23rd Parliament · 2nd Session
– I have to inform the House of the unavoidable absence of Mr. Speaker on parliamentary business. In accordance with Standing Order No. 13, the Chairman of Committees, as Deputy Speaker, will take the chair.
Mr. DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr. Bowden) thereupon took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
– It is with the most deep regret that I inform the House of the sudden death of Mr. Thomas Frank Timson in South Korea last Sunday, 16th October. I am sure that I speak for all members of the Parliament when I express distress and shock at the news of the untimely death of our colleague while carrying out his duties as a member of this Parliament and as leader of the Australian goodwill mission to Korea, after attending the International Parliamentary Union Conference in Tokyo during September and October. The loss of such a highly respected and popular colleague in such circumstances, so far from his native land, is indeed very distressing.
Mr. Frank Timson had a distinguished war record. He enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force on 3rd June, 1940, and was intelligence officer attached to the headquarters of the 6th Division in the Middle East from 1940 to 1942. In 1942 and 1943, he was attached to the head-quarters of the 9th Australian Division in the Middle East, and, in 1944 and 1945, to the head-quarters of the 7th Australian Infantry Brigade in the south-west Pacific area. Mr. Timson was a member of the Australian Mission to the South-East Asia Command in 1945. He was appointed major in the A.I.F. in that year and was made a member of the Order of the British Empire in 1946 for highly meritorious service in Bougainville during the previous year. He was discharged from the A.I.F. in November, 1945.
Mr. Timson, as all honorable members know, led a very active parliamentary life since his election to this House as the member for Higinbotham, Victoria, at the general election of 1949. From the time of his appointment as Temporary Chairman of Committees on 9th September, 1953, he carried out the duties of that office in a manner which commanded the respect of all honorable members of the Parliament. He was a member of the Joint Parliamentary Committee on Foreign Affairs from 1st March, 1956, to 1st October, 1958. Mr. Timson led the delegation representing the Commonwealth Parliament at the inauguration of the Legislative Council for Papua and New Guinea on 26th November, 1951. Yesterday, in Port Moresby, the Assistant Administrator, Dr. Gunther, in moving a vote of thanks for the gift by this Parliament of a presidential chair for the Legislative Council of Papua and New Guinea, requested the delegation from the Commonwealth Parliament to inform this Parliament of the real sense of loss felt by every member of the Papua and New Guinea Legislative Council at the sudden, untimely death of Mr. Timson. Mr. Timson was one of the two councillors who represented the Australian group at the spring meetings of the Interparliamentary Union Council and Study Committees held in Athens in April of this year.
Mr. Deputy Speaker, Mr. Timson was a fine Australian. He enjoyed the highest respect of all who knew him and of all who were associated with him. Not only is his death a great loss to this Commonwealth Parliament, but it is also a distinct loss to Australia, for he was a true Australian with the highest ideals of service to his country both in war and in peace.
I am sure, Mr. Deputy Speaker, that the Prime Minister himself would wish to be associated with the sentiments I am now expressing here, and I wish to be permitted, in particular, to join my own political group - the Australian Country Party - in the expressions of sympathy to Mr. Timson’s relatives.
Mr. Deputy Speaker, I move
That this House expresses its deep regret at the death of Thomas Frank Timson, a member of this House for the division of Higinbotham, places on record its appreciation of his long and meritorious public service and tenders its profound sympathy to his family in its bereavement.
– I second the motion, Mr. Deputy Speaker. Of all the sad occasions on which death has come to a member of the House of Representatives surely it has never come with such unexpectedness as did the untimely event of Sunday last in Seoul, Korea, when the honorable member for Higinbotham breathed his last after a heart attack. All his colleagues in this Parliament and, indeed, all those who enjoyed his friendship - and they were many - must have been greatly shocked when they heard of his untimely death in an announcement broadcast over the Australian Broadcasting Commission’s national network. Truly it can be said once more that in the midst of life we are in death.
The late Mr. Timson, as has been said, came into this Parliament eleven years ago as the member for Higinbotham. He was the first member for that seat, which was created in the enlarged Parliament of 1949, and he served his electorate to the best of his ability and with devotion for that period of time. He was well and favorably known throughout his electorate, and was always ready to perform a kindly act for any elector who sought the exercise of his influence or the benefit of his advice.
Mr. Timson was a man without rancour, and he won an enviable distinction because it could be truthfully said of him that, whilst adhering to firm principles and being always forthright in their expression, he made no enemies and lost no friends. As a temporary chairman of committees he sometimes occupied the Speaker’s chair as well as that of the Chairman of Committees. On all such occasions he strove to be fair in his rulings, tolerant in his attitude and co-operative with the leaders of both sides of the Parliament and with the officers of the House in ensuring that the parliamentary institution should function justly and efficiently.
Our late colleague served Australia faithfully and well in war and in peace. He gave of his best to whatever cause he espoused. His demise removes a popular and honoured figure from the counsels of this House and of the nation, and the Opposition, with the same feelings of sadness that animate all honorable members to-day, associates itself with the expressions of deep regret voiced by the Acting Prime
Minister, to the late honorable member’s relatives at the passing of their loved one We share in the regret of all those who knew him well and honoured him for the many good qualities he possessed.
– Mr. Deputy Speaker, there is always a sadness for members of this Parliament when one of our company is taken from us by death, no matter where we may sit in this place. In our Australian democracy most of us, even if we fight our political issues strenuously and firmly, develop a comradeship from our membership of this institution. The sadness is keener when one is taken from us who appears to have so much of his public life ahead of him and so much of the fulfilment of his own personality still in store; and so it is with Frank Timson. There is no one in this Parliament who had occasion to think other than kindly of him and, as the Leader of the Opposition has said with such sincerity, he had many friends in this place.
Frank Timson was one of the group of men - not young in years perhaps, in the conventional sense, but young in public life - who came into this Parliament in 1949. He was one of that group which had given gallant service to this country in its forces in time of war. Some gave not only gallant but also distinguished service, and that distinction can be genuinely applied to him. It was in him that I found a model of what I believe a parliamentarian should be - sincere, earnest, industrious, conscientious, loyal to his principles and to his party, and yet with a tolerance and respect for the views of others which built the many friendships he enjoyed in this Parliament. His loyalty was not the blind, unquestioning and uncritical kind. He could offer constructive, helpful and useful views and if we, in government, at any time found ourselves at variance with Frank Timson, we knew we had to look again to our own principles rather than question his. He was deeply loyal to the things in which he believed and he recognized the virtue of loyalty to his party and the decision of the majority of his colleagues after matters had been frankly discussed between us.
He served ably on many of the committees of this Parliament. Abroad he was one of those men by whom you would like to think Australia was represented, typical of this country, of its spirit and its warm, friendly manhood. It is perhaps not without irony and some deeper significance that it was in the service of his country abroad, giving an image of Australia which I am sure would make us well liked and respected overseas, that he met his death.
At times his duties called him to occupy the chair of this House, and there he revealed qualities of temperament and knowledge of the Standing Orders and a capacity to keep a firm but impartial hand on the discussion before him which, in the eyes of many of us, made him admirably equipped for one of the senior presiding posts of this Parliament in the years to come. If I may raise this aspect, Mr. Deputy Speaker, I think he exemplified to all of us here, and to many people outside, what a good parliament should be. A good parliament is not good because it has some spectacular and distinguished members in it who register rather impressively on the public mind and therefore make that parliament known. In my now long experience of parliamentary life, I believe a good parliament is one in which there is also, associated with those who give leadership and who achieve prominence in the public eye, a solid body of men and women who, by devoted and loyal service and by conscientious attention to their duties, make up the body and substance of the Parliament. So much of the really effective work of the Parliament is done in our party room and committee room discussions. While Frank Timson may not have been widely known outside our ranks in this place, he was the kind of parliamentary representative who helps to make a parliament an effective representation of the people’s thoughts and wishes.
He was my personal friend for 40 years - we were in preparatory school together - and it is typical of the man that in all that time not one hostile word passed between us. I convey my deep sympathy to his relatives. I know that my leader would wish me to associate him, as indeed T do, with my colleagues of the Federal Liberal Parliamentary Party and the Liberal Party movement generally, in the tribute of sympathy and respect which we pay to him this day. Here was a man in the eyes of men. He leaves behind him not merely a record of loyal and devoted service to this institution but also an honorable name. If that is a correct judgment and assessment of the man, if that is to be his epitaph, then it is one which many of us in this place would envy and hope to have accorded to us when our time comes to leave this parliamentary scene.
– Every honorable member in this chamber probably would like to rise in his place and join in the sentiments that have been expressed for our late colleague. I do not claim a right to speak in preference to any one else, but I should like to refer to one job that Frank Timson did on behalf of Australia which is not well known by any means, and probably is not known even to many honorable members. For a fortnight before the Olympic Games commenced in Melbourne in 1956, and while the games were proceeding, Frank Timson acted voluntarily as my staff officer and personal assistant while I held the position of chairman of the games committee. Due partly to his past experience, but mainly to his cheerfulness, friendship and goodwill to all, he became a valuable member of that body of officials and other helpers which was largely responsible for the smooth running of that international event and for the goodwill which it brought to Australia. These people were not in the limelight and did not seek it. Indeed many of them received very little thanks. On behalf of the organizing committee, I express our sorrow and sympathy to the late Frank Timson’s relatives, and our gratitude to him.
– I should like to support this motion, first because I was fortunate enough to be among the many who had the opportunity to benefit from the friendship of our late colleague, and secondly, as a member of the executive of the Australian branch of the InterParliamentary Union. I should like to state how much we appreciate the work that the honorable member for Higinbotham did on our behalf as the leader of the two delegations to which the Acting Prime Minister (Mr. McEwen) has referred. He did much, by his personality and beliefs, to further the cause of Australia and indeed the peace of the world.
I am glad that reference has been made to his appointment as a Temporary Chairman of Committees, because I know that he had an intense belief that the true supremacy of the Parliament should be maintained in the interests of the people and that the proceedings of this House should be conducted with dignity and honesty of purpose. I believe that we all realized the sincerity of his beliefs when he occupied the chair, acting for Mr. Speaker or for the Chairman of Committees, because of the high standard of personal conduct and bearing which he set for himself. These beliefs of his were the basis of his actions throughout all his parliamentary life. He served his country with distinction both in war and in peace, and it will be some consolation to all of us who remember him with gratitude and affection to know that at the time of his sudden death he was serving his country.
Because of my close personal contact with him I had the opportunity of getting to know quite a number of the members of his family. May I take this opportunity of conveying our deepest sympathy to them and, through them, to all his other relations.
– Frank Timson was my electoral neighbour, but, more than that, he was my friend. He was, in fact, everyone’s friend. In all the years I knew him - and they extended over a much longer period than the time in which I have been a member of this Parliament - I never heard any one say an unkind word about Frank. As the representative of the electorate of Higinbotham he performed his duties faithfully and well, and he was at all times ready to do whatever he could to assist any of his constituents. Here in the House he brought to the office of Temporary Chairman of Committees a quiet dignity which earned for him the respect of members on both sides. He will be sadly missed, both in his electorate and in this place, but this Parliament is the richer for his having spent eleven years here.
– As an ex-chairman of the late Frank Timson’s Higinbotham electorate committee, I feel that I should saw a few words about my esteemed friend and colleague. Frank Timson was most respected by his committee and by all persons in his electorate, no matter what their political allegiance. At all times he devoted the daylight hours to working for his constituents. At functions of high or low importance Frank Timson was always present to play his part. In the Parliament itself, I found that he was respected by honorable members on both sides and that his opinion was appreciated. Although he may not have risen in the House to debate many of the bills that came before it, whenever he did get up to speak his electorate knew that he had something to say that would contribute to the well-being of the country. His death will be keenly felt, not only by the Parliament and by the Higinbotham electorate, but by all Australians. I feel a deep sense of loss.
– I should like to refer also to Frank Timson’s work with the Government members’ committees, on which he was such an ardent worker. I particularly refer to the trade committee, of which he was the chairman, and to the mining committee, which has always been known as “ Timson’s Tunnellers “. I feel sure that the most notable feature of all that has been said to-day has been the obvious sincerity that has inspired the remarks of all speakers. It could not be otherwise, because our most enduring memory of Frank Timson is of his own unbounded sincerity, which, I am sure, affected all who knew him or heard him speak. We all remember, too, the friendship that he displayed toward every one in the House. It was a genuine friendship, manifesting itself in the manner in which he went out of his way to understand our problems and to offer to help with them.
It was these attributes that led many of us to hope that he would one day become the Speaker of this House. But if he had been elected to that honorable office it would have been solely through the efforts of his colleagues. I feel sure that he would not have sought the position for himself, for he was no seeker after high office.
His example has meant much to many members of this House. I am sure that we have all gained from being able to say that we knew him well. We treasure his memory.
– Messages addressed to the Speaker have been received from the Speaker of the House of Representatives and the Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Korea and from the Ambassador of Japan extending their sincere sympathy to members of the House of Representatives in the death of Mr. Timson.
Question resolved in the affirmative, honorable members standing in their places
– Mr. Deputy Speaker, as a mark of respect to the deceased honorable member, I suggest that the House suspend its sitting until 8 p.m.
– I feel sure that the suggestion made by the Acting Prime Minister will meet with the concurrence of the House. Therefore, as a mark of respect to the memory of the deceased honorable member, the sitting is suspended.
Sitting suspended from 2.57 to 8 p.m.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for Snipping and Transport. I understand that last week the Minister made an inspection of the port facilities at Hobart. Will he inform the House whether any decision has been made following his discussions with the Hobart Marine Board and other authorities concerning the proposed terminal at Hobart for the sister ship to the “ Princess of Tasmania “, presuming, of course, that the vessel will travel to that port from Sydney?
– Yes, I inspected terminal sites at Hobart when I was there for the meeting of the Australian Road Transport Federation. I must say that the members of the Hobart Marine Board who showed me the sites were most enthusiastic and gave quite an amount of interesting detail.
– Did you have lunch with them?
– Yes, they were quite hospitable. However, a tremendous amount of investigation must be undertaken before a conclusion can be reached as to where the new Sydney to Tasmania ferry will call. I suppose that, finally, the Australian National Line, which will have to go into the economics of the position, will have to say of some place in Tasmania, “This is the spot for a terminal “, as Batman said of Melbourne, “ This is the site for a village”. However, it will take quite a while to reach a decision. I know that the honorable member for Franklin is interested in this matter. The Hobart area is a very lovely part of his electorate and I am sure that if tourists visited there on this ship they would be tremendously interested in what they saw.
– I address my question to the Minister for Shipping and Transport. In view of the fact that ten people were killed on the roads in Victoria alone during last week-end, would it be possible, as a matter of urgency, to give early attention to the report of the Senate Select Committee on Road Safety?
– Deaths on the roads, of course, can be attributed to a variety of causes. The cumber of matters touched on in the report of the Senate Select Committee shows that that is so. This report was debated in another place last week and quite a number of interesting suggestions were made. I think, in general, the findings of the committee were accepted as being realistic. I assure the honorable gentleman that the debate and the findings are being studied very carefully. But in the last analysis this matter comes back to the States, which must carry out the recommendations contained in the report. There is no overriding Commonwealth responsibility.
– I ask the Acting Prime Minister: Does he agree with the view expressed in the Victorian Legislative Assembly by Mr. Christie, the Liberal Party member for Ivanhoe, that Australia will achieve its full status in the world only if adequate powers are held in the federal sphere? Does the right honorable gentleman also agree with the view expressed by that honorable member in the Victorian Parliament that the Commonwealth does not have sufficient powers to arrest inflation and that it is unable to control spheres of finance outside the banking structure? If he does agree with those views, will he say what action he intends to take to remedy that serious situation? If he does not agree, will he say what action this Parliament can expect the Government to take to meet the challenge of inflation and at the same time to provide the requisite funds to meet the needs of essential primary and secondary industries? Is the right honorable gentleman able to say whether early action will be taken to submit the findings of the Constitutional Review Committee to the people?
– I think all honorable members will agree that a very wide field indeed would be opened up if a debate between a member of this Parliament and a member of another parliament could be triggered off by a third party. I do not propose to initiate such a procedure. The policy of the Government in all of these matters is very well known. An announcement will be made in due course of the action the Government proposes to take in connexion with the report of the Constitutional Review Committee.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for the Interior. I understand that there is a proposal to build a veterans’ home, to be named after a famous commander of the Australian Imperial Force in the Middle East, Sir Leslie Morshead. Can the Minister tell the House what organization is sponsoring this home and can he say whether the Commonwealth Government will make any contribution towards the building of it? Can he say also where the proposed home will be located?
– The Sir Leslie Morshead War Veterans Home is being sponsored primarily by the Returned Sailors, Soldiers and Airmen’s Imperial League of Australia in Canberra, but associated with that organization in the project are all the other ex-servicemen’s associations in Canberra. They have launched an appeal for funds with which to build this home, the objective being to raise £10,000. They hope that the proposal will attract the Commonwealth subsidy of £2 for every £1 raised, as is the case with homes for aged persons. Other than that, the Commonwealth will not make any direct contribution. This is purely a local appeal, started by exservicemen’s associations in Canberra.
– I direct a question to the Minister for Primary Industry relating to the report of the committee of investigation into the dairy industry in Australia. Has the Minister read the statement by Sir Samuel Wadham, the noted Australian authority on agriculture and the dairy industry, that the dairy industry is in such poor shape economically that the Commonwealth Government is not prepared to release the report of this committee? Further, on behalf of producer organizations in Victoria and Tasmania, I ask on what date we may expect this report on the dairy industry to be released.
– I have not read the statement attributed by the honorable member to Sir Samuel Wadham. I think that the Dairy Industry Committee of Inquiry, which has presented its report to me, has made a very comprehensive survey of the whole industry which will give me a fairly good idea of its state. The Cabinet has appointed a sub-committee which is at present examining the matter.
Survival Exercise on Hinchinbrook Island.
– I address a question to the Minister for Air. In order to allay the concern expressed by members of the National Parks Association in Queensland about the Royal Australian Air Force survival exercise now being conducted at Hinchinbrook Island, which is believed to be the largest complete island national park in the world, will the Minister give an assurance that no flora or fauna on the island will be destroyed in the course of the exercise?
– The anxiety about the national park on Hinchinbrook Island, which underlies the question asked by the honorable member for Ryan, has also been expressed to me recently by other people. So I have looked carefully into the circumstances of this exercise. A survival exercise is being conducted at Hinchinbrook Island at present by a small body of Royal Australian Air Force personnel. They were landed on the island by dinghy in order to simulate the conditions under which the crew of a crashed aircraft might get ashore in the tropics. They will be unarmed and so cannot shoot any birds or animals on the island. The intention is that they will live on roots and berries and on snakes and other such delicacies of the Barrier Reef. One of the objects of the exercise is that the men shall leave no evidence of their presence on the island. Although, obviously, 1 cannot give the honorable member an assurance, in those circumstances, that no trees and bushes or animals will be disturbed, I think it follows from what I have said that there will be no large-scale or even small-scale damage to the island as a national park.
– I wish to ask the Minister for Primary Industry a question. Has the Government received from the Australian Woolgrowers and Graziers Council and the Australian Wool and Meat Producers Federation a request for a top-level inquiry into wool marketing in Australia because there have been a steady downward trend and consequent instability in wool prices? If such a request has been received, does the Government propose to accede to it and will a royal commission be appointed to conduct the inquiry?
– In reply to the first part of the honorable member’s question, I point out that I have already announced to the House that I have received such a request from the two organizations which he has mentioned. I may add that the request has been supported by the Australian Primary Producers Union. I have also informed the House that the Cabinet has appointed a sub-committee, which has met several times. It is working very vigorously on the matter and a decision will be announced in due course.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Trade. As this is Export Week in New South Wales, will the Minister inform the House at whose instigation and for what purpose this week was inaugurated? Is the Department of Trade assisting financially or otherwise, or are the expenses of promoting this export week being borne by various private enterprise contributors?
– A series of export weeks is being held throughout the States. I think that every one has been held or is in course of celebration except that in Tasmania, where the event will take place next week. This arrangement, which is designed to stir public interest and particularly the interest of those people in the commercial field who have it in their power to engage in or influence export trade, flows from a decision taken at the National Export Convention which was held in Canberra last May at the suggestion of our Export Development Council. The Commonwealth Government contributed to the cost of that convention but has not provided and does not intend to provide funds to assist in meeting the cost of the series of export weeks to be held in the various States. These are being financed entirely from donations by interested parties such as chambers of manufactures and chambers of commerce, which have assumed this obligation to the country. I am sure that this will contribute, first to all, to generating a greater consciousness of the need for exports. In the second place, it will transform talk into action. The Department of Trade is assisting, when called upon, by arranging appropriate displays and by arranging public speakers on particular matters.
– Did the Minister for Trade, on Monday last, in Adelaide, state that 82 per cent, of the £1,000,000,000 worth of imports for this year would be essential to the conduct of Australian industries? Is the Minister aware that the Australian Industries Development Association has carried out an investigation into the amount of imports essential to Australian manufacturers, that it has estimated that only about 65 per cent, of current imports are necessary to our manufacturing industries, and that hundreds of millions of pounds worth of unnecessary imports come into this country annually? Does the right honorable gentleman contend that this reply by the Australian Industries Development Association is misleading?
– I did say, in addressing a very considerable gathering in Adelaide on Monday, held to mark export week there that, over recent years, from 80 per cent, to 82 per cent, of imports into Australia had been for the essential purposes of transport, development, or the needs of Australian industry and that as this percentage presumably would remain constant, it was necessary for us to earn the wherewithal to pay for these imports. I know that this very admirable body, the Australian Industries Development Association, has commented, to the effect that there is scope for making more things in Australia of the kind that we import. I would agree entirely; but if this is designed to prove that we can reduce the value of our imports, taken over the long term, I would dispute that. I would say that that has not been the experience in this country or in any other country that has progressed with its industrialization. As a country makes more things, this seems automatically to generate a greater demand for imports. I suppose there could not be a more classical illustration of that than the Australian automobile industry. To-day, we are making tens of thousands of cars in Australia whereas 25 years ago we were making none; yet we are importing many more automobiles and automobile parts than we were before we were making any vehicles at all.
– Has the attention of the Acting Prime Minister been drawn to a report of the appalling conditions obtaining in the aboriginal camp on the outskirts of the city of Armidale in northern New South Wales and the consequent death of children in that camp? In view of the meritorious record of the Commonwealth in the control of its Territories and the official policy of constantly endeavouring to raise the standard of the aboriginal people for whom, in the eyes of the world, Australia as a nation is responsible, has the Government considered obtaining from the States the full power to determine and administer policy for the care of the aborigines?
– I have read something of the matter to which the honorable member refers, and I think that all honorable members would regret that there have been deaths, apparently as a result of some epidemic, in the aboriginal settlement near Armidale. I cannot agree, however, that it is to be deduced from this incident that appropriate care can be provided for aborigines within the States only if power over, and responsibility for, their welfare is transferred from the States to the Commonwealth. After all, the State of New South Wales, within which this incident occurred, has a government which has, at its command, vast revenues - several hundred million pounds, I should think, in total. I cannot believe that it is not within the competence of the Government of that State to do what is appropriate for the very sparse aboriginal population in New South Wales.
– Is the Treasurer aware that the Premier of Victoria said recently that the problem of housing in Victoria and other States was of such magnitude that no solution of it could be reached unless a new basis of co-operation was achieved which included the State governments, the Commonwealth Government and private enterprise, and that this was not possible under the Commonwealth and State Housing Agreement? I ask the right honorable gentleman: Is his mind completely closed to the possibilities of new developments when the agreement comes up for consideration next year?
– I am not surprised, really, that the Premier of any State speaks of the housing requirements of that State. I suppose that no matter how high a standard of housing is achieved in any community there will always be a feeling that something more could be done. What is certain is that Australia enjoys one of the highest per capita housing standards in the world. Apparently, the rate of housing construction in this country is proceeding at such an all-time high level, and1 so great is the tempo of building activity both for housing and industrial purposes and with the resultant heavy demand upon our available resources, that we are short of manpower for these purposes, and also short of certain materials. Now, Sir, looking at the overall picture as a government concerned with maintaining a steady pace of progress in the economy, our attention must be directed rather to steadying down those pressures than to augmenting them. As lo the future policies to be worked out between the Commonwealth and State Governments, that is a matter that lies ahead of us. It involves a decision on policy which it would not be appropriate for me to announce here, even had we reached that stage - which, of course, we have not. We do not have a closed mind on this matter, or on any other matters, even including those that inspire importunities from the honorable gentleman.
– I desire to ask the Treasurer: Is it a fact that the Reserve Bank pays money away overseas in order to settle the bill for imports by Australia, and deducts the amount from the cash reserves of the trading banks here, If this is so, does it mean that the excess of imports over exports is reducing still further the liquid funds, and1 therefore the lending ability, of the trading banks? Is this an indication that there could be further credit restrictions throughout Australia as a result of the continuance of the import boom?
– I would not like to go into too much detail by way of reply to the honorable gentleman on the more technical aspects of these operations as he has referred to them. It is broadly true that the running down of the overseas balances does have a deflationary effect just as, on the contrary, when one is building up overseas reserves one tends to generate inflationary pressures, because income capacity is built up inside the country without a corresponding flow of goods to meet that income availability. A country like Western Germany, for example, which has built up enormous external reserves in recent times, is contending currently with the sort of pressures which are generated when a country is in such a situation. Our position in Australia at the moment is in the reverse direction; and indeed it was one of the conscious elements of policy in our Budget framing and in the decisions taken before the Budget, that we should remove restrictions on imports not only because we had undertaken to do that when it became economically feasible but also in order to have a steadying effect on what at the time seemed to be an excess of bouyancy in the economy.
These processes are proceeding very much along the lines that the Government anticipated. We are in a period of the year when the reserves tend to fall rather more rapidly because our export income has not built up to the extent that we expect later in the year. Our reserves are adequate for our current purposes. Of course, we have, in addition, our drawing rights in the International Monetary Fund, which are not exercised at this point. And our drawing rights have been increased in recent times. What is important is not so much what is happening in the financial year 1960-61, for which our reserves are clearly adequate, but what are the economic trends which will affect us in the following financial year; and the Government is watching that position quite closely. To return to the substance of the honorable member’s question: Yes, it is a fact that this process tends to have a deflationary effect and reduce the liquidity of the banking system, and that is one of the objects of the exercise.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Labour and National Service. I refer to the fact of full employment now existing in Australia. Can the Minister inform me from what source labour is coming forward to fill the gap between the vacancies recorded by his department and the persons registered by his department as seeking employment? In the event of there being no apparent sources from which labour may come to fill the gap, will the Minister consult with his colleague, the Minister for Immigration, on the possibility of increasing the immigration intake to ensure that production is not hampered by shortages in the work force?
– I think the honorable member will know that there are three sources of addition to the work force. They are the young people leaving schools, immigration and people who would not seek employment unless they felt there were abundant employment opportunities. Rather than describe the position as one of full employment, I would describe it as a position of over-full employment. It looks as though the position will become worse. and I will have the greatest pleasure in discussing with my colleague, the Minister for Immigration, ways and means of obtaining the additional employees necessary.
– Has the Minister for Primary Industry received representations on behalf of fig-growers in the river Murray area who are unable to sell their product locally in competition with figs imported from low-wage countries? I understand that representations have been made to the Tariff Board, but as some time must elapse before that body makes a decision, will the Minister consider either paying a subsidy to the industry or giving it some assistance to help it to meet successfully the competition from imported figs?
– Perhaps I should answer this question, Mr. Deputy Speaker, because about a month ago representations were made to me in my capacity as Minister for Trade to the effect that due to the importation of dried figs the locally produced crop could not be sold. Officers of the Department of Trade were sent to the river Murray area to consult with producers and, in particular, with the packing house interests. The investigations on the spot revealed that there was no cause for alarm at that time. Only a few tons of locally produced figs were unsold when the investigation was made about a month or six weeks ago. I think that the matter was referred to the Tariff Board. I undertook - and this undertaking is being observed - that my officers would keep themselves informed of the position so that if it was found that competition was affecting adversely the opportunities to sell the locally produced figs at a fair price, quick remedial action could be taken.
– I address my question to the Treasurer. Has the right honorable gentleman had an opportunity to study the report and balance-sheet of the Commonwealth Banking Corporation? Does this document reflect the remarkable growth and expansion that has taken place since this Government took office? Has anything occurred since the reconstruction of the Commonwealth Bank to substantiate the Labour Party’s claim that the Government is antagonistic to this national institution, or to justify Labour’s slogan “ Hands off the people’s bank “?
– The answer to the honorable gentleman’s question is to be found in the report itself which tells a story of vigorous institutions successfully carrying out the policies of this Government. The newcomer to the field - the Commonwealth Development Bank - has got speedily into stride.
– It has no money.
– As I understand the information which was given to me recently by the managing director of the bank, it is lending at the rate of £12,000,000 a year. The legislation has achieved the objective that the Government and its supporters planned and hoped that it would achieve. I am certain that honorable gentlemen opposite, whatever views they may have held formerly, would be prepared now to leave untouched these powerful and valuable institutions which are serving the Australian community so well.
– I preface my question to the Treasurer by stating that during his absence I directed a question to the Acting Prime Minister in which I claimed that our overseas balances are at an all-time low. I now ask the Treasurer whether he agrees that, whereas on to-day’s values our overseas balances of £372,000,000 in 1952 were worth approximately £600,000,000, to-day’s balances of about £460.000,000 are, in fact, lower than were the balances in 1952. In view of the warning that was given to-night by the honorable member for Scullin, the honorable member for Batman and other honorable members on this side of the House that our overseas balances are dangerously low, will he advise the Government to take drastic action to remedy the position?
– 1 am pleased to note the earnest attention being given to these profound economic questions by the honorable member, but I recommend that he go back a little further with his researches than he apparently has done. In the first place I can say that the condition of Australia’s overseas balance is healthy by comparison with that of almost any other country, and it is superior to that of the majority of other countries. Indeed, when one takes account of the fact that we have certain drawing rights upon the International Monetary Fund, which rights are now assured because of the fact that part of the fund has already been subscribed by the Commonwealth Government, our position is seen to be even stronger. If the honorable member is looking for a situation in which Australia had reached a position of real peril with regard to its international solvency, then I suggest he should consult the records in the Library of the Parliament and turn his attention to the period of office of the Scullin Government in the 1930’s.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for National Development. In view of the intense interest being taken in the development of the north of Australia, can the Minister say whether the Government has any overall plan of development in this area? If it has not, will it consider inviting offers from interested organizations capable of undertaking the work?
– I do not think it is the function of the Commonwealth Government to develop an overall plan. The Government is, however, as the House is well aware, interested in individual projects coming within the spheres of influence of State governments or the Administration of the Northern Territory. I will direct the attention of the Minister for National Development to the question asked by the honorable gentleman, and I shall obtain a reply for him.
– I ask the PostmasterGeneral a question. Having in mind the fact that the wanderers of the inner Cabinet will soon all be home again, when does the honorable gentleman expect a decision on the applications for licences in phase 3 of television development? I can inform the Minister that these decisions are eagerly awaited in such places as Launceston, Can berra, Ballarat, Newcastle, Rockhampton, Townsville and Toowoomba.
– I have on several occasions during the last two or three weeks replied to questions similar to that now asked by the honorable member for Wilmot. I have nothing to add to what I have said previously.
– I address a question to the Minister for Primary Industry. Have any recent surveys of pearling beds been carried out by the Fisheries Division of the Department of Primary Industry? If so, have the reports indicated satisfactory conservation of pearl shell resources? Has there been any reduction in the number of vessels operated by the Australian pearling industry? Have the Japanese pearlshelters filled the quota available to them in recent years?
– The reply to the first three of the honorable member’s questions is, “ Yes “. The Commonwealth Government has chartered the lugger “ Paxie “ each year since 1956 for surveys of pearl beds throughout the northern part of Australia. The results of the conservation project have been satisfactory, in that we have achieved stability of production as a result of restrictions on the taking of pearl shell. Compared with 1956, the number of Western Australian ships engaged in pearling has been reduced from 43 to 25 this year, Northern Territory ships from twelve to five, and Queensland ships from 59 to 36. Approximate takings of pearl shell by Japanese pearlers in the past three years were: 1958, 475 tons; 1959, 340 tons; and 1960, 384 tons.
– I direct a question to the Minister for Air. Is it a fact that the real reason why a Royal Australian Air Force bomber could not be got into the air speedily on the week-end of 2nd October to convey Sydney detectives to Colombo to intercept Graeme Thome’s suspected killer was that most R.A.A.F stations are on stand-down each week-end?
- Mr. Deputy Speaker, I have already explained in the House twice in the course of the past week that there was no occasion for an R.A.A.F. aircraft to be provided to take the police officers to Colombo, because adequate arrangements were made for them to travel by civil airlines. Whether an aircraft was available or not did not arise.. There is no requirement for the R.A.A.F. to keep bombers standing by at week-ends to carry public servants who might or might not be required to travel to undetermined destinations.
– I direct a question to the Minister for Health concerning reports that hams are being imported from Hungary. In view of the prevalence of footandmouth disease in that country, will the Minister take steps to ensure that the importation of these hams, whether they are canned or in sacks, does not endanger livestock in Australia?
– There are stringent quarantine requirements to be observed before hams can be imported into Australia. They cannot be imported in sacks but must be tinned and accompanied by the proper certificates from the country of origin. Recently, a few tins of hams did escape the observation of quarantine officers. These instances have been traced and the honorable gentleman can be quite assured that no hams coming into Australia are in danger of carrying foot-and-mouth disease into this country.
– Is the Treasurer aware that the 1960 report of the Commonwealth Banking Corporation again directs attention to the fact that the Commonwealth Bank’s hire-purchase activities have not been permitted to expand commensurately with the increasing volume of hire purchase transactions throughout the country? Are the bank’s hire-purchase operations restricted to financing producers’ equipment? Do the end-of-the-year balances of £18,400,000 represent a diminishing proportion of hirepurchase business? Will the Treasurer explain why the Commonwealth Bank has not been encouraged to expand its hirepurchase activities with a view to regulating interest rates and so that the people’s bank can enjoy a fair share of this lucrative business?
– As we are very near the end of question time and as the honorable member’s series of questions would involve us in a considerable debate, I will examine the details and supply him with as much information as I can in reply.
.- I move-
That the bill be now read a second time. The purpose of this bill is to make two amendments to the International Organizations (Privileges and Immunities) Act 1948. That is the act which, as its name implies, enables the Government to confer certain privileges and immunities of a diplomatic character in Australia on international organizations of which Australia is a member. The first amendment would extend the operation of the 1948 act to the Territories. This matter is dealt with in clause 3 of the bill. The Government believes it to be both logical and desirable that legislation of this nature should apply uniformly throughout all areas administered by the Commonwealth.
The second amendment would enable regulations to be made to confer juridical personality in Australia on international organizations, of which Australia or the Commonwealth Government is a member, and such legal capacity as is necessary for them to exercise their functions. This matter is dealt with in clause 4 of the bill. To confer juridical personality on an international organization means only that the organization would become a “ person “ in the eyes of the law. It could then do all the things in law which a person may do, such as to enter into contracts or to sue and to own property.
The United Nations, the Intergovernmental Committee for European Migration and the World Health Organization each maintain offices in Australia at present. Other international organizations may well be represented here in the future. Juridical personality and appropriate legal capacity have already been conferred upon the United Nations in Australia by regulations made under section 5 (a) of the 1948 act. But that act, as it stands, will not necessarily enable regulations to be made to confer juridical personality and legal capacity on other international organizations which have established offices in Australia or may do so in future. International organizations should be able to carry on their ordinary work and this can be done more effectively if they have the ordinary powers of persons in the eyes of the law, and can make contracts and enforce them. But apart from this, the constitutions of many of the international organizations of which Australia is a member expressly provide for the organizations to have juridical personality in the territory of each member, and the legal capacity necessary for them to exercise their functions. Australia has accepted these constitutions as a condition of membership of the organizations, and has thus entered into international commitments on these matters, and the Government should be in a position to give effect to these commitments.
I commend the bill to honorable members.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Calwell) adjourned.
Debate resumed from 28th September (vide page 1435), on motion by Mr. Osborne -
That the bill be now read a second time.
.- The Opposition, although not intending to take a great deal of time in discussing the Antarctic Treaty, desires to deal with it upon its merits, which are very great indeed, and to make some contribution towards the general knowledge of Antarctica that should be held by honorable members and the community. The rather extensive map which I now display to honorable members was made available in the Library. It. is a little large to be incorporated in “ Hansard “, but it shows in the clearest possible way the vast area of Antarctica. Antarctica has an area of 5,500,000 square miles. It is a continent, and 2,363,000 square miles of it are claimed by Australia. Australia, by reason of its proximity, by reason of its valid claims upon this territory, by its explorations, by its scientific investigations and by the high standard of personnel who have participated in Antarctic explorations, believes that it is entitled to participate in this treaty in its own right. Many other reasons also can be advanced for our participation.
The treaty was fully explained by the Minister for Air (Mr. Osborne) in his second-reading speech. It was signed in Washington on 1st December, 1959, and now awaits ratification. Many countries are interested in this vast continent of Antarctica and many claims to territory have been made. Some countries, which are engaged in scientific and other investigations in Antarctica, make no territorial claims and approve none. Other countries certainly make territorial claims and some territorial claims are in dispute. However, twelve countries have decided to join in a treaty. It has been signed or will be signed by the twelve countries and the first general meeting will be held in Canberra some time next year, after ratification of the treaty. I hope the Minister will correct me if 1 am wrong.
This is the first time that a treaty of this type has been signed and I shall quote a relevant passage of it in a moment to show how important it is. Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Chile, the French Republic, Japan, New Zealand, Norway, South Africa, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States of America are or will be signatories to the treaty. As the Minister said, the treaty has three principal objectives. Before reading the objectives, it is significant and extremely interesting to see what can be done when there is a feeling between countries that co-operation can be effective. I would like to have the preamble to this treaty at the head of every treaty in the world. If this applied to the civilized world and not solely to Antarctica, we would certainly have peace. The nonmilitarization clause contained in the preamble reads -
Recognizing that it is in the interest of all mankind that Antarctica shall continue forever to be used exclusively for peaceful purposes and shall not become the scene or object of international discord;
Here at least is one place where the cold war will not be warmed up In this frigid area of Antarctica, we have achieved the supreme ideal of man, and “ peace “ is not a naughty or dirty word but has become the avowed objective of twelve signatory nations. If this spirit is to prevail, it is a pity that the bead-quarters of the United Nations are not to be in Antarctica, if a new home is to be sought for that organization. But, of course, the difficulty is that where every prospect pleases, man alone is vile. There are no conflicting communities in the vast and unpeopled wastes of Antarctica. Scientists and others are there in small numbers. It seems to point a moral that such a preamble as this is contained in this treaty. It states that there shall be inspections between countries of all the scientific data being accumulated, that there shall be the most open and frank exchange of ideas, that there shall be aerial surveys, and, indeed, that there shall be no restrictions of movement whatever. There is a sort of embryonic world of peace. This happens to be a land of ice and snow, inhabited only by penguins and seals, but the significant point is that there is at least one part of the world, even though it be at the end of the world, in connexion with which it is possible to have a treaty which states that forever and forever the area shall be dedicated to peace and peaceful purposes.
This is a document of great social significance. lt is more than a treaty concerning what has so far been considered to be just so much waste land, because it pre-supposes that there are no hatreds between countries, because there are no territorial ambitions involved. It is made clear in the treaty that it is to remain in force for, I think, 34 years, but if any of the signatories to it, such as Chile or Argentina, become dissatisfied with it or have some particular cause to espouse, they may retire from participation at the end of two years. Since there are no territorial ambitions, there are no dangerous questions of boundaries. Nobody recognizes the supreme right of any man or any country to any part of the area. For instance, the United Kingdom and the United States, whilst not conceding Australia’s right to 2,750,000 square miles of the territory, do not deny it. At the same time, the Australian Government, whilst not denying the claims of other countries, does not accept them. What has happened, appropriately enough, has been that territorial rights in Antarctica have been frozen.
This is a remote area. It was a lost land, a land which the charters and cartographers dreamed of mapping, but it has been revealed to be a continent - a land mass. It is ice-bound, with frozen seas, but it is a continent twice the size of Australia. It has been divided arbitrarily, since no final decision as to territorial rights has been arrived at. Australia has claimed approximately 2,500,000 square miles of the territory, basing her claim not only on acquisition but on exploration and scientific work. The important feature is that the nations of the world which have been interested in the area - and I should say that the twelve nations which have explored the area and pushed their frontiers down into the frozen south seas constitute a very good cross section of the nations of the world - have been able to arrive at an amicable agreement which is to last for the next 34 years. At least one spot on the earth has been dedicated to peaceful purposes. The Opposition is pleased to be able to support the Government in this matter. If the Government would show as much sanity in connexion with other treaties as it has done in this instance, there would not be so much opposition to its actions from this side of the chamber.
It is significant that in relation to this treaty there is no question of power politics, of imperialism, of a veto or of blocs such as we have in the United Nations organization. The nations have decided that Antarctica shall be an international territory where peace will reign supreme, where demilitarization will be approved by all signatories and where the observation of scientific performances and data will be an accepted thing. This new territory, this new continent, cannot help but progress because its future is ensured by a treaty which is based on completely modern ideas. I have already referred to the preamble. It contains these words -
Recognizing that it is in the interests of all mankind that Antarctica shall continue forever to be used exclusively for peaceful purposes . . .
Those words should be re-echoed throughout the world. Article I. of the treaty prohibits any measure of a military nature such as the establishment of military bases and fortifications, the carrying out of military manoeuvres as well as the testing of any type of weapons. Article V. prohibits nuclear explosions and the disposal of radioactive waste in Antarctica. In order to promote those objectives, the contracting parties conducting substantial scientific research in the Antarctic may appoint observers, with freedom of access to all areas. That is the point I was making.
What the future of this vast land will be it is hard for any of us to prognosticate, but it is good to think that the twelve contracting parties have deemed it worthwwhile to come to Canberra to finalize the ratification of a treaty which will make the area truly the first free continent of the world. It is free from espionage, because everybody may know what is going on. It cannot have frontier conflicts, because frontiers are not recognized. The Australian group in the Australian Antarctic Territory, the Norwegians in the territory to which Norway lays claim, the British expeditions in Graham Land, and the very strong and scientifically forward United States groups are nothing but a family of human beings pushing forward to find out what is the essential inwardness of this Antarctic land and the use that can be made of it for the peoples of the world. The point is that what is contained in this treaty has been amicably arranged. The cynic may say, “ Well, that has been possible only because there are no territorial claims and there are nothing but whales and seals in the area. Since it is no-man’s land, why worry about it and why become romantic about it? “ But I think that is an entirely wrong approach. Events may occur which will bring Antarctica into focus as one of the richest lands in the world. It has been prognosticated by our own scientists that many metals lie under the ice and snow. However, we have at least taken a step in the right direction by negotiating a treaty which permits of no exploitation, which permits of no regimentation and which permits of no militarization. Any advances in scientific exploration, let us say, are to be shared by all. I congratulate the Australian Government on at least having brought this matter to the point where Australia is a signatory to the treaty.
The question of sovereignty has been mentioned several times, as if there were some anxiety about who will be affected by the provision in the treaty that although territorial claims are not denied, they are not accepted. As the Minister has said, for at least the next 34 years the status quo will be preserved. Territorial claims will be frozen. Whether possession is nine or 34 points of the law, I am unable to say, but it seems that this provision has avoided a situation which could cause further friction in the world, and for that reason this treaty seems to be the most reasonable one we have had for a long time.
Let me quote again from the Minister’s second-reading speech. There had been expressed anxiety as to how much territory Argentina or Chile may claim, or for that matter the United States of America, which has been most generous in the disposal of its territory, and other people who are prepared to come into the treaty or who go out of it. On this matter, the Minister said -
For its part, Australia will not be able to say, for example, that the United States, by entering into the treaty, is to be treated as having recognized Australian sovereignty over the Australian Antarctic Territory. Nor will Australia be able, as against any other treaty party, to rely on its activity during the period of the treaty for the purpose of supporting or enhancing its own position.
That is the only flaw that I see: For a country as close to Antarctica as we are, there is nothing but permissive occupancy. Although we can develop our Antarctic Territory, because of the 34-year provision in the treaty we cannot say that our sovereign rights are there. They are there implicitly, but they are frozen by the treaty. Surely that is the very thing we want in the new and progressive world. Those land-takers, land-grabbers and territorial barons who seek to hold everything will find some reason why we should assert that we own this land. But if the rest of the signatories to the treaty say, “What goes for you goes for us and in the great cut-up of the existing maps of the Antarctic your claim is only as good as ours “, the whole thing rests on an attempt to get these things worked out in the future.
In the meantime, let us see what science can do for the great Antarctic continent and let us see what we can do to prevent the ravages of droughts, floods and storms. As we all know, the turmoil of our weather conditions emanates from the poles. The meteorological and other data that has been and will be gathered from the South
Pole is of immense benefit to Australian farmers and others in many countries, for it tells us something of the typhoons which may wreck Japan and the droughts which may devastate western Queensland. The vagaries of the weather have their genesis in Antarctica, which is accepted to be the source from which these kinds of weather sweep in on us. These are matters for investigation by the scientists of the world working in amity and without any conflict caused by nationality. Be they from the United States or the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, be they Australians or Norwegians, be they Chileans or Argentinians, be they from New Zealand or from any other country which is a signatory to the treaty, they all can work together in harmony and study the results of one another’s investigations in the fields of science and in the development of the kind of scientific forecasting of the weather of which I am speaking. This will be for the betterment of the world and will help to prevent tragedies caused by the holocaust of fire and by floods, because we shall have in Antarctica a distant warning station to tell us what kind of weather we may expect.
The position is quite different in the Arctic, where all the warning stations are designed to give early warning of an atomic bomb attack by Russia on the United States. All the warnings from the Antarctic, on the other hand, are warnings to humanity in its struggle to keep alive in the face of natural disasters - a struggle to avoid the disasters of flood, drought and other natural terrors that afflict man. This is where the investigations of scientists can be of immense value, as has already been proved. The southerlies that blow against our coasts, the cold fronts and almost all the changes in the weather here emanate from Antarctica. Therefore, that part of the world is of tremendous significance to the Australian continent. Our meteorological and scientific experts have made great progress in the use of data gathered there.
We in this House should recognize the peaceful and pacific objectives of this treaty. We should feel pleased that in the preamble to at least one treaty there appear the words “ forever to be used exclusively for peaceful purposes “. I suppose that no other document in the world has a preamble in which appear words with the same connotation. As I have said, if we begin in this spirit in the frozen wastes of the south, this kind of beneficent language may creep into the councils of the world.
I do not intend to take up much time on the next aspect of the treaty which I wish to mention. I wish merely to give it general approval from this side of the House. I refer to the prospects for research into fisheries, sealing and whaling. Whaling conventions are breached more than they should be. The signatories sign them with gusto and break every provision with equal gusto. If in the future twelve great nations say that in regard to whaling, sealing, fisheries and the fauna generally of the great south land and the adjacent seas, rigid conditions aimed at preservation are to be observed, that will be another thing which will help in providing the world with a food storehouse in the south. Let us call it the deep-freeze south. One has only to glance at the scientific articles in the various newspapers to appreciate the value of Antarctica as a food storehouse. I recall particularly a recent article by a scientist of the Australian National University, in Canberra, on the future of the world’s food supplies.
Articles of this kind make us realize the immense significance of the Antarctic with its limitless supply of fish and its capacity to preserve foodstuffs. Supplies left on its surface in a deep freeze for all time could be picked up by transport planes of large capacity. Indeed, for Australia, the frozen wastes of the south could be a national refrigerator, as it were, for the storage of food surpluses. If Antarctica were used for this purpose, we should no longer burn sugar cane, destroy surplus beef or try to get rid of wheat and other foodstuffs in the disastrous, wicked and unchristian way adopted by nearly all countries under pressure. We should have available to us a ready place of storage in the south. I read with great interest the scientific article which I have mentioned, because to-day nothing of a scientific nature, even though it has about it a fairytale atmosphere, can be regarded as being entirely beyond the realms of possibility.
The things that may come from this Antarctic Treaty have to be considered by all of us. Not always in this federal House do we approach matters in a world spirit or in the spirit of federation - in the spirit that Longfellow and Tennyson prayed for when they hoped for the federation of the world. This treaty has all these overall implications, although those who read as they run may not be deeply interested in it. It is very good that a young country like Australia is one of the prime movers in bringing about this treaty and that its signatories will meet in our National Capital to consummate an act which will be of great benefit to the whole world.
I do not propose to deal with the bill further, Sir, except to say that honorable members on this side of the House appreciate it. When we say that we appreciate anything, we do not find cause for withdrawing what we have said. We appreciate this measure much more than is usual, because the archaic and ancient language of protocol has been abandoned in this instance. The spirit of faith in the future is embodied in the Minister’s words, which I should like to read again before I conclude. He said -
The preamble of the treaty recognizes that “ it is in the interest of all mankind that Antarctica shall continue forever to be used exclusively for peaceful purposes . . .”
This ought to give a nice feeling to the honorable member for Reid (Mr. Uren), who has been an advocate of peace among us all in this House. I think that he should be mentioned especially because of his youth and enthusiasm. The Minister’s quotation concluded - “… and shall not become the scene or object of international discord.”
So I leave the bill with our approval. I commend to honorable members who wish to speak on it the map that has been prepared by the Parliamentary Library. It is beautifully done. As the Minister will see, it is a work of art. So is the treaty, which we hope to see finally ratified in Canberra, having the approval of honorable members on both sides of this House and having behind it the drive, force and energy of the Australian people, who have inherited a continent of 3,000,000 square miles and who hold the trusteeship of one of the largest islands in the world - the island of New Guinea, which lies to the north of us.
The Australian people, by their occupancy of Antarctica, will hold trusteeship over 2,750,000 square miles of Antarctic Territory. As yet, its uses are not fully known or exploited, but we have shown that none of the moves made by the great Australian Commonwealth in respect of that Territory has been a move of aggression. Our trust territories to the north involve enormous responsibilities. Our new trust and our new dedication in the south involve consideration, scientific research and the use of money to match with the other great powers in the development of the Antarctic. That underlines our right to have our signature on this treaty and to have a share of the territory dedicated as part of Australia Felix in the future.
– I should like to congratulate the Government on the part that its members have played in bringing this treaty to a successful stage and on the presentation of the bill to the Parliament for ratification. It has not always been the custom to bring treaties - even important treaties - to the Parliament for ratification. I congratulate the honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Haylen) on the spirit in which he has spoken with regard to the importance of this bill.
This treaty bill is only a very small bill. It has only four clauses and a schedule which sets out the treaty itself. Yet, like the honorable member for Parkes, I believe that historians of the future will regard this treaty as one of the most important milestones in world history. This may sound a little over-optimistic when we see what has happened recently in the United Nations and hear all the tumult and shouting in other parts of the world. Nevertheless, as the Minister for Air (Mr. Osborne) and the honorable member for Parkes, leading for the Opposition, have said, this bill, in itself, is of great historic significance.
I will not repeat the names of the twelve signatories to the original document in Washington on 1st December, 1959. They were named by the honorable member for Parkes. Up to the present time, the governments of the following countries have ratified the treaty: - Belgium, France, Japan, Norway, South Africa, United Kingdom and the United States of America. I understand that the Government of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics has not ratified the treaty but that the Council of Ministers has recommended to the Supreme Soviet that it should do so. Therefore, there is no reason to suppose that the Soviet Government will not soon take that action. New Zealand, Australia, Chile and Argentina are left to go through the form of ratification which we are completing here to-night, as this bill has already been passed by another place.
Instead of repeating a large amount of what has been said by the Minister for Air and the honorable member for Parkes 1 invite honorable members to stop for a moment or two to look at this region of the world called Antarctica. For a long time, it has attracted bold, adventurous spirits from many nations. I think I am right in saying that, originally, it was circumnavigated by Captain Cook in 1772-3; so we see that Australia has been interested in Antarctica from the very early times when explorers first started to contact it. Captain Cook’s ship, of course, was not built for the stresses and strains of those inhospitable seas and I do not think he went much farther south than the Antarctic Circle. No doubt, he discovered some of the islands which lie around the great white continent.
Ever since than spasmodic and varied expeditions, some well-equipped, have endeavoured to penetrate the icy barriers of that area. Some have met with success and some with failure. In 1820 the South Shetland Islands were discovered south of Cape Horn. This led to the discovery of the chain of islands which are, I suppose, a continuation of the Andes of South America, running through the South Pole and, probably, around to South Africa or some other land mass. The British Admiralty has played a very large part in the discoveries, but so have very many famous Australians. Some of their names should be mentioned in a debate of this nature.
Australians took part in the expeditions of both Scott and Shackleton. In Shackleton’s British expedition of 1907-9 were two very famous Australians, Sir Douglas Mawson and Sir Edgeworth David. The captain of the ship, “ Nimrod “, on that occasion was Captain J. K. Davis, another Australian, after whom our second permanent base in the Antarctic has been named. Two of the men in that expedition now have their names recorded in Antarctica - Mawson and Davis. The permanent station established by Australia in 1954 was called Mawson, and that which was established, 1 think, in 1956-57 was called Davis.
Sir Douglas Mawson took another famous expedition to this cold and forbidding land from 1911 to 1914. With him was a scientist and a geologist, Dr. Madigan, who is well known in the annals of Australian scientific history and research. A BritishAustralianNew Zealand expedition went down there from 1929 to 1931 and did much pioneering work in Antarctica. It did much work in aviation. I think it was at that time that Admiral Byrd, from America, became the first man to fly over the Pole. I do not think that, on that occasion, Sir Hubert Wilkins was with him. I forget the names of the two other members of the expedition who went on that flight. Both Sir Hubert Wilkins and another member of the expedition, Mr. John Rymill, were South Australians.
The next important action was taken, I think, in 1947 when we established what might be known as an “ Antarctic subdepartment “ for the conduct of Australian national Antarctic research expeditions - A.N.A.R.E. 1 think that ever since then Mr. P. G. Law has been the leader of the organization which is important enough to be called a department. The work that Mr. Law has done, year after year, has placed his name high, I believe, among the records of our intrepid explorers in that region of the world. The first base that we established was on Heard Island and it lasted only two years. We also established one on Kerguelen Island in 1953, which is still operating. The first permanent base was established in 1954 and Davis was established in 1956-57. Last year, we took over from the Americans a base on the Budd coast named Wilkes, and we are therefore now operating three permanent stations on the Antarctic coast. Two of them are fairly close together, but Wilkes is much nearer Cape Adare, the nearest point of Antarctica to Australia, about 1,450 miles from Hobart.
When we look back on the magnificent, outstanding work of these intreped explorers it seems wrong and unfair, in some ways, Mr. Deputy Speaker, that in October, 1958, a party of five members from this Parliament should have had the opportunity to look at this particular region, the Antarctic, in what might be called the comparative comfort of a United States Navy transport plane. This journey was made by the Antarctic sub-committee of the Foreign Affairs Committee, which had been in existence then for some years and had been doing very good work. The trip was largely due to the enthusiasm and initiative of the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth), who, unfortunately, is not here for this debate. The other members who made the trip were the late honorable member for Higinbotham, Mr. Timson, the honorable member for Lilley (Mr. Wight), the Minister for the Navy (Senator Gorton), myself as chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee, a member of the Department of External Affairs, Mr. Murray Bouchier, who was then head of the Antarctic Division of the department, and Wing-Commander Beattie of the Royal Australian Air Force. It seemed extraordinary to be able to board a plane in Christchurch and, after flying a distance no greater than that from Sydney to Perth, find oneself down near the South Pole. As it stated on the certificate which was given to us, “ Over the Roaring Forties, the Furious Fifties and the Screaming Sixties, down into the White Wilderness of Antarctica “.
We landed at McMurdo Sound, which is the sole ice strip on which aircraft can land after they pass the point of no return. This is 78 degrees of latitude south, but it is still 420 miles from the South Pole. We were reminded of the dangers that men in that area face as part of their daily routine, to whatever expedition they may belong, because on the way down there we flew over a Globemaster which had crashed in a white-out about four days previously. There have been many accidents and quite a number of deaths due to falling into crevasses, in spite of all modern scientific methods of detection. I do not think that as Australians we give sufficient credit to the men, their officers, and particularly their leader, Mr. P. G. Law, for the magnificent work done by team after team of Australians who go down there every year and remain there for a full year, including the four months of darkness. We arrived there just after the midnight sun had risen above the horizon where it would stay, without setting, for another four months.
In spite of publicity and films, many Australians do not realize the magnificent courage displayed daily by Australians in those regions, and the excellence of the work they do. These Australians have played a magnificent part in the International Geophysical Year. We were at McMurdo Sound when the Russians flew over for the first visit that they had made from their base at Mirny, and we got some small insight into the work being done and some small understanding of the extent of the cooperation existing between the scientists of the different nations. Do not ask me to say, Mr. Deputy Speaker, what they were studying, although I can give some of the names of the fields of study they were engaged in - -geomagneticism, ionospheric physics, cosmic radiation, oceanography, glaciology and meteorology. We were not technical people, but we were very interested to find that one of the fine results achieved from the work being done there is much more accurate forecasting of weather, Australia’s weather in particular, though also the world’s weather in general. The scientists told us that it would probably take about eight years or so to sort out, analyse and evaluate all the knowledge which had been obtained by the different expeditions during the International Geophysical Year. This will give honorable members some idea of the extent of the scientific data and information that has been gained.
It seemed even more unfair that, having travelled to McMurdo Sound in comparative comfort, we should have been able to travel on and at least see the South Pole from the air. I think that the first and only Australian who had up to that time set foot on the South Pole was D. P. Stephenson. I do not know whether any others have been there since. Stephenson was a geologist with Sir Vivian Fuchs’s trans-polar expedition. I think that the next Australians actually to see the Pole were the members of our party.
To give honorable members some idea of what is taken for granted in the daily routine of the men down there, who fly over miles and miles of frozen nothingness for day after day, I might add that on our way down to the pole we flew above and along the path trodden by Scott and his men over the Ross ice shelf past Mount Hope and the Beardmore Glacier, then up over the polar plateau 300 miles in diameter at an average height of 9,000 to 10,000 feet above sea level, of which 8,500 feet is ice. We had to fly at 18,000 feet over the pass at the top of the glacier because another plane, a Globemaster which had gone ahead, was coming back at 16,000 feet. At 17,500 feet there were two loud backfires and the pilot said to me, when I was up front, “You’ll have to get back. We have engine trouble.” We were then about two hours’ flying time from our base and half-way to the pole. About five minutes later he signalled me to come forward again and said, “ It’s all right. We have a couple of dirty plugs in the No. 3 engine. If we nurse her we will probably be all right so we are going on.” I recount that incident as indicative of the daily routine of flying in Antarctica. They had an analyser on board which shows what every plug is doing. Such analysers are part of the standard equipment on the big transport planes these days.
When we got over the pole the boys down in the belly of this aerial behemoth discharged 32,000 lb. of stores by parachute from an open hatch in a wind of about 170 miles an hour, with the temperature at minus 50 or 60 degrees Fahrenheit. It is not what you would call the most easy or most pleasant job in the world.
When I was at the pole I realized I was having the unusual experience of being unable to look in any direction except north. I am also reminded of a story told by the American Admiral Dufek, who was the first man to set foot on the South Pole since Scott had done so in 1912. He and his party decided to have a lunch of tomato, ham sandwiches and coffee from a vacuum flask. A member of the party was a Jesuit priest, a scientist in his own right. Admiral Dufek noticed that the priest was not eating his ham sandwich and asked him the reason.
The priest answered, “ Oh Admiral! It is Friday.” Dufek answered, “That’s easy to fix. Come with me.” He then walked the priest round an arc of 180 degrees and said to him, “We’ve gone over the international dateline, and you’re back in Thursday. You can eat the ham now.”
Everything seems to be out of perspective at the pole. As I said, I think all of us found the trip a thrilling experience even although it lasted for only one week. Antarctica is an extraordinary place. The mountains rise to 19,000 or 21,000 feet. One thing that there is in very short supply is water, because all the water used has to be obtained from melting the snow and ice. I think it was an American author, Donald Culross Peattie, who wrote, “ The fires of life burn only in water “. That sentence always impressed me as very striking. If there is no water there is no life. In those white regions there is no grass and there are no trees, although there is a little lichen. The only living things are seals and penguins and skua gulls. The seals and the penguins live on what comes out of the sea, and the skua gulls live on the penguins. No other form of life exists in the whole area. So far the metals and minerals discovered in Antarctica have been of no commercial value. I believe some coal has been found, but again not of commercial value, lt may be that, like the North Pole, it will one day become useful and much used as an air route. But who can tell with regard to the future? As the honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Haylen) said, the fact that Antarctica has no commercial value and is nothing but a wild, white, inhospitable wilderness, may have been partly the reason why we were able to obtain - as I think all of us hoped in our hearts to obtain - a treaty of this nature which, as I said before, we all trust will become a milestone in the history of international relations.
This treaty has a three-fold purpose. First Antarctica will be used for peaceful purposes only; secondly, the freedom of scientific investigation and the co-operation towards that end which was applied during the International Geophysical Year shall continue; and thirdly, no renunciations of any existing territorial claims are involved and no acts or activities during the treaty shall be used as a basis for asserting, supporting or denying a claim in, or create any rights of sovereignty in, Antarctica. In effect this means that all existing claims or rights, as the honorable member for Parkes said, are put into deep freeze during the life of the treaty, which is a minimum period of 34 years. No nuclear explosions are to be allowed to take place there and any radio-active waste has to be disposed of somewhere other than in the Antarctic region. This does not deny any nation the right to establish a nuclear reactor there to provide heat and power. America is already taking action along those lines and is establishing a reactor at McMurdo Sound to supply heat, light and power. When it is realized that a gallon of fuel delivered by plane at the South Polar station costs 100 dollars, a nuclear reactor though it may be more expensive initially is likely in the long run to be a much more economic unit. 1 believe that the fourteen-man polar station is estimated to cost 1,000,000 dollars a man to erect. The principle of “ open skies “ and not only free interchange of information but also the appointment of observers who shall have complete freedom of access at any time to any area or all of the areas, is established under Article VIII.
The laws applicable to Australia’s Antarctic Territory were originally those promulgated by ordinance of the Governor-General in Council, but the 1954 act applied to that Territory, with a few minor exceptions, the law in force in the Australian Capital Territory. Owing to conflicting views on the question of territorial sovereignty, the signatories to the treaty have adopted the very practical solution of giving to each government authority in the entire treaty area over its own nationals. Clause IV. of the bill provides for the necessary legislative amendments to enable us to carry out the treaty in our own territorial area. It should also be noted that nothing in the treaty affects the rights of nations under the International Law of the Sea. Unfortunately three nations, Chile, Argentina and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics could not see their way clear to agree to the compulsory reference of any dispute to the International Court of Justice. Within the treaty this can be done by consent, but I hope that eventually it will be done as a regular course of action and will be compulsory for ail concerned. Other nations are entitled lo join in the treaty, provided they are prepare to do the scientific work that is necessary. As I have said, this is an historic moment not only in the history of Australia but also in the history of international relations. The signing of the treaty was one of the final acts of Lord Casey as Minister for External Affairs. Throughout the years he had been persistent, persuasive and keen on the whole question of Antarctic exploration. I think that all honorable members will agree that the drawing up of this treaty is a fine credit to Lord Casey, who played such a big part in it. 1 believe he must be given full credit for the drafting and signing of the treaty.
Finally, there are three things which I would like to suggest to the Government. If we are to carry on the excellent work that has already been done - as I hope we will - and build on this research work in future in this area so near to our own shores - it is only 1,450 miles from Hobart; closer than Melbourne is to Perth - I believe, first, that much more serious consideration should be given to the construction, servicing and maintenance of our own ice-breaker, serviced and manned by the Royal Australian Navy. Now that we have three permanent stations - Mawson, Davis and Wilkes - as well as Macquarie Island, we should not make them dependent on a hiring contract for a ship from another nation. If we had such a vessel serviced and manned by the Royal Australian Navy, it would be very good training for our officers and men.
Secondly, I think we should have a weather ship or an automatic buoy station established south-west of Cape Leeuwin, which is a blind spot in the scientific and meteorological investigations by the stations in Antarctica and the existing stations in Australia. I am informed that if that blind spot could be covered much more accurate information, both seasonal and daily, could be supplied for the whole of Australia in forecasting the weather.
Thirdly, the American Task Force permitting, I would like to see Royal Australian Air Force crews flying with the United States Air Force Distant Early Warning Line crews for experience in Antarctica. Most of the American crews down there have had long experience of flying on the Distant Early Warning Line in the north of Canada. I would like the Minister for Air (Mr. Osborne) to arrange with the American Task Force for some of our Royal Australian Air Force crews to go down there and gain experience in flying the bigger machines. I know that they have Jone some excellent work with the smaller aircraft around our own bases and 300 or 400 miles inland, but I would like to see them get experience on the supply and transport lines from Christchurch through to the South Pole and the Byrd station in Queen Maude Land. When they have had that experience we might be able to spare one of our Hercules transports to take part in Operation Deep Freeze. I commend the bill to the House and underline its great importance in the world’s history. I hope, as I said earlier, that it will prove to be a milestone in our history.
.- I take part in this debate not with any pretension that I might be able to add a great deal to the learning or thinking upon this question but because I feel that it is a great honour to take part in a debate in this Parliament at a moment which perhaps expresses the whole of human ideals at this stage of history. Here we have found some way in which nations, theoretically in other fields at each other’s throats, have been able to co-operate to a great extent. On this occasion, I support almost completely, the honorable member for Chisholm (Sir Wilfrid Kent Hughes) in tha sentiments he expressed. I suppose that Antarctica is the last frontier on earth, the last place more or less beyond our ken. Excluding, perhaps, the last few thousand feet of Mount Everest, Antarctica is the most inaccessible spot on earth. But by international co-operation we are able to overcome the terrors of this wilderness over which, not a very long time ago, it cost so many lives just to pass. Like the honorable member for Chisholm, I pay tribute to those men, particularly in the Australian service, who give their time and. unfortunately in some cases, their lives, to extending our work in the area.
Tn the Budget, £808,000 was allocated for the national research expedition. This is not an insignificant sum, so it is evident that a fair amount of money, human effort and dedication are involved in Australia’s participation in the agreement. But I believe that the principal significance of the treaty is, as has been pointed out by honorable members on both sides of the House, the way in which nations have been able to co-operate. It is surprising that we have been able to do this while, in our own national sphere, it is difficult often to get even six States to co-operate with the Commonwealth for our mutual advantage. I do not think that the significance of the occasion is diminished by the fact that no people reside in Antarctica. The representatives of twelve nations had to get together and work out this treaty. We had to find areas of agreement with other people, and this aspect is most significant whether it be applied in Antarctica, the Suez Canal, the Panama Canal or anywhere else.
– It was a summit conference.
– As the honorable member for Hindmarsh suggests, here is at least one matter on which the top nations of the world agree. Representatives of the nations which are signatories to the agreement have recognized that it is in the interests of mankind that Antarctica shall continue forever to be used exclusively for peaceful purposes and that it shall not become the scene or object of international discord. That is important. It means that twelve nations, some of which apparently are incapable of finding agreement in so many other fields have agreed, at least in principle, that it is most desirable that Antarctica shall be used exclusively for peaceful purposes and that all concerned should work towards that objective.
As the honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Haylen) has pointed out, peace has become a respectable word in this context Future generations may well be grateful for the fact that Antarctica is to be used only for peaceful purposes. One of the principal and most significant points about this agreement is that people who claim that it is impossible to find agreement in other fields - they do not even like to sit down and talk to one another - have been able to find agreement on this matter.
Looking back into the history of this agreement, we find that Australia participated in an international conference, at least at the official level, at a time when diplomatic relations with one of the other contracting parties had been broken off. This indicates that most of the attitudes which bedevil us to-day and most of the barriers between human beings can be overcome if nations have some single simple objective in mind. It may be a good thing if we can reduce most of the divisions in the world to single simple objectives and work towards attaining each of those objectives.
I believe that the principle of disengagement is involved. It would have been almost impossible, even a short twenty years ago, to get so many nations to suspend their territorial claims. We must admit that at that time we would have liked to see our flag flying higher and further than any other country’s flag. We would not have surrendered the claims to sovereignty or the empire building ambitions that had existed for 300 years; yet to-day we are quite happy to see the flags of other countries and other peoples flying in the same areas with ours. We have no fear that we are losing status. To-day we see Antarctica, not as a great field for national prestige but as the symbol of an effort at co-operation between nations. That is the important point. We have moved so far in so short a time. Our hope for the future is that co-operation in this field will be extended to other fields.
The honorable member for Parkes used some very fine phrases. I think one was that this treaty is embryonic of a world at peace. I hope that his prophecy is correct. I hope also that the significance of this occasion will not escape any one. The fact that we can sit down with people of other nations, such as the Russians, and work and co-operate with them in this field signifies what can be done in other fields. Strangely enough, we seem to have been able to come to almost complete agreement with the Russians and to be able to place almost complete trust in them. I know that governments must be watched carefully, and I do not place the Russian Government outside the orbit of that observation, but on 14th October last year, the then Minister for External Affairs, Lord Casey, said that
Australia had no reason whatever to believe that the Russians in Australian Antarctica had indulged in anything but genuine scientific research. If people stop to consider these things they will recognize some of the nonsense that goes on in our relationships with other nations. I hope that we shall see a change of attitude in the future.
International co-operation in Antarctica can have certain results. First, there is the field of pure research. It has been said that Antarctica is about the last frontier. It is one place to which adventurous people of all nations can go to find some scope for their activities. With world travel becoming easier and faster every day, it may be that the adventurous spirits will find little scope for their activities in the next few years unless it is in places like Antarctica. I admit that I am one of the more timorous spirits, and I have only the greatest admiration for people who are prepared to go to Antarctica to work on our behalf. I see it as a field for research and the development of human knowledge.
The honorable member for Parkes pointed out the possibility of finding supplies of fish in that area. The world is short of food and the resources of this part of the world are under-developed. He referred also to an idea which, 20 or 30 years ago, may have been regarded as somewhat exotic - using Antarctica as a deep-freeze storage place. The honorable member for Chisholm referred to the tremendous American effort that has gone into research in Antarctica. Something like 1,000,000 dollars per man has been expended on establishing bases, providing atomic energy to heat the bases and so on. Hardly anything is physically impossible these days. In a world where great stocks of food have to be either stored or, unfortunately, destroyed, we may well find in Antarctica the means to preserve food against time of want. At least 1,000,000,000 people in the world to-day cannot find enough to eat.
Most of our inclement weather comes from the south, and if we can solve the problem of weather control and can provide correct weather forecasts, we shall be able to overcome many of the difficulties which now confront our primary industries. I regard Antarctica as a field in which the Australian Government should expend a good deal of effort Of course, we have little knowledge of the mineral deposits of the area. It is a good thing - and this has been conceded by my friends on the Government side - that no commercial interests are involved in Antarctica, so it is possible to obtain complete co-operation without trespassing upon any one’s vested interests.
These are important points upon which, strangely enough, we have been able to find complete agreement with the Government. We believe that the problems of the far south can be solved not only by a national effort but also by an international effort. Almost internationalization has been agreed upon for at least one section of the earth’s surface. Under that agreement, people of all nations will be able to move freely without being afraid of crossing any country’s frontiers. People will be able to associate with one another in the field of research. It will be possible for personnel to change from one service to another. In short, the nations concerned will co-operate for the good of mankind in the terms expressed in the agreement. These are very important points, but the treaty is a landmark in another way. The parties to the agreement have decided virtually on a policy of territorial disengagement. The nations have been able to find an international way out. They have been able to define the activities in which all people may engage in the area without trespassing upon territorial rights. In various parts of the world there are trouble spots in which this important principle should be applied. One such place is the Panama Canal, and another is the Suez Canal. How many unpleasant events in recent history could have been avoided if this kind of attitude had been adopted towards what is, after all, a passageway for all mankind. I think also of such rivers as the Danube and such straits as the Dardanelles. If nations can get along in harmony with regard to this particular part of our world, then they may be able to pick off the other trouble spots, one by one, using the patience and good sense that they have apparently employed in regard to the Antarctic. In this way we may gradually eliminate all the trouble spots of the world which have bedevilled us for a great number of years. in supporting the remarks of the honorable member for Chisholm let me say that this agreement gives an almost perfect illustration of the Labour Party’s attitude to world affairs. We believe there is a possibility of co-operation with other people in all kinds of fields of endeavour, that it is possible for us to surrender any ideas of territorial aggrandizement, that it is possible to make agreements to break down the borders and the frontiers and eliminate the requirements of passports and vises, which now hinder independent movement around the world, and that it is possible to throw open the gates of research so that we can all co-operate for the good of mankind. We believe that it is possible for us to say, “ We will not cooperate in any activity of a military nature, except when military personnel are to be used for peaceful purposes, and we can all act together as friends”.
This agreement is a landmark in the international relations of Australia. We are especially fortunate in being able to take such a prominent part in these negotiations. Australia is a trustee of a very large part of the earth’s surface. Our Territories extend almost from the equator to the South Pole - at least, the Territories to which we lay claim extend over this wide area. In this regard Australia is unique. I do not think any other nation has control of territory extending over such vast distances, all under one flag, as it were. Although we are a young nation, and have not as much influence in international affairs as some other countries, we can at least give a lead by our willingness to cooperate. This is something to which all members of the Parliament and the people of Australia might turn their attention. I believe this treaty is a document which should be enshrined in the archives of the Department of External Affairs. It should be used as a standard when the department is considering other international treaties.
.- As I rise to address myself to the bill before the House, I have very vividly in my mind a picture of the gentleman to whom we paid tribute this afternoon, the late honorable member for Higinbotham, who accompanied the party that went to the Antarctic Territory in October, 1958, as guests of the United States Government. On that occasion our immediate host was Admiral George Dufek, of Operation Deep Freeze fame, at McMurdo Sound. While the party was in that area it was given an opportunity to get a much clearer picture of the great sacrifices that had been made and the work that had been done in the Antarctic by people of many nationalities over a long period of time. We were particularly impressed by the heroic sacrifices of Captain Scott’s expedition, and we gained some idea of the great suffering endured by explorers, particularly Australians, who had carried out exploration work in this part of the world during at least the preceding half century. Australia has a very sound claim and a very great interest in the Antarctic territory.
While our own Australian continent has an area of about 3,000,000 square miles, the Antarctic territory has about 6,000,000 square miles, almost double the area of the Australian continent. Because of the work that had been done by Australians in the Antarctic territory, our country laid claim to an area about the same as that of Australia- 3,000,000 square miles. The area is divided into two parts by Adelie Land, which was claimed by France. A number of nations have laid claim to sections of the Antarctic territory and have had their claims challenged by other countries. It is significant that the territory claimed by Australia has never been the subject of a dispute by any other nation. The area which we claim is immediately to the south of our continent, and, as I have said, no country has disputed our claim, although there have been nations which have failed to recognize the claim made by us. The other countries that have claimed territory in the Antarctic are France, United States of America, Norway, the United Kingdom, Argentina and Chile. The three last named countries have been involved in disputes concerning the areas they have claimed.
We have before us a bill for an act to give effect to the Antarctic Treaty. This title could be somewhat misleading. As speakers on both sides of the House have indicated their complete agreement with the bill, I feel somewhat reluctant to introduce what might be considered a discordant note. There are two aspects of the bill about which I have certain reservations, but, in order to clarify my position on the matter, let me state immediately and em phatically that I applaud the principle behind the treaty, which suggests that nations can come together in a spirit of peace and goodwill and give an example of the way in which the nations of the world might get together in the United Nations to settle all their disputes in an amicable manner so that we might live in peace. But, Sir, I think we should keep all aspects of this matter in their true perspective. Whilst we welcome this agreement between nations, let us understand clearly that the contribution by Australia has been one of the major ones towards achieving the goodwill which is inherent in the treaty. We should remember that Australia agreed to have her claim to the largest area of the Antarctic continent frozen for a minimum period of 34 years by the ratification of this agreement. Whereas neither the United States of America nor Soviet Russia has lost anything by this agreement, and while they stand to gain Australia has made a generous contribution. While it does not begrudge that contribution, let it be emphasized that Australia’s attitude shows the true spirit in which we believe all world problems should be approached.
Let me refer to the two aspects of the bill with which I do not agree. First, the bill is not a medium by which this Parliament ratifies the treaty which is an appendix to the bill. All that the bill purports to do, and all that we as members of this Parliament can do by way of enactment, is to provide that Australian subjects in the Antarctic territory will be governed by the laws of Australia. The treaty itself will be ratified by an executive act. This may be an established custom. I believe it is the responsibility of a parliament to determine and to approve an action by a government or to grant to a government authority to ratify a treaty of this character. If we are really to follow the dictates of a true democracy, all treaties of any description should be brought before the Parliament before being ratified by the Government so that all honorable members can express their views upon them. My first disagreement with the bill lies in the fact that it does not provide the Parliament with an opportunity to approve or disagree with its ratification so that the Parliament and not the Executive, will ratify the agreement.
The next point about which I wish to speak with some degree of criticism is this: The treaty gives no indication of what would happen if Australia or some other country wanted to develop resources in the Antarctic continent contains greater deposits would be impossible to develop those resources; but we must not forget that geological surveys have not been carried out in the Antarctic to any great extent. We have been informed that possibly the Antarctic continent contains greater deposits of coal than any other continent in the world. It is also possible that there are vast oil resources in the Antarctic. It is a possibility; the oil might not be there, but, again, it might be. If oil or coal were found now, f believe that the problems of transport would be insuperable. It would be impossible to develop and exploit any finds of that nature. But that does not exclude the possibility that following the tremendous developments in the field of transport over the past decade we might be able within the next ten or fifteen years to provide a medium of transport which would permit the development- of resources that might be found in the Antarctic continent. We have seen the development recently of the Hovercraft. With the further development of such vehicles, is it beyond the realm of possibility that we could develop the wealth of the Antarctic?
There is nothing in the bill to define what would happen if some wealth were found there, perhaps within Australian territory. What would happen if oil were found within the next ten or fifteen years in the territory that we claim as ours? Under the terms of the treaty associated with this bill, our claim will be frozen and will remain frozen for 34 years. The Russians are operating within the area which we have claimed as Australian territory. While we do not object to that, what would be the position if oil were found there in great quantities? Reference is made to this matter in Articles X. and XI. of the Antarctic Treaty contained in the schedule to the bill. Article X states -
Each of the Contracting Parties undertakes to exert appropriate efforts, consistent with the Charter of the United Nations, to the end that no one engages in any activity in Antarctica contrary to the principles or purposes of the present Treaty.
Does that mean that if vast quantities of oil were found in the Antarctic territory which is claimed by Australia, we would be precluded from developing that find, even if a medium of transport which would enable us to exploit the find were developed? Would a dispute arise if scientific explorers of some other nation, operating in the area we have claimed as Australian territory, were to find oil or any mineral wealth which would be of value in the development of the continent, again supposing that transport was available? If they find oil or minerals, to whom will those resources belong? Who would be given the right to develop the find? Would those resources go to the people who found them, or to Australia as the nation claiming that territory? Naturally, some dispute would arise. Article XI. of the treaty provides -
I believe this Antarctic Treaty must be completed, but if we are to ensure that it will last a full 34 years without involving nations in disputes, and if we are to preserve the spirit of the treaty of peaceful arrangements between the nations, it is essential that these matters should be given consideration and an addendum made to the treaty.
Having made those two points, I will not delay the House unduly; but I should like to direct the attention of the Government to the points that were made by the honorable member for Chisholm (Sir Wilfrid Kent Hughes). The honorable member made two recommendations which I support wholeheartedly. He made them as a result of discussions he had with leading scientific people who were engaged in work in the Antarctic during the International Geophysical Year. The first point he made was that it is of paramount importance, if we are to improve our knowledge of meteorological conditions applying to Australia, that we should establish a weather ship south-west of Cape
Leeuwin. It has been suggested that such a ship should be stationed near the point of the Antarctic Convergence. Experts in Antarctic meteorological research have suggested that the great storms are born in that area. They move in semi-circular fashion, cut across the south of Australia, move to the south of New Zealand and finish in the McMurdo Sound or the Ross Sea area. They have the most profound effect on weather conditions in Australia. Since meteorology is of prime importance to Australia as a primary-producing nation, I believe that Australia would reap great dividends from the establishment of this weather post at the point of the Antarctic Convergence south-west of Cape Leeuwin.
The other matter to which the honorable member for Chisholm referred was the provision of our own ice-breaker operated by the Royal Australian Navy. I believe that the adoption of those proposals would be a step forward and that action should be taken accordingly by the Australian Government.
I have made two points: First, that this treaty should be ratified by the Parliament rather than by the Executive; and, secondly, that the treaty should include some recognition of the problems that could arise if oil or mineral wealth were discovered in the Antarctic territory because of the possibility of a dispute between nations. Apart from those reservations, T support the bill.
.- Not much more can be said about this measure. It is one to which all parties give their support and do so with a good deal of satisfaction. Probably no other measure of such a unifying character has ever been introduced into the Parliament. In fact, I would say that nowhere in the world at any time in history has there been such a treaty as this. The contributions of those honorable members who have spoken to-night have been excellent. They have referred to the significance of the treaty in world history. It is interesting that the area selected for such a unique and historic treaty should be the Antarctic where no living human being is in permanent residence. The sad fact, as has been mentioned to-night, is that such a principle of neutrality and peaceful intention could not also be extended to other areas where human beings are in permanent residence. It is amazing that wherever human beings are in permanent residence, some one is always prepared to quarrel with others about some strip of land, some principle, some way of life or some ideology. I believe that this treaty is a model for a new world. It is a pattern for humanity as a whole and guarantees permanent peace in this vast area.
I want to refer to several points that were raised by the honorable member for Lilley (Mr. Wight). He asked what would happen if oil or large deposits of coal were discovered in the Antarctic during the period of this treaty - that is, 30 years. Coal has, of course, been discovered, but we do not know the extent of the deposits. Whether they are large enough to cause international friction is a matter of conjecture. It is interesting to note that no specific reference has been made to this question in the treaty. Article IX. provides -
And this is the point - including measures regarding:
No specific mention is made of the minerals that have been referred to in this debate. They could probably be covered by the phrase “ scientific research “ or “ preservation and conservation of living resources “, but I should imagine if any important minerals, such as uranium, bauxite or oil, were discovered, a meeting of the contracting nations would be held immediately and the discovery would be tabled. But that would be where the matter would stay until the end of the period of 30 years.
The next point I wish to mention is the provision of safeguards against the breaking of the treaty. This is provided in Article X., which reads -
Each of the Contracting Parties undertakes to exert appropriate efforts consistent with the Charter of the United Nations, to the end that no one engages in any activity in Antarctica contrary to the principles or purposes of the present Treaty.
That would seem to suggest that the United Nations would have jurisdiction over any nation that wanted to break any part of the treaty. If that is so, I think the matter is in good hands. A safeguard of this nature or something even stronger is vitally necessary, for many changes could occur Lj the thinking of nations in the next 30 years, if we are still here during that period.
The honorable member for Lilley mentioned that, in disputes that may arise, the parties must first try to resolve their differences by negotiation, inquiry, mediation, conciliation, arbitration, judicial settlement or other peaceful means of their own choice. The dispute would be referred to the International Court of Justice if they failed to reach agreement between themselves. That is a remarkable provision in a treaty. A similar provision relates to industrial disputes in Australia. We have our Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission, and conciliation is a paramount feature of our arbitration system. But here a provision requiring conciliation to be attempted is written into an international agreement. When we can get around a table and discuss our disputes, we have a much better chance of solving them, and this is much preferable to tearing at each other’s throats in a court of law. We hope that any dispute that may arise in the 30 years of this treaty will be solved by conciliation. Instead of union leaders gathering around a table with management, nations will be gathered around the table to resolve their disputes by peaceful means.
Any research in the Antarctic in the next 30 years must not be of a warlike character or done with a warlike intent. Australia of all the nations concerned with the treaty would be in the greatest jeopardy if any nation acted with warlike intent in the
Antarctic. The Antarctic, of course, would be an excellent site for a rocket base, and we know what would happen if a rocket base were established there. We have heard talk of our enemies to the north, but if a hostile country established a rocket base in the Antarctic, we could be attacked from the south. The provision that no nation shall act with warlike intent must be policed carefully.
Another point mentioned by the honorable member for Lilley (Mr. Wight), which I thought was of particular interest, was that under this treaty Australia is giving up more than the other signatories. I agree with him that she is. Some of the signatories are giving up virtually nothing, and Australia has set a wonderful example to all countries in connexion with territorial claims in this instance. But I should like to mention something which I think counter-balances that gesture. I refer to Article IV of the schedule, which reads -
Nothing contained in the present Treaty shall be interpreted as -
a renunciation by any Contracting Party of previously asserted rights or of claims to territorial sovereignty in Antarctica;
a renunciation or diminution by any Contracting Party of any basis of claim to territorial sovereignty in Antarctica which it may have whether as a result of its activities or those of its nations in Antarctica, or otherwise;
prejudicing the position of any Contracting Party as regards its recognition or non-recognition of any other State’s right or claim or basis of claim to territorial sovereignty in Antarctica.
It goes on to provide -
No new claim, or enlargement of an existing claim, to territorial sovereignty in Antarctica shall be asserted while the present Treaty is in force.
I think that to some extent that covers the point raised by the honorable member for Lilley. We are not giving up our claims in Antarctica for good; we are not giving away that vast territory that rightly belongs to Australia. Australia is making no renunciation of her territory. Rather, she is agreeing to a suspension of her rights for the general good in order that the treaty might be negotiated successfully. The treaty provides that no nation may take any other nation’s territory by any means whatever. If, at the end of the 34 years, the nations concerned feel that the purposes of the treaty have been fulfilled and wish to revert to the present situation, Australia shall immediately become repossessed of her present rights and her territories. I submit that that answers to some extent the fears expressed a moment ago by the honorable member for Lilley.
It is wonderful to think that this treaty has been arrived at after all the heroic exploits of those who pioneered Antarctica. Men like Amundsen and Scott would rejoice, if they were alive to-day, at the fact that this treaty is being ratified by so many nations. Men such as they suffered great hardships in pioneering the area. Some died in their attempts to discover a way to the South Pole and in seeking to uncover the mineral wealth of Antarctica 48 years ago. Those of the Antarctic explorers who are still alive must find cause for great rejoicing at the thought that we are now entering into a treaty which provides that Antarctica shall be used for peaceful purposes only. It is certainly a wonderful tribute to those who died in seeking to explore it, and it is surely unique and historic to find in a treaty such provisions as -
Recognizing that it is in the interest of all mankind that Antarctica shall continue forever to be used exclusively for peaceful purposes and shall not become the scene or object of international discord.
Antarctica shall be used for peaceful purposes only. There shall be prohibited, inter alia, any measures of a military nature, such as the establishment of military bases and fortifications, the carrying out of military maneuvers, as well as the testing of any type of weapons.
Surely this is an historic, indeed a unique, occasion in the annals of mankind and of acts of parliament of all nations. Surely it is wonderful to be living at a time when we can agree unanimously to the affixing of our signature to such an historic treaty.
.- It is always a matter for regret when one cannot give wholehearted approval to what has taken place, but I feel I must join the honorable member for Lilley (Mr. Wight) in expressing some doubts in relation to the proposed treaty. First, let me say that it is undoubtedly a great achievement to arrive at a treaty at all. Again, as the Minister has said, it cannot be doubted that there are certain advantages to be gained under it. For instance, it safeguards our territorial sovereignty; we shall know where we are, generally speaking, for at least 34 years. We will also benefit from the removal of threats to our security from the south. We will benefit greatly, too, as the Minister has said, from the accumulation and free international exchange of scientific information; and we shall be able to continue those scientific activities and exploration which Australia has been pioneering so well. To those advantages I would add that mentioned by the honorable member for Wilmot (Mr. Duthie), who has pointed out that we are assured that Antarctica will not be used for such purposes as a rocket base.
Although such advantages are to be gained from a treaty such as this, I feel that those who have gone so far as to suggest that the treaty ushers in a minor millennium are not facing the facts. First, I point out <that it has not been possible to insert a provision to the effect that disputes shall be referred to the International Court of Justice. This means in effect that if any dispute should arise in Antarctica it will have to be solved by power politics. In those circumstances, I cannot feel that we have gone very far in international relations for we should be able to agree about disputes connected with an area such as Antarctica where, as yet, no possible material advantages seem to us to be capable of realization. We have not even reached the stage where, if we have some small argument about something connected with the area, we can refer it to the International Court of Justice for decision. That being so, I feel that we have not been able to get very far. All that we have been able to do has been to agree not to differ for at least 34 years.
– ‘But disputes can be submitted to the International Court of Justice.
– Disputes can be referred to the International Court of Justice only if the parties are agreeable. They cannot be referred if the parties are not agreeable. We have an example of that to-day in Indonesia’s refusal to submit her claims with respect to western New Guinea to the International Court of Justice. Because she will not agree to take that course, it simply means that the problem can be solved only by power politics. By what other means can it be solved? The truth is that we have simply agreed to a treaty which says that so long as everything is all right everything will be all right. Perhaps we have gone a shade further in that we have agreed that matters in dispute shall be the subject of negotiation; and I must agree that that is some achievement. I am merely pointing out that we have not achieved the millennium, and I am suggesting that in those circumstances our constant aim in future must be to get the nations together to decide the question of sovereignty in Antarctica. So far, we have not been able to decide it as a matter of recognition.
In this debate, we have been told that, if anything, Australia has given away some of her rights or privileges because she has consistently taken steps which, under international law, would entitle her to claim nearly 3,000,000 square miles of territory. But in spite of the fact that she has done everything necessary - that she has gone through all the motions internationally - she has still said, “ We are prepared to put this question in cold storage for at least 34 years “. So Australia has contributed greatly towards an international approach to this question. But to say that because Australia has made that contribution the whole question is solved is to be simply a hopeless optimist. As has been said this evening, let us suppose that oil or uranium is found in some part of Antarctica.
– There will be an all-time record brawl then.
– The honorable member mentions the likelihood of an all-time record brawl, and there is not in this treaty one provision that can prevent serious trouble if an important find of a very important mineral is made. All that the treaty provides is that without prejudice to various provisions in it the contracting parties shall, when a dispute arises, immediately consult with a view to reaching a mutually acceptable solution. If they cannot reach a solution by mutual agreement, they have no solution. I hope that if at any time Australia finds uranium or any other very valuable mineral which can be mined in its Antarctic territory economically, she certainly will not relinquish her rights to that material just because another nation says, “ You do not need it “.
The treaty also states that any dispute regarding the interpretation or application of the treaty which is not so resolved shall, with the consent in each case of all parties, be referred to the international Court of
Justice for settlement. I emphasize that this can be done only with the consent in each case of all parties. We must not be unfair. We must not minimize the importance of parties getting together and talking about things such as this and signing a treaty, but at the same time we must not blind ourselves to the fact that all that we are doing is agreeing to try to look to the future in a peaceful way. We are not resolving the future. We are not saying that there shall be peace for all time. We are saying, in effect, that we hope there will be peace for all time and that, after 34 years, some other arrangement may be made by a majority of the parties.
I suggest that we be thoroughly realistic and keep our feet on the ground - that we do not talk a lot of airy-fairy nonsense about this treaty, that we appreciate all the time that all we have done is to put our rights in cold storage for at least 34 years, and that we try consistently from now on to get other nations to agree to take their claims before the International Court of Justice if sovereignty cannot now be resolved, so that this international court may decide who owns which part of Antarctica. Until we solve the question of sovereignty, we cannot sit back and say, “ We have arrived at a peaceful solution. All is well in this world.”
.- in reply- Mr. Deputy Speaker, it is very gratifying indeed to hear the general approval with which the House has received this bill and to observe the comparative unanimity shown by the House. At this stage, I only want to address myself for a few minutes to some of the matters which have been raised. The honorable member for Chisholm (Sir Wilfrid Kent Hughes) suggested that Royal Australian Air Force crews be allowed to fly in Antarctica with crews of the United States Air Force in order to gain experience in flying heavy transport aircraft in Antarctic conditions. He gracefully acknowledged the work of members of the Royal Australian Air Force in flying the light aircraft which they operate in the Antarctic in the difficult and dangerous conditions, and suggested that whole crews of transport aircraft be given an opportunity to gain Antarctic experience. The possibility has not gone unnoticed, and the honorable member will be glad to hear that arrangements are now being made, not for this to be done on the scale that he has suggested, but for a senior officer of the Air Force with experience in heavy transport aircraft to go to the Antarctic with an American aircraft in the near future.
– Do not aircraft fly there only between now and the middle of December?
– They fly there for only a short time. Arrangements are in hand for an Australian officer to go with the next American aircraft.
– As an observer?
– As an observer.
The honorable member also mentioned Kerguelen Island. I understand that it is a French island and that Australia does not claim sovereignty over it. We acknowledge French sovereignty. The base there is in fact a French base on a French island.
– I should have said “ Macquarie Island “. I am sorry for the mistake.
– I thought I should mention it just to put the record straight. I understood that.
I turn now to the remarks of the honorable member for Lilley (Mr. Wight), who said that in the negotiations for this treaty Australia had given up most. I doubt whether that can really be sustained. It is our claim that we have given up nothing. We have gained, as other nations have gained, through the treaty, but we have given away no rights. We have not sought any rights and we have not acknowledged any rights claimed by other countries which we did not acknowledge previously.
The honorable member also took some objection to the fact that the Parliament is not being asked formally to ratify the treaty by means of this bill. The Government does not agree with his view. Both the law and the practice in the British Commonwealth are that the ratification of treaties is a matter for the Executive. To ratify a treaty is a prerogative of the Crown. What the Government has done by annexing the treaty to this bill has given the Parliament ample opportunity to express its opinions about the treaty, and the Parliament has in fact done that.
The honorable member for Lilley remarked also that the treaty contains no provision for the circumstance which would arise if, for example, a deposit of valuable minerals were found in Antarctica. It was this Government’s policy to avoid discussion on this subject at Washington, because it could easily have prejudiced the whole negotiations. They were concerned primarily with de-militarizing of the area and with scientific research and co-operation in research. In order to reach agreement between nations with very diverse views which are signatories to the treaty, it was necessary to confine the negotiations strictly to the purposes in hand, and that was done.
I point out to the honorable member for Wide Bay (Mr. Bandidt) that we have given away nothing. I gathered from his remarks that he felt that we were the losers in the signing of this treaty - that we had given up something. That is not so. We have not given up anything and we have, in fact, gained a great deal by this treaty, as have the other signatories also. The treaty safeguards our territorial sovereignty in the sense that our position will be the same at least for another 34 years. Our sovereignty, which we claim but which has not been acknowledged by others, cannot be disputed for the next 34 years. We will benefit greatly as a nation by the removal of the threats to our security which could’ otherwise have existed to the south and we will also benefit very greatly from the accumulation of scientific information and by the free international exchange of that information.
I think that the House generally recognizes the value of this treaty. I agree withmy friend from Wide Bay that it would be a mistake to try to draw from this treaty conclusions which are too wide. As he said, it does not bring about any millennium, but it does achieve, within its limits, certain purposes of great importance to this country, and it does give one at least a glimmer of hope that there are fields in which treaties of this nature can be negotiated, even among those groups of nations which are in such disagreement on many other matters.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
.- I should like to make a brief reference to Article IV. of the Schedule, which reads -
Nothing contained in the present Treaty shall be interpreted as:
A renunciation by any Contracting Party of previously asserted rights of or claims to territorial sovereignty in Antarctica.
I think it is right that the committee should know that prior to the countries concerned entering into negotiatons on this treaty, some consideration was given by the United States of America, New Zealand, France and Australia to an alternative proposition. In view of the discussions that have occurred, I think that that alternative proposition should be revealed to-night.
It will be recalled that the area in the Antarctic continent between 90 degrees and 15 degrees west longitude has been claimed by no nation. A suggestion was made that the United States might claim this area and then agreement could be reached between the United States, New Zealand, France and Australia to form a body that should be a unit to administer the entire area claimed by those countries. If this had happened, there would have been a complete protection for Australia in the event of any find in the Antarctic territory of mineral resources that were of value to Australia for defence or economic development. This suggestion was not proceeded with because the Australian Government felt that it would be better if we could come to an agreement such as the one that we have before us; but I do not believe that in the minds of those negotiating there did exist the knowledge that there was a great need to protect Australia’s rights in the future, in the period of 34 years which is the minimum period of operation of the treaty, in the event of discoveries of wealth of an economic or defence significance. I feel that in the negotiations this should have been used as a lever and that consideration should have been given to protecting Australia’s rights and the avoidance of disputes that might occur in the event of discoveries of that nature.
I am not suggesting by my remarks that I think that the originally discussed agreement between the United States, New
Zealand, France and Australia would have been a better proposition than this treaty, but I feel that the treaty, as it stands, does lack that protection. I still think it is essential that this should not be avoided, as has been suggested by the Minister, but should be given very real consideration, because it is possible that within ten or twenty years the absence from the treaty of such a clause could involve all the signatories in a matter of great dispute, which is something that the treaty seeks to avoid.
– I should like to thank the Minister for Air (Mr. Osborne) for directing attention to the mistake that I made in saying Kerguelen Island instead of Macquarie Island. The two islands where we have stations are Heard Island and Macquarie Island. I was not aware that I had said Kerguelen Island, which was named after the famous French explorer, Monsieur Kerguelen-Tremarec, who originally discovered the island and called it Island of Desolation. Somebody altered the name in order to commemorate his exploration.
.- I have something to say in the same strain as the remarks of the honorable member for Chisholm (Sir Wilfrid Kent Hughes). A little while ago I referred to the pioneers of the Antarctic and I missed out the famous name of Sir Ernest Shackelton. I should like his name to be inserted in the record, along with the names of Amundsen and Scott.
Bill agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
Bill - by leave - read a third time.
House adjourned at 10.54 p.m.
The following answers to questions were circulated: -
d asked the Minister for Social Services, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
Date of Commencement - 1st July, 1941- 5s. (5.81 per cent.). 26th June, 1945- 7s. 6d. (7.81 per cent.). 9th November, 1948- 10s. (8.40 per cent.).
Unmarried persons under eighteen years - 15s. (15.63 per cent.).
Unmarried persons eighteen-twenty years - £1 (20.83 per cent.).
Adults and married minors - £1 5s. (26.04 per cent.).
Additional benefit for dependent spouse - £1 (20.83 per cent.).
Additional benefit for one child - 5s. (5.21 per cent.)
The changes in rates since 1950 are contained in a document already available to honorable members. I have, therefore, had the effective dates inserted in a copy of the document and incorporate this copy, which is attached, as part of my reply.
Age and Invalid Pensions.
Rates. 1950. An increase of 7s. 6d. per week to raise the pension to £2 10s. per week (effective date 2nd November, 1950). 1951. An increase of 10s. per week to raise the pension to £3 per week (effective date 1st November, 1951). 1952. An increase of 7s. 6d. per week to raise the pension to £3 7s. 6d. per week (effective date 2nd October, 1952). 1953. An increase of 2s. 6d. per week to raise the pension to £3 10s. per week (effective date 29th October, 1953). 1955. An increase of 10s. per week to raise the pension to £4 per week (effective date 27th October, 1955). 1957. An increase of 7s. 6d. per week to raise the pension to £4 7s. 6d. per week (effective date 24th October, 1957). 1959. An increase of 7s. 6d. per week to raise the pension to £4 15s. per week (effective date 8th October, 1959). 1960. An increase of 5s. per week to raise the pension to £5 per week (effective date 6th October, 1960).
This is a money increase of £2 17s. 6d. per week or a 135.3 per cent, increase over the rate of pension payable by the Labour Government in December, 1949. 1956. Invalid pensioners with two or more children granted additional pension of 10s. per week for each child after the first (effective from 11th October, 1956). 1958. Supplementary assistance of 10s. per week to unmarried pensioners (or married pensioners where spouse is not in receipt of a pension or allowance) who pay rent and are entirely dependent on their pensions (effective from 23rd October, 1958).
Permissible income - 1953. Increased by 10s. to £2 per week. 1954. Increased by £1 10s. to £3 10s. per week.
The provision allowing additional permissible income where there are dependent children under sixteen years was liberalized in 1951 by no longer taking into account child’s allowance and child endowment and, in 1952, the additional permissible income was increased by 5s. to 10s. per week in respect of each such dependent child. 1954. Income from property disregarded. 1955. Ceiling limits on age and invalid pension plus war pension abolished. 1958. Benefits received from registered hospital benefit organizations wholly exempted from income.
Property. - The property limit beyond which no pension is payable - 1951. Increased by £250 to raise limit to £1,000. 1953. Increased by £250 to raise limit to £1,250. 1954. Increased by £500 to raise limit to £1,750. 1958. Increased by £500 to raise limit to £2,250.
The Director-General, in 1951, was granted discretionary power to disregard property in certain circumstances.
The exemption for money or other property - 1953. Increased by £50 to £150. 1954. Increased by £50 to £200.
The special exemption of the surrender value of life assurance policies - 1950. Increased by £300 to raise it to £500. 1951. Increased by £250 to raise it to £750.
The special exemption of reversionary interests - 1951. Increased by £250 to raise it to £750. 1953. All reversionary interests exempted completely.
Adequate maintenance - 1952. Adequate maintenance provisions repealed and parents’ circumstances disregarded entirely in determining the claimant’s eligibility for an invalid pension.
Merged means test. - See page 5.
Wives and Children’s Allowances.
Wife’s allowance - 1951. An increase of 6s. per week to raise it to, £1 10s. per week. 1952. An increase of 5s. per week to raise it to £1 15s. per week. (These allowances are payable to wives of invalid pensioners and to wives of age pensioners who are permanently incapacitated for work.)
Child’s allowance - 1951. An increase of 2s. 6d. per week to raise it to11s. 6d. per week. (These allowances are payable for the first or only children under sixteen years of invalid (or permanently incapacitated age) pensioners.) .
Rates. - (Same as for age and invalid pensions) - 1952. A pension of £3 per week free of means test for blind persons introduced, additional pension being payable, subject to the means test, to bring the rate up to the maximum pension. 1954. The means test completely abolished for the blind. 1956. Blind pensioners with two or more children granted additional pension of 10s. per week for each child after the first, subject to the means test.
Income - 1950. An increase of £2 2s. 6d. per week in permissible income to raise it to £8 per week. 1951. An increase of £2 per week in permissible income to raise it to £10 per week. 1952. Income means test abolished for pension of £3 per week.* 1954. Income means test abolished for full pension.
Property - 1952. Property means test abolished for pension of £3 per week.* 1954. Property means test abolished for full pension.
Child’s Allowance. 1953. Provision made for payment of allowance of11s. 6d. per week in addition to the means test free pension.
Additional pension, up to maximum, payable subject to means test for blind persons.
Class A (widow with one or more children under sixteen) - 1950. An increase of 7s. 6d. per week to raise pension to £2 15s. per week (effective date 7th November, 1950). 1951. An increase of 10s. per week to raise pension to £3 5s. per week (effective date 6th November, 1951). 1952. An increase of 7s. 6d. per week to raise pension to £3 12s. 6d. per week (effective date 7th October, 1952). 1953.. An increase of 2s. 6d. per week to raise pension to £3 15s. per week (effective date 3rd November, 1953). 1955. An increase of 10s. per week to raise pension to £4 5s. per week (effective date 1st November, 1955). 1957. An increase of 7s. 6d. per week to raise pension to £4 12s. 6d. per week (effective date 29th October, 1957). 1959. An increase of 7s. 6d. per week to raise pension to £5 per week (effective date 13th October, 1959). 1960. An increase of 5s. per week to raise pension to £5 5s. per week (effective date 11th October, 1960).
This is a money increase of £2 17s. 6d. per week or a 121.1 per cent, increase over the rate of pension payable by the Labour Government in December, 1949. 1956. Class A widows with two or more children granted additional pension of 10s. per week for each child after the first (effective date 16th October, 1956).
Class B (widow over 50, with no children under sixteen) - 1950. An increase of 5s. per week to raise pension to £2 2s. per week (effective date 7th November, 1950). 1951. An increase of 8s. per week to raise pension to £2 10s. per week (effective date 6th November, 1951). 1952. An increase of 5s. per week to raise pension to £2 15s. per week (effective date 7th October, 1952). 1953. An increase of 2s. 6d. per week to raise pension to £2 17s. 6d. per week (effective date 3rd November, 1953). 1955. An increase of 10s. per week to raise pension to £3 7s. 6d. per week (effective date 1st November, 1955). 1957. An increase of 7s. 6d. per week to raise pension to £3 15s. per week (effective date 29th October, 1957). 1959. An increase of 7s. 6d. per week to raise pension to £4 2s. 6d. per week (effective date 13th October, 1959). 1960. An increase of 5s. per week to raise pension to £4 7s. 6d. per week (effective date 11th October, 1960).
This is a money increase of £2 10s. 6d. per week or a 136.5 per cent, increase over the rate of pension payable by the Labour Government in 1949. (The increases in 1959 and earlier years quoted for Class B also applied to Class D.)
Class C (other widows in necessitous circumstances - pension payable generally for not more than six months from date of husband’s death) - 1950. An increase of 5s. per week to raise pension to £2 7s. 6d. per week (effective date 7th November, 1950). 1951. An increase of 2s. 6d. per week to raise pension to £2 10s. per week (effective date 6th November, 1951). 1952. An increase of 5s. per week to raise pension to £2 15s. per week (effective date 7th October, 1952). 1953. An increase of 2s. 6d. per week to raise pension to £2 17s. 6d. per week (effective date 3rd November, 1953). 1955. An increase of 10s. per week to raise pension to £3 7s. 6d. per week (effective date 1st November, 1955). 1957. An increase of 7s. 6d. per week to raise pension to £3 15s. per week (effective date 29th October, 1957). 1959. An increase of 7s. 6d. per week to raise pension to £4 2s. 6d. per week (effective date 13th October, 1959). 1960. An increase of 5s. per week to raise pension to £4 7s. 6d. per week (effective date 11th October, 1960).
This is a money increase of £2 5s. per week or a 105.9 per cent, increase over the rate of pension payable by the Labour Government in 1949.
Supplementary Assistance - 1958. Supplementary assistance of 10s. per week to widow pensioners in all classes who pay rent and are entirely dependent on their pensions (effective date 28th October, 1958).
Permissible income - 1953. Increased by 10s. to raise it to £2 per week. 1954.Increased by £1 10s. to raise it to £3 10s. per week.
The provision allowing additional permissible income where there are dependent children under sixteen years was liberalized in 1951 by no longer taking into account child endowment and, in 1952, the additional permissible income was increased by 5s. to 10s. per week in respect of each such dependent child. 1954. Income from property disregarded. 1955. Ceiling limits on widows’ pension plus war pension abolished.
Class A. - Property limit beyond which no pension payable - 1951. Increased by £250 to raise limit to £1,250. 1953. Increased by £250 to raise limit to £1,500. 1954. Increased by £250 to raise limit to £1,750. 1958. Increased by £500 to raise limit to £2,250.
Class B. - Property limit beyond which no pension is payable - 1951. Increased by £250 to raise limit to £1,000. 1953. Increased by £250 to raise limit to £1,250. 1954. Increased by £500 to raise limit to £1,750. 1958. Increased by £500 to raise limit to £2,250. (These increases also applied to Class D.)
The exemption for money or other property - 1953. Increased by £50 to £150. 1954. Increased by £50 to £200. (These increases also applied to Class D.)
Merged Means Test.-See page 5.
Miscellaneous. 1952. The residential qualification for widows’ pensions reduced from five years to one year where the couple were residing permanently in Australia when the husband died. 1956. Provision made to enable widows 45-50 years who lose their entitlement to Glass A pension through no longer having the custody, care and control of a child to transfer immediately to Class B pension. 1960. Between 1947 and 1960 Class D pensions were payable to women over 50, or with one or more children under sixteen, whose husbands had been in prison for at least six months. Amending legislation in 1960 abolished Class D pensions and extended eligibility for either Class A or Class B pensions to women whose husbands had been in prison for six months or more.
Merged Means Test for Pensions.
In 1960 amending legislation introduced to provide for a merged means test which will combine the separate income and property tests into one composite unit. The present disqualifying limits of property (£2,250) will be removed but the definitions of “ income “ and “ property “ for pension purposes will not be varied.
The merged means test will come into operation on a date to be proclaimed, probably early in March, 1961.
The operation of the merged means test is explained in subsequent paragraphs. No existing pensions will be reduced under the new test, but many persons now receiving reduced pensions because of property will receive increases; others at present ineligible will be able to quality for pensions.
Age and Invalid Pensions.
Under the merged means test a property component equivalent to £1 for each complete £10 of the value of a pensioner’s property above the present exemption of £200 will be added to his income. This sum will be called the means as assessed. The pension payable in any case will be the maximum rate of pension less” the amount by which means as assessed exceed £182.
Under the merged means test income and property will be interchangeable. Thus the property exemption and: the disqualifying limit of property will both vary according to the amount of the pensioner’s income; in all cases £200 will be disregarded. For a pensioner with no income the property exemption and the disqualifying limit of property will be £2,020 and £4,620, respectively.
The amount of income which a pensioner may have and still receive a full pension will vary with the amount of his property. Similarly the amount of income which just precludes payment of a pension will also depend on the amount of his property. For a pensioner with property valued at less than £210 the amounts of income which permit payment of a pension or which disqualify him from receiving a pension will be £182 and £442 per annum respectively.
In no circumstances will any age or invalid pension be payable where a person has property valued at £4,620 or more.
The merged means test will apply to wives’ allowances on a basis similar to thatfor age and invalid pensions.
The merged means test outlined above in relation to age and invalid pensions will, with some modifications, be applied also to widows’ pensions.
Class A widows may now have property valued at up to £2,250 without any reduction in pension, but property in excess of £2,250 renders them ineligible for pension. The complete exemption of property will remain where property does not exceed £2,250. In such cases the present means test will continued to apply. Where, however, property exceeds £2,250, a property component of £1 for each complete £10 of the value of property in excess of £1,000 will be added to income to comprise the means as assessed. Where the value of property exceeds £2,250 the pension payable will be arrived at by deducting from the maximum rate of pension the amount by which means as assessed exceed £182.
A Class A widow who has no income will receive a full pension unless her property exceeds £2,820; she will remain eligible for some pension until the value of her property reaches £5,550.
In no circumstances will any Class A pension be payable where a widow has property valued at £5,550 or more.
The merged means test for Class B widows will be similar to that for age and invalid pensioners. The property exemption and upper property limit will, in the case of a Class B pensioner who has no income, be £2,020 and £4,300 respectively.
Unemployment and Sickness Benefits.
Unmarried persons under eighteen years - 22nd September, 1952. An increase of 15s. per week to raise benefit to £1 10s. per week (13.22 per cent.). 17th October, 1957. An increase of 5s. per week to raise benefit to £1 15s. per week (13.69 per cent.).
Unmarried persons eighteen to twenty years - 22nd September, 1952. An increase of £1 per week to raise benefit to£2, per week (17.62 per cent.) 17th October, 1957. An increase of 7s. 6d. per week to raise benefit to £2 7s. 6d. per week (18.60 per cent:).
Adults and married minors - 22nd September, 1952. An increase of £1 5s. per week to raise benefit to £2 10s. per week (22.03 per cent.). 17th October, 1957. An increase of 15s. per week to raise benefit to £3 5s. per week (25.39 per cent.).
Additional benefit for dependent spouse - 22nd September,. 1952. An increase of £1 per week to raise benefit to £2 per week (17.62 per cent.). 17th October, 1957. An increase of 7s. 6d. per week to raise benefit to £2 7s. 6d. per week (18.60 per cent.).
Additional benefit for one child - 17th October, 1957. An increase of 5s. per week to raise benefit to 10s. per week (4.41 per cent.).
War pensions have been excluded from “ income “ under the means test for unemployment and sickness benefits.
The period after the date of incapacitation during which a person may claim a sickness benefit without loss of arrears was extended in 1950 from six weeks to thirteen weeks.
The special exemption for income received from a friendly society was increased in 1952 from £1 to £2 per week. In 1958 these benefits were wholly exempted as income.
Amounts received from registered hospital benefit organizations, up* to the amount of the hospital fees paid or payable, were exempted from income in 1952, and in 1953 the exemption was extended to include medical and dental services provided under the National Health Service. These benefits were wholly exempted in 1958.
The special’ exemption from income of any age or invalid pension received by the spouse of a claimant for unemployment benefit increased from £1 to 30s. per week in 1951, 30s. to £2 per week in 1954, and £2 to £2 7s. 6d. per week in 1957.
The permissible income was increased in 1957 as follows: -
Adults and married minors: from £1 to £2 per week.
Unmarried minors: from varying smaller amounts to a flat £1 per week.
Child endowment of 5s. per week (3.7 per cent.) for the first child was introduced in 1950 (i.e., in addition to 10s. per week for each additional child under sixteen years). This amendment cost £13,250,000 per annum. Effective date of commencement was 20th June, 1950.
The period in which child endowment may be claimed without loss of arrears was extended in 1950 from three, to six months after the date of eligibility.
In 1951, the Director-General was given discretionary power to extend, in special circumstances, the period of six months for lodgment of claim without loss of arreas.
Rehabilitation allowances increased on the same scale as invalid pensions (also wife’s and child’s allowance).
Training allowances. - In 1951 increased from £1 to £1 5s; per week; in 1955 increased from £1 5s. to £1 10s. per week.
Living-away-from-home allowances increased as follows: -
Unmarried trainee- 1951. From 15s. to £1 per week for first four weeks of training. 1952. From £1 to £1 5s. per week for firstfour weeks of training. 1955. From £1 5s. per week for first four weeks to £1 15s. per week for first eight weeks of training.
Married trainee without dependent child - 19-51. From £1 10s. to £2 per week for first four weeks of training; from 15s. to £1 per week after first four weeks. 1952. From £2 to £2 10s. per week for first four weeks of training, from £1 to £1 5s. per week after first four weeks. 1955. From £2 10s. per week for first fourweeks to £3 per week for first eight weeks of training; from £1 5s. to £1 10s. per week after first eight weeks.
Married trainee with dependent child (payable during training) - 1951. From £1 10s. to £2 per week. 1952. From £2 to £2 10s. per week. 1955. From £2 10s. to £3 per week.
The period for which treatment or training may be given was extended from two to three years in 1951.
Classes of eligible persons extended in 1955 to include persons in receipt of tuberculosis allowances; and young people fourteen to fifteen years of age who, without rehabilitation treatment and training, would be likely to become pensionable on attaining sixteen years of age.
In. May, 1955, the Director-General was empowered to enter into arrangements whereby persons, other than those eligible to receive treatment and training without cost to themselves, could receive such treatment and training on payment of the cost.
Provision was also made for loans up to £200 to be made to persons not able to enter employment under normal conditions but who could be satisfactorily established on a self-employed basis at home.
In 1958, the requirement that a person must be incapacitated for at least thirteen weeks before he can be accepted for treatment or training was abolished and persons claiming or receiving a special benefit or a widow’s pension were included among the classes of persons eligible for rehabilitation.
In 1959 amending legislation introduced to remove the limited conditions’ under which aboriginal natives could qualify for social service benefits. The new conditions came into operation in February,1960. Provided they are not nomadic or primitive, aboriginal natives now receive social service benefits on the same basis as other members of the community.
Reciprocity with the United Kingdom.
In June, 1953, the Menzies Government concluded a Reciprocal Agreement on Social Security with the United Kingdom. The agreement came into operation on 7th January, 1954. In April, 1958, this was replaced by a new agreement which widened and extended the provisions of the 1954 agreement.
Taxation Concession for Men over 65 Years and Women over 60 Years.
This concession provides that where persons are of pensionable age no tax is payable if their income does not exceed the amount stated below: -
Pensioner Medical Service.
Medical and pharmaceutical benefits for pensioners and their dependants were introduced in 1951. These benefits are of tremendous help to qualified pensioners, relieving them of the financial worry previously associated with sickness.
Homes for the Aged.
Under the Aged Persons Homes Act, which first came into operation in December, 1954, the Government is making grants, on a £2 to £1 basis, to churches and recognized charitable organizations towards the cost of erection, extension or purchase of homes for the aged. The eligible organizations are being encouraged and assisted to provide homes in which aged persons may reside in conditions approaching, as nearly as possible, normal domestic life, and, in the case of married people, with proper regard to the companionship of husband and wife.
The Government has appropriated £1,600,000 for grants under the act during the financial year 1960-61.
d asked the Minister for Social Services, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
y asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Navy, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
m asked the Minister for Health, upon notice -
What have been the dates and terms of arrangements made with the States under Part II. of the National Health Act?
– The answer to the honorable member’s Question is as follows: -
No arrangements have been for the performance by States of the services referred to in Part II. of the National Health Act.
d asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
Will he take steps to have the Commonwealth Employees’ Compensation Act amended to provide that, in determining applications from former national service trainees who suffered injury whilst underoing training, the onus of proof is accepted by the Commonwealth as is the case in respect of claims made under the Repatriation Act?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows: -
No; it would not be appropriate to differentiate in the act between claims made by former national service trainees and other members of the Services.
m asked the Minister for Health, upon notice -
What have been the dates and terms of agreements which he has entered into with the Federal Council of the British Medical Association in Australia for and in respect of the provision by medical practitioners of medical services for pensioners and their dependants?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows: -
The terms and conditions of the agreements entered into with the Federal Council of the British Medical Association in Australia for the provision of medical services for pensioners and their dependants are set out in a document supplied to each medical practitioner participating in the Pensioner Medical Service. This document comprises some five pages of detailed material and I have therefore forwarded a copy to the honorable member.
d asked the Acting Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows: - 1 to 3. I have no doubt whatever that the United Kingdom Government is able to give effect to decisions taken by it and affecting the security of the United Kingdom and to fulfil any comitment which it has undertaken with its allies.
m asked the Minister representing the Acting Minister for External Affairs, upon notice -
What (a) members of the Commonwealth of Nations, (b) parties to the South-East Asia Collective Defence Treaty, and (c) States designated under the Treaty (i) recognize the Government in Peking and (ii) the Government in Taipeh as the Government of China?
– The replies to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
s asked the Minister representing the Acting Minister for External Affairs, upon notice -
– The replies to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
There are a number of governments which have not extended diplomatic recognition to either the Government of the Republic of China or the Peking regime as the Government of China.
s asked the Minister representing the Acting Minister for External Affairs, upon notice -
Which countries, as indicated by statements and voting conduct at the United Nations, favour the allocation of the Chinese seat at the United Nations to (a) the Republic of China or (b) the Government in Formosa?
– The reply to the honorable member’s question is as follows: -
Member’ States have not voted in the United Nations on the question whether the China seat should be occupied by the Government of the Republic of China as it is at present or by the Peking regime (the “ Government of the People’s Republic of China”). Each year since 1951, when the proposal to include that question on the agenda has been made, the General Assembly has decided not to consider it.
On 8th October, 1960, the General Assembly adopted a resolution in this sense by 42 to 34 with 22 absentions. The voting was as follows: -
In favour - Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Bolivia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Eli Salvador, France, Greece, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Iran, Italy, Japan, Jordan, Lebanon, Liberia, Luxembourg, Mexico, The Netherlands. New Zealand, Nicaragua, Pakistan, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, The Philippines, Spain. Thailand, Turkey, South Africa, United Kingdom, United States, Uruguay, Venezuela.
Against - Afghanistan, Albania, Bulgaria, Burma, Byelo-Russia, Cambodia, Ceylon, Cuba, Czechoslovakia, Denmark, Ethiopia, Finland, Ghana, Guinea, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Irak, Ireland, Mali, Morocco, Nepal, Nigeria, Norway, Poland, Roumania, Senegal, Sudan, Sweden, Ukraine, U.S.S.R., U.A.R., Yemen, Yugoslavia.
Abstention - Austria, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Congo (formerly French), Cyprus, Dahomey, Malaya, Gabon, Iceland, Israel, Ivory Coast, Laos, Madagascar, Niger, Portugal, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Togo, Tunisia, Upper Volta, Libya.
d asked the Minister for Labour and National Service, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 18 October 1960, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1960/19601018_reps_23_hor29/>.