill of the Arab States? The answer is clear. In the Arab States is to be found the greatest proportion of the oil reserves of the world. Over 50 per cent, of the world’s oil reserve supplies come from the
Middle East and, as one of my colleagues pointed out to-night, the oil which is being produced there to-day is owned by the United States of America, France and Great Britain.
The reason why the Soviet has become so friendly with the Arab nations is because the oil resources in Russia itself are dwindling. Its supplies came mainly from Roumania and the southern portion of Russia and it is essential that the Russian people should have access to outside sources, and, if possible, secure control of those sources. For that reason, the Soviet has been exercising considerable influence in the Middle East. It has deliberately pursued the cold war in that area and has done its level best to drive a wedge between the Western nations and the Arab nations in the hope that the turn of events will enable it eventually to have access to these fields and, I believe, in the end to control them. In saying these things, Mr. Speaker, I do not desire it to be thought for one moment that I acknowledge that the action of France and Great Britain in sending armed forces into the Suez Canal zone was right. I believe that action was wrong; it was against the principles of the United Nations, and both those countries, as founders and supporters of the United Nations, should not have taken such a step.
I do not deny the right of Egypt to nationalize the Suez Canal. The canal goes through its territory, and it had a perfect right to nationalize it if it so desired. What I wish to point out, however, is that, difficult indeed as was the position of the United States of America, the United Kingdom and France in respect of their oil supplies, the action taken by Great Britain and France has made their position infinitely worse because, to-day, both Great Britain and France are regarded as the arch enemies of the peoples of the Middle East with the exception of Israel. The United States is almost in the same position; but Soviet Russia is regarded as the real friend of the Arab peoples. The action that was taken, instead of being able, as it were, to counteract the growing influence of the Soviet Government, has enhanced its reputation and made the position, from the Western countries’ point of view, still more difficult. I. have no doubt that when the canal eventually comes under the control of Egypt it will be used in the same political way, and that Egypt will prevent Israeli ships from going through it. From time to time, when Egypt has a dispute with some other power, it will use the Suez Canal to further its own interests. That was a position that the Western nations had to face in any event because by the terms of the Treaty of Constantinople the canal would have become the possession of the Government of Egypt in 1968. Egypt would no doubt have done then what it is doing now. 1 stress that there is no possibility of getting reasonably peaceful conditions in the Middle East unless the United Nations exerts upon the Arab States, now and in the future, the pressure which it has exerted upon Israel, Great Britain and France in the last few months. A policy that is good for some nations must be good for all nations. The United Nations must ensure that the 1951 resolution calling upon Egypt to give Israel the right to use the canal for its ships is put into operation. That resolution was re-affirmed in 1954, and again in 1956. The United Nations must exert pressure to ensure that once the people’s international forum has spoken its decision will be obeyed, whether the country concerned is a member of the United Nations or not. That is the only way in which we will ever get peace in the Middle East, but if the United Nations cannot, by exerting pressure, persuade Egypt to adopt a reasonable approach in the control of this great international waterway an alternative method must be found. What I shall suggest is not new. It was suggested by Lord Hore-Belisha some twenty years ago, and it is the only way in which to break a monopoly power that is being exercised in a tyrannous manner. If Egypt is not prepared to guarantee that the Suez Canal will be open to the ships of all nations, the United Nations should, in conjunction with other nations, see that a new canal is constructed from the Gulf of Aqaba across Israel to Haifa, thus making two international waterways available to the shipping of the world. Once Egypt’s monopoly is broken there will be a chance of obtaining peace in the Middle East and probably for the first time some of the Arab nations will be prepared to listen to reason.
Mankind desires peace. The creation of the League of Nations after World War I. was the first international effort towards the attainment of peace. Before the end of World War II., the nations associated with the democratic cause created the United Nations organization. Its object is to mobilize world opinion against armed conflict, and provide machinery to enable international disputes to be settled by negotiation. It may be that the United Nations is not perfect. It may be that it has made mistakes. It does, however, represent an earnest effort by the nations of the world to promote peace and prevent war. It endeavours to see that international disputes are settled on the basis of justice and reason, rather than on the basis that might is right. To succeed, the United Nations must have the whole-hearted and determined support of member nations. It must, through unanimous and unqualified loyalty, exert such pressure that its decisions are obeyed. Any weakening of this attitude must end in disaster to the human race. In this atomic age the world has but two alternatives. The first is the application of the law of reason and the settlement of international disputes through the United Nations. The second is to resort to force, the consequences of which might well be the annihilation of the human race.
.- During the several years that 1 have been a member of this House. 1 have taken every opportunity to plead that as many honorable members as possible should visit the countries to the near north of Australia. It was, therefore, with great pleasure that, a few weeks ago, I was able to report to the House the visit of an Australian parliamentary delegation to the Inter-Parliamentary Union conference at Bangkok. As the House now knows, that delegation was able to visit other countries when the conference concluded. It had the opportunity of going to the republic of Viet Nam, to Singapore, to Malaya, and to Indonesia.
The basis of the remarks that I wish to address to the House to-night is my belief that the future of Australia is becoming more closely linked with the future of the countries of South-East Asia. But before I develop that theme, may I say that wherever we went, we found that the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Casey) is held Hn very high regard by the heads of state, their ministers, and their officers. His personal qualities are appreciated and the officials and ministers whom I met were very grateful for the work that he was doing in assisting them to solve their particular problems. Without in any way detracting from that, I would also pay a tribute to our own Australian diplomatic representatives in that area for the manner in which they are representing Australia. In the last few months, Australia has been, for the first time, the venue of a Seato meeting. The conference at Bangkok, to which I have just referred, was the fortyfifth annual meeting of the InterParliamentary Union, and was held in an Asian country for the first time. So, the Australian delegation was a delegation attending the first conference of the union to be held in an Asian country. I believe that these things have not happened by coincidence. It proves my point that we, in Australia, are realizing more and more how closely our future is becoming linked with that of the countries to our north.
I would like to make a comment on pan of the remarks of the honorable member for Gwydir (Mr. Ian Allan). He stressed the necessity for private enterprise, and the part that it should play in the development of certain countries. When I had the opportunity of addressing, at Bangkok, a full session of the Inter-Parliamentary Union, ) said that the under-developed countries of the world faced a great diversity of problems in their efforts to promote economic development, and that there was a great diversity in the ways in which those economic problems were being faced. I draw attention to the fact that these developmental policies tend to involve a large measure of central planning. I think that was the point that the honorable member for Gwydir had in mind. It would be true to say that while we recognize the need for a certain amount of planning in the initial stages, we should not like to see these developing economies overlook private enterprise, because it provides such a great incentive to any form of national planning.
I also agree with the description by the honorable member for Bendigo (Mr. Clarey) of the tension that exists between various countries of the world, including a number close to Australia. I should like to say this to the honorable member. I believe that Australia, while not large in terms of population, has the longest history of democracy in this part of the world, and that it is the strongest democracy in the South-East Asian area. Therefore, our responsibilities are great. I believe that we are coming to realize more and more our responsibilities in these matters. In saying that, I express my belief that we should help by all means in our- power those countries that are resisting Communist infiltration and fighting any form of communism that appears within their borders. To many of these countries, communism is a very real menace. It is easy to visualize the state of mind of the leaders of those countries when we realize that over 600,000,000 people in red China are poised in the arc of a circle to the north of their boundaries. From time to time, they also suffer what one might call an invasion of teams of supersalesmen, who try to “ sell “ them international communism. We have had examples in recent months of some of the difficulties resulting from these things. By way of example, I mention the riots that occurred in Singapore towards the end of last year - riots that the Chief Minister, Mr. Lim Yew Hock, dealt with in a very effective manner - and the combined efforts of the British, Australian and Malayan forces against Communist terrorists.
As the Government of Thailand has banned communism within its borders, I was interested the other night to hear the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt) single out Thailand for attack. In Viet Nam, special operations against the Communists are in full swing. As I have, on a previous occasion, give some facts to the House concerning Thailand, it might be well if, at this stage, I briefly describe to the House the special operation that the Republic of Viet Nam has started in its fight against the Communists. The operation has been put under the command of General Xuan, who has been given special powers. The fight against Communist terrorists in that country is being carried out on the military, administrative, political and psychological fronts. The first phase was to clear the groups of Communists which had their head-quarters in certain jungle areas and camouflaged pockets in certain towns and villages. The objectives of the succeeding phases, which are now in full swing in the Republic of Viet Nam, are the restoration of confidence to the populace, the provision of security to enable the people to travel upon their roads without fear or hindrance, and freeing the minds of the farmers and workers from the fear of communism. If there are any woolly headed thinkers in Australia who still propose to embrace the Communist ideology, or any associated ideology, all that is necessary to convince them that their thinking has been along wrong lines is a short visit to the Republic of Viet Nam, because when one has an opportunity to speak to the refugees who are pouring south across the border from the Communist Viet Minh in the north, one hears the all too familiar story of the breaking up of homes, imprisonment, torture and confiscation. The only alternative to bowing to the will of the Communist dictator is to try to escape to freedom.
At this stage, I should like to refer to the land settlement scheme that has been undertaken by the Government of Viet Nam. The Australian delegation had an opportunity to visit the land settlement scheme at Cai-San. At the time of our visit, some 42,000 people had been already settled in the area and it was hoped that, by the end of this month, the number would be increased to 100,000. The allotment of tenant farming lands is done in accordance with a national regulation. Each farmer is allotted an area of approximately 7 to 8 acres, having a frontage of some 33 yards to a canal. There is a slight language difficulty at this point, but- 1 understand that farmers, in certain cases, can buy their farms by raising a loan from the government at a low rate of interest. 1 should like to make it clear that this is not the only scheme of rehabilitation that the Government of Viet Nam has undertaken. In accordance with its five-year agricultural plan, another land settlement scheme is getting under way in virgin country in the north-western part of Viet Nam. At this settlement, market gardening will be undertaken and it is hoped that, in due course, many acres will be devoted to cattle grazing.
I have spent some time in explaining what Viet Nam is endeavouring to do, because there we see an example of the fight against communism that is going on. Viet Nam and a number of the neighbouring countries have a great friendship for and a great interest in Australia. I think the time is opportune for us to take advantage of that friendship and interest to strengthen the bonds between our respective countries and in that way make it easier to understand better each other’s problems.
Malaya has problems of a different nature. As is well known, following a series of conferences, the last of which took place between the present Chief Minister, Tengku Abdul Rahman and a representative of the British Government, the date fixed for Malayan freedom within the British Commonwealth is 31st August next. I express only my own personal opinion when I say that I believe that, after 31st August, Malaya will need even more help. I say that because, under present conditions, the political Chinese party has been giving good and full co-operation to the United Malaya party, but fears are held in a number of quarters that this co-operation will not continue after 31st August, and that the coalition government, as it were, may be split asunder. Therefore, we need to be even more understanding of the problems which will confront Malaya during the next two years, and give that country as much assistance as we can afford. I know that our assistance to Malaya under the Colombo plan is greatly appreciated, and I shall give some examples of that assistance.
The first visit that we made in Malaya was to the Lady Templar Tuberculosis Hospital, where the nursing staff, with two exceptions, consists of Australian nursing sisters and matron. The periods for which they are engaged under their contract will expire in about twelve months, but, unfortunately, there has not been sufficient time for the Malayans to train their own nursing staff to take the place of our Australian sisters. Therefore, it seems to me that we should examine this problem to determine whether it would be possible for us to assist them again in the intervening period. Once again I express a personal opinion based on the observations I made during our all-too-short visit there. I feel that the emphasis of our technical assistance to Malaya should be on providing teachers and skilled tradesmen rather than on equipment. In saying that, I do not for one moment suggest that we should stop sending various types of equipment to Malaya, but we should concentrate more on sending the personnel to train the Malayans in the use of the equipment that they receive from us and from certain other countries in quite large quantities.
One is limited very much by time in this debate, so I say, very briefly, that I think one of our greatest problems in understanding the difficulties of our neighbours is the present situation in Indonesia. As has been pointed out by the honorable member for Werriwa (Mr. Whitlam) to-night, the Indonesians are our closest neighbours. Once again, despite some popular opinions, I found amongst the Ministers, Government officials and the commercial and business sections of the community, whom we had the opportunity to meet during our short visit, a feeling of friendliness foi Australia. Through the efforts of the Australian delegation, we had quite a frank discussion concerning the West Irian problems. There is not time to give details of that discussion to the House, and I say only that the remarks of the honorable member for Werriwa did not present the West Irian problem at all as we saw it whilst in that country.
Summing up, I believe that it is necessary not only for us to continue the work that has been done by personal visits, the work of our Minister and his representatives, the work we have been able to do under the Colombo plan and the contributions and associations we have been able to make through such visits as the recent one under the auspices of the Inter-Parliamentary Union. I believe it is necessary also fo: us to continue to encourage the interchange of visits, to send delegations from various groups of people in Australia, to encourage visits from those countries to Australia, to exchange information by way of newspapers and the interchange of recorded broadcasts to be played in om respective countries and so in every way possible help the citizens of each country to understand the problems of the other and come closer together.
.- Any consideration of foreign policy must begin with the fact that total war, with the use of nuclear power as an instrument of policy, is quite impossible. This has been widely recognized all over the world. It is widely recognized throughout the churches of the world, and the message of Pope Pius XII. on Christmas Day, 1955, is an indication of this recognition. He said -
The spectacle offered to the terrified gaze as the result of the use of atomic weapons is of entire cities wiped out, a pall of death over the pulverized ruins. There will be no song of victory, only the inconsolable weeping of humanity, which in desolation will gaze upon the catastrophe brought about by its own folly.
Scientists throughout the world are in agreement that there will be no survivors of such a catastrophic war. The military experts themselves are agreed upon this. I shall read from an article by LieutenantColonel A. Green in the Australian Army Journal No. 93 as an example. This is perhaps the closest we can get to official military views. Lieutenant-Colonel Green said - !t is this effect on which such strategists as Air Marshal Sir John Slessor rely when they declare that the prospects of major war have receded since nuclear war will be profitless mutual suicide.
The Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) has admitted that he holds the same view and that it is shared by the Great Powers, when he said on Tuesday night -
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.
The impossibility of the nuclear weapon as an instrument of policy has been revealed. It was revealed last week in the decision of the British Government that, in the event of a nuclear war, the British Isles would be completely indefensible. This proposition brought some criticism from parts of the United States, but it is a fact that the defence of the United States is based upon a similar assumption and that the capital cities of the United States are accepted as indefensible in a war of this nature.
Despite this fact, we do rely upon nuclear power as an instrument of policy. In order to support my view on this question, I shall cite Mr. H. J. Morgenthan, an American of some conservative feeling, in his book “ Politics Among Nations “. At page 284 he said -
I suggest that the policy of the Western powers and of the other great giant in the situation is almost exclusively to increase their power and their strength in the view that this will intimidate them into safety. It is not only one of the great powers that is relying on this doctrine of strength. This doctrine of strength underlies the position of almost every honorable member on the opposite side of the House who has contributed to this debate. This means that both the great powers and those satellites that support them are slow to agree to any action to terminate what the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth) called “ the rat race “. This means, as was pointed out by the honorable member for Werriwa (Mr. Whitlam) tonight, that the initiative to stop this rat race should be taken by some one. The deadline cannot be far off. The initiative to stop further tests of nuclear weapons and to propose control and inspection must be taken up. No other action, I submit, is defensible.
Australia has contributed little or nothing to establishing this initiative to seek an end to further nuclear tests or to seek a proper system of control and inspection in this respect. Instead, we have turned continuously to two other main parts of policy. The first is what was called by George Kennan in 1951 the containment-pressure on Communist countries, plus subversive activities inside them. The second is the doctrine of limited war as it was expounded by the Prime Minister in defence of what he calls our national interest. The limited war I have in mind is a war such as that in the Suez area, Malaya, or Cyprus. The argument is that the United Nations cannot solve these problems, so we have to “ go it alone “ in the defence of what we self-righteously very often believe to be our national interest. I suggest that we must endeavour to ascertain what kind of success we have had.
– Does the honorable member put Malaya, Suez and Cyprus in the same category?
– I suggest that we should see what kind of success we have had.
– Does the honorable member suggest the same kind of limited wai in Malaya, Suez and Cyprus?
– I do not want any assistance from you.
Mr. ACTING DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr. Lawrence).- Order! The honorable member must address the Chair.
– I am about to make statements that are based mainly on debates in the House of Commons, which have been reported in English newspapers such as the London “Times”, the “Observer”, the Manchester “ Guardian “, the “ New Statesman “ and the “ Economist “, and the Minister for Air (Mr. Osborne) can make reference to the reports in those newspapers if he wishes.
– I asked you a question.
– I am not here to answer your questions.
Order! Honorable members must address the Chair.
– Containment-pressure and anti-Communist subversion have had some success in Viet Nam, where reliance has been placed, as was pointed out by the previous speaker, to some extent on economic development. There has, perhaps, been some success also in Poland, but Hungary has been a tragic failure. Let me refer to the position in Hungary. Anti-Stalinism in the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics stimulated people in all Communist countries into the belief that increased social and economic freedom and development were possible, and in many places these beliefs were resolved into action. In Hungary, the Rakosi regime had a cruel record of persecution and restriction. Even the Communist party itself makes a frank admission of this. Russian action which followed was violent and unjustified, even from the point of view of the Russians themselves. In this regard, the Russian action had an effect similar to British and French action in the Suez dispute. There was wide mass support for action which could have increased the chances of freedom and social welfare in Hungary, But instead there was failure. What was the cause of this failure in Hungary? I will not use my own words to answer that question. Instead, I will use the words of Mr. V. L. Borin, the foreign affairs expert of the Anti-Communist party in Victoria, as published in the December issue of a magazine called the “ New Country “. This bitter anti-Communist said - . . the strategic objective in Poland and Hungary had to be limited to getting maximum concessions for the people in support of Gomulka and Nagy. That was all which could be achieved within the framework of the objective conditions of revolution; and everything that was done outside this framework was the madness of political simpletons and a crime against the heroic people ready to fight to the death. In Poland, the struggle of Communists for their freedom, backed by their revolutionary masses, did not overreach the given possibilities. It installed Gomulka in power. An intellectual refugee in Melbourne or New York-
And, I might add, most of the supporters of the Government - cannot see any difference between Gomulka and Rokossowski because they are both Communists. But in Poland . . . the people . . . certainly can see the difference.
This bitter anti-Communist went on to say -
When Imre Nagy emerged from the struggle of the Hungarian Communists for their freedom, and became Prime Minister, this was the limit of the revolution in Hungary.
This was not a fascist revolution. It was a revolution which might have contributed a great deal towards freedom and welfare for the Hungarian people without becoming a weak and ineffective spearhead of Western anti-Russian policy. But Nagy was pressed into going beyond that point. He was pressed by Radio Free Europe, set up and operated by the Americans, who promised assistance from the West.
– Is the honorable member quoting his own view about this?
– I am quoting facts, as I said before. Cardinal Mindszenty* declined support to stabilize the position. Nagy was finally pushed into renouncing the military pact with Moscow and into asking the United Nations for assistance. I will state the position again, not in my own words, but in the words of V. L. Borin, who is bitterly anti-Communist -
The moment Imre Nagy renounced the Hungarian military pact with Moscow and asked the United Nations for assistance, the revolution in Hungary was as good as dead, and the Hungarian nation has had to pay the heaviest penalty for this blunder of a revolution without political leadership.
Who was responsible for this blunder? Again, I give the answer in the words of this bitter anti-Communist. V. L. Borin -
But not a single one of the heroic Hungarians taking part in the revolution can be blamed for this crime. The responsibility lies squarely with . . the Council for Free Europe and Radio Free Europe, who for several years had the monopoly of sponsoring and directing the revolution behind the iron curtain.
Insofar as the responsibility lies in that direction, it lies with the governments of the Western Powers, particularly that of the United States, as is obvious to any one who will take a second thought about the matter. The responsibility lies also upon those who are more concerned to use the tragedy of the Hungarian people to feed the fires of bitter, negative anticommunism in Australia than to do anything for the Hungarian people - and there are a number of persons in this chamber who come within that category.
Let us now look at the third aspect of our foreign policy, this limited war in pursuit of our national interests. Suez is the best example. The objective of the British-French attack on Egypt was to gain physical control of the Suez Canal. It was dot to separate the combatants in the IsraelEgypt war, because, first, the necessary troop and air concentrations for the attack took six weeks to prepare. Six weeks before the Israeli attack on Egypt, tanks, lorries and Bren carriers were being painted desert yellow at Catterick and Salisbury in England. Secondly, the paratroop landing at Port Said was made 48 hours after hostilities had actually ceased between Israel and Egypt. The combatants had already separated. If the United Nations is useless, then what was the use of making this attack in order to bring the United Nations into the situation? If what has been said about the United Nations by Government supporters during the past week is correct, what was the use of intervening in the Israel-Egypt conflict in order to involve this broken reed, the United Nations?
But the British-French attack on Egypt was not made in order to force the United Nations to act, because, first, Britain and France vetoed the United Nations decision for the cessation of hostilities 24 hours before they attacked Egypt. Secondly, Britain and France had continuously opposed United Nations action for six years, and they had continued to support Egypt. Only a fortnight before the Suez Canal was nationalized they delivered a destroyer to Egypt, and, remarkably enough, the destroyer was called H.M.S. “ Ming “.
If this attack on Egypt was part of a policy to secure what was regarded as our national interests, it has tragically failed. The tragic failure has been recognized alike by the honorable member for Angas (Mr. Downer), by the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies), and by the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth). The bitter speeches that have emanated from those honorable gentlemen are proof of the fact that they recognize this tragic failure. According to the honorable member foi Angas, it is the United States of America that has failed, while the Prime Minister attributes the failure to the United Nations. 1 wish these two gentlemen would come to agreement on the matter.
Let us consider the costs of this failure Egypt is still in control of the canal and is in a vastly stronger position to-day than ever before. The Egypt-Israel dispute is farther away from settlement than it was before the intervention. The British Prime Minister has said that British military costs were at least £50,000,000. Loss of production caused by destruction of installations in Syria has amounted to £20,000,000 a month. The increase in oil transport charges costs £40,000,000 a month, and there is an added quarterly drain on dollar reserves amounting to £50,000,000. There has been a severe loss of British prestige. In this regard I should like to refer to an opinion expressed by Count Puckner in 1939 in a book entitled “Wei stark ist England “-
Great Britain’s rulers cannot use her power in an arbitrary manner. They cannot throw it into the scales in support of something which is condemned as unethical by the British people and by world opinion. If, in her dealings with another country, Britain’s policy were ever to be on an inferior moral basis, then the world would see the spectacle of Britain’s famed diplomacy deprived of its most powerful weapon and condemned to impotence.
Count Puckner was right in 1939. Britain’s strength did depend upon her refusal to use her power in an arbitrary manner; upon her refusal to support things which are unethical and are condemned by the British people and by world opinion. But in the Suez war, the source of Britain’s power was thrown away in an act of sudden passion and miscalculation, to use the Prime Minister’s term in reference to another matter. The supporters of the Government say that everything would have been all right had the action gone on to success. But let us have a look at this matter from a practical point of view. The opinion of Government supporters ignores the fact that the United States is much concerned with Middle East oil, for which it pays Saudi-Arabia alone about 500,000,000 dollars a year. The United States will not risk a situation in which the Arabs would be incited into destroying installations and agreements. The United States would not have supported any such action. This should have been recognized, and I think it was recognized by the Minister for External Affairs from the very beginning.
The United States is anxious to keep Russian troops out of the Middle East. When, after the Suez bombing by the British and the French, Bulganin issued his “ rockets “ ultimatum, the United States carefully avoided any committal of American troops in that area because it did not want to involve the Soviet Union in that kind of action, and thereby introduce Soviet power into that area. Finally, even if Britain and France had obtained complete control of the canal, it would not have been workable control. They would have been a small island in a sea of hostile Egyptian and Arab enemies. The oil installations and pipelines throughout the Arab world would have been exposed to continuous sabotage. The position would have been far worse than that of 1954, when occupation of the canal proved completely untenable.
What was the alternative to this tragic blunder? The alternative was continued negotiation. There had been agreement in the United Nations at New York, in the week between 9th and 16th October, on the six principles that came out of the London conference. The Egyptions had agreed to accept those principles, and Fawsi proposed a conference at Geneva to draw up an international contract. The canal was being operated successfully during this time at normal rates. In addition to this, we have to look at several other aspects, and I want to turn to those in conclusion.
I suggest that we have to re-design our policy in relation to Europe and the Arab and Asian areas, so that emphasis will be laid upon giving the people of those areas more scope to determine their own affairs and more independence in the determination of those affairs. We must throw greater emphasis upon economic matters and less emphasis upon military matters. A comparison between the £20,000,000 spent on the Colombo plan in five years and the £1,200,000,000 spent on the methods and means of war provides an illustration of the kind of priority that this Government has given in those matters. I suggest that we must seek to take the initiative in obtaining an end to atom bomb and hydrogen bomb tests. I think that the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom made a most desperate resistance to suggestions from the Labour Opposition there that this should be done, when he suggested that we were nolonger certain that we could detect these tests if they were carried out. Upon this point, and upon most others, the Labour party of this country is in complete agreement with the Labour party in the United Kingdom. I suggest that the Australian Labour party has attempted to answer thechallenge involved in international relations. That challenge was well stated by Sir Winston Churchill, when he said, in relation to the coming of the hydrogen bomb - . . the entire foundation of human affairs was revolutionized and mankind placed in a situation both measureless and laden with doom.
The answer of the Australian Labour party is consistent with principle. We have been accused of idealism. I think that a little idealism in this world is not uncalled for. I have tried to show that our proposals are workable and certainly more realistic than the series of tragic errors which have been supported by this Government but not, I feel, by the Minister for External Affairs.
– in reply - I had the privilege of opening this debate, and now it falls to me to close it. We have had 47 speakers, and the debate has occupied approximately seventeen hours of speaking time. When I started this debate, sir, I was obliged, in a considered statement, to confine myself, by reason of the limitation of time, to two broad subjects - the Middle East and the area of South and South-East Asia. I recognized, of course, that there was a vast deal more to talk about in the world, but in 45 minutes I do not believe that any one could do anything approaching justice to more than those two subjects. If I may venture to say so, I believe that I have brought to those two subjects an appreciable amount of personal knowledge of the areas involved. I lived and I worked for two long and strenuous years in the Middle East, in the middle of the war, from 1942 to 1944. I think I know the Middle East. I think I can say without boasting that I know practically every mile of the Middle East and every country in it, as well as the principal figures who, at that time, were in political power. Strangely enough, most of those men are still in office and in power in those countries. So, sir, I think 1 can say without boasting that I was not speaking out of ignorance when I put forward as the core of what I had to propose on behalf of the Government, for the beginnings, at least, of a solution of the Egyptian-Israeli problem, the real necessity for a cooling-off period. That was the basis, plus a demilitarized zone - something in the nature of a cordon sanitaire - round the State of Israel itself.
This conception was combated by the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt). He said that no cooling-off period was required, and that what was necessary was to bring the two parties together at once. He repeated that in different forms, at three different times. He said that the thing was to bring them together now. Any one who knows this situation, any one who has read a little about it, must, I think, regard that view - and with great respect I use the words - as the utmost folly. I ask the right honorable gentleman, who, I realize, is not able to be present in the chamber to-night, what he knows about the Middle East. Has he ever been there? I do not believe so. Has he read the standard books on the area? Has he read “ The Arab Awakening “, by George Antonius? Has he read “The Independent Arab”, by Hubert Young? Has he been to the principal cities? Does he know Moshe Shertok now Sharett? Does he know Ben Gurion? Does he know Camille Shamoun of the Lebanon? Does he know Shukri al-Kuwatli of Syria? Does he know Nuri-el-Said of Iraq? Does he know Ala, the recently retired Prime Minister of Iran? Without doing the right honorable gentleman any injustice, I do not think that he knows any of these people, has read any of these books, or has been to any of these places. Yet he speaks in this House, with some assumed authority, of what should be done! He derides me when I say that there is a tremendous emotional racial complex behind the Egyptian-Israeli problem of today. And the problem of to-day did not begin to-day. It did not begin twenty years ago, but 50 years ago and more, as any one who has given the slightest attention to the Middle East situation must know. Yet the right honorable gentleman says that no cooling-off period is necessary and that there is no emotional racial complex or hostility behind this matter! The problem, he says, has an economic basis; it is a problem of oil. Does the right honorable gentleman realize that there is not an oil well within 500 miles of EgyptIsrael?
I suppose that one is foolish to get upset by these things, but I am a member of a political party, and I am also an Australian. I am an Australian first and a member of a political party second. Here is the leader of a party that might conceivably be the alternative government in Australia, in certain circumstances, although it might be in the distant future. At any rate, he is looked upon in the world as an alternative Prime Minister for this country; and when his words ring round the world, as I expect they do, by virtue of his position as Leader of the Opposition, thousands of people in the world who know a great deal more about the background of the problems of the Middle East than he does will look upon those words - and here I do not wish to be offensive - as arrant nonsense, and Australia will be denigrated. As an Australian, I feel ashamed when I think of that, although the Government might gain momentary party political advantage from the speech of the right honorable gentleman made the other day, because everybody realizes he had nothing to contribute. Worse than that, I. am thinking of the effect on people overseas who look upon Australia as a distant country and upon the right honorable Leader of the Opposition as a potential leader in this country. It makes me ashamed that a man who sets himself up as knowing something about international affairs, a man who has been President of the United Nations Assembly, should give voice to what I may call - and again I am not attempting to be offensive - such arrant nonsense.
– He said some nice things about the Minister.
– That may be, but personalities have to go by the board when the interests of Australia are concerned, and they are concerned at this time.
Mr. Moshe Sharett, who was head of the Jewish agency in Palestine when I was there, will visit this country next month. I had intimate dealings with him every fortnight while I was there. He will be here as a visitor next month, and I shall direct his attention to what the Leader of the Opposition said about the economic origin, so-called, of the Egyptian-Israeli problem, and I shall invite him to make public comment. If any man knows that problem, it is he. Mr. Moshe Sharett was the Minister for Foreign Affairs in Israel for a number of years until quite recently.
Any one who knows this problem realizes that the hostilities between the Arab nations and Israel, and between Egypt and Israel, are the deepest and bitterest in the world. The friction between southern and northern Ireland is a flea-bite compared with the Arab-Israel or Egypt-Israel hostility. It is almost a blood feud; and to suggest that any good could result, against a background of those conditions when the dead on both sides are hardly buried, from bringing the two sides together round a table, however round the table is, I say again, complete nonsense.
Two things stick out clearly. First, there has got to be a cooling-off period; and secondly, there has got to be some mechanical means of keeping the two sides apart for a sufficient time to allow the worst of the passion, the worst of the blood feud, to die down. Then, perhaps under the chairmanship of a strong and powerful chairman from a strong and powerful country, with the objective of economic advantage to both sides, it is conceivable that they may be brought together.
The right honorable gentleman went on to speak about Europe. As we all remember, he recommended that the American forces, the British forces, indeed all forces extraneous to Western Europe be withdrawn. Again, I cannot conceive of anything that would be more against the interests of the democratic world than to do that. First of all, although I realize he did not say it, presumably he means the Russian forces would be withdrawn on the one hand and the British, American and other forces would be withdrawn on the other hand. That would mean that the Russian forces would withdraw an average distance of 300 miles whilst the American forces would withdraw an average distance of 3,000 miles. What does any one suppose would be the net effect of that, when the Russian forces could get back in a matter of days, or even hours, whilst the Americans would take weeks, possibly months, to reinstate their forces in Western Europe? What would happen to the free countries of Western Europe during that period? I suggest they would be in the most vulnerable position in the world.
As I understood him, the right honorable gentleman tried to equate the position of the American troops in Germany with that of the Russian troops in Hungary. The American troops are there in considerable numbers among troops of other countries at the invitation of the countries concerned. Do we know enough about the situation in Poland and in Hungary to say the Russian troops are there at the invitation of those two countries? Of course, they are not! The two situations cannot be compared. The American, British and Canadian forces are in the countries oi Western Europe as a last and almost desperate effort to save those countries from a sudden onrush of communism. Any one who suggests seriously that the American. Canadian and British forces should withdraw from the free countries of Western Europe is, I think, inviting attack by the other side.
The young gentleman from Yarra invited us to consider the question of nuclear weapons. He subjected us to a talk about how terrible nuclear war was going to be. There is nothing very original about that. Every adult in the world knows that well enough. But the nuclear weapons exist, and what are we to do about them? He said that nothing was being done about them. He forgot the fact that our major allies in particular, together with Australia, have been trying desperately for years to evolve, with the Russians, a system of mutual control and eventual elimination of the nuclear weapon. Is he completely unaware of all the work that has been done patiently over the years by the Disarmament Commission, by the representatives of the United States, Great Britain, Canada and other countries? Is it the unilateral doing away with nuclear weapons that he wants? That would be suicidal. Our major allies have been trying, year after year, to evolve a system that Russia would agree upon for the safe control of those weapons by both sides on a basis that could be relied upon. Anything other than that would be suicide. Yet, at the end of a long debate, we are treated to a treatise about how dreadful nuclear weapons are. Presumably, the honorable member suggests we ought to go in for the unilateral discarding of them.
– He did not say that.
– He did not say that; but that is the natural inference to be drawn from what he said. The young man from Yarra is gradually building up a reputation in this place. I do not accuse him of partisanship in any particular way, but I will say we are becoming pretty well aware of where his personal political sympathies lie.
I come now to the United Nations. In my opening speech at the beginning of the debate, I had some critical remarks to make about the United Nations. If I may say so, I did not make critical remarks of that sort without reason. I do not make them thoughtlessly or heedlessly. I have looked back at what I have said, and I have not one word to withdraw of the critical comment that I made about the United Nations. That is not to say that I do not believe there are very many useful aspects of the United Nations. Australia’s support of those aspects of the United Nations is continuous, and it will continue. Therefore, 1 do not like to be told that Australia has discarded the United Nations. We have done nothing of the sort. But I think we would be living in a fool’s paradise if we did not, from time to time, objectively consider what is the plus and what is the minus of the United Nations, if we did not give thought to whether that organization could be relied upon to-day and whether it is dangerous to rely upon it. That is what I attempted to do on behalf of the Government when I opened this debate.
The time I have available is relatively short; I have only a very few minutes left. 1 should like the House to consider, for a few moments, the general attitude of the Leader of the Opposition, having gathered together the various things which he has on many occasions, and very stoutly, spoken about in this chamber and outside it. I do not know whether this represents the policy of his party and I do not want, particularly, to hang this on all the members of the party which sits behind the right honorable gentleman. As for himself, he has recommended solemnly and on several occasions, including in this debate, the withdrawal of all American, British. Canadian and other what I might call nonindigenous forces from Western Europe. Secondly, he has recommended the withdrawal of Australian troops from Malaya, where they are solely and only engaged in combating communism. The troops in Europe to which I refer are solely and only there in order to ward off communism .
The right honorable gentleman recommends the recognition of red China. I wish I had time to develop, expand, and analyse that business. He recommends a ban on nuclear weapons, presumably a unilateral ban, because all the great countries have been trying to evolve a fair and reasonable bilateral ban on nuclear weapon that could be relied upon.
All these things taken together begin to stir in one’s mind, and one begins to ask “ What do all these things add up to? “ And I am not very sure - and I do noi make this as a light charge at all - thai they do no? add up to something. In addition, of course, the right honorable gentleman opposes Seato and Anzus.
– He does not.
– If words mean what the* say, he does. Those six matters that 1 have just enumerated very briefly add up to one thing and one thing only, that he espouses a principle of neutralism for Australia. He has not said that, of course I do not pretend to say that he has said that, but those are the six principles to which neutralists adhere. I should like the right honorable gentleman, when he is again amongst us in the chamber, or outside the chamber, to answer that, charge. I do not make it lightly, because those are the si* principles that comprise the policy of the neutralists.
I do not have any acid criticism of the neutralists in the world, so long as the) admit that they are neutralists. Those are si;t principles which make up, very largely, the policy of the neutralists. But let us go beyond that attitude, look into our domestic side of things, and see the line that the right honorable gentleman has taken domestically in combating the secret ballot in Australia, in combating the industrial groupers who are fighting communism, in propagating the idea of unity tickets with Communists. Adding all those things into the pudding, one gets a more convincing picture of something that, as an Australian, i do not like very much. One could call it by uglier names than neutralism, but I ,10 not propose to do that.
– Call it Senator McCarthy-ism.
Order on the left! There are too many interjections.
– In this debate we have had, as i have said, 47 speeches, a good many of them from members of the Foreign Affairs Committee, and I think I might be spoused for having a little proper pride in the contributions that have been made, not solely by members of the Foreign Affairs Committee by a long way, but I am directing my mind at the moment to them. I believe that if this debate has shown anything it is the value of the Foreign Affairs Committee.
– Order! The right
Honorable gentleman’s time has expired.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
The following bills were returned from the Senate without amendment -
Loan (International Bank for Reconstruction and
Development) Bill 1957. States Grants (Universities) Bill 1957.
I ragedy on Lake George - Public Service - Williamstown Immigration Hostel - Screening of Immigrants - Mr. and Mrs. Vladimir Petrov - Illness of Senator Nicholls - Western Australian Labour Party Circular.
Motion (by Mr. Casey) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
.- I believe that no matter how much the Parliament may be divided on political issues, every honorable member will join with me in expressing pride in the valour and heroism that were exhibited by certain cadets of the Royal Military College, Duntroon, in what has now become known as the Lake George tragedy. Honorable members will recall that two cadets, Ford and Gosling, as a result of the outstanding courage and determination that they showed in endeavouring, to rescue their comrades from the lake, were awarded the George Medal. I am sure that every honorable member feels that those two cadets, by their actions, really warranted the recognition which they received, and we are only too proud that they lived up to the highest traditions of the Australian Army and showed themselves to be truly worthy of the highest decoration that can be awarded in time of peace..
Many honorable members, I am sure,, also feel, as I do, that three other cadets, Cadet Jim Reilly, whom I knew very well, Cadet Pritchard, and Cadet Noble, who initiated the rescue attempts, displayed heroism which this country cannot overlook. They actually initiated the attempts at rescuing their two colleagues, whose yacht they saw capsize in the icy waters of Lake George during a storm. The waves were high, but in complete disregard of their own safety these three young Australians launched a boat and paddled out to try to rescue their comrades, whom they saw in distress. They gave their lives in that attempt, and nobody could contribute more. Nobody could have displayed greater courage than was shown by those three cadets. Yet I find that there has been no particular recognition of their actions, beyond the fact that at the inquiry that was held in Canberra into this tragedy the coroner saw fit, after hearing the evidence, to pay great tribute to the courage, enterprise and self-sacrifice of these three young Australians, who gave their lives ir trying to save the lives of their colleagues. It is true that Cadets Ford and Gosling merited the award of the highest decoration that could be given to them - the George Medal, which is the Victoria Cross of peacetime.
I have risen to-night to say that, as an Australian ex-serviceman who has seer deeds of valour, I feel that never have the heroism and sacrifice of Cadets Reilly, Pritchard and Noble been surpassed in our history. I consider that Australia should recognize the example that these men set. I feel that they have truly merited the highest recognition that this country can bestow on any Australian who is prepared to give his life for the sake of another.
– The honorable member for Lilley (Mr. Wight) is correct in saying that the matter he has raised is one which is quite above party politics. It goes without saying that the Opposition supports everything he has said about the great courage of these young men who gave their lives in trying to save their comrades. I hope that the Government will see fit, even now, to pay a fitting tribute in some way to these young men for the part they played.
I refer now to a matter that I should like the Leader of the House, the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Harold Holt), to look at, in the absence of the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies). It concerns a rather strange Public Service regulation which was recently applied to an exserviceman in South Australia, who had four and a half years’ service. I shall describe the manner in which it was applied.
The ex-serviceman was employed by the Postmaster-General’s Department as a mail officer. He thought he would like to obtain a permanent position in the department, so he sat for the necessary qualifying examination, and passed it. Before he could be appointed to a permanent position he had to pass a medical examination. When he was examined the Commonwealth medical officer stated that he was suffering from a hernia - of which the ex-serviceman knew nothing previously - and a somewhat enlarged liver, another complaint of which, until then, he had no knowledge. That discovery by the medical officer, of course, disqualified the employee for permanent appointment. I am not arguing about that. Much worse is the fact that, immediately it was discovered that this man, who had been employed in a temporary capacity, was suffering from a hernia, he was dismissed from his temporary employment in the Public Service.
We have taken this matter up with the authorities, and we are told that the Postmaster-General’s Department and the Public Service Board are bound by a regulation which provides that in cases such as this, When a medical examination shows that an applicant for a permanent position is suffering from any of a long list of classified complaints, not only must his application be rejected, but he must lose at one? even his temporary position. That regulation is sought to be justified on the ground that if it did not. exist the Commonwealth could be involved in the payment of Commonwealth employees’ compensation. Of course it could! But if every other employer decided to treat an employee who was suffering from hernia in the same way as the Commonwealth Government, through it* instrument, the Public Service Board, apparently considers it has to treat if* employees, it would mean that once a person in employment was discovered to have a hernia, he might as well go to the nearest tree, lie down like a mangy dog, and die, because no employer would want him. If every employer in Australia acted as the Commonwealth does, and refused to employ a man because he has a hernia, where in the name of goodness could he get a job? Yet the Department of Social Services is not prepared to recognize this man as an invalid and give him an invalid pension on the ground of his hernia. So he finds himself between two sets of circumstances.
– He could have the hernia treated.
– He could, and he has offered to do that, but he has been told that he still could not be employed, even after his disability had been removed. I am glad of the interjection, because it touches upon the second point I want to make. I want the Minister to look at this matter. I think that he appears to be sympathetic about it.
– He is merely tired.
– Whether or not he is tired, I think he is somewhat surprised by the facts I am giving. I hope that he will look at this problem, because if this man cannot get a job with the Commonwealth, the Commonwealth ought to be consistent and, before it employs a man in a temporary capacity, it should require him to be medically examined. But the Commonwealth would not do that, because the Public Service Board knows that if it subjected all applicants for positions, including temporary positions, to a medical test, it would probably not get more than 50 per cent, of the people it requires for temporary positions. The alternative, then, would be to lower the medical standard. And if the medical standard were lowered only slightly, to the standard that any private employer is prepared to accept, trie man would have none of this bother. I repeat that this is an ex-serviceman with four and a half years’ service. He had a magnificent war record.
– What does that matter to the Government? lt does net care.
-It appears that, up to date, the Commonwealth has not cared, but I am asking for an exemption not only in the case of ex-servicemen, but also in respect of other people in the same position. It should not matter whether the applicant is an ex-serviceman or not. The regulation I have mentioned is a stupid rule, and it ought not to be applied, because if the man had not made an application for permanent appointment nothing would have been known of his medical condition, and the department would have continued happily to employ him with no regrets. Because he applied for a permanent job, and the medical examination which is a prerequisite to permanent appointment in the Public Service revealed his disability, he has lost not only his opportunity to secure a permanent job but his temporary position as well, and is without hope of getting a job unless he can find a private employer who is prepared to give him opportunities that the Commonwealth will not give.
.- Several times in recent months 1 have raised the question of conditions at the Williamstown migrant hostel.
– You did it last night.
– Yes, I did it last night, but I got no reply. What I have been seeking more than anything else, for months, is an assurance that the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Harold Holt) will personally visit this place in company with the representatives of the Ministers Fraternal and the Williamstown City Council. I do not care whether or not he wants me to come with him. That is beside the point.
Unfortunately, in the absence of any indication to the contrary, it would appear that the Minister persists in the attitude he has taken that, because the Commonwealth’s officers say the hostel is all right, and because the Australian Immigration Advisory Committee and others who advise him in honorary and, sometimes, paid capacities say it is all right, then it is all right.
– If it will help the honorable member I shall be glad to arrange to accompany him on a visit to the Williamstown hostel between now and the resumption of the sittings.
– Will the right honorable gentleman invite members of the Ministers Fraternal and representatives of the Williamstown City Council as well?
– It may save the honorable member and many other people a lot of trouble here to-night if I say that 1 am quite willing to accompany him on a visit in order to see for ourselves what the position is. I do not want the visit to be made a stunt. Subject to that I do not mind who goes.
– 1 shall accept that offer. The persons I want to be asked to visit this place with the Minister are the members of the Ministers Fraternal at Williamstown
– How many of them ate there?
– They are persons who could not be put in the same category as. perhaps, I would be. Surely the Minister is not afraid that representatives of the churches will engage in stunting?
– That is correct.
– Surely he does not believe that the representatives of the Williamstown City Council would engage in stunting either! 1 hope that the Minister will invite the representatives of those organizations to visit the hostel with him, and explain their points of view. I also ask the Minister to read carefully the correspondence that has been send to the Ministers Fraternal, and to me, in connexion with this case.
– I have read it, and the report of the health officer as well.
– Perhaps the Minister does not realize - possibly because of the weight of his responsibilities - the unreasonable and even outrageously impudent things that were said in a letter that was sent to the Ministers Fraternal and to me. I shall give an example. The Ministers Fraternal, or its spokesman, referred to the fact that the walls of the hostel were so thin that undesirable conversations - that is putting it mildly - were often audible to the family in the adjoining section, including children.
Reference was made to that fact in a telegram that I sent after receiving the complaint. The reply 1 received from the Minister was that such happenings were not uncommon in all but the best hotels. That is why I ask the Minister to read his correspondence. If he did not prepare the letter himself, I ask him not to permit himself to be made the tool of people who adopt that attitude. In reply to my complaint, it was also stated that it was not uncommon for undesirable conversations to be heard over back-yard fences. The Minister dismissed the whole matter with that sort of gesture. If the Minister is a reasonable man, with a family of his own, he should know that the complaint was perfectly legitimate. It would be only a shanty hotel where conversations were audible through the walls.
The reply that was sent to me was a piece of impertinence, either on the part of the Minister for Labour and National Service, or on the part of his officers. I ask the Minister to examine his correspondence. He cannot laugh off these complaints. It is unfortunate, but it is undeniable, that some persons in charge of departments or Commonwealth hostels believe that it does not matter what I say in this place; they are sitting pretty and nobody need worry any more about it. Unfortunately, 1 believe it has been the habit of the Minister to shelter behind Commonwealth Hostels Limited and to leave it at that. I am gratified that the Minister is prepared now to go to Williamstown, Brooklyn and Broadmeadows to inspect the accommodation that is offered to British immigrants.
Some distance away from the Williamstown hostel there is an enormous dump of brown coal owned by the State Electricity Commission of Victoria. Every time the women at the hostels hang their washing out when the wind is blowing from the direction of the dump, brown coal dust covers their washing. I am glad that the Minister is prepared to visit the hostel. The fact is that this place will never be any good. The earth is so salty that it would cost a fortune to put down a grass plot where the beautiful children who live there could play. I ask the Minister to discard the unfortunate approach of his officers - and apparently of himself and the Immigration Advisory Council - to this problem. They appear to take the view that if they make conditions too comfortable for the immigrants they will never get them out of the hostels. There are other ways of getting rid of people who stay for too long. They should not penalize decent people.
.- 1 did not intend to speak, but when I saw that the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Harold Holt) was in such a co-operative mood, I thought I would make a few suggestions of my own. Quite recently, I sent a telegram to the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) regarding the distress among pensioners in this country and I received a reply from the Prime Minister to the effect that he was unaware that there was any distress among that section of the community. It was a most amazing reply. The Prime Minister is away and we are going to close the Parliament for nineteen days. As we do not meet very frequently, as is shown by the number of sitting days in a year, I take this opportunity to raise the matter with another Minister. I know I cannot get the Prime Minister to come with me to see the distress that exists in some of the metropolitan areas among the pensioners, because at the moment he is paying a courtesy call on his old friend, the Emperor of Japan.
– The honorable member said that last night.
– Yes, and I am saying it again to-night because it seems to annoy the Liberals and the conservatives on the Government side of the House. I will say, further, that the Prime Minister is only now fulfilling a promise that he made long ago and which he could not keep because of the outbreak of war. I know the Prime Minister cannot come with me to see the distress that exists in these areas, so I invite the Minister for Labour and National Service, who is now in charge, and who is, I understand, the heir apparent to the throne, to accompany me and other members of the Opposition to the metropolitan areas, where this distress exists. If we were able to get the Minister to see this distress at firsthand, he might be a little more sympathetic in his approach to the problems and difficulties of the pensioners.
There are one or two other matters to which I want to refer. On a number of occasions on the motion for the adjournment of the House, I have raised matters of importance, but members of the Governnent, following the example of their leader, who is so contemptuous of the requirements of the Australian community, are not prepared to make a reply to allegations that are made against the Government’s administration. The Minister for Labour and National Service, through the secretary of the department, is now combing applicants for vacant positions to ensure that only those persons who support the Liberal party in politics will have any hope of appointment. I accept what the Minister said when I referred recently to an applicant for the position of research officer in Brisbane. The applicants for the position were asked questions about their political opinions and their opinion of government policy.
– I rise to order. This matter has already been referred to once this week. Do not the Standing Orders say that any new reference is out of order?
– Order! The honorable member for East Sydney is in order.
– I repeat that the questions directed to the applicants were intended, Got to ascertain their qualifications as research officers, but to find out what they thought about various aspects of government policy. Anybody who had Labour sympathies and answered the questions honestly - as all Labour men do - had no possible chance of securing an appointment. The Minister said that he did not give directions for that sort of question to be asked, and I accept his word that that was the case. Well, then, who did do so?
The secretary of the Department of Labour and National Service, to whom the Minister has thrown the ball, is none other than the son of a Liberal member of this Parliament. There is no doubt that, in making his decisions in these matters, he leans heavily on the side of the Liberal party. From the Minister’s admissions in this chamber, I do not think he accepts this as being a suitable arrangement in the department he administers, and he has rejected the suggestion that he would have anything to do with it. I want to know from the Minister what he proposes to dc to change the situation in the Department o< Labour and National Service, and what investigation he proposes to make in respect of this most serious and important matter.
Now let me pass to another matter. In this House last night I tried to get some statement from a Minister about the screening of immigrants overseas, because not only does the Minister for Labour and National Service and the secretary of his department want only Liberal supporters working in that department - certainly in the ranking positions in the department - but also they want only immigrants who are opposed to the Labour party.
I brought to notice last night the case of a man and his single sister now living in Malta. These two people wanted to come to Australia. They passed the medical test and they were of sufficient educational standard to warrant the approval of their application. They both speak English fluently and they have received a first-class education. However, for some reason unknown to them their application was refused. They wrote to me, because the> probably thought that was the best way te find out why their application had been refused. I wrote to the Minister-
– Mr. Speaker, I rise to order. We heard all this last night. Must we submit to all this tedious repetition?
– The honorable member for East Sydney is in order.
– Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Might I say that these people had their application refused only because it was discovered that they were supporters of thiMaltese Labour party. There could be no security report which would forbid rneb entry to this country because the man in question happens to be an electrician and has been working at Her Majesty’s naval dockyard in Malta for a number of years If he were a security risk-
– Mr. Speaker, I ask for a ruling on how often an honorable member must repeat himself before it becomes tedious repetition. We heard all this last night.
– I have already ruled on that.
– Will you rule on how often a speaker has to repeat-
– I rule that the honorable member for East Sydney is in order. I will ask you to take your seat.
– As a matter of fact, in reply to the honorable member who took the point of order, it would have to be repeated several times before it would pierce his bone head and he would understand exactly what is going on; but I am hoping that not all Government supporters are as hopeless as he is.
– Mr. Speaker, I respectfully ask whether you consider such terms as “ bone head “ parliamentary? The honorable member for East Sydney has had your indulgence in a remarkable way, with all due respect, but how far is this indulgence going to extend?
– The honorable member for East Sydney is out of order in referring to the honorable member for Forrest (Mr. Freeth) as a bone head.
– I am not anxious to offend the honorable member and if he feels hurt I withdraw the expression “ bone head “ and I merely say he is very thick in the skull. That evidently will be in order. I hope that the Minister will peruse Hansard “ and will see what honorable members have said in regard to the various matters that have been raised on the motion for the adjournment of the House, and that he will give Opposition members some reply, if there is a reply which can be given.
Let me say finally that I raised another important matter last evening regarding a person who is in the pay of, or who is being kept by, this Government. I asked how long the taxpayers were to be asked to keep Vladimir Petrov and Mrs. Petrov on the pay-roll of the Commonwealth and how long the community was expected to maintain them. After the Minister has given some attention to these matters he might also be able to tell this House what became of Petrov’s trousers at Surfer’s Paradise.
.- Mr. Speaker, I wish to sympathize with the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard) when he speaks of the conversations which pass through the walls of these hostels. 1 think we often speak of such matters with feelings engendered by experience. Only last week I entered the honorable member’s office on the lower floor of this House when the honorable member was holding forth to two of his colleagues. I asked him to lower his voice because I could hear his conversation, and as an earnest young Liberal I thought that the conversation was not for my ears. I realize that the honorable member speaks from experience, and I sympathize with the occupants of this hostel if what they heard was similar to the sentiments expressed by the honorable member for Lalor.
– A number of matters have been raised in the course of this adjournment debate to which 1 would like to make some reference on behalf of the Government. Before turning to those matters however, I convey to members of the Opposition an expression from the Government side of the House of our concern to learn that one of their colleagues from the Senate has been taken seriously ill. I express the sincere wish on behalf of all Government party members that the honorable senator will successfully recover from his illness. If there is any opportunity to convey those wishes to the honorable senator I hope that will be done.
The honorable member for Lilley (Mr. Wight) has raised an aspect of that tragic episode in which some of our young servicemen lost their lives. I am not in a position to comment on what recognition should be given officially to the courage and public devotion, and indeed devotion to their comrades, which was shown by those who lost their lives in a rescue attempt, but I shall see that what the honorable member has said on this matter comes to the attention of the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies).
The honorable member for Lalor referred, as he has on other occasions, to conditions at Williamstown hostel. I have not personally made an inspection of the hostel for some time. I did make an inspection on another occasion. Normally in these matters, because of demands on my time in other directions, I must rely very largely upon the advice which I receive from the responsible officers. However, I have on this occasion indicated to the honorable member that now that we are to have a break from the sittings of the Parliament, I shall take the opportunity to go to the hostel again. I shall be glad to have the honorable member accompany me, and, providing we can keep the party with us within reasonable dimensions, I shall be glad to see that a representative group of people comes with us. f want to refer now to one or two further aspects, because statements have been made by the honorable member for Lalor which I think will give a distorted picture if left where they stand. The honorable member has attacked the placing of a hostel on this particular site. The hostel was not placed on that site by this Government. It was constructed by a Labour government. However, I shall not go into the details of that. The fact is that the Labour government established the hostel there. A great deal of money has since been spent on it by this Government to make it very much more habitable, than it was when the Labour government used it for this purpose and if it is not currently suitable for the purpose for which it was constructed and renovated, I shall have an opportunity to see that for myself.
– I shall deal with what 1 said when the House re-assembles after Easter. The Minister cannot duck-shove it in that way. I said that it reflected the Government’s policy.
– 1 think it was the honorable member for Hindmarsh who referred to a certain employee or prospective employee - I was not able to follow, perhaps as closely as I should have, all the details of what he said - who, because of some physical disability, had not been able to obtain employment in the Public Service. I shall arrange for that matter to be investigated by the Prime Minister’s Department. I was somewhat astonished to learn the substance of what the honorable member put forward, because my department administers the physically handicapped persons service. Not only does the department place physically handicapped persons in various sectors of industry throughout the Commonwealth, but in the course of my journeyings around Commonwealth departments I have seen physically handicapped persons who quite obviously were employed by those departments. As has happened in other cases, it may be that other circumstances which have not been disclosed to us to-night bear on the matter. However, I shall arrange for the matter to be investigated.
Various other matters were raised by the honorable member for East Sydney, but there will not be sufficient time for me to deal with them all. He referred to the alleged political screening of immigrants. I was the Minister for Immigration for seven years, and I deny that on any occasion I refused a person admission to this country because I felt he would not have party political sympathies with the Government of which 1 was a member. Persons have been excluded from Australia because the records showed that they had had an active association with Communist or fascist bodies. Honorable members on both sides of the House have come to me and have discussed individual cases. The honorable member for Lalor knows of one in particular - I shall not refer to it in detail - in which all the circumstances had been taken into account and a decision made which it was felt was just and reasonable. I emphatically deny that either planned discrimination, or prejudice, has operated on any occasion to exclude persons who otherwise might have been deemed to be desirable settlers in Australia.
The final matter which I shall touch upon was raised by the honorable member for East Sydney in his concluding remarks. I may require the indulgence of the House for a minute or two beyond the allotted time to deal with this matter as I wish. The honorable member referred to the fact that last night he raised in the House questions relating to the Petrovs. It is not my purpose, nor do I feel any particular obligation, to defend the personal conduct of the Petrovs in Australia; but I wish to raise certain considerations. First, 1 ask: What is the motive behind this attack by the honorable gentleman upon the Petrovs? Is it denied that Mr. Petrov was an agent of the Russian Communist Government in Australia? [Extension of time granted.] I thank the House for granting me an extension of time. I shall be as brief as I can. lt will not be denied that Mr. Petrov was a Soviet agent who was attached to the diplomatic service in Australia to engage in other activities. It will not be denied that he defected from that service and that as a result of his defection there was an inquiry into allegations that were made by him, and into a variety of matters which developed out of his defection and the evidence that he was able to give. That inquiry was conducted by three eminent and highly respected judges of the Supreme Courts of three of the States.
– They were handpicked, were they not?
– Is that a serious allegation?
– Mr. Justice Ligertwood - chosen by Mr. Chifley - hand-picked?
– No. They had to have one good one to make it look decent.
– I am very sorry to hear that interjection come from the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Clyde Cameron), because it is a most offensive allegation against not only this Government but also the judges who were directly concerned.
– Everybody knows that they were hand-picked.
– They were Mr. Justice Owen, Mr. Justice Philp and Mr. Justice Ligertwood.
Mr. Ward interjecting,
– The honorable member for East Sydney has no cause to be critical of the appointments.
Opposition members interjecting,
-Order! There are too many interjections. I ask honorable members to restrain themselves.
– I question whether it is in order for honorable members to reflect upon the judiciary of this country in the House. I do not think any responsible member of the Opposition - on this occasion I exclude the honorable member for Hindmarsh from that category - would reflect upon the sense of duty, probity or capacity of any one of those three men who participated in the inquiry to which I have made reference. Since the defection of this Russian agent and the examination of evidence by the commission, in accordance with the laws of this country - I do not know whether Opposition members are disposed to attack this; if they are, let them do so - the Petrovs have become naturalized. They are, therefore, full Australian citizens within the requirements of the law. I again ask: What is the motive behind this attack? Is it designed to discredit, in the interests of people outside this chamber-
– Communists, yes.
– More smears!
– Who is doing the smearing?
-Order! The honorable member for Hindmash will cease interjecting.
– You tried to smear the Government and the three judges.
– Order! I ask the Minister to direct his remarks to the Chair.
– I now direct the attention of the House to the finding of the three judges in relation to the credibility of the Petrovs. It appears in the report of the Royal Commission on Espionage in the chapter, “Nature of the Evidentiary Material”. I quote from page 63 under the heading of, “Credibility of the Petrovs”. This reads -
During the many months of our Inquiry we have had the credibility of the Petrovs under constant scrutiny. In this regard they started with a heavy handicap: they were persons who had deserted their country and its service, and were prepared to divulge its secrets, and for this purpose Petrov had taken documents to which he had no right; both of them had become dependent for their protection and subsistence on the Government, a fact which might induce them to invent or embellish evidence to please that Government; the vicious attacks upon them by some Communists and like-minded persons in the court-room and in a section of the press might cause them in revenge to strain their evidence; they were ostensibly recent apostates from Communism, a creed in which - reputedly - a lie may be justified by the end to be served . . .
– Order! The Minister’s time has expired.
– May I move that the Minister be granted a further extension of time?
– It will be necessary to suspend the Standing Orders.
Motion (by Mr. Beale) - by leave - agreed to -
That so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent Mr. Harold Holt continuing his speech for five minutes.
– The report continues -
Such considerations made it imperative that we should scrutinize their evidence and assess their credibility with the utmost care. But during the long period in which they gave evidence we had many and extraordinary opportunities of testing their credibility and their accuracy . . . Petrov was in the witness-box on 37 days for approximately 74 hours in all, and Mrs. Petrov on 21 days for approximately 30 hours in all.
I do not want to weary the House, but 1 could proceed to read the full passage which, I think, could usefully be placed on record. The judges pointed out that the evidence of the Petrovs was capable of being checked and was checked in a variety of ways and at a multiplicity of points. The judges said -
We ourselves bad opportunities of checking which were not available even to Counsel assisting us: certain wire recordings of conversations and other material were available to us only.
The judges referred to the very fact that Petrov’s reputation had been attacked - as the honorable member for East Sydney has attacked it - on the ground that he occasionally drank to excess.
– Did he not?
– They conceded that. But they pointed out -
The first allegation is irrelevant: it is absurd to suggest that a man who occasionally got drunk should not be believed.
They went on, significantly, to- mention Mrs. Petrov, as follows: -
No suggestion whatever was made against the reputation of Mrs. Petrov, and on most matters her evidence was no less important than that of Petrov. . . . We feel that in the final result we should find, and we do find, that the Petrovs are witnesses of truth. . . . We also found their accuracy to be of a high order, which is not surprising seeing that they had long training in a service which demanded accuracy.
For most people in this country, that is where the story of the Petrovs begins and ends, because the Petrovs have become naturalized Australian citizens. They are endeavouring to establish themselves in this community without being hunted, without being persecuted. They are endeavouring to establish a life of their own in this place.
The honorable member for East Sydney has laid himself open to the charge, not only that he is attacking the underdog, which is never a very popular pastime in Australia, but also that he is endeavouring to prevent or deter any other potential defector from following that same course of action for fear of the persecution which will come his way in Australia should he ever be so reckless or regardless of his future as to entrust himself to the Australian authorities and place himself at the mercy of Australian public opinion. I do not know what other construction we can put on what the honorable gentleman is trying to do. Is he out to attack the character of people whose evidence has been found to be reliable? Is he out to persecute and hound people who, whatever their motives and background, will, I believe, be found by public opinion and by the judgment of history to have served Australia well in disclosing or enabling to be disclosed the ramifications of Communist activity in this place. I do not attempt here any defence of the Petrovs or their character. But I say that the motive of the honorable gentleman in persisting with these charges at a time when the evidence of the Petrovs has been heard and determined is a matter upon which members of this Parliament and the public will form their own judgment.
.- I desire to thank the Leader of the House (Mr. Harold Holt) for the sympathy that he has expressed to Opposition members because of the sudden and serious illness of Senator Theo Nicholls. Unfortunately, the news is not good. It is sad that, at the end of a sitting, one of the members of the Parliament should be stricken down so suddenly and grievously. I desire, too, on behalf of the Opposition, to say how much we appreciate the ready co-operation that was shown to us by Ministers, particularly by the Acting Prime Minister (Sir Arthur Fadden), the Minister for Air (Mr. Osborne), by the Vice-President of the Executive Council (Senator O’sullivan), and by the President of the Senate (Senator McMullin) in doing all that they possibly could to help Senator Nicholls and in making whatever arrangements they have been able to make, quickly, and with great good heart, to bring his wife and family to Canberra. I think that I would be failing in my duty if 1 did not take this opportunity of saying these things. Tragedies like this do enable us to forget what other differences we might have in politics.
Of Senator Nicholls, it can be said that he has served his country well in war and in peace. He was quite a young man when he went to World War I., and he was wounded. Since his return from the war, he has played a part in the Parliament and for a time was Chairman of Committees in the Senate.
I want to say two other things. First, 1 want to congratulate the Leader of the House on returning to the old custom of answering the observations that honorable members make on the adjournment. For a number of years, that did not happen. I think it does help to maintain the parliamentary tradition if Ministers make replies, even though they are critical and at times, to the satisfaction of the Minister, devastating, in answer to whatever has been said.
In the second place, I want to say that I have never heard the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) reflect on Mr. Justice Ligertwood. His interjection tonight was, “ Why was Mr. Justice Townley of Queensland, turned down for membership of the commission “ ? That was not a reflection on Mr. Justice Ligertwood, and I think the record should be put straight in that regard.
– I wish to make a personal explanation.
– Order! Does the honorable member claim to have been misrepresented?
– Yes, badly, sir. The Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Harold Holt), by way of interjection, repeated a statement that he made earlier. When I said that the justices were hand-picked, he said, “Does that go for Mr. Justice Ligertwood? “ My reply, as the “ Hansard “ record will prove was, “They had to have one good one to make it look decent “.
.- I am sorry to find, Mr. Speaker, that whilst you are keen to bring the sitting to a close, I am to be an impediment to that objective, but it brings to my mind the times that I have risen in the last few days, wishing to ask a question. So perhaps at this late hour I may be permitted-
– Order! I hope that the honorable member is not reflecting on the Chair.
– I intend no reflection at all, Sir. I wish to draw the attention of the House to a very .despicable circular which has been distributed in Western Australia in the interests of the Australian Labour party. Going home as I am with other honorable members for this short recess, I am reminded that I shall be meeting many new Australians in my electorate who have taken extreme displeasure with the circular that they have received from the representatives of the Opposition in this House. It is significant to me that the allimportant federal president of the Australian Labour party has issued this circular over his signature. It is a fair assumption that the sentiments expressed in this despicable document, to which I shall refer in more detail in a moment, come from this acclaimed leader.
A few days ago, a very full article appeared in the Western Australian press, and also in one of the newspapers of the eastern States, dealing with this gentleman. One of my colleagues last night suggested in this House that there were very strong rumours about him and perhaps, after the recess, we may have the opportunity of dealing in greater detail with his leadership of the Labour party.
– The honorable member is a smearer, too.
– My friend from Tasmania has been waiting to say that. This circular has been sent to people who have been recently naturalized or are about to be given full status as Australian citizens. It begins with these words -
The attention of the Australian Labour party has been drawn to the fact that the Liberal party in this State, in an endeavour to win electoral support, is sending a particularly objectionable document to newly naturalized Australians.
The House should be advised that the Liberal party in Western Australia has done only a courteous and helpful thing by sending out its circular, personally signed by its representative in that State. It reads as follows: -
You will shortly become an Australian citizen, and we wish to take this opportunity of congratulating you.
The simple ceremony of Naturalization in which you will play the very important part, will tak, place in due course, and we would ask you to accept a hearty welcome to the Citizenship of our Country of which we are so proud and love so much.
May your future bring you good health, happiness and prosperity.
If at any time you feel we can be of assistance to you, please do not hesitate to approach us.
With that circular was sent a well-printed leaflet bearing the words on its front page “ Welcome to the Land of Opportunity “. I have carefully checked the contents of this leaflet and there is nothing objectionable in it.
– Read the circular.
– The honorable member has a copy of it. At the recent conference of the Australian Labour party in Brisbane a new approach to the policy of immigration was enunciated. I am one of those on this side of the House who have always been sympathetic towards the honorable member for Melbourne (Mr. Calwell), because well do we know the part that he played in the early stages of Australia’s immigration policy. I am certain that to-day he must be unhappy at heart because of some of the statements that were made at the Brisbane conference. This Western Australian Labour party circular goes on to name my colleague, the honorable member for Forrest (Mr. Freeth), and to refer to several other members. I suppose I am included in it. It contains this paragraph -
The Liberal member for Forrest, Mr. G. Freeth, with other Liberal members of the Parliament from Western Australia, brought pressure to beat upon their Liberal Government to prevent money being made available to this State to place migrant* in employment.
That is a despicable mis-statement. The objectionable document to which Joe Chamberlain, the federal president of the Australian Labour party refers, is only an expression of welcome to the land of opportunity. In the minds of the new Australians it does not compare with the Labour party circular that they have been given. The Labour party circular is an expression of contempt. It is an insult to the intelligence of people whom we have been glad to receive into Western Australia and give the full status of Australian citizenship.
– Read what is in the Liberal party pamphlet.
– It contains the objectives of the Liberal party. There is nothing objectionable in that. It may be objectionable to honorable members opposite, but people who have experienced socialism overseas are content with our objectives. Members of the Australian Labour party throughout Australia are becoming more conscious of the fact that the majority of immigrants who come to this land of opportunity have an intimate knowledge of socialism overseas and do not want to have anything to do with the Australian Labour party on that account.
This Labour party circular has been referred to in some of the newspapers in the eastern States. I felt that, rather than allow it to do further damage in Western Australia among the new Australians to whom I have referred, I should expose it in the House. Now that I have done so, I shall go back and tell those who have referred the matter to me that in this House my colleagues and I look askance at it and despise the attitude of the federal president of the Australian Labour party who has attached his signature to the circular, even though it is only in the form of a rubber stamp.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 11.27 p.m. until Tuesday, 30th April, at 2.30 p.m.
The following answers to questions were circulated: -
s asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
t asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
d asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
d asked the Minister for the Interior, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
d asked the Minister representing the Minister for National Development upon notice -
What are the latest available figures of people seeking to purchase or rent homes, through (a) State Housing Commission, (b) co-operative or any other kind of building societies, (c) bank or insurance companies, and (d) the War Service Homes Division?
– The Minister for National Development has furnished the following reply: -
New South Wales- 30,000 including both rental and purchase.
Victoria - 15,000 rental, 4,000 purchase.
Queensland - 10,362 rental, 1,474 purchase.
South Australia- 10,000 rental, 3,000 pur chase.
Western Australia - 8,370 including both rental and purchase.
Tasmania - 2,980 including both rental and purchase.
These figures relate to February-March ofthis year.
It is necessary to point out that the sum total of outstanding applications to different home finance institutions is not a satisfactory estimate of housing demand at any time because (a) duplicated applications between State Housing Authority schemes and the different home financing institutions referred to above undoubtedly inflate the figures quoted and (b) wastage always occurs from these lists from persons who have their housing need satisfied from other sources. War Service Homes Division’s experience, for example has been that 40 per cent of pending applications arc later withdrawn or refused. The best available estimate of the deficiency of dwellings is that contained in the recently issued report of the Department of National Development which set the deficiency (based on certain clearly defined concepts) at 115,000 at 30th June, 1956.
Postal Charges in Papua and New Guinea.
d asked the Minister for Territories, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
t asked the Minister for Defence, upon notice -
– After consultation with my colleague, the Attorney-General, who is responsible for the administration of the Courts-Martial Appeals Act 1955,I furnish the following answers to the questions asked by the honorable member for Wills:-
a asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: - 1 and 2. Customs and excise collections from petrol (excluding aviation spirit) from 1947-48 to 1956-57 and Commonwealth Aid Roads allocations from these collections have been as follows: -
d asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
On this matter generally, however, I may say that the honorable member will not be unaware that when it is left to the administration first to discover default and subsequently to enforce compliance by legal process, long delays are sometimes unavoidable. I would, however, direct his attention to the penalties which the law provides for defaulters and which whatever time elapses before enforcement must eventually be met.
d asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The answer to the honorable member’s questions is as follows: - 1 and 2. Statistics which would enable a reply to be given to the honorable member’s question even in respect of assessed tax are not compiled and could not be compiled except as substantial cost. Such figures if kept would not, of course, embrace those cases where taxpayers could be said to be in arrears because of inability to make Assessments on returns lodged or because returns have not been lodged. I have, however, the assurance of the Commissioner of Taxation that the activities of his staff in the matter of outstanding returns and outstanding tax have never been more energetic than they are at present and I have independent evidence of this activity from the constant representations made to me directly and through honorable members from both sides of the House to intercede with the Commissioner for extension of time for payment and lodgment.
d asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
t asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
m asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The answer to the honorable member’s questions is as follows: -
The persons (including companies) who have applied for and been granted exemptions under section 10 of the Banking Act 1945-1953, and the conditions relating to those exemptions, are indicated in the Banking (Exemptions) Orders Nos. 30-38 inclusive. The text of these Orders was published in the “ Commonwealth Gazette “ as follows: -
m asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
The conditions attaching to each authority were the same. In relation to housing loans, the effect of the conditions is that the amount invested by a private savings bank in the sum of -
money on deposit with banks other than the Commonwealth Bank; may not exceed 30 per cent, of the amount on deposit with the private savings bank.
To building societies -
Bank of New South Wales Savings Bank Limited, £1,250,000.
Australia and New Zealand Savings Bank Limited, £2,500,000.
C.B.C. Savings Bank Limited, £1,000,000 (approximately).
To individuals -
Bank of New South Wales Savings Bank Limited, £4,000,000.
Australia and New Zealand Savings Bank Limited, £2,000,000.
C.B.C. Savings Bank Limited, £1,000,000 (approximately).
n asked the Minister for External Affairs, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
ser asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
Sydney Mail Branch.
y asked the PostmasterGeneral -
– The answers to the honorable member’s ‘ questions are as follows: -
8, 9, 10.-
The following staff and areas have been excluded: -
t asked the Minister for Social Services, upon notice -
What is the estimated saving to the Government by the non-inclusion of aborigines in social service payments?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is “ Nil “.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 11 April 1957, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1957/19570411_reps_22_hor14/>.