23rd Parliament · 2nd Session
Mr. SPEAKER (Hon. John McLeay) took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
– 1 ask a question of the Acting Prime Minister. In view of the grave harm done to Australia’s relationships with the Afro-Asian countries as a result of the Prime Minister’s personal publicity policy at the United Nations General Assembly, will the Acting Prime Minister state which of the other two voices of Australia heard in New York expressed Government policy on the Soviet Union’s membership of the United Nations? I refer to the speech of the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) before the American-Australian Association, on 6th October, when he said -
A walkout by Mr. Khrushchev from U.N. might help-
– Order! I think that the honorable member is going a little far.
– But, Sir, all I want to do is to ask the Acting Prime Minister to tell the House from which source emanates the true policy of Australia at the United Nations.
– The honorable gentleman may make reference to the speech, but he may not quote extracts from it.
– We then had the conflicting views expressed by the AttorneyGeneral (Sir Garfield Barwick) when, addressing the General Assembly on 8th October, he denounced the Soviet Premier, Mr. Khrushchev, for having threatened to secede from the United Nations. Perhaps the Acting Prime Minister can inform the House which of these two Ministers speaks for Australia, and where the Prime Minister fits into the muddled foreign policy of the Government.
– The honorable member’s question has some propaganda content, I should think, but it reflects his thinking. It displays a consciousness of our relationship with the Afro-Asian countries and a consciousness of our relationship with Mr. Khrushchev and the Soviet. It displays no consciousness whatsoever, Mr. Speaker, of our relationships with the United States of America and the United Kingdom. I am sure that all Australians will realize that, from the point of view of Australia’s security and well-being, nothing can have priority over the preservation of our relationships with the United States and the United Kingdom. The Prime Minister was the voice of Australia when he took the line that he did.
Co-operation with New South Wales Police Department.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Air. Was the Royal Australian Air Force asked by the New South Wales police to co-operate in sending detectives, with great urgency, to Colombo to arrest a man subsequently charged with a very serious offence, and did the R.A.A.F. refuse or was it unable to do so? What are the principles governing Federal and State co-operation in matters of this sort, and were they correctly applied in this instance?
– The only principle I know of that affects these matters is that, in proper cases, one department of government in this country should assist another as much as possible in the public interest. That principle was applied in the present case. The facts are these: On Saturday night, the New South Wales Commissioner of Police, Mr. Delaney, rang me up and told me of his need to get two police officers to Colombo in a hurry, explained his difficulties, and asked me whether I could help. I contacted my department straight away and alerted Operational Command of the R.A.A.F. that a Hercules aircraft might be required at short notice. Later in the evening, with my department acting as intermediary, arrangements were suggested to the State police, and were made, whereby the departure of a B.O.A.C. aircraft from Singapore on Sunday evening was to be delayed to enable the police officers to leave Sydney on Sunday afternoon and make the connexion with the B.O.A.C. aircraft, and arrive in time at Colombo. Mr. Delaney rang me on Sunday morning to thank me, on behalf of his Premier and himself, in what I considered to be generous terms, for the advice and help given by the R.A.A.F. The fact that the arrangement miscarried was due to the late take-off of the aircraft from Sydney. This was not known until late on Sunday afternoon and by that time it would have been impossible to get the officers to Colombo in time by any means.
“THIS IS AUSTRALIA.”
– My question is directed to the Minister for Trade. Is it correct that the Department of Trade has produced a well-prepared publication of 128 pages on glossy, attractive paper, entitled “ This in Australia “? Is it correct that this publication is given over to the reproduction of photographs taken almost exclusively in Victoria and New South Wales and that it carries only seven photographs taken in Queensland? Does this mean that the Department of Trade believes that Victoria and New South Wales comprise Australia? If not, will the Minister ensure that the material published in any future book of this kind is selected to give a more balanced and comprehensive portrayal of Australia?
– I will pay regard to the point raised by the honorable gentleman; it is quite a legitimate point. I have the impression that the publication to which he referred was intended to portray, with full emphasis, Australian industrial development which in fact has its main weight at present in Victoria and New South Wales. That may account for the ratio of photographs. However, I regard the question as very pertinent, and I will undertake to see that a complete balance is maintained between all the States in publications of this kind.
– I ask the Minister for Territories whether the effective powers of the Legislative Council for Papua and New Guinea, which will shortly be formed, are greater than the effective powers of the new Dutch New Guinea Council. If they are, will the steps taken by the Minister provide for self-government in the Australian Territory at a rate faster than that in the Dutch section of New Guinea?
– I should like to assure the honorable member and the House that, although there may be some friendly rivalry in well-doing between the Australian Government and the Netherlands Govern ment, the proposals of the Netherlands Government were worked out with our knowledge and our proposals were worked out with the knowledge of the Dutch. I am sure that neither government wants to make any invidious comparison. The fact of the matter - I am sure the Dutch would concede this - is that our political development in the Australian Territory of Papua and New Guinea is probably further advanced than political development in West New Guinea, and for the simple reason that it has been going on for a longer period. It is certainly far more broadly based. For example, we have organized native local government councils and arranged native participation in various other institutions of government to a greater extent, because this procedure has been followed for a longer period in East New Guinea than in West New Guinea.
As to the proposals regarding the Legislative Councils, I think that, as the honorable member’s question suggests, the comparison, if any comparison is to be made, should be between the functions as well as the membership of the two bodies. Of course, any comparison of that kind must have regard to the differing political institutions of the two countries. The Legislative Council for Papua and New Guinea is being developed in a way that is completely in keeping with the way in which our own institutions in Australia have developed, and the council in West New Guinea is being developed so as to dovetail with the political institutions and parliament of the Netherlands. The proposals made for the Legislative Council in our Territory are such as to confine to that council functions such as, for example, control over the Budget and complete legislative power in respect of the passing of ordinances, whereas in the Netherlands territory the mother parliament at The Hague shares in both those functions of passing the budget and making laws.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Defence. Why is it that although the Royal Military College at Duntroon submits a report to the Parliament which is made available annually to every member of the Parliament, no report is submitted by the Royal Australian Naval College or the Royal Australian Air Force College?
– The reason for that position is obscure. I do not know, but I will find out and see whether arrangements can be made to make those two other reports available.
– Has the Minister for Health received the report of the expert committee on the eradication of cattle tick in northern New South Wales? If so, will he make the report available at the earliest possible moment? If the report has not been received, when can it be expected?
– This committee was set up by the Commonwealth and New South Wales Governments jointly. Only a very brief preliminary report has so far been received, but I expect that the final report will be ready shortly. When it is ready we will, of course, then consider what further action should be taken.
– My question is directed to the Acting Prime Minister. By way of explanation I point out that when important amending legislation of an extensive nature has in the past been introduced in the Parliament the government of the day has circulated copies of the principal act showing the proposed changes, as was done in the case of the banking legislation. With that in mind, I ask the right honorable gentleman: In view of the importance of the far-reaching changes proposed in the Crimes Bill 1960, will he give consideration to printing the original act with details of the proposed changes incorporated in big print in order that honorable members may be fully and more readily informed of all the proposed amendments, and thereby facilitate a close study of the legislation?
– I will give consideration to the honorable member’s suggestion.
– Can the PostmasterGeneral indicate whether it is intended to publish the conclusions reached by the Australian Broadcasting Control Board at its technical inquiry into the question of radio frequencies for television? If so, when will the publication be available? If it is not proposed to publish the report, can the honorable gentleman arrange to have a report concerning the conclusions reached laid on the table of the Library for the benefit of honorable members?
– The technical inquiryconducted by the Australian Broadcasting Control Board into the availability of frequencies for television purposes is part of the whole inquiry carried out by the board into the applications for licences in the third phase of the extension of television. The technical report is contained in the overall report which the board has submitted to me, and which is due shortly to be considered by Cabinet. I have no doubt that, following previous practice, Cabinet will decide, when the report has been considered, that it be made available. It will include, of course, the technical report which appears at the back of the complete report.
– Has the attention of the Minister for Health been directed to a recent statement by a Commonwealth Director of Health that a constant and grave threat of a deadly small-pox epidemic lies over Australia? If so, does the Minister agree with the views expressed by the Director of Health? Further, will he consider instituting a nation-wide campaign for innoculation against smallpox?
– I would be very surprised to know that the Director of Health had voiced such an opinion. The question of a nation-wide campaign is one which requires considerable thought. Smallpox has been successfully prevented from entering Australia by our quarantine arrangements for many years. It does not seem likely that the threat of contracting this disease, which is not endemic or actually present in the country, would induce people to support a nation-wide vaccination campaign, when the threat of contracting a disease such as poliomyelitis, which is present in the country and has claimed many victims in past years, has not, in the case at any rate of the adult population, led more than a few persons to apply for vaccination. Small-pox is not a disease that is overlooked by the Department of Health. We are constantly alert to prevent its entry into Australia or to deal with it if it should appear.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Civil Aviation. In view of the fact that the very patient and long-suffering members of the air travelling public who use the important and busy terminal at Townsville airport can procure there little more than a bottle of Coca Cola or a copy of Australia’s leading provincial newspaper, the Townsville “ Daily Bulletin “, will the Minister ask his colleague in another place to investigate, as a matter of urgency, the possibility of establishing or licensing a small kiosk at the airport which could sell at least packets of cigarettes or cups of tea or coffee?
– I shall be pleased to convey the honorable member’s suggestions to my colleague.
Sewerage and Water Supply Regulations
– I ask the Minister for Works: Has he under consideration a proposal to amend the sewerage and water supply regulations in the Australian Capital Territory for the purpose of eliminating the kind of plumber’s licence known as the journeyman’s certificate? Would such a change enable unqualified or uncertificated men to be engaged on vitally important sanitary plumbing in this city? Would it also deprive skilled men of the present award benefit of 29s. 6d. a week? If this proposal is under consideration, will the Minister consider seeking the views of the Canberra branch of the Plumbers Union, which would be seriously affected by any such change in the regulations?
– I do not know of any such proposals- If there are any, they certainly have not come under my notice. The general tendency is to insist on higher qualifications for skilled work in the plumbing, electrical and like trades. But I will look into the matter and let the honorable member have a further reply.
– Is the Acting Prime Minister aware of the formation in Melbourne of an organization entitled the Committee for Economic Development of Australia? Will the Federal Government, if requested, fully co-operate with this committee, which is being sponsored by the Victorian Employers Federation? Finally, does the right honorable gentleman know that the formation of an organization very similar to the one I have mentioned was suggested by our colleagues, the honorable member for McPherson and the honorable member for Wide Bay, in recent speeches in this House?
– I am not aware of the formation of the organization in Victoria to which the honorable member has referred, but I can assure him that this Government stands ready to co-operate with any worthwhile organization which is established voluntarily for the purposes which the title of the organization named by the honorable member indicates. Of course, I am aware of the valuable and constructive suggestions that have been made by the honorable member for McPherson and the honorable member for Wide Bay. I can assure those honorable members, and the honorable member for Indi, that a careful study is being made of the useful contributions to debates in the House on this subject.
– My question is directed to the Acting Treasurer. Is the real interest payable on the recent loan which was raised by Australia in New York the highest on any loan that Australia has raised overseas? Is the sole purpose of this loan to help finance balance of payments deficits for the last three months, which are the greatest adverse deficits that Australia has incurred for such a period? If this is not the purpose of the loan, what is its specific purpose?
– As Government spokesmen have indicated, this loan is for general purposes and of course, like other loans, it has been approved by the Australian Loan Council. That is the substantive answer to the honorable member’s question about the purpose of the loan. It is not the function of the Loan Council to organize loans merely to preserve the balance of payments, I shall ascertain the effective rate of interest and let the honorable member have the information.
– I ask the Acting Prime Minister whether it is a fact that, henceforth, each member of the Public Service in Australia will be designated, for official purposes, by a number. If this is a fact, who made this incredible decision? For what reason was the decision made? In view of the fact that the destruction of individual personality is the great curse of this century, will the right honorable gentleman undertake to have this decision reviewed because it has all the outlines of at least a mechanical and geometrical Australia if not of a brave new world?
– I do not know the answer to the honorable member’s question, but I do know that there can be a duplication of names where many people are grouped. I live in a district in which a gentleman has been summoned under the name of John Ryan No. 6 for not cutting his thistles. Perhaps this system could be applied to the Public Service. I shall ascertain the reason for the proposal, but let me say now that I am sure that it is a defensible reason.
– I address my question to the Acting Treasurer. In view of the difficulties which primary producers are experiencing in obtaining money at current bank interest rates for essential rural development, will the right honorable gentleman make a statement setting out the advances that have been made by the Development Bank, since its inception, to primary and secondary industries?
– To the extent that the information is available - I have reason to believe that it is available - 1 shall make a statement of the kind requested by the honorable member. While on this subject, I should like to make it clear that there is nothing in present Government or central banking policy which would inhibit banks in making advances to rural producers who can demonstrate that they need loans for business purposes.
– My question, also, is addressed to the Acting Treasurer. Has the right honorable gentleman’s attention been directed to a question by me - ‘the first od to-day’s notice-paper - of which notice was given on 19th May last? Believing that he will agree that the time which has elapsed without an answer being given is excessive, I ask whether the right honorable gentleman will expedite the provision of the required information about claims under the Commonwealth Employees’ Compensation Act.
– I shall have inquiries made in order to see whether an answer can be provided for the honorable member.
– I wish to ask the Acting Prime Minister a question. In view of the Prime Minister’s many and continuing abject failures in the sphere of international politics, the more notable of which resulted from his negotiations with Nasser, Adenauer and de Gaulle, and with representatives of the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development for a loan in connexion with the Mount Isa railway project, as well as his most recent and abysmal failure at the United Nations General Assembly, does not the Acting Prime Minister consider that such a succession of major defeats is convincing proof that the Prime Minister should retire from these unequal contests and appoint somebody else to the position of Minister for External Affairs?
– I should like to have the judgment of some one with a better record of success in these matters than has the honorable member for East Sydney.
– My question, also, is directed to the Acting Prime Minister. Is it a fact that prior to the Prime Minister’s decision to attend the present session of the United Nations General Assembly, a request or suggestion that he attend was made in this place by the Leader of the Opposition? Is it a fact, also, that the amendment proposed by the Prime Minister in respect of the resolution under discussion - an amendment which was directed towards arranging a four-power Summit Conference - followed exactly expressions of policy made by the Leader of the Opposition and his more responsible followers?
– I do not wish to speak for any one else, but I believe that the Prime Minister’s decision to attend the session of the United Nations General Assembly in the circumstances which had developed, in which so many heads of government who previously had not indicated their intention to go finally decided to go, was the correct decision, and I think that it received the support, predominantly if not universally, of the members of this House. Most certainly, it had the support of members on the Government side, and I believe that it had the support of responsible members of the Opposition party. I am sure that in the circumstances the final outcome of the debate in the General Assembly has not been inconsistent with the proposal sponsored by the Australian Prime Minister.
– I ask the Acting Prime Minister a question about the Prime Minister’s action at the United Nations General Assembly. Did the Acting Prime Minister say, in answer to a question on 28th September, that the Prime Minister should be in attendance at the United Nations “ and make a contribution by providing a kind of bridge between the great powers and the medium-sized and former colonial countries “? Does he consider that in moving an amendment which was opposed by all the former colonial powers and for which he was severely criticized by the most respected man among the leaders of those powers - an amendment which originated only with the two great Western powers - the Prime Minister was successful in providing a kind of bridge between the great powers and the medium- sized and former colonial countries? Or was he merely acting, as usual, as the subservient instrument of one or the other of the two great Western powers?
– The historic record of this incident is that when the Prime Minister arrived at the United Nations General Assembly there was before it a resolution proposed and supported by Nehru, Nkrumah, Tito, Nasser and Soekarno - a resolution which suggested that the General Assembly request President Eisenhower and Mr. Khrushchev to meet. That was the proposition. President Eisenhower had already indicated that he was not in favour of the proposal, and Mr. Khrushchev wrote to each of the five sponsors a pretty firm letter rejecting it. Those were the circumstances in which Mr. Menzies set out to build a bridge. There was no bridge there from the five. Mr. Menzies proposed that there should be a resumption of the Summit meeting of the four great leaders. It is history that the proposal in those terms was not accepted. It is also history that the debate which was provoked resulted in the proposal of the five being withdrawn because all support for it had disappeared and because another motion, which was in substance along the lines of that which Mr. Menzies had proposed, was carried.
– I ask the Acting Prime Minister whether the Government has come to any decision regarding the provision of assistance and relief for the victims of the disastrous drought in Queensland.
– It is common knowledge that in the granting of drought relief, or relief from any disaster, the Commonwealth Government acts, when it does act, upon a request in the first instance from a State government. I do not know whether the ravages of drought in Queensland are yet so severe or so evident that the Premier of that State would be able to make a specific proposal to the Commonwealth, if he desired to do so. The latest information I have was obtained over the week-end and was to the effect that Mr. Nicklin had written asking that there should be nothing in the policies of the Commonwealth Banking
Corporation or of the Reserve Bank of Australia which would inhibit the banks from aiding those of their clients who were suffering from drought. There is no such inhibition in the policy of either bank. As yet, no request more directly related to drought relief has reached me.
– Can the Acting Prime Minister say whether the Prime Minister, before moving his amendment at the United Nations, had negotiations with the Prime Ministers of Ghana and India, who were among the proposers of the original motion that he sought to amend, or whether he had negotiations with the Prime Ministers of New Zealand and South Africa, who abstained from voting on his amendment, and with the four other Commonwealth Prime Ministers who voted against it?
– The Deputy Leader of the Opposition used the word “ negotiations “. I do not know whether there were negotiations, but I am quite sure that the Prime Minister would have sufficiently informed his mind before taking the course of action that he did.
– On behalf of both the honorable member for Farrer and myself, I ask the Minister for Air whether it is correct that a decision has been reached in connexion with the use of new fighter aircraft for the Royal Australian Air Force. Since discussion will centre on this point when the defence estimates are under consideration, can he inform the House when a decision will be made, if none has been made as yet?
– The suggestion put forward by the honorable member is incorrect. I read some renewed speculation on this subject in the press to-day. The facts are that the Air Board has had a number of meetings in connexion with this subject. I have been present at all of those meetings, but a detailed consideration of many of the matters involved has not yet been concluded and I am not yet in a position to make a recommendation to Cabinet.
– I ask the Acting Prime Minister whether it is correct, as has been reported, that the Government has deferred consideration of proposed amendments to the Crimes Act until 1961. If this is so, and in view of the wide public interest in the matter, what factors have contributed to the decision to defer the legislation, and when will the proposed amendments come before the House?
– I can assure the honorable member that there has been no change in this matter since statements were made on it by the Attorney-General and the Prime Minister.
– I ask the Acting Prime Minister whether it is a fact that the Prime Minister made two speeches to the United National General Assembly last Wednesday. Can he say whether the Prime Minister’s second speech, in which he explained Australia’s attitude to the great international questions of to-day and outlined Australia’s record in New Guinea, received an enthusiastic reception in that assembly?
– I think it is of general public interest to bring out the order of events at the United Nations meeting. The Prime Minister went there with the prime purpose of making a contribution to the solution of the problems of the day and of giving an account of Australia’s stewardship of trust territories. On his arrival, there was a motion before the General Assembly. Acting on his judgment, he moved an amendment and made a speech on it. It is history that there were also speeches expressing a contrary point of view. Then there was a vote. All this had news content and drama which caused the proceedings to be given a great display in the Australian press and great attention on the radio. I am afraid that many people were left without a realization that the Prime Minister had also made a completely separate speech - the one that he had gone there specifically to make. It was a magnificent speech. I have read it and it is available to all honorable members. I understand that considerable time has been devoted on television stations in Sydney and
Melbourne to portraying the Prime Minister making this very notable speech which, I think, if thoughtful Australians took the time to read it or listen to it, should make them proud of the record of this country as related by the Prime Minister to this great assembly.
– The Acting Prime Minister said that he would make available the speech of the Prime Minister before the United Nations General Assembly, and that it was available to honorable members. Will the Acting Prime Minister also make available to honorable members copies of the devastating speech of Mr. Nehru, the Indian Prime Minister, in which he destroyed the argument put forward by the Australian Prime Minister?
– I regret that there are some people in this country who would willingly be more avid readers of an attack on Australia’s reputation than of praise of Australia’s reputation. I am left to place the honorable member for Reid in that category. He can spread his own poison; I will not aid him to spread it.
– Will the Acting Prime Minister agree that all Queensland representatives in this House have indicated their concern at the seriousness of the drought conditions that have developed in that State? Will he indicate whether it is necessary for the Premier of Queensland to wait until the disaster has reached its zenith before he can apply to the Commonwealth for assistance; or is it possible for the Premier to make an interim approach for drought relief and, subsequently, to make further requests for assistance? Can the Acting Prime Minister indicate any method of drought assistance which the Commonwealth can extend, beyond those to which he referred in answer to a previous question?
– So many of us know the Premier of Queensland and his colleagues that we would feel sure that they are the best judges of what is necessary, and of the timing of any request, for the citizens of their own State. There is a long history to these things, and the practice in dealing with them is well established. It is that the Commonwealth does not move in connexion with such things as drought relief except upon the initiative of the Premier of the State affected. The Premier of the State will be concerned only with whether the dimensions of the disaster warrant a request for aid and whether the circumstances enable him to demonstrate the need to the Commonwealth. There is no limiting factor other than that. I am quite confident that when the Queensland Premier and his Government feel that the time has come when they should address a request to the Commonwealth, they will do so. I give the assurance here and now that there will be no delay on the part of the Commonwealth in giving most serious, sympathetic and prompt consideration to any request that comes along.
Co-operation with New South Wales Police Department.
– I direct a question to the Minister for Air. Is it correct, as reported, that following the final request to the Royal Australian Air Force by the New South Wales Criminal Investigation Branch to make an aircraft available to it, as mentioned in earlier questions, the R.A.A.F. Stated that it could not comply with the request because no crew was available? If that statement is correct, will the Minister inform the House how long it takes to assemble a crew, and why should such a delay be necessary? As the C.I.B. in New South Wales regarded this as an emergency situation, will the Minister say just exactly what does constitute an emergency situation in R.A.A.F. thinking?
– The report is quite incorrect. Had it been necessary to fly the police officers from Sydney to Colombo to get there before the ship concerned arrived, a number of hours were left in which to assemble a crew and make arrangements to send off the aircraft. I have not the precise details, but I understand that the ship was not due to arrive at Colombo, and did not arrive there, until some time on Monday morning. The discussions I had with’ the Commissioner of Police took place on Saturday night. A Hercules aircraft could have taken off at leisure at some time on Sunday morning or, perhaps, early on Sunday afternoon, to reach Colombo in time.
But, Sir, it is not the function of the R.A.A.F., in my opinion, to fly civilians on public duty when means of carrying them to their destination by a civil airline are available; nor was any such suggestion ever made by the Commissioner of Police. When it was pointed out to the Commissioner of Police that arrangements could be made with two airlines to get his men to Colombo in time, he was relieved and expressed himself satisfied with those arrangements. The suggestion of sending an R.A.A.F. aircraft was then dropped by him. As I have told the House before, the commissioner expressed his thanks and the thanks of the Premier of New South Wales for the assistance given to him. As the House will see, in the ultimate, the question of sending an R.A.A.F. aircraft did not arise.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Air and is supplementary to that asked by the honorable member for Perth relating to the reequipping of the Royal Australian Air Force with an undetermined fighter aircraft. I ask the Minister: Can early consideration be given to building the selected fighter in Australia under licence?
– The matter raised by the honorable member will need careful consideration by the Government, of course, and it will receive such consideration in due course.
– I direct a question to the Acting Prime Minister. In the event of the Prime Minister and the Minister for External Affairs not returning to Australia for some little time yet, will the Acting Prime Minister arrange for a statement to be made in this House at an early date outlining the events in the United Nations Assembly during the recent historic week, and will the right honorable gentleman give honorable members an opportunity to debate the statement?
– I think the Leader of the Opposition will agree that a statement would be more fruitful if made by the Prime Minister or the Attorney-General upon their return to Australia. I expect that it will not be long before they return, although I am not able to give a definite date at this stage. If, for good reasons, there is any delay, I will arrange for the making of such a statement as the Leader of the Opposition has asked for.
– by leave - I am glad to be able to announce for the information of honorable members that the Council of the National Library of Australia has now been constituted on an interim basis as follows: -
Dr. A. Grenfell Price, C.M.G., chairman.
The Honorable Mr. Justice M. P. Crisp, of the Supreme Court of Tasmania and chairman of the Tasmanian Library Board.
Associate Professor Kathleen Fitzpatrick, Associate Professor of History in the University of Melbourne.
Mr. E. J. B. Foxcroft, of the Prime Minister’s Department.
Professor L. G. E. Huxley, ViceChancellor of the Australian National University.
Senator the Honorable Sir Alister McMullin, K.C.M.G., President of the Senate and chairman of the Parliamentary Library Committee.
Mr. K. B. Myer, D.S.C., deputy chairman and joint managing director of the Myer Emporium, Melbourne, who is very prominently associated with cultural activities in Victoria.
Dr. H. S. Wyndham, Director General of Education in New South Wales and chairman of the Library Board of New South Wales.
The interim council will hold its first meeting very shortly. Legislation to establish the National Library on a statutory basis is now being prepared with a view to its introduction in the present session of
Parliament. The legislation proposes to place upon the council direct responsibility for the conduct of the library and the development of its services. It is proposed that the positions of National Librarian and Parliamentary Librarian will be filled by the present Librarian, Mr. H. L. White, at least until the separation of the National Library collections and services from those of Parliament have been achieved. He will be the executive officer of the National Library Council.
I am sure that honorable members will agree that, under the guidance and control of the council, the National Library will increasingly become an institution serving truly national purposes. The members are distinguished in many walks of life, and we are all greatly indebted to them for accepting appointment.
– by leave - I should like to add my good wishes to those expressed by the Acting Prime Minister to the interim council of the National Library as it is about to embark on its work of building up a national library in the National Capital for the benefit of Australia. This development marks another milestone in the progress that this nation is making, and the Government and the Parliament have been fortunate in securing the services of so many very able people to serve the nation, in the way the Acting Prime Minister has outlined, as members of the interim council.
We look forward to the growth and development of Canberra in the years ahead. Its physical growth is remarkable. It is developing at- a pace that we would never have thought possible even ten years ago, and as it becomes more and more the focal point of national interest and attention its cultural activities have to increase also, and the work of providing opportunities for students both here and in other parts of Australia and other parts of the world grows accordingly. We on the Opposition side are pleased to be represented on that council by the honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Haylen). We shall be glad to hear, from time to time, progress reports on what is happening. When the council is ultimately settled, under the legislation which the Government forecasts, I am sure that we shall have as much reason to be proud of this new institution as we have to be proud of all the others that have been set up under the aegis of this Parliament.
– by leave - On Thursday last, 6th October, the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) asked a question about the letting of a contract for the new Government Printing Office in Canberra, and I undertook to prepare a brief statement giving the details he sought.
The successful tenderer is E. S. Clementson Proprietary Limited, the amount of the tender accepted being £3,179,413 for completion in two and a half years. The lowest tender for the same construction period was submitted by Karl Schreiner Proprietary Limited for an amount of £2,888,000. Higher tenders were received from Concrete Constructions (Canberra) Proprietary Limited, K. D. Morris and Sons Proprietary Limited, and from E. A. Watts Proprietary Limited in conjunction with A. V. Jennings Proprietary Limited. The lowest tender was more than £400,000 below the detailed departmental estimate. This estimate was higher than the accepted tender and was substantiated by the general level of all tenders.
As is usual in such cases, my department carefully examined the resources of the lowest tenderer, together with his performance on current works. It was not confident that payment of sub-contractors, suppliers, and labour would always be met promptly on a work of this magnitude, particularly in view of the fact that the price submitted was so far below the cost at which the department considered the work could reasonably be undertaken. Unless contractors’ obligations, particularly in regard to sub-contractors, can be met promptly on this project, it would be most unlikely that the work could be finished within the contract time. This work is being done to a fairly tight time-table, and any delays or failure by a contractor would probably result in heavy additional expense to the Government.
– I present the following report of the Public Accounts Committee: -
Forty-ninth Report - Form of the Estimates: Miscellaneous Services.
I would like to say for the information of the House that this forty-ninth report continues a review of the financial documents presented to the Parliament initiated by the First Joint Committee of Public Accounts between 1952 and 1954. However, that committee was unable to complete its task and the second committee continued the review with the intention of submitting its conclusions to the Parliament in four reports - that is, on the Budget speech, the Estimates and Appropriation Bills; the Budget Papers; departmental estimates; and the Finance Statement and the AuditorGeneral’s report. Pressure of other work, the scope of the subjects and the comparatively short life of that committee also prevented it from completing its task and only one of the four projected reports was concluded - the eighteenth report dealing with the Budget speech, the Estimates of Receipts and Expenditure and the Appropriation Bills, which was presented to the House in 1954.
On its appointment in February, 1959, the present committee decided that it should take up again the review of the form and content of the financial documents presented to the Parliament. However, appreciating fully the task that such a review presented and conscious of the need to maintain regular inquiries based on the reports of the Auditor-General and expenditure from the Treasurer’s Advance, the committee concluded that it would be best if it adopted a progressive approach to the review involving in the first instance the separate examination of a number of topics coming within the general subject of “ the form of the Estimates “.
This report is the first in this series and deals with the Miscellaneous Services Section of the Estimates and the Appropriation Act - section xxii. It traces the history of the section, examines its inconsistencies and sets down the views of a number of departments on the present method of treating this miscellaneous expenditure.
The committee has reached the conclusion that there will be some advantage both to the Parliament and to the departments if the expenditures now shown in the Estimates and the Appropriation Acts under the general heading of Miscellaneous Services are presented with the administrative expenditure of the departments concerned. The committee has recommended accordingly.
Ordered to be printed.
– I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
The purpose of this bill is to give effect to the intention, announced in the recent Budget speech, of securing from the air transport industry a greater contribution towards the cost to the Commonwealth of providing and operating civil aviation facilities.
Honorable members will be aware that as civil aviation has developed there has been a concurrent increase in the complexity - and, of course, in the cost - of the facilities needed by the industry. Technological developments in aircraft have been remarkable over the past ten years or so, and our facilities in the shape of airports, navigational aids and traffic control systems have had to keep pace. The demand for air transport has grown significantly and, in a huge country such as ours, it is fitting that it should continue to grow. Nevertheless, such growth has caused and will continue to cause a need for greater expenditure on facilities, and while we have been aware of the gap between revenues received and expenditure incurred the condition of the industry during the last decade has not been, for the most part, such that it could reasonably support additional charges.
In 1957, air navigation charges were increased by 10 per cent, for the first time since the Air Navigation (Charges) Act came into force. In introducing that legislation, it was indicated that it was proposed to keep the scale of charges under periodical review with the object of progressively reducing the gap between the cost of providing facilities and the revenue obtained from the users. The latest review indicates that the industry is now in a position to support an increase in charges of the order set out in the bill. The proposed increase will in a full year raise revenue by £450,000 and represents an average increase of more than 60 per cent.
Using a very strict basis of commercial accounting - which would include an amount of more than £4,000,000 for such “ invisible “ items as depreciation, interest, superannuation liability and so on - it would, indeed, be correct to say that the airports and air navigational and safety facilities provided by the Department of Civil Aviation and used by civil aircraft in this country are currently costing the Commonwealth about £13.000,000 a year to maintain. Nevertheless, it is difficult to say just how much of this amount is properly attributable to the services which the department provides exclusively for use by civil aircraft as against possible use by aircraft in times of national emergency. Furthermore, we certainly would not have opened up uneconomical outback routes if profit and loss rather than development of this country were the yardstick of their desirability. It is axiomatic that a strong civil aviation industry is a vital instrument of national development. This latter role played by airways facilities in outback development needs little emphasis by me but it is perhaps not inappropriate for me to add that even along the heavily populated coastal belt there is a great contribution to the national development of this country by the availability of a safe and swift method of transport and communications currently used by approximately 2,500,000 passengers annually, many of whom play a significant role in the development of secondary and other industries of this country.
There are other elements of the total cost of £13,000,000 per annum mentioned earlier which, it could be argued, are not properly attributable to the business of civil aviation. For example, debatable “ commercial “ costs at present in this figure include air traffic control and meteorological expenditure to ensure safety of flight as well as search and rescue expenditure. Thus on many counts it is a matter of judgment just how much of this £13,000,000 is properly attributable to the business side of civil aviation. Nevertheless, whatever portion of this amount is considered as attributable to providing facilities for which the industry should ultimately pay in full, it is by any reckoning substantially greater than the amount now being recovered.
At the present time, the industry is contributing to costs at the rate of £700,000 per annum by way of air navigation charges. Without any doubt, this figure falls short of the attributable cost of facilities, even after taking into account the fact that the industry also pays £1,200,000 in fuel tax. Fuel tax is not an equitable method of recovering the cost of facilities because international operators, for whom some of the most expensive facilities are provided, are virtually exempt from any fuel tax payments in respect of fuel used on international flights. Nevertheless, it would not be right to give the impression that the industry makes no payment to the Commonwealth other than the £700,000 in air navigation charges.
There is, of course, further revenue contained in the printed Estimates, under the heading of “ Miscellaneous “, amounting to some £500.000, which the department receives from many sources, including rents from property, parking fees, business concessions and so on which in due course will more than offset the cost of gaining it.
It will be observed that this bill continues the basis of charging as used in the present act. Under the present arrangements - the Air Navigation (Charges) Act 1952-1957 - the airlines pay a charge for each flight representing the product of the route rating and the aircraft unit charge. The existing scale of aircraft unit charges is 4.125d. per 1,000 lb. of all-up weight for aircraft not exceeding 20,000 lb., and 5.775d. per 1,000 lb. for aircraft in excess of that weight. A route rating is based on the nature of the facilities provided on the route and is prescribed for each route in the schedule to the Air Navigation (Charges) Act.
The weight of an aircraft, of course, has a precise relationship to the work on which it is employed, and also has an obvious impact on the cost of airports provided for its use. Accordingly, where the present act sets out only two categories of aircraft - that is, machines of up to 20,000 lb. all-up Weight, and machines of greater than 20,000 lb. - it is now proposed to employ four categories. Aircraft of less than 25,000 lb. all-up weight - and this category includes virtually all aircraft used in the private and small charter fields and may later include aircraft in outback feeder operations - will incur only a nominal increase in charges. Aircraft used mainly on rural services will incur a not very substantial increase. Aircraft which might be described as second line trunk route equipment will make a fairly large additional contribution, while the heavy aircraft in the front line domestic category and the heavy international jets will make the greatest contribution. It is estimated that the new charges will increase recoveries by £450,000 in a full year, and by about £300,000 in the current year. More than half the increase will be borne by the international airlines.
The only other amendment proposed is in the schedule prescribing the route ratings. The purpose of this amendment is to bring the table in the present act up to date by omitting certain routes which are no longer operated on a regular basis and inserting new routes mainly in the PapuaNew Guinea area.
As indicated in the Budget speech, this is the first of a series of annual reviews of air navigation charges aimed at an increasing scale of rates as the air transport industry moves along the road towards economic maturity and is able to demonstrate its capacity to pay. Ultimately, and as a long-range plan, it is hoped that the industry will be able to absorb the cost of all charges properly attributable to it. While progressing to this desirable end, further increases in charges will be planned with care and discretion, taking into account the capacity of the industry to bear them. It will also be ensured that any such increases do not result in fares being raised to an extent which would unduly retard the growth and development of our air transport system. I commend the bill.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Cairns) adjourned.
.- I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
This bill is intended to make several machinery amendments to the Customs Act 1901-1959 as amended by the Customs Act 1960. With one exception all the proposed amendments are designed to simplify existing customs procedures. This exception is an amendment to the wording of section 151 (b)(1) of the Customs Act in order to bring it into line with section 9a of the Customs Tariff. When this section of the Customs Tariff was amended a consequential amendment to section 151 (b) of the Customs Act was overlooked. The main simplification measure proposed is contained in a clause which will enable goods to be entered for customs on the arrival of the ship at the port without waiting for the ship to be formally reported to the customs, which is required under the law as it now stands. Shipping agents have many duties connected with the arrival of the ship and frequently some time passes after her arrival before the age-t formally reports the arrival to the customs. In the meantime an importer or consignee of goods carried by the ship may have all his documents ready but cannot legally enter them for customs purposes and have the duty assessed and paid until the ship has been formally reported. The proposed amendment will remove this inconvenience to the importer and will also benefit the Department of Customs and Excise by reducing the inevitable rush by importers to lodge entries in cases where the report of a ship has been delayed. Another simplification will be achieved by amending section 121 of the Customs Act to do away with the present requirement to attach a copy of the outward manifest to the certificate of clearance of a ship. This requirement has proved unnecessary for the proper working of the customs and constitutes a needless inconvenience to shipping agents.
Honorable members will see that the bill makes a provision for warehouse proprietors to keep proper records of goods in their warehouse which are subject to customs control, and for the inspection of such records by customs officers. These provisions are needed to ensure the effectiveness of the new simplified system of departmental control over the warehousing, movement and delivery of petroleum products. My colleague, the Minister for Customs and Excise (Senator Henty) authorized his department to introduce the new system some months ago. This system does away with the need for full-time attendance of customs officers at petroleum warehouses and provides for the use of company records for customs control. The normal commercial records which are kept by petroleum companies have been found to be eminently suitable for customs control purposes. The bill will oblige the companies to keep satisfactory records and will provide for their inspection by customs officers. It will also enable officers to search vehicles carrying petroleum products after they have left the oil depot in order to check whether duty has been paid on the products. This system of random check of company records and delivery vehicles is far more efficient than the old method of control which required an officer to be stationed at each oil installation. It has resulted in savings both to the department and to oil companies and makes for more efficient use of the available man-power.
The last of the simplification measures which the bill will introduce deals with the re-warehousing of goods which is required to be carried out under the present act three years after the goods have been warehoused. The mandatory requirement has led to documentary and administrative burdens in some cases, particularly where spirits are kept in bond for long periods to mature. The proposed amendment to section 95 will give collectors of customs a discretion to permit goods to remain in a warehouse for longer than three years without the necessity for re-warehousing. I commend the bill to honorable members.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Pollard) adjourned.
In Committee of Supply: Consideration resumed from 6th October (vide page 1830).
Department of the Navy.
Department of the Army.
– In November last year I announced in the Parliament the decisions reached by the Government following its comprehensive review of defence policy. In March of this year I gave the House an outline of the progress achieved at that date. The present financial year is the second in the current three-year defence programme. Briefly, I propose to inform honorable members how the money being provided in this year’s Estimates will be spent in pursuance of our policy objectives. In my November review I indicated that the primary aim of our defence policy is continually to improve the ability of the forces to act promptly and effectively, with allied forces, in the various situations that might arise which could pose a threat to our security. This required two things: First, that the forces, both regular and citizen, should be so organized and trained that they will be readily available, flexible and mobile; and secondly, that they should have adequate quantities of modern conventional weapons and equipment.
The proposed expenditure on defence this year is £198,153,000. The actual expenditure last financial year was £193,585,000. The increase this year is mainly due to margins increases, and additional provision for equipment.
The estimated expenditure for the Navy in the current financial year is £44,700,000, compared with an actual expenditure last year of £42,200,000.
The Navy will continue to have in commission during the present year an operational fleet comprising the aircraft carrier “ Melbourne “, three Daring Class destroyers, one Battle Class destroyer, three “ Q “ Class frigates, four ships on survey duties, three frigates on training and other duties, and a number of smaller vessels. In addition, certain ships are held in reserve to meet the possible needs of expansion in an emergency.
Out of this force two ships - destroyers or frigates - serve continuously in the Malayan area with the British Commonwealth Far East Strategic Reserve. The aircraft carrier also serves with the reserve for a period of the year. These ships, and other operational units of the fleet, play a prominent part in the large-scale Seato maritime exercises which are staged from time to time in South-East Asian waters. By these means, and also through their regular participation in Commonwealth naval exercises in this area, the ships and personnel of the Royal Australian Navy are maintained in a constant and high state of preparedness, and are trained to work in close co-operation with the naval forces of allied countries.
Current naval construction consists of four type 12 anti-submarine frigates, which are being built in Australian shipyards. The first two will commission about the middle of 1961, and the remaining two during 1963. Construction of two 90-foot all steel general purpose vessels and one search and rescue craft was completed last financial year.
The estimated average strength of the permanent naval forces during the current year is 10,838. In addition, the naval reserves total approximately 10,000.
The Government will be considering shortly proposed new projects for the Royal Australian Navy, following inquiries made overseas earlier this year by a naval mission, and detailed examination by the Naval Board and Chiefs of Staff Committee of its report. I expect to announce the Government’s decisions in the very near future.
The proposed Army vote for the present financial year is £65,600,000. The actual expenditure on the Army last year was £65,700,000.
Honorable members will recall from my previous statements that the main purpose of the Government’s decisions on the re organization of the Army was to increase the strength and effectiveness of the combat elements of the Regular Army, to provide for a volunteer citizen military force more readily available, and with more advanced training, and to lay emphasis on the provision of modern equipment for both regular and citizen forces.
The field force of the re-organized Army comprises two pentropic divisions, each of five strong battle groups. Each battle group consists of an enlarged infantry battalion, to which may be added supporting combat arms and services to enable it to operate independently. One division is made up of two Regular Army and three C.M.F. battle groups, the other having five C.M.F. battle groups. In addition, we maintain an infantry battalion group in Malaya as our contribution to the Army element of the strategic reserve.
The re-organization of the Regular Army component of the First Division, that is, a task force of two battle groups, and the raising of its combat and logistic support elements, are well advanced. The present strength of the Regular Army is just over 21,000.
The re-organization of C.M.F. units and formations began on 1st July, on the cessation of the national service training scheme. All units and formations have now adopted their new designations. The present strength of the C.M.F. is 23,799 all ranks, against the target strengthof 25,000 planned for June, 1961, and the total of 30,000 planned for the end of the programme period at 30th June, 1962.
In accordance with the policy announced last November, integrated training ofthe Citizen Military Forces with the Regular Army is being carried out. There will be scope for further integrated training as the re-organization of units on the new pentropic basis proceeds.
Steady progress is being achieved in the provision of new equipment for the Army, both Regular Army and C.M.F. units. An amount of £16,100,000 is provided in this year’s Estimates for this purpose. Of that sum, £11,300,000 will be spent on capital equipment, and the balance on the maintenance and replacement of existing stocks.
Major items of new equipment which have been or will be delivered during this financial year include 106-mm. recoilless rifles and associated ammunition, 7.62-mm. general purpose M.60 machine guns, Si -mm. mortars, a wide range of field wireless sets and radio communication equipment, trucks, tractors, and earth-moving equipment. Further quantities of certain of these items will be ordered during the present financial year, and orders will also be placed for various new items of equipment including the counter motor radar a:id the pack howitzer. The FN rifle “has been issued to all units of the Regular Army field force, and progressive issues are now being made to C.M.F. units.
The tactical flexibility and mobility of the field force will be considerably improved by the acquisition of four landing ships medium, and by the recent decision to form an Army light aircraft squadron, which will be equipped with light helicopters and light fixed-wing aircraft. The new squadron will be established at Amberley in Queensland in December. The first delivery of helicopters will arrive in Australia this month.
An amount of £63,278,000 is being pros’ided for the Air Force in this year’s Estimates. Expenditure last financial year was £61,800,000.
The Royal Australian Air Force has an operational force consisting of three bomber squadrons, four fighter squadrons, two maritime reconnaissance squadrons and three transport squadrons. There is an air observation flight which will be reformed in December as the Army Light Aircraft Squadron. The R.A.A.F. also has a large force of Vampire trainers, in which our pilots receive their advanced jet training. The present strength of the R.A.A.F. is 15,684. Two fighter squadrons and one bomber squadron of the R.A.A.F. serve in Malaya, as part of the strategic reserve.
This year’s Estimates provide for continued progress in the Air Force programme announced last November. The twelve P2V7 Neptune maritime reconnaissance aircraft, to re-arm the present Lincoln squadron, have been ordered from the United States, together with their ancillary equipment. The planned date for the introduction of the new aircraft in the present programme period will be met.
The Bristol Bloodhound Mark 1 surfacetoair guided weapons unit has been ordered. Company engineers have visited Australia to confer with Department of Air technical officers on its installation, and provision has been made in the Estimates for works for base facilities at Williamtown. Overseas training of squadron personnel is well advanced, and the squadron will form in Australia early next year.
The fitment of the Sidewinder air-to-air guided weapon is proceeding satisfactorily The aircraft of the two Sabre squadrons in Malaya have already been equipped with this weapon, and equipment is being obtained to fit the remaining Sabre squadrons.
Approximately £800,000 has been provided this year for further airfield works at various localities. This will continue the very substantial programme of airfield construction undertaken during recent years, which has resulted in new or improved aerodromes at Townsville, Darwin, Williamtown, Cocos Island, and at Butterworth in Malaya. Planning for the new northern airfield in the Darwin area is proceeding.
The Citizen Air Force squadrons are now engaged in training in their new nonflying roles, and are performing a valuable service.
As the House is aware, the R.A.A.F. fighter evaluation team appointed to make investigations overseas into possible new types of fighter aircraft, returned in August. It has completed a detailed and comprehensive evaluation of the aircraft studied, and its report is now being considered by the Air Board, prior to recommendation to the Government by the Minister for Air.
In the Department of Supply, work at the Joint Long Range Weapons Project, Woomera, continues at a higher level than ever before, and will do so for some years to come. Our association with these activities, together with the development of our own projects, such as Jindivik and Malkara, and other weapons still on the secret list, represent a major contribution by Australia in the defence science field.
Under the Mutual Weapons Development Programme Agreement, which was recently concluded with the United States, the development of weapons which may interest both American and Australian forces will be accelerated by United States financial and technical assistance.
In the field of defence production the Government factories are producing a wide range of military equipment and ammunition for the services, and all are capable of rapid acceleration in time of war. In addition to deliveries to the Australian services, the FN. rifle is being produced for New Zealand and Ghana, with the prospect of further orders from other Commonwealth countries. This is an excellent endorsement of ‘the quality and efficiency of our local production at the Small Arms Factory, Lithgow, which has been completely modernized. The manner in which production schedules are being met is a tribute to the skilled craftsmen and efficient management of the factory.
The ordnance factories recently completed deliveries of two special liquid fuel tanks for use in missile range development, and the Government aircraft factories are proceeding with the production of a considerable number of the Malkara anti-tank missile for the United Kingdom Army. Existing facilities at Government factories are being progressively replaced and modernized to meet the changing needs of the services. This year £2,600,000 is being spent for this purpose, bringing the total to £51.900,000 since 1950-51.
The Department of Supply is providing a most effective organization to back the needs of the forces. In the course of this it is spending large sums of money each year in Australia which go back into our own economy. In addition to the Government factories, Australian industry plays a significant part in meeting the services’ requirements, and about £400,000,000 worth of orders have been placed with industry in Australia during the past ten years.
I have circulated for the information of honorable members defence statistics showing personnel strengths of the defence forces from the year 1950 to the present, expenditure on defence for the ten year period June, 1950. to June. 1960, and estimates of expenditure for the current financial year 1960-61. The tables in this booklet illustrate the large sums which have been required during this ten-year period for the three fighting services, defence production defence scientific research, and the other activities which go to make up the total defence programme.
The three armed services to-day are well trained, better equipped than ever before, and all readily available to defend the security and interests of this country. The provision and maintenance of these forces are the essential safeguards of our national security, and the money spent for this purpose is the inescapable price of defence preparedness.
The organization and dispositions of the forces, and the flexibility and mobility which they possess, enable them to meet the tasks that may be required of them. Obviously, we cannot afford to maintain large forces everywhere, nor is this necessary in present strategic circumstances. The defence of our northern areas, in the current situation, is appropriately provided for by the nucleus forces now stationed there, the maintenance of strategic bases, and the mobility of the forces which could be moved quickly to reinforce the area in the event of emergency and, indeed, to any other area where a threat to our security might develop.
Looking to the future, it is unfortunately true that developments in the international situation since last year’s defence review have emphasized the importance of maintaining an adequate level of defence preparedness. While the recent disheartening events in the global sphere do not indicate an increased prospect of global war, which in our view remains unlikely, they do rule out any prospect of an early relaxation of tension. The outlook is for continuing Communist pressure in peripheral areas. In South-East Asia, our area of immediate concern, there are many elements of instability which give cause for disquiet. In these circumstances we must continue to organize, train and equip our forces so that they will maintain the maximum effectiveness within the resources which can be allotted to this sector of national expenditure.
It is wishful thinking to believe that forces of this kind can be provided without a very considerable cost. It will be noted from the statistics that have been circulated that of a total of £1,768,000,000 spent on defence over the past ten years, the amount required for maintenance, including the pay of the forces, their food and clothing, has been £1,262,000,000, or 71 per cent., £351,000,000, or 20 per cent., has been spent on capital equipment, and £143,000,000, or 8 per cent., has been applied to buildings and works, such as aerodromes and so on. Of the estimated defence expenditure of £198,200,000 in the current financial year, not less than £145,000,000 is required for maintenance, that is, pay and allowances of the forces, their food and clothing, repair and maintenance of equipment and of buildings and works, stores and equipment consumed by the services in their day-to-day activities and in training, and general expenses and services of this kind. That is the cost of just maintaining and training the forces and continuing with other defence activities at their present level.
About £40,000,000 is available for the capital material requirements of the Navy, the Army and the Air Force, and for machinery, plant and equipment for the Department of Supply and other defence activities. With modern equipment becoming ever more complex and costly, it is very important that this part of the defence vote should not only be as large as possible, but spent wisely and effectively. One of the main objectives in the present defence programme is to increase the provision for modern equipment, and it is a cause for satisfaction that this year proposed expenditure on capital material requirements, machinery and plant will be 20 per cent, of the total defence vote compared with 17.7 per cent, last year. An amount of about £12,000,000 is provided in this year’s estimates for buildings, works and acquisitions, covering such various items as living accommodation, technical and stores buildings, training establishments, airfield construction and so on.
In conclusion, I would say that this is the second year of a programme involving important re-organization of our forces, particularly the Army, to enable them to carry out more effectively their operational roles, There can be no doubt that the objectives we announced last year, leading to improvements in the strength and hitting power of the combat elements of the services, and their more ready availability, are correct in present strategic circumstances.
As I have indicated, steady and orderly progress is being made towards the achievement of these objectives.
.- 1 refer the committee to Division No. 481 - “ Naval Construction “. It is estimated that £7,481,000 is to be spent on this item. We need to ask: What has the Navy constructed? What is it constructing? What is the concept underlying its construction policy? The classes of ships which constitute a fleet are, or ought to be, the expression in material of the . strategical and technical ideas which prevail at any given time.
The ships of the Royal Australian Navy, class for class, correspond with a similar class of warship in the Royal Navy. “ Voyager “, “ Vendetta “ and “ Vampire “, 2,600-ton ships, correspond with Daring class destroyers in the Royal Navy. “Tobruk” and “ Anzac “, 2,400-ton ships, correspond with Battle class destroyers in the Royal Navy. “ Arunta “ and “ Warramunga “, 1,800-ton ships, correspond with Tribal class destroyers in the Royal Navy. “ Quickmatch “, “ Quiberon “ and “ Quality “ correspond with Q and Rocket class frigates in the Royal Navy. At present two 2,000-ton frigates are under construction “ Yarra “ and “Parramatta”. They correspond with Whitby class frigates in the Royal Navy. There seems to be no question in the mind of Department of the Navy authorities that they should do other than follow Royal Navy models. The Royal Navy ships are designed for the distances of the Atlantic, the North Sea and the Mediterranean. They are not designed for the distances of the Indian or the Pacific Oceans. The Royal Navy designs for the cool, temperate areas of the Northern Hemisphere. It does not normally design for tropical conditions in which warships attached to Seato serve. The result is that endurance, accommodation and habitability are inferior to what is needed for Australian conditions. The construction of the ships also expresses completely un-Australian concepts of divisions between officers and men. T should like to establish those points.
My first contention was that the endurance of Australian warships is inferior to the standards required to meet Australian needs. Let us take Sweden as an example.
Sweden has destroyers of the Halland class, of 2,650 tons, which are almost identical in size with ships of the Daring class. They have an endurance of 3,000 miles at 20 knots. Nobody would contend that the endurance of Australian warships need be only the same as that of warships designed for the narrow confines of the Baltic Sea. But that is the limit of their endurance. “ Voyager “, “ Vendetta “ and “ Vampire “, which presumably are intended for use in the Pacific and Indian oceans, have exactly the same fuel capacity and endurance as have the Baltic warships of corresponding size in Sweden - 3,000 miles at 20 knots.
France, designing destroyers for the open ocean, has vessels of the La Gallisioniere class of 2,750 tons - which are only 100 tons bigger than vessels of the Daring class and are capable of steaming 5,000 miles at 18 knots; and French frigates of the Sénégalais class, of 1,300 tons - only half the size of the Daring class vessels - have a radius of action of 5,500 miles at 19 knots. The Daring class vessels, from the point of view of endurance, though ten years newer than “ Anzac “ and “ Tobruk “ and 200 tons bigger, have only the same endurance and represent no advance at all in sea-keeping capacity. “ Warramunga “ and “ Arunta “, which are much bigger than vessels of the French Sénégalais class, can cover only one-third of the distance on their fuel capacity - 1,700 miles at 20 knots as against 5,500 miles at 19 knots. “ Yarra “ and “ Parramatta “, the new Whitby class frigates under construction, are not designed to steam at a reasonable speed even half-way from Fremantle to Colombo, or from Melbourne to Fremantle, without refuelling. So we can at least exempt the Navy from the charge of constructing aggressive warships.
The persistence with which the British Admiralty refuses to think of needs for the Pacific and Indian Oceans is not new. A man with the highest rank which it is possible to attain in the British Navy, Admiral of the Fleet Sir Philip Vian, speaks of the war-time opposition of the United States Navy to the Royal Navy joining in the Pacific war after the defeat of Germany. In his memoirs, entitled “ Action This Day “, he defends this opposition as reasonable, and says -
While the Royal Navy had been operating in, and trained and equipped for the relatively short range warfare of the Mediterranean, Homewaters, and Atlantic, an entirely new form of campaigning had been evolved in the vast spaces of the Pacific.
Operating thousands of miles from the nearest permanent base, the Americans had developed a logistic system and organization of previously unimagined extent and complexity. This fleet was supplied and replenished at sea, where it would remain, often for many weeks, without returning even to temporary, advanced bases set up in the island groups.
He goes on to say -
The American logistic system, although it seemed at first sight to be most lavish, had in fact been carefully scaled to serve the American Pacific Fleet, with nothing to spare.
Throughout the chapter, Sir Philip Vian reiterates the supply problems which had never been imagined in the Royal Navy, and reiterates, also, the statement -
The distances were staggering to those of us accustomed to the conditions of the European War. .
What is profoundly disappointing about the Australian Naval Board is that it takes no notice whatever of British criticism of British naval practice, and so long as the British do not correct an error, neither does their imitator, the Australian Naval Board. Canada, in planning for its needs in the North Atlantic, has evolved an independent class of frigate from both United States and Royal Navy advice. Since these frigates were for anti-submarine warfare in the North Atlantic where the Royal Navy has most experience, the Canadians might have been forgiven if they had been mere imitators of the Royal Navy. But they drew on advice from tooth sources. At the present time, in Australia, £10,000,000 is being spent on “Yarra” and “ Parramatta “, and for this great price we get the poor bargain of a frigate with a radius of action of 2,000 miles while the French get in frigates of not much more than half the size a radius of action of 5,500 miles. If we must have British Admiralty designs, why do we not ask the Admiralty to design ships for Australian conditions instead of taking over holusbolus designs for North Sea conditions?
What is most serious as evidence of inadequate thinking on the part of the Australian Naval Board is that there has been no advance in endurance in the ten years between the Battle class and the Daring class destroyers. One of Britain’s foremost defence thinkers has pointed out -
The role of the destroyer has changed from that of countering attacks by enemy destroyers and launching torpedo attacks against the battle fleet to that of close range anti-aircraft and antisubmarine defence. As such these ships require good sea keeping qualities and endurance coupled with high speed.
Ships of the Daring class have no greater endurance than their predecessors by ten years have, and they have less speed. Considerations of endurance, of course, have been completely transformed by the advent of nuclear power, which has now been applied to ship propulsion for six years. One would expect the Naval Board to be acting on this already, but because Britain has not been advanced, our Naval Board has not been concerned. If the Naval Board, for reasons best known to itself, does not want a nuclear-powered submarine fleet, nuclear power can be applied to surface vessels. Though first applied to submarines, nuclear power is now used in the United States aircraft carrier “ Enterprise “, of 85,000 tons, which refuels only at intervals of two years, in the cruiser “ Long Beach “ and in the destroyer “ Bainbridge “. “ Bainbridge “ can steam 150,000 miles on one refuelling - six times around the earth. The Department of the Navy, however, should be judged only on its chosen obsolescence, and in the sphere of its chosen obsolescence with conventional oil propulsion, it is using ships markedly inferior to those of the United States, Sweden and France.
I said, also, at the outset, as a second contention, that accommodation and habitability in Australian warships are inferior, and in these respects the men who commit themselves to the naval defence of this country are given inadequate consideration by the Australian Naval Board. Here again, the Naval Board might have noted the informed criticism of leading United Kingdom defence thinkers. The editor of “ Brassey’s Annual “, Rear Admiral H. G. Thursfield, writing on the subject of living accommodation in Her Majesty’s ships, points out that the British Admiralty has coasted along with conditions which reduce efficiency, and he adds -
He also informs us -
He goes on to speak about the way in which the inferiority reduced efficiency, and says that no man, however hardy, can do what he has to do if he is ill-nourished and half frozen. He adds -
It is therefore necessary to the fighting efficiency of a ship that may have to operate in northern waters to provide shelter and warmth for guns’ crews at their action stations and hot meals. It is not surprising that men in the older British destroyers escorting Arctic convoys in the last war looked with envy on American destroyers, in which guns were mounted in enclosed turrets, warmed by electric radiation, which gave complete protection to those manning them. . . .
The whole matter is thus one of fighting efficiency and should be viewed as such.
If British warships, ostensibly designed for cold seas, were not adequate for those seas, still less are they adequate for tropic seas. The Royal Australian Navy’s aircraft carrier “ Melbourne “ is not air-conditioned. In the older destroyers, living space becomes more and more cramped as more and more electronic equipment is crowded in and more personnel are added to the crews to operate the new equipment, but a senseless waste of space occurs because of senseless class distinction. This brings me to the point that completely un-Australian concepts of class distinction between officers and men exist. The situation is bad because of the imitative construction perpetuated by the Department of the Navy. “ Arunta “, for instance, carried a regulation in these terms -
Petty officers will shower once a week as an example to the men.
Australian men in the tropics do not need such an example. They want at least two showers a day, but cannot get them. The ship’s plant for the distillation of water is geared to needs that would be felt in the North Sea. Although, in the United States Navy, officers and men eat the same food, in Australian destroyers the living space, already eaten up by electronic equipment, is further reduced by the senseless snobbery which provides two galleys, one to cook for ten officers and another to cook for 200 men. The British submarine ace, Alistair Mars, ridiculed Italian submarines for having separate galleys for officers and men. In British submarines, officers and men eat the same food and waste no space. But in British surface ships, hence in Australian destroyers, space is wasted as it is not in the United States Navy. Of course, if officers eat the same food as the men, the standard of the food will also be kept up.
Australia should not be considering frigates of the Whitby class of the Royal Navy. Guided missile frigates of the 4,770-ton Coontz class of the United States Navy, or destroyers of 3,370 tons of the improved Forrest Sherman class of the United States Navy should be taken as models. A feature of these ships is the distilling plant which is capable of supplying 25,000 gallons a day, which is equivalent to 45 gallons a day for each man. On that basis, no one would need to be invited to shower once a week as an example. What the Royal Australian Navy needs is ships with more living space, greater endurance, and air-conditioning designed for the vast spaces of the Pacific. British naval historians, and indeed naval officers who write of their experiences are coolly objective and completely scientific. Jutland, the battles of the convoys, and the defeat of the cruisers “ Hipper “ and “ Lutzow “ by inferior forces in the Second World War showed that the British bad superior seamen and tactics. But there is not a writer, not even Winston Churchill himself, who can do other than admit the inferiority of British ship construction and ordnance. At Jutland, “ Queen Mary “, “ Invincible “ and “ Indefatigable “ were blown to pieces with scarcely any survivors in the first exchanges, while the “ Lutzow “ and “ Derffliger “, their equivalent in the German Navy, withstood tremendous punishment.
In the Second World War, in the “ Bismarck “ operations, the 42,000 ton “ Hood “ was blown up - there were only three survivors out of 1,200 - in the first eight minutes. But a leading British naval writer, Captain MacIntyre, says of the “ Bismarck’s “ end, “ Once again the Germans had shown they could make a ship almost indestructible by gunfire “. Indeed, Admiral Tovey sent exactly that signal - “ I cannot sink her by gunfire “ - when he had her stopped and attacked by battleships, cruisers, destroyers and aircraft.
The CHAIRMAN (Mr. Bowden).Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- I wish to speak on Division No. 604 - Civil Defence - for which the proposed appropriation is £300,000, and on Division No. 603 - Grants to Rifle Clubs - for which no appropriation is being made this year. I regret to note that, probably for the first time in the history of the Commonwealth Parliament the rifle clubs are to receive no allocation from the Commonwealth Government.
As to civil defence, this seems to me to be a misnomer because the word “ defence “ gives rise to thoughts of people being armed in some way to defend themselves against offensive action. The fact that this vote comes under defence services, despite the fact that it is to be administered by the Department of the Interior, also gives rise to that impression. Which Minister finds this the most unsatisfactory arrangement, I am sure I do not know, but the point is that we are now discussing the item not necessarily in the presence of the Minister who administers it.
– Then I may go?
– I said, “ not necessarily “. I do appreciate the fact that the Minister for the Interior is in the chamber to hear what I have to say. The Pastoral and Agricultural Society of Trangie, the Farmers and Settlers Association of Trangie, the Chamber of Commerce of Trangie. the Presbyterian Church of Trangie, the Graziers Association and the Urban Committee of Trangie in New South Wales, and the Timbrebongie Controller of the Civil Defence Organization at Trangie have written to me in connexion with their position. The following extract from a letter from the Timbrebongie Controller sums up what the others have to say: -
In the event of a major disaster, or an emergency brought about by enemy action, we would be helpless without a quantity of medical equipment. We now have over 50 officers and members in this division and would need at least - 50 respirators or gas masks, 50 pairs of rubber gloves,
A number of stretchers, first aid cabinets for use by mobile first aid units,
Gas testing powders, atropine, hypodermic syringes, portable telephones, etc.
The reason they ask for these things is that they have attended the school conducted by the Commonwealth at Mount Macedon at which there have been some 107 courses since its inception in 1956, and through which some 3,078 students have passed. After attending that school and carrying out certain investigations in their own areas, they find themselves at a standstill. They ask: “Where do we go from here? We lack the equipment we require, although we notice on the estimates that the Commonwealth Parliament is setting aside £300,000 for civil defence.” On 5th September last, I wrote to the Minister for the Interior, pointing out -
The organization in Trangie appears to be particularly efficient. I am informed that the area has been organized for four years, two officials have visited the civil defence school in Victoria, transport has been organized, some ten sections have been established, including first aid, radio monitoring, intelligence, decontamination squad, rescue squad, etc.
The Controller has visited every shearing shed in the area, has inspected and registered available accommodation and has planned for supplies of food, baking of bread and broadly attended to all details that might arise in the event of any evacuation from the capital city to that particular area.
I understand that the Timbrebongie Shire Council, from their own resources, have provided some £400 worth of instruments and equipment, but repeated requests for further assistance in this direction have been noted by higher authorities, though no action to supply the requirements appears to have been taken.
I suggest that the voluntary efforts of the people in this area are an outstanding example of the willingness of citizens to help themselves and therefore justify the granting of assistance to them. The position is complex. I have had discussions with the Minister, who has explained that he is anxious to get some agreement with the States as to how they are prepared to participate in this organization and what assistance they require from the Commonwealth.
I leave the matter there, and simply repeat that here we have an excellent example set by the residents of the area. They have gone to the trouble to train themselves and set up an organization, and I suggest that the Commonwealth Government should give them every possible consideration. If this civil defence organization is to be at all worth while, people such as these should be given every assistance. If the Government does not consider them worthy of assistance, especially after all the voluntary effort they have put into the organization, then I can only say that it would be reasonable to suggest that the organization should be disbanded. I hesitate to suggest that because I have noticed how much of this kind of work has been done in New South Wales. It is certainly high time that the Commonwealth and the States got together with a view to bringing the matter to some sort of finality.
I pass now to the lack of provision for assistance to the National Rifle Association, or the rifle clubs, as they are commonly known, for this year and from now on. I am reminded of this lack by the following paragraph appearing in a publication issued by the United Kingdom Information Service: -
More than 1,700 of the best marksmen in Britain and the Commonwealth are taking part in the centenary meeting of the National Rifle Association this month at Bisley in southern England. The shooting will continue daily until July 16th, when the final of the principal event - the Queen’s Prize - takes place. The first meeting of the Association was inaugurated at Wimbledon by Queen Victoria, who pulled a silken cord attached to the trigger of a Whitworth rifle. During its early years the Association tried many different kinds of rifle. At the same time, associations modelled on the N.R.A. sprang up in many of the British Dominions.
The history of the rifle associations in Australia is particularly notable. Established as far back as 1860, the movement has progressed and, following federation, clubs were incorporated under the Defence Act of 1903. It was not until 1949 that an amendment of that act excluded rifle clubs from its provisions and empowered the Governor-General to make regulations for their formation and management. The clubs have continued under that arrangement since then.
As late as October, 1957, the Minister for the Army (Mr. Cramer), when presenting prizes at Anzac rifle range, Sydney, said, amongst other things -
The rifle club movement is something that you can’t wipe out and I hope it goes on.
He added -
In November of last year, after the Parliament had risen, an announcement was made by the Minister for the Army that the rifle clubs would become an independent organization. He gave them a Christmas present. He said, in effect, “You lucky fellows - you can become independent. As from 1st July, I960, we are going to reduce your supplies of free ammunition over a five-year period.”
– The decision was made by the Government, not by the Minister.
– I agree, but the statement was made by the Minister for the Army. He said that the price of ammunition would rise from £2 10s. per thousand rounds to £10 per thousand. He also announced the complete withdrawal of all direct financial assistance and of Army administration. The rifle club movement would not be what it is if it had not replied, “We will accept this. We do not like it. We hate it. We think that a dastardly trick has been played on us but we will go ahead with our plans for our centenary meeting next year “. This week, the meeting is being held on the Anzac range at Liverpool to celebrate the centenary of the clubs from 1860 to 1960. This is happening despite the fact that the Commonwealth has already withdrawn some assistance from the association and, during a five-year period, will withdraw it all. The meeting commenced last Saturday and it will include the Queen’s Shoot which has been renowned for the past 100 years. The finale will be held on Friday afternoon when the honorable member for Lyne (Mr. Lucock) and I, both being life members and vice-presidents of the National Rifle Association of New South Wales, hope to be present. The prize money totals £6,000. The clubs are running the meeting at a minimum cost to the riflemen, despite the lack of the usual Commonwealth grant. They have produced a programme according to their means and I cannot help but compare it with a memorandum on the Army estimates for 1960-61 which has been made available to members of Parliament. The memorandum is printed on art paper, embellished with pretty coloured pictures and is marked “With the compliments of the Minister for the Army “.
I fear that this might be my last opportunity of speaking in this chamber on rifle clubs, a subject which has been dear to my heart and to the hearts of other honorable members. Over this five-year period, the clubs will gradually lose the assistance which has been given to them. If they could see daylight at the end of the tunnel, it would make some difference, but the prospect is that at the end of five years there will be no ammunition left. Their rifles will be useless, because if ammunition is available it will not fit the rifles that are in use at the present time. The average annual consumption of ammunition has been about 60,000,000 rounds, which has cost the clubs approximately £50,000 over a five-year period. Under the new five-year plan, the estimated cost to the association is £300,000, or six times the previous figure. Riflemen are also faced with considerable expense in range maintenance without the assistance of a subsidy. So far, rifle clubs have been able to obtain 60,000,000 rounds of ammunition a year at a cost of £2 10s. a thousand rounds. In future ammunition will cost £10 a thousand rounds. Yet all this ammunition has been paid for out of previous appropriations! If the rifle clubs do not get it I question what will happen to it. I also question what will happen to the rifles which are in stock. If they are not sold to rifle clubs what will happen to them?
– They may be sold overseas.
– That is something we will have to watch. If the rifles and ammunition are sold locally they may be a danger and if they are sold overseas our security will be involved.
I regret that my time has nearly expired. This is a subject on which I could speak for an hour. Membership of the rifle clubs has averaged about 44,000, and in any period of five years a total of probably 135,000 trained riflemen would have been available. I greatly regret that the work of the clubs and the morale that they have built up will be destroyed under these new arrangements.
.- I am appalled at the defence estimates for 1960-61 which provide for the expenditure of £198,000,000. During the eleven years in which this Government has been in office it has spent £1,966,000,000 on defence. For every £1 that the Government has spent on education it has spent over £2 on defence. For every £1 that it has spent on health it has spent £3 on defence. If, as we are told, the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) has gone to the United Nations in order to bring about understanding and peace between the nations, this Government should ‘be practising what it preaches. It should be reducing expenditure on armaments.
This year, the Government proposes to spend on defence over £10,000,000 more than it spent last year, £16,000,000 more than it spent in the previous year, and £26.000,000 more than it spent in the year before that. Only in the year 1952-53, when it spent £203,000,000, has the Government spent more on defence than it proposes to spend in this financial year. The Government continues to preach peace and disarmament, but continues with high expenditure on armaments. It has no positive policy. The Minister for Defence (Mr. Townley), as reported at page 648 of “ Hansard “, in making his defence review on 29th March, 1960, said -
In a country with limited resources such as Australia, which has heavy and continuing commitments for national development, the scale of the defence effort must be determined by priorities.
Priorities - keep that well in mind! He continued -
Large sums of money must be found for the wide range of projects aimed at developing our natural resources and expanding our industrial capacity, such as the Snowy Mountains Scheme, the improvement of communications, and the search for oil. In addition, we must continue our immigration programme. All these measures will contribute to our long term defence, strength and capability.
These are the facts. This year the Government will increase its defence expenditure by £10,000,000, but it has reduced expenditure on the Snowy Mountains hydro-electric project by £10,000,000. lt has not made any more money available for national development or for immigration although only a few months ago the Minister for Defence was talking grandly about priorities. The real strength of this country lies in national development, but what is the Government doing about it? What is it doing about the Hume Highway? We get a little shower of rain and we cannot maintain communications by road between Melbourne and Sydney. What is the Government doing to build super highways between the capital cities? It is doing nothing.
– Order! I remind the honorable member that the committee is not dealing with the estimates for the Department of National Development.
– I was referring to the defence review that was given by the Minister for Defence in which he said that the Government’s policy was national development. I was trying to show, Mr. Chairman, that the Government is not building up the true defences of Australia through national development, water conservation or flood control. Instead, it is making £10,000,000 more available for defence expenditure.
What does the Government mean by defence? This Government is lost, and does not know where it is going. It should reduce its expenditure on armaments and use the money it is now wasting on expenditure for war to work for peace. It should devote the money to peaceful uses, such as the Colombo Plan and national development. The Government will spend on the Colombo Plan this year exactly as much as it spent last year. We should be building up goodwill with South-East Asia, but the truth is that instead of goodwill there is fear. We know that certain members of the Government believe that there will be invasion by countries to the north of us. They have said that they are fearful of the People’s Republic of China. I say that there is no fear of invasion of Australia by the People’s Republic of China. What we have to do is build up goodwill.
In his defence review, as reported at page 648 of “Hansard” of 29th March, the Minister stated -
Briefly, we believe that because of the nuclear deterrent, the outbreak of limited or local wars is more likely than a global or full-scale war.
So the Minister agrees that there is little chance of a full-scale war but there may be a limited war. I think that even the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr.
Wentworth), who is at present attending the meetings of the United Nations General Assembly, would agree with me that the United Nations is growing in stature. We know that a limited war can be slopped by the United Nations. Therefore, 1 say that this Government should adhere to the true principles of the United Nations. It should disarm and contribute to the work of the United Nations Organization. 1 know of the general situation in Indonesia and to the north of Australia. I have given much thought to the re-armament of Japan and have tried to do something about it. Honorable members on the Government side have done nothing. They have supported the old militarist element which would seek to rearm Japan. I believe that we can have a world war again only through the madness of either of the two great powers if they should happen to get trigger-happy. In the event of a limited war, all we have to do is to adhere to the principles of the United Nations. That will be a deterrent to a limited war. We need not go linking ourselves wilh any regional pacts. We should put our heart and soul into the United Nations and not waste money as this Government is doing on armaments.
This Government has squandered £1,966,000,000 on defence in the past eleven years, when it could have built up the real strength of Australia by national development. The Government squandered £150,000,000 on national service training. We members of the Australian Labour Party said, at the inception of the national service training scheme, that it was no good. We said it was a waste of man-power and a waste of money. Think of all the manpower and the man-hours that could have been used for the development of Australia but were squandered in national service training. Eventually, the Government followed our advice and scrapped national service training after spending £150,000,000 on it. That is as much as the Government has spent on the Snowy Mountains hydroelectric project. If the Government gets down to the real issues and is honest with itself about modern warfare and limited wars, it must realize that to arm Australia adequately it would need to spend not £200.000.000 a year but £1.000.000.000 a year; because modern warfare is expensive. Whether we like it or not, we cannot afford a war. It is too expensive and we must be realistic. We cannot afford warfare with all its loss of men and man-power.
We have men playing at soldiers to-day. Honorable members on the Government side talk about the great efforts of the Navy, the Army and the Air Force and how they torpedo one another and so on. The fact is that there are 48,000 men in the permanent forces, warming their seats and producing nothing in a young and virile country which we should be developing for future generations so that we might live in peace. We have 48,000 unproductive men in the permanent forces and 31,000 in the Citizen Military Forces wasting a lot of time that could be put to better use.
I will not have a bar of the Government’s defence programme. This Government should do three things. First, it should reduce expenditure on armaments; secondly, it should make a greater contribution to the Colombo Plan and, thirdly, it should try to build up goodwill with our neighbours to the near north and increase expenditure on our national development.
There are so many things we could do. We could export a lot of the things needed by our neighbours. For instance, we could send materials needed for the development of transport systems to Indonesia, Malaya or China itself. I saw things in China in relation to which we could help the Chinese. 1 should like to have been able to say to the Chinese that when I went back to mv own country something would be done by Australia about helping to raise the standards of living of the Chinese, instead of the Australian people having instilled into them a fear of the Chinese. I should like to have been able to say to the Chinese, “ We will help to lift you out of the mud “. And they are struggling to lift themselves out of the mud in China! I should like to see goodwill being developed in this manner with the Chinese, because goodwill would stand us in much better stead than will the engendering in Australian minds of fear of the Chinese.
If the next speaker in this debate is honest about things he will bear out my statements. He and I were together in a party which went to see Army manoeuvres in the near north. I challenged the officers in charge of the forces at that time. I found that the
Australian Army was in fact fighting against a phantom force. In the training of soldiers the Army was instilling into the minds of the youth of our nation, by a propaganda campaign, the belief that we were going to fight the Chinese. Instead of helping in an attempt to develop goodwill with the nations to our near north the Army authorities have seen fit to instil into the soldiers a fear complex about the Chinese. The authorities never talk to the soldiers about building up goodwill between us and the Chinese. They seem to think that they should build up fear of the Chinese. If we are sincere when we go before the United Nations and talk about peace let us do something practical about peace. Let us reduce expenditure on armaments. Let us divert to peaceful uses the money now spent on armaments - for instance, to the development of our nation, which is so in need of development.
So I voice a protest at the great expenditure of £198,000,000 which it is estimated will go on defence this year. This is the second largest appropriation for defence to be proposed in the last eleven years.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- I did not think that I would ever hear in this Parliament, in the year of grace 1960, a speech such as that just made by the honorable member for Reid (Mr. Uren). Speeches along the lines of his speech were much more common 25 to 30 years ago. But, in a world in which the Communist powers have increased their dominance to such an extent that they have become a real threat to mankind, that the honorable member can stand on the Opposition side of the chamber and make such a speech is, I feel, most regrettable. The honorable member was speaking as a member of the Australian Labour Party, the official Opposition in this Parliament, and therefore I challenge the Opposition to disavow specifically, if it will, what the honorable member had to say.
I suppose, Mr. Chairman, that we must give the honorable gentleman the benefit of believing him to be sincere in his statements; but as he spoke he opened up to me a world that was completely unreal - a world which I just cannot recognize as existing, a world in which the United Nations will step in to stop a limited war. We know with absolute certainty that the only such occasions on which the United Nations has been in any way effective have been concerned with situations in which the great powers themselves were not directly involved. The honorable gentleman said that we contend that Communist China is a threat to this country, and that is quite true. China and the projection of Communist elements throughout Asia and South-East Asia are the greatest threat to this country.
The honorable gentleman talked about 48,000 Australian soldiers walking the streets, unproductive. If he looks at the booklet issued by the Minister for the Army (Mr. Cramer) he will find that there are 2,250,000 unproductive soldiers of the Communist Chinese Army walking the streets of Peking and other places. Those two figures - the 48,000 on our part and the 2,250,000 on the part of Communist China - are to me an exact measure of the futility and utter stupidity of the honorable gentleman’s argument.
I do not want to spend any more time on the honorable member for Reid. I think I have said enough to suggest that the world which he has conjured up is not the real world - not a world which we on this side of the chamber and, I would suggest, most honorable gentlemen on the other side, would believe to exist. I should not think that these honorable gentlemen would, any more than we, regard the remedies suggested by the honorable member for Reid as capable of meeting the situation.
One thing I want to do, Mr. Chairman, because it has become rather uncommon in this chamber lately, is to extend to the Minister for the Army (Mr. Cramer) wellmerited congratulations on the smooth and efficient way in which the re-organization of the Australian Army has taken place. The Minister has had many brickbats cast at him in this place, and very few bouquets presented to him. In my view, the reasons for which the brickbats have been thrown - most of them undeserved brickbats - were related to matters that are trivial compared with the achievement of carrying through, with great efficiency and surprisingly little disorganization, the biggest reform of the Australian Army that has taken place in the last 60 years. I think that, judged on an Australian basis, and compared with Australian experience, this reform is comparable to the great Haldane reforms which took place in the British army prior to the First World War. It is very much bigger, in our context, than the reforms and changes which took place in the British army as the result of the innovations of Duncan Sandys a few years ago.
In the past, the Australian Army, for very good reasons, has been, in peace-time, a mere basis on which to build the forces necessary to us in time of war. That has been so because we have always expected that if the Australian Army had to fight it would have to fight in a global war. Now, as the Minister for Defence (Mr. Townley) has said, we expect that if we have to fight we will be fighting a limited war. So, the Australian Army has been changed from a mere basis for expansion in time of war to a mobile striking force which, in relation to its Australian Regular Army component at least, is ready for action at a very few days’ notice. This enormous change has involved other enormous changes - changes of personnel, of organization, of commands, of barracks, depots, training establishments, changes of tactics, methods and equipment. While this re-organization has been taking place a very great programme for the re-equipment of the Australian Army has also been going on. I am sure, Sir, that honorable members on this side will join with me in giving a tremendous amount of credit to the Minister for the Army for the achievement, with very little disruption, of the great reforms that have occurred.
One matter which has caused me a good deal of concern, and which I will raise now in speaking to these estimates, is a vexed question which has not been mentioned much in the last year or two, but which, nevertheless, is of very real concern. I refer to the creation of an inter-service outlook in the Australian defence services. It does not seem to me that very much is being done to achieve this important objective, and I should like the Minister for Defence to correct me if I am wrong in making that statement. Inter-service rivalries still exist, and they militate against the completely effective operation of the defence forces. One has only to mix with senior officers of the services - it extends right down to much more junior ranks - to find that what I say is true. These rivalries militate against most effective and economical training in peace and effective operations in war.
Overseas developments, particularly in the United States of America and the United Kingdom, make very clear the importance that is attached to the organization of all three services under a single command, with fully integrated head-quarters. The United States has now organized all its forces outside the United States into unified commands taking their orders directly from the Department of Defence and the CommanderinChief in Washington, and not from the individual services. In appropriate areas, this is also happening with the United Kingdom forces. The Australian Government, a few years ago, specifically rejected the idea of unified control of the Australian armed forces, when it rejected the recommendations of the Morshead committee. It is not my purpose now to argue the rights and wrongs of this proposal, but I believe it to be quite certain that if the Australian forces are again called on to fight overseas, they will fight under a unified command in some form. This will apply not only to our own services abroad but also to any of our forces that may be attached to an allied command.
What is being done to ensure that, when this time arrives, our forces are fitted to fight under such a command? Judging by the current tendencies of inter-service rivalries and failure to understand the problems of other services, particularly amongst senior officers, very little is being done. The suggestion I make is that the achievement of this situation is not only, or even mainly, a matter of the acquisition of knowledge; it is also the creation of an attitude of mind, and this takes time. The creative process must take place at the beginning. I believe that it should start at the cadet college stage at Duntroon, Point Cook and Jervis Bay. This is the most formative stage of an officer’s career. What happens at this stage will mould his thinking for the rest of his service career. Why should we not amalgamate these three institutions, or at least part of their activities? Can any one imagine a more effective way of achieving co-operation between the three services than the cadets living, working and playing together for two or three years? Is there any reason why this should not be done in Australia? lt has been done in Canada for many years and in India for the last ten years, and to my knowledge the system has worked quite satisfactorily. There, as it would be here if the suggestion were adopted, it is made possible by the increased emphasis on purely civilian academic work in the training of all service officers. The first three years of the training of a cadet at Duntroon these days is taken up almost entirely with academic work at university standard. This is true also of a cadet at the newly-established Royal Australian Air Force academy at Point Cook. In these circumstances, Sir, I see no reason why they should not do their first three, mainly academic, years together in the same institution. The service training undertaken in those three years is at a level, I am led to understand, that would not make it too difficult to establish the necessary facilities at a combined college, if it were created.
I understand that this idea has been considered and rejected. It has been rejected, I believe, mainly because of hostility by the Royal Australian Navy. The Navy believes that it is vitally essential for a cadet to go to sea for eighteen months and then to start formal academic work, particularly if the cadet enters at a later age than normal. For this reason, the Navy has rejected the proposal out of hand. If the Navy is asked, “ Why cannot naval cadets do their training at sea after they have done two or three years at a combined institution in exactly the same way as cadets in other services do, because there would not seem to be any reason why the Navy cannot do this if the Air Force and Army can”, the answer given is, “ Yes, but if we do this, we would get out of step with our counterparts particularly in the United Kingdom but also m New Zealand”. The Royal Australian Navy is still, as it has always been, very heavily dependent on the United Kingdom, for very good reasons. Any operation in which it takes part is considered to be in co-operation, in a joint unified navy under United Kingdom command, with units-
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- The committee at the moment is considering expenditure, in round figures, of £200,000,000- nearly £1 for every £8 of the total expenditure of the Commonwealth. We recently had the spectacle of another place, to use parliamentary parlance, debating the expenditure of some £100,000,000, which had been spent, it was said, without proper parliamentary appropriation. I would suggest that much of the same kind of charge could be made about the way in which the Parliament appropriates this large sum of £200,000,000 for defence. Following criticism from the Opposition during the last few years, we are now furnished with at least a little more documentation than we formerly had, and this helps to make the debate intelligible. The only complaint I have is that this documentation loses much of its value when it is made available to honorable members just an hour or so before the debate commences.
If honorable members look at the document called “ Defence Statistics circulated by the Minister for Defence, September, 1960”, they will see in Statement No. 3 a tabulation of the whole defence expenditure from 1950-51 to 1959-60 exclusive, a period covering ten financial years. During that time, the colossal sum of £1,768,000,000 has been spent on defence. The sobering fact is that capital expenditure - that is, expenditure on ships, aircraft and other items that would ultimately frighten an enemy, if he is to be frightened - has taken only £350,000,000 of that £1,768,000,000. Of course by far the heaviest component is the pay and allowances going to people employed in the Army, as such, and those who serve in a civilian capacity. Over that nine years period a sum of £665,000,000 has been expended on pay and allowances. In a debate of this sort I suggest that we are entitled to ask what is the right ratio which ought to apply between man-power expenditure and what might be called capital expenditure by the Army, the Navy and the Air Force. While the circumstances are not always identical, I think that comparisons are sometimes useful. 1 direct the attention of the committee to the July, 1960, issue of a publication called the “ National Institute Economic Review “. At page 31 of that publication there is shown in tabulated form the expenditure by the United Kingdom on defence in the period 1949-50 to 1960-61. I shall take the last year as an example of the total expenditure of Her Majesty’s Government in the United Kingdom, the figure being £ 1 ,900,000,000. Only £600,000,000 of that went in pay - £360,000,000 for the forces’ pay and £240,000,000 in pay to civilians. In round figures, less than one-third of the total expenditure of Her Majesty’s Government in Great Britain is incurred on the pay of the forces. It may be that pay conditions there are worse than those here; I do not know. On the other hand, our expenditure on pay for both civilian and service personnel has risen to 40 per cent., being £81,000.000 of a total anticipated expenditure this year of £198,000,000. When one looks at the total expenditure it is hard to rebut the argument advanced by my colleague, the honorable member for Reid (Mr. Uren), that nobody could say, in view of the total expenditure of £1,768,000,000 by this Government up to the end of June, 1960, that we would have been any worse off or any less safe if the expenditure had been £200,000,000 or £300,000,000 less and had the amount thus saved been devoted to the sort of thing he talked about.
We are entitled to have differing views as to the best way of promoting peaceful relations with those against whom we say we are likely to be called to defend ourselves. That contention is arguable. This committee ought to ask itself, “ Can we seriously aver, in the course of this debate, that we would be any less safe if instead of being; £198,000,000 the proposed expenditure was only £150,000,000?” Or can we say, in terms of the defence which we think is needed, that instead of being £198.000,000 the sum should be £250,000,000? I do not think you can say these things categorically. Therefore, it ill behoves some honorable members on the other side of the chamber to criticize honorable members on this side merely because they take a different approach, to this question. I have always taken the view that you do not defend yourself against what honorable members on the other side of the House broadly call communism. You do not defend yourself against communism by big battalions on the one hand or by big defence expenditure onthe other. In my view the best defence is to build up friendly relations with other parts of the world. At least, that is the kind of things which ought to be brought within the ambit of this debate.
I suggest that the people of Australia would be astonished if they realized that of this vast expenditure of £1,750,000,000 only £350,000,000, or £1 in £5, has been devoted to what might be called the capital side of the expenditure, as against the mere placing of people in uniform in the Navy, Army and Air Force. After all, there have been sufficient changes in the policy of this Government to indicate that it realizes it has made mistakes. We have had a shift from aircraft carriers as a basic form of defence. They are being diced as being no longer a sound form of defence in 1960. We have had a shift from the Citizen Military Forces as a basis of organization; and at the moment there is a debate going on as to what sort of aircraft will be used by the forces in Australia in the next few years.
It is about time that this Government indicated its attitude towards a very important industry in the Australian community, and I refer to aircraft construction in Australia. I happen to have in my electorate the Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation Proprietary Limited and also the establishment of the Department of Aircraft Production, two organizations which, between them, employ approximately 3,000 people. Those employees are virtually in a state of apprehension at the moment because they do not know whether over the next few months their establishments are going to be closed or whether the Government is going to allow the construction in Australia of a new type of aeroplane under licence. I suggest that as well as giving, some attention to the welfare of what might be called service personnel, the Government ought to have a little bit more regard for the feelings of civilian employees connected with defence. The document from which I quoted previously shows, the share of expenditure on defence production in Great Britain in 1959-60 - how certain industries are dependent upon defence contracts for their’ very existence1. For example. 54 ner cent, of the aircraft industry is dependent upon defence activities; 47 per cent, of research and development and 22 per cent, of shipbuilding and repairs is connected with defence.
In my electorate is also the naval dockyard. I was interested to consult the other day a document issued by the Department of Shipping and Transport entitled “Australian Shipping and Shipbuilding Statistics”. Dealing with the naval dockyard at Williamstown that document shows that two vessels not for defence use but for civilian use have been built there. They are the “ River Loddon “, a ship with a deadweight tonnage of 8,510, and the “ River Mitta “, with a deadweight tonnage of 8,431. The astonishing thing is that one of those ships was built in 1944 and the other in 1945, and since that time there has been no civil construction there at all. I suggest that the same sort of technical facilities are required to build the kind of vessels that my friend the honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Beazley) was talking about as are needed to build these “ River “ class ships. If we do not want so many of the one class of vessel at the moment, there is no doubt that Australia needs a large number of ships of other classes. In view of the large amount which we pay in this country for freight, it is time the Government gave consideration to that question. If it wishes to taper down its defence orders it should at least keep the personnel in active employment by building civilian shipping.
The other complaint I wish to make in the minute or two remaining to me may savour of the parish pump. There is in my electorate an area of 336 acres which constitutes the Williamstown Rifle Range. In view of the type of defence that is likely to be needed these days, I have grave doubts whether rifle shooting will play a very important part. But I have no doubt whatever that there is no need to have an area of 336 acres, conservatively valued at £500,000, tied up 3 miles from the General Post Office in Melbourne when people are being forced to build 10 miles outside the city limits. There is no valid reason whatsoever for 46 rifle clubs to have such an area of land tied up in this way.
It is time the Minister for the Army (Mr. Cramer) had another look at the situation. We have engaged in correspondence with him. and I know that he has endeavoured to look for another site for the rifle range, but I do not think he has tried hard enough. As I said on an occasion four or five years ago, we would be proud1 to call part of the area, when finally developed, Cramer Park, if the Minister would like us to do so, provided the land is used not for defence purposes but for recreation purposes for the citizens who reside in the vicinity.
– It would be subdivided.
– I hope it will not be, but if it were to be used for housing purposes, it would be possible to build 750 home units on the area, and in my view the provision of those homes would represent a much more significant social use of the area in these days than the restriction of it to rifle clubs. The rifle clubs could go to Puckapunyal or somewhere else. It is not necessary for their range to be situated so close to Melbourne as the Williamstown district.
I ask the Minister to look at this matter again. He has promised to inspect the area itself, but I know that he has also had certain approaches made to him by the rifle clubs. I do not suggest that they should not have some area set aside in which to carry on their activities, but I do not think they should have their range in its present location at Williamstown. In my view, this site is too good for them, and is much more urgently needed by the citizens of Williamstown for essential developmental work. As long as I am in this Parliament I shall try to ensure that civil use will have priority over defence use.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- I am surprised to hear a person of the standing and intellect of the honorable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr. Crean) making a plea for tolerance of the central thesis of the argument put forward by the honorable member for Reid (Mr. Uren). One is staggered, because the simple truth is that although the honorable member for Melbourne Ports is well acquainted with the fundamentals of economic theory, he has obviously not on this occasion paid any heed at all to the elementary principle of insurance.
I want to put this proposition to the honorable gentleman: Assume that we concede the validity of the point of view put to us by the honorable member for Reid, and tacitly - I put it no stronger than that - supported by the honorable member for Melbourne Ports, to the effect that if we spent in one year the £200,000,000 normally used for defence purposes on developmental work, leaving nothing for the defence vote, we would have achieved something worth while. That is the argument, and for the purpose of answering it I concede the validity of it. But suppose that during the course of that year this country found itself in a critical situation. Of what earthly use would the expenditure of £200,000,000 on purely developmental works have been in those circumstances? I suggest that on reflection the honorable member for Melbourne Ports will modify his thinking.
We would all like to see the whole of the defence vote directed towards developmental work, but is this practical? Is there any person in this committee who could honestly suggest that there is no occasion for us to spend one penny on defence? It may remain the ambition of us all to see that the only expenditure on defence is for the purpose of maintaining a set of brass bands, but we are not living in the kind of world in which that would be practical. In the world of to-day we must adopt a realistic outlook, and it is the height of lunacy to say that you can ignore what is going on in the world, and take the money normally set aside for defence and use it for getting rid of outhouses in some particular city or suburb. It is desirable, of course, that such things be done, but is the proposition put forward by the honorable member for Reid very practical?
I would like now to refer to two matters concerning the estimates for the Department of Defence. These matters do not appear in the estimates, but I refer to them because I believe some provision should be made for them in the defence estimates. First, I think it is a crying shame that in this year of 1960 Australia has not moved at all in the field of psychological warfare.
I say hurriedly, because my time is limited, that it is high time a directorate of psychological warfare was set up in this country. I had the opportunity, some years ago, through the courtesy of the Minister for the Army (Mr. Cramer) to attend the jungle training centre at Canungra, and I was tremendously impressed by what I saw. One of the facets of the training given to the troops there touched upon what I suppose we could call the basic principles, the fundamentals, of a free person’s thinking. Those who underwent courses of training were taught to answer such questions as, “What are you defending? “ It is one thing to teach a person to destroy, but it is an entirely different proposition to teach him to defend his country because of what it stands for.
The principle can be taken from that basic illustration and projected in a host of directions. Who is to gainsay that we are losing the battle for the minds of men? Mr. Khrushchev has said that he will bury us ideologically. He has also said that our grandchildren will live under communism. But it does not seem to occur to any of us to tell Mr. Khrushchev that we will bury him ideologically. We are running away from the very cause that we are seeking to defend. I am jammed in by pressure of time limits, and I do not want, to pursue this matter, but I put it to the PostmasterGeneral (Mr. Davidson), who happens to be sitting at the table at present, that urgent consideration should be given to the establishment of a directorate of psychological warfare. The suggestion has been considered in all its ramifications in the United States of America, and to-day it commands very general support in that country.
The second matter to which I wished to refer is this: The basic philosophy upon which this country’s defence policy rests involves two precepts. The first is that if Australia becomes involved in any conflict it will be a limited conflict, or a peripheral conflict. Many terms have been used to describe the kind of action in which it is suggested we may be involved, all of them meaning, simply, a limited conflict. The second precept is that, having entered into regional defence agreements, we are quite sure that we could count upon our friends if the limited conflict widened into a broader conflict.
Before voicing my fundamental criticism of that philosophy I want to make this perfectly clear: In the years in which that philosophy has been hammered out one may fairly say that the Government has acted with the greatest sense of responsibility. Those years have been extremely difficult ones in which to plan. There has been a continual question whether to place emphasis on conventional defence preparedness, or whether to give a measure of support also to non-conventional means. As I say, they have been very difficult years, and what has resulted from the Government’s efforts has been, in the circumstances, ideal. But I challenge the validity of the basic philosophy, and I think there are two vital considerations involved.
The first consideration centres around the proposition that we will be involved in only a limited conflict. Can the Minister for Defence give any guarantee to me, to this Parliament or to the country that we will be involved in only a limited conflict? The -second consideration is this: Can any guarantee be given that the regional defence agreements that we have made with the United States of America and the United Kingdom will be adhered to? You may say that the record of the past indicates that they will be, but there is a further consideration. Will it always be possible to keep those agreements? Is it not possible to envisage the circumstance in which the United Kingdom and the United States of America together are so deeply and irrevocably involved in a conflict that they cannot possibly honour their obligations under any treaty arrangements? Those are the kind of thoughts that occur to me when I find myself in conflict with the basic philosophy upon which the Government’s defence policy works.
Having said that, I come to this point: There is no person either inside or outside this House - this applies to the honorable member for Reid - who can claim that the basic Marxist-Leninist ambition of world domination has been shed by the Soviet Union. Every day of the week you will find a reference to this by some honest spokesman - one who understands Marxism and Leninism. I strongly suspect that the most serious thing of that nature that the honorable member for Reid has ever read will be found in one of the daily newspapers of this country. With that kind of consideration before us-
– What is wrong with the “ Sydney Morning Herald “?
– I am sure that even the honorable member for Parkes, on occasions, finds himself in disagreement with some ot the views expressed by the “ Sydney Morning Herald “. I repeat that the basic Marxist-Leninist ambition of world domination remains. It has not been altered in any aspect.
Now let us consider the very real probability of Communist China striking south at Australia. Look at the massive conventional army that has been built up by Communist China. The honorable and gallant member for Barker (Mr. Forbes), when referring to the figures which were cited by the Minister for the Army, put the Chinese conventional army at 2,250.000 persons. In essence that would be only the nucleus of the Communist Chinese army. I think it would be far more real to say that in the vicinity of 25,000,000 persons are at fairly ready call by the Communist Chinese Government. 1 believe that we can come to only one conclusion in relation to Australia, not onA because of its geographical position and geographical significance, but also because of the mounting population throughout Asia and particularly in China - Australia should become a nuclear power.
It is no use running away from this and saying that we do not want to do that kind of thing. Many unpleasant decisions have to be made, and I believe that Australia’s security must be the paramount consideration. If any member of Parliament or any person brings into question his own political and social security when considering whether Australia should become a nuclear power I, for my part, do not think that he is entitled to any recognition as a responsible person. I should like to read to honorable members what a very distinguished person - a person who is well known to honorable members and to people outside the Parliament - had to say on the question of Australia becoming a .nuclear power. He said -
When the time comes both trained men and plutonium - not uranium - will most certainly be in short supply. The nation that has them will have none to spare for others less provident, except perhaps at fantastic prices. The only way fa which either the skilled men or the plutonium required can be made available is to have had working for some years the atomic power plants that alone can train the men and produce the fuel.
A nation left behind at such a stage would be out of the industrial race for a long time. Australia, in ten years time, will not be able to afford that, nor would she easily recover from it.
The cost of the erection of atomic power stations to-day, spread as it would be over four years or so, would not be excessive and there are in Australia two, possibly three, sites where present-day atomic power generation has good prospects of being economic. Time is short and we should not waste too much of it in arguing who should build them. Whoever builds them will be remembered and thanked by generations of Australians.
– Who said that?
– Field-Marshal Sir William Slim, and I commend his words to you. I think it is fair to say that when Sir William delivered that address at the University of New South Wales he was overstepping by far his gubernatorial authority, but I believe that he was pointing out to the Australian Government and to the Australian people the great need for Australia to become a nuclear power.
The honorable member for Reid has made a fervid plea for disarmament, and we would like to join with him in that plea. But if he looks back through the dusty corridors of history he will find them littered by the tattered pieces of broken agreements and broken pacts. Why have these agreements and pacts been broken? They have been broken because of the illwill of people. A thousand pacts may be made, but they will be completely useless because they will be broken. What we need is a change of heart, but there is not the slightest indication of a change of heart on the part of those who are set on seeing a Communist world. I put to the committee and to the Government that unless we are prepared to become a nuclear power we run the risk of becoming a servile power. That is a risk which for my children’s part - not necessarily for my own selfish part - I am not prepared to run.
.- The honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Killen), with the family facility for logic and lucidity, argues a case by which he shatters, as far as I am concerned, only the
Standing Orders. What we are discussing here, surely, are the Estimates, and a long, rambling statement about China and the ‘ levelling of some charges against the honorable member for Reid (Mr. Uren), which are not sustained, do not help in the discussion which we, from both sides of the chamber, should be conducting in relation to the amount of money which it is proposed to spend this financial year on defence. We should be discussing whether the allocation to date has been worthily, adequately and cannily spent. However, before we reach that stage, we must remember that the honorable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr. Crean) has shown where the wastage, the nonchalance, the let-it-rip attitude and the laisser-faire exist.
I want to reply briefly to what the honorable member for Moreton said about the honorable member for Reid and about China. Surely what has happened to the Australian Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies)’ at the United Nations; what has happened to the philosophy which he stands behind at. this moment, and what has happened to our own forces with their concentration into, small thrusting forces, indicates that neutralism in some way or other is ahead of us. It horrifies me to hear a young man talking about making Australia a nuclear power when sensible countries have decided against making themselves nuclear states or “ targets for to-night “. What is ahead of us we do not know, but I think that a moderate speech on peace by a young man who has been a prisoner of war must be respected by honorable members as being based on up-to-date thinking and not on the nonsensical, imperialistic, patriotic clap-‘ trap which we heard from honorable members on the Government side who, in the event of any struggle, would still turn to the fellows who think as the honorable member for Reid does. I say nothing of the gallant gentlemen opposite who, in a general sense, do not think in terms of 1960.
What has happened to our own forces is quite obvious. We complain about a defence vote of £200,000,000, but measured against the amount that is spent elsewhere . in the world our allocation is pitifully . small. We have a pentropic force,, a few warships - a mothball fleet mostly- the nucleus of an air force and, for a long time, a long-winded discussion as to whether we shall re-equip it with Mirages or Lockheeds. That is the kind of picture that we present to the world. I think that it is more valid to listen to common sense of the honorable member for Reid.
The honorable member for Barker (Mr. Forbes) delivered himself of a collection of cliches and slogans about the future and about how “ it ill behoves “ and “ little can be done That has as little to do with the case as have the flowers that bloom in the spring. It has nothing to do with the point that we are making here. The point made by the honorable member is valid enough. He said, “ You have spent £1,950,000,000 on defence, and what have you got to show for it? “ Answer echoes, “ What have you got to show for it? Nothing except payment of some troops.” The honorable member had the courage to say, “ You have a lot of fellows getting shiny pants from sitting about doing nothing. What are you going to do for the future? “ This is a proper and valid challenge in respect of the accounts presented to this Parliament. Perhaps the Government thinks the Opposition will be intimidated because Government supporters shout, “ Communism “ “Heresy”, “This sort of thing should not be borne “, and all those oldfashioned cliches. That is the sort of thing that has got the world into trouble. If we have the courage to say what we think about these things, surely between us we can get something closer to the heart’s desire than exists to-day.
Since the Standing Orders invite us to do so, let us have a look at the affairs of the Department of Defence. We saw the other day that everything was slack, and we are entitled to say that all is slack. Two questions were asked this afternoon about the provision of a Royal Australian Air Force aircraft to transport two detectives to Ceylon in connexion with a kidnapping case. The Minister for Air (Mr. Osborne) boggled. He did not know whether it was on or off, like Finnegan’s train. He did not know whether the Air Force could provide a Hercules transport plane to go to Ceylon to enable the detectives to pick up the suspect, or whether they ought to wait for the civil air services to take them. The story I got was that the whole thing was boggled. That was the fault not of the actual men in the Air Force, of course, but of the Ministry and the Administration.
– That is unfair.
– It is fair, and the Minister said the same thing in his answer.
We read a year or so ago about something that happened over Sydney. I do not know why these things happen, but they are ludicrous. An Auster aircraft standing on Bankstown aerodrome got out of control and took off. There was nobody in it, but it started itself and took to the air. Do honorable members know where the plane which was sent to the rescue came from? It came from Richmond, 25 miles away. No aircraft was on the spot to be sent to the rescue. The Auster was the target for the day and it whizzed about over Sydney with the other plane vainly pursuing it, until the run-away plane became tired of the fun and subsided in some saltbush beside the Narrabeen Lakes. That is the sort of thing that we have to look at and be concerned about.
Then we have to consider what the honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Beazley) said about the Royal Australian Navy. That is rather important. The honorable member said that the Navy’s ships had been built to their present designs because that is the way Britain builds warships. Is not that the way the mind of the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) goes? Does he not say, “ If it is good enough for Britain, it is good enough for us “? As a result, there is no building for tropical service. That is not considered. Furthermore, Australians, as sailors, are quite different from the British. Australians are not used to campaigns in the frozen wastes, although they have served there also on occasions. The honorable member for Fremantle has made a valid point there. Surely some one should have thought of this.
Anybody who examines the Navy will find that we have twelve ships of various kinds, including sloops and supply ships. However, we have one Chief of Naval Staff, seven rear admirals, four commodores second class, 56 captains, 152 commanders, 976 lieutenant-commanders, lieutenants and sub-lieutenants, and 200 snotties, or midshipmen and cadet midshipmen. Surely one of those people might have thought or suggested that this business of constructing ships in the same old way as they are constructed in Britain was out of date. The Royal Australian Navy is like Kipling’s old flotilla in his poem, “The Road to Mandalay “, which lay off Rangoon. It is a collection of little herring-gutted ships with no accommodation for the ordinary sailors and with horrible outmoded and stupid class distinction still prevailing - a wardroom for the officers and anywhere you can get for the troops - with the precious cubic air content sharply contrasted between officers and men, and heavily in favour of the “ brass “. The consideration of these matters while the Defence estimates are under consideration is valid, as has been indicated by the honorable member for Fremantle.
Government supporters say that the Opposition is always knocking something. Ought not we to say something about the things that happen? Have we been given any explanation about the recent battle in Jervis Bay. I see from my notes that the destroyers “ Anzac “ and “ Tobruk “ engaged in mortal combat there. “ Tobruk “ was hit by a practice projectile from its sister ship, “ Anzac “, and had to be put in dry dock. A few days after it was put in dry dock, we were told that it would be put into the mothball fleet. It is to go to Athol Bight, in Sydney Harbour, and take its place among the thin line of ships sleeping away their time until they go to the breaking-up yards. So far as I know, no very serious inquiries have been made about that, but that sort of thing costs the people money, and we want to know why it happens. We do know, at least, that a valiant message came from the commander of “ Tobruk “, who said, “ Our men behaved splendidly “. lt was only practice. There was no warhead on the projectile, but it made a damned big hole in the ship, although as one of its able seamen - an ordinary A.B. who hails from my electorate - said1, “ Beyond that there was nothin’ much “. That is the way with the Army. There is nothing much in it. There has never been much in the Navy either. That is why we bring up these points about defence expenditure, which so far has totalled £1,950,000,000 under this Government’s administration.
The honorable member for Reid asked the Government why it did not build some stretegic roads. If it believes that there could be an atomic war, how in the name of God is it going to get the people from Sydney, Brisbane, Melbourne, Perth, Fremantle and elsewhere out of danger unless it reverses the old order and builds strategic roads from the city to the inland? We must get away from concentrated masses of people. I firmly believe that the best defence measure we could take would be to ensure that we had a railway system of uniform gauge throughout the entire continent, and in addition a system of interlacing strategic roads over the whole country so that people can be quickly transported from any centre that is attacked. If at atomic bomb is ever dropped, it will be dropped at the point where the concentration of population is greatest. Surely the best defence effort in this country, with its limited supplies and limited money, would be to provide a system of roads like the autobahns of Germany, isolated from other traffic, and able to take into the hinterland those people who would be destroyed if atomic bombs were dropped in this country. If such facilities were available, those people would survive. This is a way in which we could really do something for the defence of our people, and at the same time we should be building something for the future by lacing the face of the continent with the foundations of a fine system of roads and railways.
A war cannot be fought without lines of communication. Why did not the Japanese land in this country? The reason was that their lines of communication were so stretched as to be too tenuous to permit them to go on advancing. The Japanese were prepared to come here. They would have landed at Townsville and slipped down the Queensland coast and down the northwest coast of Western Australia, have no fear. But they had over-reached the capacity of their lines of communication. What would happen to our lines of communication in a war? All we have from the Government is the bare statement that about £199.000,000 is being provided for defence in this financial year and that during the term of this Government we have spent an aggregate of £1,950,000,000 on futility and stupidity in planning. We have to do a great deal better than that.
The honorable member for Wills (Mr. Bryant) mentioned the Centurion tanks that are like grandfather’s clock - too big for the room. They cannot be taken over our roads. You can have either the typical narrow Australian country road or a Centurion tank, but you cannot have both. We have committed ourselves to an expenditure of some millions of pounds on these tanks. What sort of masterly planning is that? The Centurion tanks and our roads just do not live with .each other. When some of these tanks were put on lighters for transport, the lighters almost sank. On one occasion, we were to have a snap raid on a position in the electorate of the honorable member for Herbert (Mr. Murray) in which Centurion tanks were to be used. That was to be tropical warfare at its best with all the trimmings. The raid was probably to be led by the honorable member, who was a gallant soldier in war-time and is a practising soldier in the civilian forces in days of peace and calm. But what happened? We could not get our tanks there and half the operation failed because nobody had planned it properly. That has been reported to this Parliament on several occasions.
We ask questions in this place about these things, but we receive no answers. Somebody on the Government side of the chamber says, “ Oh, well, the Opposition can be fobbed off with any sort of a substitute for an answer “. Two Sabre jet aircraft of the Royal Australian Air Force crashed in Malaya some time ago. We are still trying to get answers to our questions about that incident. When the Malayan Government said that the emergency in Malaya had ended, we wanted to know what was to be the position of the Australian forces in that country. We cannot get a clear statement on that matter, because everybody in the Government is double-banking or pickabacking in the various Ministries. We do not know where to place the responsibility and highlight it. We want to know who built the Butterworth airfield and how much it cost. Does it belong to us or does it belong to the Malayans? Nobody in the Government has ever said anything about that here.
I venture to suggest that here is a feature of the Defence accounts that will give a great deal of concern to the honorable mem ber for Melbourne Ports. Those accounts show not one item with respect to the expenditure of £2,500,000 on this airfield, and no information is given to the Parliament. This project was carried out under defence regulations and it was kept outside the ambit of the Parliament. We as an Opposition do not know officially that the Butterworth airfield has been constructed. It did not come ‘before this Parliament as a project and we have been given no figures as to its cost. 1 have never seen any. If this information had in fact been given to the Parliament, I should be the first to apologize for sa.ying.it had not. I have been searching for weeks now to find out where all this defence expenditure is going.
The Government has not a good record on defence. It has just covered up the debris of the debacle of the St. Mary’s ammunition filling factory, in respect of which it sold out to the Yankee contractors and to inefficiency in every branch of contracting in New South Wales. You cannot tell .us about these things. No wonder we say, “ Let us have a little peace “ - even if it is a little -peace away from those people who use Army contracts to enrich themselves and then are handed knighthoods for their trouble. The St. Mary’s factory was a shocking case. The smell of the things that happened on that project has not yet subsided. Ministers were transplanted overseas so that they would not have to stand up to questioning about this expenditure. One of them was Sir Eric Harrison, whom I describe as the ineffable Minister for defence preparation. The Government should be, in effect, a department of defence preparation; yet, for eleven years now it has been preparing a defence which does not exist. The allocation of £200,000,000 every year is part of its defence preparation. Yet when we categorically ask, “What have you got? “ the Government says, “ We have the pentropic force, we have “Anzac”, which holed another Navy vessel, and we have this and we have that”. Although the Government has had £1,900,000,000 for defence preparation, we have as yet no real defence preparation. That was the serio-comic role filled by the former Minister for defence preparation, Sir Eric Harrison, who is now High Commissioner for Australia in London.
In the few minutes that remain to me let me say that these estimates always fill the Opposition with a sense of frustration and horror. We are disgusted to find, when we are speaking of defence, that one honorable member on the Government side will attack the Communists while another attacks the Chinese and still another launches an attack against the Russians. The fact is that the Supply session is the session when the Government should account to this Parliament for what it has done, but honorable members on the Government side impose upon the generosity of the Chair and seize the opportunity to talk a great deal of nonsense. The honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Killen), who is interjecting, wants a little psychological warfare. The Opposition will give it to him any time he wants it, either inside or outside this Parliament. In fact, I am not sure that he is not in need of a little psychological attention himself because, everywhere he goes, he sees a red.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- I was very pleased, indeed, to hear the honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Haylen) speaking so stoutly in favour of decentralization, for that is the only way by which we can hope to meet an attack from atomic bombs. What we need is not so much roads but railways to encourage people to spread over the length and breadth of the Commonwealth. We need decentralization of population and industries. At the moment most of our military machines are manufactured in the great cities. If we have no manufacturing industries in the country we shall have no materials with which to fight back in the event of an atomic attack. Therefore, decentralization of both population and industries is essential.
I am 100 per cent. behind the suggestion that defence and development should go together. With a programme of development with a view to defence, there could be a tremendous advancement in decentralization. It has to be remembered also that, with the recent rapid growth of membership of the United Nations, that organization now has as members countries which do not look with favour upon our ideas of an Australia with European culture. We must realize that in those circumstances our position is now much more serious than ever it has been. Another serious factor to be considered is that the world’s population is growing faster than ever before. This is due mainly to the fact that medical science has made tremendous strides in reducing the infant mortality rate and in improving the health of the older people. The latest statistics that I have been able to obtain’ disclose that, since 1940, the population of Africa has increased by 64,000,000 from 172,000,000 to 236,000,000 and that of Asia has increased by 409,000,000 from 1, 213,000,000 to 1,622,000,000. Those are the two continents closest to Australia. Asia is no distance from Australia across the Pacific on the one side whilst on the other side Africa is only across the Indian Ocean from Australia. During that same nineteen-year period, the population of Oceania, which includes both New Zealand and Australia, increased from 11, 300,000 to only 16,100,000. It would seem, therefore, that it is essential that we do everything possible, not merely to increase our population at the highest possible rate, but also to spread that population throughout the whole of Australia so that we may use and develop the whole of our resources.
Such a step would mean much to the economy by way of reduced costs. For instance, it could lead to the standardization of all our railways, as has been advocated by the honorable member for Parkes, and this in turn would lead to a reduction of transportation costs, with consequent lower prices for food. Lower costs would mean that there would be no need for high wages, and there would be a halt to inflation, with its consequent increases in costs and prices.
Another important point to remember is that atomic bombs are discharged not only from the air in these modern times. It is now possible to discharge them from the sea, and from points thousands of miles away. All this points to the need for decentralization of both population and industries, andI strongly urge the desirability of utilizing some of our defence moneys for the carrying out of developmental work. I have been a constant advocate of the establishment of a council of defence and development. Such a council would have the responsibility of utilizing the moneys available for defence and development in such a way as to ensure that our industries and populations are decentralized. The time has arrived when we must pull the wool from our eyes and realize that the isolation which saved us in the old days, when our enemies had only steam boats with which to attack us, has gone. We are now in an age when it is possible to hurl guided missiles at us from thousands of miles away. We are now living in an age when it is essential that the whole of our country be adequately settled.
There are two ways by which we can better defend ourselves against attack. One is to grow more and more food and produce more and more goods for our neighbours. Any honorable member who has visited our neighbouring countries will know that in India and Pakistan, for instance, many of the people are so thin that they are almost emaciated through lack of food. We must be able to feed these people. If we do not feed them, it will not be many years before they decide to invade Australia with a view to growing food for themselves on our present empty spaces. In the past, one of our strongest defences has been the fact that Australians have had a splendid reputation as fighters, and they have enjoyed this reputation only because they have been a fit and well-fed people. If we do not decentralize our population and produce more food to feed our neighbours we shall find our neighbours turning their eyes to Australia with a view to producing food for themselves. With decentralization the boys and girls in the outlying areas will be encouraged to live all their lives in those places for which they will have not only every educational facility available, but also splendid opportunities for advancement. We must make our people so happy and satisfied that they will face death a thousand times rather than run the risk of losing their country.
This year, we are asked to vote £193,000,000 for defence. Years ago, in the period between the two wars, defence expenditure was hypothecated ahead. This was due to the fact that orders for defence equipment sometimes had to be placed three, four and five years ahead. If we are going to have to wait for that length of time in order to use this money it is better to have it lying idle in this country than to have it in other countries from which we would have to bring it when danger occurs.
Therefore, I strongly urge that the subjects of defence and development should always be linked together. We can only do that by having the closest possible cooperation with the States. Under the Constitution, the States have been given the right to develop this country. We can help them by providing them with money and by giving advice and co-operation. We should do this particularly when problems of development are related to defence. We should also realize that it is absurd that civil defence should be handled by completely different governments from that which handles national defence. Surely both these responsibilities should be combined and the money for them found from a common source in order that both may be properly organized.
In New South Wales it was proposed, at one time, to transport people hundreds of miles in order to take the place of those who might be killed by a bombing attack. This seemed absurd. Sir Marcus Oliphant told me that he thought that any city of more than 300,000 people would be a firstclass mark for any atomic bomb. We should try to have as many cities of 300,000 people as we can, and establish in them industries which could serve us in time of war. These centres would provide us with positions from which to fight back if our main armaments were destroyed.
The Soviet Union has deliberately been divided into areas of about 60,000 square miles for production purposes. This reduces transport requirements for peace-time production to a minimum. It also provides armament producing areas from which the Russians could fight back if certain of their industries were destroyed in time of war. Our main consideration should be, not whether this is a Federal or State matter, but the safety of this country. The only means of saving the country is to spread the people throughout its length and breadth so as to use every acre, every gallon of water that falls from the sky, and every gallon below the surface, to ensure that we have a maximum of food to feed ourselves and our neighbouring people. If we do this we can build up a nation that will last forever.
Sitting suspended from 5.57 to 8 p.m.
.- Before the sitting was suspended, the committee was debating a fairly wide range of matters related to the estimates of defence expenditure. It is difficult for any individual to cover a very wide field in fifteen minutes; but the debate was noteworthy for the fact that differences of opinion crept in concerning the wisdom of defence planning as we know it. There were differences of opinion about the justification for advocating partial or total disarmament. I try to face these matters realistically, and my thoughts turn to the United Nations. This organization was set up in 1 945 with a membership of 48 or 49 nations. It has grown in numerical strength to 99 nations and has intervened with some success in limited wars. I believe that the United Nations Organization contains the seeds of action which I hope will eventually justify total disarmament.
The concept of defence in Australia should be altered somewhat from what it has been in the past. I noticed with interest that the right honorable member for Cowper (Sir Earle Page) strongly urged greater concentration on the development of the hinterland of Australia as part of our defence programme. He believes that there should be plans for development, I take it, financed from the money that is now being devoted to defence. I noticed quite a little come and go from supporters of the Government who generally adopt a full-blooded approach to defence policy. My belief is that with the advent of the United Nations and every prospect of the strengthening of that organization, and with the development of nuclear weapons and hydrogen bombs, any action by Australia or any other nation to waste an undue amount of its substance on orthodox expenditure, such as armaments, is completely futile and unjustified. I know that warnings have been uttered by men of high repute who cannot be accused of being Communists although some of them have been termed Communists. The Melbourne “ Age “, of 20th September, published the following statement by no less a world renowned authority than Sir Marcus Oliphant: -
To-day a single nuclear weapon capable of exploding a detonation equal to 20 million tons of TNT could be carried in any aircraft or rocket.
Weapons could be made which could release detonations equal to 1,000 million tons of TNT, which is equal to all the explosives set off in the world since time began.
These weapons could be carried by an aircraft or set off by a girl sitting in a bomb-proof shelter deep in the earth.
There is no known defence against them.
That is a significant statement, and it has not been denied by any authority anywhere in the world. There is no known defence against nuclear or hydrogen weapons. A deadly charge can be carried in a box or a portmanteau. lt could be planted somewhere with a clockwork mechanism to go off days, hours or weeks after the person responsible had planted it. Since the great powers of the earth have these weapons at their disposal, is it likely that nuclear or hydrogen weapons will not be drawn into a conflagration if one should occur? That brings us back to the position that if we are logical and sensible - and there is room for disagreement, of course - we must have faith in the United Nations and endeavour to strengthen it by every means at our disposal. We must be prepared to have the equivalent of a strong defence force in Australia which should be termed a peace force. It should be at the disposal of the United Nations Organization to be utilized with the forces of other races and nations in other part* of the world.
Apart from that precaution, I can see no hope or purpose in huge defence expenditure to counter the forces that could be unleashed. What Australia might have to fear in the future, or perhaps immediately, is the danger of sporadic raids or attacks by irresponsible people. All we need to have at our disposal is something in the nature of a police force to meet that form of attack pending the arrival of assistance from the United Nations international police force to clean up the situation. I know that there are some members on the Government side who have no faith whatever and have never had faith in the United Nations. They believe it is bound to fail, as the League of Nations failed. Recently at the meetings of the United Nations Security Council and the General Assembly, representatives of certain nations indulged in abuse and tubthumping. The Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) adopted similar retaliatory action.
Supporters of the Government believe that because some strong opinions were expressed at those meetings of the United Nations and some speakers were abusive, the United Nations organization is cracking up. Nothing is further from the truth. One does not have to have a long memory to recall occasions in this Parliament when members on both sides of the chamber have lowered themselves - or raised themselves, according to one’s point of view - to indulge in rather blackguardly conduct, invective and abuse, and have even told some pretty strong lies blatant enough to rival the efforts of Ananias. If those conditions apply in a Parliament where, after all, we are supposed to be more or less friendly, is it to be expected that in an assembly like the United Nations, the representatives of the various nations should comport themselves like Sunday school children?
One factor which it is thought by some might make the United Nations impotent is the development of the Afro-Asian representation in the United Nations Organization. It is believed there might be a tendency to develop cliques. In the Melbourne “ Age “ of yesterday’s date appears a report from New York detailing the voting in the United Nations General Assembly on the motion to defer the question of the seating of Communist China. The voting was 42 in favour of the motion, and among those 42 were Argentine - which is not noted as a great democracy - Australia, Belgium, Bolivia, Brazil, Britain, Canada, Chile, Nationalist China, Colombia, Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic and a range of other assorted bags of tricks, as we might put it. A good thing to see! Against the motion for deferment of the question were 34 nations, including Afghanistan, Albania, Bulgaria - red powers, so-called - Cuba, Czechoslovakia, democratic little Denmark, Iraq, Morocco, Nepal, democratic Norway, Sudan, White Russia - a complete mix-up in which the representatives of 34 nations voted in accordance with the way they saw the situation. Among the countries which abstained from voting were Austria, the Central African Republic, Somalia, Togo, Tunisia and Upper Volta, Israel - a democratic state - Portugal and the Ivory Coast. These were the people who abstained from voting on the question of whether the seating of red China should be dealt with or deferred. There was a fairly even division in the mixing of the non-democratic or not so democratic nations with those who have a more democratic outlook on life.
I think that the recent advent of additional membership to the United Nations will be all to the good, and will perhaps help to down the irrational antagonisms which develop among the representatives of the so-called Western and Eastern powers. In view of the circumstances I agree with the right honorable member for Cowper that this Government might be well advised to spend more money on developing the resources of this country and even to allot £50,000,000 for the purchase, from the farmers of Australia, who have overflowing granaries that they will not know what to do with this year, of food which we could send to countries whose people are dying of starvation.
I have only two minutes to go. Is not that shocking? I wanted to say a few words about the Minister’s code of conduct. The Army is running a code of conduct school to train officers who, in turn, will train men against the possibility of Communist indoctrination. The school is putting the trainees through all sorts of treatment - rather brutal treatment. When the Minister is asked whether there is any justification for this he says that they undergo this treatment voluntarily, that they are volunteers. Can anybody imagine what a superior officer would do if a man chosen to take this course did not volunteer to do so? He would put a black mark against the officer concerned. The commanding officer would have an unconscious bias against the officer who had not volunteered, and would be likely to victimize that officer in the future.
– That is wrong.
– Is that so? All I have to say is that I had a period of training at an intelligence school. Honorable members may say that I needed it. That school was under the control of a very high-ranking British staff officer, in World War I. He outlined the British methods, which were in sharp contrast to some of the methods used by Britain’s allies, who utilized torture and all sorts of things. Torture was never found necessary in the British army. If the honorable gentleman who just interjected will read the booklet, “The Treatment of British Prisoners of War in Korea “, issued by the United Kingdom Ministry of Defence, he will find that those who were affected by indoctrination were a very small minority indeed. There is no need for the sort of treatment that is being meted out under the Minister’s code of conduct scheme. It is utter nonsense, in my opinion. The booklet to which I have referred has this to say -
Officers and senior N.C.O.s (who made up about 12 per cent, of the total of British soldiers captured by the Chinese) remained almost completely Unaffected by Communist propaganda . . .
It says, finally -
But in the pretence of “ progressive “ sentiments there was danger, and a number of prisoners discovered that, through the continuous repetition of the Communist creed, they unconsciously assimilated Communist thoughts and views, and so gradually became sympathisers to varying degrees. In addition, there were, of course, genuine conversions, which were not based initially on a facade of “ progressiveness “. But the total was very small.
So, there is no need for the kind of training which is being carried out in Australia. I appeal to the Minister not to continue this sort of thing. I think it is a reflection on the character of the Australian soldier in peace or war.
The CHAIRMAN (Mr. Bowden).Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
– I desire to make a personal explanation, Mr. Chairman.
– Does the honorable member claim to have been misrepresented?
– Yes, Mr. Chairman. In the “ Sydney Morning Herald “, of Friday, 7th October, on page 9, in a report dealing with the debate on the Estimates, the following statement appears: -
Mr. P. W. Stokes (Lib Vic) said the qualification requiring migrants to live in Australia 20 years before they could receive social service benefits should be abolished. Migrants should be entitled to receive pensions and other social benefits when they become naturalised.
What I actually said, Mr. Chairman, is reported at page 1758 of “Hansard”, as follows: -
The suggestion is that five years after they become naturalized they .should become eligible for social service benefits.
I went on to say -
The suggestion I have put forward would mean that for a minimum of ten to eleven years, allowing for the time taken in arranging a naturalization ceremony, immigrants would contribute to the national welfare and would thereby become entitled to share in the benefits.
The report in the “ Sydney Morning Herald “ is completely wrong.
– The honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard) has made what was, from his point of view, I suppose, a very good speech on foreign affairs. But in the whole of his speech he made no reference whatsoever to the Estimates we are supposed to be discussing. He expressed a point of view with regard to disarmament. Of course, he knows full well what this Government stands for in that regard. There is no need for me to take up the time of this committee in discussing the Government’s attitude, because it is well known. We agree that if proper policing can be achieved we are on the side of creating a position in the world where war will be unnecessary. But that is not what we are discussing to-night, Mr. Chairman. I sat in on the whole of the debate this afternoon thinking that I would hear some constructive criticism from the Opposition to which I could reply. I do not suggest for one moment that there are not matters in the Estimates about which there cannot be two points of view. Therefore, I was here so that I could reply to valid criticisms that were made, but so far I have not heard anything worthy of reply.
The honorable member for Reid (Mr. Uren) opened up a theme which, unfortunately, has been followed through to some degree by the honorable member for Lalor. The honorable member for Reid was also supported by the honorable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr. Crean) to some extent and, to a very large extent, by the honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Haylen). I do not know what impact these speeches may have had on people outside who may have been listening to them, but I was completely staggered to hear otherwise intelligent men seriously running such a line in this country. I thought it pitiful.
– We think you are just as stupid as you think we are.
– Well, that is good. The theme that these honorable gentlemen adopted was that they want to abandon expenditure on defence - in some cases they want to abandon expenditure that is much less than that disclosed in these estimates - and devote the money to national development. The honorable member for Reid, who led in expressing this theme, said that expenditure on defence in this country was just a squandering of money. This argument is in direct line with the Communist argument in every country in the world, and it is in line with the arguments of the Communists and fellow travellers, who go along with the Communists, in Australia. I do not want to condemn the whole of the Opposition because four of its members have risen and stuck to this line which is obviously a Communist line. I know full well that many good men sit on the Opposition side and they disagree with this line. T know that they, too, Mr. Chairman, must be staggered by the speeches that they heard.
The honorable member for Reid said that we have nothing to fear from Communist China. Those were his words. I ask him: Why then is there fear of Communist infiltration in the hearts and minds of all those in independent countries in SouthEast Asia at present? Are all these people wrong? Why is it that in South-East-
– Most of them are dictatorships.
– I suppose you will say that Malaya is a dictatorship and that Thailand is a dictatorship.
– Yes, Thailand is.
– Up to a certain point, maybe, but only because the military is in control. The Philippines, Formosa, Indonesia, South Viet Nam - all these countries are dictatorships!
– Why is it that so many hundreds of thousands of refugees are leaving Communist China for fear of what may happen to them there and going to Hong Kong?
– They go back, too.
– They do not go back. Millions more would come out if they could possibly find a way to do so. Nobody can deny that China is Communist, and communism is the mortal enemy of everything that we in this country hold dear. As the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) said recently at the United Nations, this country will never embrace communism. That goes for the people of Australia. But the line taken by some Opposition members is directly in accord with Communist ideas. What happened in Korea?
– Syngman Rhee-
– We are not entering into a debate on foreign affairs. What happened in Tibet? Surely it is not necessary to remind honorable members of these things?
– You have been sending wool to China to clothe those who invade Tibet.
– Order! The honorable member for Lalor concluded his speech some time ago.
– If the argument advanced by the honorable member for Reid this afternoon is right, what was the need for us to set up the South-East Asia Treaty Organization? Am I to take it that the Opposition disagrees with that treaty? Am I to take it that the Opposition disagrees with our treaty with the United States and New Zealand in Anzus? Am I to take it that the Opposition disagrees with the Anzam treaty? If it does, it should say so. If the Opposition agrees with these treaties, it must agree with our making adequate defence preparations. If it does, how can it justify its stand that we should reduce the very small amount that we have allocated to defence? To me, it is shocking that a party which represents a great many people should take such a line as that, trying by its advocacy to destroy our defence preparations. I think it is true to say, Mr. Chairman, that the defence preparations of this country and of our friends throughout the world have prevented South-East Asian countries from being overrun by Communists. We are only playing our small part, as a young country, in providing adequate defence preparations to protect the lives and ways of life of people in the free world.
My good friend the honorable member for Lalor mentioned the code-of-conduct course, lt is considered that officers should know what to expect should they become prisoners of war. Men who have gone through this course and who are instructing in it are men who have actually experienced interrogation by Communists following their capture. This is a simple course. It is purely voluntary. Not all officers undertake it, but they are at liberty to do so. Nothing is held against them if they do not undertake the course. However, it is of immense value to the officers who do it and it has been acclaimed by members of the press who have been invited to see it. I invite the honorable member for Lalor to come along; we will give him a week’s tuition and I am sure that it will improve him very much.
Mr. Chairman, I do not want to take up very much time, but I want to say a few words about the Army estimates. I have issued a small booklet, which I hope has been of some value to honorable members. It has been cut down to the limit, but I believe that it is of help because it depicts some of the progress that we have made.
– What does security say about this information?
– The information is quite public. This year we will spend £65,600,000, which is about the same as the amount we spent last year. However, the new structure is completely different. Considerable savings have been made in certain parts of the estimates, as honorable members will see. The savings would have been greater had it not been for the extra amount required for increases in pay following the margins decision. These increases are costing an extra £2,000,000. The savings to which I have referred have enabled a greater amount of money to be spent on capital equipment, and this year we will spend £11,300.000, an increase of 18 per cent. I am very pleased to see that the re-organization is running smoothly. It is a vast re-organization - the greatest we have ever attempted in Australia. It is entirely new to us. I had expected a certain amount of difficulty in the changeover, but the spirit that prevails throughout the Australian Regular Army and the Citizen Military Forces has enabled it to be achieved very smoothly. I pay a tribute both to the officers and men of the Regular Army, and to the citizen soldiers for the way they have undertaken this change and for the considerable enthusiasm that they have displayed.
I want to touch on only a few highlights. I will not go over the matters mentioned by the Minister for Defence (Mr. Townley). However, I think it necessary to mention that we have 1,300 troops still in Malaya. I am very proud of the fact that the United Kingdom has seen fit to allow us to appoint the commander of the Commonwealth Brigade. We have appointed Colonel Hassett, who will be raised to the rank of Temporary Brigadier, to take charge of the brigade. 1 think that is a compliment to the ability of our officers. Over 500 families are living in Malaya, mostly at Penang. As honorable members know, we have a field battery at Butterworth and the engineers are at present helping the United Kingdom at Kota Baroe in North Borneo. The state of emergency in Malaya, which lasted for five years and has just ended, is a wonderful illustration of the determination of a people to maintain their independence. There is no doubt that there was a design to overrun Malaya, on the part of the Communists, immediately after the war. I know that the Malayans appreciate the help that we and the United Kingdom have been able to give them. It has been a wonderful thing for the people of Malaya, a country which is building itself into a very sound young democratic nation.
One of the highlights of the new organization of the Army is our acquisition of Army aviation. This is entirely new, and it is part of the re-organization that we will have our own light aircraft support. This new unit which is called the 16 Light Aircraft Squadron will be based on Amberley, in Queensland, and it will take over in about six weeks on 1st December. We have beginning, this month, the delivery of eleven helicopters and a number of light fixed-wing aircraft. These will take over what is called the Royal Australian Air Force 16 Air Observation Post Flight in Canberra. I want to take this opportunity to pay a tribute to the R.A.A.F. and to my colleague, the Minister for Air (Mr. Osborne), for their co-operation and help in this matter and in assisting to train pilots. There are Army pilots now overseas receiving instruction to become instructors in this new scheme. The Navy, also, has helped considerably in the training of helicopter pilots.
I wish now to refer to what I consider will be one of the very important parts of our organization in the future. I refer to the cadet corps. Now that we have abandoned national service training the cadet corps, in my opinion, assumes very much more importance in this country. Its aim is to give foundation training to young lads at school, both in military and disciplinary matters, and we will look to them to provide the future leaders of the Army. It is interesting to note that 93 per cent, of our officers at Duntroon come from the ranks of the school cadets. We have increased the number of school cadets by 5,000. I appreciate the fact that we are a young country with great needs in financial development, as has been said by the right honorable member for Cowper (Sir Earle Page) and therefore we have to provide a field force and give it first priority. This is as much as we can do at present, and the pressure on me is pretty heavy at the moment to increase the number of school cadets. I have paid a good deal of attention to them and I believe I have given them more prestige. For one thing I have given each State its honorary colonel. In New South Wales he is Brigadier Galleghan, or Black Jack as he is often called, who is a wonderful inspiration to young lads going to school. Because of the restriction on numbers we will have to confine the scheme to five-year schools, but the great enthusiasm exhibited throughout Australia is very satisfactory to me.
I wish, briefly, to mention the question of manpower because this is perhaps the biggest difficulty which will arise. In an economy where we have the highest degree of full employment in our history, one can well imagine that it is not easy to recruit regular troops. We have to fill this field force. However, because of wastage which occurs constantly through age and other factors, and because of the special type we require for the field force the task is made more difficult. We will need to recruit a great number, and this is not only the job of the Government or of the Minister. I put it to the Opposition - I know that many members of the Opposition are prepared to lend a hand in this matter - that we need the help of the people throughout the country, because our objective can only be achieved through the goodwill of every one in Australia. For that reason, I look forward to the help of every one in this regard.
I appeal particularly to employers in relation to the Citizen Military Forces. The governments of the Commonwealth, New South Wales and Queensland have already arranged - I understand that the other States are about to make a decision - to allow their civil servants time off to join their C.M.F. units. Many of the big employers, as was mentioned here the other day, are doing this willingly; but there are still some employers who do not cooperate. This is a national duty, and I appeal to those employers to assist in this matter by giving their employees time off to attend for the training that is required in the C.M.F.
I wish now briefly to mention the question of equipment. As the Minister for Defence (Mr. Townley) said, there is a steady flow of modern weapons becoming available. Deliveries of the FN rifle are ahead of schedule at the present time. It has already been fully delivered to the Regular Army and is about to be delivered to the C.M.F. We have a great range of new weapons which should be of interest to young men who are coming into the forces. The 105-mm. howitzer has already been issued to the troops. The 106-mm. recoilless anti-tank rifle will arrive here shortly, as will also the M60 machinegun, which takes the place of both the Vickers and the Bren. We have another particularly interesting piece of equipment in the Mechanical Mule, which will go into the jungle country and is a fascinating vehicle. It might be worth mentioning at this stage the four L.S.M.’s or landing ships, each of which can carry five Centurion tanks. One honorable member said, this afternoon, that we could not convey our Centurion tanks around the country, but we can. As I say, we have four of these L.S.M.’s, and I am sure they will prove very handy indeed. I have mentioned the helicopters and aircraft; and in the hands of the Royal Australian Air Force we have available to the Army C130’s for transport. There is also the new 81-mm. mortar, which is coming along.
This year we are expending £16,100,000, of which £11,340,000 is capital expenditure. Of the latter figure, £8,000,000 will be spent in Australia, and the balance will be used to keep up regular stocks and equipment. In< respect of works acquisitions honorable members will appreciate- that in the war years we had to build many structures of timber and iron in a hurry. Some of those buildings, which were rushed up as temporary structures, must now be replaced. We are replacing them with solid structures along the lines set out in the booklet to which I have referred. This is a very costly matter; and, of course, we need much more housing. We are making up the lag. It may be of interest to the committee to know that in the last four years we have built or bought 356 houses and have acquired 1,144 units from the State housing commissions. We now have a total of 4,300 married quarters in Australia. Under the new organization we will, of course, still be very short of houses, particularly in New South Wales and Queensland, and we will have to concentrate on this matter.
I am sorry to have taken up so much time of the committee. The Army is making good progress in its re-organization. The foundations have been soundly laid and the new pentropic formations are taking shape. Regular manpower is still a problem, but it is being tackled vigorously and the response to the all-volunteer Citizen Military Forces gives solid grounds for optimism. The “ One Army “ concept is well established and is being fostered in every way possible. While we all hope that we will never again suffer another world war, I am sure we are contributing to the preservation of world peace by organizing and maintaining efficient forces, ready and capable of playing their part in any emergency. The Army, to-day, is the worthy inheritor of the great traditions of the first and second Australian Imperial Forces.
.- I wonder what led the Minister for the Army (Mr. Cramer) to write those last fine flowing phrases. How on earth could he possibly say that the forces which he has outlined here to-night could play their part in either a world war, a United Nations undertaking, or in. the defence of Australia? His objective appears to be to ignore completely the defence of Australia as an independent nation and to develop instead a form of defence which will fit into some kind of treaty organization comprising various countries. I was going to say a world’ organization, but it would be only a part-world organization.
I want to deal with some of the remarks made by the Minister about spokesmen on this side of the committee. He said, first, that our arguments were pitiful. The argument to which he particularly referred was one which was supported most ably this afternoon by the right honorable member for Cowper (Sir Earle Page). The point that completely escaped the honorable member was that we on this side of the Parliament believe that we have reached a climax in history, that the whole situation is changing, that the entry of new nations to the United Nations means that power has shifted from the few to the many, and that a completely new atmosphere is developing. We believe that failure to accept these facts caused the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) to make his great gaffe during the last few weeks at the United Nations General Assembly.
Nobody on the other side of the committee seems to realize that there is a change in the whole world situation. The Government is proceeding as if the circumstances were the same as they always have been.
The Minister spent the first ten minutes of his speech in vilifying us. To suggest that we are Communists or fellow travellers is unworthy of the Minister. I resent the implication, and I submit that it contributed nothing at all to the debate. There are persons on this side of the committee who took part in the debate and who also took part at an earlier time in the defence of the nation. It is nonsense to suggest that they are not bringing the same sincerity to their consideration of these national problems as you are, Mr. Chairman, or as the Minister is.
In this discussion we should, I suggest, study our national accounts. As the honorable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr. Crean) pointed out, much of the expenditure incurred- during the last ten years indicates a dithering in Government policy which has reacted against the whole economic structure of the nation, and has produced in the end no adequate defence programme. We believe that there are only two roles that we ought to consider for Australian defence forces. First and foremost, they should be used in the defence of the Australian nation itself, in other words for home defence. The other role is participation in some United Nations action when such participation is necessary. Where would this country have been if it had been asked by the United Nations to send a force to the Congo? Why is it that we were not ready to offer such a force, even if it was not going to be welcomed when it arrived in the Congo? Why is it that we cannot take our part, side by side with such nations as Ghana, Algeria, and Morocco, which did have forces equipped and ready for the kind of role they were asked to assume?
I believe that the re-organization of the Army was probably necessary, but that the kind of re-organization which has been carried out was based on faulty premises. It commits us to a programme of training, equipment and organization which can only place our forces in a position to operate with another defence force. We must be subservient to some other national group. If there is some international commitment, we will be at one end of a long line, commanded perhaps by Americans. The Minister indicated our subservience to nonAustralian policy when he said that he was proud that the United Kingdom Government had permitted us to appoint a commander of the forces in Malaya. We have strong opinions about Malaya and our commitments there. There are many arguments from both sides on that question. Will honorable members opposite never learn that 1,300 men in Malaya can do no more than make the same sacrifice that 23,000 made seventeen or eighteen years ago?
The much-vaunted defence policy of this Government has produced no defence worthy of the name, and, having in mind the inherent dangers of the present situation which the Minister claimed should be always in the forefront of our considerations, has placed Australia in a position in which it cannot defend itself. Honorable members on this side of the Parliament, of course, are agreed that there is little prospect of a global war. We agree with the point of view put forward by the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard), that we can look forward to taking part in United Nations actions or defending ourselves against sporadic raids. These are the contingencies, we believe, for which we should be preparing ourselves.
Many aspects of Government policy over the last ten years have shown a dithering on the part of the Government which displays its unworthiness to have the defence of Australia entrusted to it. Take the national service training scheme. If ever there was a case of policy based on faulty premises it was that which resulted in the national service training scheme. An amount of £150,000,000 was spent on that scheme. More than 100,000 young men spent some time in the forces, and now we find, when national service training has been abolished, that young men are leaving the services almost en masse. If the trainees under that scheme had been imbued with any feeling of pride in participating in a national undertaking, which should have been inculcuated in them, we would have our military forces at the present time filled to overflowing.
– We have 200,000 men trained, or partly trained.
– Very partly trained! We suggest also that the policies of this Government in regard to equipment for the forces has placed the defence of the nation in jeopardy - conceding, of course, that there is any danger whatsoever. Why is it that the Royal Australian Air Force, after all these years, is still wondering what fighter aircraft it is going to get? Perhaps the Minister for Air (Mr. Osborne), who is now at the table, can tell us something about that. Why it is that the nation has, in effect, no effective air force? Every honorable member should read the criticisms levelled at the Government this afternoon bythe honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Beazley).I have not time to repeat what he said.
Why is it that our defence policy is so unimaginative and so lacking in initiative that we cannot find in it anything typically Australian and designed to suit our particular defence needs? We believe that the defence of Australia is a unique undertaking. No other nation on earth has defence commitments comparable to ours. There is no other nation with a population as small as ours, but with such a large area of land and so isolated. These are the considerations which should compel us to devise a defence policy of our own, rather than adopt holus bolus a policy designed to suit American needs.
We should also be developing in the industrial field and producing our own defence equipment. We should not be taking over equipment which is perhaps, obsolete by world standards. Is it not a fact that the Italians have developed a gun better than the 105-mm.? Is it not a fact that the British have one which is probably even more suitable? Is it not a fact that the Australian Department of Supply developed the Malkara anti-tank missile, which the British have adopted, but for which the Australians can find no use? In the journal of the Royal United Service Institution of May, 1960, there is a paragraph under the heading “ General Service Notes “ on exercise “ Starlight “, in which the following appears: -
The force, without armour, and facing an “ enemy “ with 34 tanks, was equipped with dummy Malkara anti-tank missiles around which much interest centred.
The only place where there is no interest in the missile designed by Australian scientists and manufactured by Australian industry in Australia itself. All the weapons that the Minister has just outlined are to be imported. What is the role of Australian industry? Why have we not developed an organization or designed weapons to fit in with our own special needs?
We believe that the first charge upon the Government is the defence of Australia, and 1 will challenge any honorable member opposite fo stand up here and say how he would defend, let us say, one of our capital cities with our present defence forces. Suppose a force’ of 20,000 or 30,000 invaders were to land at five or six points north of Brisbane. How would honorable members opposite suggest the situation could be handled with our present defence forces. How could those forces be moved around? Have we put to practical use the lessons learned from previous conflicts? Do we appreciate the need for a mobile defence force?
– These are staff exercises!
– That is so. You speak of your eight Citizen Military Forces infantry battalions and your four Australian Regular Army groups. With what’ are they equipped? Are they mobile? Are these mechanized, hard-hitting forces? Of course not! Is it not a fact that most of them are still committed to their feet? Is it not a fact that they could not possibly defend the Australian homeland?
– Against what?
– Honorable members opposite are the scare-mongers. We are not the ones who say we must defend ourselves against the surging hordes from the north. In fact, we say those hordes will never come. If these are the premises upon which the Government has built our forces, how will it use them? With our present defence forces, on which the Government has spent £1,700,000,000, you could not defend Canberra against a two- or three-pronged attack. Honorable members opposite are living in a twilight world of defence in which they are still dreaming the dream of 1 945 - the dream of being a party to some unassailable international treaty organization- - but we have yet to hear of it. This attitude is against Australia’s interests.
We believe that the solution to our problems lies in the provision of adequate equipment. The Department of Supply laid the foundation to that solution when it developed the Malkara. We believe also that the rocket will be a more satisfactory piece of equipment than the gun. We believe that in light mechanized small units you will find a more satisfactory solution to Australia’s defence problems than in t.h? pentropic divisions. The Government should answer the questions that have been raisedon this issue. We believe that Australia’s defence forces should be re-organized in the way in which we have suggested. We should not be committed to any policy of folly which the Prime Minister might adopt in accordance with the attitude that he has exhibited for the last ten oi fifteen years.
Many questions remain unanswered. Why is it that after all this re-organization :in. ballyhoo there is still no integration? The honorable member for Barker (Mr. Forbes) this afternoon pointed out the ease with which other nations have been able to integrate their officer training. This could be carried down the line of supply, pay, administration and through the whole force and could produce substantial savings. Why are the C.M.F. the Cinderella service. It is all very well for the Minister to talk about one Army, but it is a fact that no matter , how long a soldier serves in his rank in the C.M.F. he will not receive any increment.
– That is not true.
– It is true. The Government has given all soldiers equal pay, but the C.M.F. soldier does not get the same increments as does the A.R.A. soldier. If my statement is not correct, I have been misinformed.
– They are all on the same rate of pay.
– Then why is it that a C.M.F. soldier will receive less compensation than an A.R.A. soldier if they both happen to be injured in the same accident? This matter was raised last week by an honorable member on this side of the chamber. There are other administrative aspects in which the C.M.F. soldier is not the equal of the A.R.A. soldier. It is idle for the Minister to talk of one Army when in fact the Government is creating these distinctions among the ranks which can produce the same troubles as bedevilled the Army in the first part of the last war.
I do not say that these are serious matters in relation to the C.M.F. and the A.R.A., but they are matters which appear to have escaped the Minister’s notice. Why has there not been an integration of national development into our defence training? Every time I drive along the Hume Highway and cross the Goulburn River at Seymour I see there the symbol of this Government’s defence preparations. The Goulburn River is a wide stream and is within 4 or 5 miles of the Puckapunyal camp where the Centurion tanks are based. You would have thought that any government with a sense of its obligations would make its defence forces mobile. You would have expected the Government to realize that the bridge over the Goulburn River is vital to our defence and to do something about strengthening or replacing it. But it still remains unchanged and I believe that it is impossible to run Centurion tanks over it. How many bridges over the Murray River can carry the Centurion tanks? How many bridges along the whole eastern coast of Australia can carry them? At how many ports in Australia can you easily load and unload the Centurion tanks? How long will it take the Minister’s four ships, which carry five tanks each, to shift the force anywhere? The only answer that the Government gives to these questions is that it is only a simple matter of arithmetic. While these ships carrying the tanks travel around the coast they are defenceless. The best way to shift any force around Australia is on land - by rail and by road. Some of the £1,700,000,000 which the Government has spent on defence should have been devoted to improving our rail and road systems. The community generally would then have obtained some return from this enormous expenditure. The Government should turn its attention to this aspect of defence.
These are questions which the people of Australia are asking. They are entitled to replies. The question of defence has bedevilled politics. The Government has spent a greater amount on defence than it has on any other single undertaking in Australia.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
– I did not enter the debate to-night to speak about the Opposition’s attitude to Australia’s defence, but to make some comments about the Department of Air which I administer.’ I have listened this afternoon and to-night with something akin to amazement at the varying attitudes of Opposition members. Although the honorable member for Wills (Mr. Bryant) levelled a great deal of criticism at the Government, he is the only member on the Opposition side who has made any attempt to express a defence policy on behalf of his party. He has said that the Opposition has two concepts, first, that provision should be made for home defence, that is, defence of the Australian continent, and secondly, that we make a contribution to ad hoc United Nations forces. Does he not realize that in this day and age home defence would become necessary only when the battle had been lost elsewhere? He is thinking in the past. Does he not realize that in all our activities, in discharging our treaty obligations to our neighbours and friends in our own part of the world, we are doing one of the things which is contemplated by the United Nations?
At least he has made an attempt, with his usual facile fluency, to express some policy of defence, even though that policy can be exploded easily. I have listened in vain to one Opposition member after another to hear something of this defence policy. Summed up, what they want is unilateral disarmament by Australia. Who can unilateral disarmament profit except the aggressive Communist nations? I do not say that the honorable member for Reid (Mr. Uren) is a Communist or that he speaks for the Communist Party.
– If you think I am one, say so.
– I know that he speaks under deep emotion in matters of this kind and I make allowance for that. I do not suggest even that he speaks under direct Communist influence. But the only cause which could profit from the adoption of his suggestions is the Communist cause. The honorable member for Parkes-
– Do not pick on him.
– I am prepared to say that the opinions which he expressed in the chamber this afternoon are clearly and definitely deeply affected by Communist propaganda. If they were put into effect they would lead only to unilateral disarmament by those nations which now sustain the cause of order and freedom in this world.
The honorable member for Wills had the effrontery to invoke the speech of the right honorable member for Cowper (Sir Earle Page) in support of his own views. As I understood the right honorable gentleman, he was directing attention to the rapid changes in the international situation with which any one responsible for the defence of any country must cope. The honorable member for Wills failed completely to appreciate those changes when he mentioned his two concepts.
If members of. the Opposition had listened to my friend, the Minister for the Army (Mr. Cramer), they would have heard some observations on the most imaginative and far-reaching re-organization of the Australian Army which has yet occurred in practice. Opposition members laugh, thereby indicating clearly that they do not understand, do not know and, I suspect, do not care what has been going on in the Army in Australia in the last two years.
I shall try now to tell the committee in the short time at my disposal how the Air Force has met the challenge of the changing circumstances to which reference has been made. About three years ago the Department of Air began a very searching reexamination of all its activities and its future plans. Some views which had long been accepted in air staff planning were questioned in these changing circumstances. The greatly increased cost of modern weapons made new demands for economy, and the complexity of modern weapons brought a realization of the need for higher educational standards in the service, particularly in the sciences and mathematics. Perhaps most of all, it was the clarification of the general strategic background against which all the work of the services must be planned that required a critical re-examination of many ideas which we had previously accepted as axiomatic. All Air Force activities and every aspect of the work of the Department of Air are to a considerable extent inter-dependent, and any effective review must therefore be comprehensive.
This review of our plans and activities was carried out principally through a series of special conferences of the Air Board, augmented by Air Officers Commanding and other key senior officers. Between the conferences, planning papers and critical papers were written and discussed by the Air Staff and technical staffs, by other sections of the department and by the commands. Conclusions were translated into policy directives and action was taken on them as it became practicable. Some of the fruits of this far-reaching examination are already apparent. A critical attitude like this, I acknowledge, must be maintained indefinitely by any service which tries to keep abreast of the changes which it must face, but one may reasonably hope that it will not need to be sustained with quite the same intensity as that of the period of which 1 have spoken.
The strategic background made clear by the Minister for Defence (Mr. Townley) is not one which requires as its first objective preparation for a general war in which the whole community would be slowly mobilized after a declaration as in the past. On the contrary, this background calls for mobile and effective forces which are able to contribute to the maintenance of peace and security in our own sector of the globe, forces ready to take part if required in a limited war in our own area and so make an adequate contribution to a common cause with our allies in the situation of cold war which now prevails. To do this, such forces as we can afford must be highly mobile, and they must be trained and equipped for service at short notice at great distances beyond Australia and away from their home bases in times technically described as times of peace. It is not within the resources of this nation, Sir, to maintain great fleets of strategic bombers, to create widespread umbrellas of missile defences which themselves would require a vast and costly network of radar warning, and in other ways to emulate the few major air powers. But it is our function and our duty, in spite of what has been suggested bv the Opposition to-day, to be able to meet our obligations to our allies and our neighbours, particularly in peace-time in the cold war.
What is the position of the Air Force in this situation? Against this background, the Royal Australian Air Force can still spread its resources reasonably over the four main branches of air warfare appropriate to a small power. I refer, of course, to strike and reconnaissance; air defence by fighters, augmented more recently by surface-to-air missiles: maritime reconnaissance; and finally transport. Each of these elements is essential to the Air Force.
The total vote for the Department of Air this financial year is £63,200,000. Taking the expenditure as a proportion of the Air Force £1, of this sum 14s. 8d. in the £1 is required to maintain the existing force. Pay and allowances, squadrons overseas, equipment and stores, the maintenance of aircraft stores and buildings - all these will take 14s, 8d. in the £1, leaving only 5s. 4d. for new capital expenditure of all sorts. This 5s. 4d. in the £1 has to cover airfields, new buildings including housing on stations, and new modifications to aircraft as well as new aircraft themselves. The amount estimated for new aircraft in this year’s proposed vote represents 2s. 8id. in the £1. The proportion of the vote available for new capital expenditure has improved quite considerably in recent years. Three years ago, it was only 4s. 6id. in the £1. and last year 5s. 5id. - an increase of nearly ls. in the £1 - was spent on new capital items.
Many factors have contributed to this. Rigid economy, including the reorganization of commands, bases and units, which has enabled us to close some and amalgamate others, has helped to reduce the proportion of the whole which is represented by the cost of maintenance. This financial year, we shall have to meet for a full year the combined effects of the new code of pay and allowances, an increase in the basic wage and marginal adjustments. These have inevitably lifted slightly the proportion of maintenance costs, but 5s. 4d. in the £1 will still be spent this financial year on new capital items.
I want to turn now to the selection of new aircraft. The operational and technical difficulties involved in choosing the right replacement aircraft are widely acknowledged, but it is not generally realized that the financial problems in planning how to pay for them are equally involved. Honorable members may recall that the twelve Hercules transport aircraft that we bought a couple of years ago cost us about £16,000,000; They are not yet finally paid off. Twelve P2V7 maritime reconnaissance aircraft were ordered last financial year. They were required as a much overdue replacement for the outmoded Lincoln aircraft of No. 10 Squadron, at Townsville. They will cost us £10,500,000, and they will be paid for over three years ending in the financial year 1961-62. A fighter replacement programme is going to run into tens of millions of pounds, and it will absorb the money available for new aircraft for many years ahead.
The Department of Air has been criticized from time to time for not choosing a new fighter before this. In 1957, the selection of a particular aircraft was considered, although no formal Government decision had been made. In the same year, it was ultimately decided to postpone the selection in the expectation that fighter aircraft better suited to our particular needs would become available in the future. I am quite confident that the wisdom of that course will be fully established, if it has not been already. If the tentative plans of 1957 had1 been proceeded with, we should have been committed for years ahead to a day-superiority fighter, admittedly of very high performance, but without any allweather capability, and with the most limited capacity for army support. 1 refer, of course, to the original version of the Lockheed FI 04, popularly known as the Starfighter. Recent developments of this aircraft which are now to be manufactured for the air forces of certain countries in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization will produce an aircraft with quite different structural characteristics and with much wider capabilities. I say “ will produce “ because these aircraft are not yet in service. 1 want to stress that it would not have been practicable to modify ours to incorporate these new developments if we had committed ourselves to this aircraft in 1 957. Furthermore, three years later, there is now at least one other fighter which, from the stand-point of our particular requirements, can be considered a worthy competitor with it.
– There will always be a better one later.
– 1 did not say it was better. I said we had a worthy competitor with it. The point I want to make is that the three years since 1957 have not been wasted. This is relevant to the comments that have just been made by the honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Beazley). The intervening time has not been wasted. We cannot buy everything at once. The Hercules squadron, the P2V7 squadron and the Bloodhound unit, each of them indispensable in its own field, will be substantially paid for when the costly years of the fighter replacement programme arrive. I repeat that we cannot buy all these things at once, although each of them is a necessary requirement.
The Air Force gives the highest priority to its offensive capacity, to its ability to reconnoitre and to strike. Our Canberras are still the best strike-reconnaissance air craft available to the air force of a small power. Additional substance is given to this claim by the action of the New Zealand Air Force and the Indian Air Force in adopting Canberras in recent times. No suitable replacement is yet available, so an important requirement for our next fighter will be a significant strike capacity. It will not replace the Canberras, but it will be able to contribute to the offensive capacity of the service.
I should like to make some remarks now about the situation in the personnel field of the Air Force. Recruitment remains high, notwithstanding our selective recruiting and the very full employment outside the service. The position in most musterings is satisfactory. In those radio and electrical musterings for which long training is required, there are some deficiencies. These are likely to continue until the output of our schools of technical training catches up with the demand. Next year and the year after - some twelve years after the reestablishment of the peace-time Air Force - an unusually large number of serving members will be reaching the end of their twelve-year periods of engagement, and some difficulty in manning and postings is expected. However, the re-engagement rate is satisfactorily high, and about 80 per cent, of the people due for discharge are at present prepared to re-engage. But re-engagement in the Air Force, like recruiting, is very selective, and not all who offer will be re-engaged.
I spoke earlier of education in the Air Force. The honorable member for Barker (Mr. Forbes) had some interesting observations to make earlier to-night on what he believed to be the need for a joint cadet service college. It is my own opinion that the suggestion he makes would be a reasonable one if we were starting ab initio to create three new services. But we cannot escape from what has been done in the past, and it is a fact that each of the three services, with different purposes in mind and for different numbers of its future officers trains its cadets at different age levels. The re-organization of the former Royal Australian Air Force College into a new body to be called the R.A.A.F. Academy, with which the University of Melbourne will be associated, will become effective at Point Cook from January, 1961.
With the understanding and generous cooperation of the Vice-Chancellor and the university authorities, the standard of teaching at the academy will be raised to university level, and the successful graduates from 1963 onwards will be able to receive a bachelor’s degree in science from the university. This is a notable step forward in service education. It will give those Air Force officers of the future who come into the service through the academy a sound basic education in mathematics and the sciences. I believe this to be essential for people who will have to live familiarly in a highly technological atmosphere. It will have some beneficial side effects as well. I hope particularly that it will bring home to parents and teachers whose sons and pupils feel the call of an adventurous life just as strongly as did Australians of earlier generations, a realization that the Air Force offers a fully professional education and a professional career to its gifted members.
– I should like to speak on the estimates for the Department of the Navy. There is a new procedure this year in presenting those estimates. A huge sum has been allocated to the Navy for pay and allowances and the various items have been grouped in three categories, one of which is “ Dockyard Police “. The three headings under which the expenditure on pay and allowances is to be made are “ Permanent Naval Forces “, “ Women’s Royal Australian Naval Service “ and “ Dockyard Police “. The amount asked for this year is £14,271,600, compared with £13,882,038 voted last year.
I think we should be a little curious about the expenditure of this money. I know that my constituents are very concerned. After all, the income tax on individuals has been increased by 5 per cent., or ls. in the £1, this year, while the increase in the tax levied on the big companies which are operating in this country is only 2i per cent., or 6d. in the £1. It is only natural that, in those circumstances, the people should be very concerned about governmental expenditure. I am concerned about the position in the naval forces generally. Being a shipbuilder, I was greatly interested by a statement made by the Minister for the Navy (Senator Gorton) on 25th July in a speech to the Air Force Association’s conference at Kerang in Victoria. During the course of that speech, according to a press report, he said -
Australia was in the greatest peril the nation had ever known. The peril was caused by changes in world power and every individual must decide whether they are prepared to oppose the threat of alien ideas being thrust upon them.
Twelve days before that - on 13th July, 1960 - this Government, through the Minister for the Navy advertised for sale nine of the Royal Australian Navy’s ocean-going mine sweepers, which it said were the last of the 60 Bathurst class ships built in New South Wales and Queensland dockyards between 1941 and 1943. These vessels were only seventeen years old. LieutenantCommander Wheeler, commenting in the “Sydney Morning Herald” of that date, said that these ships were in tip-top condition and that you could get them going in under a week. Another naval spokesman said -
Although the vessels are in tip top condition it is believed that buyers will bid for them as scrap metal.
A naval spokesman was telling the world that he believed that buyers would bid for these vessels as scrap metall The naval spokesman could not estimate the value of these ocean-going mine sweepers which are seventeen years old! This is a shocking admission for naval architects and designers to make. I think it is time that an inquiry was made into their incompetence. The department should make an immediate inquiry to ascertain why these ships were originally built to a corvette design. I had the pleasure of working on most of the Bathurst class mine sweepers, which, as I have said, were built to a corvette design. They were later converted to mine sweepers. Could the naval architects not tell us how much they cost, why they were converted, and why they were fit only to be sold for scrap metal?
All’ around the Australian coast there are many uncharted waters. These ships could be converted, in two or three weeks, into survey ships in order to carry out that job. It is a job which should be carried out immediately. Yet these ships are being sold as scrap metal! A company named Sims is suddenly branching out all over the Australian continent. Wherever you go, the company has a scrap metal buyer. Sims, himself, started in a small business in Newtown. Overnight, when the Japanese scrap metal buyers arrived in Australia to exploit the situation, Sims blossomed out from the little backyard in Newtown as a big scrap metal buyer with newly built depots all over Australia. How could that happen? Does the Minister for the Navy investigate this type of occurrence, or does he just sit down and let the rest of the world go by? I want to know how a company, overnight, can blossom out into a millionaire scrap metal organization, although, the day before, it was just a back-room concern.
– You tell us.
– I want the Minister for the Navy to tell us. You tell people about social services, but we know you are incompetent to do that. I want the Minister for the Navy to answer the question. Why should our naval ships be sold for scrap metal when the German navy was rearmed to the degree of 350 new vessels since World War II. finished? Why does the Minister for the Navy not ask himself such a simple question as that? Later on, I will come to the Minister for the Army (Mr. Cramer), who is interjecting. I want to know why all this destruction of Australian naval vessels is going on. According to the propaganda issued by newspapers throughout the world after the end of World War II., Germany was disarmed, never to rise again as a world power. Now, Germany is feverishly rebuilding its naval strength. A message from Bremen, published in the Sydney “Daily Mirror” on 3rd August, 1960, stated -
West Germany has 137 ships in its navy and hopes to have 350 very soon.
If it is necessary for Germany to rebuild its navy, the Australian Government should be thinking along the same lines. But our ships are being sold, one by one. Even if they are outmoded, they should be retained until they are replaced by ships of the latest type. In the public interest, the Department of the Navy should thoroughly investigate the great measure of incompetence which is shown by its so-called advisers.
I had the pleasure of mixing with some of the Navy’s- advisers- during the war. Together with the other first-class tradesmen who built ships on the classical lines for which Australia is known throughout the world, I observed repeatedly the slipshod methods adopted by Navy architects and by Navy designers in particular. I observed the shocking waste of money that goes on through their incompetence. I think that the committee should be given more details about the Navy estimates. We should be told where the money is going, what salaries are being paid to individuals.
We know that the Chief of the Naval Staff basks in the sunshine of £6,150 a year, an increase from £5,768 last year. Then there are seven rear-admirals who get £33,450 between them, an increase of £2,866 on the vote for last year. But we are not told how much these individual rearadmirals get. They are all on the same classification as rear-admirals. I am not against high salaries. I think that high salaries should be paid, especially to the lower ranks. They should get much higher salaries. The Chief of the Naval Staff has a ten-roomed home in Canberra which is a long way from the water. The Chief of the General Staff of the Army also has a ten-roomed home, including a ballroom. But the petty officers and seamen are given scant consideration. They are living in rooms and other temporary accommodation. I think the Minister should give them better treatment.
Let us get down to these rear-admirals: I think that the amount received by each should be detailed in the estimates for the sake of good bookkeeping. The total amount allocated to them is not easily divisible by seven. Then there are three commodores, second class. Whatever a second-class commodore is I do not know. But they are grouped with 58 captains, 158 commanders, 974 lieutenantcommanders, lieutenants and sub-lieutenants, and 200 midshipmen and cadet midshipmen. We find that about 1,200 of the higher ranks are capable of looking after only 12,046 seamen and petty officers. Why should we have this overhead? If there are no ships for these rear-admirals I think they should be retired or put to work where they would be of some use to the community.
I was a little intrigued the other day, to read a social note in one of the newspapers. The Minister regretted that the fleet could not travel to Melbourne for the Melbourne
Cup this year because it was busy. The Minister could not tell the people that we have not any fleet at all.
– That was a rubbishy interjection by an honorable member who would not know anything about it. The aircraft carrier “ Melbourne “ is on loan to Australia, and the submarine which was loaned to Australia has left us. “ Melbourne “ is in dock and the submarine has gone, but we still have “ Anzac “ and “ Vendetta “. The dear old matrons in Melbourne had made the usual preparations for the social whirl that goes on there at Cup time.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
– I do not wish to reply to the honorable member for Kingsford-Smith (Mr. Curtin) except on one minor aspect, and that is his strictures upon the payment of those in the higher ranks. For my own part, I have no objection to people receiving high salaries if they accept high responsibilities and win their place on merit. If they are not fitted for the position by reason of training, experience and capacity, there is something wrong; but I would say that my honorable friend would hardly argue that a brand-new apprentice in boilermaking should receive exactly, or approximately, the wage that is paid to a highly skilled operator who could produce the maximum result in the minimum time. After all. it is only a matter of degree. Consequently, acting on that philosophy, I do not see eye to eye with the honorable member.
– That is quite right, but the boilermakers are producers.
– Quite so. I shall expect the honorable member to do some heroic things in the way of putting himself on the basic wage very shortly if that is how he feels.
I wish to address myself to two items in the Estimates before the committee. The first is found in Division No. 565 whereI note that in respect of the Weapons Research Establishment our net contributions is estimated to be £3 more than the actual expenditure last year. It is quite true that an additional amount will be recoverable from the United Kingdom. WhileI cannot pose for one moment as an expert on defence, I have the liveliest recollections of what happened at the outbreak of the Second World War. The experience left me with a very dim view of the so-called experts who advise Ministers on how to prepare for defence and what should be done if war occurs again. I say that without being unmindful of the fact that there were men who had a forward look but, unfortunately were not in a position to put their ideas into effect until it was almost too late for our own good.
In a total defence estimate approximating £200,000,000, there is something curiously out of proportion when we propose to spend less than £10,000,000 upon what is undoubtedly to be the most important aspect of the pattern for the future. Throughout history there has been a time lag between bows and arrows and steel armour and gunpowder, and people were fighting in iron helmets and breastplates long after gunpowder came into use; and there is still a similar time lag between the stages of human development. Apparently, this is still true of warfare. However, I believe the writing is on the wall, and it is so brightly outlined that we should ensure that the brilliant brains of Australia have at their disposal ample funds for research into new ways of combating what will be the deciding weapons in any future war. We should be finding ways to turn back missiles launched against us or prevent them from coming our way. These tasks are not beyond the brains of young Australians who with those of the last generation have contributed in a marked degree to research.
But when we consider the use of atomic and thermo-nuclear bombs with theirgreat destructive capacity, we are obliged to have regard to the fact that to produce these things, as well as atomic energyfor peaceful purposes, we must incur certain dangers. Taking the first aspect, I note in reviewing the recommendations of the National Radiation Advisory Committee that as far back as 1953, a model act was drafted for the benefit of the Commonwealth and the States. That model act has not yet been given effect to. Even if it were, there is no certainty that under section 51 of the Constitution the requisite power would continue to remain with the Com- monwealth. There is one course and one course only if this country is to be preserved from the radiation resulting from the use of atomic energy in war or for peaceful purposes and that is to put power in.o the one hand that can really exercise it throughout Australia, which is this Parliament. If we allow to grow u; vested interests which will fight against any attempt to bring this power under proper control, we will be culpable. The committee of which I was a member reported unanimously - and surely th. people of Australia will agree with it - tha this new found power should be controlled on a national basis.
On looking up information on this subject, I noted when 1 was in the United Kingdom a few months ago that they !” discovered that the amount of radio-active substance which had been absorbed !v cows from grass in the past six months ha-.! increased by 40 per cent. That fact alarmed the United Kingdom Government. Then we find that there is risk of drainage where radiation is used even in hospitals. One authority on the subject stated -
Where any work is done with radio-active materials … it is inevitable that some proportion of the activity will find its way into drains.
That was stated by Barnes and Taylor in a publication entitled “ Design of Buildings: Their Design and Maintenance “. Ot:.i things flow from the dangers of excessive radiation, including leukaemia and premature ageing. They say -
Thus the situation as we see it at present is that raised mutation must lead to individual suffering and distress.
I do not wish to follow that line of thought any further except to point out that there arc grave national reasons, both from the external defence point of view and from the internal defence point of view, to be worried about this matter I mention the internal defence point of view because if the health of the community is undermined, defence precautions will be weakened accordingly. 1 know that there are differences of opinion in the scientific world regarding the extent of the damage that may be done in a nuclear attack, but there is no difference of opinion about whether damage can be done as a result of the use of atomic material if that use is not properly controlled. So I say that the quicker the people of Australia give to this Parliament the constitutional power, unchallengeable before any court, to control every aspect of atomic energy, the better it will be for the- nation.
Now I want to refer to some remarks which were made earlier concerning the necessity for our defence programme to be carried on in conjunction with national development. I have been in this Parliament for something like eleven years, and I find it a sobering thought that in that time the best part of £2,000,000,000 has been expended on defence. Considering the changes that have been made in weapons in recent years, which have made obsolescent so much of the equipment on which a great deal of that money has been spent, I cannot help thinking that if we could have spent one-half of that amount on the development of the country wc would to-day be 100 per cent, better able to cope with the continual changes in types of defence materials and the rising costs of defence than we now are. Somehow we have to bring those two things - defence and development - together.
I pointed out the other night that when 1 was a State Minister at the outbreak of the last war I was given the job of drawing up plans for the evacuation of women f.nd children from possible target areas in the event of an attack. Our greatest authority on thermo-nuclear warfare says now that if one atom bomb burst over Sydney 300 square miles of country, including the whole of the city and its environs, would be put out of action and that it would be possible to save, perhaps, only 10 per cent, of the people. That whole area, for all that science at its present stage could do about it, would be uninhabitable for 100 years because of intense radiation. That is not my opinion. That is the sober opinion of the man who, I think, is the greatest authority in this country on the subject of atomic energy. When I flew over Germany in 1950 on my way to West Berlin it occurred to me that one of things that allowed Germany to. hold out for so long in the last war, apart from the tough character of the people and their will to fight, was the fact that Germany’s cities are dotted over a wide area of countryside. The constant intensive bombing attacks on Germany destroyed one city after another, but the targets were dispersed. There would be a large area of countryside, then a city, then another large area of countryside, then another city, and so on. Destroying all the capacity represented by those alternating stretches of countryside and cities would be fairly expensive, even using the very destructive bombs that I have mentioned.
The writing is on the wall. In order to fight we must have the resources. That involves decentralization. Unless we treat decentralization as a national matter - not as a plaything of politics between the Commonwealth and the States but as something vital to our existence - we will suffer. Our people must be induced by practical propositions to establish basic industries away from the present main centres of population. Around those industries others will spring up, and we will thus have created a second line of defence. We will enable people to get away from our two overcrowded capital cities, Sydney and Melbourne, in which no less than two-thirds of our total population of 10,000,000 is concentrated. That is a disastrous thing from the national point of view, and the day is coming when we must do something about that position. I congratulate the Minister on what he has done and is trying to do, but unless we face the facts we are finished.
.- I wish to direct my remarks mainly to the subject of the Rathmines air base. I listened with interest to the honorable member for New England (Mr. Drummond) who spoke about £2,000,000,000 having been spent on defence in the last eleven years. I am sure that that figure will not reach the headlines of the newspapers of this country to-morrow.
For some time now the fate of the Rathmines air base has been in the lap of the gods. The question is whether the Government intends to close it or hand it over to the Army. The maximum carrying capacity of the base is 1,800 personnel. I know this air base well, since I have lived in close proximity to it for many years. For the past nine or twelve months the number of personnel stationed at the base has been approximately 400. I have not obtained my information from an authoritative source, but I understand that the cost of maintain ing the base is about £48,000 a year. I am not complaining about the expenditure of that amount of money. But buildings are being maintained which are not being used, at a time when many people in the area are in dire need of accommodation. In recent weeks I have heard some honorable members talk in this chamber about preserving the dignity of the Parliament. If this Parliament were to accede to the submission I now make it would do more to preserve its dignity as an institution than would some of the other things suggested in speeches made here.
If some of the aged people living within 100 miles of Newcastle could be housed at the Rathmines air base we would be doing something of very great value with that base. The housing of these people at the base would not affect the 400 personnel there, because the accommodation at the base could easily be partitioned. There are three great messes at the base - the sergeants’ mess, the airmen’s mess and the officers’ mess - with fuel injection stoves. Buildings sparsely situated all over the base are being painted and renovated, but they are not in use. It is like having a racehorse, paying expensive feed bills, but not entering him in a race. Or registering an expensive car and keeping it locked in the garage instead of using it. It does not make sense.
– What price is that?
– I am not a gambling man. I have never been able to afford to gamble. I have been honest.
I am confident that the administrative officers of the Air Force do not want to surrender this base in any circumstances, but they have practically exhausted the excuses that they have been using for keeping the base in operation. They are arranging, therefore, for the Army to take it over. 1 directed a question a week or so ago to the Minister for the Army (Mr. Cramer). He told me that it had not been decided when the Army would take it over. My question invited him to say when the Army would take it over and how many persons would be there. I have not yet received a full reply, although the Minister said that he would let me know at an early date. I am concerned to ensure that accommodation is provided for people who are without homes.
I fear that many of the buildings at Rathmines will be pulled down and sold for a song, as were buildings at Greta camp recently.
I have some admiration for the Army, though. Some of the buildings at Greta camp were sold to public bodies, such as churches and sporting groups. But in some instances, the spivs got in, bought a few and took them to pleasure resorts to exploit people at Christmas and other holiday periods by charging exorbitant rents. I would have liked the Government to provide accommodation in some of these buildings for pensioners. Many pensioners in my electorate need accommodation and I have no doubt that many in the electorate of the honorable member for Robertson (Mr. Dean), in which the Rathmines air base is situated, are also in need of accommodation. Many of the buildings at the Greta camp could have been given to age pensioners who are living in leaky homes and in homes that are not fit for human habitation.
The Rathmines air base should have been dosed when national service training ended. However, the administrative officers of the Air Force no doubt recommended to the Minister for Air (Mr. Osborne) that it be kept going. I have no doubt that the Minister for Air is a decent man, but I believe that the big brass of the Air Force ride over the top of him because of his decency. “When national service training ended, the base at Rathmines was used as an officers’ training school. This was to give weight to the reasons advanced for maintaining it. There was no need to convert it into an officers’ training school, because adequate accommodation for training officers was available at Point Cook. I was told confidentially by members of the Air Force that Rathmines was used as an officers’ training school because the administrative officers were running out of excuses for maintaining it. I say that sincerely. It is shocking to realize that senior officers would mislead the Minister for Air.
I want to mention another matter which I believe to be true. I do not think that it is easy to put a story over me. I have been told a lot of stories in my time and I was told that I would be told a lot of lies when I came here. However, they would be no worse than I have been told in the past twenty years. Some years ago, a very good and efficient marine section operated from Rathmines air base. Williamtown aerodrome is only some 30 miles from Rathmines. At this time, Williamtown base had been established and was developing. Following a decision made by senior officers, the marine section at Rathmines was moved to Sydney harbour. A slipway at Neutral Bay was taken over from private enterprise. The Air Force had no need to resume it. My information is that the owner of the slipway was anxious to negotiate with the Air Force and if the Air Force had not taken it, it would not have been made available to any one else. The owner of the slipway - from memory, it was Halvorsen’s, a well-known boat-building firm - did not want a competitive boat-builder to have it.
I am sorry that the Minister for Air is not present. I suggest that a searching inquiry should be made into the reasons for moving the marine section from Rathmines to Neutral Bay. Many people fear that there is an element of corruption in the move. They fear that the senior officers recommended the move and the use of the slipway at Neutral Bay to the Minister for Air so that another boat-builder would be unable to get it and enter into virile competition with Halvorsen’s. The ridiculous feature of all this is that since the marine section has been moved to Neutral Bay, the Air Force has sent to Newcastle harbour a very expensive crash boat which can be used should a Sabre aircraft crash into the sea off Newcastle, as one did a few years ago. The stupidity of this move is apparent. The marine section formerly was 30 miles from Williamtown, it was moved 100 miles to Sydney, and a crash boat was sent back to Newcastle. If that does not create suspicion, I am not a man of common sense, as I believe I am. Many people regard this move as a scandal, and this impression will never be removed until a searching investigation is conducted into the moving of the marine section to Sydney.
I want to refer now to a matter that was mentioned by way of question this morning, and that is the lack of co-operation shown by the Air Force in connexion with the Graeme Thorne kidnapping case. No one in this chamber would know better than I would that it is vitally important for senior detectives to be on the spot quickly to interview a suspect. I have a fairly good idea that this man is a strong suspect, and the detectives investigating the case should have been on the spot to take him into custody at Colombo when the “ Himalaya “ arrived there. It is vitally important, although I do not want to disclose my reasons for saying that. This is the first occasion I can remember in the last 25 years on which the New South Wales police have asked in circumstances such as these for cooperation from the Department of Air. Did they get it? No. I do not say that that is the fault of the Minister for Air (Mr. Osborne). As I said in his absence, I respect him;I think he is a decent bloke. However. I think that senior officers of the Air Force are putting it over him right and left. If that Hercules aircraft had got to Singapore with the two detectives on board and had this man been taken into custody, I feel sure such developments would have contributed a great deal to the ultimate result, in the criminal court, in this crime which has shocked the nation.
The CHAIRMAN (Mr. Bowden).Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- I do not think that there is any need for me to comment on the last matter raised by the honorable member for Hunter (Mr. James). I thoroughly agree with the Minister for Air (Mr. Osborne), who said this morning that it is not the role of the Air Force to perform such duties. I feel a little disturbed about the words the honorable member for Hunter used when talking of the marine section at Lake Macquarie. He started off -I quote him - by saying, “ I believe it to be true. I am told and I believe this to be so “; and then he went on to say that the thing reeks of corruption. That is fairly strong language to use here. I do not think any one would believe that anybody could put over the sort of thing which the honorable member imagined could be put over this “ decent bloke “, as he described the Minister for Air. After all, the estimates of the Department of Air are subject to scrutiny by this committee. The activities of the department are also scrutinized by the
Public Accounts Committee, and, if necessary, by the Auditor-General. We have parliamentary safeguards in such circumstances. I am not certain what occurred; but I always understood that the marine section was associated with the Catalina flying boat centre at Lake Macquarie, and the move to Sydney was the obvious thing when the centre was no longer in use. The crash boat was needed at Newcastle when fighter aircraft exercises were held over the sea, and I see nothing underhand or mysterious about that.I thought that instead of asking for a searching inquiry into this matter, a couple of questions placed on the notice-paper would have given the honorable member for Hunter all the information he wanted in this regard.
It is becoming increasingly obvious that the debate on these estimates is being used for purposes other than those for which it should be used. I listened carefully to-day to one or two constructive comments by the honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Beazley) on the building of ships for the Royal Australian Navy, but I heard little else that had to do with these estimates. The Government’s defence policy is decided after consultation with the available experts and then through submissions by the various Service Ministers to the Cabinet and finally by Cabinet decision. It is not much use saying, as the honorable member for New England (Mr. Drummond) suggested, that we have been led up the garden path by the experts and have done the wrong thing. The people who must accept responsibility for what has happened in regard to defence are the members of this Parliament, particularly those who support the Government. Earlier this afternoon the honorable member for Lawson (Mr. Failes) described as a retrograde step the withdrawal of the subsidy of £35,000 for rifle clubs. Last year the appropriation was £35,000 and the expenditure £34,686, but this year the estimates do not provide any sum for this purpose. Let us cast our minds back. Do not imagine for one moment that the Minister for the Army (Mr. Cramer) or any other Service Minister would withdraw a subsidy from an organization such as the rifle clubs, whose members run into many thousands throughout Australia, unless it was considered absolutely necessary to do so. The basis of this action was that the advisers of the Government gave the advice which it accepted and which, in fact, all honorable members of the parties on this side of the House have accepted - that there is no defence significance in the rifle clubs at this stage of our history.
– We have not all accepted it.
– This decision must be accepted by all of us.
– It is accepted under protest, you mean.
– It is the easiest thing in the world to be a supporter of a government and then get up and say it is entirely wrong and that it should have done something else. After all, if you accept the principle of majority decision, once a decision has been made there is responsibility on our shoulders to abide by it. The significance of the rifle clubs was laid down in words of one syllable and the number of years over which they had profited by the payment of a subsidy was pointed out. I regret that the rifle clubs are not receiving the subsidy now, but when they were classified as having lost defence significance, according to the experts who were asked for advice, the Minister for Defence and the Cabinet accepted that advice. Therefore, the rifle clubs have become a sporting activity and, as such, cannot be subsidized out of the defence vote. That is the simple fact of the matter although it is probably an unpopular decision in many parts of Australia. It is certainly unpopular in some parts of my own electorate, as letters to me have proved.
I wish now to refer to Division No. 601 which relates to the recruiting campaign. The total estimate for 1960-61 under this heading is £486,000, an increase of some £170,000 on the appropriaton for 1959-60, which was underspent by about £13,000. In 1959-60, the appropriation under this heading for Advertising was £220,000 and the expenditure was £216,000; and for 1960-61, the estimate for that item is £400,000, which is the main item of expenditure. The estimate for Travelling and Subsistence is £13,000, the only other major item under this heading, with the exception of Salaries and Payments in the Nature of Salary, for which the figure is £22,000, whilst the proportion of salaries of the staff of Commonwealth Loans Organization is shown at £16,000.
I criticized the Government once before when it thought it necessary to have a recruiting campaign and passed the responsibility to the Commonwealth Loans Organization, which I think did an excellent job to the best of its ability. However, it seems to me that the whole idea of the recruiting campaign is wrong and that the best recruiting agent is the satisfied serviceman. If the man serving full-time in the Army, the Navy or the Air Force, or even the man serving part-time, is proud of and contented with his service he is the best recruiting agent you can get. Instead of spending £400,000 on advertisements in the newspapers, would the Government consider allocating that amount of money to the units which depend upon recruits for their existence? If the money was spent for that purpose under supervision, I think much better results would be obtained. We should place the accent on the man who has been recruited rather than on the man who has not; and if that were done I am sure it would give good results.
The honorable member for Hunter mentioned housing of the civilian population; but the housing of servicemen must be adequate because one of the greatest bars to recruitment is dissatisfaction among servicemen with their housing conditions. I am surprised that any one should advocate that an ex-service camp should be converted for the purpose of civilian housing, even as a temporary measure. The most permanent thing in Australia is temporary measures of this nature, and army camps when used for civilian housing quickly become slums. I know that in my own State pressure has been brought to bear to bulldoze such camps and to house the people properly, rather than allow them to remain in military huts that were originally built only as temporary accommodation in time of war.
– They are better than what many of the people live in now.
– I am talking about my own State, where the housing situation is not as bad as it is in some of the other States.
I want to comment on one further matter. It concerns the estimates for the
Department of Air. I refer to the provision for aircraft and associated initial equipment, for which an amount of £9,778,000 has been set aside. I was rather interested to hear an interjection from the Opposition benches when the Minister for Air was talking about the purchase of fighters and the 1957 decision that had been changed. The Minister said that it is believed now, in the light of later events, that the decision not to purchase! the original FI 04 was very wise. An honorable member opposite then said, “What would have happened if war had broken out? “ It would have made little difference if war had broken out, because with an appropriation of about the amount set aside in this year’s estimates we could have purchased only nine aircraft, and in time of war these would not have lasted very long. With the price of fighter aircraft now getting up to about £1,000,000, one can imagine a situation in which an amount equal to the whole of the present defence vote of £200,000,000 would be spent on aircraft alone, if we were certain of being engaged in warfare within the following 12 months. If you add that to what would necessarily have to be expended also on the Navy and the Army, you can imagine the colossal expenditure that would have to be provided for in the Estimates.
This question of the purchase of fighter aircraft must be closely tied up with the question of aircraft construction in Australia. Figures were given tonight indicating that in one aircraft factory - or perhaps it was in both of them - 3,000 men are employed. It is interesting to see what we have done in the past in respect of the manufacture of aircraft. The last two types of aircraft that we have undertaken to manufacture have been the Canberra bomber and the Sabre. The Canberra cost £310,000 to produce locally, while the overseas price was £184,000. The Sabre fighter cost us £177,000 to produce, while its overseas price was £96,000. In each case the cost of local production was about double the overseas price.
It is easy to make the obvious suggestion that we should scrap our aircraft industry and purchase our aircraft overseas, so that we would be able to purchase whatever was modern and available. We have to remember that after a decision is made to manufacture aircraft under licence in Australia, by the time the tooling up process is completed and the aircraft are finally produced they are, to a certain extent, obsolete. But there is another factor that may outweigh considerations of costs. There is the question of the development of an aircraft industry within Australia. If we are to have such an industry we must start sometime. After all, who knows but that sometime in the future, if we have sufficient growth of population and considerable national development, our aircraft industry will reach a stage at which it can rival the American or English industries? There is always the further point that in the event of war breaking out, against the possibility of which we are constantly preparing - and this year to the extent of £198,000,000- if we have not already established an aircraft industry it will be too late then to start.
The choice of a new fighter aircraft, therefore, must be made having regard to all the circumstances. The Minister for Air (Mr. Osborne) told me this morning that no decision had yet been made, but whatever aircraft are purchased, whether they be fighters or replacements for the Canberra, we must be assured that they are suitable for use in Australian climatic conditions or in the climatic conditions of the places where they will be operated in a war in which we might be involved. There are many “ if’s “ associated with this question, but a decision must be made by the government of the day.
I am not sure in my own mind that this is the time to re-equip the R.A.A.F. with a fighter - even with the Mirage III. or the F104G. Time does not permit me to compare the two aircraft with the Sabre as built in Australia. However, I think attention could be given to the question of a replacement for the Canberra, having regard to the sort of war in which we might be involved and the kind of aircraft that might be needed. I noticed a report in this morning’s press to the effect that the Royal Air Force had decided to equip with the Vickers-English Electric TSR2. It is interesting to note that in March, 1959, in the Estimates debate in the House of Commons, the Minister of State for Air said that the specification of the TSR2 was based on the replacement of the Canberra. He said that it would be able to operate on short runways and semi-prepared surfaces, and to carry a useful bomb load over a range of 1,000 miles. He went on to say that this range implied flight at high level for a considerable part of the time, and that to survive that high altitude the aircraft must be able to fly at high supersonic speed.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
. It is interesting to look through the papers associated with the defence estimates and fo ascertain the extent to which Australia’s defences are down. In these circumstances it is remarkable that the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) should be strutting round the world, as he has done on previous occasions, aggressively poking his chin out at any potential aggressor. There are many people in Australia who fear that some day there will be an attempt to have a shot at the right honorable gentleman because of his provocative attitude.
I have been interested to watch the trend of events on the Government side during this debate. Particularly interesting is the attitude adopted by two of the older members of the Government parties, the right honorable member for Cowper (Sir Earle Page) and the honorable member for New England (Mr. Drummond). Both of these honorable gentleman have been here for a long time, and they have not missed an opportunity to contend that the Government has failed in respect of certain fundamental defence considerations. They have directed attention to the form of defence upon which all countries except Australia are concentrating heavily, and which can be summed up in one word - decentralization. These are not Labour men who make this suggestion; they are leading members of the Australian Country Party who have supported the Government over the years and who are now expressing their concern at the failure of the Government to come to grips with the situation.
When one considers the huge amounts that the Government has spent in anticipation of war, surely it is reasonable to ask that it should have paid some regard to the need for adequate civil defence. The Government evidently considers war so imminent as to justify the expenditure of a. large proportion of our revenue. We And however, that there is apparently no realization of the urgent need for proper civil defence. The few miserable thousands of pounds that have been provided in theestimates will be largely spent on the Civil Defence School at Mr Macedon.
– I raise a point of order,. Mr. Chairman. I understand that civil defence is controlled by the Department of the Interior.
– -Order! The vote for civil defence is included in the estimates we are discussing.
– It is interesting to note the tactics employed by the honorable member for Kalgoorlie to get his name in “ Hansard “. What a sorry thing it is that the honorable member has no constructive ideas on defence. If he does not start to formulate some constructive ideas on something in the near future he will not stay here much longer. Of course, civil defence is an important matter, and it is regrettable, as the honorable member for New England and the right honorable member for Cowper have said, that practically nothing has been done about it.
I listened with interest to the criticism directed at my colleague, the honorable member for Reid (Mr. Uren) a short time ago. The honorable member came back from a memorable visit to other parts of the world, and I have no doubt that he was impressed by what he saw during his journey, for example in Japan. I do not doubt that his recollections of what he learnt in such countries have inspired him to speak in encouragment of those who may be inclined to advocate disarmament and who may adopt an attitude designed to contribute to world peace generally. He may well recall that when the bomb was dropped on Hiroshima 78,150 persons were killed in the flicker of an eye, 13,983 were declared missing, 9,448 were seriously injured, and 27,997 were slightly injured. The total of casualties was 129,578. Many casualties occurred also in Nagasaki which was devastated by the second bomb. I have no doubt that the honorable member for Reid speaks with great conviction on this matter. He might well have some regard for the possibility of a similar attack on Sydney.. If any honorable member considers this possibility he will realize that if a 500-X bomb were dropped on Sydney, say a few miles west of the Harbour Bridge in daylight hours, 1,000,000 people would die and 400,000 more would be injured, of whom 40,000 could be expected to die. Is not this a fairly realistic kind of consideration? The Minister for Air (Mr. Osborne) gloried in the opportunity to direct some ridicule at the honorable member for Reid. I am one who does not care terribly much about the attitude of honorable members on the Government side who snipe at us.
I was tremendously impressed by the fact that 250 members of the Indian Parliament - not socialists, not Communists, not even Labour men but men from all sides of the House - a short time ago established a committee for peace in the Parliament and prevailed on parliamentarians all over the world to get in the vanguard of those who are interested in encouraging the, attainment of permanent peace.
In the short time which is available to me I want to direct some remarks to this aspect and to make what I believe to be a constructive analysis of the Government’s defence programme. We have been contending that a greater portion of our defence expenditure should be directed towards developmental aspects. Of course, this is fundamental in Australia. I have been interested to see the support that this point of view has received from honorable members opposite. The need to build bridges and roads, at least between the capital cities of our great country, is something that must be realized. A suggestion along those lines would not emanate from a person who has not the interests of his country at heart. The honorable members for Reid, Parkes (Mr. Haylen), Yarra (Mr. Cairns) and others on this side of the House have advocated this developmental work. Since this Government came to office it has expended something like £1,950,000,000 on defence, but some very serious mistakes have been made in the process of expending that money. Millions of pounds have gone down the drain in the past, and millions more will go down the drain this year.
It is interesting to see how the Government justifies this expenditure. It talks about a strategic basis of policy, but if we have a good look at the matter we find a strategic assessment designed to meet the Government’s convenience rather than the real facts of the world situation. That is what the Government’s attitude in this strategic basis ot policy represents. It is just like writing a play. You fix the setting for the play, but it does not have to be compatible with the realistic things about you. The Government has painted an imaginary picture of the kind of war that might eventuate. How seriously can we regard this kind of picture? In effect, the Minister for Air said that because of the nuclear deterrent a limited war is more likely than a global or full-scale war. Without quoting him verbatim, he said that the primary aim of Australia’s defence programme was to improve the ability of our forces to meet the limited war situation. But there does not have to be a limited war. The policy which the Government has adopted is reflected in our Navy, Army and Air Force. The Minister, and all honorable members, must concede that we have not a complete defence programme. It is imaginary - a limited thing to meet a limited war which we hope will be the only kind of war ever to confront us.
It is conceded that Australia is unable to defend itself against many eventualities, for example, a global war. To a degree even the Government’s proposals represent partial disarmament, a reduction in the size of our forces, and a concession that war is beyond the capacity of the world. Any war certainly would be beyond Australia’s capacity. The net result is a defence programme which is designed to meet an extremely limited war. Even Japan, which after all is a defeated nation, has larger defence resources than has Australia. I was interested to read some figures on this position a short time ago. Japan is spending 136,000,000,000 yen a year on defence through its National Defence Council. The Australian £1 is the equivalent of about 800 yen, so in Australian currency, Japan is spending about £170,000,000 on defence. It has more people in the armed services than we have. The ground self-defence force is comprised of 180,000 personnel, with 200 liaison aircraft. The maritime selfdefence force is 25,000 personnel, 200 reconnaissance aircraft and 24,000 tons of shipping, mainly anti-submarine vessels. The air self-defence force has 30,000 personnel, with 1,300 aircraft including fighters. The total of Japanese service personnel is 235,000 which is more than double that of the Australian forces, which now stands at 79,897. There has been a progressive decline in our service personnel. Despite increasing expenditure on defence, the size of our forces has been reduced progressively since this Government came to office.
The Minister for Air and his confreres have made available information as to our total force. In 1956 we had1 146,000 personnel, but to-day we have only 79,000. What an incredible situation in the light of the Government’s contention of the serious position which has confronted Australia from time to time! I have mentioned the personnel of the Japanese forces. If the Government believes that we are threatened from outside, it should remember that Australia has a much larger area to defend than has Japan. The Government cannot justify its attitude to defence. What kind of limited war does the Government envisage? How does our defence programme look in the face of some of these hypothetical situations? On 27th July, 1958, the then Minister for External Affairs, now Lord Casey, returned from a visit to Indonesia and stated that he was surprised to see that Indonesia had developed an air force which even then out-numbered the Royal Australian Air Force. He indicated also that very disturbing things were in evidence in Indonesia.
What kind of limited war can we contemplate seriously? Members on the Government side have stated from time to time that there might be some threat from Indonesia if it ever proceeded to give effect to its contentions in relation to Dutch New Guinea. If that were the situation, the Australian forces could well have something to do, in terms of this Government’s thinking. The then Minister for External Affairs also stated that aircraft were being supplied to Indonesia by Russia and that Czech pilots were being made available to assist with the training of Indonesia’s air personnel. If that is the case and if Australia intervened in hostilities between Dutch New Guinea and Indonesia is it reasonable to assume that the aid which Indonesia is re ceiving from Russia, Czechoslovakia or any other country would stop at aircraft and pilots? Would they hesitate to throw nuclear weapons into the fray? Is that not a fair possibility to consider? Of course, it is! When you consider the obvious possibilities, you will recognize that this incredible strategic basis of policy cannot be sustained.
You will recognize, also, that Australia will have tremendous difficulty in accounting for itself effectively in view of its vast areas.
The fact is that as one travels about this country one does not see any evidence of defence efforts in our northern outposts, for example, in the Northern Territory, on the west coast of Western Australia and in Papua and New Guinea. Signs of defence efforts in these parts are just not in evidence. I have been about in Papua and New Guinea. Apart from the Scots band of the Pacific Islands Regiment, there is not very much to see with respect to defence there. The band is very nice, of course, but we have to remember that not long ago it was involved in a riot, anyway. So, the force available to meet any situation that may emerge in Papua and New Guinea is not very effective or well disciplined. Furthermore, this Government has thrown Manus Island to the winds. We have no defences there. All of this shows that the situation under the administration of this Government is pretty hopeless. I suggest that if it remains in office we shall be spending something like £200,000,000 in ten years’ time and that all of this will go down the drain.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
– Mr. Chairman, I rise for the second time in this debate with some regret. I do so only to answer certain remarksmade by the honorable member for Hunter (Mr. James). In a charming and friendly manner, he dissociated me personally from his criticisms, and for that I am grateful. But what he said amounted to a series of charges of maladministration, at the least, against me and my predecessors in the Air portfolio, and in one instance to a charge of corruption.
– I did not suggest that the Minister was a party to it.
– I have acknowledged that. But what the honorable member said amounted to a charge against either one of my predecessors or one of the senior officers who was responsible to him. Although these charges are not correct and are certainly not based on any definite information, as a matter of form I do not feel that they should be allowed to pass unanswered and undenied. I shall deal with them in order.
The honorable member suggested a gross mistake had been made in closing the Royal Australian Air Force base at Rathmines - on the one hand, that a mistake had been made in closing it, and on the other hand, that officers of the Air Force had pulled the wool over my eyes in keeping it open for so long. The facts are these: The base at Rathmines was closed by the order and direction of the Air Board with my approval after long consultation. It is quite correct that many people in the Air Force heard of this order with regret, because they have understandable affections for this beautifully situated and very pleasant base. Nevertheless, the Air Board and I came to the conclusion that the maintenance of this base was not justified in the national interest.
Rathmines used to be a base for the operation of flying boats. When the Service gave up flying boats, the prime reason for maintaining Rathmines had gone. It was continued for a time as the home of the Officers’ Training School - that is, the establishment for training officers who are commissioned not for flying duties or from air crew - and as the home of the Recruit Training Unit. This unit had to be moved somewhere. It had been at Richmond, but when the Hercules transport wing was moved to that station, there was no longer any room for the Recruit Training Unit, and it had to go to Rathmines. The honorable member for Hunter suggested that this unit and the Officers’ Training School could have been moved to Point Cook at that time. This is not correct. Room for the Officers’ Training School will be made at Point Cook at the end of this year, by only by dint of having recourse to a number of other moves throughout the Service. The Recruit Training Unit will not be moved to Point Cook, but will be moved to the School of Technical Training at Wagga - also at the end of this year - by which time arrangements will have been made for its accommodation there.
The honorable member went on to suggest that the Rathmines base should have been kept as a centre for the marine craft maintained in the Air Force. That would be impracticable. The Air Force, early in the 1950’s, adopted the 65-foot class of boat, and it is impossible to get those boats in to Rathmines because there is not sufficient draught of water.
– The channel has been dredged.
– Even if it has been now, it had not been at the time of which I am speaking. In any event, there would be no purpose in keeping marine craft at Rathmines, because they would be too far away from the places where they are wanted. They are needed as guards where aircraft take off over the sea, and in this respect we at one time had to discharge a responsibility to the International Civil Aviation Organization as well. These vessels are now needed as guards for aircraft taking off over the sea from stations at Townsville, Williamtown and Point Cook. The place for the boat used at Townsville is Townsville. The place for that one used for aircraft flying from Williamtown is Port Stephens.
– It should be at Newcastle.
– Well, Port Stephens or Newcastle. Both are about equally distant from Williamtown and both are a long way from Swansea. The place for the marine craft used to guard aircraft flying from Point Cook is Port Phillip Bay. These places which I have mentioned are the places where these vessels are stationed.
There is a need, also for a central unit where personnel can be trained and where the boats can be repaired and maintained. Sydney was chosen as the most convenient place for this central unit quite a long time ago. There is a need, also, for boats to be stationed at Sydney, for the torpedo recovery purposes. All these requirements amount to a need for a central unit at Sydney and for individual boats dispersed at the places mentioned.
The honorable member for Hunter then went on to make charges of corruption over the acquisition of the site for the present marine unit at Neutral Bay, in Sydney. I think from recollection that that acquisition took place eight or nine years ago. In my four years in this portfolio, I have never previously heard a whisper of any improper conduct in the acquisition of the site for that base, and I feel impelled, in the defence of those honorable civil servants and serving officers who might be affected by the honorable member’s charges to deny it. I think, with all due respect to the honorable member, that he should not make charges of this nature unless he has established facts at his disposal. He certainly should not make them by dragging up something that he was told about an event that occurred eight or nine years in the past.
The last thing that the honorable member had to say about my administration revived this curious suggestion that the Department of Air - again, he was kind enough to absolve me personally - had refused to cooperate with the New South Wales Police Force last week-end. There is simply nothing in such a charge, because there was no refusal to co-operate. Full co-operation was given to the complete satisfaction of the Commissioner of Police in New South Wales.
Mr. Chairman, I am glad to conclude on a somewhat happier note. Although I have found it necessary to disagree with my friend from Hunter, I am very glad to be able to reciprocate one of his sentiments and assure him that I think that he, too, is a decent bloke.
House adjourned at 10.40 p.m.
The following answers to questions were circulated: -
Assistance to Under-developed Countries.
asked the Acting Treasurer, upon notice -
r asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
I regret that there is no statistical record maintained of claims that are outstanding in the sense of not having been finally determined, nor is there such a record of the number of claims which have been finalized. It would be necessary to examine and to study every individual file to obtain the information in the form in which it is sought. However, I think that the purpose of the honorable member’s question may be met by the information that is available. This relates to the files of the individual claims transmitted to, and dealt with in, the Treasury.
During a review in December, 1958, it was established that on the average approximately 700 files were forwarded for attention each month. At 30th June, 1959, there were 825 files awaiting attention;
From 1st July, 1959 to 31st December, 1959 5,937 files were dealt with in the Treasury. From 1st January, 1960 to 30th September, the figure is 7,136;
At 30th September, 1960 there were 67 files awaiting attention. There were also 78 files on which outward correspondence was being typed.
Following the review of December, 1958, six new positions were sought on 30th January, 1959. The recommendation for the creation of these positions was received by the Treasury on 6th July, 1959. Steps have been taken for the appointment of officers to these positions. In the interim experienced staff were diverted from other duties and substantial overtime was worked by the staff.
d asked the Acting Treasurer, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
d asked the Acting Treasurer, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
n. - On 20th September, the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Cairns) asked the Acting Treasurer a question without notice regarding the observance by certain financial institutions of policy determinations by the Reserve Bank. The Acting Treasurer at the time undertook to obtain and to provide the relevant facts. I am now able to supply the following answer: -
By Banking (Exemption) Orders Nos. 1 and 5 published in the Commonwealth Gazette on 14th January, 1960, and 15th September, 1960, respectively, a number of building societies, and pastoral, hire purchase, life assurance and other finance companies were exempted under section 11 of the Banking Act 1959 from compliance with sections 7 and 8 of that act. These exemptions are subject to a condition requiring the bodies concerned to comply with any directions given them by the Reserve Bank with regard to the policy to be followed in making advances in the course of banking business carried on by them. The Reserve Bank has not issued any directions of that character.
asked the Acting Treasurer, upon notice -
n. - The answer to the honorable member’s questions is as follows: - 1 and 2. Policy in respect of bank lending is applied by various measures including pressure on bank liquidity through Statutory Reserve Deposit Accounts in association with directions to the banks in respect of advances. The results in.- terms of the movement in bank advances outstanding are affected by a number of factors and it is always difficult to judge the effect of any particular measure in broad terms.
m asked the Acting AttorneyGeneral, upon notice -
– The answer to the honorable member’s questions is as follows: - 1 and 2. Having regard to the Standing Orders, it may be more appropriate for me to discuss informally with the honorable member these matters of law, rather than to provide a formal reply to the honorable member’s questions.
s asked the Acting AttorneyGeneral, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
n asked the Minister for Territories, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
Crown Law Office - Advisings, prosecutions, legal drafting.
Supreme Court Registry - Probate and succession matters, taxation of costs, judgments, sheriff, jury lists, insolvency, court records and court registers.
Registar-General’s Office - Land titles, companies office and registration, business names registration, Registrar of Births, Deaths and Marriages.
Public Curator’s Office - Matters concerning deceased estates, estates of insolvent persons and affairs of insane persons.
Titles Commissioner’s Office - Restoration of titles to land and mining tenements lost during the 1939-45 war.
Native Lands Commissioner’s Office - Registration of native land.
Stipendiary Magistrates Court - Hearing of simple offences, claims to value of £250 and preliminary hearing of indictable offences.
Public Solicitors Office - Provisions of defence counsel for natives and impecunious persons and in appeals and civil and criminal jurisdiction.
d asked the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 11 October 1960, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1960/19601011_reps_23_hor28/>.