23rd Parliament · 2nd Session
Mr. SPEAKER (Hon. John McLeay) took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
Mr. IAN ALLAN presented a petition from certain citizens of Australia praying that the House will pass legislation to ease the means test and increase social service benefits payable to civilian widow pensioners and their dependent children.
– I direct a question to the Treasurer regarding the fall in the profit of the Commonwealth Bank of Australia in 1959. In 1958 the profit amounted to £23,395,213, and in 1959 it fell to £15,997,340. Can the Treasurer give the House the reasons for the drop in profit as shown in the Commonwealth Bank’s annual report for 1959 because increased profit has been consistent over many years and the profits of the Commonwealth Bank are distributed to all the people in Australia? Is the Government concerning itself about this important matter?
– I think it is desirable that the honorable member should have an authoritative reply. I shall obtain the information and supply it to him if that is practicable.
– I direct a question to the Acting Prime Minister and Minister for Trade. Can the Minister give the House any information regarding the reported importation from Japan of spare parts for Holden motor vehicles? What will be the effect of these imports on the Australian spare parts industry? Does the Minister consider that the use of certain inferior grades of these imported spare parts will eventually contribute to an increase in vehicle failures and road accidents?
– I am not in possession of any information about the importation of spare automotive parts from Japan or, for that matter, from any other country. I have no such information in mind. But to-day the importation of such items would be governed by the prevailing tariff rate. As to the quality of any goods, the Australian consumer really has to be the judge whether he is doing good business in buying one item as against another.
– I ask the Minister for the Army whether he has considered the representations concerning the decision to disband two Tasmanian army units, the 12th Infantry Battalion and the 6th Field Regiment, both of which have been in existence for more than 100 years. Will he again examine the matter with a view to retaining the identity of these units within the proposed re-organization?
– On Friday next, I will have a conference with Army commanders from all parts of Australia, the Military Board and the leaders of the Citizen Military Forces in each State. All of these matters will be brought up for discussion. The meeting will give an opportunity to the leaders of the C.M.F. and the Regular Army to furnish details of the reorganization as it affects each State. The matters raised by the honorable member are very important and will be discussed at the conference.
– My question is addressed to the Postmaster-General. Although the Australian proposals submitted to the recent Administrative Radio Conference at Geneva were approved by the Government, was the Government aware of the undertaking given by the Postmaster-General’s Department to members of the Parliament that the Australian amateurs would suffer no reduction in presently available frequencies unless by international agreement? If the answer is “Yes”, does the Government not regard the Australian footnote to the Geneva amateur reservation at 3,500 to 3,900 kilocycles, by which Australians will lose one-third of their present band, as a direct repudiation of that undertaking? Will the Government review this allocation and others to maintain the status quo for Australian amateur radio operators?
– The honorable member for Paterson asks me several questions. He asks first, whether the Government was aware of an undertaking given at certain discussions which took place between representatives of the amateurs and the PostmasterGeneral’s Department. The reply to that is: Yes, the Government was aware of the undertaking. He then asks whether it is considered that the action taken at Geneva constituted a repudiation of the undertaking. The reply to that is: No, I do not consider that it constitutes a repudiation. In his question, the honorable member states that, as a result of these deliberations, amateurs have lost one-third of the present band. That is a wrong basis on which to ask such a question, because this is a matter, as the honorable member knows, on which as yet no decision has been taken. Certain recommendations have been made, but there are still differences of opinion as to what constitutes a loss by the amateurs as distinct from those operating mobile and fixed services.
The honorable member asks, further, whether the Government will review the situation. I have stated previously, to the honorable member and to the House - I repeat it now - that I shall very soon be placing before Cabinet a report dealing with amateurs and with the much wider question of frequency allocations in Australia. That report will be under consideration quite shortly and, as a result, the Government will determine what shall be the policy not only with regard to amateurs but with regard to all other users of the spectrum.
– Is the Treasurer aware of the extent to which the mechanization of coal-mines, particularly in the Cessnock area, has caused drastic retrenchments? Is he also aware that very many displaced miners are obliged to travel distances of 80 miles each day to and from Newcastle, where many of them have found alternative employment in the steel industry, and that their fares to and from their work amount to £70 each year? Will he give consideration, in the forthcoming Budget, to my suggestion that the amounts thus spent on fares be regarded as allowable income tax deductions?
– I am familiar with the circumstances of the coal industry in Cessnock, and I know that improved efficiency and increased mechanization have led to some reduction of the work force there. With my colleague, the Minister for Labour and National Service, I played some part in making the arrangements which, I am glad to say, enabled most of those displaced from the coal industry in that area to find well-paid work in other parts of the State. The question of allowing fares to and from work to be treated as allowable deductions has been canvassed on many occasions. It is a considerable question of policy, on which it would not be appropriate for me to comment now, but I can assure the honorable gentleman that it will be one of the questions considered in connexion with the forthcoming Budget.
– I direct a question to the Minister for Primary Industry. An application by the cane-growers and the sugar industry generally for an increase in the price of sugar has been lodged with the Government for some time. Will the Minister say whether a decision has been reached on the application, and whether an announcement is likely to be made?
– The application by the cane-growers for an increased price for sugar has been investigated and a great deal of information on the subject has been collected. The matter is currently being considered by the Government. When a decision has been reached, the Acting Prime Minister will send a reply direct to the Premier of Queensland, from whom the application came.
– I ask the Minister for Labour and National Service: Is he aware of the statement made by an Adelaide professor that the Commonwealth Arbitration Commission should be in possession of far more adequate statistical and other information than it has at present? Will he relate that statement to the position that the commission determines the wage which it holds industry can afford to pay, but that industry can, if it so desires, pass on in the form of increased prices any wage increases granted by the commission? Does he believe that if action is not taken to prevent the passing on of wage increases, the commission will soon have to consider fixing a fair profit as well as a fair wage?
– I was aware of the statement made by a professor - I did not know he was a South Australian professor - that increased information should be put before the Arbitration Commission. If the honorable member would look at the submissions made in the recent basic wage case, I think he would see that we are attempting to collect the maximum amount of evidence and put it before the commission. I had noticed the statement to which the honorable member has drawn attention. I will certainly write to the professor and ask him, in specific terms, what he means and how he thinks his suggestion can be met.
With regard to the second part of the question, I think the honorable member well knows that the power under which the basic wage and margins are fixed is the power relating to industrial arbitration. I think that it would be going beyond the scope of that constitutional power to permit the commission to look at the question of profits. Nevertheless, this problem is constantly examined by the Government as a Budget problem. I can assure the honorable member that it is never lost sight of.
– My question is directed to the Acting Prime Minister, in his capacity as the Minister for Trade, and is supplementary to a question asked yesterday about sales of wheat to India. Is it a fact that India has requested that its purchases of wheat from Australia should be reduced, and that the reduced sales should be at a lower price?
– It has been reported that the Indian Minister for Food, who is at present in North America, suggested that, in view of India’s balance of payments problems, Canada and Australia might agree that India should be obliged to purchase lower quantities commercially than 400,000 tons this year. This, as I said yesterday, was a condition attached by the United States Government in agreeing to supply to India, on the basis of payments to be made in Indian rupees - later to be re-lent to the Indian Government or, in cases, given to the Indian Government - a quantity of 3,000,000 tons of wheat, to be further supported with another 1,000,000 tons of wheat and, over a period of four years, 1,000,000 tons of rice. This condition, which was attached by the American Administration, is the outcome of a negotiated arrangement which was initiated by the United States a year ago and to which the wheat exporting countries are parties. It is designed to enable the United States to exercise its great generosity in helping the underdeveloped countries without at the same time seriously damaging the economics of other countries and other friends, such as Australia, who are exporters of the commodity in question. The decision of the United States that 400,000 tons was a fair quantity for India to buy commercially, as compared with the 4,000,000 tons she provided otherwise, was in conformity with that policy; but it was a decision taken by the United States Administration, and I am sure it is to the United States Administration that the Indian Government will, of necessity, direct its proposals.
– My question is directed to the Minister for the Army. Is it a fact that in connexion with the re-organization of the Army instructions have been issued for the disbanding of school cadet corps, except at five-year high schools? Is it true that the cadet corps at the Cook’s Hill High School and the junior technical high school at Newcastle, which have existed for 50 years and twenty years respectively, have to be disbanded? Is the Minister aware that many brilliant military leaders, including Brigadier Galleghan, have come from these schools? Can the honorable gentleman explain why schools at small centres which have populations of fewer than 20,000 people should retain their school staff cadet corps, while schools serving larger areas with populations of up to 200,000 have to lose their cadet corps because they happen to be four-year high schools? Will the Minister consider this matter further before finally disbanding the corps, and give full weight in that consideration to the benefits derived by the community from the existence of these corps as against the meagre costs associated with their continuance?
– I think the honorable member will appreciate that with the cessation of national service training - which will terminate on 30th June - one particular source of recruitment to the Citizen Military Forces will be the cadet corps. Now, we have a limited amount of money. We also have a ceiling limit in relation to the numbers that we can take into the cadet corps. It seems to us most proper that we should treat with those schools which take their boys up to the leaving standard, and so it has been decided not to go on with the corps in the three-year high schools. The honorable member referred to a school attended by Brigadier Galleghan. Brigadier Galleghan is a very great man, and is one of our gr<it soldiers. He is also the honorary colonel of the cadet corps, and it is on his recommendation that the corps at the school to which the honorable member refers will be disbanded. We must get the greatest value from the cadet corps system in accordance with the amount of money that can be spent on it. .1 appreciate just what the contraction of the cadet corps means, but it does seem common sense that we should spend our money to the best advantage, and allow those boys who are available up to the leaving standard to take advantage of cadet training. It is a matter, however, that will be very fully discussed at the conference that we are holding on Friday. If there is any change in the position as I have stated it I will let the honorable member know.
– I address a question to the Acting Minister for External Affairs concerning the very welcome appointment of that veteran of Australian trade negotiations, Sir Edwin McCarthy, as Australian ambassador to the European Economic Community. Will it be to the Minister that the ambassador will report in this capacity? If so, will the Minister bear in mind the very great interest in the activity of this community which primary producing and commercial interests in Australia have? Acting in conjunction with his col leagues, the Treasurer, the Minister for Trade and the Minister for Primary Industry, will the Acting Minister for External Affairs arrange that, as far as practicable, the reports of Sir Edwin McCarthy dealing with Australian interests in the operations of this community will be made available to the public?
– It is quite right that the Australian Government has accredited Sir Edwin McCarthy to this organization. The appointment, of course, was made through my department, and Sir Edwin’s formal reports will naturally be made through that department, but, in the ordinary course, they would be made available automatically to the departments which had interest in them, such as the Department of Trade and the Treasury. I can assure the honorable gentleman that my department will see that any material that comes from Sir Edwin McCarthy will be given to the Government authorities who need it, and who have an interest in the particular information that is conveyed. The Government’s appointment of Sir Edwin McCarthy was prompted by the circumstance that this country has a very great interest in what happens in this organization in Europe. The question of making reports available to the public will be considered from time to time on the merits of each particular case.
– I ask the Acting Prime Minister: In view of the fact that the incomes of primary producers have been falling steadily over recent years if the figures contained in the White Paper distributed with each year’s Budget are to be regarded as reliable, what action does the Government intend to take to protect the interests of Australian dairy farmers against the serious competition that has arisen on the Australian market from imported dairy products of all kinds? I ask this question in view of the fact that the lifting of tariffs on dairy products as from the end of last month could undermine the economic structure of the Australian dairy industry.
– I think, perhaps, the honorable gentleman has inadvertently referred to the lifting of tariffs on dairy products. There has not been a lifting of any tariffs, but there has been a lifting of import licensing restrictions. I assume that the honorable gentleman’s question was based upon that premise. The Government realizes that farm income has been falling in recent years due, not to a fall in values in Australia, but to a fall in world values. This has resulted in vigorous activity by the Government, through the Department of Trade, in opening up opportunities for additional sales overseas, because that is where the shoe has really been pinching. But should some of the products of the dairy industry, such as cheese or concentrated milk products, become exposed to a degree of competition from imports that is not acceptable to the industry, this primary industry will have the same right of redress as is enjoyed by secondary industries. It will have a right of access to the Tariff Board for examination of its claims for further tariff protection.
– I ask the Minister for Labour and National Service a question supplementary to that of the honorable member for Yarra. Can the Minister inform the House whether the average wage paid by industry in Australia is higher than the minimum wages and margins awarded by the Arbitration Court?
– There is no doubt that the average wage paid for a large section of industry, which is the subject of record and published in the Commonwealth Bank’s monthly reports, is much higher than the basic wage and the margin themselves. I presume that the honorable member would like exact figures as to the amount by which the average wage exceeds the basic wage and the margin. I will get those figures and let him have them.
– My question to the Acting Prime Minister concerns the new rise in interstate air fares, the ninth in ten years. Will the right honorable gentleman have a statement made to the House concerning the current financial position of Ansett-A.N.A. and Trans-Australia Airlines and the ability of these organizations to absorb any rise in their operating expenses? I ask this question, since this rise in fares has, more quickly than ever before, fol lowed the preceding rise and since AnsettA.N.A., unlike T.A.A., has not hitherto been required to reveal its financial position to the Parliament and the public.
– If we are to see this matter in the proper perspective, may I say that in a world of rising costs, and particularly in the field of aviation where costs are rising at a meteoric pace, Australian air fares are still among the very lowest in the world and the quality of the service given by Australian air lines, both government and private, is superbly good and indeed, is unsurpassed anywhere in the world. The Government, of course, is not pleased that any cost is rising but in this sense, nevertheless, it has to bear in mind that the air line operators have been subjected to very severe cost increases, particularly over the last year, in the form of the margins increase and other awards, consent and otherwise, I think.
The honorable member asks me to have a statement prepared which embodies an analysis of the financial circumstances of Ansett-A.N.A. with a view, perhaps, to the person who prepares the statement or the Parliament itself judging the capacity of the company to absorb the higher costs without having recourse to higher fares. I think that was the point of the question. Frankly, my reaction is to say that it can scarcely be within the province of the Government to take the affairs of any private person or company, analyse them, produce them and disclose them in the Parliament for the purpose of the exercise of judging whether the price which is being paid for the product being sold or the service being given should be disclosed.
– But the Commonwealth underwrites this company.
– No, “underwrite” is not the correct term. The Government-
– The Government has guaranteed its overdraft.
– The Government has made a loan to this company in accordance with a statutory provision approved by this Parliament. I still do not think that the fact that the Government has given a measure of support through loans to this company would justify the Government in making what, to my knowledge, would be a completely new departure, namely, exposing in the Parliament the details of a private person in business or a company in business. Of course, the Parliament is entitled to know the affairs of the Government’s own line and I think the proper provision exists for this information to be presented to the Parliament periodically.
– My question to the Acting Prime Minister is supplementary to that which was asked of him by the Leader of the Opposition. Is it a fact, as reported in the White Paper to which the Leader of the Opposition referred, that rural industry deposits with the major trading banks increased by £31,000,000 from December, 1957, to December, 1959, and that loans outstanding decreased by £9,000,000 from December, 1958, to December, 1959? Is this an indication that although the incomes of farmers have been falling, there has been a recovery during the last twelve months, if the figures which I have quoted are accurate?
– I have no doubt that the information conveyed in the honorable member’s question is completely correct, and that the deduction which he has drawn from it is likewise correct.
– I ask the Minister for the Interior: Have there recently been any alterations in the Canberra building regulations, or has there been a relaxation in the enforcement of those regulations? Has the result of any such alteration or relaxation been a marked lowering of the standard of homes constructed in Canberra? Is the Government considering replacing the Canberra building regulations with those which operate in Victoria? Will the Minister confer with the Minister for Works to ascertain whether the Department of Works is unable to employ sufficient supervisors to ensure that the standards of building in this city are not lowered?
– At the moment, I cannot state definitely in detail whether any alterations have actually taken place in the building regulations. If any alterations have been made, they are not now within my recollection. However, I shall look into the matter. Naturally, we are anxious to keep the standard of building in the Australian Capital Territory as high as we can, but we must always bear in mind that unnecessary requirements will place an extra burden and expense on those seeking to build their own homes. Therefore, we must have regard to what is reasonable and what is unreasonable. The building regulations are under fairly constant scrutiny and, as far as I am aware, there have been no breaches of the regulations. However, if there are any particular breaches which the honorable member thinks should have been detected, I should be grateful to have details of them. I believe that the Department of Works has sufficient inspectors to ensure that the regulations are observed.
– I address my question to the Minister for the Interior. As tenders are to be called for the sale of the Portland wool store, will the Minister renew his previous assurance that his department will consider the use to which the prospective owner will put the store before accepting any tender? Will the department give preference to people wishing to use the store for its original purpose, that is, for wool sales? Could a clause be inserted in any contract of sale to prevent a person or a company buying the store with a view to preventing its use as a wool store? I make this request in view of recent events at Goulburn. It is not impossible that people concerned in the wool trade would purchase the store to immobilize it, thus preventing a building up of trade and, ultimately, the sale of wool at Portland. In other words, will the department do what it can to ensure that any purchaser or leaseholder will use the store for legitimate purposes in the interests of Portland’s development?
– The honorable member has displayed a continuing interest in the future of this wool store. I think it was about twelve months ago that he raised in the House the question of postponing the disposal of this property which was surplus to Commonwealth Government requirements.
– He was quite right, too.
– I am glad to have that assurance from the Leader of the Opposition because the Government has acted with good faith in this matter. At the request of the honorable member for Wannon, we postponed action twelve months ago to dispose of the building in order to give him and others interested an opportunity to see whether this store could continue to be used for its original purpose - wool sales and wool storage in Portland. The honorable member and others have since been active in trying to find purchasers who would put the building to that use. At this stage, we feel that postponement of the sale would no longer be justified, but we are very happy to give the honorable member an assurance that we shall look at the use to which any proposed purchaser would want to put the building and that we shall certainly give preference to somebody who can satisfy the officers of the Department of the Interior that the building will be used for wool sales and storage. I point out, however, that, when disposing of the freehold of a property, it would be difficult to write into the contract any permanent guarantees either against other use being made of the building or against eventual demolition. Subject to those considerations, we shall do our best to see that the building is put to the right use.
– I direct a question to the Acting Prime Minister. I should like to point out that the recent floods in Tasmania did terrific damage to the hop fields - 90 per cent, of which are in my electorate. In several instances, from 50 to 60 per cent, of the crop was totally destroyed, and the growers sustained severe economic losses. Is the Government prepared to receive, in due course, a deputation from representatives of the affected hop-growers in order that they may present details of the losses? Will the Government consider giving them assistance in the form of an interest-free loan, as I suggested in a speech in this House last Thursday, because this industry is worth £1,000,000 to Tasmania, and loss of production would result in heavier imports of hops from dollar areas?
– The Government is in complete sympathy with those who have lost so heavily in the recent floods in Tasmania, and I respect the advocacy of the honorable member in the interests of those who have suffered. I should like to add that other Tasmanian members from both sides of the House have joined in pressing the case. My colleague, the honorable member for Franklin, my colleague, the Minister for Defence, and the honorable member for Bass all have joined in.
– What about the honorable member for Braddon?
– I think he was in it, too. We shall put him in as well. As is known, the Government has acted in conformity with a policy that has evolved over the years in respect of personal hardship and losses of public property, paying £1 for £1 with the State governments with regard to those items. But it has never been a practice of the Commonwealth Government on any occasion to assume a liability in respect of the replacement of private property beyond the limits of normal personal requirements. I think that the honorable gentleman’s question implies the making of a loan.
– Interest free.
– Interest free, as he puts it. I imagine that that is a valid point to put, but, historically, such matters have been handled by the government of the State in which a disaster has occurred.
I respect the honorable member’s suggestion that a deputation representative of those who had suffered meet the Government. Frankly, I think that such a deputation ought to go to the Tasmanian Government. However, although I give no undertaking on the subject, I assure the honorable member that, if the Tasmanian Government felt that it was without the resources to aid these people, representations by that Government to this Government for a loan for the purpose would be considered very fully and sympathetically.
– I desire to ask the Treasurer a question without notice. Is the right honorable gentleman aware that, recently, certain retailers of Dairy Queen products have been informed by the Taxation Branch that sales tax on these products is to be increased by 37 per cent? Can such action be taken without reference to this Parliament? Is the Treasurer aware, also, that people who operate Dairy Queen dispensing machines are classed as manufacturers and have to file monthly returns in triplicate? Would he be prepared to meet a delegation to discuss all aspects of this problem in order that the sale of dairy products may not be impeded?
– I am not personally familiar with the product known as Dairy Queen to which the honorable member for Farrer has referred, nor am I competent to comment on the method of its manufacture or retail, but I imagine if some change has been made in the rate of tax to be applied, it will be because the Commissioner of Taxation, acting in his own independent capacity, has found that the provisions of the law more properly called for the rate now determined that that which applied previously. The matter is clearly one of importance to the people directly concerned and perhaps to the dairying industry as a whole, and I shall see whether I can supply a full and detailed answer to the honorable gentleman.
Whether it would be desirable for me to meet a deputation on the matter I think can await judgment at that time. The honorable member and other members of this House will appreciate that throughout the year, and particularly as we are near Budget time, I am literally inundated with requests for deputations to discuss some aspect or other of the taxation law. It is clearly impracticable to meet all those people personally and, generally speaking, I have to ask them to put their case first in writing to me. Then if, from what is presented, it would appear that a personal interview is desirable, I make arrangements to contact the organization concerned. That might work out in the case of which the honorable member speaks, but we can discuss that matter together later.
– I direct a question without notice to the Minister for Labour and National Service. Has the Minister’s attention been drawn to a statement by the president of the Australian Council of Trade Unions in which he warned of serious industrial trouble arising from the growing practice of employers in using the penal provisions of the arbitration act to seek heavy penalties against unions? Is it a fact that in recent years penalties totalling more than £10,000 have been imposed on unions by this process? Is it also a fact that the Minister and the Government approve ot these penalties which are rapidly weakening the financial structure of the unions, destroying the confidence of workers in the arbitration system and denying men and women in industry the right to strike?
– I am now in the middle of preparing a letter to the honorable member for East Sydney giving him details of the number of occasions in which fines have been imposed under section 109 of the Arbitration Act since 1952. I regret, Sir, that my memory will not take me back beyond the last two years, but last year only one fine was imposed and I think it was of the order of £200 or £300. This yearif you do not mind my using this phrase, Mr. Speaker - except for the current spate of industrial turmoil due to the seamen’s and waterside workers’ disputes, there was one case only and no fine was imposed. However, two cases involving the seamen and waterside workers have recently taken place and I think there the amount of fines amounted in total to £800. So leaving the seamen and the waterside workers out of it, there have been two convictions only in the last two years. I think those facts should be made known.
As to the second part of the honorable gentleman’s question whether the amount of the fines is large, naturally I regret that the fines have been imposed. I regret that it was found ncessary for any one to approach the Arbitration Court to see that awards were maintained.
As for the last part of the honorable gentleman’s question, I think if he claims that among the rank-and-file members of the trade union movement there is loss of confidence in the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission or the Commonwealth Industrial Court, I am absolutely positive that he has lost touch with the feeling of the rank and file in the Labour movement. If he wishes to come up to date, he should try to find out what happened at the discussions with the 98 federal unions that took place in
Sydney on Thursday and Friday of last week. He would learn that most of the unions, and certainly the leaders of the responsible unions, said quite frankly that their members did not want to go on strike. They were resentful of those unions which had unnecessarily pulled their members out on strike and occasionally took members of other unions out with them.
Motion (by Mr. Calwell) agreed to -
That leave of absence for one month be given to the honorable member for Brisbane (Mr. George Lawson) on the ground of ill health.
Motion by Mr. McMahon - by leave - agreed to -
That leave be given to bring in a bill for an act to make provision for the discharge of national service trainees.
Bill presented, and read a first time.
– by leave - I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
This bill provides for the discharge at 30th June, 1960, of national service trainees held on strength in the citizen forces and for the discharge at an earlier date than 30th June, 1960, of those who volunteer and are accepted for service in the Citizen Military Forces.
– Does this mean the end of national service training in Australia?
– It has ended. This is to permit the discharge of national service trainees and to allow those who are to be discharged to volunteer, prior to discharge, for service in the C.M.F. It is purely consequential on the abolition of national service training.
The National Service Act 1951-1957 requires a person who is called up to remain a member of the citizen forces, after he has completed his national service training, for five years from the date of his initial call-up. In the case of the Army, a national serviceman, after completing his training, and within the five-year period, may be dis charged in order to enlist in the Citizen Naval Forces or the Citizen Air Force, but he cannot voluntarily enlist in the Citizen Military Forces as he is already a member of those forces by virtue of the National Service Act. The proposed legislation will enable a national serviceman to enlist as a volunteer in the Citizen Military Forces by freeing him from his residual obligations under the National Service Act at 30th June, 1960, or earlier if he volunteers and is accepted before that date. There are at present some 4,000 national servicemen in the Army who have volunteered for further service and it is desired to recruit them into the C.M.F. as well as to encourage others to volunteer for the C.M.F. The legislation will similarly enable Navy and Air Force national servicemen to be relieved of their residual obligations to enable them to volunteer for service in any part of the citizen forces.
Another consideration is the administrative work required of the services for the discharge of national servicemen with residual obligations. The number who have not yet completed the period of five years from the date of initial call-up and held on strength is: Navy 2.500, Army 72,000 and Air Force 7,300; a total of 81,800 for the three services. Discharge action for these personnel would in the normal course be required at intervals up to August, 1964. The administrative burden is felt particularly in the case of the Army, which has the largest numbers and whose man-power resources will be fully taxed in giving effect to the current Army re-organization. To avoid the uneconomical use of service manpower, it is desired to complete administrative action for the discharge of all national servicemen by 30th June, 1960, while present staffs are still available rather than use man-power for discharge action lasting for a period of more than four years.
The bill will thus serve the dual purpose of facilitating the recruitment of national servicemen into the volunteer citizen forces and at the same time it will avoid utilizing staffs for national service discharge action over a long period. I commend the bill for the favorable consideration of honorable members.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Calwell) adjourned.
Debate resumed from 10th May (vide page 1557), on motion by Mr. Harold Holt-
That the bill be now read a second time.
.- The honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Cairns) last night delivered a most unusual speech. Speaking on a bill concerning the International Development Association, he spent half his time in a rather confused attempt to explain the policy of the Australian Labour Party on communism. He rather vigorously attacked the foreign aid programme of the United States of America. Perhaps he does not realize that, without that foreign aid programme, the free world to-day would be quite a different place. But whilst he attacked the United States of America, he said no word of criticism against the Communist Government of the Soviet Union. It was rather interesting also to hear his most severe criticism of the administration of Chiang Kai-shek, whilst he offered no word of criticism against the Communist Government of Chou En-lai in Peking in Communist China. Pursuing the same philosophy, he attacked most vigorously the administration of South Korea. Although at the moment we may agree, perhaps, that some problems are associated with that administration, nevertheless in the circumstances it may have been politic for the honorable member to direct some of his attack at the Communist Government of North Korea.
The honorable member claimed that he was interpreting the foreign policy of the Labour Party on these matters. I suggest that the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) and the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam) carefully read the speech he made last night and tell the House whether it is the policy of the Labour Party to make these attacks on the United States of America and to criticize the governments of the other countries mentioned whilst excluding any criticism of the Communist governments of the countries that I referred to a moment ago. In contrast to the speech of the honorable member for Yarra was the speech of the honorable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr. Crean).
He delivered a most thoughtful and constructive address and intimated that the Opposition supported the bill. I think the contrast was most noticeable.
I want to make some comments, which I feel may be pertinent to the present situation. Those of us who have had the opportunity to observe at first hand the problems facing the under-developed countries, particularly in South-East Asia, will give wholehearted support to the objectives of Ida. These are vital objectives which amply justify all attempts to find the means to achieve them. Indeed, we welcome the fact that the nations of the free world to-day are becoming increasingly aware of these objectives and are so seised of their importance that the frontiers of international action are being extended. I think we should commend the initiative of the United States of America in this regard and the willingness of other countries to examine the proposals in a constructive and helpful way.
I want to refer to the Australian attitude towards Ida. As the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) frankly said, Australia is not entirely happy about some aspects of the association and, of course, some other member countries are not entirely happy about some aspects. But we do not think that these objections should be allowed to frustrate the international objectives for which the association is being constituted. These are to promote through the financing of projects of high priority, the economic development of the less developed member countries of Ida and the less developed territories of other member countries on terms which bear less heavily on the balance of payments situation than do those of the conventional lending associations such as the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development. However, quite apart from these reservations, it may be said that Australia should not be expected to do more than it is already doing in the provision of economic aid to under-developed countries. We certainly have a very good record of achievement, and the facts speak for themselves. From the financial year 1945-46 to 1958-59, Australia contributed £124,000,000 towards international development and relief and more than £30,000,000 in aid under the Colombo Plan. In addition, it made grants of nearly £80,000,000 to finance development in the Territory of Papua and New Guinea. In the current financial year, this Parliament has voted more than £23,000,000 for these purposes.
Of course, all of this is at a time of vigorous growth in our economy which has itself applied a strain on our resources. It is small wonder, then, that Australia felt justified in arguing a case that our subscription to Ida, and indeed the subscription of other countries similarly placed, should be somewhat less than the subscription of the highly industrialized countries in the association. However, as we well know, the difficulty of deciding on some form of alternative criteria has proved a stumbling block. These considerations have not deterred Australia from joining Ida.
I want to refer briefly to the economic situation in Asia, because this is of vital interest to Ida. Since the war, the Asian region has accomplished tremendous political changes and economic change is continuing and will supply the dynamism in this region for a long time to come. In 1940, this area contained 1,200,000,000 people and now contains almost 1,500,000,000 people, an increase equal to the total population of Western Europe to-day. Other elements of change which are of vital importance are the further development of agriculture and industrialization, and the import of capital into Asian areas. However, the pressures are very great. They are so great that it is difficult for the under-developed countries in this area to be patient and to wait and guide soberly the changes which are taking place. Consequently, there is some danger that Asian development could degenerate into an uneasy economic turbulence. So the answer must be not to advocate patience as a pretext for delay, because human pressures are too great for that, but to ensure that the energies generated by impatience are constructively channelled. The Asian countries themselves naturally accept the main responsibility for this, but individual countries from which Asian countries might seek assistance also have an important role to play.
A significant fact which cannot escape our attention is that, despite the advances of many kinds which have been made, food consumption per capita in most
Asian countries has only just been maintained, or has in fact declined. In other words, many people in Asian countries today are now eating less than they ate twenty years ago. There is little cause for satisfaction in the present per capita levels in agricultural production and consumption in those countries, and there are many reasons for this state of affairs. Great advances have been made in controlling infant mortality and endemic diseases and these advances have caused a vast increase in population with which production in those areas, in the short run, has not always kept pace. .( Food supply is the most urgent problem. One of the means by which the supply can be increased is by extension and diversification of agricultural production. Most Asian countries are attempting this at this very moment, with results which are demonstrating themselves convincingly. The longterm trend to improvement is indicated by the experience of India and Pakistan. The first five-year plan of India set out to increase food grain production from 55,000,000 tons in 1949-50 to nearly 63,000,000 tons in 1955-56, which was an increase of approximately 15 per cent. Not only has this figure been achieved, but it has been exceeded even in the bad years. In fact, in 1957-58, when adverse weather conditions applied throughout almost the whole of India, this target of a 15 per cent, increase was achieved.
The situation in mainland China is obscure, as data is inadequate and there is some difficulty, where data is provided, of verification. However, all the evidence appears to indicate that mainland China has achieved a substantial improvement in production, although at a considerable social cost. I feel that the human sacrifices involved in the commune system practised in Communist China to-day have been too great to be justified even by the production increases claimed.
Expansion of agricultural production is essential for the welfare of the Asian countries in general, but it does not alone provide an acceptable solution to their economic problems nor is it indeed the ultimate aim for economic progress. It can. at best, provide a breathing space. The long-term solution of this problem must be more fundamental and must involve some changes in the pattern of production, which brings us, then, to the problems of capital investment and industrialization. Bearing population pressures in mind, I believe that the core of the problem is capital accumulation and industrialization and most of the capital equipment and raw materials necessary for industrialization in Asian countries has to come from abroad. As far as possible these imports are paid for by exports from the countries concerned. This emphasizes the importance of external trade to the Asian area.
As industrialization proceeds, marketing difficulties - in addition to the existing ones - will intrude. Indeed some Asian countries have already passed the stage of selfsufficiency in some industries and are seeking export outlets. I refer to certain specific industries such as textiles, coal, cement and chemical fertilizers. The fact that these selected industries have developed extensively in Japan, the most economically advanced country in Asia, only serves to indicate their importance to economic growth. China and India have entered all four fields and not only have achieved selfsufficiency in coal, cement and cotton textiles, but have a surplus for export - particularly of cotton textiles. Other Asian countries are following the same lines of industrial development. Japan, however, is still the only Asian exporter of chemical fertilizers and, of course, to the rest of the Asian area this is a challenge associated with the fascinating race of Asian economic development. Despite the advances that so far have been made there is a tremendous distance still to go. For example, basic services and facilities such as transport are still entirely inadequate throughout the whole of this area.
To summarize my remarks to this point, perhaps I can say that further progress in industrialization in Asia will need, first, a constant infusion of new capital; secondly, the development of a more extensive professional and skilled tradesmen class; thirdly, the development of managerial training; and fourthly, the exploitation of latent entrepreneurial skills. All this will take time and will not be easy to achieve.
I now wish to deal briefly with the problems of economic aid and investment. I point out that a United Nations survey showed that between 1st July, 1950, and 30th July, 1957 - a period of seven years - the total value of international economic aid to Asian countries was the equivalent of more than £15,000,000 Australian. However, if we reduce that to a per capita basis in view of the vast population of the region, we find that the total works out at approximately one American dollar per head per year. Of course, this does not mean that the contribution has been trifling or not worth while. There are in this area a good many countries whose annual income per head may be no more than 100 dollars and where a little more than 5 per cent, of that 100 dollars is available for local investment. In such a situation - the example I am quoting is purely hypothetical and does not refer to any particular country - even a contribution by foreign investment of one dollar per head of population would raise the amount available for investment by 20 per cent. But I am sure that we all agree that it will have to be raised by a lot more than that.
This hypothetical example which 1 have quoted must remind us of the fact that although vast sums have come forward and may confidently be expected to continue to come forward in the future from many sources, including the International Development Association, this external capital flow can never replace the need for major domestic savings. The great bulk of the resources needed for economic development will have to be supplied from within the developing country itself, in the future, just as it has been supplied in the past. AH the Asian countries have recognized this fully - in the Colombo Plan, for example, and there are many other examples. These countries have set out, in recent years, to mobilize the capital which, even in the poorest countries, is available for investment. Aid of the dimensions I have quoted is obviously of great importance to the immediate welfare and the future productive power of the Asian area. Australia has indicated that she firmly intends to continue to make a contribution towards the economic development of the underdeveloped countries of the world, through the bilateral and multilateral arrangements in which Australia participates and, indeed, the bill now before us is evidence of that fact.
I want to refer very briefly to the problem of the investment of private capital because, in addition to governmental aid to these countries, private capital has made a large contribution to international economic development. The value of the present total flow of private international capital throughout the world is about £1,000,000,000 Australian, but of this total the amount diverted to the Asian countries is very small indeed, So one of the problems is to expand the rate of private capital inflow to underdeveloped countries.
A long period will be taken up in stimulating the flow of additional capital and, even more important, in creating or developing a trend in the existing economies of those countries so that their economic progress will be adequately self-generating. During this period in our history we will be forced back on short-term measures. One of these will be the continued supply of food to countries whose per capita consumption has failed to increase, or has actually fallen over the past few years.
These are some of the problems we have to face in relation to the under-developed countries of Asia to-day; but there are other problems of major importance also, because some Asian countries are food importers whilst others depend for their foreign earnings on the export of food and raw materials. It is in the interests of both these kinds of countries to have some assurance against violent fluctuations in prices for these commodities because, no matter how much aid is given, in practice all countries need finally to pay for imports, substantially from their earnings for exports. These problems cannot be solved unilaterally. International action is required, and this calls for a greater understanding of trade problems and for a spirit of cooperation among trading nations.
In the post-war period there have been created institutions designed to assist in the expansion of world trade. Australia has been active in many forums in advocating measures aimed at this objective and at the same time in seeking greater stability in international commodity trade. I believe, and I am sure that we all believe, that expansion of world trade is vital to Asia. To develop trade regionally is not necessarily bad, but we need to watch such proposals most carefully. I refer, of course, in this context to the European Economic Community and the European Free Trade Area, which are, as we all recognize, important ventures in economic and political cooperation. But member countries, as well as other trading countries, will need to be constantly watchful that these communities, in achieving their objectives, do not interfere with, or neglect, the interests of other trading countries.
In conclusion, Mr. Deputy Speaker, I refer to the main objectives which the underdeveloped countries must seek to attain. We recognize, of course, that the prime objective of policy is to raise living standards. This can be done only if the economies of those countries are developed. Within this broad framework of policy certain specific needs emerge clearly.
First, one can say that further industrialization must be achieved. This will bring with it sweeping changes in the means and methods of production, and social changes arising from urbanization and the expansion of professional and trade groups. As industrialization proceeds attention will have to be directed to new marketing problems which will confront the underdeveloped countries. Secondly, the developed countries should ensure the maintenance of capital and technical aid to the under-developed countries. Thirdly, there should be an expansion of the flow of private international capital into those areas. Fourthly, all the countries concerned need to continue efforts to develop agriculture, not only as a short-term solution, but in a programme of continued progress and diversification. Fifthly, we must all seek stability in export earnings so as to enable dependable planning of economic development. Stabilization of commodity prices is a main prerequisite to this objective. Sixthly, and finally, we should all continue to work together towards the realization of a system of trading which will enable under-developed countries to maintain and expand export income in order to cover import requirements of much needed developmental goods.
These are developments from which all countries inside and outside Asia would benefit, and the International Development Association will supplement the activities of existing agencies directed to international economic development.
.- One would have thought that the honorable member for Darling Downs (Mr. Swartz), with his experience, would have shown a great deal of sympathy and human understanding of the problems of the under-developed countries; but the honorable gentleman spoke like a cold, calculating machine. He seemed to have little understanding of the human wants of the people of those countries. Already honorable members opposite are starting to interject. I am not very strong in voice to-day, and I shall not worry about any interjections. It is most disappointing that while we have, in the under-developed countries of Asia, very great human problems, all that the honorable member for Darling Downs could do was roll out a lot of words about orthodox trade, private capital investment, and assistance. We have had hundreds of years to deal in that way with the problems of those countries, and we have not yet solved them. The honorable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr. Crean) and the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Cairns), on the other hand, offered a very simple, straightforward solution.
We on this side support the bill, but we feel that the measure is a case of too little too late. Here we have a great problem - the problem of the under-developed countries. One billion dollars is to be made available to those countries, over a period of five years, by the new International Development Association, which is the follow-on of the three other international financial instrumentalities. The original instrumentalities were the International Monetary Fund and the International Bank. They came out of the Bretton Woods agreement, and the validating measure was introduced in this Parliament in 1947 by Mr. Chifley, the then Prime Minister. Speaking to the measure Mr. Chifley said that the International Bank was a bank to be used for the benefit of the backward and underdeveloped countries. We know that that bank has not been used in that manner. On that occasion also Mr. Chifley said that it would not be necessary for Australia to borrow from the International Bank. Yet we know that between 1950 and 1956 the present Australian Government borrowed 318,000,000 dollars- or £142,000,000 Australian - from the bank, and that to date
Australia has paid in interest alone about £40,000,000 Australian. Still outstanding with the International Bank, on Australia’s account, according to the bank’s last report, is an amount of 253,000,000 dollars. To-day Australia is still the second largest borrower shown on the books of the International Bank, the largest being India.
Not only under-developed countries but developed nations have been borrowing from the International Bank. Since the establishment of the International Bank another organization, the International Finance Corporation has been formed. It is only a minor body which has been established to support the capitalist system by assisting private investment in under-developed countries. This disproves the argument put forward by the honorable member for Darling Downs. Sufficient private capital has not flown into these under-developed countries otherwise it would not have been necessary, three years ago, to bring the International Finance Corporation into being. But still the amount of capital provided is minute compared with the amount required by under-developed countries.
Now we have this International Development Association which is very necessary because, as the honorable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr. Crean) said, it is, to a degree, a continuation of the Colombo Plan. The problems of the under-developed countries were discussed at the recent conference of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association. African countries, which do not come within the scope of the Colombo Plan, would like it to be extended to include them. This new organization may do something to assist certain underdeveloped countries but, once again, it is a case of too little too late. We have wasted thirteen years. We should have poured capital into the under-developed countries much earlier.
The honorable member for Darling Downs took exception to the fact that the honorable member for Yarra had raised the question of the real problem of communism. We hear a lot about the bogy of communism, but we should be honest and get to the root of the position. If we were to share the wealth, not only of Australia but of other countries, with all the peoples of the world there would be no reason for communism. The honorable member for Yarra pointed out that the peoples of under-developed countries were not sharing adequately in the world’s wealth but were still being exploited as they had been exploited for hundreds of years under colonialism and capitalism.
The International Bank does not encompass all the principles of the United Nations that we would like to see observed. The United States is making its contribution to the bank but it is unfortunate that all the nations of the world, on both sides, are not coming together to help under-developed countries. At the conference of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association in this chamber the delegate from Ceylon said that his country could not get finance from the International Bank because the bank felt that Ceylon was not a good enough investment. He said that money was needed to develop his country. But whereas the International Bank makes loans at an interest rate of approximately 6 per cent., Russia makes money available to enable underdeveloped countries to build factories, meets half their cost, and requires no repayment for two or three years and then at an interest rate of H per cent, or 2i per cent. Compare that proposition with the proposition of the International Bank! I know that this new International Development Association is facing up to the realities of the position. It realizes that economic aid with no strings attached is available to under-developed countries, and it knows that it has to give a better deal to these nations.
Let us examine the defence expenditure of the United States in 1958. This very wealthy country provided 73,000,000,000 dollars for security in its 1958 budget. Of that amount 44,000,000,000 dollars was allocated to the armed services, 24,000,000,000 dollars to military procurement and 5,000,000,000 to repatriation benefits for ex-servicemen. A pamphlet which is published by the American authorities in this country shows that aid given by America to other countries since the war has amounted to 76,000,000,000 dollars. But of that amount 24,500,000,000 dollars has been spent on military supplies and services. Only the relatively minute sum of 5,000,000,000 dollars has been spent through international finance organizations.
Much of the foreign aid given by the United States of America has had strings attached to it. It is necessary to make finance available without strings attached in order to uplift the standard of living of the people of under-developed countries.
Australia has contributed £30,000,000 to the Colombo Plan since its commencement. But during that period it has spent £1,800,000,000 on defence although this is a small country compared to the United States. I believe that Australia has little to fear from aggression. We should be assisting the people to our near north a great deal more than we have assisted them in the past. This country has borrowed far too much from the International Bank. These loans have not been necessary. As Mr. Chifley said, we should have joined the International Bank solely to assist and encourage backward countries.
When the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) introduced this bill he said that subscriptions to the International Development Association would be made by “ more industrialized “ nations and “ less developed “ nations. He said that when the formation of the International Development Association was being discussed he had made particular mention of “ intermediate “ countries. But he did not define an “ intermediate country “. He may consider Australia to be an intermediate country. I invite Government supporters to tell us - if the Treasurer himself does not do so - whether Australia is an intermediate country. The Government may feel that this is another organization from which Australia can borrow.
– He said he considered it.
– If he did, then the attitude of this Government is one of utter hypocrisy because the truth is that we in this Parliament should be making a greater contribution to the people in the under-developed nations.
– We have given £30,000,000 in ten years.
– The honorable member for Hume interjects that we have made a contribution of £30,000,000 in ten years. But we have spent £1,800,000,000 on defence in a few years. I think it was Dr. Rau, the great Indian economist, who was out here recently and challenged us by saying that we were spending approximately £200,000,000 a year on defence. He said, “ Give us a grant of £100,000,000 a year. This would be a better defence for Australia than the way you are spending your money on defence at present.” That was a frank statement and I agree with Dr. Rau. He had a point. But the powers-that-be have to drag out the old red bogy every time and express fears about what is going on. Yesterday, the honorable member for Eden-Monaro (Mr. Allan Fraser) asked a direct question of the Acting Minister for External Affairs (Sir Garfield Barwick) with reference to the utterances of Admiral Hopwood at a dinner in Sydney recently. What happened? Admiral Hopwood appealed-
– Order! I think the honorable member should get back to the bill.
– At a time when we should be striving for world peace - and after all if this bill is not concerned with world peace it is surely one of the main issues to do with it - the members of the International Development Association are making available only 1,000,000,000 dollars to help under-developed countries. As I said before, the colonial powers have allowed these countries to remain undeveloped for hundreds of years and have done very little to make money available to them to improve their conditions. Now those powers feel that the provision of funds is one way of stopping the growth of communism in these countries.
We must make greater contributions to the people in our near north. We must uplift their standard of living. Although there are many problems to solve in our own country, they are minute compared with those of the people to the near north. Their standard of living is ten times lower than ours. How can we live here and say that we are secure? We must make sure that we share our prosperity with them, and to do so we must make a far greater contribution than is being made at present.
The Minister said that over a period of five years Australia’s contribution will be 20,180,000 dollars. That is only a minute amount of money. By way of contrast I stress again the huge amount that we are spending on defence. People who live in undeveloped countries close to our shores have many problems. Only a few years ago I heard a lecture by Mr. Justice Douglas, a member of the Supreme Court of the United States of America. He is a great socialist and was a member of the Roosevelt New Deal team. He went on foot through South-East Asia and said that if America wanted to solve the problems of Asia, it could do so by giving 1 per cent, of its military budget for peaceful purposes and the uplifting of the standard of living of the Asian peoples. That statement was made in the Assembly Hall, Margaret-street, Sydney, in 1954. Now, six years later, the Government is coming along with this first contribution - this bank - to do something for the under-developed nations.
In 1947 when the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development was introduced we were going to do something, but this Government has borrowed as much as it possibly could from the International Bank. Even now there seems to be a question as to whether the Australian Government itself may borrow from this International Development Association instead of helping to solve the real problems of the backward nations. When the meetings of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association were held in this chamber last year, I heard the representatives of country after country stress the fact that they needed economic aid without any strings attached. They pointed out that unless we gave it to them they would have to turn elsewhere for it. Yet the Treasurer, knowing that, and being aware of the minute amount of money that will be made available through this International Development Association, still raises the query of whether Australia will be one of the intermediate countries which may borrow from this association. If we borrow from it, as I said before, it will be a demonstration of complete hypocrisy on the part of the Government.
Members of the Opposition support the bill but we regret that it was not brought forward many years ago. We hope that it will be of some benefit to the countries which are less fortunate than ours.
– I have followed the course of this debate with a good deal of interest and I listened closely to the A.D.C. to the honorable member for
Yarra, the honorable member for Reid (Mr. Uren), who has just concluded his speech. I did not hear anything new in what he said because he reflected exactly the sentiments contained in the speech made by his leader last night.
But I should like to take him to task over his statement about the speech of my friend the honorable member for Darling Downs (Mr. Swartz) who preceded him and who made what I believe to be one of the most thoughtful speeches in this debate. He took the trouble to analyse, carefully and dispassionately, I thought, the enormous complexities of this problem of assistance to under-developed countries and the general problem of raising living standards there. This matter, I must say, in all fairness, was referred to also by the honorable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr. Crean) and also by my friend the honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. Bury).
Yet the honorable member for Reid, in the tradition of the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Cairns) wrote off the speech of the honorable member for Darling Downs as cold and calculating. I think they were the words he used. The honorable member for Darling Downs did not bring any emotion into the debate as did the honorable member for Reid. I believe that if this problem of providing assistance in one way or another for the under-developed countries had been treated over the years with less emotionalism and with more careful and dispassionate examination, after the manner of the honorable member for Darling Downs, we would have had this International Development Association, or something similar to it, many years ago. It is precisely the kind of emotionalism which the honorable member for Reid and the honorable member for Yarra injected into this debate, and it is precisely that kind of approach to this problem in the forum of the United Nations which has made countries with the best will in the world shy away from a body such as the International Development Association.
Some extraordinary statements were made by the honorable member for Yarra and echoed by the honorable member for Reid. I was impressed by the extraordinary oversimplification of this problem which was contained in the speeches of both honorable gentlemen. This is not a straight-out black and white problem - this problem of raising living standards in under-developed countries - and any one with any claim to experience in or knowledge of the subject will admit that. If you read the literature on the matter you will find that the number of conflicting views on the way in which this particular problem should be approached is almost as great as the number of people who have spoken or written about it. Yet the honorable member for Yarra and, to some extent, the honorable member for Melbourne Ports, come into this House and suggest that there is a clear solution to this so-called black and white problem.
It is wrong to say, as they have said, that the incidence of communism in the under-developed countries will be prevented only by a massive injection of economic aid. I believe that in some cases the situation is exactly the opposite. Economic aid provided in the wrong way, for the wrong projects and at too fast a pace could have such an effect on the traditional foundations and institutions of the countries concerned that you would leave the way open for communism to come in. I say this for no other reason than to suggest that the highly oversimplified approach of honorable members opposite to this problem is not the correct one.
The honorable members for Melbourne Ports, Yarra and Reid devoted a considerable time to comparing the amount which is spent by the Western powers, and particularly by the United States of America, on military aid to these countries with the amount which will be spent by the International Development Association. That is hardly a fair comparison to make because, to begin with, it ignores the immense amount of aid which has been provided by the United States for non-military purposes on a bi-lateral basis - aid which has not passed through international institutions. But more important still, it reflects the thesis which I believe is a half-truth - that the only bulwark against communism in these countries is to raise living standards. On about five occasions the honorable member for Yarra said that all this military aid was no good. The honorable member for Reid repeated that statement, and added that in the long run the only way to prevent these under-developed countries accepting communism is to raise their living standards. As a long-term statement, that is probably correct and I do not dispute it on this occasion, but as a short-term statement it is completely erroneous.
There is no doubt in my mind that if the United States of America had not provided military aid in the quantity and with the readiness with which it did to many of these countries in the post-war years, they would now be Communist controlled because they would have been overrun from outside. Whichever way you approach it, the business of raising living standards in these countries is a long-term affair. Probably, in the long term, the only way in which you will stop Communist domination in them is to raise their living standards, but the military aid which was provided by the United States was the counter to a short term threat. Bulwarking the defences of those countries was the only way to prevent them becoming Communist. The honorable member for Yarra specifically mentioned Korea. According to him, the events in Korea proved his point. I know of no more outstanding example of the point which I am making than Korea. Undoubtedly, that country now would be Communist if it were not for the military aid which was provided by the United States.
The honorable member for Yarra stated also that the International Development Association should not provide its resources to what he described as corrupt and nondemocratic governments. In other words, his view is that the association should distinguish between countries on the basis of the governments which control them. He conveniently forgot that earlier in his speech he had1 criticized the United States of America for doing just that. Undoubtedly that has happened. It is a natural tendency to give aid to your friends in preference to those who either are or may be your enemies. But it is absolutely unsound for an international organization such as this to determine its lending process by the political colour of the government of the country; by making some estimate as to whether it is democratic or non-democratic and whether it is corrupt or honest. In the first place, those are very difficult matters to determine. Secondly, that approach defeats the object which you set out to achieve by giving aid. One of the things most designed to rally the people of a country which happens to have a corrupt government behind that government, is criticism from outside and neglect of the kind which has been advocated by the honorable member for Yarra.
I believe that the assistance which will be rendered by the International Development Association in such countries may well have the effect of removing the corruption, if any, which exists and of making the country perhaps more democratic in the future than it has been in the past by the process of raising living standards, and making it possible for the people to be more articulate and so able to play a bigger part in the country’s political affairs. It would be wrong for this association to distinguish in any way between the countries which should receive aid on the basis of the government which happens to control them. What it has to do - and this is vital - is to ensure that the funds which are spent in the borrowing country are wisely spent and that they are not, perhaps because of the existence of a corrupt government, diverted from the purposes for which they are intended. That is why I think it is a splendid thing that this association is being formed under the aegis of the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development - a bank which has had long experience and practice in devising methods of procedure and in supervising its projects in order to ensure that the greatest possible value is obtained from every penny that is spent. I believe that, with that qualification, the urgency of the project should count in the making of loans by the International Development Association rather than considerations such as the colour of a government and whether it is corrupt or incorrupt.
There has been a good deal of criticism by Opposition members because the total initial capital of the International Development Association is to be only 1 ,000,000,000 United States dollars. I think that the criticism is valid to some extent. It is obvious that very much more capital than is at present proposed will be required if the association is to do its work and fulfil the hopes that are held out for it.
But the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt), in the excellent speech which he made when moving the second reading, said that it was expected that in a very few years the governments of the member countries would have to make more funds available. He asked why we should not wait until that time before criticizing the magnitude of what is, after all, only the initial capital of the association.
The criticism which has been made ignores the fact - I made this point earlier - that the International Development Association will not be by any means the only source of capital available to the underdeveloped countries for projects of the kind which it is envisaged will be undertaken with funds provided by this association. So much of what has been said by Opposition speakers, and particularly by the honorable member for Yarra, has been designed to lead us to believe that the 1,000,000,000 dollars to be subscribed as the initial capital of the association will constitute the only funds available for these purposes. But that is not so. A great deal more money for development is provided under schemes outside the compass of the proposed International Development Association. There is our own Colombo Plan, for instance. There are the enormous sums provided by the Export-Import Bank of Washington, and the even greater amounts provided by other sources in the United States of America.
Another point in connexion with the criticism made by Opposition members was mentioned by the honorable member for Wentworth, who, I think, by virtue of his experience as a governor of the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development, is the only member of this House who has had direct personal experience of the administration of this kind of international assistance. This point has been made also by many other people who have had direct experience in this field. I refer to the extreme difficulty of finding projects of a type suitable for assistance from institutions such as the International Development Association.
Both the honorable member for Melbourne Ports and the honorable member for Reid offered some criticism with respect to Australia’s objection to the classification of member countries in two categories - on the one hand, the industrialized countries, which have made contributions at a very much higher rate than those in the other category, and, on the other hand, the nonindustrialized or under-developed countries. The Treasurer has said that when this matter was brought up in New York he suggested that there should be an intermediate category within which countries like Australia would fall. My understanding of what the right honorable gentleman said is that he was thinking of Australia when he said that. He did not say it, as the honorable member for Reid seems to believe, because we in Australia expect to get loans from this association.
– Would the honorable member oppose Australia’s getting loans from it?
– I think it would be highly unlikely that we should be given such loans, because one of the requirements of the institution’s charter is that loans may be made only to countries which are not able to borrow from other sources on reasonable terms. In that respect, the association is like our own Commonwealth Development Bank. As a result of the policies pursued by the present Government over the last ten years, the credit standing of this country and the opinion of Australia held overseas are such as to make this one of the few countries in the world which is considered a good credit risk. We are able to get loans on normal commercial terms, in other words, and we can therefore afford to allow the funds of an institution such as the International Development Association to go to the countries which, through no fault of their own, are unable to obtain capital on normal commercial terms.
I return now to the point that I am trying to make, Mr. Deputy Speaker. As I understand it, the Treasurer suggested that countries like Australia be put into an intermediate category, not because we expect to benefit from the funds provided by the association, but because we are in a small group of countries which, although they have a very high income per head of the population, nevertheless from time to time have very great difficulties in relation to their balance of payments and foreign exchange.
– The honorable member is off the beam.
– I am making the speech. The honorable member made his earlier without interruptions by me, and I ask him to let me make my speech now without interruption.
To return to the point, Sir, the distinction is not so much between those who provide the funds and those to whom they will be lent as between the ways in which the countries in the two groups will make capital available to the International Development Association. As I understand it, the Treasurer suggests that although Australia is a country with a very high per capita income we nevertheless from time to time have great difficulties with our balance of payments, as I have said. Therefore, it is more difficult for us to make our subscriptions to the association - not only that required at its establishment, but also those which I am sure we shall have to make in the future if this institution is to be effective. Australia is a country which has to provide the bulk of its funds in convertible currencies and we find it very much more difficult for us to make our contribution in convertible currencies than do the highly industrialized countries of North America or Western Europe. I believe that the Treasurer had a very good point there, and I should like it to be raised again in the future in order to save us from possible embarrassment.
In conclusion, I say that one of the reasons why I welcome the formation of this new association is that it appears to me to represent a trend away from bilateralism in giving or making available international aid and loans, towards multilateralism. I think in the context of the world to-day, and in the context of political and psychological feeling in the underdeveloped countries of the world, aid that is made available on a multi-lateral basis is very much more satisfactory, from the point of view of this country and other countries which make it available. than the bi-lateralism we tended to get into, for one reason or another, after the Second World War despite the initial enthusiasm for economic institutions through the United Nations. Most of the Western countries, and particularly the United States of
America, for quite valid reasons - but, 1 believe, wrong ones - tended to go more and more towards a basis on which any aid they made available for this sort of purpose was purely a bi-lateral transaction. Considerations of gratitude and many things come into it.
I think, however, it is quite wrong and unrealistic for us, or any of the countries of the Western world, to expect that we will be able to reap direct political benefits in terms of gratitude from these countries by making aid available to them. I believe that that just will not happen. It goes against human nature. It goes against the nature of a people. The reason is that the chief motive for wanting to develop and raise the living standards of countries arises, as some speakers have said in this debate, out of nationalism or the nationalist feeling in the countries concerned, lt involves such questions as prestige, strength and independence, self-respect and equality with other countries. The obstacles of a dependent past play a much greater part in motivating their desire for development in many cases than does any strong urge to raise the living standards of the people in the country. I think it is realistic to recognize that.
Seen in this light, aid that is made available on a bi-lateral basis is often resented because it appears to imply dependence. It is a natural reaction to resent being assisted. It is natural in individuals and it is natural also in countries. Anybody who expects gratitude or short-term political advantage as a result of a country’s generosity in making available foreign aid is bound to be disappointed. I think it is futile for people to expect to further their country’s policy by advertising their good deeds in this respect. The reward, if it comes, is found in a different way. It comes on a longterm basis when these countries are given the facilities to improve their living standards, to shake off this feeling of inferiority and to become responsible members of the world community.
I believe for these reasons that multilateral international lending and aid is very much more preferable to the bi-lateral aid that has tended to be the rule rather than the exception in most of the post-war years. It is for that reason chiefly that I welcome the start that has been made to fill this gap in the various international institutions for the purpose, and therefore I support the bill before the House.
.- I have listened with great interest to the honorable member for Barker (Mr. Forbes) who has spoken on the proposed International Development Association, which is known as Ida. My purpose in speaking for a few moments is to draw upon some experience of my own in travel overseas and, if I may, to endorse the findings of my colleagues who have spoken before me - the honorable members for Melbourne Ports (Mr. Crean), Reid (Mr. Uren) and Yarra (Mr. Cairns). At this point of time, it is rather surprising and perplexing for honorable members on this side of the House to hear that the Government now espouses a theory that there should be general unpolitical aid to the peoples of Asia - the great Asian communities. I wonder what they think, living in communities two-thirds of which go to bed hungry every night, on finding this sudden volte face, this dramatic change, in the European or the democracies’ view of their plight. As Kipling said in what is now regarded as a long, hackneyed piece of poetry -
Oh, East is East, and West is West, and never the twain shall meet.
But surely, from our experience, the twain will never meet as the result of patronizing the Asian people with aid. Certainly they look forward to receiving assistance; but we who, for centuries, have ravaged these countries - the imperial white men and exploiters from overseas who have wrecked the economies of China and India - come along now with a few paltry dollars, in association with a banking system which has been set up under the agency of the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration and say, “ Look how generous and kindly we are. We come bearing gifts in cash and kind and loans. We are bountiful.”
– Are you talking of Australia?
– I am not denegating the statement you made towards the end of your speech; but when we accept these things, we must be sure that we get a success from them, and we must analyse why so many have been a failure or a partial failure. We must drop the patronizing attitude that we have adopted generally in dealing with these affairs.
The honorable member for Reid rightly referred to the amount we are providing as too little, too late. It is only a spoonful in the ocean of the great rehabilitation that has to be done in the Asian countries, particularly in South-West Asia. To whom will it be given, and to what purpose will it be put? Once again putting his finger on the international significance of the problem, the honorable member for Yarra has asked, “ What about the corrupt countries? “ They are the countries which still believe in the squeeze; where something goes to the head of the government and never gets past him. Surely it is not the intention of the democracies and the taxpayers of the world who, in association, are trying to do some useful work in Asia, that this aid should end there? We are offering it because we want to preserve the peace of the world. It is tardy recognition of what we have not done in the past, and we must take a realistic view and analyse these things and how far they go. We have been bombarding Asia with aid from alphabetically named organizations. Unrra has poured millions of pounds into all sorts of projects. We have given aid to Chiang Kai-shek, to Korea, to China when it was in the throes of civil war and to other countries. A tremendous amount in money and goods was freely given, but it never got past the corrupt governments and the squeeze merchants of those countries.
I was in China in 1947 as the representative of the present Leader of the Australian Labour Party in this House (Mr. Calwell), who was then Minister for Immigration. I found that seine trawlers that we required most urgently on our coast had been sent to Soochow Bay where they were turned upside down. Nobody bothered to inquire what modern fishing trawlers would do to the economy of China, where every fisherman in his little sampan goes out each day and gets his quota of fish. These trawlers were new, modern things, which would mean starvation for many thousands. They were towed up the bay and left to rot, covered with mud and with moss growing all over them. We also sent there intricate machinery, which was never used. We sent blood plasma, which was rejected. We sent food, which was flogged on the black market. Anywhere on the Nanking-road, any day or night, Australian food and clothing and everything else, which was sent as a composite gift, was traded on the black market.
These goods were sent as gifts, but now we propose to send money. I am traversing the early aspects of our aid to the East. In every city of China that had access to the seaboard, Unrra aid was flogged on the black market. On one occasion, one of the contending armies was given blood plasma, but the other, the Communist army, was denied that aid for dying men. The mind of the Chinese is perplexed about what the white man is doing with this aid. It is no good telling him that it is not political. The scheme would not have been evolved, in any case, but for the fear behind it and the belief that the best way to win the goodwill of the Asian was to buy it. If we intend to do that, we might just as well throw away the 1,000,000,000 dollars mentioned in this bill. It will not have any effect, except some temporary alleviation of conditions in one place or another. The money will not pacify the Asian or cause him to have a more peaceful approach to his neighbours who are better off economically than he is.
After Unrra we had Ecafe. This was a most ambitious attempt to analyse the economic problems of the Far East. After a very colourful show of aid and of research, it disappeared. Now we have the Colombo Plan. Man’s inhumanity to man is never more displayed than in these charitable bequests or aid programmes on a huge scale. Some one always gets in on these schemes and creates the feeling that all is not well, and then the matter is brought to the verge of scandal, as we saw in Ceylon. We sent ships full of flour to Ceylon, but it was second-grade flour. Some of the shipments of wheat that went to the aid of the people of India and Ceylon were shipments of wheat that had been damaged by flood. What sort of a reaction can we expect from these Eastern people, proud and sensitive as they are, when we send this wheat and say, “This is what we will give you from our store “ ?
Because of this and other such happenings, the Colombo Plan in many instances is suspect. Some of the peoples of the East, removed by centuries from the Stone Age, but economically still living in it, are on the verge of starvation, grabbing their meals every day as they can. We give them a complex tractor with which to plough their fields. But this does not bridge the gap between their primitive methods of farming and the more advanced methods that we adopt. Enormous wastage occurs when care is not taken in these matters. Wastage occurred with Unrra, as we saw with regret. It is still occurring with the Colombo Plan. Any traveller who has returned from SouthEast Asia will agree that wastage has occurred. Aid with the idea of winning the approval of the small countries is not always successful; we should not say, “ Sing for your supper “.
I cite what happened in Laos, when trouble occurred in this portion of SouthEast Asia at the foot of China. When an inquiry was made into the aid that was being given to countries in this area that had lost all semblance of democracy - some had elected dictators and others had retained their traditional kings, their absolute monarchs - it was found that all aid stayed with the powerful groups or cliques running the country. We had a report from American senators and later a report by a special committee of the United Nations which included an Indian, a New Zealander and, I believe, an Englishman. These reports showed that phantom armies were being paid out of money sent to the region. Whole regiments that had never existed were included on the pay-roll. Food sent there was kept by the big-wigs and the plight of the peasant and the worker in Laos was worse than ever it had been. The net effect of sending aid was to destroy any respect for the giver. No amelioration of the very hard lot of the peasants resulted. Hidden in the jungle were Rolls-Royces, Cadillacs and cars of other makes. The complete shambles which occurred here supports the contention of my colleagues that it is essential that those who administer economic aid must be sincere and knowledgeable and must not hold the view that assistance should be given first as military aid and, then, if that fails, an effort should be made to win some friends by giving hand-outs.
The honorable member for Melbourne Ports, who attacks these problems with great imagination and skill and who is a man always worth listening to on these matters, keynoted this argument with an extract from a journal which shows that the tough, crusty old bankers of England now realize that we cannot win friends in Asia by pouring money into the area, but that we must have some feeling in our hearts for these people and must realize that they are fellow human beings. We must keep in our minds the picture that two-thirds of them go to bed at night with their stomachs twisted with hunger. If we do this, we will not talk so much about the terrible Communists and how they are still trying to fight us. The comments of the chairman of Barclays Bank meant what 1 have just said. The words must have been wrung from his very vitals, because this is not a banker’s statement. He said that loans given by Ida must be entirely without political strings. I think that is a very big leap forward in our approach.
I have criticized the inefficiencies of Unrra, drawn attention to the romantic approach of Ecafe and shown the great inequalities and lack of imagination in the Colombo Plan. All these schemes have served their purpose as an approach to an understanding between us and the AfroAsian peoples. If we do not reach a basis of agreement, we might between us bring Armageddon about us. This aid should be given without any feeling of pride and without the white man’s arrogance, but with humility and understanding. We must use the brains of our economists, as the honorable member for Melbourne Ports has suggested. If we do this, we may find something in Ida that will give us an effective programme; but we must be careful that we do not measure the aid we give merely in money. These people must have money, but they also need social workers and human understanding to effect a bridge between the giver and the receiver. We must try to effect a pacification of the Asian and to understand his point of view.
I have spoken on this measure only to stress that there must be a proper understanding of the Asian problems and the Asian mentality. This is more important than dollars. The Asian people have a great spirit of resuscitation and a great feeling of nationalism. When we speak of Asia, we must realize that the great country of China does not ask for favours from the rest of the world. In blood and sweat and agony its people are striving to build a great industrial community, and every eye in Asia is fixed upon them. We should not place too much emphasis on the philosophy of the Chinese Government of the day, for the essential feature of the nation is that it is being built into a great industrial community. We may say that the farms will fail, the communes will fail, the coal output will fail. All these things may fail, but the nation will rise again. I have had the privilege to discover at first hand what sort of spirit is imbued in the Chinese people. That is a rigid plan, set under the Marxist regime; but under another plan the subcontinent of India is lifting itself by its own boot-straps. India is doing everything humanly possible to lift its standards and it seeks no aid except the general aid which comes to it. But it is not supine, it does not lie on its back, it does not kneel in prayer for aid from other countries. India is doing a big job.
Some of the most important countries in Asia are on the march for greater nationalism and greater development and I believe that two great industrial countries will emerge. First, China will emerge and then, in due course, India will emerge. The smaller states, scattered as they are, will have difficult problems of rehabilitation because they are cut up into smaller segments, and, as the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Cairns), who is never afraid to apply the right word to any conduct, whether international, national or about our own home-town has said, many of those countries have corrupt governments that are not worthy to hold dominion over the people under their sway.
The welfare of those people has to be looked at. When you are using the finance of the corporate communities to bring aid to people you must break down the communities that would put a barrier between the needs of the peasant, the farmer and the worker in those countries and their own greedy self-interest. That point has been emphasized in this matter. I think generally the United Nations agencies and aid originated to a great degree when the Chifley
Government was in power and the former leader of this party, Dr. Evatt - the present Chief Justice of New South Wales - was President of the General Assembly of the United Nations. We do understand, from the commitments we made during that time, the proper need for economic aid to be given to under-developed countries but we have never flourished it as you would flourish a pound note before a starving man. We have always felt that we were paying back, or making good, some deficiency, both in services and kind, which had been neglected for so long between the two great communities in the world - those who have and those who have not.
Therefore, although critics from this side of the House have referred to the inadequacy of the amount when it is measured against the 700,000,000 people of China, the 300,000,000 people of India or the 80,000,000 people in the one little island of Java, we do see the immense problem we have and we do realize that there is an immense amount of work to be done. The International Development Association seems to be a sane development of the plans which we had in the past, when it was thought to be all right if you got a boat, went along and distributed some largesse to these people as we did to the missionaries in the Sandwich Islands. We have tried by loans, by development, by education and by a general appreciation of the plight of the countries concerned to bring the people to understand that we are prepared to help them.
I say that we must find the bridge, that golden bridge, which spans the gulf of ignorance and by which one nation is enabled to understand another, because what is more valuable than Yankee dollars, English pound notes or Australian money is the spirit of understanding. But if we are to niggle about one place being semiCommunist and another one being fiercely nationalistic and distribute favours and make hand-outs as though the people were soup and blanket natives to be dealt with, we will wreck the plan of international aid because the people we are dealing with are proud people and suspicious people. It is up to us who have the money - the nations prepared to carry out this plan - to see that when we give assistance it is given in the right spirit. We might then foster a feeling for peace which at present is sadly lacking in this world.
It may be that when these people attain an economic position closer to our own they will understand the need for summit talks, the need for perpetual peace, the need foi peace in our time. If we have been able to buy that understanding with the money which abounds in the democracies we will have done something for the Asian people and we will have made some reparation for the ravages of the century. Nobody in those countries forgets what has happened. If you pick up any text-book in those countries and have it translated, you learn that it tells of the days in which these people lost their economies through the ravages of the imperialistic white man. We have to cure that. We cannot just walk into these countries with a few pounds and say, “ Let us forget and be friends again”. That approach will not work, because there is a fiercely nationalistic upsurge and we must work hard on the problem of getting peace in our time and an understanding of the problems of the world.
Question resolved in the affirmative. Bill read a second time. [Quorum formed.]
Bill committed pro forma; progress reported.
Message recommending appropriation reported.
In committee (Consideration of GovernorGeneral’s message):
Motion (by Mr. Roberton) agreed to -
That it is expedient that an appropriation of revenue be made for the purposes of a bill for an act to approve acceptance by Australia of membership in the International Development Association, and for purposes connected therewith.
Resolution reported and adopted. In committee: Consideration resumed. Bill agreed to, and reported without amendment or debate; report adopted. Bill - by leave - read a third time.
Message recommending appropriation reported.
In committee (Consideration of Governor-General’s message):
Motion (by Mr. Osborne) agreed to -
That it is expedient that an appropriation of revenue be made for the purposes of a bill for an act to amend the Sulphuric Acid Bounty Act 1954-1959.
Standing Orders suspended; resolution adopted.
That Mr. Osborne and Mr. Roberton do prepare and bring in a bill to carry out the foregoing resolution.
Bill presented by Mr. Osborne, and read a first time.
– I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
The purpose of this bill is to extend the operation of the sulphuric acid bounty for a further period of six months to 31st December, 1960. Under the Sulphuric Acid Bounty Act bounty is payable on sulphuric acid produced in Australia from prescribed indigenous materials and sold for delivery in Australia or used in the production of any commodity. The materials prescribed are pyrites and lead sinter gas.
The act was originally due to terminate on 30th June, 1959, but was extended for a year to allow the Tariff Board to conduct an inquiry and to report on the sulphuric acid industry.
The board was asked to recommend appropriate rates and conditions of bounty having regard to the Government’s obligation to enterprises which had co-operated in the now abandoned policy of encouraging the use of sulphur-bearing materials of Australian origin for the manufacture of sulphuric acid.
The board has completed public inquiries on the matter, but has not yet presented its report. The Government, therefore, considers it reasonable to extend the benefits of the bounty until such time as it knows and has been able to act on the recommendations of the Tariff Board. Hence the proposal in this bill that the bounty be extended to 31st December, 1960.
The act now provides for the payment of bounty during a period of six years ending 30th June, 1960. The following bounty payments have been made in respect of acid produced: -
The proposed amendment would maintain the present bounty for a further six months to allow time for examination and implementation of the Tariff Board’s report. I commend the bill to honorable members.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Pollard) adjourned.
Message recommending appropriation reported.
In committee (Consideration of
Motion (by Mr. Osborne) agreed to -
That it is expedient that an appropriation of revenue be made for the purposes of a bill for an act to amend the Copper Bounty Act 1958.
Standing Orders suspended; resolution adopted.
That Mr. Osborne and Mr. Freeth do prepare and bring in a bill to carry out the foregoing resolution.
Bill presented by Mr. Osborne, and read a first time.
– I move - That the bill be now read a second time.
The object of this bill is to extend the operation of the copper bounty for a further period of six months to 31st December, 1960. The Copper Bounty Act at present provides for the payment of bounty on refined copper of domestic origin sold for use in Australia in the period 19th May, 1958, to 30th June, 1960.
The general question of the assistance which should be accorded to the production in Australia of unwrought copper has beenreferred to the Tariff Board which has taken evidence but not yet made its report. The-
Government therefore considers it reasonable to extend the current bounty for a further six months to allow time for it to examine and act upon the board’s report after it is received. Hence the proposal in this bill to extend the bounty to 31st December, 1960.
Bounty of £897,760 has been paid on 27,403 tons of refined copper sold in the first year of bounty ended 30th June, 1959. The proposed amendment would continue the current bounty for a further six months to allow time for the Tariff Board’s report to be examined and implemented. I commend the bill to honorable members.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Pollard) adjourned.
In Committee of Ways and Means: Consideration resumed from 28th April (vide page 1244), on motion by Mr. Osborne -
That the Schedule to the Customs Tariff 1933- 1959 be amended as set out in the Schedule to these Proposals . . . (vide page 1239).
In Committee of Ways and Means: Consideration resumed from 28th April (vide page 1247), on motion by Mr. Osborne -
That the Schedule to the Customs Tariff 1933- 1959 be amended as set out in the Schedule to these Proposals . . . (vide page 1247).
In Committee of Ways and Means: Consideration resumed from 28th April (vide page 1245), on motion by Mr. Osborne -
That the Schedule to the Customs Tariff (Canadian Preference) 1934-1959 be amended as set out in the Schedule to these Proposals . . . (vide page 1244).
In Committee of Ways and Means: Consideration resumed from 28th April (vide page 1245), on motion by Mr. Osborne -
That the Schedule to the Customs Tariff (New Zealand Preference) 1933-1959 be amended as set out in the Schedule to these Proposals . . . (vide page 1245).
In Committee of Ways and Means: Consideration resumed from 28th April (vide page 1247), on motion by Mr. Osborne -
That the Schedule to the Customs Tariff (New Zealand Preference) 1933-1959 be amended as set out in the Schedule to these Proposals . . . (vide page 1247).
In Committee of Ways and Means: Consideration resumed from 28th April (vide page 1246), on motion by Mr. Osborne -
That in these Proposals . . . (vide page 1246).
In Committee of Ways and Means: Consideration resumed from 28th April (vide page 1246), on motion by Mr. Osborne -
That the Schedule to the Excise Tariff 1921- 1959 be amended as set out in the Schedule to these Proposals . . . (vide page 1246).
Motions - by leave - taken together.
– With one exception, to which I will refer later, the proposals give effect to decisions made by the Government following its consideration of a number of Tariff Board reports. As honorable members will remember, the Tariff Board reports concerned dealt with the following subjects: -
Woollen piece goods
Plain clear sheet glass
Antimonial and lead compounds
Electrically operated cloth cutting machines
Marking and stamping devices
Slide viewers, slide projectors and bulb-type flash guns Mosquito repellents Carpenters’ planes Human hair clipping machines Abrasives
Circuit breakers and switch units
The shipbuilding industry
Canvas and duck and cotton substitutes therefor
Waterproofed piece goods
Fuel injection equipment
Weighing machines “ I “ beam axle assemblies
Air-operated dental drill engines
Gelatine and animal glue
The exception to which I referred relates to an administrative change proposed for the tariff treatment of certain drugs and sugar substitutes which will simplify departmental administration.
Honorable members will remember that for many years it has been the custom to introduce a separate bill to give effect to each individual tariff change, with the result that the Minister charged with this duty has on some occasions had to invite the House to pass a large number of bills. If my recollection is correct, on one occasion they numbered about sixteen.
The inevitable result was that the purpose and meaning of the procedures was lost in the rapid and repetitive movement from first to second and third readings and from the House to committee and back, for one bill after another.
I am glad to tell honorable members that, with the co-operation of the Minister for Customs and Excise (Senator Henty) and the assistance of the Attorney-General (Sir Garfield Barwick), these procedures will henceforth be shortened. As from to-day, any number of alterations to any single tariff bill, even though the proposals were introduced on different days, will be embodied in one bill.
It will still be necessary to pass several bills whenever the changes involve customs and preference or excise tariffs. The reason for this is that the Constitution will not allow customs or excise tariffs to be dealt with in the same bill. Also, since the various preference tariffs, for example, the Canadian or New Zealand or Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland preferences, are each contained in a separate basic statute, their amendment requires a separate bill for each tariff.
On this occasion the House will be asked to pass five bills: One dealing with the general customs tariff, three dealing with the preferential tariffs I mentioned, and the fifth dealing with the excise tariff. I commend the proposals to honorable members.
.- I concur in the proposal of the Minister for Air (Mr. Osborne) to abolish the necessity to go through the performance of dealing with a wide range of separate bills dealing with the tariff proposals. The Opposition offers no objection to the re-enactment of the proposals that already operate to 30th June. An opportunity was accorded the committee to debate these proposals last year and nothing has eventuated since which would persuade the Opposition to believe that there should be any alteration in the tariffs then imposed.
Following further reports of the Australian Tariff Board covering fuel injection equipment, weighing machines, “ I “ beam axle assemblies, drafting machines, airoperated dental drill engines and gelatine and animal glue, the Opposition is prepared to accept the board’s recommendations. The board did not provide for an increase in duty in each case. Some of its recommendations are merely for an alteration of by-law operation and concern identification, as in the case of “ I “ beam axle assemblies. I think there is a slight reduction of duty on some of the items.
However, the Opposition is deeply concerned that, due to a rapidly changing economic position in this country and in the world generally, various industries in Australia find themselves in a very difficult position in meeting competition from imports from low wage countries.
Under those circumstances, we are disturbed - and I hope that the Government also is disturbed - at the very long periods which elapse between the Minister referring a subject matter to the Tariff Board for consideration and the Government being informed of the Tariff Board’s decision. A further period then elapses between the Government receiving the Tariff Board’s report and the matter finally being dealt with in a bill presented to the Parliament.
A wide range of items is concerned in the revalidation of the proposals which the Parliament dealt with last year. In every case there has been a very long delay between the Tariff Board’s receiving of the reference and the presentation of its report. I want to show what actually was involved in respect of the last six items on which the Tariff Board reported. I think that honorable members will appreciate that something is wrong. If secondary industry in this country is to be treated decently - if its problems are to be dealt with and it is to be encouraged and put on a sound’ economic basis - applications for tariff protection should be dealt with by some authority that can handle them expeditiously.
Let me consider the application in respect of gelatine and animal glue. This application was referred to the Tariff Board on 29th January, 1958; the board’s report was presented to the Government on 23rd February, 1960; and the Parliament is now dealing with the matter, through the measure that was presented to this House on 28th April, 1960. There was a delay of over two years. If any industry is faced with a problem involving its economic existence, surely it is entitled to have that problem dealt with expeditiously. Members of the Australian Country Party should concur in that argument. The gelatine and animal glue industry is of substantial importance to country people in Australia, because it provides practically their only market for the products from which gelatine and animal glue are manufactured. If that industry is in danger, if its economic position is not sound, then those who provide the raw materials it uses are in jeopardy.
The next illustration which I use is the application concerning fuel injection equipment and nozzle-testing outfits. This subject was referred to the Tariff Board on 22nd November, 1957, and again on 12th January, 1959. It appears that there were two references. The report of the Tariff Board was not presented until 25th January, 1960, and it was not dealt with by the Parliament until April, 1960. Let us consider what the manufacture of fuel injection equipment involves. There is a very rapid expansion in Australia of the utilization of diesel engines. Until recently, most diesel injection systems were imported from overseas, notably from Great Britain and Germany. Then the Bosch organization in Germany decided to make available in Australia its knowledge and experience of the manufacture of this equipment - extending over 25 or 30 years. It was prepared to invest capital in Australia in the truest sense - not like some of the land investment sharks - and to make available to certain Australian engineering firms the know-how in connexion wih the manufacture of these mechanical articles.
People from overseas are investing their capital in this venture and firms in Australia want to have quick access to the know-how provided by the overseas manufacturers, but they have all suffered as a result of this long delay - by not knowing what will happen. In this case, the capital and also the know-how come not from the United Kingdom, but from Germany. I find that the firm of Bosch is referred to in the Tariff Board’s report. This firm, of course, has been famous for many years for the manufacture of fuel injection systems, magnetos and other types of apparatus associated with the manufacture of internal combustion engines. Why should this industry which has already been established here and wants to extend its activities have to wait for so long before it can learn what its prospects will be?
The next item to which I refer relates to drafting machines. Everybody knows what a drafting machine is. I do not want members of the Country Party to think that it is a machine to draft the sheep from the goats. It is a machine used on an engineer’s drafting board, which he can manipulate quite easily to measure angles and make other calculations, so that his work as a draftsman is substantially facilitated. I think there are only two firms in Australia involved in this reference. They are prepared to take the risks associated with the manufacture of these machines. They have already gone into this industry but find that they are up against a problem arising from the importation of drafting machines from overseas.
The reference on this matter was made to the Tariff Board by the Government on 2nd July, 1958. I draw particular attention to the fact that it was in 1958.
– Two years ago?
– Two years ago. The Tariff Board’s report was presented on 26th November, 1959. There was a delay of roughly eighteen months. The matter is being considered by this Parliament now, on a measure introduced in April, 1960. I have quickly read the Tariff Board’s report, and it is obvious that a firm involved in this industry could quite easily perish while the investigation was being made. Surely this Parliament can devise some method by which these long waiting periods could be substantially reduced.
The next item relates to “ I “ beam axle assemblies. This matter was referred to the board on 22nd April, 1958, and the report of the Board was presented on 27th November, 1959. The matter was first considered by the Parliament in April, 1960. I need not go into the details of axle assemblies.
Weighing machines are well within the competence of Australian engineers to manufacture, and they are actually being made here. They were the subject of an application for tariff protection. This matter was referred to the board on 2nd January, 1958, and the report was presented on 18th December, 1959. This is another of the subjects on which Parliament began to take action in April, 1960. What will happen to the applicants as a result of this delay? Then let us take dental-drilling machines. This subject was referred to the board on 21st August, 1958, the board presented its report on 7th January, 1960, and the report was before Parliament in April, 1960, two years after the reference.
Two things are obvious: Either the Tariff Board, which, I understand, can be divided into two groups to deal expeditiously with applications, has been overwhelmed with applications for protection because of the very heavy flow of imports, or something is radically wrong. I do not believe that anything is wrong with the personnel of the Tariff Board as at present constituted. I believe that it works well. I believe that its executive officers and staff are highly competent. I may not be capable of judging, but, reading from the board’s report, I believe that behind it there is a long tradition of effective work by the predecessors of the personnel on the present Tariff Board. But surely the Minister, and the Parliament, should be able to ascertain the basic reason for these lengthy delays which have occurred in respect of the schedules which we approved last year.
Let us consider the shipbuilding industry which is very vital to this country. The Tariff Board took eighteen months to deal with an inquiry into that industry. This kind of thing should not be allowed to continue. It is disheartening to applicants and a reflection on the Parliament, and the Government in particular. Although the Tariff Board comprises earnest men of great skill and ability who, I believe, are working to capacity, it must find that aspersions are cast at it and its capacity to cope with the work.
One of the worst features of this whole situation is that often when the Government has received Tariff Board reports it goes into recess and does not seem to care a hang whether three or tour months elapse before reports already presented are dealt with. Several months now have elapsed since the Government received the reports on some of the items which are before us. I have no doubt that if the Parliament goes into recess next week, more reports recommending increases in duties will be presented by the Tariff Board within a week or two of the commencement of the recess. Can the Minister tell me now how many inquiries are at present before the Tariff Board? Does the Minister know? Obviously he does not, because he has not replied to me.
– You would not expect him to be able to do so, would you?
– If I were sitting where he is sitting and if he were here, he would expect me to know the answer. When I was the Minister in charge of these matters I had the information at hand.
– That matter is not within my jurisdiction. It is under the administration of the Minister for Trade.
– Then you should see that he keeps you fully informed. He should have said to you, “ This issue will be raised “.
Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- I feel that I should participate in this debate because of the remarks which have been made by the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard). In some respects I agree with his criticism of the delays which have occurred in the “ presentation of Tariff Board reports, but I do so for entirely different reasons from those which he has mentioned.
As I understand it, there are two reasons why a certain delay must take place between the time when an application is first made to the Tariff Board and the time when the board’s recommendations are finally implemented by the Parliament. The first reason is that the Tariff Board has built up a tradition of giving very careful consideration to the necessity for and the level of protection to be granted to an industry. That is a very good thing. One of the matters which is causing great alarm in Australia to-day is the burden of extra costs which has been placed on our great primary producing industries - our export earners - by the tariff. For this reason, it would be completely indefensible for the Tariff Board to take its duties lightly.
The second very good reason why the Tariff Board takes a fair while to consider these applications is that the Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen), I think last year, referred to the board some hundreds of industries for examination and recommendation arising out of the changes which were made in the United Kingdom-Australia trade agreement. That also was a very good thing.
For the first time in many years the Tariff Board has undertaken a review of the level of tariff on industries which have enjoyed protection for a lengthy period. I am confident that one of the results which will flow from that review is that many tariffs will be found to be unnecessary at their present level and will be reduced. Therefore, some of the burden which has been placed on the export industries will be reduced correspondingly. Many of the industries which at present are being considered by the Tariff Board were given protection many years ago under the so-called infant industries principle. At that time the argument was that when you first commence operations - when you are making a pioneering attempt in industry - you should be given protection. But at that time it was never intended that this tariff protection should apply forever or even when the industry got on its feet.
Many industries in Australia are enjoying tariff protection when they should not be, and thereby are placing an extra cost burden on the export industries. That has happened because the Tariff Board has not been able to get around to the reviewing process. It has had so many new applications from industries which have set themselves up in Australia because of the prosperous conditions which have been created by this Government, that it has not been able to review the tariffs which were fixed many years ago.
The reasons for the delays which have occurred are commendable. I repeat them: First, the Tariff Board makes a very careful examination of applications which are made to it, and that is vital if we are not to have an unduly high cost burden placed on our export industries. Secondly, for the first time the Tariff Board is reviewing tariffs which were applied to industries many years ago.
– The honorable member for Barker (Mr. Forbes) has referred to the burden of costs on primary industries as a result of tariff protection. Apparently he has put that forward as justification for the prolongation of Tariff Board inquiries. No one challenges the necessity for the Tariff Board to be most thorough in its investigations.
– That takes time.
– On that basis the honorable gentleman apparently suggests that three years is a fair lime in which to produce a report. In his speech he tried to justify delays of up to two years. Surely he does not advance the story that the Government which he supports is so incompetent that it is unable to devise a means by which some authority, either the Tariff Board or another body, can present a report, at the most, six months after a question has been referred to it. Is that feasible? Is lt or is it not humanly possible? If the honorable member cannot answer that, his whole argument falls to the ground. In view of the huge expansion of Australia’s secondary industry, which is ever expanding, the answer may be more tariff boards. It may then be argued that, the more tariff boards you have, the greater will be the difficulty of getting uniformity of policy in the decisions of the various boards. The honorable member says, “ Quite right “. He may noi see any means by which delays can be reduced. He may feel that he is in an obstacle race.
Surely it would be feasible for the Government to consider the appointment of a series of boards on an industry basis. Some members of the existing Tariff Board are skilled in matters pertaining to primary production, some are skilled in matters pertaining to heavy industry - to wit, a gentleman who left one of the motor industries in order to join the board - some are skilled in accountancy, and some are skilled in other matters. But from time to time, inevitably, the board deals with matters of which none of its members has an intimate knowledge. We may reach in Australia a situation in which the Government may have to consider the appointment of industry tariff boards. Perhaps the difficulty of achieving uniformity of general policy would still be a problem. But problems are made to be solved, and the problem which I am putting to this Parliament is: How is Australian secondary industry to have its problems dealt with promptly? Many of these problems are likely to confront the secondary industries with everincreasing pressure under this Government’s policies, especially that of encouraging additional imports of goods which we can manufacture here with advantage to our economy and our own people. Some people say, “You can import more cheaply than you can manufacture “. You might. But it is a mighty big “ might “.
For the benefit of the honorable member for Barker, who hopes, when his views receive some publicity in the Mount Gambier “Border Watch”, that he will receive credit for putting a great case for the primary producers, let me indicate what happened to the primary producers of this country before tariffs were imposed on agricultural implements. In 1920, I wanted a reaper and binder. I went to four of the firms which imported these implements into Australia.
– When did the honorable member say this was?
– It was in 1920. The Minister can check this with anybody he likes. At the time, there was not a pennyworth of protection on reapers and binders. The four firms from which I inquired1 told me that their price was £105. Not long after, this Parliament in its wisdom imposed a tariff on imported reapers and binders, and the first reapers and binders that came off the assembly line at the Sunshine plant of Hugh Victor McKay, who was not an overgenerous gentleman, went on the market for sale to the farmers of Australia at £95 apiece. This clearly indicated that, in the absence of protection for local manufactures, the primary producer is robbed by the importers, who gang up against him.
So, under free trade, there is no guarantee that the producers of this country will get anything cheaper than they get it now behind a tariff wall. If we have sensible governments which tax the profiteers adequately, governments which fix prices - 1 refer to State governments - and governments which insist on a proper standard of living for the employees of manufacturing companies, we are able to provide in Australia the best market that the primary producer has for many of his products. I ask my friends in the Australian Country Party, who, for many years, have had in their minds this theory that protection is an incubus on the primary producers, to get busy and devise and support a scheme to prevent the wool-buying gangsters from paying any old price they think fit for our wool. We have power in this Parliament to determine whether we shall give our wool away or get a decent price for it. This is the sort of problem that confronts the Australian people.
My time has nearly expired. In conclusion, I suggest to the Government - indeed I even implore it, although that is not my usual form - that it do something definite and urgent to end the awful delays that are occurring in the presentation of Tariff Board reports, which are presented usually long after matters are referred to the board by the Government. The present state of affairs is shocking. Not only the Australian Labour Party has complained about it. The chambers of manufactures are complaining about it and the press is complaining about it. The Labour Party has always been a protectionist party and has stood firm for the encouragement and development of secondary industry in this country in order to build up our population and provide an outlet for increased production of primary products. Everybody to-day can see the plain fact that the application of science to agriculture and the introduction of mechanical aids are enabling fewer and fewer primary producers to produce the food and other primary products needed by the Australian community. The employment opportunities in primary production available to the boys and girls leaving our schools each year are dwindling more and more rapidly and our young people are being forced to turn more and more to secondary industry. 1 leave the matter with that plea to the Government to become active and do something about it, Mr. Chairman.
.- Mr. Chairman, the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard) said that the Australian Country Party has a theory about tariff protection. I tell him that our policy is not a theory; it is an established fact. We support reasonable tariffs, and always have done. The point that the honorable member does not seem to understand - rather, he understands it, but he will not mention it in this chamber, because he is a member of the Australian Labour Party - is that no country can always sell and never buy. For two reasons, it is necessary for Australia to buy certain goods from overseas. One reason is that we require certain raw materials in order to keep our secondary industries operating. The second reason is that buying from overseas enables and encourages other countries to buy our primary products.
The honorable member mentioned the situation that existed in 1920. At that time, approximately 80 per cent, of Australia’s export trade was in primary products, and about 20 per cent, in the products of the secondary industries. Since then, secondary industry in this country has increased tremendously under the administration of all governments - for this is not a party political matter. The number of new factories established has been astronomical. But, nevertheless, almost exactly the same situation exists with regard to exports as existed in 1920: About 80 per cent, of our export trade is in primary products, and about 20 per cent, in the products of the secondary industries. It is quite right for the Government to protect certain industries. It is also true that the Japanese Trade Agreement, which was entered into recently, has been a godsend because it has promoted exports of primary products by throwing the Japanese market open to them. The Australian Labour Party, however, would have had us believe, when that agreement was ratified, that it would cause our textile industry to collapse, and that this industry was even more important than our export wool trade with Japan - a trade which at that time was, and still is, extremely unbalanced, because ‘ we sell to Japan far more than we buy.
I answer the observations of the honorable member for Lalor, not simply because he is advancing the policy of his party, but because he suggests that the Australian Country Party has only a theory about tariff protection. When a statement such as that is made, I have to say something on the subject. Indeed, no honorable member can make a misstatement about any matter in this place without some other honorable member who knows at least a little about the subject putting him on the right track. 1 have taken part in this debate this afternoon for that specific purpose.
– The Opposition supports these tariff amendments. I thank the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard) for his assistance in this matter. It did not take him very long to say that the Opposition supports the proposals. The rest of his two speeches was taken up with a criticism of the Tariff Board for delays in presenting its reports and of the Government for not giving effect to its recommendations. While his criticism may have some substance, his case was greatly over-stated, as I hope to show.
– What is the cause of the delays?
– I shall tell the honorable member. The Tariff Board is an independent advisory body and must conduct its own inquiries, hear evidence, make recommendations and take its own time. By its very nature, it must be independent. Having taken evidence, it must consider it and compose its recommendations. When it has drawn up its reports, it must submit them to the Government, then because the Tariff Board is an independent advisory body, the Government is under a necessary obligation to consult its own advisors and to consider the board’s reports in the light of their advice. Then, of course, the reports have to be tabled and acted on in the House. All these things take time.
This matter was discussed as lately as 4th May in the House, and the Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen), under whose administration the Tariff Board comes, made some observation in answer to a question. The Minister reminded the House that the Tariff Board had been obliged to deal with a very large volume of work in recent times - much larger than ever in the past. It had also dealt with some inquiries which were all-embracing in their scope. In particular, it had recently concluded its work on a reference made to it by the Minister for Trade himself concerning principles of most-favoured-nation tariff treatment. This involved the consideration of not fewer than 278 tariff items. This matter is now out of the way, and the Minister for Trade said -
I am assured now that, as from the commencement of the next financial year, except m quite rare instances the Tariff Board will be equipped to hear and to reach a conclusion, within six or eight months, and in many instances less than that, on any matter referred to it.
The honorable member for Lalor has greatly over-stated the position. He has gone through the list of matters which were the subject of Tariff Board reports, which have resulted in the tariff changes now being passed into law. The honorable member drew a picture of Australian manufacturing industries anxiously waiting for protective tariffs and being denied them by the delays of the Tariff Board. The honorable member overlooks the fact that, in most of these cases, there was no increase in duties or the duties were reduced.
– That is not correct.
– Well, at least it applies to quite a large number of cases. In connexion with weighing machines, I-beam axle assemblies, air-operated dental units, carpenters’ planes of wood and mosquito repellants the duties were reduced. In shipbuilding, about which the honorable member had a great deal to say, there was no effective change in the rate of duty and there was no change in the duty on carpenters’ planes of metal. I do not want to make an issue of this matter but I think the honorable member’s statement of the position was exaggerated. The Government realizes the need for expedition in dealing with changes of duty, and as I have said, the Minister for Trade made it clear on 4th May in this House that the Government has it very much in the mind, but the position is not nearly so bad as the honorable member for Lalor suggested.
Motions agreed to.
Standing Orders suspended; resolutions adopted.
That Mr. Osborne and Mr. Freeth do prepare and bring in bills to carry out the foregoing resolutions.
Bill presented by Mr. Osborne, and passed through all stages without amendment or debate.
Bill presented by Mr. Osborne, and passed through all stages without amendment or debate.
Bill presented by Mr. Osborne, and passed through all stages without amendment or debate.
Bill presented by Mr. Osborne, and passed through all stages without amendment or debate.
Bill presented by Mr. Osborne, and passed through all stages without amendment or debate.
Sitting suspended from 6.5 to 8 p.m.
Messages from the Governor-General reported transmitting (a) Additional Estimates of Expenditure for the year ending 30th June, 1960; and (b) Additional Estimates of Expenditure for Additions, New Works and Other Services involving capital expenditure for the year ending 30th June, 1960, and recommending appropriations accordingly.
Ordered to be referred to the Committee of Supply forthwith.
In Committee of Supply: (by Mr. Harold Holt) agreed
That there be granted to Her Majesty an additional sum not exceeding £60,185,000 for the services of the year 1959-60, viz.: -
and other services involving capital expenditure, viz.: -
That there be granted to Her Majesty an additional sum not exceeding £5,006,000 for the services of the year 1959-60 for additions, new works
Resolutions reported. Standing Orders suspended; resolutions adopted.
Resolutions of Ways and Means, founded on resolutions of Supply, reported and adopted.
That Mr. Harold Holt and Mr. Opperman do prepare and bring in bills to carry out the foregoing resolutions.
Bill presented by Mr. Harold Holt, and read a first time.
– I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
The purpose of this bill and of the associated Appropriation (Works and Services) Bill (No. 2) 1959-60 is to obtain parliamentary authority for certain expenditure for which provision was not made in the 1959-60 Estimates. The various items contained in the Additional Estimates can be considered in detail in committee and I propose at this time to refer only to some of the major provisions.
Some re-allocation has been made within the total defence appropriation of £192,800,000, with consequential increases and decreases in individual votes. Provision has also been made for additional expenditure of £700,000, representing that part of the increased salary and wage payments which cannot be met from the Budget provision. Provision is made for additional expenditure of £5,600,000 on departmental and miscellaneous items. Savings on other items, however, are expected to limit net additional expenditure to about £3,000,000. Of the additional provision, £2,200,000 is attributable to increased payments resulting from the margins judgment. One hundred and seventy thousand pounds is included in respect of the Commonwealth scholarship scheme; assisted migration, £227,000; re-settlement of Tibetan refugees, £100,000; merchant ship construction subsidy, £42,000; typhoon and flood relief in Japan, Formosa and South Korea, £40,000. An amount of £1,375,000 is sought for repatriation services. This includes £359.000 in respect of salary and wage increases and £608,000 for medical treatment.
The amount sought for the Territories is £660,000. The principal increases are £117,000 in respect of salaries adjustment, and, under Northern Territory, educational services and scholarships £40,000, and maintenance of wards at government settlements £117,000.
Under Capital Works and Services, an amount of £2,650,000 is sought for additional expenditure under the Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Power Act. This additional provision is required to enable the Snowy Mountains authority to make increased payments to contractors who are constructing major works projects. The rate of progress on these contracts this year has been quite remarkable and has far exceeded the expectations on which the original Budget provisions of £25,600,000 was based. It is expected that the additional expenditure on the Snowy Mountains scheme will be offset to a substantial extent by net savings in other Commonwealth works expenditure this year. Partly as a result of the increased expenditure on the Snowy Mountains scheme this year, there will be a big drop in expenditure on the scheme in 1960-61. Expenditure in that year will be held to something below £20,000,000.
Other items of capital works expenditure include £700,000 for telephone and other equipment for the Post Office, which arises wholly from increased salary and wage payments; £475,000 for the acquisition of sites and buildings for the Tullamarine Airport; and £238,000 for advances to the Papua and New Guinea Administration for loans to ex-servicemen in agricultural enterprises.
When the Budget was prepared it was estimated that £37,000,000 would be needed to supplement loan proceeds available for the works and housing programmes of the States and to finance advances to the States for war service land settlement. Provision was therefore made to appropriate that amount from the Consolidated Revenue Fund for payment to the Loan Consolidation and Investment Reserve. At the same time, it was proposed that £37,000,000 of defence expenditure be financed from the Loan Fund.
Because of the very rapid rate of increase in earnings, and employment and economic activity generally, the Budget position - and especially the position of the Consolidated Revenue Fund - will be stronger than was expected when the Budget was prepared, and it will not be necessary to charge as much defence expenditure to Loan Fund as was envisaged in the Budget. An additional appropriation for defence, from the Consolidated Revenue Fund, of £31,000,000 is therefore being sought.
In addition, authority is sought to transfer to the Loan Consolidation and Investment Reserve an amount of up to £10,000,000 over and above the £37,000,000 provided for in the Budget. There are still some elements of uncertainty as to the outcome of our financial transactions for the year, and our existing authority might not be sufficient to meet all contingencies.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Calwell) adjourned.
Bill presented by Mr. Harold Holt, and read a first time.
– I move - That the bill be now read a second time.
In my second-reading speech on the Appropriation Bill (No. 2) 1960 I referred to the need to seek additional funds for capital works and services. This bill will effect the appropriations.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Calwell) adjourned.
Messages recommending appropriation reported.
Motions (by Mr. Harold Holt) agreed
The several amounts provided for ordinary services are -
That there be granted to Her Majesty a sum not exceeding £266,856,000 for or towards the services of the year 1960-61.
That there be granted to Her Majesty a sum not exceeding £54,287,000 for or towards the services of the year 1960-61, for Additions, New Works and other Services involving Capital Expenditure.
Standing Orders suspended; resolutions adopted.
Resolutions of Ways and Means, founded on resolutions of Supply, reported and adopted.
That Mr. Harold Holt and Mr. Opperman do prepare and bring in bills to carry out the foregoing resolutions.
Bill presented by Mr. Harold Holt, and read a first time.
– I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
The purpose of this bill is to appropriate £266,856,000 to carry on the necessary normal services of Government, other than capital works and services, during the first five months of the financial year 1960-61. These are services placed before the Parliament in the Appropriation Acts 1959-60.
These represent, with minor exceptions, approximately five-twelfths of the 1959-60 appropriations. In the case of salaries votes, additional amounts have been included to cover the cost during the supply period of marginal increases which were granted in December, 1959. The amount of £85,841,000 for Defence Services provides for expenditure on the current defence programme and the amount of £37,947,000 for War and Repatriation Services provides for expenditure on war pensions and repatriation and rehabilitation services. Except in relation to defence, no amounts are included for new services. However, an amount of £16,000,000 is sought for an “ Advance to the Treasurer “ to make advances which will be recovered within the financial year; and to make moneys available to meet expenditure, particulars of which will afterwards be submitted to Parliament.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Calwell) adjourned.
Bill presented by Mr. Harold Holt, and read a first time.
– I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
The purpose of this bill is to appropriate £54,287,000 to carry on the necessary normal capital works and services of Government for the first five months of the financial year 1960-61. This will enable
Commonwealth works to be continued until the 1960-61 Budget has been considered by Parliament.
The bill will provide funds for Commonwealth works in progress at 30th June, 1960. In addition, it is the practice to programme the capital works and services in the major Commonwealth departments, including the Department of Works, the Postmaster-General’s Department and the Department of Civil Aviation. The appropriation will provide funds to ensure the orderly continuation of those programmes of work.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Calwell) adjourned.
Bill returned from Senate without amendment.
Debate resumed from 5th May (vide page 1431), on motion by Sir Garfield Barwick -
That the bill be now read a second time.
.- Mr. Speaker, this bill represents an outrageous and unjustified intrusion into and interference with the private lives of Australian citizens, and it is being opposed by the Labour Opposition. In introducing this measure the Attorney-General (Sir Garfield Barwick) made a very clever speech. Wrapped up with the obnoxious provisions of this bill are provisions to which no member of this House could object. It embraces arrangements which we understand already exist for the checking of the efficiency of telephonic communications by employees of the Postmaster-General’s Department. But it was quite obvious that the AttorneyGeneral was rather uncomfortable in making his second-reading speech.
When anti-Labour governments want to justify some outrageous proposal they usually protect themselves by claiming that it is essential for the security of the nation. That has been done in this case. I hope, as I proceed, to be able to prove that the method now proposed by the Government allegedly to protect the security of the nation is most ineffective. The Attorney-General, knowing that this would be an extremely unpopular piece of legislation with the Australian community, said in his secondreading speech -
He then proceeded to support a piece of legislation which will permit the very thing that he claims to be abhorrent.
For many years, in this Parliament, members of the Labour Opposition have been endeavouring to get information about the tapping of telephones. We have been met, time and time again, by evasive replies from the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies). Let me briefly tell the House some of the answers that he has given. On one occasion the Prime Minister said that he had no knowledge, one way or the other. On another occasion he said that he had no knowledge as to whether the security service had an office in Canberra or not. I want honorable members to keep in mind the fact that the Prime Minister was charged with the administration of the security service. Yet he had the audacity to tell members of this Parliament that he did not even know whether the service had an office in Canberra and that, if it did, he did not know where it was situated! The Prime Minister has always denied that telephone tapping was taking place.
– That is not true.
– Is it not? Let me quote to the Attorney-General a reference from “ Hansard “. When the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Clyde Cameron) and I were pressing for information in regard to telephone tapping, the Prime Minister said -
I deprecate this obviously political attempt to suggest that the rights of private citizens are being invaded.
If that is not as good as saying that telephone tapping was not taking place, I do not know the meaning of the English language. The Prime Minister was always evading a direct reply. He refused information about the method employed in paying security service agents. On one occasion he was asked who decided the amount that they should receive and who authorized payment. I asked also whether the Prime Minister’s approval of such payments was necessary and whether the Prime Minister was kept fully informed on these matters. Surely a reply to any of these questions would not have involved any security risk. But to this democratically elected Parliament the Prime Minister refused to give any information on this subject.
The Prime Minister knew that he was vulnerable in regard to telephone tapping. That is why he left his office boy to introduce the legislation while he was overseas and not, therefore, immediately answerable to the people of this country and the Parliament. It is not only members of the Labour Party who have found the tapping of telephones to be obnoxious. On one occasion when the matter was raised in this Parliament by a former honorable member for Herbert the then Speaker, Mr. Archie Cameron, who was a member of the Liberal Party and always a defender of the liberties of the people and the rights of this Parliament; said this:
If this tapping of telephone lines is taking place, I say without hesitation that it is a very serious breach of the privileges of every member of the House.
And so it is a breach of members’ privileges! Let me quote another former Government member, Sir Arthur Fadden. On 3rd June, 1952, when he was Acting Prime Minister of this country, he said, in reply to the honorable member for Herbert -
This is a fitting subject for investigation by the Committee of Privileges.
He also thought it was an outrageous thing that members’ phones should be tapped. If honorable members on the Government side want any further evidence that the Prime Minister was evasive and was afraid to face this issue, I refer them to what happened when, on 2nd December, 1953, I proposed, and the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Clyde Cameron) seconded, the following motion: -
That the question as to whether or not the telephones used by members of the Parliament are being tapped and if so, by whom, be referred to the Committee of Privileges.
That motion was defeated by 54 votes to 40 on a party vote. The Government was afraid even to take it to the Committee of Privileges. If no member’s telephone was being tapped, what was the Government afraid of? Here was a great opportunity for it to debunk both the honorable member for Hindmarsh and myself and destroy us politically if we were wrong, because, although it is the Committee of Privileges of this Parliament the Government has a majority of members upon it. If we were lying, the Government was presented with a wonderful opportunity for destroying both of us, but the Prime Minister and the Government did not accept that opportunity. They knew that we could produce the evidence that members’ telephones were being tapped. There is any amount of evidence of that.
Let me remind honorable members, because perhaps they have forgotten, of one or two of the matters that were raised from time to time to indicate that members’ telephones were being tapped during that period. The honorable member for Hindmarsh made a speech in which he said that he had had a telephone conversation with an inspector of the Chrysler (Australia) Limited works in Adelaide. This had been a conversation between the two of them, and known to no other person, but the very next morning a security officer questioned an inspector of the Aeronautical Inspection Directorate on the very matters that were discussed between the honorable member for Hindmarsh and the gentleman to whom he had been talking on the telephone on the previous evening. When the Prime Minister was asked by the honorable member for Hindmarsh to have some investigation made into this incident he refused to do so. He said he refused to ask the security service for any explanation in regard to the complaint of the honorable member for Hindmarsh.
Let me turn now to the honorable member for Kingston (Mr. Galvin). That honorable member asked the Minister for Air (Mr. Osborne) a question, who, in the course of his reply to the honorable member for Kingston, said -
This question arises out of a telephone conversation.
The honorable member for Kingston and the person to whom he spoke were the only persons who knew of the conversation on the telephone. When the Prime Minister was asked later about this, he said -
The honorable member’s telephone was not tapped. Such a thing would be entirely unpardonable.
That was the attitude of the Prime Minister. At this stage he was trying to create an impression in the minds of the Australian community that he neither agreed with nor condoned the tapping of members’ telephones. When he was trying to defend the Minister for Air he said that the Minister did not know that a telephone conversation had taken place; it was merely a shrewd guess.
Now let us turn to the Attorney-General (Sir Garfield Barwick). In the course of his second-reading speech he said that no members’ telephone conversations had been intercepted. He further stated that no senior public servant’s telephone conversation had been intercepted. That is rather an indication that other members of the Public Service have had their telephone conversations tapped. If that is not the case, why did the Attorney-General specify “ senior “ public servants? It is well known that this happens. I think it was Mr. Reid, a newspaper columnist, who, on one occasion, in reporting to this effect, said that he was only saying what was well known in the corridors of this Parliament. Mr. Reid said that there were certain telephones in Parliament House which no senior public servant would use because he knew they were tapped.
Is it not a fact that on one occasion after I had received information as to where the apparatus had been installed at security head-quarters to tap the parliamentary telephones, I invited senior Ministers to come with me, after the House adjourned that night, to security head-quarters and I would show them where the equipment was, but they refused to come. As a matter of fact, every time this Parliament assembles the number of security officers in Canberra is reinforced because they have additional duties to perform in tapping telephones.
What does the Attorney-General mean when he gives an assurance that no member’s telephone is tapped? I ask the Attorney-General whether he means the telephone in a member’s private home, or the telephone in his office or every telephone around this House. I have yet to be convinced that there has never been nor is there now any tapping of telephone communications between members and their constituents. The Attorney-General is very adept at twisting words so let him make it clear when he talks about members’ telephones whether he is referring only to the members’ home telephones?
Let me tell the Attorney-General, if he still persists in saying that telephones have not been tapped, that the Leader of the Opposition, the honorable member for Melbourne (Mr. Calwell) holds a letter of apology from the late General Sir Thomas Blarney because on one occasion a telephone conversation between the honorable member and Mr. Forde, who was then Minister for the Army, had actually been tapped and recorded by Military Intelligence. He need not, therefore, waste words by telling us that it cannot go on.
– That has nothing to do with this.
– The honorable member for Hindmarsh and other members of the Opposition have claimed, over a number of years, that members’ telephones have been tapped and I think there is sufficient evidence in existence to show that that statement is correct.
When the Attorney-General introduced his bill he tried to imply that this measure did not change the existing practice and that everything would remain substantially as it is. He implied that if anything were changed it would place an additional restriction on the tapping of telephones which is taking place at present. If what members of the Government, including the Prime Minister, have said is to be taken as truthful and accurate, then we have to assume that no member’s telephone, up to this point, has been tapped. But is it not a fact that under this bill members’ telephones are to be tapped?
– I say they will be.
– Only if you indulge in subversive activities.
– The Attorney-General says that if any member’s telephone is tapped it will be because he is suspected of being engaged in the activities to which this bill refers. Why are the authorities to be empowered to tap members’ telephones? I agree with the late Speaker, Mr. Cameron, that this is an attack upon the privileges of this Parliament. I remind members on the
Government side that parliamentary privilege does not belong to me any more than it belongs to any other member of the Parliament. Parliamentary privilege is the very basis of democracy, and it belongs to the people, because we in this place represent the people. The Attorney-General keeps interjecting and saying, “The proposals only apply to people who are engaged in subversive activities “. But let me tell the Attorney-General - and he can check the replies to questions which are made by his fellow Ministers day after day in this chamber - that according to his Government “ subversive activities “ does not only mean the doing of something to aid an enemy of this country. The Government regards every strike as subversive. How often has it been said in this Parliament when a union which calls a strike has a Communist official or a member of the Communist Party in its executive, that the members of the union are engaged in subversive activities? Everything depends on the interpretation of the phrase, “ subversive activities “. If the Attorney-General were to speak honestly, he would probably say that he believes that every member of the Opposition is engaged in subversive activities.
Now let us consider what the AttorneyGeneral actually said on this matter in his second-reading speech. In one portion of it he said -
To convert this to the case of a telephone service of a member of Parliament, it means that, on the known facts, the Attorney-General and the Director-General of Security must be satisfied that the member’s telephone service is used or is likely to be used in aid of what I shortly call subversive activities . . .
I would like the Attorney-General to explain in greater detail what he regards as subversive activities. Let me warn the members on the Government side that if nobody is to be exempt from this snooping by the security service, the provisions of the bill must apply, obviously, to the AttorneyGeneral himself. Who issues the warrant if the Attorney-General’s telephone is to be tapped? The provisions of this bill could apply to the judges who sit in our courts. They could apply to the members of the wealthy clubs of this country.
Let me tell the Attorney-General that we realize that the Government is trying to obtain a political instrument to be used against the Labour Party. But some day - I hope it is not very far distant - a Labour administration will be in control, and, as much as I abhor this eavesdropping on telephones, I have no doubt that if I could listen to a few telephone conversations, including some to which the AttorneyGeneral is a party, I would obtain some very interesting information which would be of great interest to this Parliament. The Attorney-General who, obviously, is very uncomfortable at the moment, will have to be careful because, when you listen in to telephone conversations you get all kinds of information. You can even hear conversations about bankruptcies, and probably the Attorney-General appreciates the matter to which I am referring.
– I know how dirty that remark is.
– The Attorney-General-
– I know how dirty that remark is.
– Order! I must ask the Attorney-General and other honorable members not to interject.
– The Attorney-General, in order to obtain the unanimous approval of this Parliament, did not waste a trick. He even brought in a reference to the late Mr. Chifley, the esteemed former Labour Prime Minister. He did not produce any evidence to justify what he said, and I am not prepared to accept his word in relation to what Mr. Chifley did or did not do. But the Attorney-General deliberately made his reference to Mr. Chifley in the hope that he would be able to scare the members of the Labour Party into supporting this legislation.
The Labour Party has no objection to adequate measures being taken to ensure the security of this country. When the Labour Government of the day established the security service what did it do? Mr. Chifley placed in charge of it a judge of the Supreme Court of South Australia, Mr. Justice Reed. He did that because he knew the great dangers which were inherent in the establishment of such a service unless it was kept rigidly under control. He selected a judge of the Supreme Court because he believed that a judge would have some regard to the civil and personal liberties of the Australian subjects. But what has happened to-day? The security service to-day still carries the same name, but it is not the same service as was established by the Chifley Government because it is almost exclusively a military organization. Instead of being a security service, as Labour intended, to protect the security of this country against the activities of foreign agents or spies, to-day it has developed into a political police force for the Liberal Government. It is nothing more. It is no different from the O.G.P.U., as it was, in Russia, and the secret police force which was established by Hitler. This is the kind of police force which the Government wants to exercise such great power over the lives of Australian citizens.
I want to direct the attention of the Attorney-General to one very important and serious matter. In effect, the Prime Minister, Brigadier Spry and Mr. Richards are in charge of the security service. At least one of those three men is a liar. I believe that a person who is a liar has no right either to be Prime Minister or in charge of the security service of this country. Now let me prove my point. When we had what was known as the Royal Commission on Espionage - the Petrov Royal Commission - Brigadier Spry and Mr. Richards, the Director-General and Deputy Director respectively, both gave sworn evidence before the commission which differed from the statement which was made by the Prime Minister in this House. It was vitally different evidence. Members of Parliament have directed attention to it on numerous occasions. All three men could not have been speaking the truth. One, at least, must have been lying.
According to the Prime Minister, he first heard the name Petrov two days before making his statement in this Parliament. According to both Spry and Richards, they had seen the Prime Minister a week earlier and had discussed this particular matter with him. Do you imagine that if they had discussed it with the Prime Minister, and if these negotiations for the defection of Petrov had been going on over a considerable period, the Prime Minister would not have heard the name Petrov long before
April, 1954? The Prime Minister said that it was not until 9th May, 1954, that he first learned that the security service had paid £5,000 to Petrov for certain documents. Obviously, if Brigadier Spry and Mr. Richards were speaking the truth, the Prime Minister was lying. If the Prime Minister was speaking the truth, the heads of the security service were lying, and if that is the case they are not persons who ought to be entrusted with these great powers.
Now let me turn to another phase of the activities of the security service because, when I make the statement that it has become a political police force, I must produce some evidence to support my statement. It is perfectly true that the security service - this is one thing which no member of this Parliament will deny - employs all kinds of people as its agents. It has doctors who are employed to pimp on their patients. It has university lecturers who are asked to furnish information relating to the activities of their students, including details of their personal lives. It has even gone to the extent of approaching clergymen and asking them to inform on members of their congregation. The “ Australian Intercollegian “, an official church paper, directed attention to this matter some time ago.
If you want any further evidence of the security service’s development into a political police force, you have only to take what happened recently in regard to the peace conference that was held in Melbourne. If people want to meet publicly where everybody can hear what they are saying and see them saying it, does that imply, even to some one who disagrees with them, that those people are a threat to the security of this country? What sort of practices did the security service engage in on its own initiative? Did it, by its own decision, approach the people who had been invited to attend the conference and who had accepted invitations? Not at all! The honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth) admitted in this Parliament that he had got Brigadier Spry to call on Professor Stout in order to discuss with him the information that was in the hands of the security service. So this Government would use its security service, by intimidation to prevent Australian citizens from meeting publicly in order to discuss peace. In the eyes of many Government supporters, anybody who utters that banned word “ peace “ to-day becomes engaged automatically in subversive activities. That is the kind of thing against which we have to protect ourselves.
I remember that when the security service was established by the Labour Government measures were taken to avoid any abuse of its powers on a political basis, because there was laid down a rule, observed while Labour was in office, that not only the Prime Minister but also the Leader of the Opposition was to be advised of any important security matters coming to the notice of the service. When the present Government took office, however, that arrangement ceased. I clearly recollect that when the present Prime Minister made alleged disclosures on important matters in this Parliament the Leader of the Opposition of the day was not advised either by the Prime Minister or by the head of the security service, who had been told by this Liberal Party-Australian Country Party Government that he must not go near the Leader of the Opposition. The reason was that the Government felt that it had election material which could be of value to it and it wanted therefore to keep the head of the security service away from the Leader of the Opposition.
Let me turn now to the subject of espionage. When all is said and done, what evidence have we that the security service in this country has acted very effectively against those whom the Government claims to be engaged in espionage? According to the Prime Minister, the Petrov papers and the alleged disclosures made by Mr. Petrov revealed the existence of 522 spies. When the right honorable gentleman was pressed in this Parliament to give us more information about the 522 spies, he found he was in a spot, and he tried to wriggle out of it. He said that he meant, not 522 spies and agents, but 522 Soviet espionage cadre workers. The Prime Minister had previously not been prepared to say that all the people who had been implicated by Petrov were not members of the Australian community.
The honorable member for Mackellar, in a Sydney television interview, said that there were one or two Russian agents in the Department of External Affairs. He said that he had reported the matter to the Government and added that there may have been some action of which he knew nothing. So we were told that there were two Russian spies in the Department of External Affairs. The previous Minister for External Affairs said on one occasion that there was a nest of traitors in his own department. We tried to get some information about them from that Minister, but he was never able or willing to answer our questions. He was never able to tell us who these traitors were, whether they had been dismissed or whether they had been demoted. Government supporters resurrect this talk about espionage and foreign agents every time they want to scare the Australian community into keeping a Liberal PartyAustralian Country Party Government in office.
Two royal commissions have investigated espionage in this country and the activities of the Communist Party of Australia, but not one prosecution or conviction arose out of those inquiries. When the Prime Minister was questioned in this Parliament as to why the Government had not taken any action, he said that the Commonwealth authorities lacked adequate power. But he has done nothing to obtain additional power. On the Prime Minister’s own statement, if we can take it for what it appears to mean, there was no lack of evidence. Yet this Government has sat idly by and done nothing about the matter. What has been the result of the 182 telephone tappings that the Attorney-General says have now taken place in the last eleven years? Have there been any prosecutions? Have there been any charges against anybody for having been engaged in espionage? Is it not quite obvious that, however we look at it, this is a most ineffective way of tracking down people who may be engaged in espionage or treasonable activities? If anybody wanted to use the telephones in order to engage in activities of this kind, would he not transmit his messages in code? He would not use the telephones in such a way as to enable some security official to listen in, pick up the conversations and have them recorded for the information of the Government.
The Attorney-General knows that, from the Government’s viewpoint, this is dangerous legislation. Indeed, he said -
Having said that, the Minister then proceeded to say that, in the future, the Government will not even tell us how many telephone tappings have taken place, let alone give any detailed information. If the Attorney-General or any member of the Government refuses to answer any questions, even of the most innocuous kind, how does the Australian democracy derive any protection by having a Minister in this Parliament who claims to be answerable for the security service and its activities?
Let me turn to what the Government now proposes to do. The Attorney-General put it in such a way as to make the people believe that there was adequate protection against abuse of those powers. He said that what will happen is this: The DirectorGeneral of Security will apply to the AttorneyGeneral, in writing, for the issue of a warrant to tap a telephone, and, in doing so, he must specify the facts and other grounds supporting the request. If he gives the facts, what is meant by the phrase “ other grounds supporting the request “ ?
– There are other grounds-
– The Minister will have an opportunity of telling me later in the second-reading debate, or at the committee stage, what he means. I should say that if all the facts are given to the AttorneyGeneral he requires nothing further. The Minister went on to say that, where relevant, the grounds on which the DirectorGeneral of Security suspects a person of being engaged in activities prejudicial to the security of the Commonwealth will be made known to the Attorney-General.
If anybody is to have authority to issue warrants for the tapping of telephones why does not the Director-General supply all the information in the possession of the security service? I believe there will be occasions when the Director-General will be told by the Attorney-General or some other Minister in the government that So-and-so’s telephone is to be tapped. This would mean that the initiative would not always come from the Director-General of Security, because, in administering a political police force, the government will largely be determining whose telephone is to be tapped.
So any trade unionist who uses a telephone in the future merely for the discussion of what he regards as his lawful rights will have no protection at all. The telephones of all trade union officials in this country will be tapped, if the Government so decides, in an effort to get some information which will assist the Government in its political endeavours directed towards the destruction of trade unionism and the establishment of a police state in Australia.
The Attorney-General said that he will issue a warrant only if he is satisfied that the conditions stated by him have been satisfied by the Director-General of Security. But he went on to say that, in cases of emergency, the Director-General may issue a warrant to himself. That is rather a peculiar procedure, but, still, it is provided for in the bill. The Director-General, having issued a warrant to himself for the tapping of a telephone, is not necessarily required to exercise the authority himself. He may have it exercised by anybody authorized by him. The authority may be exercised by somebody who is not even a member of the security service. The service could employ some of its outside agents to tap telephones. I think that if the Australian community had an opportunity to examine the character of some of the agents who have been employed by the security service, the community would be alarmed. The bill does not provide that the DirectorGeneral of Security can authorize only a member of the security service to tap a telephone. He ma;y authorize anybody to undertake the task. The AttorneyGeneral has said that if a telephone is tapped, he is to be supplied with information as to the result. The Director-General of Security must subsequently make an application to the Attorney-General, where he has issued himself a warrant, give the reasons and advise the Attorney-General of the results of the tapping. On this point, the Attorney-General said -
With this information, the Attorney-General should be able to evaluate the requests of the Director-General of Security for warrants.
So, the Attorney-General believes that on some occasions the Director-General might, without justification, ask for the tapping of some telephone and, apparently, the Attorney-General would then refuse the next request made by the Director-General of Security. I understand, according to the Attorney-General, that the only information obtained by telephone tapping of which notice is to be taken is security information. It cannot be used, according to the Attorney-General, for police purposes, for political purposes, or any other purpose. What is the actual position? Is anybody in this Parliament naive enough to believe that if one of the security officers went to the Attorney-General and said, “ In listening to a telephone conversation the other evening, I picked up a juicy piece of information about a prominent member of the Australian Labour Party “, the AttorneyGeneral would say to the security officer, “ Take it away. I refuse to listen to it.” Are we to believe that? The AttorneyGeneral said that records of information other than that regarded as being of security value were to be destroyed.
– You have a dirty mind.
– Mr. Speaker, I do not mind the interjection of the AttorneyGeneral because it shows that if ever there was a man who had a guilty conscience in this matter, it is the Attorney-General. He knows that he has deliberately attempted to mislead the people and this Parliament about the real intentions of the Government. Of course, if information is obtained it will be recorded. They might destroy what are regarded as the official records after the Attorney-General and members of the Government have made copies of the information they desire to retain.
Mr. Speaker, it has been argued by the Attorney-General that telephone tapping takes place in other parts of the world. That is perfectly true; but surely we are not expected always to model Australian conduct on what happens in other parts of the world? When have we ever discovered in this country a man who would betray the interests of Australia to a foreign power? There is no evidence of it. Let me put this to the Attorney-General: If they have any evidence that anybody has engaged in that type of activity, why has not the Government taken action against the person concerned? Is that not the proper way to act? What does the Security Service do? Although it is the work for which the security officers were especially appointed, they do not restrict themselves to tracking down foreign spies.
When the Attorney-General said that there were no exceptions from the operation of this proposed law, did he mean that the telephone-tapping provisions applied to the foreign embassies and legations? What about the established practice of immunity for the diplomatic representatives? This legislation does not apply to every telephone.
I want to refer now to one or two other activities to show how dangerous telephone tapping can be. If the truth were revealed by this Government, it would be disclosed that many worthy public servants have lost their employment or have been denied promotion on reports of security officers about which the persons concerned were never informed. They were never given an opportunity to answer the charges. Furthermore, many new Australians have been denied naturalization certificates on reports of the security service that before they came to this country, they had supported what were known as progressive political movements. If they were not tories and could not be depended upon to support the Liberal Party, many have been denied a certificate of naturalization.
There are any number of cases of applicants for permits to enter Australia who have been denied admission because the overseas screening to which they were submitted was a political screening. The security service has done its best, no doubt at Government direction, to keep out of this country anybody who was believed to have a political viewpoint opposite to that of the Government. Fortunately for Australia, the security service has not succeeded to any large extent. It has succeeded to a certain degree, but many people who learnt the ways to get into this country have been able to evade this political screening which was imposed by the Government.
To sum up, the Opposition is not going to be fooled into voting for this legislation. It contains one or two innocuous provisions such as that giving Postal Department officers an opportunity of checking the loading of telephone lines and the efficient working of the system. We are not opposed to those provisions, but the Government has wrapped up those innocuous provisions with the objectionable features of the legislation to which I have directed attention. We are not going to fall for that political trick. What we say to the Government is this: If the Government wants to take out those non-controversial provisions and bring them into the Parliament in a separate bill, the Opposition will consider the matter on that basis, but we are not going to vote to destroy the sanctity of Australian homes. We are not going to give an official imprimatur to eavesdropping, snooping, listening on telephones, opening of correspondence and all those things which every member of the Labour Party believes to be obnoxious. The Attorney-General said so himself. The Labour Party regards them as obnoxious but we are consistent and will vote against the bill. On the other hand, the Government uses the term “ obnoxious “ but proposes to press on with the legislation.
We look upon the bill as one of the steps taken by this Government to destroy individual and personal liberty and the sanctity of a person’s home. Because we believe in freedom, we propose to oppose this legislation with all the power we possess.
– It is rather significant that when the House is discussing a piece of legislation obviously designed to place a limitation on the possible use of telephone interception to produce information for the defence of the realm, the outspoken member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) should be the presenter of the Opposition’s case against the legislation. Later in my speech I propose to try to explain to the House why I believe he is so outspoken in this matter. I also believe that in view of his tirade on this occasion, he has imposed his will on the timid Opposition to make it select the attitude it has adopted.
To every fair-minded person in Australia, the idea of eavesdropping or listening in unknown to another’s conversation is normally repugnant. The idea of using the forms of interception available over the telephone for purposes such as detection of subversion, crime or offences against our fiscal or tariff legislation is not really acceptable because of the possibility that the innocent remarks of some unfortunate telephone user might be dragged from their context and used against the person, or that advantage might be taken of information obtained by interception to the detriment of a person whose conversation was recorded.
Yet when we consider that our forms of democratic government are fighting for survival against an unscrupulously efficient conspiracy, inspired from abroad and avowedly devoted to the overthrow of our system of government and the imposition of world communism, it does seem a little quixotic, to put it in the mildest terms, that we should, by legislation, take an action which must restrict the powers of the guardians of our security in carrying out their most important task. Whether the protection we wish to afford ourselves is designed to deal with espionage, sabotage or subversion, we know that in most cases, those who are enemies in our midst are both highly efficient and highly trained to handle the tasks set them. To limit our own service in dealing with these conspiracies is like asking a hobbled horse to win the Melbourne Cup.
I am not quite clear, from the explanation of the bill, what is the position of the police forces of the States in the discharge of their responsibility for crime detection. As has been mentioned, this practice is used quite widely in other countries. For instance, we know from the White Paper on telephone interception in the United Kingdom and from the report of a very powerful committee set up to examine this subject, that one of the agencies using telephone interception was the Metropolitan Police. In fact, the inquiry was brought about by the disclosure that certain information obtained by the police about the activities of a well-known criminal and his legal adviser had been made available on the authority of the Home Secretary to the chairman of the Bar Council and through him to the governing body of the Inn of Court of which the legal adviser was a member.
The Commonwealth has little or no responsibility for the detection of crime, apart from that within its own territories and certain crimes against Commonwealth laws. The bulk of criminal law is the responsibility of the State police and is within the province of the States. It appears to me that the bill could impose a serious restriction on the State police in the exercise of their duties. I have no doubt that in the past the police forces of the
States have used telephone interception in the detection of crime. It would be almost absurd to suggest that they had not. I am not at all happy with the thought, if I read the bill correctly, that there is an absolute restriction which prevents telephone interception being used for the purpose of crime detection, unless that crime is covered by clause 5 (3.) of the bill, “ in or in connexion with the performance by the Security Organization of its functions or otherwise for the security of the Commonwealth “.
It may well be that this is sufficiently elastic for the Director-General of Security to act on behalf of the Commissioners of Police in the various States in obtaining from the Attorney-General a warrant authorizing interception. Anyway, if no provision of this nature is made, I am quite satisfied from what I know of it that the normal criminals within our midst will go away rejoicing when the bill becomes law. I would, therefore, ask the Attorney-General (Sir Garfield Barwick) whether the responsible Ministers in the States have been consulted in this matter and whether they have signified their acceptance of the limitation of the freedom of action to their police that the bill seems to impose. I know that clause 8 gives power to the Director-General of Security to issue warrants to persons approved by him, and it may be practicable within that clause to make allowance for the type of provision that I think is necessary.
I mentioned earlier that no fair-minded person likes the idea of their conversation being intercepted, and in fact, in the colourful language of the British Home Secretary in 1848, when the subject of opening letters and other communications was being discussed, the idea is “ odious, invidious and obnoxious “. You, Sir, will understand that we who come from the country areas and who have occasion to use party telephone lines, take a slightly more tolerant view of the sad subject of telephone interception. I suppose this, in conjunction with an easy conscience in the matter, gives me a slightly different view from the view that one would expect to be held by those whose conscience is either uneasy or downright guilty.
I was rather interested, during the course of the second-reading speech of the Attorney-General last week, to note two manifestations within the ranks of the Opposition. The first was the reaction of the honorable member for Kingsford-Smith (Mr. Curtin), who unfortunately is not here to-night. He provided me with plenty of food for thought as to the future should the wheel of political fortune take a half-turn. The honorable member interjected - I made a note of the interjection at the time - “ We will fix you fellows when we get in “. I thought that was a particularly significant remark from some one who, in my view, had he the power, would do exactly that. I think there is no doubt this fixatious intention was aimed at Government supporters.
The other interesting reaction - we have already had a manifestation of it to-night - was that of the honorable member for East Sydney. I can only assume that if the bill were passed it would make some of the practices attributed to him illegal and subject to the fine of £500 or imprisonment for two years. My authority for saying this is to be found in a very interesting record of the Australian political scene in recent years. It is a most interesting, attractive and objective study of Australian politics in the last decade or two, written by one who is well known to honorable members. I refer to Mr. Don Whitington’s book, “The House will Divide “. I do not think that even the most one-eyed member of the Opposition would accuse Mr. Whitington of being a crusted tory. At pages 120 and 121 of his book he discusses the activities of the honorable member for East Sydney in connexion with the Brisbane line appreciation. I remind honorable members that a royal commission was held, but the honorable member for East Sydney adopted the wise attitude, pleaded privilege and refused to appear before it. I shall read from this very interesting book some of Mr. Whitington’s objective opinions on the activities of the honorable member for East Sydney. The author wrote -
Where Ward left himself open to criticism was in making allegations which he could not substantiate about documents disappearing-
That was the famous Brisbane line appreciation -
The Royal Commissioner reported that, though he had examined all senior officials with access to War Cabinet documents, there were some minor officials he had not examined. He could not imagine a Minister of the Crown, however, accepting the uncorroborated evidence of such officials.
Ward’s first advice - about the defence plan submitted to the preceding Government - came from a member of a Ministerial staff who had served with a service Minister in the Menzies, Fadden and Curtin Governments. That was never disclosed, either at the inquiry, or later.
I ask honorable members to take particular note of this passage -
Nor was it ever disclosed that Ward had the best private intelligence system in the Parliament, including a means of listening-in to many official telephone conversations.
As I said, it is pretty obvious that the honorable member for East Sydney is hostile towards this legislation because, if he still had the prerogative to exercise these powers, the bill would cut right across his activities and would make him liable to a fine of £500 or imprisonment for two years. I repeat that Mr. Whitington, who has written a very objective book, is not inclined to lean one way or the other. I do not think any member of the Opposition could accuse him of having tory leanings.
– What is the book?
– “ The House Will Divide”, pages 120 and 121.
– What does it cost?
– You do not get a mention; I am sorry. Whatever Opposition members may think about it, at least the statement is there in black and white. I suggest to those who have not read it that they do so, because it would improve their political knowledge. I am not trying to give Mr. Whitington a plug.
For some time in this place, we have had allegations from the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Clyde Cameron) and the honorable member for East Sydney about telephone tapping, and it is quite obvious to me that in the atmosphere which prevailed prior to this session within the ranks of the Opposition - I presume it still prevails - if either of the two members I mentioned made a call to their former or present leader, that leader would like to obtain a little record of the conversation, and T think that is a natural precaution. He would have an arrangement that, when a call came, it would go through the private secretary’s office, and a record could be taken of the conversation as it ran, so that there would be no ambiguity about the course the conversation took. Every time that occurred, any one who knew anything about telephones would know there would be a click detectable by the person waiting on the line; and that click on the line so graphically described by the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Clyde Cameron) and the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) in this House on a number of occasions could be described, I believe, in exactly those terms - that their leader, present or past, was taking a normal and, if I may suggest, a wise precaution. At the same time, it is obvious that it would leave in their minds the impression that their lines were being tapped by some outside person.
I want to deal next with the question of the rights of members. I do believe that he who has an uneasy conscience must obviously be apprehensive of any legalization or of any step which will give the possibility of telephone interception; but he who has no uneasy conscience can, I believe, accept the principle for the nation’s good. And I am quite satisfied that during the course of this debate we will hear many specious arguments produced - particularly from members on the Opposition side. Those arguments will be designed to destroy security and the methods of detecting subversion; but all those arguments will be based on the rights of members and the underlying theme of all of them will be that the speakers have a slight doubt about their own consciences.
I mentioned earlier that the member for East Sydney made a vicious attack on the security service, and that is no novelty in this place, because he continually does so. I suppose the argument I used a few minutes ago will apply again: If you think you might become the target for the attentions of security officers you will naturally attack them. I would suggest to members of this place that he who has an easy conscience need not worry about any of the provisions of this bill at all. That would apply particularly to members of Parliament
– Do you mean an easy or a clear conscience?
– I think it amounts to the same thing. An easy conscience is a clear conscience. I mention that I am not completely happy about the limitations which will be imposed on the police forces of the States. After all, the Commonwealth has little or nothing to do with the detection of crime within our midst and the main responsibility to deal with the bulk of crime rests with the State police forces. I hope that during the course of subsequent remarks, or in the committee stage, the Attorney-General (Sir Garfield Barwick) will be able to explain that it is possible that arrangements can be made on certain occasions, when it is necessary for the maintenance of order within the State, to use this method of interception. I know that the States themselves would be very loath to ask for any concession, because they realize that among certain sections of the population the idea of telephone interception is extremely unpopular, and a political hot potato; but at the same time I think we have to be practical about this matter and if we are to ask our police in dangerous circumstances to intercept or capture or deal with dangerous criminals, it is too much to rob them of one of the most valuable methods of detecting crime - the use of interception. I believe that, generally, the average person in Australia would welcome some determination which would be made to give a limitation or definition of the powers of the people who are enforcing order in the Commonwealth to intrude on the privacy of the telephone system, and for that reason I support the bill. 1
– Mr. Deputy Speaker, that was a disappointing contribution to the debate from a man whose Australianism and respect for civil rights and the parliamentary institution I have come to respect, although I disagree with him on many political matters. In my view, he completely avoided the point. I believe that if we, in this Parliament, are not going to stand for the fundamental freedoms, civil rights and respect for the rights of ordinary human beings and their activities, no one will. If the honorable member for Corangamite (Mr. Mackinnon), with all that is behind him, is not going to stand up against this intrusion on civil rights and privacy and freedom, who is? A man such as he, who I thought stood for Australianism and the parliamentary institution and the freedom of speech!
Once again, it is left for the Labour Party to fight continuously for the protection of rights and the prevention of the intrusion of bureaucracy into ordinary human activities. That is what we stand for. Do not let anybody be deluded by the idea that this is a sham fight. This party is absolutely and resolutely opposed to this bill, root and branch, every full-stop and comma of it, and we will see to it that every one in Australia realizes that the Liberal Party, in this issue, stands against Australianism and its traditions.
Do not forget that it is only eighteen months until the next election and the 4,000,000 voters of Australia will have clearly put to them who were the people who voted for this measure and who voted against it, and the reasons why we did so.
– That is childish.
– Up in the Mallee the people will hear about it too. The dust storms and the willy-willies will not keep it from them. In the past you may have been able to shelter behind the ramifications of, and difficulties which have come into, the national scene by the intrusion of international politics, but you will not be able to do so any longer.
The people of Australia will soon realize that this bill is an infringement of fundamental Australianism. What is the country coming to? What is it that has suddenly come into the civil life of this country so that we cannot trust our fellow Australians? I will develop that theme later. I am surprised that honorable members laugh at that statement, but perhaps some day they will take time to sit back and do some thinking.
The honorable member for Corangamite tried to divert this debate into an attack on the honorable members for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) and Hindmarsh (Mr. Clyde Cameron) and other members on the Labour side; but that attempt will not divert us from the course of justice and the prevention of this intrusion on civil rights, and he will not get anywhere by doing so. This is a fundamental matter - not just a simple decision whether something is subversive or defines the use of police powers. We will not be diverted from the path which has been laid down for a thousand years, the protecting of ordinary mortals from tyranny.
We on this side have enough evidence and there is enough evidence for anybody who cares to take time to examine it to show that grave injustices have been perpetrated against ordinary Australian citizens, not necessarily through malice on the part of the security people but because their judgments are not founded on ordinary human experience and therefore they cannot be trusted to make this kind of judgment.
To-night we had a remarkable example of the intemperate nature of the AttorneyGeneral (Sir Garfield Barwick) when under attack. Throughout the speech of the honorable member for East Sydney, the Attorney-General interjected and tried to prevent that honorable member being heard. And this is the man, as far as this bill is concerned, the last free standing loyal Australian, the Attorney-General of the Commonwealth, the only man who under this bill is free of the threat of having his telephone tapped! He is the only person, apparently, among the whole 10,000,000 inhabitants of this continent, who is above suspicion, but we saw him in action here to-night. This is the man who is to sit in judgment and say, “ Yea “ or “ Nay “ to whether this evidence shall be obtained and whether it shall be accepted. If he is intemperate in debate in this institution - he is supposed to be one of the preservers of its rights - he will be intemperate in the exercise of this power. Therefore, if there was no other evidence or anything else to show that this bill should not be proceeded with, the activities of the Attorney-General here to-night would be enough to convince me.
But there are a number of other things to which I should like to draw the attention of the House. The Attorney-General made a long speech. He began by saying this was a bill “ to prohibit the interception of telephone messages but …” and then he used the specious excuse that it was following the line laid down by the Labour government. Of course, we deny that! I will produce some evidence to show that when the Labour Government was asked about these questions, it was honest and above-board about them.
Then there was the sugar on the pill. Clauses have been written in to trap the unwary into supporting the general prin ciple. It is said that the employees of the Postmaster-General’s Department have to be protected in the exercise of their duties. That is another specious point. Then he defined the Director-General of Security and all his works and his powers - and great powers they will be. Remember, the Director-General of Security, distinguished Australian though he may be, and the Attorney-General, distinguished at the Bar as he is, still are irresponsible in the exercise of this power. They are answerable to none.
Then we come to the pious nonsense with which they try to cloud the issues. The honorable member for Corangamite was inclined to use it too. “Eavesdropping is abhorrent to us as a people “, the AttorneyGeneral said. Later on he said, “ This Government has always been alive to the natural and proper reactions of our people “. Well, we have not had much proof of that over the last ten years The Government has been alive to every trick, dodge and artifice, to the use of political smearing and McCarthyism to further its own political ends. We think this a further instance in which if they could gain anything they would act in that way again. There is plenty of evidence in the past that security’s judgments are false. Therefore, people may well be prejudiced in their civil pursuits by a false judgment - not necessarily made with malice, but because in this field, I believe, those concerned are incapable of arriving at an objective judgment. The Attorney-General said -
So it has been decided that the extent to which an invasion may take place ought to be set forth clearly and unequivocally in a statute of this Parliament.
To what extent? Is there any alteration of the extent to which it has been carried on in the past? Of course not! This is simply an attempt by the Attorney-General to spread sugar over the bitter pill of intrusion upon civil rights, but there is no way in which he can avoid facing up to that particular issue. Then he said -
Foolish would he be who asserted that there were none in Australia who would be pleased to see our forms of government subverted . . .
That, of course, is one of the perils of democratic government. It is one of the things we face if we propose to treasure our democratic institutions - to treasure things like the right of a man to do what he will so long as he does not interfere with somebody else’s freedom. We must place reliance on the goodwill, common sense, loyalty and unity of the community to stand against subversion. I say that the history of Australia in the last 60 years has been such that I at least have faith in my fellow Australians. There is no need to intrude this kind of subverted sense of justice into the field of politics or parliamentary government or anything else.
That is the Labour Party’s position. We stand against this. The Labour Party over the last 60 years has been one of the protections of the community against tyranny of all sorts. Time and again the Labour movement and the Labour Party have had to take up unpopular causes, and time and again in the long run it has been shown that the people of Australia will support them in this. Nothing perhaps proves this better than the history of the Communist Party Dissolution Bill, and all the fighting that went on before the majority of the people rejected that measure in a referendum. It was purely due to the superhuman energies of the senior members of this party, many of whom are still here, that the people of Australia were roused to the menace in that instance. You can rest assured that in the next eighteen months the people of Australia will be given every evidence of the continued activities of the Liberal Party in this field.
I want to appeal, not so much on the ground of the legalism, not so much on the ground of the dangers which may be inherent in the activities of a very few unAustralian Australians, as on the ground of the Australian tradition. It was said 40 years ago that Australia is one of the world’s most democratic nations. It has been shown over the last 50 or 60 years that this nation is made up of some of the most loyal citizens you could find on this planet, at any time in history. In 60 years we have had no traitors. Nobody has bertayed this country. When Major Cousens was brought back from Japan and his case was finally considered, it was found that there were hardly any relevant acts on which to try the man. Despite all the suggestions that Australians are disloyal and un-united, that they cannot be trusted and are subversive and so on, there is no evidence of any treacherous or disloyal Australian.
I stand on that. I do not stand on legalisms, but simply on the fact that 60 years of nationhood have shown that Australians are loyal and true. We have never had to threaten to shoot our soldiers to get them into battle. We have never had to hang people for disloyalty. There is something wrong with a country that has to threaten to shoot its citizens to keep them loyal. What I am saying could not be exemplified better than by the operations of the first Australian Imperial Force on the Western Front. As outlined in the history of the First World War, the Australian troops were the only troops in action on the Western Front who were not threatened with the death penalty to make them stay there. You only have to do a little reading in this field to realize that the boys of the old brigade overseas were horrified at the idea that a soldier who went into battle should be made to feel he was compelled to stay there, because if he ran away he would be shot. You only have to read Earl Haig’s memoirs to learn of the constant pleas that he made for the Australians to introduce the death penalty. You only have to read of the appeals by various people, even FieldMarshal Birdwood, who attempted to get the Australians to ratify the provision for the death penalty. But the Australian Government - in the first instance a Labour government - stood firm. I believe it established a tradition for this country - that Australians may be treated as citizens and may be trusted to be loyal. There is no need for us to import some of the weaknesses of the old world and the tyrannies of the past.
Therefore, I believe this kind of activity is against the Australian tradition and that it ought to be rejected out of hand. It is a serious indictment of the Menzies Government that for ten years it has attempted to introduce this thing here. Most of the people on the other side of the House are people for whom one must have great respect, from the point of view of the distinction they have achieved in the community, and of the distinctions the community has showered on them, in the same way as it has showered distinctions on many other people. I think this measure is against the Australian tradition. The people of Australia, faced with the challenge of the Communist Party Dissolution Bill nine years ago, believed that that was against the Australian tradition and that we had no need of such things.
At this particular moment, at this time m our history, when the world is beset and bedevilled with spy manias, people all round the world are trembling again through the idiotic behaviour of the United States security service in sending over Russia, just before an important a<nd perhaps history-making conference, an aeroplane to spy out the land. That was an act of irresponsibility. No doubt the man who ordered that plane to take off thought he was doing his duty, but there is no doubt that, looked at from anybody else’s point of view, it was an act of irresponsibility and transgressed all of the moralities of the situation at the moment. That man may well have placed the peace of the world in jeopardy.
– What has this to do with telephone tapping?
– If you are not able to follow the argument, I am a little dismayed. 1 understand that the honorable gentleman is a man of law, and therefore he ought to know something about general protective devices - habeas corpus, the prohibition of arrest by general warrant and the right to intrude only under warrant. The citizen has the right of protection against intrusion on his ordinary privacy except under warrant, and that is where telephone tapping fits in. This is simply an issue of whether an irresponsible organization - I use the word “ irresponsible “ in the political sense - should have the right to gain evidence by means which the Attorney-General himself has said are abhorrent to all Australians. We feel that the community has no need of this. There is no evidence that I can find so far that the people on this side of the House are not as loyal and as true-blue, as united and as Australianminded as anybody. We know the kind of people who are likely to be prejudiced and tyrannized by this kind of activity.
The honorable member for Bruce (Mr. Snedden) is interjecting. He represents an electorate named after a man who did not have much respect for Australian principles. We on this side of the House subscribe to certain general principles. They are the protection of the citizen’s ordinary rights and the establishment of an Australian society which does not need intrusion into the private lives of citizens to keep it loyal, healthy and united.
I want to pay particular attention to the role of the Attorney-General himself. He is a man who has had the distinction of a knighthood conferred on him by the Crown. He is a man of great distinction and of great intellectual power, so it is said. It may be said that his activities here this evening were simply the aberration of an active and .virile parliamentarian. But what did he do when he was challenged to exercise his power and authority in this field not long ago? Last year in Melbourne there took place a Congress for Peace and Disarmament. A leading member of the security service saw fit to go to a person who was to take part in the congress and attempt to persuade him not to participate in it. Lots of people - not just within the Labour Party - thought that this was a rather exotic attitude for the security service to take. I participated in the Congress for Peace and Disarmament. I know something about its activities and something about the people who took part in it. I know something about the source of its funds and I defy anybody to prove that it was not an ordinary and above-board activity of ordinary Australian citizens who were keen to ensure that the next generation would not have to go through the same trials and tribulations as their immediate elders and grandparents had endured. I do not need to amplify this.
The honorable member for Ballaarat (Mr. Erwin) may be termed the “ man from Eureka “. I understand that one side of the Eureka monument carries the inscription, “ To those who fell fighting for liberty and freedom “, and lists the rebels who fell, whereas the other bears the inscription, “ To those who gave their lives in the cause of duty “. Surely the honorable member for Ballaarat at least should be a spokesman in this place for freedom of the Australian spirit and for justice and tolerance instead of continually interjecting on subjects of which he knows little. Syngman
Rhees’ mate from Ballaarat! Unfortunately, this debate is not on the air so the people of Australia are deprived of one opportunity to realize what this Government is up to; but they will find out quickly enough. 1 now refer honorable members to a reply by the Attorney-General to a question asked by the honorable member for Yarra concerning the peace congress. On not one page of this document which was delivered, I understand, to the honorable member in an enormous and expensive black Commonwealth car on a Sunday afternoon, is there a single thing that the Attorney-General could not have got by asking any of us to write out the information. The conclusions are trivial in the extreme. The AttorneyGeneral’s answer contains the following statement: -
It is a well-known practice of the Communists to build up a facade of respectability by obtaining a broad sponsorship of well-known people who, unaware of the real purposes of the activity, are persuaded to lend their names to what on the face of it appears to be a worthy one. The association of such people with these activities, and in particular with peace congresses, is then manipulated to serve Communist propaganda purposes. The current congress is an illustration of this technique.
The Government’s concern in connexion with the congress is to see that those who were minded to associate themselves with it, particularly in the capacity of sponsor, should be aware of its relationship . . .
Then follows more pious nonsense. There was only one reason for a security officer to go to the people concerned and that was to convince them that by being associated with the congress they were taking part in something which might prejudice their future. This was an attempt to break down freedom of association which should be one of the fundamental rights of the Australian people.
The Attorney-General is the man who is to exercise the extravagant powers conferred in this bill. He will have to decide who is to be phone-tapped and kept under surveillance. He is under challenge for his lack of objectivity and his ability to arrive at decent, fair and true conclusions. As the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard) inquires by way of interjection, why does he not remain in the House? What is wrong with the man? The honorable member for Bruce who is interjecting can make his speech later if he likes, and we will see that the people of Bruce are amply informed about his attitude and his vote.
The Attorney-General is the key to this bill. He is the key to the phone-tapping situation. He is the only one of 10,000,000 Australians who is free and above suspIcion He is the only man who can authorize phone-tapping and he can do it only on evidence produced to him by the security service. No evidence has to be tabled in this Parliament. No evidence has to be taken to an objective jury. No evidence has to be given before the High Court or a court of petty sessions. No evidence has to be produced to anybody but the AttorneyGeneral. Judging by my own simple experience in the recent past - the Congress for Peace and Disarmament in Melbourne only six or seven months ago - we can put no faith in the activities of the security service or in the judgment of the AttorneyGeneral in this matter. We reject this legislation out of hand regardless of who the Attorney-General may be. Surely the Attorney-General has had enough training to be able to arrive at objective judgment. But in the field of politics it is almost impossible for people to be objective, particularly in judging the activities of their political opponents. The Attorney-General, in his personal activities in the past, in his interpretation of his duty as head of the security service, and the security service in its interpretation of its duty and of the facts, stand condemned and are not to be entrusted with this power. We oppose the bill on those grounds. But there are other matters which concern us.
It is extremely difficult to define such a term as “ subversive “. The whole pattern of history is troubled and stained with incidents in which people have been charged with treason, with subversive activity and with heresy because they disagreed with accepted authority. The pattern of history has been a struggle against this kind of thing, a struggle for freedom and tolerance. Surely we, on this continent, should stand for those qualities.
What troubles Australian security internally? We have only to see the approach of honorable members opposite, particularly the interpretation by members of the Cabinet of the activities of the trade union movement, to know that they are not to be trusted to make an objective judgment in
Australia’s interests of what is subversive activity. In this bill “ subversive activity “ and “ security “ are difficult to define just as “ democracy “, “ truth “, and “ freedom “ are difficult to define. We say that this kind of power is not to be entrusted to irresponsible organizations and we oppose it. Australian history is jotted and dotted with such cases. There was the case of the members of the I.W.W. who were sent to gaol during the First World War. One of them eventually became a Labour senator. Four or five years after they had been sent to gaol a royal commission found that these people should not have been imprisoned. Not very long ago an attempt was made to keep Egon Kisch out of this country because of suspected political associations, lt has now been shown that that was nonsense that ought not to have been tolerated. At the height of the last war we had the case of the Australia First movement, a document concerning which is in the papers room. Honorable members can get it by sending for it and read what Mr. Justice Clyne said. At page 19 of his report he said -
I think it proper to add that the Army authorities were not justified in recommending the detention of the following persons, namely: -
Keith Percival Bath,
And so on. It is only fifteen years since those people were cleared. This is the kind of tyranny which we must prevent. These are the questions at issue. If the honorable member for Bruce and the honorable member for Ballaarat want particular cases we shall deal with them in the committee stage, but the general principle is not to be tolerated. This Government has a very bad record in all these particulars. To-night, the case against the Petrov Commission was outlined. As the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) said, the Prime Minister himself had no real knowledge of what went on and his public remarks were contradicted by the evidence of the Deputy Director of Security. We have repeated evidence of McCarthyism in this place, particularly in regard to the approach to trade unions by members on the Government side. We remember the statement of the former Minister for External Affairs on a “ nest of traitors “. These happenings have been not in a McCarthyist era in America or in some other part of the world; they have been in this place, and that cannot be denied. It is recorded in “ Hansard “ that the Minister for External Affairs, Mr. Casey, as he then was - he has now been sent off to the House of Lords - said that there was a nest of traitors in the Public Service.
– In his own department.
– That is so. One has only to read the persistent questioning by my friend, the honorable member for EdenMonaro (Mr. Allan Fraser), of the Minister to find that that is so. The same sort of thing happens in respect of persons seeking naturalization. Honorable members must know of people whose naturalization sometimes is held up because there are bad security reports about them. They are alleged to have been associated with the wrong people. I am sure that the people of Australia would rise in their wrath if they knew for a fact that some fellow living down the street had been refused naturalization because of his political activities, despite the fact that the majority of the people nine years ago declared, by their vote, that it should be the right of any person to carry on political activities in this country as he wished. I do not want to prejudice people by mentioning their names, but there are two men in respect of whom I will give my personal guarantee, after years of association with them, that they are as loyal as anybody on the other side of the House and as dinkum as any Australian can be, and they have been refused naturalization. Because of these occurrences, I, personally, am reluctant to place any kind of trust in the people who have made these decisions.
Therefore, in this matter, two things are on trial. First, there is the Government itself. Does it give us any justification to put any trust in its judgment? I say it does not! Secondly, does the security service itself, in its very few published judgments, encourage us to place any trust in its conclusions? There are decisions of which we know personally which show that it cannot be trusted to make an objective judgment.
Although the Attorney-General may bring a bill in here and talk about parliamentary responsibility, in fact there is no demonstration of parliamentary responsibility. Ministers refuse to answer questions and we cannot get facts. This proposal is only putting a cloak of respectability over what is, or can become, a piece of tyranny inside the nation.
Some honorable members on the Government side have had the hide to bring Mr. Chifley’s name into this debate. 1 remind them of a question recorded in “ Hansard “ on 10th October, 1947, at page 664, asked by the then honorable member for Canning, Mr. Hamilton. It was addressed to the then Prime Minister, Mr. Chifley, and was as follows: -
The then Prime Minister, in reply, pointed out that one of the functions of this body, which was the predecessor of the security service, was to make inquiries in relation to offences against laws of the Commonwealth. The answer went on to give some idea of its activities and also supplied the names and salaries of the people who were members of it. By using Mr. Chifley’s name it is nothing but arrant nonsense and humbug for honorable members to attempt in this debate to place a cloak of sanctity around this bill. There are honorable members on this side of the House who were members of the Chifley Cabinet, and they will be able to explain just what the members of the security service were expected to do.
I say, as an ordinary parliamentarian and as an Australian, that while the security service is completely irresponsible in the political sense, as it is, and a secret organization, as it is - costing as it does £500,000 a year and it is not answerable for the expenditure of a single penny of that sum - we cannot support it or its activities.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- I think the extent of the Opposition’s unity on this bill is amply illustrated by two facts; first, that not more than 10 per cent, of the speeches of the two previous speakers on the Opposition side has been devoted to the bill, and second, that the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) being entrusted to lead for the Opposition-
– What is wrong with that? He has been a Minister of the Crown and you may be sure that you will never be one.
– The fact that the handling of this bill for the Opposition has been entrusted to the honorable member for East Sydney signifies that the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) and the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam) were perhaps divided on whether to oppose this bill in the first place.
– The voting in the Opposition against it was five-five.
– That is probably true, and I would not be surprised to learn that the left wing of the Labour Party won out in the end. I say again that the entrusting of this bill to the honorable member for East Sydney and the fact that the Leader of the Opposition and his deputy do not lead the debate on it, signify a certain lack of courage on their part. If the Labour Party wants to oppose this measure then why does it not oppose it from the top? Secondly, why does it not oppose it on good grounds? I cannot hope to match in my short speech either the rantings or the rhetoric of the honorable member for East Sydney but I hope, in the next few minutes, to do more than match his logic - a commodity in which he was lamentably lacking.
– He did not have any logic.
– That is so. The honorable member for East Sydney said this bill represents an intrusion into the lives of private citizens. That is so much nonsense. The Attorney-General (Sir Garfield Barwick), in his second-reading speech, stated clearly that telephone tapping has been going on, not only during the term of this Government, but also during the regime of the preceding government. We know it has been going on but because we place this bill on the statute-book does that mean people’s private lives are being invaded?
– That is right.
– If the honorable member can see any logic in that, I cannot.
– But I am brighter than you.
– Obviously! The honorable member for East Sydney says that this measure is an ineffective move to protect our own security. Taken by itself, perhaps it is, but why should Australia’s security and the measures taken to protect it be hampered because the opportunity arose and the Government did not choose to use this move, which, quite conceivably, could become very valuable? The honorable member said that members of the Opposition have been trying to get some information on what has been happening with regard to telephone tapping. Of course they have. The honorable member himself and the honorable member for Werriwa (Mr. Whitlam) for many years have been trying to get the Government to act in relation to telephone tapping and put a measure of this sort on the statute-book so that everybody will know exactly what is going on. But as soon as the AttorneyGeneral brings down a bill to define those activities and also to limit them, members of the Opposition, or half of them, anyway, oppose it.
Why do members of the Opposition oppose this bill? Is it because the left wing of the Labour Party is afraid, in spite of the Attorney-General’s assurance that no member’s telephone has ever been tapped during the present Government’s regime? Are Opposition members afraid, just the same, that their telephones may be tapped? I do not suggest that they are afraid, but I ask whether that is the reason for the opposition. If not, why are they opposing the bill? The only other reason is to gain some cheap political capital because, after all, the Labour Party in this Parliament has not very much to go on to get political capital.
– Keep politics out of it.
– Do you think we are in the kindergarten?
– It sounds like it.
– It certainly does when you interject. The honorable member for East Sydney has suggested that it is a breach of parliamentary privilege for members’ telephones to be tapped. Does he believe that the elected representatives of the people should be exempted from the provisions of this bill? Why should they be exempted? If members of the Commonwealth Parliament are exempted, why should members of the State parliaments not be exempted? They also are representatives of the people, and why should shire or municipal councillors not be exempted?
– Why shouldn’t they?
– Why should everybody not be exempted? And if everybody should be exempted, why did Mr. Chifley find it necessary to impose this service on the people of Australia? The honorable member for East Sydney said that any action could be interpreted as subversive. With respect to the honorable member, that is a rather childish statement. After all, the limitations contained in the bill are very stringent. If the Director-General of Security thinks that a telephone should be tapped, he takes the matter to the AttorneyGeneral. At least one-half of the people of Australia regard the Attorney-General as highly intelligent and of great ability. Would he and the Director-General be likely to say, “ Eddie Ward is doing so-and-so. Let us call it subversive “?
– They might.
– They might, if the honorable member who has interjected - whichever electorate has the misfortune to be represented by him - were the AttorneyGeneral. The honorable member for East Sydney went on to say that this service could be used against the Labour Party. Does he admit that the Labour Party engages in subversive activities? I do not suggest that it does, but when one considers the stringent limitations on the powers which are contained in this bill, and the fact that the Attorney-General must decide what is a subversive activity, one can be pardoned for thinking that the Labour Party has something to hide when it suggests that subversive activities could be attributed to it.
The honorable member for East Sydney drew a few red herrings across the trail by mentioning the Petrov case and a peace conference. He did so simply because he did not have enough material on the merits of the bill to bring to the debate. So, seeking to impress the gallery which, unfortunately, was larger during his speech than it is now, he had to rave about something. Anybody who was misled by those red herrings is to be pitied and should be enlightened. The enlightenment will come from members on this side of the House who follow me in the debate. Instead of debating the merits of the bill, the honorable member for East Sydney spent a good deal of his time in running down the security service and talking about the violation of the sanctity of the Australian private home. That is a real tear-jerker! I emphasize that this bill restricts the power to intercept telephone conversations. It is a bill designed primarily and almost exclusively to restrict the activities of those who would intercept telephone conversations.
The honorable member for Wills (Mr. Bryant) said that although the AttorneyGeneral had stated in sugar-coated tones that this was a bill to restrict and prohibit telephone tapping, he had then used the word “but”. Of course, he said “but” because the bill excludes certain operations which are designed to maintain the security of Australia. Does the honorable member suggest that there should not be any exemptions? Does he suggest that there should not be any telephone tapping? Does he suggest that Australia should lag so far behind the rest of the world in security measures that we would be a laughing stock; a country without a sense of responsibility and oblivious of the need for security? He went on to say that the loyalty of the Australian people should be enough to make measures such as telephone tapping unnecessary. This bill is not confined to Australians. It does not exclude new Australians; it does not exclude Russians; it does not exclude people from any part of the world. To say that Australians with their great sense of loyalty do not need to be regulated by bills of this kind is to beg the question.
The honorable member for Wills then quoted an honorable member on this side of the House as having said that telephone tapping is abhorrent to us as Australians. Of course it is! I am the first to admit that to have a third party listen to a private telephone conversation is repugnant. Nobody denies that. And nobody will deny that it is repugnant to have one’s financial affairs and bank account investigated by officers of the Taxation Branch. That also is abhorrent, but it also is necessary for the welfare of Australia. If the Opposition in this National Parliament has no thought for the welfare and security of Australia, it has no right to call itself Her Majesty’s Opposition. Surely it is the function of the Opposition, just as it is the function of the Government, to consider the welfare and security of Australia. That is why we are here - at least we can do worse than to assume so.
– You say that this bill is essential for that purpose?
– Then why has the Government waited for 150 years to introduce it?
– For one thing, we have not had telephones for 150 years. Does the Opposition, which is opposing this bill that is designed to maintain the security of Australia, believe that known subversionists who have shown themselves to be willing, able and indeed anxious to wreck the Australian way of life, should be permitted to pursue their aims unhindered?
– Who are they?
– Out of respect for you, I will not say anything about that. Does the Opposition say that the subversionists should be permitted to continue undetected because the way of life which they seek to destroy protects them, and indeed helps them, to destroy it? Does the Opposition believe that? I cannot imagine why it should find fault with a bill which seeks to impose heavy penalties on any one who is detected intercepting a telephone conversation. The Opposition could not find fault with that part of the bill. It finds fault with the bill because it will allow measures to be taken to ensure the security of Australia.
I have no doubt that one of the reasons why this bill was introduced is because of pressure that has been applied to the Government by the Opposition. In the eighteen months in which I have been in this House numerous questions on this subject have been asked of the Prime Minister and other Ministers by the honorable member for East Sydney and the honorable member for Werriwa. The Government’s attitude has now been stated in black and white and this bill will, no doubt, take its place on the statute-book. If the Opposition does not like that, what does it like?
Mr. Deputy Speaker, I stated to the Government Whip my intention to speak on this bill because I thought that there might have been something in the Opposition case which needed answering. I have now been on my feet for about ten minutes, and that is five minutes more than I needed to answer the Opposition’s case. As all honorable members who listened to the Opposition’s arguments realize, Opposition members have no case at all.
– Some one wants the honorable member on the telephone.
– I shall go and answer it.
.- Naturally, I could be expected to oppose this bill, and so that no one on the Government side of the House will be disappointed I shall say that I am opposing the measure. The honorable member for Kalgoorlie (Mr. Browne) having, as he said, effectively disposed of the arguments advanced by the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward), it might seem that there is not very much more to be said about this bill. However, the honorable member for Kalgoorlie will need to listen - and very attentively - to a few more speakers from this side of the House if the answers to the questions that he asked are gradually to filter across to him. After all that has been said, the honorable member wants to know why the Opposition opposes this bill. He wants to know whether we support subversive forces within the Commonwealth .of Australia that want to overthrow the Australian way of life. We have made our attitude clear right from the outset. We have said that we do not support such forces, and we have stated exactly what ,are our objections to this bill. I suppose that anybody who places on record his opposition to this measure will be expected - and Government supporters do not deny that they expect it - to support subversive elements in the community. We on this side of the House have to be prepared to take that and not to be particularly sensitive about it.
The bill at the outset purports to prohibit certain practices which it is not denied have been going on. With respect to the practising of telephone tapping by this Government, the only information given to us has been contained in an admission that telephones have been tapped, but as the Attorney-General (Sir Garfield Barwick) so blithely put it, in only 187 instances, if my memory serves me correctly.
– But they were not telephone tappings by the Government.
– I am not prepared to believe that. But I am prepared to accept, because I must be prepared to do so, that in only 187 instances has the Attorney-General had any knowledge of telephone tappings. I have just been corrected; the number was 182. However, I have no doubt that another five tappings have occurred since the Attorney-General spoke, and probably my own telephone was among those tapped. I feel that, although the Attorney-General has proof of only 182 instances of telephone tapping, I am entitled to conclude, if only from my own experience, that there have been a vast number of telephone tappings that the Minister does not know about.
The bill purports to prohibit and restrict telephone tapping. I use the word “ tapping “ rather than the word “ interception “ because it is a word which we have used for so long in our experience that it comes to our tongues much more easily. The bill purports to prohibit telephone tapping except in particular circumstances, and the circumstances which are specified are the reason for opposition to the bill. The particular circumstances were .carefully enunciated by the AttorneyGeneral - and carefully sugar-coated, too, if I may put it that way. The Minister used all the wiles and pursuasion of oratory that a trained lawyer has at his command in putting these circumstances forward.
As I have already said, the bill, purports to prohibit telephone tapping - Government supporters say that, therefore, we should1 accept the measure - except in certain prescribed circumstances. Those prescribed circumstances provide all the reasons that I need to oppose this bill. The circumstances prescribed are such as to permit the Attorney-General, if he himself forms a conclusion - he requires no proof that I know of - that certain people are acting in a manner prejudicial to the good government or security of the Commonwealth of Australia, to issue warrants for the tapping of telephones. Knowing the AttorneyGeneral as we do, we think that that is bad enough. But in addition, in certain circumstances, the Director-General of Security may, because he considers the matter urgent, issue a warrant to himself to tap a telephone. Certainly, there are some restrictions on the warrant. It is supposed to have effect for only 48 hours. In my view 48 hours is too long a period for the Director-General of Security to have authority to tap the telephones of citizens. For one thing, I do not trust the security service.
An important feature of the bill is clause 12. Even if I had no other objection to the measure, I should object to it because of the provisions of clause 12, which provides -
The Director-General of Security shall furnish to the Attorney-General in respect of each warrant a report in writing on the extent to which the interception of telephonic communications in pursuance of the warrant has assisted the Organization in carrying out its functions of obtaining intelligence relevant to the security of the Commonwealth.
Government supporters may ask: What is wrong with that? Any person who holds the views that I hold concerning the trustworthiness of the Director-General of Security will look at the matter as I do. The bill provides that the Director-General must supply to the Attorney-General a report showing whether or not the tapping of a telephone provided him with information that would assist him. The DirectorGeneral may feel that a certain person should not be employed in a Government department, and he may, only on an alleged suspicion, tap that person’s telephone. The main thing about which I am concerned is that this clause will compel the DirectorGeneral of Security to forward to the Attorney-General the names of individuals against whom the Director-General, in reality, probably has no evidence. As a result, the names of such persons will be included in a dossier which will be held by the Commonwealth Attorney-General. I imagine that the honorable member for Canning (Mr. Hamilton), who is trying to interject, knows nothing about dossiers, but he may not be very well read on the subject. Suppose we ignore for the moment the fact that a person’s name goes on a dossier. The clause will permit the name of any individual citizen to be . embodied in a list of names of people some of whom ma) really be subversive agents. Any citizen of the Commonwealth that the security service cares to pick on may be put in that position merely by the Director-General of Security issuing a warrant to himself for the tapping of a telephone, because he will be obliged to forward to the AttorneyGeneral a list of the names of all persons whose telephones have been so tapped.
– He has to say whether the tapping brought results.
– The DirectorGeneral has to say whether or not he obtained any information as a result of the telephone tapping. The fact remains that some one may be put almost in the position of a person who is taken to a criminal investigation department for questioning. Such a person may be released after questioning which has provided the police with no information, but the fact remains that that individual’s name will be on record. I say that even if Government supporters do not object to that sort of thing the average Australian citizen would object to it.
– Does the honorable member say that people should not be taken for questioning?
– I should like to take the Minister for questioning. Doubtless, [ should not find out much if I did.
As I have said, I consider that the Opposition has to oppose this bill, not because it prohibits telephone tapping only in some circumstances, but because of the circumstances in which tapping will be permitted. We are well aware that our opposition will not result in the defeat of the bill but it will have this effect: If the Government is determined to invade the privacy of Australian homes by tapping telephones without the knowledge of the citizen concerned, the practices that flow from this measure will not be adopted with our approval or under our imprimatur.
We can visualize some persons being victimized and possibly rail-roaded into prison. It happened in the case of the members of the Industrial Workers of the World movement and has happened frequently throughout our history. If we support this measure and then later protest against such victimization, we will be told, “ But you supported the bill “. We do noi propose to be manoeuvred into that position. It has been said by the AttorneyGeneral that the former Labour Prime Minister, Mr. Chifley, authorized telephone tapping. I do not know whether he did so or not; but even if he did, I do not feel obliged to be bound by his action. In any case, although it has been alleged that Mr. Chifley authorized telephone tapping, no evidence has been brought forward to support that statement.
– Then you do nol believe the Attorney-General?
– Not unless the Attorney-General brings forward some evidence to support the allegation. His entire speech in support of the bill was an attempt to deceive the people into believing that this was a bill to prevent telephone tapping. It is no such thing and telephone tapping will continue whether the bill is passed or defeated.
– Do you not believe that Mr. Chifley set up the security organization?
– I do not disbelieve that; but there is no evidence that Mr. Chifley ever agreed to introduce telephone tapping or approved of it. Until there ls evidence that he did so, it is only assumption. However, I will say here and now that even if the assumption is correct, we on this side are not going to be bound by something that happened so long ago. I have another reason for opposing this bill; It will give authority to certain persons to do certain things, and although they might be the best people in the world, what is proposed in this bill is a step towards totalitarianism.
– You would have had trouble in making this speech if the Labour Party executive had voted the other way on it.
– You would not know anything about it. I am expressing my views on this bill and I am not having any trouble in doing so. I do not want any assistance from you. You are prepared to support a bill which will give powers that would have been well and truly applauded by a fascist government such as that which had power in Germany before and during the Second World War. No doubt, the bill would receive the full approval of your friend, Mr. Verwoerd and his colleagues who enforce aparthied in South Africa. The only excuse offered for the bill is that it will assist in tracking down subversive agents. So far it has been admitted that there have been 182 telephone tappings but it has been freely conceded that they have not resulted in one conviction of a subversive agent.
– It resulted in a lot of information, though.
– If it resulted in such a lot of information and the honorable member for Wide Bay knows it, he could have got that knowledge from only one source. We on the Opposition side really believe that this telephone tapping has resulted in information being obtained. We believe that telephone tapping is used to gather information against the Government’s political opponents and that the information is disseminated by the security police to the supporters of the Government parties immediately it is gathered. The honorable member for Wide Bay supports that activity; otherwise he would not know whether it resulted in a lot of information being obtained. We oppose it because, as I have said, it is a step towards totalitarianism. History has shown that steps towards totalitarianism are small at first and then they grow larger. Always, these tactics are used against the workers.
The Government has a record for gathering information of this sort. That has been admitted by the honorable member for Wide Bay. It is used against the trade unions. We are satisfied that the telephones of trade unionists have been tapped. If we were to vote for this bill and then the Government obtained some information, in circumstances to which we objected, we would be told that we had supported the bill. We do not support the bill and we say definitely that we have no evidence that it is necessary. We have no guarantees about the manner in which the powers provided in the bill will be used. At any tick of the clock, on any day or at any hour of the night, the Director-General of Security will be able to tap any citizen’s telephone.
He can say that he tapped it to get certain information.
In view of the general attitude of the supporters of this Government to any workingclass organization, we know how far they can be trusted. We know their attitude towards us. We do not trust them and if these officers are to be given this power, it will be done without our imprimatur, regardless of what may have been done ten years ago.
Mention has been made of the Communist Party Dissolution Bill. That bill was actually passed through this Parliament in 1950 and later it was rejected because it was contrary to the Constitution. Anybody who supported that bill favours a fascist ideology: so how can this Government be trusted with the powers it is seeking in this bill? In the case of the Communist Party Dissolution Bill, the exercise of great powers hinged merely on the interpretation of the term “Communist”. The Government fell down on that bill because it sought powers to rope in almost any citizen in Australia. That is why the people refused to grant those powers. In the bill now before the House, interpretation is again important, because the people whom the Director-General of Security proposes to raid - and after all, tapping a person’s telephone is a raid, even if it is no more than a raid on their privacy - are people who, in his interpretation, are doing something that they should not do. The terms of the bill suggest that the Government considers that he should not be trusted too far, because he is not allowed to extend his warrant beyond 48 hours when he decides that he should tap a telephone.
– He still must apply for a warrant.
– After 48 hours, he has to make application.
– He has to apply before.
– Yes, I admit that the application can go in, but he can make his tapping even 48 hours before the application is made. The honorable member will know that, because he has read the bill. Therefore, some restriction is placed on him.
I know something of security officers because, as a trade union official, I have had experience of them not only snooping about my home and about my office, but also snooping about at peaceful meetings of workers, inciting and inflaming them to do things that they otherwise would not do. I can produce evidence to show that security officers have done this to the detriment of peaceful industrial relations, simply to cause an incident so that they would have something to put on record. In the same way, telephone tapping will probably be done simply to give them something to put on record. I know that this is so, because I have had dealings with them. In my opinion, they serve no useful purpose in the suppression of subversion. As a matter of fact, they act in such a way that subversive elements can frequently capitalize on their activities.
.- No free people like a bill of this sort, but the question we must consider is whether it is needed. The honorable member for Darebin (Mr. Courtnay) made a most extraordinary speech. In kindness to him, 1 suggest that there may be some truth in the interjection of the honorable member for Wannon (Mr. Malcolm Fraser) that honorable members opposite oppose the bill because a majority in caucus decided that it should be opposed. To-morrow, we will probably read in the press how many members voted in caucus to oppose the bill. I am quite certain that the right wing members of the Opposition really support it.
The honorable member for Darebin suggested that other Opposition members who had spoken had said that they did not support subversive action. But an examination of their speeches will show that they said nothing of the knid. The whole of the attack on the bill has been concentrated on the privacy of the individual. The remainder of the speech of the honorable member for Darebin was a libel of the Director-General of Security and his officers. He also suggested that no honorable member on this side of the House could be right because we support the bill. We must ask ourselves whether the bill is necessary. One honorable member opposite stressed that we as a nation are entitled to protect ourselves.
– Against whom?
– Protect ourselves against a world organization. On no account does the Opposition allow a democratic government any means whatever to defend itself. The bill creates a new situation. Any illegal tapping or interception of telephone messages becomes a criminal act, and this affords a protection that did not previously exist. I think that honorable members on this side of the House would have known that the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) would lead the attack for the Opposition. He and the honorable member for Darebin said that Opposition members have had their telephones tapped. If that is so, why do they not produce evidence to support their allegations? Why do they not produce evidence in the House to show when their telephones were tapped? Are we supposed to believe that sort of rubbishy talk? We need only ask ourselves: Why should members of Parliament be exempt? We are members of the general public and if there is subversion in this country, surely we should be subjected to the same treatment as other citizens receive.
If honorable members read the speech of the honorable member for East Sydney in “ Hansard “, they will find that he did not deal with the preservation of the security of Australia. Yet the bill is designed to protect Australia. The claim has been made that the power in this bill is required so that information obtained by the security organization can be used in an attack on the Australian Labour Party. This power has existed for twelve years, and I suggest to honorable members opposite that they cannot cite even one instance in which we have used such information for an attack on the Australian Labour Party. Why do honorable members opposite make these allegations? Why did the honorable member for Darebin talk clap-trap about agents going to quiet industrial meetings and creating turmoil in an effort to cause an industrial dispute? I cannot imagine why such fairy stories are told in the National Parliament.
Some question has been raised about whether the late Mr. Chifley introduced the procedure of telephone tapping. The eighteenth finding contained in the report of the Royal Commission on Espionage was as follows: -
In 1948 information then in the hands of the Crown gave rise to suspicions that Security measures in Australia, particularly in the Department of External Affairs, were inadequate. In consequence, Mr. Chifley, the then Prime Minister, formed the present Security Service.
That finding of the Royal Commission on Espionage, known as the Petrov Commission, was based on evidence given before it.
– When was that report brought down?
– It was brought down in 1955.
– It was brought down during the regime of the Menzies Government to smear the Labour Party.
– The honorable member for Reid suggests that the three commissioners were dishonest. This attack on the security organization is becoming most suspicious. We have been told that there have been 182 telephone tappings. Opposition members claim that these tappings were used for the purpose of attacking trade unionists and the Australian Labour Party; but not one skerrick of proof has been produced to support this contention. The honorable member for East Sydney was frightened that juicy bits about Labour leaders would be aired in public. Do they have juicy bits? If he knows of them, why did he make that comment? He alleges that Government supporters engage in the objectionable practice of snooping, eavesdropping and informing. Honorable members should examine the speeches made on the adjournment of the House for the past ten years and then ask: Who is the chief snooper, informer and eavesdropper in the Parliament. It is the honorable member for East Sydney, who has led this debate for the Opposition! He is the one who attacked the security service but not once in his speech did he mention the need to protect the security of Australia. Let us examine what is taking place in the United Kingdom which, after all, is the font of civil liberty. In the United Kingdom the interception of telephone conversations and of letters is permitted, not only for security purposes, but also for police and customs purposes and in investigations regarding drugs, lotteries and obscene publications.
I remind honorable members that there are occasions when there is a Labour administration in Great Britain and that in the period 1946 to 1949, when Labour was in office, the average number of telephone tappings was about 120 per year for police, security and post office purposes and the interceptions of letters numbered 190 in the first year, 870 in the second year and 641 in the third year. Then the tories were in office for six years - remember it was during the Korean War - and telephone tappings rose to an average of 210 per annum and the average number of letters intercepted fell to 300 or 400 per annum. So under the Labour administration in Great Britain the same methods were used only to a much greater extent than we are using them, because we are not prepared to allow the interception of mail. The interception of telephone conversations is allowed in the United Kingdom to a much greater degree than it is here.
The question of security has been raised by Opposition speakers. I would say that one of the most active and dangerous conspiracies by the Communists in the free world exists in Australia, because they are more active here than in most countries.
– What proof is there of that?
– What proof? I will again refer to the findings of the royal commission in Victoria.
– In what year?
– I do not know what year it was, but I will read out the aims and objectives of the Communist Party in Victoria. They do not differ from those of the Communist Party in other parts of Australia. In the findings of that royal commission we read -
The aims and objectives of the Communist Party in Victoria do not differ from those of the Communist Party in other parts of Australia. The aims and objectives are -
To overthrow the capitalist state.
To establish the dictatorship of the proletariat.
To smash the existing State machine.
To introduce socialism by expropriating the present ownership of the means ot production and distribution and the great landlords, and
Ultimately to introduce communism.
This overthrow will be achieved at the earliest practical moment.
Then we read -
If the present possessors do not abdicate power voluntarily they will be violently overthrown.
We know that the whole policy of communism and Marxism is the violent overthrow of the capitalist system by bloody revolution. Opposition members know that the object of the conspiracy of communism is world domination and that it is constant in every country in the world. Members of the Opposition have only to look to our immediate north to see the immense dangers which face Australia; but they are not content to allow us to have a security service which can give some measure of protection to our people. Responsibility for the security of every man, woman and child in this country lies on the shoulders of the Labour Party, the alternative government. Have members of the Opposition ever seen war passing through a country or considered the problems that are involved? It may be said that in the matter of wars in the past we always knew that in the end we would succeed, but do we know that in the end we will succeed in future wars. No! Members of the Opposition are prepared to place in jeopardy not only their own families but every family in Australia because they will not recognize the existence of the world’s greatest conspiracy of evil which is the work of the Communists and they are not prepared to give Australia any security system for its protection. Nobody likes the individual’s privacy to be infringed. We do not like it, and that is why we are placing in a statute the right of the security service, under very strict supervision, where it is convinced that there is information prejudicial to the safety of Australia involved, to tap telephones. But the security service will not be permitted to intercept mail. In view of the danger which we know exists in the world to-day I say that we shall be recreant to our duty if we do not agree to this measure. How else can we obtain the security information which is to our advantage? There exists at the present moment the right, subject to the approval of the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies), to tap telephones, and honorable members opposite are not prepared to agree to continue that right in a statute.
– We have given our reasons.
– The views of the honorable gentleman on security and the Australian way of life are somewhat notorious. Honorable members should be able to form an opinion of what is safe for Australia and what is not safe. I would not risk the security of the people who support me, or for that matter, any Australian. The honorable member for the Australian Capital Territory (Mr. J. R. Fraser), who is interjecting, should agree with me. He has seen service and should know what war is. If he thinks the world to-day is a safe place he is recreant in his duty as the representative in this House of the Australian Capital Territory. His electors will ask him, “ What are you doing about the security of Australia? Why do you oppose this bill? “ Did every honorable member opposite vote in caucus to oppose this bill? I am sure the voting was very close. We know that the left wing is getting control of the whole Labour movement and this country is endangered, because members of the Opposition will not accept their responsibility but say that this country is safe. And now, as free members of Parliament they are speaking against their consciences. They are presumably democratic people, but they have to vote against the measure because the left wing has its thumb mark on them. They have to vote against a measure involving the security of Australia because they are not democratic, although they talk about democracy. Nobody likes telephone tapping but honorable members must make up their minds whether the world is safe to-day and give the security service a reasonable chance to protect Australia.
Debate (on motion by Mr. J. R. Fraser) adjourned.
” Chinese Journey “ - War Service Homes - Sales Tax - Telephone Services - Commonwealth Bonds - Trade Union Ballots - Shipping.
Motion (by Mr. Freeth) proposed - That the House do now adjourn.
.- Mr. Speaker, I feel that I should reply to a statement concerning me and a charge made against me by Professor Richard L. Walker. He was writing in an Australian quarterly review called “ Quadrant “ about a novel I wrote entitled “ Chinese Journey “. The charge of plagiarism is a serious one; it is, in fact, an allegation of literary theft.
I would not have taken this opportunity to reply were it not that I am very proud and jealous of my honour as a writer, and I feel that a charge of this sort should be answered in a place where it can be official from my point of view and can be observed by the House.
The matter concerns a highly contentious journey which I took to China. Referring to my contribution on my visit to the industrial north with three companions, the professor, who comes from South Carolina where people have yet to free their slaves, although they call them negro workers, says this -
In a chapter entitled “ The Industrial North “ Haylen recounts meeting a former coalminer whose name was Yeng (note spelling). He reproduces Yeng’s story with appropriate . V.- said”, and ../.– told me”. Actually, Yeng’s story which is reported as personal experience by Haylen follows the general organization (in some places word for word) of an article by Ying (note spelling) Chi-hsien in the November 1956 issue of China Reconstructs, an Englishlanguage monthly from Peking. In the concluding paragraph of this section Haylen stated, “ Yeng was an unforgettable figure “. At least Ying’s article was unforgettable, because the familiar tone of the cliché-filled stereotyped story sent this reviewer to his files of China Reconstructs.
I am bound to raise this matter in justice to the publishers who make every effort to see that what they quote is accurate; and the firm of Angus and Robertson is notorious for the care with which it edits books published by its Australian organization. It went to great pains, and so did I, to publish in my acknowledgement these words which 1 beg to quote -
Particularly do I thank the Chinese radio and press and the publishers of “ China Reconstructs “. In preparation of certain background material for this book I have leant heavily on the ChineseEnglish magazines, particularly “ China Reconstructs “ and “ China in Transition “.
That, Sir, was a blanket acknowledgement of the things which appeared in “ China Reconstructs “. The point I make - and I do not want to make a long issue out of it - is that what happened was that the author in question had written this article in “ China Reconstructs “. Because of the background necessary to a report that I had to make to my party, I found in many of these ChineseEnglish magazines material which predated by many years the things I was looking for in China and wanted to check up on.
When we got to a town or city where the men who had written these articles were available, we asked them to come along and see us. Yeng, a blind journalist and exminer, was one of these fellows. He brought along, as the honorable member for Griffith and the honorable member for Bendigo will confirm, his article which was written some years previously and, in addition to letting me read it - and I spent the whole day with him - he also quoted at length this story. I was justified in saying that Yeng told me this and Yeng told me that, because he was recounting at first hand something which I had read that he had had published in “ China Reconstructs “. I regret that a professor of learning - apparently he is degreed and a man of culture - so far away as South Carolina was not more careful to check his facts. In view of the fact that this is a controversial issue I felt that I should bring it before the House.
I say in conclusion that even my political critics and opponents in this House would, I think, conclude that I would not use another’s word when I had a word of my own, and in view of the fact that I try always to put an honest presentation in this House as a Labour man, and write honestly as a Labour writer, I do not think I would be .accused of borrowing words, whether spoken or written. The charge of plagiarism is repugnant to me and I thought, Sir, that I should refute it. I thank you for your courtesy in the matter, Mr. Speaker.
.- I want to bring before the House a matter of some concern to a number of my constituents. It is a case where officialdom has blundered and those whom I represent are paying the penalty.
At the request of some residents of a war service homes group settlement I inspected the paintwork of several of their homes and found that although the painting was done only twelve months ago paint was already peeling off certain of the external walls. When I made representations to the Deputy Director of War Service Homes in Sydney I found that my friend, the honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Jack), had made representations in a similar case concerning a group settlement at North Ryde. I received from the deputy director a copy of a letter that had been directed to the local State member for Gordon in respect of the homes at West Pymble which I had myself inspected. I quote briefly from that letter. It reads in part -
Previously, exterior priming paint was basically formulated on the use of red and white lead. However, this was changed about three years ago to a formulation of zinc and titanium oxides mixed in raw linseed oil and tinted with red oxide . . .
It is generally accepted that the absence of red and white lead will reduce the exposed life of the priming paint . . .
The letter continues -
It is significant . . . that the painting failures are in respect of properties painted since the introduction of lead-free primers.
The letter also states -
Factors contributing to a breakdown in the surface coating . . . include the moisture content of the timber . . . This applies particularly to weatherboards which under the Timber Marketing Act of N.S.W. may be marketed with a moisture content of up to 18 per cent.
The letter then goes on to refer to - the effects of mist, fog and subsequent exposure to the sun, all of which tend to produce movement in the timber-
And cause deterioration in the paint. The letter also says -
The Division cannot give a complete guarantee against defects of this nature and is unable to accept responsibility unless there is evidence of negligence on the part of one of its officers, either in the preparation of the specifications or in taking reasonable precautions to ensure the specifications have been observed . . .
The letter concludes -
There is no evidence of negligence on the part of any of the Division’s officers and … the Division cannot accept responsibility for . . . repainting . . .
Now, Sir, this is an astounding proposition, because it suggests that under quite common conditions, without any defect in the materials, without any departure from proper building practices, without negligence on anybody’s part, it is quite natural and normal for people to have to repaint their houses twelve months after they have been painted. This is quite an astounding proposition to me and is not, I think, to be tolerated so far as my constituents are concerned.
What does all this abracadabra in the letter mean? The suggestion is that modern paint made over the last three years is no good because it contains zinc and titanium oxide instead of red lead and white lead. I have made inquiries and I have found from people who know what they are talking about that it is true that modern paint is not as good as the paint that was made a few years ago. What is involved, however, is that instead of paint lasting for five years, it may last for four years. But surely nobody would suggest that paint which ought to last for four years should last for only one year! So this explanation is simply not sound.
The second reason given is that this deterioration may be due to the moisture content of the timber; and the plain implication is that the 18 per cent, maximum laid down by legislation in New South Wales ought to be less. I find that experts regard this as quite fantastic. They consider that there should be no deterioration in paint as a result of a moisture content not exceeding 18 per cent.
Finally it is alleged that the effect of mist and deposition of moisture and subsequent exposure of the surface to the sun tend to produce movement in timbers and are factors in this matter. But these conditions are quite common and ordinary in many parts of Australia. In Canberra we have the same conditions, and we know that in Sydney and Melbourne they are quite common. These are the reasons given in the letter and I think that none of them can be accepted.
Now, let us suppose that modern paint is defective. The Victorian Housing Commission and the Victorian State electricity authority specify paint that contains white lead and red lead, and because there is some difficulty in getting paint of this kind from shops or ordinary suppliers, these authorities have the paint made and supply it for use on their establishments. There is no reason on earth why the War Service Homes Division should not do the same thing.
Sir, again I point out that standards have been laid down for paintwork done for the major Commonwealth departments - standards that could have been adopted by the War Service Homes Division in New South Wales.
Finally, I point out that the reason for the defect could have been, and probably was, that the timber had got wet from rain and had not dried out properly. In that event, it was the supervision of the War Service Homes Division that was at fault. The division should not have permitted the painting to proceed until the timber was dry. I am told that the trouble could also have been due to the paint being thinned down too much or too thinly spread.
It is, to me, quite inconceivable, quite fantastic and quite absurd that under normal circumstances a person should have to repaint his home when it was painted only twelve months previously. When you come to examine the reasons more carefully you must come to the conclusion that the defect was due either to a failure to specify the right kind of paint or a failure, in supervision, to ensure that the paint - assuming that it was of a proper standard - was applied under proper conditions and in the proper way. I am not interested in any dispute between the War Service Homes Division and the paint manufacturers or anybody else. I say simply that when the paint peels off after twelve months something is at fault. There is a failure on the part of the War Service Homes Division. The officers of the division may argue, if they wish, as to the reason for the defect. As I said before, the situation speaks for itself. There is no reason why, because of a blunder on the part of officials, the exservicemen, my constituents, living in these homes, should be compelled to carry the burden.
I ask that this matter be dealt with properly by the Minister. It is not good enough for a Minister simply to support his officers regardless of whether they are right or wrong. He is a representative of the people, just as honorable members are representatives of the people, and it is his duty, just as it is ours, to ensure that the people are not imposed on and do not suffer from the blunders of officials. I believe that this is a palpable blunder. This is a grievance which is manifestly justified. The position ought to be corrected and I ask that the Minister see that this is done.
.- I desire to draw the attention of honorable members to the position regarding exemption from sales tax of a school bus which is operated by the St. Pius X Presbytery which functions under the Roman Trust Corporation of the Diocese of Townsville. Last year the St. Pius X Presbytery purchased a small bus for the purposes of transporting the children living in outlying scattered farming areas to and from a new convent school at Victoria Estate near Ingham. These children have no other organized transport to get them to school. The presbytery asked for exemption of the bus from sales tax - a sum of about £147 - but this application was refused.
I took the matter up with the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) some months ago, and he pointed out to me that under the law exemption from sales tax is not available in respect of motor vehicles purchased by churches or by individual clergymen for use in the work of a church. However, the law does authorize exemption of purchases by a non-profit school for its use and not for sale. Further information was required by the Taxation Branch and a very full statement about the complete use of this school bus was furnished. The questions that were asked by the Taxation Branch were as follows: -
The average weekly hours the bus will be used for -
The presbytery answered those questions very fully in the following terms: -
The bus departs from Ingham at 8 a.m. daily and after collecting the school children and the Sisters of Mercy, the bus returns to Ingham at approximately 10 a.m. lt then departs Ingham at 2.45 p.m. daily and returns at 4.1S p.m. to conclude the afternoon’s transportation of children, fi) The actual time therefore, in conveying the pupils and two Sisters is 17) hours per week. The bus travels 43 miles daily.
The Treasurer in a letter to me, dated 7th January, stated -
In the case now under notice, you were evidently under the impression that the motor vehicle in question was purchased for the sole purpose of conveying pupils to and from school. I am advised that this is not correct. It is understood that the vehicle is used also in taking sisters to outlying church centres for Mass.
I feel that this is splitting straws rather finely. Without any doubt, the principal use of this school bus is the daily transport of children living in outlying areas to and from a school. As I said before, these children have no other organized transport available to them. The work of these little church schools in country areas is of the highest order. It is carried on without any financial aid from the States.
Honorable members who have any knowledge of existing conditions in country areas know full well that school buses are sometimes used for minor purposes other than those which may be considered the true function of a school bus. The Queensland Government has a very good system of free school buses. Five of my own children travel 13 miles by bus to and from school each day, completely free. But, good as this system is, there are many outlying areas to which it has not yet been extended and is not likely to be extended for a long time. In such localities, a church school bus may be the only form of organized transport. Surely a church should not be penalized but should be encouraged in work of this nature.
There is a further irony in this situation: When the presbytery registered this vehicle, it had to pay £32 14s., of which £20 lis. was for third-party insurance because the Main Roads Department which collects the registration fee recognizes this vehicle as a school bus. So we have the Main Roads Department saying that the vehicle is a school bus and collecting its full levy, while, on the other hand, the Taxation Branch says it is not a school bus and that it will not grant any sales tax concession. So, this institution is being severely hit in two ways.
I ask the Treasurer to rectify this position and see that the sales tax is refunded. The amount involved is about £147. There is ample precedent for such action. A similar kind of school bus operates at Calen, which is another small town in north Queensland. As a matter of fact, I think the magazine “ Woman’s Day “ last year gave considerable publicity to this bus at Calen which is run by a school. The magazine carried an article on the wonderful job that the bus was doing for outlying farming areas.
There are many country areas, or farming areas, in which children suffer severe disadvantages in regard to education. Sometimes these disadvantages are so great that parents who have a normal, decent and honest desire to give their children every chance in life with regard to education find that they must leave country areas and move to bigger towns or cities. This is the only way in which they can give their children what most of us consider a completely normal chance in life. This is a most undesirable state of affairs. None of us wants to see such things happening. Far too frequently we fail to appreciate the reasons for the drift from country areas. This is certainly one important cause.
Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- All honorable members will have been interested in the temperate and reasonable case that the honorable member for Herbert (Mr. Murray) has put. He has touched upon two very distinct anomalies in our taxation laws. One concerns the different interpretations that can be given by the Commonwealth and the States in respect of taxation imposed upon vehicle owners. The other has regard to the fact that no appeal lies from Commonwealth decisions on sales tax as distinct from income tax and other taxes.
In recent months the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) has mentioned the different interpretations given by the Commonwealth and the States in assessing taxes on motor vehicles. This has been most noticeable in the case of station wagons. The Commonwealth regards station wagons as passenger vehicles and thereby attracting a higher rate of sales tax than commercial vehicles. Some of the States agree with this assessment, while other States regard station wagons as commercial vehicles, which attract a higher rate of motor registration than passenger vehicles. In other words, the owner of a station wagon in some States cannot win. He pays higher sales tax than does the owner of a utility or a truck. He pays higher State registration fees than does the owner of a sedan. This is one of the anomalies which make a farce of the federal system. Governments in Australia should be able to come to unanimous decisions with regard to similar vehicles.
The honorable gentleman has pointed out that the Commissioner of Taxation has made a decision on the liability of the owners of this bus to pay sales tax. If a decision on income tax is made by the Commissioner the taxpayer can appeal from it to a Taxation Board of Review, to a State or territorial Supreme Court or to the High Court. If, however, the Commissioner assesses sales tax on some articles, the person liable to pay the tax cannot get a decision from a court without running the risk of appearing to break the law. The only way in which one can get a decision on an assessment of sales tax by the Commissioner is to refuse to pay the tax and then be sued by the Commissioner. If a person who has been affected by a sales tax assessment refuses to pay the tax and is then sued and loses the case, the Commonwealth always takes the view that he should pay the costs of the Commonwealth, even if the interpretation is being decided for the first time. The Treasury adopts a particularly obdurate and harsh attitude in these matters. It refuses to regard cases in which the Taxation Commissioner sues a person for non-payment of sales tax as being in the nature of test cases.
For these reasons I have great sympathy with the case put forward by the honorable member for Herbert. I should think that the bus in question was principally and primarily acquired for the purpose of taking children to school on week days, and that its use by adults as well as children to go to Divine Service on one day in the week would not prevail over the principal and primary object for which the bus was acquired. After all, adults are tree on Sundays to go to Divine Service and to take their children with them. They are not free to take their children to school on week days, and it is for this reason that such a bus is acquired.
I would make bold to say that the Commissioner has adopted a very technical attitude in this matter. I do not remember offhand what the sales tax legislation says, but unless the relevant provision stipulates that the vehicle must be solely or wholly used for school purposes I would think the Commissioner to be wrong. Surely, unless there is some such qualification in the legislation, it is the principal and primary use which the Commissioner should regard as the operative use. The only way in which the owner of this vehicle can test the matter is to refuse to pay the sales tax and be sued by the Commissioner. If he loses he then has to pay the Commonwealth’s costs as well as his own. Superior courts are often called on to determine whether Church, hospital and charitable institutions are liable to pay land tax or municipal rates on their properties, and there are many decisions in the reports of superior courts in Australia on the question whether such land is subject to land tax or local authority rates.
Although I cannot recall the precise position offhand, it occurs to me that it may be that motor vehicle dealers will not deliver a vehicle unless sales tax has been paid on it. In those circumstances the purchaser’s only remedy might be to sue the Commonwealth for the repayment of the sales tax he is forced to pay. The purchaser is in a dilemma as to how he may ascertain and vindicate his rights and liabilities.
As the honorable member for Herbert has pointed out, this is a matter which affects particularly two denominations, the Catholic Church and the Seventh Day Adventist Church, both of which regard it as an article of faith that children should attend schools run by their own religious institutions. In the country, where children have to come from far and wide to attend these schools, the travelling becomes a particularly heavy burden. I think the honorable member has made out a very good case. I hope that if the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) has the power under the sales tax legislation to overrule the Commissioner - and I do not think he has - he will do so. I suggest that he should at least ask the Commissioner to have another look at the matter. This does not affect only the particular town mentioned by the honorable member for Herbert or the electorate he represents; it must affect, I would think, a great number of people in various parts of Australia, particularly in the outback, where it is more than ever essential to see that community services for growing families are available - especially for health, education and recreation - and that they are brought up to the best standard anywhere in Australia. It is only if we make it possible for people in the outback or in the tropics to have proper family amenities that we will ever discharge our responsibility of developing that 40 per cent, of our continent which lies in the tropics; that 40 per cent, of our continent which holds only 4 per cent, of our population.
. I should like to take this opportunity to read to the House a letter which I received to-day from the Postmaster-General (Mr. Davidson). It is as follows: -
Dear Mr. Wentworth,
I refer to your personal representations, on behalf of the Brookvale Infants Mothers’ Club (Mrs. J. S. Watson, Hon. Secretary), requesting that telephone services installed in schools should be charged for at residence rates.
In the first instance, I should like to explain that when the principle of charging lower rates for telephone services connected to residences was introduced originally, the question of including
State Schools, Public Schools and other educational institutions in the scheme was considered fully. However, owing to the large number and various types of schools concerned, the adoption of such a course was found to be impracticable.
The basic principle of the residence telephone tariff is that the service must be used substantially for social and domestic purposes. As schools do not comply with the essential requirements in this respect, the Post Office would be involved in serious difficulties if any attempt were made to introduce exceptions to the general rule.
Whilst I fully appreciate the nature of the work undertaken by the Mothers’ Club, I am afraid that, for the reasons outlined in the foregoing, the way is not clear to accede to the request.
I do not regard that as a reasonable letter, and I do not regard this as a reasonable principle. I do believe that the Government should take a more lenient view of this matter which is probably of small financial consequence but which seems to me to be a matter of some principle.
I have also received a letter from the Newport Health and Community Centre, again in my electorate, which contains a similar request to the Postmaster-General. The letter points out that the committee runs the baby health centre and children’s library, both of which are non-profit making, and although neither is a residence in the actual sense of any one residing there, each is certainly not in business. The committee has asked for concessional rates also, but the Postmaster-General, in his reply, refuses to grant the residence rate.
I believe that the Government should, if necessary, amend the act. I do not know whether it is necessary to do so, but at any rate the Government should take steps to rectify what is an obvious absurdity in administration.
.- In the first place, I express the hope that the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Mr. Opperman), who is at the table, or any other Minister in the House during the adjournment debate, will convey to the appropriate Minister what is said by the various speakers. I have raised matters, in this House in recent times and have not received any reply. If the Minister merely sits in the House and does not listen to the observations from either side it seems that it is not much use honorable members raising matters on the adjournment. 1 make that observation to the Minister because the other night I raised a matter in this Parliament affecting bis own department but 1 have not received a reply after giving voice to what I thought were very sound sentiments. I have now been forced to write him a letter and post it to trim at my own expense. Therefore, I hope that to-night he will take back to the respective Ministers the matters which have been raised by the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth) and others because we raise these matters on the adjournment so that the Ministers may hear about them first hand.
The matter I wish to raise concerns InC policy of the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) and the Government. This policy causes a number of people who invested in Commonwealth bonds some years ago to incur losses. Under date 24th November, 1959, I wrote to the Treasurer, pointing out to him that I had been approached by a man in my constituency who produced £600 worth of Australian Consolidated Treasury Bonds payable on 10th August, 1964, al 3i per cent, interest. His safe custody receipt for the bonds is number Z399034 and is at the Commonwealth Bank, St. Peters. He is now anxious to dispose of the bonds as he requires the money for family reasons. He has been, advised, however, that in the event of his taking this action he will lose a considerable amount of money.
This man invested in these Commonwealth Treasury bonds as a gesture of loyalty and of support for the Commonwealth loan, but now he is faced with the prospect of a very severe loss as a result of this Government’s policy.
Under date 17th December, 1959. 1 received a reply from the Treasurer, in which he stated that there was no way in which the person concerned could avoid loss if he had to sell his securities at this stage, five years before their maturity date. The Treasurer said that because of the rise in interest rates in recent years the price for those securities on the stock exchange, net of accrued interest, was about £94 2s. 6d. per £100 face value at the present time. This would give the buyer a yield of a little under 4i per cent., which is in line with current interest rates on government securities for a term of five years.
The Treasurer then stated -
It would be outside the terms of the loan contract to redeem the securities at their full face value before they mature. The Commonwealth, acting for the Loan Council, contracts to pay a fixed rate of interest during the currency of the loan, irrespective of whether interest rates move upwards or downwards, and to redeem the securities at their full face value on maturity. The terms and conditions of each Commonwealth Loan are set out in the prospectus to the loan, and are determined by the Loan Council, on which all the State governments, as well as the Commonwealth, are represented.
He went on to say -
Over £3,300 million of Commonwealth securities redeemable in Australia are outstanding at present and the majority of these bear interest at rates below those the Government is now obliged to offer. To redeem all of these securities at par before they mature, or to raise their interest rates to current levels, would impose an immense burden on the Commonwealth’s financial resources.
The Government has given careful consideration to the difficulties of investors who find it necessary to sell before maturity their investments in Commonwealth securities. It was to enable bond holders in future Commonwealth loans to avoid such difficulties that the Government decided to introduce Special Bonds which may be cashed at face value or better, relatively soon after they are issued.
I regret that, for the reasons given above, I am unable to offer any alternative to disposing of the bonds on the open market.
I wish to make three or four points in reference to this, and they are not exactly complimentary to the Government. First, a man who has invested in a Commonwealth loan is faced with a substantial loss because of the Government’s policy of raising interest rates. Secondly, the Treasurer says there is over £3,500,000,000 worth of money invested in Commonwealth securities by people who face the prospect of a similar loss should they desire, for family reasons or for other causes, to dispose of their bonds. In addition to that the Treasurer states that special bonds were issued which may be cashed at face value or better soon after they were issued.
It is now possible for people with thousands of pounds to invest to get their money back much more advantageously than those who invested in Commonwealth loans some years ago at lower rates of interest. The people who invested in the Government’s loans should know that the Treasury refuses to meet its liabilities to them. As a consequence people who may desire a return of their money earlier than originally anticipated are faced with the prospect of losses.
It would be a good thing if this Government adopted the policy followed by the Chifley Government of continually bidding for bonds and keeping them at par value, with the result that they could never be disposed of at a loss to the person concerned. By bidding on the stock exchange and maintaining the par rate for bonds the Chifley Government protected to the full the assets of those people who invested in Commonwealth loans. This Government’s financial policy has resulted in an increase in interest rates in order to get more money and to enable certain people to get greater returns on their investment. They are also enabled to get their money back more quickly than previously. But there is no justification for the Government placing investors in Commonwealth loans some years ago in a position where they sustain heavy losses. This man is now faced with the loss of between £80 and £100 at least on an investment which he made with good intentions and in response to the appeals of the government of the day. This does not inspire confidence in the people. It does not encourage them to subscribe to loans. The Government is appealing now for subscriptions to the loan that is in progress, but the people bear well in mind the experience of the man that I mentioned and realize that, under this Government, an investment in a Commonwealth loan may well mean that they will lose roughly £10 in every £100.
The honorable member for Gippsland (Mr. Bowden), who is the Chairman of Committees, is interjecting. If anybody should know the Standing Orders, he should know them. I point out that he is not even in his right seat. I just mention again, Mr. Speaker, that the policy of this Government is such that people are losing money by investing in Commonwealth loans. I ask the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Mr. Opperman), who is at the table, to take my message to the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) and to request him to follow the policy of the Chifley Government, which made certain that investments in Commonwealth loans were maintained at par value. Not only was the confidence of the people in the loans maintained, but their investments were given protection.
Whilst I am making these observations, may I place on record my regret that this Government sees fit to cast aside its responsibilities to the people who were prepared to invest at 34 per cent, and to give preference to the people who are investing to-day at a higher rate of interest - in many cases their motive being mainly to gain a greater return. The man I have mentioned invested from motives of loyalty, thinking that the value of his investment would be maintained. What has happened does not inspire confidence in the Commonwealth Government’s policy. It does not inspire people to invest in Commonwealth loans. I warn the people who are about to invest in the current Commonwealth loan that they may incur a very substantial loss as a result of their investment. I ask the Minister at the table, in addition to taking up the matter which I raised the other night concerning his own department, to bring this matter to the attention of the Treasurer.
– Last Thursday night I had occasion to mention some of the rather alarming facts concerning the Yallourn elections, and my speech was reported in the Melbourne “ Herald “ in a way to which some of the members of the Returned Servicemen’s League have taken exception. To-night, 1 want to make it quite clear that what I said contained no possible reflection on the R.S.L.; none was intended. I do not think that any one who read what was actually said would have thought so. The “Herald” article statedTrie plot which will give Communists control of 75 per cent, of Victoria’s power supplies was hatched–
This is the part that is objected to - at a secret meeting in the Yallourn R.S.L. Club on March 17.
The facts are that the secret meeting of which I spoke was held in the Yallourn R.S.L. club. The actual words I used were -
They held a secret meeting - a meeting of Communists and A.L.P. members - in a room at the R.S.L. club at Yallourn, the purpose being to reach agreement on this new technique.
What actually happened was that one of the rooms which the R.S.L. frequently lets out to people who want to have meetings was booked for the shop stewards. The shop stewards themselves do not seem to have known anything about it, but that is the way in which it was done. A meeting was held there. Communists and Australian Labour Party members together conducted a secret meeting. That was quite unknown to the R.S.L. In proof of the fact that the R.S.L. would not have had a bar of it if they had known about it, I point out that last Friday night the Amalgamated Engineering Union, which is a Communist-controlled union, booked the R.S.L. hall for a social. When the R.S.L. found that the social was to be tendered to the three Soviet trade union delegates who came out here at the invitation of the A.E.U., the R.S.L. promptly cancelled it, and the meeting had to be held at some other place. No slur whatsoever was intended, or could be intended, on the R.S.L.
– Because of some of the things that have been said this evening, which would perhaps imply that Ministers are not concerned with matters raised on the motion for the adjournment, I think I should give an assurance that the matters that have been raised here to-night will be brought to the attention of the relevant Ministers.
In reply to the honorable member for Grayndler (Mr. Daly), I may say that I was in the House the other evening and heard the remarks that he made then, but I think he is confusing my duties with duties relating to overseas shipping. I am concerned only with coastal shipping and the Australian National Line. I fail to see how I could intrude into any matters affecting the overseas shipping lines. I am glad to know that the honorable member has written me a letter, following the tendency of some members on the other side of the House lately, and I assure him that I will give it every attention. If he wants to know why no notice was taken of his remarks on this subject the other evening, I tell him that I felt that it did not come within my sphere of activity. I am quite sure that when I read the letter I shall be able to get far more clarity out of it than I do when the honorable member gives a ten-minutes’ burst on the adjournment and deals in that time with many side issues. So far as the honorable member’s reference to Commonwealth bonds is concerned;, I assure him that his remarks will be brought to the. notice of the Treasurer.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 11.37 p.m.
The following answers to questions were circulated: -
z asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
a asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
How many retired officers of the Commonwealth Public Service who are now receiving a super annuation pension were at the time of their retirement contributing for four or less units in accordance with the provisions of sub-section (6). of section 20 of the Superannuation Act 1922- 1959?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows: -
Sub-section (6). of section 20 of the Superannuation Act 1922-1959 provides that an employee who is over 40 years of age’ on becoming a contributor may elect to reduce the number of his initial units to not less than two. Contributors may also restrict their unit entitlement by elections under sub-section (7). of section 20 of the Act and this provision is more widely used. Statistics are not kept from which, the information sought could be readily provided. However it is estimated that some 3,400 of existing pensioners, contributed for four units or less but only a small proportion of this group would have elected in the terms of sub-section (6). of section 20.
Payments To or For the States.
t asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
What amounts have been paid to or for each State for all purposes during each year since 1950?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows: -
The information is set out in the following table. The figures contained in this table are shown in greater detail in the Budget Papers for 1959-60 (pages 138 and 139) and in the Budget Papers of earlier years. These figures include certain payments from the National Welfare Fund which, although made to the States, are designed primarily to assist individuals. On the other hand, the figures exclude payments under the railway standardization agreements with New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia. Comments on the various payments to or for the States are contained in a Statement attached to the annual Budget speech.
s asked the Minister representing the Minister for National Development, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
s asked the Minister for Supply, upon notice -
What has been spent by (a) the United Kingdom and (b) Australia on the Blue Streak missile?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows: -
s asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
t asked the Minister for the Army, upon notice -
– The answer to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: - 1. (a) Royal salutes consisting of 21 guns will be fired in honour of the following personages and occasions: -
The Sovereign, a member of the British Royal Family; a foreign crowned head, or sovereign prince or his consort a prince who is a member of a reigning foreign imperial ot royal family; the president of a republican State. The salutes will be fired both on arrival and departure.
The birthday, official birthday, accession and coronation of the Sovereign. The birthday of the Consort of the
The birthday of Queen Elizabeth the
Queen Mother. Commonwealth Day. Australia Day.
These salutes will be fired at noon on the actual day of the anniversary (except on Australia Day) but when the anniversary falls on a Sunday, the salute will be fired at noon on the following day. On Australia Day the salute will be fired on the public holiday.
The Governor-General - 21 guns. The Governor of a State - 17 guns. Lieutenant-Governors or Commissioners (if administering the government) - 15 guns. On the following occasions: -
On first landing in their governments. (iD On the reading of the Royal Commission and taking the oaths of office.
Salutes as under, will be fired in honour ot the following persons on landing for the first time in the Commonwealth being in actual employment: -
Admirals of the Fleet - 19 guns.
Admirals - 17 guns.
Vice-Admirals - 15 guns.
Rear-Admirals - 13 guns.
Commodores - 11 guns. These salutes will not be repealed oftener than once in twelve months, and, in the case of officers serving in the Royal Australian Navy, not oftener than once in three years, unless the officer shall have received an advance in rank.
On special occasions the Governor-General mav authorize such salutes to be fired as he deems appropriate
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 11 May 1960, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1960/19600511_reps_23_hor27/>.