25th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. SPEAKER (Hon. Sir John McLeay) took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.
Mr. COPE presented a petition from certain electors of the Commonwealth praying that the Commonwealth Government (1) instruct its representative at the United Nations to condemn the French Government’s proposal to test nuclear weapons in the Pacific, (2) again protest directly to the French Government with a view to cancellation of the tests and (3) use all appropriate means at its disposal to obtain an extension to the treaty to cover underground tests.
Petition received and read.
Mr. JESS presented a petition from certain members of the staff and certain students of the Monash University praying that the Commonwealth Government assist the Government and people of India in their present food crisis and implement the policy of giving one per cent, of Australia’s national income to under-developed countries with India, at this time, as a particular recipient.
Petition received. i FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE TO 1 VICTORIA.
– I ask the Treasurer a question. Has his attention been drawn to a speech in the Legislative Assembly of Victoria last evening in which the Premier, Mr. Bolte, who had earlier accused the Deputy Prime Minister of having said that Victoria would have to increase its rail freights and fares before it came to the Commonwealth Government for further financial assistance, said that if it was not the Deputy Prime Minister who said it it was the Treasurer, and if it was not the Treasurer it was some Treasury official, and (hat in any case it was said, and whoever said it announced it as Federal Government policy at an Australian Loan Council meeting which was chaired by the Deputy Prime Minister? I ask the Treasurer further: Did lie make the statement attributed to him by
Mr. Bolte? Did he hear anyone else make it? Is it Government policy, as further alleged by Mr. Bolte, that unless Victoria raises another £7 million to £8 million in revenue the Commonwealth will give no further financial assistance to Victoria?
– -I would need to have a full account before me of what was said on matters of this kind before I would be disposed to make any comment, if comment appeared appropriate. It is not normal for me to discuss publicly proceedings inside the Loan Council or at those sessions of the Premiers’ Conference which are held in camera, and I do not propose to do so.
– I ask the Minister for Labour and National Service a question about the current dispute at plants of General Motors-Holden’s Pty. Ltd. Will the Minister inform the House of the present position of the dispute and, in particular, of any recent developments?
– On Tuesday in this House I said it was advisable to keep discussions on this industrial dispute to a minimum and in particular to prevent politics from being brought into the settlement of the dispute. I can say that last Saturday, as I have informed the House, the ice was broken. The General Manager of G.M.H. had interviewed the President of the Australian Council of Trade Unions. I am able to inform the House that today I expect negotiations to resume with the object of finding a basis on which agreement may be reached for the resumption of work at G.M.H. factories.
– I ask the Prime Minister a question in his capacity as Minister representing the Acting Minister for Externa] Affairs. Is the right honorable gentleman aware that in the Congo there are Australian nationals doing missionary and welfare work, particularly in remote areas of the country, from whom there has been no recent communication? This situation has caused serious concern to relatives of these people. In view of the present state of national unrest in the Congo, will the Prime Minister inform the House whether the Department of External Affairs has made any arrangements for the protection of Australians in that country, even to the extent of evacuating them should a turn in local events make this step necessary?
– There are some Australians in this general area and, in particular, in the area to which I believe the honorable member is referring, which is controlled by a rebel group. We have no direct representation there; but through the British representative and through the International Red Cross, we have constantly made inquiries. However, the trouble is that nobody may go into the rebel controlled area - entry to it is barred - with one exception. I think that early this month a Red Cross aircraft was allowed in to deliver supplies. Although there is this tremendous difficulty in communications, we understand that the Australians there are not regarded as being in any danger because what they are doing in the area is regarded by the rebels themselves as having great social value.
– Will the Prime Minister write, on behalf of this Parliament, to the heads of the French and Chinese Governments, protesting against any further testing of nuclear weapons in the atmosphere and calling on those Governments to sign the nuclear test ban treaty?
– I venture to say that this is a matter of policy which is canvassed very frequently. But I will convey this suggestion to the Acting Minister for External Affairs.
– Has the attention of the Minister representing the Minister for Civil Aviation been drawn to a report in the Hobart Press yesterday that Miss Australia finalists will not be able to return from the judging in Hobart in the Trans-Australia Airlines Boeing 727 as the Department of Civil Aviation has refused permission for the new jet to land at the Hobart airport until the runway is strengthened? Will the Minister assure the House that the Hobart airport runway will be strengthened as soon as possible to enable Hobart people to see the new jets as well as the new Miss Australia?
– I must apologise for any inconvenience caused to Miss Australia. Perhaps next year’s Miss Australia contestants will be able to use the Hobart airport. I understand that the position at that airport is that at present the runway is long enough to be used by the Boeing 727, but it is being strengthened. By about the middle of next year it will be available for use by the Boeing 727.
– Has the attention of the Minister for Immigration been drawn to the fact that arrangements have been made for a visit to Australia by Chinese scientists during 1 965? Does he know that Australian scientists consider that such a visit would be of great advantage to Australia? In those circumstances, does he propose, in consistency, to implement what he has described as Government policy, that is, to withhold visas from this delegation from a Communist country? Or is it to be taken that he implements that policy only in circumstances that are considered politically expedient, such as when non-Communist ecclesiatics are involved?
– It is quite clear that the Government policy is that applications for visas to be issued to enable people from Communist countries to attend the Australian Congress for International Cooperation and Disarmament will be refused. But it should be noted that scientists, medical people, sportsmen and cultural people have been granted visas to come to this country in the past. Each case will be considered on its merits.
– I direct the attention of the Treasurer to the remarks made by the Chairman of the Export Development Council, Sir John Allison, to the International Chamber of Commerce last night, as reported in the Press today, concerning the encouragement by the Government of both capital exports and capital imports. Will the Treasurer give close consideration to the specific proposals made by Sir John, namely, that dividends and remitted profits resulting from Australian investment overseas should be exempt from income tax, and that all restrictions should be removed from the entry of overseas capital into this country, so that investment capital can flow easily in either direction?
– I am always interested in the thoughtful contributions made by Sir John Allison and I am looking forward to reading a complete account of what he said on the occasion referred to by the honorable member. One of his conclusions is on something which seems to me to be a distinct possibility for Australia in the years ahead; that is, that this country could become an outstanding financial centre in the South East Asian area. This, I think, is another reason why the least practicable restraint should be imposed on the movement of capital into this country. As our holdings of overseas reserves strengthen we will be able to invest more widely overseas, particularly in the South East Asian area. In recent years the Government has liberalised its policy so that organisations which wish to strengthen their position in this area by joining with another enterprise, making some arrangement with a distributing organisation or engaging in joint ventures, now find themselves in a better position to do so because of the relaxation of the normal restraints on overseas investment.
Sir John Allison has given a total figure. I have not had the opportunity to check it but I am sure he would not have used it unless he, in the official position he holds, had made some appropriate inquiries. The figure is an impressive one, showing that a useful amount is being returned to Australia both by way of remitted profits and also because of the ploughing in of profits in countries of investment. In this and other ways the Australian entrepreneur is strengthening our overseas position. It is not generally known that General MotorsHolden’s Pty. Ltd., for example, has developed about 60 export points in different parts of the world, and I am told that while remittances of profits to the parent company last year amounted to about £8 million, the earnings of overseas exchange for Australia from the sale of the products of this organisation amounted to £5 million, and it is estimated that they will be £6 million this year. I only hope that the present difficulties in that organisation can bc speedily resolved, because as long as they continue Australia will be losing export income from this source. As to the last part of the honorable member’s question, which involves a policy aspect, I can do no more at this stage than say that it will be carefully studied.
– My question is directed to the Minister for the Army. I preface it by reminding him that an increasingly intensive advertising campaign is being carried out to induce young men to join the Citizen Military Forces, although at the same time repeated requests for the establishment of a C.M.F. unit in Smithton to serve the needs of the far northwest area of Tasmania have been consistently refused. Will the Minister have this matter examined again in view of the fact that there is a nucleus of officers available and that with the completion of the police boys club building there will be provision for indoor parades, with ample store room facilities, and also that with the establishment of a C.M.F. unit it will be possible to continue the training of boys who have already trained in the very efficient high school cadet corps at the Smithton High School?,
– I will be only too glad to examine the suggestion made by the honorable member for Braddon. I am most anxious to establish C.M.F. centres wherever they can be efficiently and economically established. But we have found that in country areas - and this also relates to a question asked by another honorable member yesterday - unless we can find 50 volunteers prepared to join a unit it is very difficult to maintain an efficient unit. Therefore, that is one of the first things we look for. I will examine the suggestion made by the honorable member in the light of that fact and other factors mentioned by him.
– I desire to ask the Minister for Housing a question. Has the Minister read a statement made by Mr. V. 0’Shannassy, Finance and Staff Officer of the Housing Commission of New South Wales, which was reported as follows -
Low wage earners on incomes of less than £17 10s. a week were not given Commission houses built after the adoption of the 19S6 Housing Agreement. These persons had to wait for vacated 1945 Housing Agreement houses.
If this is the position, will the Minister take the necessary and appropriate action to ensure that persons in the low income group have equal opportunity of renting or owning their own homes as those on a higher income?
– Under the housing agreement with the States there is a general obligation on the States to make houses built under the agreement available to persons on low incomes.
– Mr. Speaker, I wish to raise a point of order. I understand that Mr. O’Shannassy made this statement during a recent court case which is still pending. Would it be proper to answer such a question at this moment?
– I think that this matter is in the hands of the Minister at this stage.
– I did see this statement. It does not seem to involve any particular court procedure but is just a general question of fact. As I was saying, under the agreement with the States there is a general obligation on the States to make houses built under the agreement available to persons on low or moderate incomes. Most of the States do operate various rental rebate schemes of their own for houses built under the 1956-61 agreement. Under the agreement, the Commonwealth has no power at all to direct or influence the States as to their policy in allocating these houses to particular persons.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for Territories. In view of the evidence of the Director of Lands in the Northern Territory before the Public Works Committee to the effect that it was essential to seal roads in the Northern Territory as they were built and the subsequent statement of the manager of the Katherine Meat Works that cattle were suffocating in motor transports due to the dusty nature of the so-called beef roads, again underlining the necessity of sealing them, will the Minister say whether the Government has made a decision to seal these roads and, in the process, save the Australian taxpayers hundreds of thousands of pounds annually in maintenance as well as thousands of pounds worth of cattle?
– The honorable member has referred to recent Press statements regarding cattle suffocating because of dust. I am not able to accept the statement that there have been losses of 15 per cent, in the numbers of cattle going to Katherine because my experience is that dust would be only one factor involved if cattle died. I think we would need to know the condition the cattle were in when put in the trucks and the treatment they received on the way. Nevertheless, the honorable member has raised an important point regarding the sealing of beef roads. This matter is under consideration by the Government. I think we should realise that if we are to seal all the beef roads being built the beef road programme will proceed at a slower rate. In my own experience of roads in remote areas, we are very glad to get firm gravel roads in place of the existing tracks. These are matters which have to be considered. As I mentioned, sealing is under consideration.
– I address a question to the Minister for Social Services. The Minister may recall that recently, in reply to a question concerning the payment of unemployment benefit he said, amongst other things, that people directly involved in an industrial dispute are precluded from receiving the unemployment benefit and that this practice was introduced by the Labour Party some years ago. The Minister may recall also that, surprisingly enough, when he made that statement some honorable members opposite contested his point of view. I astc the honorable gentleman now, in the interests of historical accuracy, whether he is in a position to say when and by whom the practice was introduced.
– I hope the honorable member for Moreton will be good enough to appreciate that I had the information he now seeks when I answered a question addressed to me by, I think, the honorable member for Bonython a fortnight ago. I preferred not to give the information at that time; but, in the light of later events, I agree with the honorable member for Moreton that some sort of public record ought to be made of the facts.
The unemployment benefit was introduced in 1944 by a Labour government. No payments were made until 1945. In general terms, the unemployment benefit was not paid to employees who were engaged in an industrial dispute, but there were no clear policy decisions at that time. However, on 24th April 1947, a committee comprising the then Prime Minister, the Right Honorable J. B. Chifley, the Right Honorable H. V. Evatt and Senator the Honorable N. E. McKenna, decided that the unemployment benefit should not be payable to direct participants in a strike, or to men thrown out of work by a strike of key men which was authorised or sponsored by their organisation, or without sponsorship of their organisation. That is the short answer.
One year later, another conference was convened and held on 23rd April 1948, after which, on 12th May 1948, the then Minister for Social Services, Senator the Honorable N. E. McKenna, announced that all unions represented accepted the principle that the Commonwealth could not permit the unemployment benefit to be used for financing strikes. There has been no deviation from these principles by successive governments since then.
– I ask the Minister for Territories whether he has seen a statement by the American rancher Art Linkletter that the technical level of the Northern Territory cattle industry is backward; that the industry is at about the level at which the United States cattle industry was in the 1840’s. Does the Minister accept these criticisms as justified? If so, what action is the Department of Territories taking to lift the level of cattle handling in the Northern Territory?
– I did see a report of what Mr. Art Linkletter said. That, of course was Mr. Linkletter’s opinion. He compared the present condition of the cattle industry in the Northern Territory with that of the cattle industry in America. I would suggest that in a matter such as this we have to look at the circumstances that have applied in the Northern Territory over a number of years. For instance, we have to remember that cattle prices dropped disastrously in 1922. The cattle industry virtually had no reasonable income during the period from 1922 to the end of the 1940’s. The industry in the Territory has made a tremendous recovery since those years. An abattoir has been established at Katherine and for the first time the graziers and the cattle industry generally in the Northern Territory are getting a reasonable price for beef in the Territory. I believe that the industry in the Northern Territory is making tremendous strides.
– I direct a question to the Prime Minister. Has his attention been drawn to the statement by the leader of the Victorian State Country Party, the Honorable G. C. Moss, reported in this morning’s Press, that the third university in Victoria should be named the Robert Gordon Menzies University? In view of the right honorable gentleman’s significant contribution to education in Australia, particularly in the tertiary field, will he consider consenting to his name being so used, if that is requested?
– I regret to say that I have not observed this very valuable proposal in the Press, but I will follow my usual rule: I will wait until I am asked.
– Will the Minister for Social Services maintain bis inquisitiveness into the payment of social service benefits to people thrown out of work because of strikes, and will he report to the House whether it is not a fact than in 1948 men who were on strike at Thompson’s (Castlemaine) Ltd. foundry in Castlemaine, Victoria, were paid unemployment benefit by the Chifley Labour Government?
– I have no more inquisitiveness than any other man. I have to administer the Act of Parliament given to me by honorable members on both sides of the House. In the administration of that Act of Parliament I have to apply the provisions covering the payment of unemployment benefit to people who qualify for it. The preceding Government excluded from eligibility for unemployment benefit employees who were directly enaged in a strike or who were thrown out of work because their industrial organisations were engaged in a strike.
– I address my question to the Minister for the Navy. I remind him that the Minister for Air recently announced that a simulator has been obtained by the Royal Australian Air Force for the training of crews to fly Mirage aircraft and that in “Defence Report 1964,” at page 19, is a paragraph indicating that 37 officers and 371 ratings will be in the United States of America for training in manning the new Charles F. Adams class destroyers. Oan the Minister say what is the method of training to be adopted in future by the Royal Australian Navy? Is a simulator to be purchased or is it intended to withdraw a ship from service and make it a training ship for crews, or is it intended to have ships partially manned with untrained men - crews under training?
– As the House is well aware, some time ago the Government decided to purchase Charles F. Adams class destroyers from the United States of America and also, I may say, Oberon class submarines from the United Kingdom. Both these decisions pose new problems in respect of training and manning. In the first place, as the honorable member mentioned, a considerable number of personnel was sent to the United States to undergo the kind of training being given to American crews that are to man destroyers of the Charles F. Adams class. The Australian personnel will be ready to man H.M.A.S. “Perth”, the first Australian destroyer of this type, when it is commissioned. Apart from this, other problems concerning crews for these future ships have arisen. Captain Robertson, just prior to his resignation, had prepared for the Naval Board a paper on the training methods to be adopted. I do not think that in relation to naval vessels we can think of a simulator corresponding to that used for the training of Royal Australian Air Force crews to man new aircraft. However, new techniques and new methods are to be adopted in training and new establishments will be provided to prepare crews to man ships engaged in the role of the guided missile destroyers, or D.D.G.’s, as they are known in Naval parlance. I can assure the honorable member and the House that they need have no fear that crews will not be sufficiently trained to enable the ships, when we receive them, to perform the kind of service for which they were designed and built.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Labour and National Service. In view of the Minister’s bitter criticism on Tuesday last of members of the Waterside Workers Federation of Australia for their embargo on the loading and unloading of goods being shipped to and from South Africa, because of the apartheid policy of the Government of that country I ask: Does the Minister direct similar criticism at the political embargo by the United States of America on goods shipped to and from little Cuba?
– Sometimes, I find the honorable gentleman incomprehensible. This time, he has exceeded expectations and is more incomprehensible than usual.
– I direct a question to the Prime Minister. In view of the outstanding success of Alderman W. Northam, of the Sydney City Council, in winning a gold medal at the Tokyo Olympic Games in his 5.5 metre class yacht, the “Barrenjoey”, and the fact that he is reported to be the oldest competitor in the 1964 Olympic Games at the age of 60, does the Prime Minister consider that the adage that life begins at 40 is now outdated and that no Australian is older than he feels? Does he also consider that there is a case for the extension of the present commonly accepted retiring age in industry of 65, possibly to 72 years?
– There is a good deal of force in what the honorable member has said. I occasionally try to entertain the belief that life begins at 69. I admit that I maintain the belief with increasing difficulty.
– I wish to ask the Prime Minister a question. In view of his reluctance to convey congratulations to Mr. Harold Wilson, the new Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, in rather sharp contrast to his willingness to send a message of warm regard to Tunku Abdul Rahman on his re-election, can the right honorable gentleman say whether the Australian nation is correct in interpreting his attitude, as it is now doing, as an indication that he no longer regards himself as British to the boot heels?
– As usual, all the assumptions in the honorable member’s question arc false.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for the Army. In answer to a question in this House recently, the Minister said that certain quantities of . 303 ammunition would be available to rifle clubs up to June 1965 and that no further issues would be made thereafter. I ask: Does this mean that the supply of . 303 ammunition will then be exhausted, or will such ammunition be available to rifle clubs at nominal cost?
– No ammunition apart from that required by the army will be available and no further supplies will be available to rifle clubs from the Army after the middle of 1965.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Repatriation. I refer to the case of a boy of four years who was born with a congenital deformity - the absence of the lower legs and a deformity of both hands. The child is not a thalidomide baby. I ask the Minister whether it is possible to arrange to help the child through his stages of growth requiring the use of artificial limbs. I further inquire whether the artificial limbs could be supplied by the Repatriation Artificial Limb and Appliance Centre as a social service. If the Minister is not able to help, can he suggest any other avenues through which the Government could help the child?
– The Repatriation Artificial Limb and Appliance Centres are established principally to supply limbs and appliances to repatriation patients. However, when there is a surplus capacity, we also provide limbs and appliances for people who have been referred to us by other Commonwealth departments, and sometimes for the public generally when cases are referred by medical officers. In all these circumstances, we merely act as manufacturers and are paid for the work we do. I do not know off hand of any Commonwealth department that would be able to assist in the case mentioned by the honorable member. As he said, some unfortunate congenital cases, known as thalidomide babies, are assisted by the Commonwealth Department of Health jointly with certain State departments and limbs and appliances are provided, these being paid for by the departments concerned. I understand that the Department of Social Services could help people over the age of 16 years who would perhaps be eligible for the invalid pension. However, I will look at the case very carefully, because I appreciate that sympathetic consideration should be given to it. I shall see whether there is any possible way in which assistance can be given.
– I address a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Defence. Can he inform the House what proportion of the enlistments in the permanent Navy, Army and Air Force, taken over any recent period, have seen service in the school cadet corps? If these figures cannot be computed, can the Department of Defence arrange for them to be kept in future in order to give military specialists, the House and the Australian people a means of assessing the worth of the corps as an incentive to youths to devote their lives to the honorable profession of arms?
– The percentage of entrants to officer training schools who have seen service in the cadet corps is, in round figures, 65 per cent. for the Army, approximately 50 per cent. for the Royal Australian Air Force and I think 10 per cent. for the Royal Australian Navy. The figures are understandably less for general entrants and would be about 10 per cent. for the Army, 4 per cent. for the Navy and 9 per cent. for the Air Force.
– I ask the Acting Minister for Health a question. Is it a fact that some doctors have issued public statements to the effect that some hair sprays, hair restorers and shampoos, unless used correctly, could have a damaging effect upon the health and skin of persons using them? If this is a fact, will the Minister initiate an inquiry into the matter?
– I have no personal knowledge of this matter; I am not a user of the items referred to by the honorable member. However, I will find out whether any information is available.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for Immigration. Is the Minister aware that migrants awaiting permanent employment in Australia have in the past, with the exception of this year, played an important part in the picking of the dried fruits crop in north western Victoria? Will he, even at this early stage, cause plans to be made with a view to available migrant workers being given the opportunity to participate in the harvesting of this important crop during the coming summer thus preventing a recurrence of the confusion that existed this year?
– I am quite aware of the tremendous contribution that has been made by migrants from year to year in harvesting seasonal crops throughout Australia. There is a great demand for their services at the present time when, as we know, there is a period of over-employment. The Department of Immigration works very closely in this matter with the Department of Labour and National Service. I can assure the honorable member that anything that can be done by my Department to provide the proper type of employees through the Department of Labour and National Service will be done.
– I present the following reports of the Public Accounts Committee -
Sixty-seventh Report - Treasury Minutes on the Twenty-first, Twenty-second and Fifty-eighth Reports, together with summaries of those reports.
Sixty-eighth Report - Expenditure from advance to the Treasurer (Appropriation Act 1963-64).
Mr. Speaker, I seek leave to make a statement.
– There being no objection, leave is granted.
– The Sixty-seventh Report sets out the recommendations contained in the Twenty-first, Twenty-second and Fiftyeighth Reports of your committee, together with the Treasury Minutes that it has received and considered. In the Sixty-fifth Report your committee referred to an undertaking given by the Department of the Treasury to supply it with a half-yearly report on outstanding Treasury Minutes, indicating progress made by the departments in dealing with comments made by the committee. The first such report was submitted to your committee on 26th August 1964. The Sixty-eighth Report presents the results of your committee’s investigations into expenditure from the Advance to the Treasurer for the year ended 30th June 1964. Public hearings were held in connection with selected items and our comments appear at the conclusion of the report on each separate item. This information is contained in Chapter II of the report. In Chapter III of the report your committee has made certain general observations regarding the quality of the evidence submitted by departments. During the course of the inquiry the representatives of the Treasury undertook to prepare, in collaboration with your committee’s staff, a suitable pro forma statement and to circulate copies of this to departments for their guidance. It is hoped that this will result in an improvement in the quality of material submitted to your committee for its examination.
Ordered that the reports be printed.
Bill presented by Mr. Harold Holt, and read a first time.
– I move -
That the Bill be now read a second time:
Honorable gentlemen who have not had an opportunity to study the Bill in detail, but at least have in their possession copies of the Bill and of the explanatory memorandum running into 116 pages which accompanies it, will not only have soma understanding of the reasons why it has taken us so long to bring the Bill in final form to the Parliament but will also have have some sympathy with us in the labours which have accompanied its production. This measure follows from the Ligertwood Committee’s report, which I shall go on to explain in more detail in a moment. It will be appreciated that the Bill is the product of a very great deal of labour on the part of expert officers in the Department of the Treasury and in the office of the Commissioner of Taxation. Although it is not in the tradition of the Public Service to single out individual members of it who have made a contribution to the preparation of legislation of this kind, I should like all those who had a major part to play in the Bill’s compilation to be aware that the Government values, as I am sure the Parliament docs, the devotion that they have given to a very difficult and complex task.
By this Bill it is proposed to amend the Income Tax and Social Services Contribution Assessment Act in a number of important respects. Most of the proposed amendments arise out of the Government’s consideration of the report of the Ligertwood Committee on Taxation in relation to tax avoidance. The subjects covered are companies, leases, trusts and partnerships, superannuation funds and alienations of income. The measures proposed by the Bill are complex but so are the situations with which they deal. Complex situations will usually demand complex measures. Every effort has been made to avoid unnecessary complexities in the proposed legislation, but I am sure all honorable members will agree that it would be foolish to sacrifice effective tax reforms at the altar of simplicity. Anyone who has even a nodding acquaintance with modern intricate business and family arrangements in the realm of income tax, or with the income tax laws of other countries that have resulted from these arrangements, would concede that, in this day and age, effective income tax legislation must necessarily take account of a very wide variety of circumstances. I would point out, too, that people who have not gone to the trouble of complicating their business or family arrangements for tax purposes will not generally be affected by the measures proposed in this Bill.
From time to time the Government has been subjected to criticism for what has been called delay in acting on these aspects of the report of the Ligertwood Committee. The truth is, of course, that many of the recommendations of the Committee have already been implemented. Most of these favoured taxpayers. The action now arising out of the report has not been delayed in any avoidable way. The Government has for some time been conscious of the need for reforms in our tax structure. That is why it set up the Ligertwood Committee. As I have said on other occasions, however, the Committee’s report raised very complex issues, and in dealing with it the Government has been anxious to ensure that these received the most mature consideration. The Government has also been desirous that the utmost care should be taken to avoid, as far as possible, any measures that would bear inequitably on particular taxpayers. The measures proposed by the Bill, while broadly based on recommendations of the Ligertwood Committee, do not follow those recommendations in all respects. Some modifications of, and even total departures from, the recommendations have for a variety of reasons been found either necessary or desirable. Nevertheless, I say very positively that in its consideration of what should be done in the various areas of tax avoidance to which the Commitee directed its attention the Government has found the report of immense value. It has provided an invaluable guide which, as I think everyone will agree, has fully justified the Government’s decision to set up the Committee.
In the course of my remarks on the different matters to which the Bill relates I shall try to indicate, in a very broad and brief way, where the Government proposes substantial departures from, or modifications of, the Committee’s recommendations, and the reason why these changes are proposed. The necessity for some of them has been found in situations that have arisen since the Committee made its report and which, of course, the Committee had no opportunity to consider.
I shall begin my remarks on the specific provisions of the Bill with the provisions that deal with companies. For many years now the income tax law has defined companies that are private companies for the purposes of that law. Companies that do not fall within this present definition are public companies for income tax purposes. Private companies are, in the broadest sense, companies that are controlled by a small number of persons. They pay company tax at a lower rate than public companies, but are liable for an additional tax on undistributed profits that is determined after allowance for income tax payable and a permitted scale of profit retention. Following the Ligertwood Committee’s report, the Government increased the permitted scale of profit retention in 1963. The rate of undistributed profits tax is 10s. in the £1.
In the face of tax avoidance devices that came to its notice, the Ligertwood Committee regarded the present definition of private company as inadequate. It thought a better course would be to define a public company, and it recommended that the definition should contain a number of tests which it specified. Companies not meeting these tests would then, with certain exceptions, be regarded as private companies. It is proposed by the Bill to adopt the main features of this recommendation. The basic requirement for public company status proposed by the Committee is that the shares of the company, other than preference shares, be on the official list of a stock exchange. This is proposed to be incorporated in the law, in association with supplementary tests much on the lines of what the Committee proposed, though not as elaborate in some respects.
Speaking in the most general way, it is proposed that a company will be classified as a public company if the ordinary shares issued by the company are, at the end of the relevant year of income, listed on a stock exchange and if, throughout the year, 20 or fewer persons did not own threefourths of the paid-up capital, other than preferred capital, or did not control threefourths of the voting power, or would not be entitled to three-fourths of distributions made by the company. One important modification of the Ligertwood Committee’s recomendation lies in the test concerning capital, voting power and distributions. The Committee proposed that the proportion of two-thirds should apply. The Government has decided to retain the less onerous proportion of three-fourths which has proved adequate in the present law.
Some organisations that are companies for income tax purposes, such as clubs and government-controlled bodies, will not need to satisfy the proposed tests to qualify as public companies; neither will subsidiaries of public companies. In addition, it is proposed that, where the proposed tests can be shown to operate inappropriately to deny public status to a company, the Commissioner of Taxation will be able to classify the company as a public company.
I will now go on to interlocked private companies. The Ligertwood Committee gave consideration to the avoidance of tax by interlocked groups of private companies that circulate dividends among the members of the group. This is done to avoid tax on undistributed profits. It can be done because all dividends paid to a resident company are, in effect, tax-free in the hands of the company, by virtue of a rebate of tax that is applied to them. The Committee recommended that the rebate on dividends received by any company from a private company should be reduced by 15 per cent. It considered that this would discourage the circulation of undistributed profits among members of a group of private companies, because the income would be whittled away in tax as each successive distribution was made year by year.
The Government has concluded, after looking at the matter from all angles, that the Committee’s proposal would operate harshly in some cases and not provide a sufficient deterrent to tax avoidance in others. We recognise, also, that not all groups of private companies exist for tax avoidance purposes and that, in some cases, no reduction of the rebate would be warranted. But it is necessary, nevertheless, to provide a substantial deterrent to such tax avoidance practices. In the end, the Government has decided that the rebate should, in relation to private companies but not public companies that receive dividends from other private companies, be reduced to half the present level, but that the Commissioner of Taxation should be authorised to allow a full rebate where he is satisfied that this is justified by the circumstances of the case. This is broadly the basis of the provisions embodied in the Bill.
The third matter concerning companies dealt with in the Bill is the traffic in shares in companies that have accumulated substantial losses. A loss incurred by a taxpayer in one year may be carried forward as a deduction for income tax purposes against income of the taxpayer of a succeeding year. The maximum period of the carry-forward is seven years. These provisions of the law are equitable and it is not proposed to alter them as they apply in the great majority of cases. One has only had to follow however the financial pages of the daily press to discover that, in some circumstances, these provisions give to shares of a company with accumulated losses a value that is attributable to the taxation saving that attaches to the potential deductions. Income diverted by a profitable public company to another public company with accumulated losses escapes taxation until the losses have been absorbed, even though all the shares in the loss company have changed hands and are owned by quite different people from those who owned them when the losses were incurred.
There are certain provisions in the law which were intended to prohibit a deduction for losses incurred in earlier years by a private company if, broadly speaking, more than 75 per cent, of the shares in the company had changed hands in the meantime. These provisions have proved ineffective. The Ligertwood Committee considered them and, in view of their ineffectiveness in most cases and inappropriate effects in others, recommended their repeal. But the Committee also said that another approach would be to tighten up the provisions and apply them alike to public and private companies. That is the course the Government proposes in this Bill. The opportunity will also be taken to remove some unnecessarily irritating effects which the provisions have had in the past.
In the very broadest terms, it is proposed that, in future, losses of a previous year will not be allowed as deductions against the income of a year of income of any company, unless there is found to be, during both years, a beneficial ownership by the same shareholders of shares in the company that carry at least 40 per cent, of the voting and dividend rights and 40 per cent, of entitlements to distributions of capital in the event of the company being wound up or reducing its capital.
The next matter to which I would refer is the income tax treatment of lease transactions. The Ligertwood Committee drew attention to complexities in the lease provisions of the present law and to tax avoid ance practices that they permit and that are being extensively adopted. The basic principle of the present law in relation to capital premiums paid for leases is that the recipient is taxed and the payer is allowed deductions spread over the unexpired term of the lease at the time the premium is paid.
The procedure followed in relation to the capital cost of improvements made on leasehold property by a lessee is, however, different. If the improvements are made under covenant or with the written consent of the lessor the expenditure is deductible by the lessee over the period that the lease has to run. The lessor is, however, taxed on only a proportion of the estimated value of the improvements as at the end of the lease. For improvements not made under covenant or with written consent, no deduction is permitted in the first instance, but by the simple device of, for example, surrendering the lease to a related company or individual the whole of the expenditure on the improvements becomes deductible. The value of the improvements is not taxed at all to the lessor. Some people and some companies have availed themselves of these opportunities and undoubtedly, now that the device has become more widely known, unless action is promptly taken the loss of revenue will increase.
The inconsistencies apparent from these simple examples are increased if the lessor is a government authority or an exempt institution. In such cases, since no tax is assessed to the lessor, the tax value of deductions allowed to the lessee is never counter-balanced by tax received from the lessor. The Committee recommended action that would have corrected some of the existing anomalies. Other anomalies would have remained untouched. The provisions necessary would have done nothing to remove present complexities and, in some respects, especially in relation to some leases of indefinite duration, would have increased complexities in the law and practical difficulties for both taxpayers and the taxation administration. Even then, partial solutions only would have been provided for some of the problems.
The basic proposal in the Bill is that the lease provisions shall not apply in relation to lease transactions entered into in the future. It is not proposed to alter the general effect of the present law in relation to lease transactions already entered into. Where an entitlement to a deduction now exists in connection with a transaction made in the past, the entitlement will not be withdrawn by reason of the proposed amendments. An additional feature I should mention relates to premiums paid in respect of leases of property not producing assessable income; for example, a premium paid in lieu of rent for a lease of a residence. In such circumstances, the premium is at present assessable income and neither the lessee nor any other person is entitled to a deduction for the premium. There are relatively few premiums paid in these circumstances but, with the introduction of the measures already mentioned, there will be an incentive for landlords of residences, and other properties not used by the occupier in producing assessable Income, to seek the payment of a premium. As an inducement to tenants in a position to pay a premium in lieu of a periodical rent, the lessor could fix the premium at an amount that allowed himself and the lessee to share the tax saving between them. A safeguarding provision to prevent loss of revenue in these circumstances is, therefore, being made.
The next subject of the Bill to which I would refer is the matter of trusts. For a long time now, a special basis of assessment has been authorised in relation to trusts for unmarried minor children of the settlor. The tax payable on this income is the same as though the income were derived by the settlor. The Ligertwood Committee noted that the present provisions have not functioned satisfactorily. It recommended that the provisions be widened in scope and that a tax of 10s. in the £1 bc imposed on income of a trust if the deed authorises the settlor to vary its terms in favour of unmarried minor relatives.
In the light of current practices it is unlikely that implementation of this recommendation would achieve the objectives the Committee had in mind. It is by no means uncommon for several trusts - in some instances as many as 40 or SO - to bc created so as to accumulate income in such a way that the special basis of assessment does not apply. If the taxable income of the trust does not exceed £208 no tax at all is payable on the income accumulated, so the tendency is to create a multiplicity of trusts sufficient to ensure that none of them derives enough income to be taxed.
It is proposed by the Bill to provide for the imposition of a special rate of tax on the income of trusts to which no person has a present entitlement; that is, where income is being accumulated in the trust. The special rate, which will be formally declared by separate legislation at an appropriate time, is proposed to be 10s. in each £1 of income. The Government is quite conscious, however, that it is not the purpose of all such trusts to avoid tax that would otherwise be payable. For this reason, the legislation will oblige the Commissioner to consider all relevant facts and authorise him not to apply the new provisions where it would be unreasonable to do so. The legislation will state various specific matters that the Commissioner must consider for this purpose.
The Ligertwood Committee also made recommendations concerning the taxation of a share of partnership income which a partner does not control. The Bill proposes measures arising out of these recommendations. In broad terms, the Committee proposed that uncontrolled partnership income should be taxed to the partnership as though each of the other partners had received a share of it relative to his agreed share in partnership profits. It is not proposed to adopt this recommendation, principally for the reason that it could bear inequitably on some partners. Instead, it is proposed that the partner lacking control of the income shall be liable for tax on it. The income is to be taxed at the partner’s personal rate of tax or 10s. in the £1, whichever is the higher. Separate legislation declaring the rate will be introduced at an appropriate time.
The Committee also thought that certain partners under 21 years of age should be deemed to lack control of their shares of partnership income. The Government considered that such a provision would be unduly onerous, particularly in farm partnerships. It proposes instead that partners under the age of 16 years shall be deemed to lack control. Allowance will, however, be made for the value of any services rendered by such a partner in producing the partnership’s assessable income. No allowance will be made for interest on the partner’s capital in the partnership. This not only would involve considerable complications but could lead to the purposes of the legislation being defeated by the accumulation of uncontrolled income in the partnership to provide the relevant partner’s share of the capital of the partnership. The Government envisages that there will be cases in which it would not be appropriate for the new provisions relating to partnerships to apply. Provision is being made for the Commissioner not to apply the new legislation in such cases.
I pause here to make a point which, perhaps, will have struck honorable members who have been listening to what I have said. At several points along the road reference has been made to the discretion which will be exercisable by the Commissioner of Taxation. Generally speaking, of course, it is preferable to have the obligations of taxpayers stated in terms as precise and detailed as is practicable. But here we are dealing with arrangements which, as I said at the outset, are complex in character and cover a great variety of circumstances.
On examination, it has been found that the only way in which these matters can be dealt with effectively and with justice to all concerned is to give the Commissioner a considerable measure of discretion in dealing with them. He will have before him the full circumstances of the taxpayer, the family situation and so forth. Rather than try to spell out every conceivable set of circumstances in such detail as to make the scheme administratively impracticable, we have dealt quite broadly, in some instances, with the problem but have left a discretion in the Commissioner which we can be quite certain will be exercised not only with expert background and capcity but also with common sense and equity.
Alienation of income, not accompanied by a transfer of the assets producing the income, is another matter dealt with in the Bill. The Ligertwood Committee recommended that income assigned in this way to a minor unmarried relative of a taxpayer should bear the tax it would have borne if the assignment had not been made. Most people, among them employees on wages and persons in receipt of professional fees, are unable to transfer their income so as to avoid or reduce the tax liability on it. The use of assignments for tax purposes thus provides a sectional advantage for a relatively small proportion of taxpayers. In the light of present practices the Committee’s proposal would have a very limited effect. After the most careful consideration, the Government now proposes that a person who makes an assignment of income to another person, but retains the assets that produce the income, shall be taxed as though the assignment had not been made. The measures proposed by the Bill in this respect will, however, apply to assignments that are, or may be, for a period of less than seven years and are made subsequently to today.
The Ligertwood Committee also made a number of recommendations concerning superannuation funds for employees. I shall first refer to deductions for contributions to these superannuation funds. In this respect, the measures proposed by the Bill broadly follow the plan outlined in general terms by the Committee. A great deal of technical and detailed elaboration of the Committee’s broad outlines has, of course, been necessary.
Turning to the exemption from tax of the income of superannuation funds, the Government has found that these funds fall into three broad classes. There is the traditional class of superannuation fund to which the employer contributes for the benefit of his employees. There is an intermediate class that often caters for the general public, whether employees or otherwise, and which, while serving a useful role in providing retirement benefits for people not able to participate in the traditional type of fund, is, nevertheless, to some extent, used to accumulate tax-free savings for contributors. And there is a third class which, though in the guise of superannuation funds, can only be viewed as means of accumulating taxfree savings. As to the first class of fund, the Ligertwood Committee’s broad proposals are being implemented by the Bill. The income of funds that fall within this class will, generally speaking, continue to be exempt from tax, provided the existing rules regarding investment in public securities are observed.
The Ligertwood Committee took the view that any superannuation fund that did not satisfy the tests it propounded should be taxed on its income to the extent that it exceeded the level of its income for the year ended 30th June 1961. The Committee’s proposal would, in the Government’s view, operate over-severely on a fund established after 30th June 1961, and, at the same time, disproportionately benefit a fund that had an unusually high income in 1961. The Government proposes by this Bill that a fund which does not meet the tests for full exemption will, in effect, be exempt on its income up to an amount equal to 5 per cent, of the cost of its assets, if it meets somewhat different tests from those proposed for funds that may be fully exempt. The Government takes the view that since the level of exemption is to be limited to 5 per cent, of cost of assets it should not apply the “ 30/20” investment rule to such funds.
The Ligertwood Committee also recommended that the exemption of income of any superannuation fund should not extend to dividends and, in certain circumstances, other income derived by the fund from a private company. As to private company dividends, the Government considers a blanket withdrawal of the exemption too severe. It is proposed, instead, that each individual case should be examined on its merits by the Commissioner of Taxation to determine whether such dividends should be taxed in full in the hands of a trustee of a superannuation fund, irrespective of any exemption that would otherwise be available to the fund. Also to be taxed in full, irrespective of any exemption otherwise available, is income from a transaction by a superannuation fund with a person with whom the fund is not dealing at arm’s length. Such income will be taxed in this way if it exceeds the amount that might have been expected to accrue to the fund from the same transaction with a parson at arm’s length.
It is not proposed to vary the rates of tax applicable to the investment income of traditional type funds that may be subject to tax only through failure to comply with the “ 30/20 “ investment rule. It is proposed that other funds that are partially exempt, and those that are not exempt at all, will pay 10s. in the £1 on income that is taxable. This rate is also to be imposed on the income of any fund for employees that is to be taxed in full in the special circumstances to which 1 have already referred. The rate of tax for this purpose is being declared by another Bill which I will introduce later today.
The final matter covered by this Bill concerns payments by a taxpayer to his relatives. In broad terms, these are at present allowed as tax deductions only to the extent that they are reasonable in amount. It is proposed by the Bill to amend the law so that the same basic principles are, in specific terms, applicable to excessive payments by a partnership to a relative of a partner as are now applied to payments by a sole trader to his relatives. It is also proposed that any amount disallowed as a deduction in accordance with the provisions will in general not be taxable in the hands of the recipient.
Before concluding, I should say that, with two exceptions, the new law will operate for the first time in relation to assessments of the income year 1965-66. The amendments concerning leases will be effective as from tomorrow. The amendments relating to certain income of superannuation funds for employees that is derived from private company dividends or transactions not at arm’s length will also be effective as from tomorrow. The amendments relating to alienations of income will only affect alienations made after today. Alienations made later in this financial year will be subject to assessment on the proposed new basis in the year 1965-66.
As I said at the outset, a memorandum giving much more detailed explanations than I could hope to achieve in this introductory speech has been made available to honorable members. I realise that it is difficult to follow as we go along technical matters of the kind I have been presenting to the House. I hope that a study of what I have already said, in association with the very comprehensive explanatory memorandum, will give honorable members a clear understanding of what is proposed. I am confident that if honorable members on both sides make this study and gain this understanding they will give their support to the Bill.
– May I ask when it is proposed to debate the measure? Will it be debated within the next three weeks or does the Minister propose to hold it over?
– There are reasons which make it desirable for thi debate on the Bill to be conducted as soon as practicable. 1 hope that after the next recess period of a week the Opposition will be in a position to debate the measure.
– The Minister realises that there is a lot of homework to do.
– I appreciate that.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Crean) adjourned.
Bill presented by Mr. Harold Holt, and read a first time.
Mr. HAROLD HOLT (Higgins-
Treasurer) [11.53]. - I move -
That the Bill be now read a second lime.
This Bill will amend the Act declaring the rates of income tax payable for the financial year 1964-65. The amendment is necessary to declare the rate of tax payable for the current financial year on certain income of superannuation funds. As I indicated a few minutes time ago, in introducing the Bill to amend the Income Tax Assessment Act, some provisions of that Bill relating to the taxation of certain income of superannuation funds are proposed to be effective as of tomorrow. The provisions proposed to be so effective are those that relate to the income of such funds that is derived, in specified circumstances, from dividends from private companies or transactions not made at arm’s length. Where the provisions apply so that income of either of these kinds is not exempt from tax, the fund, despite any exemption it might otherwise enjoy, is to be liable to pay tax on that income. This liability will subsist in relation to income derived on or after tomorrow - that is, income derived in the current financial year 1964-65.
I have explained in my speech on the Bill to amend the Income Tax Assessment Act that the rate to be applied to such income is proposed to be 10s. in the £1. This rate is to be applied to each £1 of the income. The freedom from tax on income of £208 or less that applies to individual taxpayers will not apply. This Bill formally declares the rate of tax payable by superannuation funds for the financial year 1964-65 on income of the particular types I have described.
I have arranged for honorable members to be provided with a memorandum giving more detailed explanations of the Bill and I now commend the Bill to the House.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Crean) adjourned.
Bill presented by Mr. Harold Holt, and read a first time.
– I move
That the Bill be now read a second time. This Bill is a purely formal measure. Its only purpose is to effect drafting changes in the Income Tax (International Agreements) Act that are consequential on amendments proposed to be made to the Income Tax Assessment Act by the Bill to amend that Act which I introduced earlier today. The technical reasons for the amendments are explained in an explanatory memorandum being made available to honorable members and I do not propose to comment now at any greater length. I commend the Bill to the House.
– When is this Bill likely to be debated?
– The week after we return.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Crean) adjourned.
Bill presented by Mr. Snedden, and read a first time.
– I move -
That the Bill be now read a second time. The purpose of this Bill is to reconstitute the statutory office of Solicitor-General of the Commonwealth, which was created by the Solicitor-General Act 1916. The office has hitherto been held by a distinguished succession of public servants, the permanent heads of the Attorney-General’s Department. They were, of course, the late Sir Robert Garran, the late Sir George
Knowles and, most recently Sir Kenneth Bailey, the present High Commissioner to Canada, who retired as Solicitor-General in July of this year. My distinguished predecessor as Attorney-General announced, towards the end of last year, that when Sir Kenneth Bailey retired, the offices of Solicitor-General and permanent head would be separated. The Solicitor-General will hold a non-political office, and, as in New South Wales and Victoria, he will be kept free of departmental responsibility and administration so that he can concentrate on his function as permanent counsel for the Crown,
I do think that increasing pressures in recent years have made our action inevitable. lt is not possible to administer a great department of state with full effectiveness while appearing in court, and the converse is equally true. Sir Kenneth Bailey made great efforts to free himself for court appearances, and indeed he did appear in court on a remarkable number of occasions. But the appearances were not as many as he, and the Government, would have wished. Their very success made us feel that a Solicitor-General should be free to appear in court whenever an important case required it, because Crown counsel permanently associated with government legal work can bring special qualifications to the conduct of a case or the furnishing of an opinion at the highest level. This, of course, considers the matter from the point of view of maximum effectiveness of the SolicitorGeneral. It is no less important to consider it from the point of view of maximum effectiveness of the Attorney-General’s Department. The Attorney-General’s Department is a great department of state. It has offices in every capital city, and it has responsibilities covering the whole field of Commonwealth law. The permanent head’s proper function today does not include court advocacy, his function being to administer his department and to advise the Attorney-General in regard to legislation, legal policy, law reform and the general conduct of the Commonwealth’s legal business. The conclusion must be that the office of Solicitor-General should become a separate office.
The political officer, that is to say, the Attorney-General, is responsible on the one hand to advise the Government and to act as its counsel, and, on the other hand, to administer a department of state through its permanent head. While the role of the permanent head in relation to the Minister will be readily understood, it is also demonstrable that the Minister needs an officer in a similar relationship to him in regard to his functions as counsel for the Crown. The Solicitor-General will be that officer, taking precedence after the AttorneyGeneral in Federal courts and discharging the function of second law officer of the Commonwealth.
The Solicitor-General will be appointed from among counsel practising at the Bar. He will retain the independence of counsel, because, although he will have only one client, he will during the term of his appointment, be assured of security of tenure. He will, of course, be eligible for appointment to the bench, and both England and Australia have ample precedent for the appointment of a Solicitor-General to judicial office. The term of a Solicitor-General’s appointment is to be a fixed term, not exceeding seven years, but he is to be eligible for re-appointment. The Government’s intention is that his salary be the same as that of the first line of permanent heads, that is to say, the same as that of the Secretary to the Attorney-General’s Department. His pension rights are to be the same as those of a judge under the -Judges’ Pensions Act. The Bill provides for some financial compensation in the event that he is not re-appointed at the end of his term and has to reestablish himself in private practice before he has qualified for pension. In this way the Bill gives proper security to the SolicitorGeneral who will give up a greater income in private practice to become a non-political officer, outside the Public Service, serving different governments in succession.
The Bill contains incidental provisions dealing with delegations, and with existing references in Commonwealth laws to the Solicitor-General. Previous delegations by the Attorney-General under the SolicitorGeneral Act 1916 have been to the Solicitor-General only, but now that the office is to be separate from the office of Secretary to the Attorney-General’s Department it is necessary to have flexibility so that the Attorney-General can delegate to either officer depending on the nature of the power in question. I stress, however, that no delegation is to bc permitted under the
Telephonic Communications (Interception) Act 1.960.
Existing references in Commonwealth laws to the Solicitor-General should hereafter be read as references to the Secretary to the Attorney-General’s Department, because the contexts show that the responsibilities are more departmental than those of counsel. An example is section 6 of the National Debt Sinking Fund Act, which appoints members of the National Debt Commission. Returning to the basic purposes to the Bill, I shall conclude by saying that the Bill recognises the greatly increased pressures of legal work on the Commonwealth, and that I am sure a SolicitorGeneral appointed under its provisions will be welcomed by the legal profession and will serve the Commonwealth with distinction. I commend the Bill to the House.
Debate on (motion by Mr. Whitlam) adjourned.
Bill presented by Mr. Snedden, and read a first time.
– I move -
That the Bill be now read a second time.
The purpose of this Bill is to alter the number of judges who may be appointed to the Commonwealth Industrial Court. The amendment proposed to be made by clause 3 will enable the number of judges, apart from the Chief Judge, to be increased from three to four. Clause 4 deals with an associated matter to which I shall refer in a moment.
When the Commonwealth Industrial Court was established in 1956 provision was made for a Chief Judge and not more than two other judges. This number was, however, soon shown to be insufficient. The Conciliation and Arbitration Act requires that, in general, not less than two judges must sit to constitute the Court. In the early days of the Court, it was the practice to assemble a court of three judges, and the Chief Judge should be in a position to do this whenever occasion calls for it. Unavailability of a judge because of other judicial work or for any other reason can make this impossible and indeed, at times, has caused difficulty in assembling a court of two judges. In 1960 one of the judges went abroad on extended leave of absence. In the same year, the Judge of the Supreme Court of the Australian Capital Territory resigned. Rather than appoint a successor to him at that stage, it was considered preferable to amend the Conciliation and Arbitration Act to enlarge the Industrial Court by one judge so that the Industrial Court judges could between them carry out the functions of the Australian Capital Territory judge as well as their own functions.
Since 1960, therefore, and until recently, the three judges of the Industrial Court, other than the Chief Judge, have done the whole of the judicial work of the Supreme Court of the Australian Capital Territory, but this work so increased that it became necessary, in July of this year, to appoint a judge specifically to that Court. The Industrial Court judges are still required to assist with the judicial work of that Court, and with the rapid growth in population it is clear that that assistance will increasingly be necessary.
The Industrial Court judges are also additional judges of the Supreme Court of the Northern Territory, and, as such, afford relief, when necessary, for the judge of that Court. They aTe also the judges of the Supreme Courts of the smaller external Territories, Cocos Island, Christmas Island, and Norfolk Island. The Chief Judge has, in addition to his strictly judicial duties, undertaken a number of quasi-judicial assignments. Since 1961, he has been the judge appointed under the Navigation Act to conduct courts of marine inquiry. On a number of occasions he has presided over boards of accident inquiry under the Air Navigation Regulations. In 1958 and 1959 he was chairman of the committee appointed to review the copyright law of the Commonwealth, and recently he acted as arbitrator under section 13a of the Copyright Act 1912-1963. He was of course the Royal Commissioner who inquired into the collision between H.M.A.S. “Melbourne” and H.M.A.S. “Voyager”. An example of other calls on the time of one or other of the judges of the Industrial Court is the inquiry at present being undertaken by Mr. Justice Eggleston with a view to recommending standard rates of professorial and other academic salaries as a measure for the purpose of recommending grants to be made to universities. Another example is a recent request from the Government of Fiji for one of our senior judges to be made available to sit as a member of their Court of Appeal, perhaps three times a year and for two or more weeks on each occasion.
I think the time has come when the number of Industrial Court judges, apart from the Chief Judge, must be increased from three to four. The industrial cases in their nature and consequences, are such that they must frequently come on without delay. The Chief Judge has been unable on many occasions to assemble a court of three judges, and the Court has had to sit with only two judges. The Chief Judge should be in a position, after allowing for the absence of judges due to illness, or on leave or on duty elsewhere, to assemble with little or no notice, a court of three judges. It is further necessary to be able to do this while still giving assistance in the increasing judicial work of the Supreme Court of the Australian Capital Territory, and the judges must still be able to cope expeditiously with demands made on them to undertake other judicial assignments such as I have referred to.
Clause 4 of the Bill was included, originally, to place it beyond doubt that acceptance of judicial office in Fiji, which of course is outside the Commonwealth and its Territories, will not create any inconsistency with a judge’s position as a judge of the Industrial Court that might conceivably affect the validity of his commission as such a judge. It was thought proper to state expressly that a judge will receive no remuneration in respect of an appointment such as to Fiji. This, of course, is already the position in regard to Territory commissions a judge may hold. It was also necessary to say, for the purposes only of section 101 of the Act, that a judge absent from Australia performing the duties of an appointment such as to Fiji, would be deemed to be absent on leave, so that, if the powers and functions of the Chief Judge would otherwise devolve upon him, they would then devolve on the judge next below him in the order of seniority.
These were the original considerations behind clause 4. But, in drafting the clause, it appeared undesirable to refer to appointments like Fiji without also referring to judicial appointments in our own Territories, because the judges of the Industrial Court do hold commissions in the various Territories, and the Bill should exclude any possible inference of inconsistency between those commissions and the Industrial Court commissions. As the Territory commissions have been effective for some time, the clause is retrospective in relation to them. I commend the Bill to the House.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Whitlam) adjourned.
– I move -
That the Bill be now read a second time.
This is a Bill for an Act to amend the Air Navigation (Charges) Act 1952-1963 for the purpose of securing an increase in the revenue from the various operators and owners of aircraft who make use of aerodromes and other facilities for air navigation provided, maintained and operated by the Commonwealth. It is the Government’s policy to move progressively towards the ultimate full recovery of that part of the cost of providing facilities that is properly attributable to the industry. Each year, a careful review is made of the ability of the industry to absorb an increase in charges. Increases are not made automatically, but in the present case the increase of 10 per cent, has been decided as fair.
For 1963-64, actual revenue from air navigation charges was £1.87 million. With the 10 per cent, increase now proposed, and with higher revenues resulting from natural growth in the industry, it is estimated that total revenue for 1964-65 will be some £2.1 million. This Bill does not change the method of assessing charges but simply increases by 10 per cent, the unit charges which are based on maximum certified all-up weight of aircraft. The new scale of charges will be applied to all domestic and international airlines and to charter, aerial work and private operators. Operators of light aircraft will pay, in total, an increase of only £6,000. I commend the Bill.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Whitlam) adjourned.
Consideration resumed from 21st October (vide page 2194).
Proposed expenditure, £9,908,000.
Proposed expenditure, £203,976,000.
Broadcasting and Television Services.
Proposed expenditure, £22,338,000.
– I wish to refer only to Broadcasting and Television Services, and to stress the need for television services for the central west and north west of Queensland. Although this has been a matter about which 1 have had a considerable amount of correspondence with Postmasters-General over the past seven years, this is the first time I have raised the matter in this Parliament. 1 listened yesterday with a great deal of interest to the reply given by the PostmasterGeneral (Mr. Hulme) to a question asked by the honorable member for Darling (Mr. Clark) who is desirous of securing for western New South Wales what we are endeavouring to secure for central and north western Queensland.
When the introduction of television services into Australia was first mooted, the Barcaldine Shire Council in central western Queensland asked me, on 23rd September 1957, to make representations to the then Postmaster-General asking that he place on record a request by that shire council for the provision of a television service in central western Queensland. This letter was written on 23rd September 1957, over seven years ago. They have asked that this be recorded because in 1938, when Mr. Lyons was Prime Minister of Australia and visited Longreach he promised the provision of a national radio broadcasting station there, but it was 16 years before the promise was fulfilled. The Barcaldine Shire Council and all other shire councils in western Queensland do not want a 16 years delay in the provision of a television service for the western portions of Queensland.
The years have rolled on since 1957 and no television station is yet in sight, nor has one been promised. We have seen the development of phases 1, 2 and 3 and we know that phase 4 of the development of television services is to be concluded by the end of 1966. We have been informed also that 20 country stations are to bc built in association with phase 4, but none of these will be in western Queensland. On 24rh June this year the then Acting Prime Minister (Mr. McEwen) wrote to me on this matter and informed mc that there would be no commercial television stations in country areas served in phase 4 because the population to be served and the economic capacities of the area would not support a commercial station. That is true of both central west Queensland and north west Queensland. This is all the more reason why the Government should consider providing a national television station for these areas.
It is all very well for Government supporters to say that by the end of phase 4 90 per cent, of the population will be provided with a television service. What is wrong with providing these facilities - these modern amenities - to people who are producing real wealth, be it in the pastoral or in the mining areas of this Commonwealth? I might mention that these people are pretty hostile and pretty savage about their very meagre prospects, judging by the correspondence we have received, of securing a television service after the end of 1966.
The Acting Prime Minister, in his letter regarding provision of a service in central west Queensland, stated that the area concerned was 400 miles from east to west and 200 miles from north to south, and had a population of 25,000. He pointed out that a high powered television station had a radius of about 60 miles from the transmitter. He said that because the concentrations of population were separated by appreciable distances a number of stations would be required to provide a service to the bulk of the population. He said that to provide these would be very costly as, apart from the cost of the main station, considerable expense would be involved in the provision of microwave channels to take programmes throughout the area.
According to Press reports of a statement made yesterday by the Deputy Prime Minister (Mr. McEwen), this Government’s policy is for decentralisation. So far as the provision of a television service is concerned, apparently the policy of decentralisation does not apply to the north west and central west Queensland. The Government talks about what it is doing for the north west of Australia. Mention is made of the beef roads. It was not the western Queensland people who were being considered when the beef road proposition was put up; it was a question of our overseas balances. However, that is another matter.
Television stations should be provided in Queensland’s central west and north west to encourage the decentralisation of population about which the Deputy Prime Minister had so much to say yesterday, according to the Press report. Only a fortnight ago, during the last recess, I was in a town in western Queensland. I was talking to a person associated with the electric power station there. He informed me that a few days previously a fitter who had been in the employ of the electricity authority for a fortnight left because there was no television reception in the area. In other words, he went back to an area where there were modern amenities. If we are to retain skilled men in western Queensland the provision of these amenities is essential. People living in isolated areas far removed from crowded cities and carrying on pastoral and mining industries, paying heavy taxation, high prices for their goods and foodstuffs and extra for freight - with a higher cost of living and being at a disadvantage generally - are told that the provision of a television service would be too costly. These people are not asking for a television station in every town, but they ask for one in central west Queensland and another in north west Queensland. When I say “ these people “ I am referring not only to shire councils, but to chambers of commerce, Australian Labour Party branches, branches of pastoral organisations and so on.
It has been pointed out to me that one of the highest spots in central west Queensland is in the vicinity of Muttaburra. I made some inquiries. In his letter to me the Acting Prime Minister said that the effective range of a television transmitter was 60 miles. If he went to Tully, which is 100 miles north of Townsville, he would see that notwithstanding intervening mountains and other interferences Tully enjoys pretty good tele vision reception from the Townsville station. Muttaburra is situated on the rolling downs of western Queensland. There are no mountain ranges or geographical features to interfere with the signals sent from a transmitter, and from the highest spot in the area, a a population of 22,000, according to the 1961 census, could be served. Of course, the population has grown since that census was taken. The Minister for Housing (Mr. Bury) could say how many new houses have been built in the towns within 125 miles of that point. The area would extend from Tambo and Blackall in the south to as far north as Hughenden, and embraces such towns as Longreach,. Barcaldine, Winton, Richmond and Julia Creek. These towns are all in the heart of the merino country. It is an area of vast primary production which has a favorable influence on the nation’s income and balance of payments overseas, yet the Government takes the attitude that the revenue from viewers’ licence fees and other sources would 6ear little relationship to the expenditure necessary in providing a station. What of the Deputy Prime Minister’s statement yesterday about decentralisation?
The Cloncurry Shire Council, on behalf of the residents of that shire, and the Mount Isa Shire Council urge the establishment of a television station for the north west. Mount Isa and Cloncurry have a joint population of 20,000. That population is growing. Mary Kathleen is situated between Cloncurry and Mount Isa. Whilst at present that town is on a care and maintenance basis, it will be revived and will increase the population of the area by a couple of thousand by the time a television station is built - if it is going to be built in the near future and not in the sweet by and by. Twenty thousand people already could be served just in the Cloncurry and Mount Isa districts. These two towns are only 84 miles apart by road and considerably less in a direct line. I do not know what the distance between them in a direct line is, but it would probably not be much more than 60 miles, which was stated by the Acting Prime Minister in his letter as the range of a high power television station. The population in the north west of Queensland is growing rapidly. Millions of pounds are being spent in the area on mineral development. Everybody knows what is happening at Mount Isa. We all know that millions of pounds will be spent indirectly as a result of the investigations now being made in the area by mining interests. Great wealth is being won on the mining fields of north western Queensland, and this adds considerably to the national income and to our overseas balances. All this is in addition to the wealth being produced by the beef and sheep sections of the pastoral industry in that part of Queensland.
A radio station of high power already exists at Longreach. There is also a national radio station at Mount Isa. I suggest to the Postmaster-General that, when the microwave link between Brisbane and Cairns is completed, the Government immediately switch its efforts to the provision of a microwave link between Townsville and Mount Isa and another between Rockhampton and Longreach. Television translator or repeater stations - call them what you like - could be provided. If this were done, modern entertainment facilities would be provided for people living in isolated places in an area in which this Parliament and the Government want more people to reside. In addition, a better telephonic service would be available and we could avoid the delays that at present occur in respect of trunk line calls to the cities from the north western part of Queensland. These facilities could be provided, in conjunction with microwave links, at centres where radio stations are already established. The staff looking after the radio stations could also look after the television translator or repeater stations, thereby cutting labour costs to the minimum.
We hear all this talk about the Government being able to provide television services only where the local population is sufficiently large because the Government is seeking to get more revenue from viewers to help offset the cost of the national television service. But what about service to the people in the outback, who have only radio entertainment at present? The people of the west, when they learn of new television channels being provided in the cities, feel keenly disappointed because they have no alternative to radio as a medium of entertainment. The only medium of entertainment available to all those people engaged in the pastoral industry and the mining industry in these isolated places is radio. I urge the
Postmaster-General to turn his efforts, on completion of the microwave link between Brisbane and Cairns, to the provision of microwave links between Rockhampton and Longreach and between Townsville and Mount Isa so that people in the north west and central west of Queensland may be able to enjoy the modern amenity of television. This is an amenity that they have earned by their efforts, and they deserve to have the benefit of it. The Government should recognise its obligations to these people. They have already waited seven years for a television service. They want it in the immediate future. They do not want to wait for another seven years before they receive the benefit of this modern amenity.
.- Mr. Temporary Chairman, some time ago, in the early stages of the consideration of the Estimates. I ventured to express the opinion that the Parliament should be able to exercise its traditional authority over public expenditure and that the practices and procedures of the Parliament should be designed to allow it to discharge its responsibility for examining in detail, critically if necessary, the various appropriations sought in measures such as this Appropriation Bill. I now turn from the general principle to what I believe to be a particular illustration of the problems that confront the Parliament in this respect. At page 128 of the Bill, we find a general statement relating to broadcasting and television services which shows that the total appropriation sought this financial year is £22,338,000. The Treasury document, “ Estimates of Receipts and Summary of Estimated Expenditure”, for the current financial year, at page 8, shows that receipts are estimated to total £17,357,000, giving a net difference or loss of £4,981,000. This seems to me to be a somewhat disturbing state of affairs. I link it with the speech just made by my friend, the honorable member for Kennedy (Mr. Riordan). His attitude, I think, was that we should spend more and probably receive less. This sort of attitude is understandable enough in terms of electorate needs, but it is difficult to reconcile with the responsibilities that we who are members of the Parliament share.
Having discovered that, in effect, we propose to budget this financial year for a deficit of £4,981,000 in broadcasting and television services, I started to investigate the figures. It is interesting to note the collection of documents needed to resolve them - the Appropriation Bill, the document entitled “Estimates of Receipts and Summary of Estimated Expenditure”, the annual report of the Australian Broadcasting Commission, the annual report of the Australian Broadcasting Control Board and, finally, the Auditor-General’s Report. These were the documents that I had to examine in my endeavour to carry out the ordinary duties of a member of the Parliament in examining the appropriations sought and the reasons for them. I went back a few years because I was somewhat concerned at the approach to financial affairs indicated by the difference between the revenue and expenditure figures that I have mentioned. I went back to the financial year 1956-57 and noted the expenditures and appropriations as well as the receipts. I also included in my calculations the appropriation and estimated receipts for the current financial year. I find that, in total, expenditure, including the appropriation for 1964-65, on broadcasting and television services amounts to £129,707,416. Receipts total £100,718,819. So, over the nine years that I have taken into account, the total loss amounts to £28,988,597.
I saw that this needed further investigation. So I took out figures for the expenditure made under the authority of the Parliament, including the appropriation for the current financial year, for what is variously described in the respective documents by terms such as “ capital works and services “, “ works and services “ and “ fittings “. The total for the nine years came to £25,420,128. If we assume that this was the total expenditure on capital works of a permanent value nature, the net loss is reduced to £3,568,469. Obviously, the next thing to do was to look at the nature of the capital works expenditure provided for. Here, I began to run into trouble. I say quite bluntly, that it is described in a wide variety of ways in the various documents. lt includes expenditure on the purchase of vehicles and equipment for radio and television services, of buildings, of furniture and of office equipment, a percentage of which, obviously, does not retain its value and depreciates fairly rapidly. So, in the overall picture, the best that any member of the Parliament can say, on the information available to us, is that the net loss on broadcasting and television services over the nine years that I have taken into account is less than £28,988,597 and more than £3,568,469. That is not a very satisfactory situation.
In the course of my studies, I then turned to the annual report of the Australian Broadcasting Commission for 1963-64, which shows that capital expenditure, to use the Commission’s own term, for that financial year totalled £782,420. I leave out the shillings and pence. At page 129 of the Bill, we see that the expenditure last financial year for “ Works Services “, as it is described, for the Commission is staled as £700,000. So there is a difference of £82,420. This makes matters a little confusing. Finally, after considerable effort, I tracked the difference down by going to the Auditor-General’s Report, where more information is given to members of the Parliament, making it possible for us, perhaps, to reconcile the figures. Looking at the figures presented to us in connection with the Appropriation Bill, we find that no explanation has been offered for the £82,000. The expenditure I have referred to quite obviously covers a lot of matters that are not of a capital nature. It is impossible with the information we have to determine net losses.
I then move to the larger figures shown in the various reports of the Australian Broadcasting Commission. The situation here is quite interesting. At page 26 of the Commission’s 1963 report, we find a statement of operational expenditure for that year, audited by the Auditor-General. The statement contains eight or nine subheadings, and under each of the subheadings two items, and two items only, appear. One is salaries and the other is expenses. Again I took out the figures for salaries and expenses for the last three years to get a reasonable guide. According to the reports of the Commission, in the last three years we spent on salaries £16,292,778 and on expenses, without any indication of the nature of the expenses, we spent £12,787,671. I pointed out previously that salaries and allowances are included in the Appropriation Bill. Whilst this is somewhat vague, it does give members of Parliament some information. But there is no information at all of the scale of salaries and allowances, the number of people employed and why over three years some £16 million of the taxpayers money has been spent on salaries. This is the position also with expenses; we have only general headings. So we do not know very much.
The Australian Broacasting Commission is good enough to show the comparable figures for previous years on the left hand side of the statement of operationl expenditure. In the figures for 1961-62, provided for information in the 1963 report, there is a mistake of £540. It is possible to find out how that mistake occurred. But quite obviously, since the Commission has not realised it, no explanation of it is offered in the annual report. All this is quite easily verified, lt is also interesting to note that the annual report was signed on 19th July 1963 and the accounts were audited By the Auditor-General on 2nd August 1963. So the report was prepared, signed and sealed some two or three weeks before the AuditorGeneral examined the financial statements. This is indicative of the Commission’s attitude. Then further interesting developments arise in connection with this report. As 1 said, the Commission brings forward the various expenditures from one year to another for information. In its last report, which we received, I think, only last Thursday, it brought forward the expenditures for 1963. Of the 18 items, 6 differ from the audited figures shown in the previous report. There are eight sub-totals, of which four differ from the figures shown in the audited statement. Again it is possible to find some explanation. The basic explanation, I think, is that for the first time the report includes an item for Radio Australia and to adjust that item the Commission has taken certain amounts from the two items of salaries and expenses shown under other sub-headings. But the significant point is that here is a statement audited by the Auditor-General, who reports correctly to the Parliament, and in the following year the figures are presented differently without any references at all the alteration being made in the Commission’s report.
Then I turn to the Australian Broadcasting Control Board, and again a most interesting situation arises. In its report, it gives a general statement of total expenses. Three out of five totals are different from those shown in the Estimates as being actually expended from our appropriation last year. The grand total does not agree and it appears that the Aus tralian Broadcasting Commission’s capital expenditure was not included. This paradoxical position arises again in the report for last year. The Appropriation Bill shows a total expenditure for 1963-64 of £19,405,310. The report of the Australian Broadcasting Control Board shows a total expenditure of £18,747,321. The AuditorGeneral’s report shows a total expenditure of £19.202,714. So, if we seek information we find three different totals.
– They are fairly close.
– Maybe, if £600,000 or £700,000 is fairly close. I do not wish to treat this matter facetiously. This is the effort of a member of Parliament to understand why we should appropriate £22 million for the current year. I could go on. I have not time to deal with many other similar matters. I say only this: I cannot tell anyone else how he should discharge his responsibilities. I believe that we have a collective responsibility as a Parliament to examine the appropriations sought and decide whether we should support them. I will, with the greatest reluctance, support this appropriation this year, because to try1 to stop it would throw the whole machinery into chaos. However, I say now deliberately that in the absence of explanations, I will not support any further appropriations for the Australian Broadcasting Control Board or the Australian Broadcasting Commission. I will oppose such appropriations here and I will try to convince other honorable members that they should oppose them unless full and adequate explanations are given of the matters I have mentioned and of the dozen or more matters that I have not had time to mention.
Sitting suspended from 12.43 to 2.1S p.m.
– Mr. Temporary Chairman, I wish to make a personal explanation on the ground of misrepresentation yesterday. I made a speech yesterday afternoon on defence, and that speech was followed by six or seven references to it by Government supporters. Every one of those references was false. I should like to correct two of them specifically, because these two were given wide publicity in the Government’s own newspaper, the “Daily Telegraph “.
The first reference is reported at page 2167 of “Hansard”. The honorable member for New England (Mr. Sinclair) said -
But I was rather intrigued at something else that he said.
That is a reference to me.
T may not have understood him quite correctly, but I took him to say that he was glad that Britain had relinquished nuclear armaments and that China was showing her ability to enter the technological age and to design and eventually explode a nuclear weapon. In other words, he implied that he was glad that China had the nuclear bomb and also rather glad that Britain was ‘relinquishing it.
At no stage in my speech did I make any reference to those two matters or any reference that would have allowed any such inference to be drawn, as was that drawn, by the honorable member for New England. His statement is completely false in basis and is completely unjustified.
Secondly, the honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Killen) is reported, beginning at page 2171 of “Hansard”, as saying -
The implication of his speech-
That is my speech - was this: What was west of the line was expendable and what was east of it was possibly defensible. What is west of the line? There are South Korea, Japan, Formosa, the whole of Malaysia, South Vietnam, Laos, Thailand, Burma and the Philippines. All this is expendable.
That deduction by the honorable member for Moreton is a completely false deduction.
– If he wants to draw the inference he is entitled to do so.
– It is an entirely false inference contrary to the statement in my speech.
– It is not a misrepresentation.
– It is a completely false statement about what I had said.
– Order! The honorable member is not entitled to debate the matter.
– I suggest that the Minister is not entitled to interject, either. The statement made by the honorable member for Moreton was a misrepresentation and I desire to correct it clearly and specifically.
– I wish to devote my attention to the section of the Estimates dealing with the Commonwealth Railways. The Commonwealth Railways are run by one of the most remarkable railway organisations in the world, because despite the fact that the Government has now applied to the Commonwealth Railways the principle that is applied to all other Government undertakings, such as the Post Office, and its accounts are therefore to be dealt with on a commercial basis, we find in the Commissioner’s interim report for 1963-64 that the Commonwealth Railways system will again show a profit in excess of £i million. To be precise, the profit will be £520,543.
On or about 1st October there appeared in the “Australian” an article written by a gentleman named Gunther which was likely to lead the Australian public into a false line of thinking with regard to what is happening to Australian railways generally, under dieselisation, but to the Commonwealth Railways in particular. Gunther said that in the long run it might well be proved in Australia that the introduction of dieselisation into the rail transport system was an error of judgment and that it would finally cost us much more than the cost of continuing to use steam locomotion. He said that he was basing his statement on a report of an American engineer presented at a conference in London. Let us consider the Commonwealth Railways system in the light of the Commissioner’s report. This is a railway system in a large country with a widespread population. The service from Port Pirie to Kalgoorlie stretches for 1,108 miles, touching virtually nothing except sandy desert, yet it helps to link two sides of a great continent. Although the line has no real purpose on its own, it links South Australia with Western Australia. In addition, there is the Central Australian line, first, of standard gauge running from Stirling North to Marree, a distance of 217 miles and, secondly, of 3 ft. 6 ins. gauge from Marree to Alice Springs. That service begins at a central point in Adelaide, but finishes in Central Australia. Then there is the line stretching 316 miles from Darwin south to Birdum. The construction of this system was begun in the best interests of Australia and its purpose was to provide a link from the north to the south of the continent, in audition to a link from cast to west. When the Commonwealth took over from South Australia the control of certain lines an act of Parliament was passed by which we gave an undertaking to South Australia that we would connect the north with the south. This undertaking to South Australia was given by the Parliament in 1911, but so far we have taken the rail service no farther north than Alice Springs.
Keeping in mind what Gunther said about dieselisation, we should consider the increase in goods traffic carried by the Commonwealth Railways. In the year 1962-63 there was an increase of 15 per cent, in the goods traffic hauled by the Commonwealth Railways, and in the following year there was a further increase of 13 per cent. In other words, there was an increase of 28 per cent, in goods traffic on the Commonwealth Railways over a period of two years. Gunther might well ask how that has been economically possible. My reply to Gunther is that it has been made economically possible by the introduction of dieselisation into the Australian rail transport system. At the time of the introduction of dieselisation the Commonwealth Railways system had 43 steam locomotives on the main line running from east to west; these locomotives were displaced by 1 1 diesel electric locomotives. Surely nobody would fail to realise the economics that would result in such a changeover.
We have seen also in the Commonwealth Railways a national waste through the use of the pick-a-back system, by which motor vehicles run from Sydney or Melbourne as far as Port Pirie and then travel 1108 miles by rail to Kalgoorlie. In about four years from the provision of flat top wagons by the Commonwealth until last year that traffic increased and the service earned about £1 million in freight. We know that when the standardisation of the rail gauge is completed so that Sydney and Brisbane arc linked with Kalgoorlie, that method of hauling motor vehicles will disappear. Despite this waste this great organisation, the Commonwealth Railways system, has been able to show a profit of £i million and from its own internal revenue has financed a reorientation of the whole system to be ready for Australia’s future rail requirements in the west.
The Commissioner for Railways and his staff have a plan whereby in the next tcn years it is proposed to resleeper and rerail -with 80 lb. rails of 33 ft. lengths- the whole of the Trans- Australian Railway so that, as the report says, at the end of that time this section of the Commonwealth Railways will be equal to the new sections. Adelaide will be linked with the KalgoorlieKwinana line and also the Broken Hill-Port Pirie line. This is where I join issue with the Minister. I am very pleased that the Minister is in the chamber this afternoon. I have read carefully the reply that he gave yesterday to a question about the approaches made to the Government with regard to the section of line between Parkes and Broken Hill. I ask the Minister and the Government to have another look with a different pair of spectacles at the request from New South Wales concerning this section of line.
When the new lines are completed from Kwinana to Kalgoorlie and from Port Pirie to Broken Hill in about 1967 we will have about the best that can be had. We are planning to run trains at up to 80 railes an hour with loads up to 5,000 tons in some instances. Our planning for this new system goes far beyond anything we have done in Australia so far. 1 know that at present in some areas three diesels are running coupled. I know that the Commonwealth Railways is running two diesels coupled. But if we are to provide faster services over greater distances than we provide now in the Commonwealth Railways we will have to outlay large sums of money for new signalling arrangements in the system. What we may see in this field is a train with two engines in front and one in the centre under remote control.
So far as the Parkes to Broken Hill line is concerned, the Minister will immediately be aware of what I have already said. The New South Wales Government is not asking for assistance in respect of the line between the Queensland border and Parkes. It is not expected that much strengthening will be needed of the line between the Queensland border and Parkes beyond what can be provided from the funds already available to New South Wales, but the link between Parkes and Broken Hill is a different matter. If the unification of rail gauges in Australia is to pay the national dividends that it should, Parkes will possibly become the biggest transfer depot in Australia. I am not talking of tomorrow; I am speaking of perhaps a decade ahead. As matters now stand the requirements of the line between Parkes and Broken Hill, as far as New South Wales is concerned, are not much different from the requirements of the line between Birdum and Darwin as far as the Commonwealth Railways is concerned because at present the line is merely a link between Parkes and Broken Hill. But once standardisation of gauge is completed between Kwinana and Kalgoorlie and Port Pirie and Broken Hill, the value of the line between Parkes and Broken Hill will change.
The Minister may not be fully aware of circumstances in the New South Wales Railways. 1 take some pride in the fact that I have been associated actively with those railways since March 1936 in my capacity as a union official. I was associated with the New South Wales Railways when they shifted thousands of American troops during the war. Every soldier and every piece of equipment landed in Victoria had to be transported on the New South Wales Railways. I know how that system responded. I submit to the Minister that from a national point of view we cannot afford to allow the link between Parkes and Broken Hill to be weakened. So far as the rest of the line between Parkes and Brisbane is concerned, or between Parkes and Albury, it is appropriate that the New South Wales Government should carry the responsibility for strengthening that mileage; but when we come to the section that is as much a national responsibility as is the section between Kalgoorlie and Port Pirie I submit that the Minister should consider the request by New South Wales from a national viewpoint and should not give the type of answer that he gave yesterday.
I do not know whether the New South Wales Minister has put to the Commonwealth Minister the real picture of the future of Parkes as a pivotal point. Having reached Parkes on the through lines between Brisbane and the west or between Albury and the west or coming through from the south, Parkes will become the place where you will build up to your 5,000 ton loads. At the present time, as some people are aware, the Commonwealth Railways is run ning diesel trains between Stirling North and the coal mines - a distance of 200 miles - with loads of up to 5,250 tons. That seems a terrific mileage for such a train in Australia. But once you reach Parkes you are finished with your tunnels and heavy gradients in the New South Wales system. West of Parkes you run out to what is called the flat area, upon which you can launch your great service for the west. When the line is strengthened and in view of the fact that there are no tunnels or gradients, there will be nothing to prevent the running of trains of 4,000 tons at speeds of 50 and 60 miles an hour between Perth and Parkes. But having got to Parkes on the east bound run the change must take place because of the tunnels and steep gradients ahead. Immediately you want to introduce cross country running between Parkes and Broken Hill the problem becomes a national one and not just one for New South Wales.
– Who will get the profits from it?
– Australia will get the economic profits. It is as unrealistic to say that the Commonwealth should not bear the cost of strengthening the line between Perth and Kalgoorlie as it is to say that the Commonwealth should not bear the financial responsibility of strengthening the line between Parkes and Broken Hill. The strengthened line is not a requirement of New South Wales. The line that is there now would serve the purposes of New South Wales for the next 70 years. Australia wants this line, not New South Wales. As strongly as I can, I urge the Minister to look again at this matter.
Irrespective of shortages of funds for other purposes, the Commonwealth rail system must be extended north and south. The statement this morning by the Minister for Territories (Mr. Barnes) of what is happening to our cattle in the north was unreal. Until we get a rail system north and south as well as east and west - a standard gauge system - we will not obtain in the north the development that is required nationally and which is essential if we are to get the best out of the cattle country in the north. The Commonwealth Railways can haul cattle at the rate of 14s. per beast per 100 miles. The best rate at which they can be hauled by road is £2 per beast per 100 miles. Apart from the saving of stock, which I will deal with on some other occasion, there would be a national saving in hauling the cattle by rail. This national approach to the problem should be made by the Government. Let it get on with the job. If the Government were to spend about £10 million a year for the next decade we would get what we want.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- I wish to deal with the estimates for the PostmasterGeneral’s Department. First, I pay a tribute to the Postmaster-General (Mr. Hulme) for his courtesy and politeness in handling what must be a multitude of complaining letters from almost every honorable member. I will say this for the Postmaster-General: When you get a reply from him you can be sure that he has given your representations a good deal of consideration. When he says, “ No “, at least he says it politely and nicely. 1 am not able to say that of every Minister.
Recently I received complaints from a distant part of my electorate in the Snowy Mountains. Tremendous interference with transmissions from the new television station at Wagga was being caused by electrical equipment in the area. People in the area already have great difficulty in obtaining radio reception. Television means much to these people. I got in touch with the PostmasterGeneral about the matter and in no time he sent out his officers. They gave advice about using a filter to overcome the problem. The people in the area now get reception. Actions such as that help private members tremendously, and we appreciate them. I also pay a tribute to his officers. My tribute applies right down the line from the head of the Department. I pay tribute to the tremendous co-operation that I have received from officers of the Department throughout my electorate. On a number of occasions I have had conferences with them on the spot and we have been able to help not only the customers but also the officers themselves to iron out some of their difficulties. That sort of thing could happen in many other departments to a much greater extent.
The Postmaster-General’s Department is a big business. We all realise that. We only have to look at the size of its estimates to see that. It is a business undertaking. Therefore, it should be efficient and it should render to the community the service that it was set up to render; namely, to provide, among other things, telephones to as many people as want them and are prepared to pay for them. It is not easy to do that. The Postmaster-General has told us that there is a two-year delay in the provision of telephones to people who have already applied for them. That is not good enough. I do not think we can lay the blame for that at the feet of the Minister. He has done his very best, as has his Department. The people pay for the privilege of having telephones. It is vitally necessary that people should have telephones. It is important to the development of the whole country. Communications are important in every phase of life. This is a very big problem. I do not think it has received sufficient attention.
At one time we were told that there was a shortage of materials. From talking to the Minister, I understand that that is not so much of a problem today because we have adequate locally manufactured cables and other equipment to meet the demand. At the moment our biggest difficulties are, first, money and, secondly, manpower. I can recall that not many months ago, before the recent basic wage rise, the Minister said that if he could get an additional £10 million a year over the next three years he would be able to eliminate the backlag. But before he could get his £10 million, there was the basic wage rise which he estimates will cost the Department another £7 million a year. That means that he is £17 million a year behind already, because he has not yet received the £10 million. The position is quite ridiculous and impossible. Industry and the development of Australia are being held back. Very definitely, something should be done about the position. 1 am afraid that the shortage of telephones is one of the things to which the people have become accustomed. For a long time they have been accustomed to waiting for telephones and not receiving the services that they require. They are inclined to growl but to accept the position. I believe that the time has arrived when we must engage in a crash programme. Perhaps a special loan should be raised, or something like that should be done, to help the Department to do its job effectively and to eliminate the tremendous backlag. Not having adequate telephone facilities is bad enough in the city areas, but it is 10 times worse in the country areas where people are miles away from a telephone and have no other means of communication. The telephone is their only means of obtaining their supplies, and it is their only means of communication in emergencies such as sickness, flood or bush fire.
Time and again women who have young families and whose husbands are away are isolated completely because they have not an efficient telephone service or, in many cases, because they are not able to obtain a telephone service merely because sufficient capital is not available to enable the Department to go ahead with its programme. 1 know that a wry extensive and complete programme has been drawn up. Through the courtesy of some of the local telephone officers, I have seen that programme. It is an excellent one. But the Department is not able to carry it out as speedily as it would like to. One reason for that is that the Department has not sufficient money. lt has been said that it costs a good deal more to install a telephone in a country area than in a city area. That is obvious. We agree with that statement. I believe that the need is much greater in the country than in the cities. As I said before, a person in the country cannot go to the public telephone on the street corner or to his next door neighbour, if he is in difficulty, because he is miles away from his next door neighbour. Do not let us forget that country people very largely have helped themselves. They have had to erect and maintain many miles of private telephone lines themselves.
That also applies very largely to our bush fire brigades. They are evidence of the selfhelp of people in the country. They have had to do something about the problems that arise when there is a bush fire. Those problems are not due to any fault of the staffs of the exchanges. There is tremendous congestion when there is a bush fire. I pay tribute to the staffs of the country exchanges for the job that they do in emergencies. But it is impossible for them to cope with all of the calls - the vital calls - that come in. Country people have equipped their bush fire brigades with walkie-talkie units and other similar things in an effort to overcome their communications difficulties. But even those things do not solve the problem completely.
In my area, as in many other areas, quite a number of small exchanges arc closing down because people are not able to provide the service required. 1 call to mind one case in my electorate in which an elderly lady was forced to give up the local exchange and about 15 subscribers were put on to two party lines connected to another already well loaded small country exchange. One of those subscribers had a seed cleaning business. When he got on the line, he would stay on it for a couple of hours, sometimes, and nobody else would be able to get on to it. That is the sort of thing that we have been putting up with for far too long.
I pay tribute to the progress that has been made. The introduction of the coaxial cable has been a tremendous help, particularly along the route of that cable. Right through the centre of my electorate the service has improved tremendously. Many people have had new cables run to the points nearest to their properties and so have been given telephone services already because of’ the extra room available on the coaxial cable. I believe that as we are able to increase the number of exchanges on the direct dialling network, we will be able to look forward to better service in the future and also to a reduction in costs. If my memory serves me correctly, the Minister has said that he expects more than 60 per cent, of the subscribers in Australia to be connected to that network within the next 10 years. Wc hope that that figure will be achieved much sooner than that. That will help tremendously. This could be a tremendous assistance to decentralisation as well as in reducing the problem of congestion on country lines. I do not think it is too much to expect that when the direct dialling system is spread throughout the country we will be able to achieve a tremendous reduction in costs. First, the operating staff must be reduced tremendously. There is always a shortage of efficient operating staff. We all know what happens in all of the country exchanges. No sooner do they get a bunch of really efficient girls than two or three of them get married and more have to be trained. That is a constant problem and one for which there is no real solution. 1 have referred previously to the cost of trunk line calls for some country industries. I have mentioned that one comparatively small industry, the packing house at Batlow, spends £4,000 on trunk line calls in one year. Other factories in the country are paying £5,000 and £6,000 a year for trunk line calls. That is a tremendous burden. I understand that in New Zealand telephone subscribers pay a rental, but there is no charge for local calls. I do not think we are being too ambitious if we look forward to the time when we will have standardised trunk line call charges at a cost considerably lower than the present cost. After all, it costs 5d. to send a letter across the street and we can send a letter to Darwin, Perth or Hobart for the same price. It might sound unreasonable to apply that principle to telephones, but I do not think it is when we consider the future opportunities for installing direct dialling throughout Australia. Already telephone charges are standardised to a certain extent. The maximum cost of a three minute telephone call from Melbourne to Sydney is 15s., and the cost is the same for a call from Melbourne to Darwin, Perth or Hobart. If a standardised trunk line call charge could be introduced in the near future, it would be a tremendous help to the decentralisation and development of this country.
One other matter to which I wish to refer is the way in- which country radio stations have been affected by increased charges. I do not need to tell the Committee what a country radio station means in a small district or in any country district for that matter. The radio station is the social hub of the area. It keeps people in touch with all that is going on. It gives them the news, tells them about public functions, markets and everything else that is of interest to them. These radio stations play a very big part in the social and business life of every country area, and anything that can be done to keep their costs down is of tremendous benefit in country areas. I ask the Minister to have another look at the very steep increases in charges affecting these radio stations. Let me give the experience of one station in my electorate. The charge for a service between one studio and another has been increased from £3 4s. to £15, between the local sports oval and the studio from £4 12s. to £15 5s. and from the town hall to the studio from £4 10s. to £15. These are pretty steep increases for a. small country radio station to meet. I know the Minister gives thorough and reasonable consideration to any appeal that is made to him, and I appeal to him to look at these charges as they affect country radio stations.
.- I too wish to speak on the section of these estimates dealing with telephone services. I want to refer to the raw deal which New South Wales - Sydney in particular - is receiving in the allocation of funds for telephones. The State is receiving 37 per cent, of the funds provided throughout Australia for telephone services. New South Wales, however, has 60 per cent, of all applicants who are awaiting telephones, and the Sydney metropolitan area has 47 per cent, of waiting applicants. The Minister made this comment in answer to my colleague, the honorable member for Hughes (Mr. L. R. Johnson) on 2nd September - 1 believe that most people will regard this as a reasonable apportionment to that State. I should like to make the point that the terrain adjacent to Sydney Harbour and the Hawkesbury River creates problems in the installation of telephone services in the Sydney area which are quite different from the problems that arise in the other capital cities in Australia. The cost of installation in the vicinity of Sydney is relatively higher. At the same time, we believe that it is not reasonable to allow other places to suffer. At present they receive no preference in the allocation of funds.
I quite agree with the honorable gentleman that Sydney’s terrain is the most difficult from the point of view of reticulating telephone, water or electricity services, or in fact providing surface communications, and that the cost of installing them is therefore higher in Sydney than elsewhere. But frankly I do not follow him when he says that it is not reasonable to allow other places to suffer. Sydney is suffering and increasingly so; other places are not suffering so much or at all. They are enjoying a preference because it is more expensive and difficult to install telephones in Sydney. Sydney ought to get some preference in funds to redress the imbalance in telephones, but because the proportion of funds allocated to New South Wales out of the total provision for the whole of the Commonwealth is the same as the proportion of total Australian population residing in New South Wales, Sydney will suffer an increasing disadvantage. The Minister’s remark that most people will regard the apportionment as reasonable is, I think, ill founded. lt ought to be possible for a customer to secure a telephone at any place in Australia. If it is not possible to allocate sufficient funds to achieve that purpose, then it should be no more difficult to secure a telephone in any one area than it is in any other area. There ought to be some balancing up because of necessary additional costs in difficult and growing areas. I concede the difficulties that exist in financing this very great business, the Post Office. lt is the biggest business in the southern hemisphere. The Minister is the first city man, the first business man, the first accountant in 15 years to hold the job of Postmaster-General. He has on a few occasions already this year, since taking the portfolio shown that he is aware of the problems involved in this business and that he is devoting his attention to them. But frankly the answer that he gave the honorable member for Hughes disappointed me.
The honorable gentleman was also asked a question by the honorable member for Cowper (Mr. Robinson) on this subject. The honorable member for Cowper, adopting, I think it can be fairly conceded, a parochial, petty and partisan attitude, protested at the statement of the Premier of New South Wales that the State was suffering from a disadvantage in telephones. The PostmasterGeneral repeated to him his statement that the proportion of funds for New South Wales will be 37 per cent. He said again that this will be greater than the proportion allocated for any other State. Of course it will be greater than that of any other State; the population of New South Wales is higher than that of any other State. The population of New South Wales is 37 per cent, of the population of Australia. But let me repeat, the number of people waiting for telephones in New South Wales is 60 per cent, of the total for Australia, and the number waiting in Sydney is 47 per cent, of the total. Compare this with the figure of 37 per cent, which represents the ratio of the population of New South Wales to the population of Australia.
On 15th April 1964 the Minister made a considered statement during the debate on the motion for the adjournment of the House. He said, amongst other things -
I know that in the Sydney area there is a very difficult problem. At 31st January last the unsatisfied demand was 46,683. That figure takes imp consideration services for which quotations had been given, services for which orders for installation had been issued, and deferred applications. New South Wales is the worst off of all of the States. In the period of seven months from 30th June, 1963, to 31sl January, 1964, the unsatisfied demand in that State increased by no fewer than 4,374, 1 forget how many exchanges there are in the Sydney metropolitan area. I think the number is about 70 or 80. Forty-nine of those exchanges arc completely full. … I believe that we in the Post Office will do very well if we can maintain the installations rate at a level which will not allow the unsatisfied demand to increase unnecessarily.
Since that time the unsatisfied demand has increased, lt has increased in every State and it has increased in every metropolitan area, but above all it has increased in New South Wales and in the Sydney metropolitan area. I will demonstrate this fact by quoting figures given in an answer which the Minister gave to the honorable member for Bradfield (Mr. Turner) on 20th August last. I will show how the position has deteriorated in the last five years in New South Wales. Between 30th June 1960 and 30th June this year the number of applications in the Sydney metropolitan area increased from 13,483 to 22,762. In the country areas of New South Wales the number increased from 3,116 to 6,709. The total for the whole State increased from 16,599 to 29,471.
The honorable member for Cowper is the only man here who could ask a question such as he did ask in such a smug way about the New South Wales situation, because there are four people awaiting telephones in the electorate of Cowper. That is because the population of the electorate is not increasing. The other honorable gentlemen from New South Wales in the Country Party know that in the past five years the number of people waiting for telephones in country districts has more than doubled. I trust they are not so smug about the situation as is the honorable member for Cowper. In Victoria, however, over the whole period of the last five years - and in every other Slate over the last five years - the number of deferred applications has decreased, although in the last 12 months in every State, in both country areas and metropolitan areas the number of deferred applications has increased. But in New South Wales it has increased most of all. What steps are being taken to improve the situation? In the “ Financial Report “ issued by the PostmasterGeneral for the year ended 30th June 1964, it is stated that an important achievement for the year 1963-64 was - a record connection of 297,147 telephone ser vices, which, after taking account of cancellations and re-allocated services, increased the telephone network by 106,675 new telephone services.
In this year the Postmaster-General forecasts that there will bc 310,000 applications for telephone services and that after allowing for cancellations and reallocation of services the network will increase by 115,000 services. That is to say, the net increase in the number of installations this year will be just over 8,000. This will not nearly overtake the expected increase in the number of applications. The continuation of the Government’s policy in this matter will not only mean that in every State, in metropolitan and country areas, will there be more people waiting for telephones at the end of this year than at the end of last year but that in New South Wales metropolitan and country areas the number will have vastly increased.
Not only is it the fact that New South Wales is the worst treated State in this regard, but, within New South Wales the outer metropolitan suburbs of Sydney are the worst treated.
The Postmaster-General gave to the honorable member for Bradfield (Mr. Turner) and to the honorable member for Hughes (Mr. L. R. Johnson) answers setting out the number of waiting applicants - deferred applications - in each electorate. The honorable member for Bradfield put his question on notice two days after the honorable member for Hughes and received an answer seven days before but I overlook the political preference which might be inferred from this fact. Let me quote the numbers of deferred applications in various Commonwealth electorates: Werriwa 2,496, Hughes 2,342, Mitchell 2,203, Mackellar 2,044, Parramatta 1,737, Robertson 1,479,
Banks 1,359, Reid 1,133, and Lang 1,066. In Victoria there are three electorates with more than 1,000 waiting applicants. They are: Bruce, 1,947, Lalor, 1,316, and Flinders, 1,038. In no other State is there an electorate with more than 1,000 waiting applicants.
What is the Department doing to plan for future installations? I will refer to the exchanges in my own area. I find that there are more people waiting for telephones from the Carramar, Liverpool and Pendle Hill exchanges now than there were when the last extensions to those exchanges were ordered. Yet there are still no plans for extensions of the exchanges. I believe the same position applies to all the exchanges in the electorates to which I have already referred, that is, in the outer metropolitan suburbs. But I will refer again to the exchanges in my own electorate. For the last seven years Liverpool has been among the 20 exchange areas with the longest list of waiting applicants but it has never in that period been among the 20 exchanges where the greatest number of installations has taken place.
– Is it a rapidly developing area?
– Yes, the most. It is an outer metropolitan suburb of Sydney, lt is in such areas that the waiting period for telephones is increasing most. Pendle Hill, which is among the 20 exchanges where the waiting list has been longest in the last 8 years, has never been among the top 20 for installations. Carramar was fourth among Sydney exchanges in deferred applications last year but was not among the 20 top exchanges in installations. Lakemba and Peakhurst in neighbouring electorates have been among the 20 top exchanges in deferred applications in the last 11 and 6 years respectively but neither has been among the 20 top exchanges in installations in the last 2 years. In all these exchange areas there has been no planning to overcome the lag. The Department knows the extent of the demand but it still does not plan ahead to cope with it.
In my particular electorate the Green Valley locality is the most rapidly growing part of any metropolis in Australia. Four years ago at least, I urged the Department to get in touch with the local government and State Government authorities and instrumentalities but still the Department lags behind. It does not realise that a telephone is- basic to most families now and essential for every business. Furthermore, it does not realise that the demand for telephones is very much greater than it was before World War II when the present departmental heads got their training. The Department is not up to date and does not anticipate the demand that there will be in this day and age for what is regarded as an essential community and individual service. I believe there is an irresistible conclusion to be drawn from this matter: Just by dividing the country up according to State populations and allocating telephone services on that basis, the Government inevitably does an injustice to the people who are living in the most rapidly growing areas of Australia.
It may be wrong that so much of Australia’s migrant population and so many new families and new businesses should be setting up in the outer suburbs of Sydney and Melbourne but the fact is that they are doing so and that the Department’s policy deprives them of an essential service. It is not possible or legal to secure a telephone from any source but the Department. This situation would not be tolerated in any other country where telephones are either a public or a private instrumentality. The Minister’s answers in this respect, both on notice and without notice, show that he is not aware of the position. He is doing nothing in this year to correct the position but is pursuing a policy which will produce a greater imbalance.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
– Mr. Temporary Chairman, I wish to make a personal explanation. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam) suggested that I received some unfair preference from the PostmasterGeneral.
– I am not blaming the honorable member.
– Inasmuch as it is an imputation against me I think the record should be put straight. It may be true that I put a question on the notice paper, perhaps two days after the honorable member for Hughes (Mr. L. R. Johnson), and got an answer earlier. My recollection is that many weeks before, and during the recess, I wrote to the Postmaster-General and let him know the things I proposed to ask so that the answers might be prepared for me. I have no doubt this is the reason why the answers, having been prepared in advance, were given before a reply was given to the honorable member for Hughes.
.- -Now that peace has broken out again I would like to make a comment or two about telephones. I suppose that all honorable members in this chamber are experts on telephones but I think the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam) was quite rugged in reproaching the PostmasterGeneral (Mr. Hulme) in the manner that he did. I have been to the Postmaster-General, and to his predecessors, and complained quite bitterly about the problem of the Department not being able to meet the gap between the demand and the supply of telephones. This is, frankly, a very real problem. But to say that the Department is approaching it in a manner that affords to particular areas or to particular members some form of preferential treatment is just nonsense. When I interrupted the Deputy Leader of the Opposition he was kind enough to answer when I asked him about the developing area of which he spoke. He admitted that it was a developing area. I can tell him that I have precisely the same problem in my area. On the outskirts of Brisbane, on the southern side, one has these new developing areas with new exchanges going up and no matter how far seeing an individual may be it is not always possible to see precisely the rate of development that will occur. I have sent letters which are with the PostmasterGeneral at the moment seeking a new post office and new exchange equipment. That sort of thing goes on. But I think the Deputy Leader of the Opposition will find, when he gets a reply later on this afternoon from the Postmaster-General, that the Postmaster-General will be able to convince him that no unfair methods are being employed by the Department.
– There are only 20 people waiting for phones in your electorate and there is no electorate in Queensland where there are 300 waiting.
– With great respect, I would say that is quite out of date. There are more than 20 people waiting for telephones in my electorate. If you were to go there today, you would find that there are some hundreds waiting.
– But this was at the end of June.
– This increase in demand is due to the rate of development. New exchange equipment was added in the main exchange that I have in mind, and that merely mct the initial demand. Hundreds of new houses have been built there since June, and I hasten to assure my friend that the occupants carry “ I like Jim “ banners; they are not Labour voters. They recognise the difficulty when I say to them that new equipment must be found and therefore there will be these delays. My experience has been that the Postmaster-General’s Department goes out of its way to try to meet the problem of supplying telephones.
Having said that, I pay brief tribute te the Postmaster-General (Mr. Hulme) for his unfailing courtesy at all times.
– We would still like telephones, too.
– Maybe we would. That is a balm that will come in due course. The common experience of all honorable members of this House is that the PostmasterGeneral is always courteous, helpful, and, in a phrase, always does his homework. As my honorable friend from Hume (Mr. Pettitt) said earlier this afternoon, these arc the qualities most admired by the struggling private member.
Having settled the Postmaster-General into an amiable mood, I want to move on now to a subject that may ruffle him a little. I refer to television licences, the Australian Broadcasting Control Board and the general system we have of considering applications for television licences in Australia. My submission is that the present system of hearing applications for television licences is completely unsatisfactory. Part IV of the Broadcasting and Television Act, which starts at section 80, deals with the issue of licences. Section 81 provides -
The Minister may, subject to this Act, grant to a person a licence for a commercial broadcasting station or for a commercial television station upon such conditions, and in accordance with such form, as the Minister determines.
Then follow provisions that the Board shall hear applications for licences, and so forth. The hearings that have been held have been lawyers’ picnics. Looking at the matter in prospect, 1 do not complain about that, but I do complain about the way the hearings are conducted. Let me illustrate what I mean. When hearing applications for licences in Brisbane, the Board sat in Melbourne. I remind the Committee that this hearing was in relation to a television licence for Queensland. I submit, with great respect, that the Board should have taken itself to Queensland. When the Board heard applications for licences for Adelaide and for Western Australia, again the applicants had to come over to Melbourne. I submit that the Board should have taken itself to the capital city concerned, more particularly, mark you, when you bear in mind the fact that one of the bases upon which the Board is asked to proceed is that of considering local conditions. With great respect to my Melbournian friends, I would not agree with the view that it is possible to determine Brisbane conditions or Adelaide conditions when sitting in Melbourne. All the witnesses had to be taken from Brisbane at great expense, and kept down in Melbourne. This is a very expensive business. Whether or not I am able to convince the Minister that the present system is completely unsatisfactory, I hope that when the Board is considering applications for licences in future, it will travel to the capital city concerned, by Cobb and Co. coach, if need be. I submit with great respect that a little bit of hardship to the Board would not go astray.
It is the sheer inconsistency of the premises on which the Board proceeds that irritates me. Before moving from that point, I invite the Committee to consider this: At its hearings, the Board listens to a lot of evidence that should not be considered by it. It would not be admitted into a court, and I do not think it is a fair crack of the whip to expect applicants representing companies to go before the Board and be rubbished, as it were, under crossexamination by counsel appearing for opposing interests. I submit that if the proceedings were conducted more on judicial lines the person presiding would not permit some of the cross-examination that now takes place. 1 have referred to the inconsistency of the arguments that the Board considers. Let me now give one or two illustrations. 1 shall deal first with the Board’s 1959 report and recommendation in connection with applications for commercial television licences in Brisbane and Adelaide. On that occasion, the Board said -
We are not convinced from the experience of Sydney and Melbourne that competition necessarily ensures better programmes.
In 1959, the Board recommended only one television licence for Brisbane and one for Adelaide. The Government, for reasons best known to itself, rejected the Board’s recommendation. When dealing with applications for a third commercial television licence in 1964, the Board accepted a submission of general public dissatisfaction with the limited choice of programmes. There was not one scintilla of evidence to support what appears in the report of the Australian Broadcasting Control Board that went to the Postmaster-General.
I come now to my second illustration. In 1959, the Board said -
We consider that one commercial station with good prospects from the outset is likely to provide a wider coverage of public events than two such stations which are making a loss.
We concede that two commercial stations could provide greater scope for the presentation of opposing views. The argument in favour of the contention that if there are two competent and suitable applicants with adequate financial resources, two licences should be granted, was put to us very directly.
It continued -
In short, we were told that it was no business of the Board to concern itself with the possibility that an applicant might lose his money. We do not think that the Government would be prepared to accept any such “hit or miss” approach to such an important question . . .
But how did the Board proceed in 1964? It completely repudiated that view. Dealing with the question of financial gain or loss, the Board said this -
We take the view, however, that unless we are satisfied that the grant of a licence would necessarily result in financial failure of the new station-
Immediately you notice the change in its thinking - we should, if there is a suitably qualified applicant, make a recommendation as to the grant of u licence. We also take the view that if we were entirely satisfied on the evidence in these inquiries that the granting of an additional licence in Brisbane or Adelaide, or both cities, would have disastrous effects on the existing services, as well as producing a wholly inadequate additional service, it would be our duty to report accordingly to the Minister. We must say that we are not so satisfied.
What does the Board mean by “ disastrous “? That seems to me to be a rather strong adjective to use. Does the Board mean that if it had been convinced that the effect would have been a shade above disastrous - say, calamitous - it would have entertained a different view?
I come now to my third illustration. In 1959, the Board said -
We do not think that the contention that “ the television industry would be better served since more revenue would be available, costs would be reduced and there would be greater opportunities for the presentation of live programmes “, is borne out by the evidence presented to us which indicated that two stations in Brisbane and Adelaide would make a loss for a number of years.
In 1964, the Board repudiated that view. It said -
The Board thinks that the new station would tend to bring with it some increase in industry revenue.
I cannot reconcile those two points of view, and 1 doubt whether anybody else can. In 1959, on the question of companies, the Board said -
We do not think that it would be practicable to secure, cither in Brisbane or in Adelaide, the establishment of a genuinely independent local company, with capital subscribed by local firms and organisations and the local public, if two stations are to be established in either city at the outset.
With great respect, I suggest that in 1964 the Board takes an entirely different view. 1 suggest, too, that the provisions relating to the hearing of licence applications should be completely scrapped. The Government should consider the appointment of a commissioner each time licences are to be issued and applications called. The commissioner should be a barrister of some years standing, and he should have with him on the commission a person capable of assessing technical information and a person capable of assessing economic data and information submitted to the commission. By having such a commission we would keep out a lot of the prejudicial information and evidence, so-called, which is submitted at the moment for the Board’s consideration. This would tend to reduce the sheer political content of television hearings. Looking at this not quite from afar, my view is that it is not so much the skill of counsel before the Board that prevails, but the sheer ruggedness of political argument that prevails. I hope that the Postmaster-General will consider the ramifications of the proposals I have outlined.
Finally, I make a brief, blunt plea to the Government to implement some of the provisions of the Vincent Committee’s report dealing with the Australian content in television. There is a screaming need to get more Australian character into our television programmes. I am fed up with looking at “ Davey Crockett “ for the third time and at “The Swamp Fox”, “The Three Stooges” and “The Flintstones “. lt is not good enough. I hope that the Postmaster-General, with his own rugged Australian outlook, will ensure that something of his personality rubs off in the appropriate quarters.
.- I intend to devote my remarks to the estimates for the Postmaster-General’s Department. This seems to be a popular topic at this time, lt is a matter of regret that a deputation from the Commonwealth Blind Communication Committee, which is seeking some concession on telephone rentals and which had applied for permission to meet with lbc Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies), has been advised by the Prime Minister that he is too busy to sec it. I know that the Prime Minister is a busy man and that his time is limited, but it is a serious situation when the Prime Minister moves so far away from the little people of Australia that he feels his time would be wasted in giving up a few minutes to meet a deputation. This deputation has come, at no small expense, to Canberra to put its case before the Prime Minister, lt chose to bypass the Minister for Social Services (Mr. Roberton) and the Postmaster-General (Mr. Hulme) and to present its case personally to the Prime Minister, but up to the present its wishes have been thwarted. I hope that the Prime Minister will soon make himself available to meet this deputation and at least hear its case.
It has been said that social services are paid to all qualified persons who can do with the money what they want to or buy what they want. That may be so, but I believe that some precedent has been established by the Department of Social Services granting concessions in respect of television viewing and broadcast listening licences to pensioners, subject to a means test. I do not think that any person in Australia would begrudge the granting of a concession to blind people whose disability is such that they regard the telephone as a necessity.
The Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam) referred to the PostmasterGeneral’s Department as one of the biggest businesses in Australia today, and so it is. It is an increasing business, and it must continue to grow as its facilities are improved and added to. I have found in the electorate of Wide Bay that where additional telephone channels have been provided the people have been quick to make use of them. A check with the district manager’s office has revealed that the people are making greater use of the facilities now that they have extended hours of service in which to make calls and since charges have been reduced. The Department’s revenue is increasing, more particularly in the Telephone Branch. The revenue from telephones is almost twice the revenue derived from postal services. However, in the recent Budget the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) has seen fit to increase telephone rental charges. A flat rate is to be applied in capital cities for domestic and business telephones. The PostmasterGeneral claims that this makes for better bookkeeping through the Department not having so many different charges to refer to before charging the rental. However, this claim has not been accepted by the general public.
People from all sections of the community have communicated with me about the increased charges. The people on whom the increase falls most heavily are those on fixed incomes - retired persons and pensioners. In many instances pensioners regard the telephone as a necessity - particularly when they live alone - because they may require a doctor in the middle of the night. They use the telephone as a means of communicating with members of their family to whom they might want to turn for assistance at any time of the day or night. These people have regarded the telephone as a necessity, but with the increased charges they now regard it as a luxury, and many wonder whether they can afford the luxury much longer. The increased rental also falls heavily on the ordinary householder. The man in business can absorb an increased charge, but in practically all cases the domestic user is unable to claim expenditure on a telephone as a taxation deduction or to pass the increased charge on. While the increased charge applied on a flat rate basis may make for more efficient bookkeeping I think it will act unjustly against the person who has a telephone in his home and uses it for purely private purposes.
I have mentioned before that the Bundaberg Chamber of Commerce wrote to the Postmaster-General expressing its indignation at and opposition to the increased costs of telephone installations and other costs included in the recent Budget and their effect on private homes. The Bundaberg and Maryborough District Fruit and Vegetable Growers Council has written to me protesting at the increased telephone rental charge which it regards as an unwarranted tax. Why is this tax applied? It arises primarily from the policy of the Government of charging interest on the PostmasterGeneral’s Department’s capital expenditure. Of course, the greatest amount is charged against the Telephone Branch. Of the £25,227,557 net interest charge, £1,563,790 was capitalised in respect of major works in progress.
– Is the honorable, member sure of that?
– I am quite sure of it. It is in the Auditor-General’s Report. Of the total interest charge, £22,379,296 relates to telephone services. I believe that this interest is charged at the long term bond rate ruling over the financial year. This method of charging interest against the Postmaster-General’s Department has been in operation for five or six years now. lt may be that, if interest were not charged ib this way, an additional £25 million or so would have to be raised in some other way. Prior to the introduction of this system of charging interest against the Department, its profits, I understand, were absorbed into the Consolidated Revenue Fund. The losses also were absorbed into this Fund, as the loss on all services, totalling £296,823, for the year 1963-64, no doubt will be absorbed. Will methods similar to those adopted in respect of the PostmasterGeneral’s Department be adopted for other undertakings such as the Australian National Line, which makes profits, or will the Line’s profits be set aside as special funds to be drawn on for the continuing maintenance of its shipping fleet? I believe that the method of bookkeeping adopted in respect of the PostmasterGeneral’s Department does not apply to other Commonwealth departments. The charging of interest against this Department seems to be, in effect, an indirect method of taxing by requiring users of its services to contribute to Commonwealth revenue an additional sum of about £25 million a year.
The other matter that I want to discuss concerns the Australian Broadcasting Commission, which provides excellent radio and television services in most parts of Australia. In the central Burnett area in the electorate of Wide Bay, radio reception is very poor. It is pleasing to note that the Commission, in the new year, will establish a relay station at Eidsvold to relay national programmes to the people of the district and thereby, I hope, provide them with a much improved service. For a number of years, the Wide. Bay station, 4QB, has been operating from Point Vernon, on Hervey Bay, on a frequency of 910 kilocycles. That station relays programmes to station 4GM at Gympie, and will shortly be relaying programmes to the regional station to be opened at Eidsvold. Over the years, there have been numerous complaints about a second harmonic sound that occurs when a listener tunes his set to station 4QB. This interferes greatly with the reception of programmes from that station. This effect is not peculiar to one area. It occurs in most parts of the Wide Bay region.
This second harmonic sound is a whistling sound which detracts greatly from the enjoyment of the listener. The trouble has become more prevalent with the introduction of transistorised sets. Elimination of this second harmonic sound from such sets is difficult because of their fine mechanism which allows very little variation from the mean when tuning the set. People who have had a lifetime of experience in radio work have told me, however, that the trouble can be eliminated by a slight alteration to the transmitting frequency. I have mentioned this point to the Postmaster-General. I hope that action will be taken to improve reception, particularly in the area mentioned, of programmes from 4QB at Wide Bay. I understand that some international regulations govern the use of the various bands of radio frequencies. However, I recall that the commercial station at Maryborough, over the years, has operated on four different frequencies. This financial year, £25,248 is to be spent on the Point Vernon station of 4QB and £29,469 or more on the new relay station at Eidsvold. I am pleased to note this, and I suggest that a change in the frequency of the 4QB transmitter in order to eliminate the second harmonic sound be earnestly considered. If this trouble were eliminated, the prestige of the Australian Broadcasting Commission in the Wide Bay electorate, and outside it in areas where people listen to programmes from 4QB, would be greatly enhanced.
.- Mr. Temporary Chairman, I wish to discuss the estimates for the Postmaster-General’s Department, with particular reference to broadcasting and television services. The Government is vulnerable in its administration of this Department, especially with respect to broadcasting and television services. Before I proceed to develop the points that I propose to make, I should like to say that the problems that exist have arisen over a number of years. They are not of recent origin. They cannot be traced directly to the present PostmasterGeneral (Mr. Hulme), but he has inherited them. The particular problems to which 1 refer have arisen since the Government decided to make the Department a tax gathering agency for the Treasury. Perhaps the present Minister indirectly has something to do with the new look. In other days, he may have recommended that the new procedure be adopted. I am not sure about that, but I am certain that the change has not been in the best interests of the Department or of the people of Australia, particularly those who depend on telephone and mail services, as well as broadcast listeners and television viewers.
Recent increases in telephone charges undoubtedly have angered the people of Australia. The great additional burden falls particularly heavily and cruelly on those on fixed incomes, especially pensioners. I regret that, in determining the new tariffs, the Postmaster-General did not show more consideration for people who require the use of telephones, particularly those who are elderly and ill and who have need to call doctors or to speak to members of their families in times of great difficulty. Another feature of these increased charges worries everyone who is interested in the decentralisation of industry. The higher charges bear severely and harshly on telephone users in country areas and detract from the possibilities for the establishment and development of secondary industries in rural areas. The increased telephone charges certainly represent a heavy blow at many people who perhaps believed that they could have established industries in country districts and who are now wondering how the new, high telephone charges will affect them. This is one of the great problems of rural development at present. Whenever a local council, through the mayor or shire president, as the case may be, seeks to have a new industry established in a country district, the immediate response is: What are the telephone charges? Unquestionably, the present steep charges are retarding the development of country areas.
I have here a list of telephone charges. I remind honorable members that when a branch business is established in a country centre, its head office usually is in the city. Numerous telephone calls relating to contracts, supplies, marketing and so on arc made to head office in the course of the day. The telephone charges are certainly most severe. Very steep charges apply to trunk line calls made from Katoomba, Lithgow, Bathurst, Goulburn and Nowra to Sydney. A three minute trunk line call to Sydney from Lithgow, Katoomba and Bathurst costs 4s.; from Orange, Parkes, Wellington and Dubbo, 6s.; from Bourke, 12s.; from Tamworth, 6s.; from Narrabri, 10s.; from Armidale, 10s.; from Goulburn, 6s.; from Wagga, 10s.; from Albury, 10s.; from Grafton, 12s.; from Lismore, 12s.; and from Nowra, 4s. These charges discourage the establishment of industries in country centres.
When representations seeking to have the charges reduced are made to the PostmasterGeneral from time to time, we receive the only type of reply that he can give as the taxing agent for the Treasury. He is given a schedule of charges that he must levy, and nothing we do will convince the Government that it should reduce the charges. 1 support the plea for a standard trunk line charge throughout the country. If industry is to be decentralised and if the Deputy Prime Minister (Mr. McEwen), who has said in several recent pronouncements that he favours decentralisation, really believes in this policy, he and his colleagues in Cabinet should immediately see that the Commonwealth encourages the decentralisation of industry. No better encouragement could be given than the introduction of a standard trunk line charge for the whole of the country.
Recently, I wrote to the PostmasterGeneral on this subject on behalf of the Mitchell Regional Development Committee, whose Secretary is Mr. A. B. McDowell of Post Office Box 35, Orange. The PostmasterGeneral, who is carrying out the Government’s policy, rejected the approach I made on behalf of the Committee. This is most discouraging to people in country districts. Surely this proposal, which is of the utmost importance to rural development, ought to be considered more favorably by the Government. It is not a new proposal; it has been mentioned previously. It will be repeated over and over again by those who are concerned about the development of the country. I hope that some time in the future the Government will have a change of heart. I hope that the Treasury attitude wilt change and that, instead of seeking to obtain further reveune from money that has been collected from the taxpayers and handed to the Postmaster-General, the Treasury will give a subsidy to help overcome the burden of heavy telephone charges and so help to establish industry in country districts. We know the attitude of the Government today; but this has not always been the Government’s attitude. I do not think that anyone who fairly considers the situation can justify taking money from the taxpayers, handing it to a Government instrumentality and then charging the same people interest on the money through higher rates and charges. That is precisely what is happening in this instance.
At a meeting of the Australian Loan Council on 4th March 1959, the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) said -
If we charge interest on the money that we spend ourselves, the interest will be paid to us. It is a very quaint idea.
He went on to say -
Really, the idea of us paying ourselves interest on the money that we lay out for public works is a bit humourous, is it not?
It is not humorous; it is utterly absurd and is destroying industry established in country areas. He also said -
I understand that argument, but I do not understand the argument about what the Commonwealth ought to do. The proposition is that we charge ourselves interest, we thow into deficit a couple of great undertakings that have been referred to, and we then raise the wind in order to meet that deficit - ‘because it all comes back onto us.
At that stage, the Prime Minister adopted the attitude that I submit to the Committee this afternoon. It is regrettable that the previous arrangement was changed and that we now have a situation in which the people are being taxed on money that they have contributed.
If it is desired that the PostmasterGeneral’s Department be a business undertaking in the true sense, the PostmasterGeneral should cease taking public money and pouring it into his Department. The Department should go onto the market and raise the money it needs from the savings of the people and then pay them interest on the money they invest. That would be a reasonable proposition. The present situation is astonishing. We are told that the Postmaster-General’s Department is a business undertaking; but it is the only business that refuses to sell its goods to the people who want to buy them. The people want telephones, but the Department refuses to satisfy the demand, or is incapable of doing so. Only a few weeks ago in New South Wales, 29,380 applications for telephones had not been met. This is a shocking state of affairs and ought to be corrected.
I want hurriedly to refer to one or two matters relating to broadcasting and television. Widespread dissatisfaction exists throughout Australia with the manner in which television licences have been granted. The trafficking in shares in companies has made the inquiries preceding the issue of licences just meaningless nonsense. I agree with the honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Killen) who mentioned that inquiries were held in Melbourne into situations that existed in Queensland. Inquiries are also held in Melbourne into the provision of country television services. I suggest that future inquiries be held in the areas where the services are to be established so that the people who will use the services can be heard. The public interest and the rights of viewers have received little or no consideration at these Melbourne inquiries. The local interest has been completely ignored whilst the people in Melbourne who reach decisions on these matters consider how best they can allocate shares and divide this lucrative business between the warring clements who seek to control television. Fringe areas have not received adequate consideration. Promises have been made that translator stations will be established, but nothing of the kind has been done. Promise after promise has been made, but no action has been taken.
– When were the promises made?
– Promises have been made, and 1 hold correspondence in respect of translator services for the BathurstLithgow central tablelands area of New South Wales, yet no action has been taken. People have been compelled to pay their licence fees without getting justice. This is extraordinary, and it is the sort of thing that makes the people cynical and disgusted. That is why the Government is vulnerable on this matter.
I want to refer in the few seconds I have left to the extraordinary business of trafficking in shares. Inquiries were held in Melbourne, and the Australian Broadcasting Control Board at considerable cost heard all the evidence that was available. Until recently it had cost about £50,000 to hold inquiries into the granting of licences for commercial television stations, but in some cases after licences had been granted shares in the companies who gained the licences were sold on the open market. Between 27th September 1961 and 13th August this year no fewer than 5,617,135 shares in television companies changed hands. Licences are given after a careful and thorough examination of the evidence that has been presented by the learned gentlemen who attend the inquiries to watch the interests of their various clients, but after the inquiry we find that the shares are put on the market. This happened in respect of a licence in Queensland. Overnight Ansett was able to take over a substantial percentage of the shares of a company.
Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- In discussing the estimates for Business Undertakings 1 shall refer first to the Australian Broadcasting Commission on matters relating to television. It is interesting to note certain comments contained in the 16th Annual Report of the Australian Broadcasting Control Board tabled in the House last Thursday, 15th October. The report said that television has almost reached a state when children are no longer assumed to have any childhood.
It also said -
The types of programme which formerly were designed to provide for children between the age of 7 and 12 have almost disappeared and television today tends to concentrate on very young children or on the teenage group.
Reviewing trends in Australian television the Board went on to say that there had been a swing from medical dramas to crime dramas. These were more sophisticated than their forerunners and depended more heavily on sex interest to establish their central characters.
Now let us examine the details of the comment regarding the children’s programmes. It is true that the national and commercial stations provide suitable programmes of good quality for the tiny tots, and there is an over-abundance of shows for the teenagers. However, I agree with the statement in the report that children from 7 to 12 years are forgotten, because in most cases they are too old for tiny tots programmes and too young for the teenage programmes, although in the group, naturally, there are exceptions. We must face realities and recognise that probably the most propitious period in which to instil the training of good citizenship in children is from the time of their entering a primary school until they reach teenage. Television, which is undoubtedly the most important medium in disseminating thought and propaganda, could be used more extensively to assist to achieve this end.
I do not profess to have much knowledge on this subject. It is, I believe, a matter that could be determined by experts in this field. But let us examine the quality of television programmes. There is no doubt in my mind, and I suggest that many television viewers would have no doubt, that the standard of imported films exhibited is very low. I am at a loss to understand why some commercial stations persist in showing antiquated films, many of which were produced over 20 years ago and feature star actors and actresses some of whom departed from this world some time ago. Only a few weeks ago I suffered a feature film for about 10 minutes. One of the stars was Marlene Dietrich, who in this film was only a young girl. Now she is old enough to be in the House of Lords.
Some of the weekly features run in serial form are atrocious, to say the least. Let me cite a few programmes that I have in mind. “ Outer Space Limits “ is utterly absurd and is an insult to the intelligence of any adult. Its quality, in my opinion, makes it unsuitable for a Saturday afternoon children’s matinee. Another programme is advertised as the weekly spine chiller. After witnessing one instalment I was left tingling with rage. Another is a “Granada” production from, I believe, a Canadian organisation. It is of very poor quality. I admit that a few of the imported shows are of very high standard. However, none excels the entertainment provided in Australian productions such as “ Studio A “, the “Bobby Limb Show” and “Sound of Music “, which display mostly Australian artists.
I should like also to bring before the notice of the Postmaster-General (Mr. Hulme) a show which I witnessed about two years ago and about which I then made some complaint to the previous PostmasterGeneral. I refer to one programme of the “ Dave Allen Show “ in Sydney. I thought that some of the expressions that were used in this programme were utterly objectionable and could be termed suggestive and even obscene. Mr. Davidson, the Postmaster-General at that time, went into the matter and obtained for me a report on the show. I should like to mention what happened during the programme. In Sydney radio there is a lady well known as “ Andrea “. I think most honorable members would know of her. She was interviewed on the “Dave Allen Show” one night and was talking about her early days in the United States of America when she was a part player in the silent films. She said that she was honoured to play in a film called “The Sheik” starring Rudolph Valentino. She told Mr. Allen what a marvellous man Rudolph Valentino was and what a good-looking man he was. She said that she dressed up in all her pretties, hoping that he would seduce her. This is just the type of matter that should not be televised.
Later in the same show an overseas visitor, Eartha Kitt, was interviewed. There was a couch not far from the table at which she was being interviewed. Both she and the interviewer looked over to the couch and Eartha Kitt remarked, “They are not sexy enough for me “. I am not a square, but I believe that this type of material is very embarrassing for women, particularly women visitors to one’s home, and that they should not have to witness such a programme. I feel that the Australian Broadcasting Control Board is very lax about ensuring that these things do not happen. Matter of this type should not appear on television. It would be cut out of any imported film. Material of that type would not be allowed to be shown in a theatre, yet it is telecast and can be very embarrassing for many people to witness. I might say, incidentally, that “Andrea” is a great supporter of the Liberal Party. She was saying for years before the last New South Wales State election that she would move from New South Wales if Labour were returned to power. She said she would move to Victoria where there was a good government. However, I notice that “ Andrea “ is still in New South Wales. Let me cite some other matters in regard to television.
I think it is quite obvious that the stations operated by the Australian Broadcasting Commission could be greatly improved. I believe that the news readers, the news items and “ Weekend Magazine “ are really superb and superior to what is provided by the other stations, but both commercial stations in Sydney now begin their news service at 6.30 p.m. At one time their news programmes began at 7 o’clock. I believe they have been brought on earlier so that people will watch their news sessions at 6.30 and then watch other entertainment on the same channels at 7 o’clock. I wonder why the A.B.C. also has not seen fit to commence its television news broadcast at 6.30 p.m. instead of 7 p.m. so as to compete with the commercial stations for viewers.
– Six-thirty is too early.
– Well, Channel 9 and Channel 7 in Sydney commence their news services at 6.30 p.m. No doubt they do this for the purpose I have mentioned. 1 should like to say something now about telephones. I agree with the remarks passed by the honorable member for Macquarie (Mr. Luchetti) on the subject of interest charges levied against the PostmasterGeneral’s Department. Let us look at the position of civil aviation in this country. 1 have mentioned this matter several times in the last few years. In the past twelve years - 1 will not go back further than 12 years for fear of obtaining an inflated figure - civil aviation has cost the Australian taxpayer about £170 million. That figure takes into account the profits earned by Qantas and Trans-Australia Airlines, navigational charges and other small rental charges. Apparently the Government is content to provide the aerodromes, the airstrips and ancillary facilities and to allow the airline companies to come in and make big profits. As honorable members know, most of the people who travel by air are business people. They are being subsidised by the taxpayers of Australia. But in the case of the PostmasterGeneral’s Department the Government has decided to extract, every penny it can from the people who use the postal services. In the main these are working people. The Government does not want to sock its friends - the business people who travel by ah” - but it has no compunction about socking the little man who uses the postal services and extracting this interest from him. ] do not think this is fair. Why should one business undertaking be charged interest on its capital indebtedness and not another? 1 do not think that the Government is treating the Postmaster-General’s Department fairly. This matter should be further investigated. I do not suggest for a moment that air fares should be doubled, but they should be increased in order to enable an increase to be made in charges for navigational aids. If this were done it would mean that the taxpayers would receive from airline operators something which is rightly theirs.
I turn now to deal with the recent increases in telephone charges, particularly as they apply to pensioners. It is obvious that a telephone is essential to a pensioner, lt is a means of communicating with a pensioner’s family. Perhaps that family Jives many miles distant. I know of many pensioners who have obtained a priority for the installation of a telephone on account of sickness. Those people are now being asked to pay an exorbitant rental for their telephone. I do not believe it is in the interests of the community to sock these people who can ill afford to pay the extra charges. For some time now members of the Opposition have urged that blind people should be able to obtain a telephone at a reduced rental, if not at no rental, because it will be readily appreciated that very little entertainment is available for blind people. To a blind person a telephone is a Godsend. Yet this Government has not taken any notice of our pleas in this matter over the years. The Postmaster-General should investigate the matter of rental charges for telephones used by blind people. I do npt think these people should be charged any rental. Age and invalid pensioners should have telephones at greatly reduced rentals.
.- I would like to deal first wilh the estimates for the Commonwealth Railways. The Commonwealth Railways have a reputation for great efficiency. I have not heard anything recently to lead me to think there has been any change in this regard. I wish to say that the Government should cooperate with the New South Wales Government in investigating the building of a rail link between Canberra and Yass. This matter has been raised on other occasions but has apparently been allowed to lie dormant. We have a very fine service between Sydney and Melbourne, with such trains as the “ Southern Aurora “ and the “ Spirit of Progress “. We could have carriages from these trains transferred to the Yass to Canberra line. This is the National Capital and we should have an efficient rail service between Canberra and the main line. Years ago when I first came to Canberra most members of the Parliament travelled from Sydney or Melbourne by rail. But the service between Goulburn and Canberra is so poor that members will not travel by train now. On certain days of the week if you travel by train from Melbourne you have to get out of your sleeper at Goulburn at approximately 5.30 o’clock in the morning and get into another non-sleeper carriage bound for Canberra.
In this modern age we should be able to board a train in Sydney or Melbourne and travel direct to the National Capital. All that is needed is satisfactory co-operation between the Commonwealth and New South Wales. I know that this is the age of flight and that most members come to Canberra by aircraft, but if we had an efficient rail service to this National Capital I am sure that many tourists and other people would prefer to come here by rail rather than by tourist bus or aircraft. My suggestion is not novel but apparently this matter has been allowed to lapse over the years, probably due to lack of enthusiasm. I would like honorable members to think about what I have said and I would like the Government to make some investigation of the matter before perhaps approaching the New South Wales Government.
Many honorable members have spoken in high praise of the Postmaster-General (Mr. Hulme). I must add my praise to that of other honorable members. The PostmasterGeneral has always treated me with the greatest courtesy. As the honorable member for Hume (Mr. Pettitt) said, when the Postmaster-General says “ No “ to representations he does so in a most pleasant manner. I can go further than that and say that when he says “ No “ to a proposition that I put to him he does so in such a way as to leave me and my constituents a ray of hope. This is something that I have appreciated. I feel that perhaps if we cannot get what we want this year the Government may be able to provide it in the future. The former Postmaster-General, Mr. Davidson, always treated me in the same manner and I appreciated it. I wish the present Postmaster-General every success in his office.
Over the years I have advocated that we should have better telephone services in country areas. On many occasions I have advocated that the Postmaster-General’s Department should participate to a greater extent in the maintenance of party lines in such areas. Some honorable members, including the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam), have stressed the need for telephones in metropolitan areas. I do not doubt for a moment that telephones are necessary in metropolitan areas, but we must decide whether metropolitan areas or isolated country areas should have the higher priority for telephones. I know that members who represent city electorates will say that metropolitan areas should have first priority. I do not blame them for their attitude because they represent the people who put them in this Parliament just as I represent the people who put me in this Parliament. But, if we put all political considerations to one side and consider the proposition, we realise, as has been mentioned in this debate, that countless numbers of people in isolated areas have no means of communication other than the telephone. I heard one honorable member say today - this is very true - that if a person in a city area has not a telephone or if his telephone is out of order, he can go to the nearest telephone booth, which is probably only one or two streets away, or use a neighbour’s telephone. But if a person is 10 or 20 miles, or even only 3 or 4 miles away from his neighbour, a telephone is very necessary.
Another important point is that decentralisation - that is a hackneyed word which I do not like to use too frequently - is helped if people in country areas can be given telephonic communication. It makes them feel more secure. That is why I have always advocated that everything possible should be done to take telephonic communication to isolated areas and to keep the installation of telephones up to date. On many occasions I have to telephone people on party lines. On some of those lines you cannot hear, either because the line is along a fence or because it is out of order in some way. I know that the PostmasterGeneral’s Department supplies the telephone line up to a certain distance away from the exchange, according to the number of subscribers that it will serve. Beyond that distance the man on the land has to build his own telephone line. Some people might say that that is quite fair. But, of course, in the city areas people do not have to build their own telephone lines because they live in a very congested space. Apart from political considerations, most honorable members would agree that on every occasion priority must be given to people in decentralised areas if those people are to have a satisfactory service.
In a question that I asked the PostmasterGeneral on 15th October, I stressed the need for more telephones. The Minister, in his answer, said -
Last year approximately 297,000 telephones were installed.
That is in Australia. He went on to say -
Depending on the rate of applications, it is expected that this year we will install about 310,000 telephones.
Why are all those telephones wanted? I listened to the Deputy Leader of the Opposition saying today that the PostmasterGeneral’s Department will not sell telephones to people although they desire them. The reason why all those telephones are wanted is that we in Ausralia are in a state of great prosperity. Only two years ago members of the Opposition were saying: “ This country is not prosperous. The people are not as well off now as they were in 1949 “. But, it seems to me that recently that idea has changed considerably. Even members of the Opposition, in spite of any political bias, must agree that we are living in a state of great prosperity and that the high standard of living in Australia is apparent no matter where you go. Therefore, I say that all these telephones are required because people can afford to have them.
I listened to the honorable member for Watson (Mr. Cope) who spoke before me. He said that most of the people who require telephones are working people. What did he mean by that? Most people in this country are working people. There are only a few idle rich in Australia and they probably have telephones already. It seems to me that the honorable member’s argument was along the same line as headlines that I saw in the Press recently in relation to a speech made in some other place by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell). The Leader of the Opposition said that the two main matters before this country now are defence and the Australian economy. Under the heading “Australian economy”, one could include pretty well everything. As a matter of fact, I do not know much that one could not include under it. What the honorable member for Watson was saying was that the people who want telephones are mostly workers. As workers constitute probably more than 90 per cent, of the adult population - apart from wives who do , not work - he was right. But he did not make any very significant point when he said that.
One of the great advances in country telephone services is the rural automatic telephone exchange. Often a telephone exchange has been conducted by a family and then by a widow who has carried it on for as long as she could. But because age is creeping on she decides that she cannot carry on any longer and she tries to get someone else to run the exchange. Years ago that was a simple matter because, although only a small amount was paid, times were not prosperous and many people urgently required money. But today, if someone who has been running an exchange for 15, 20 or 30 years gives it up, it is very difficult to get someone else to take on the job, simply because today people do not want the extra money or they can make more money elsewhere. That is why rural automatic exchanges are so necessary in so many places.
In the question that I put to the PostmasterGeneral, I asked him whether the additional Budget allocation to the PostmasterGeneral’s Department of £ 8i million and the increased revenue from telephones following the passage of the legislation to increase Post Office charges - perhaps that increased revenue cannot be applied to works - would mean greater participation by the Department in the maintenance of party lines and also more rural automatic exchanges. In answer to that question the Minister said -
As regards rural automatic exchanges, if my memory serves me correctly, 65 were installed last year and it is anticipated that about ISO will be installed in the current year.
I hope that that number will be increased to 300 or 400 next year. The PostmasterGeneral’s Department has a progressive policy. Progress in the provision of more and more automatic exchanges will please many people.
I sound this note of warning: Sometimes, when a person is running a post office and a manual telephone exchange, if a rural automatic exchange is installed he may not find it financially worth while to continue to run the post office. Local residents have to watch that point very closely, because a post office, as well as a telephone exchange, is necessary in a rural area. In the few minutes that I have at my disposal, I wish to say that I am very appreciative of the Postmaster-General’s Department building a new post office at Swan Hill, the biggest town in the electorate of Mallee, and also a new post office at Mildura, the city in the electorate of Mallee.
I move quickly on to the subject of broadcasting and television services. I am pleased that the Government has seen fit to make arrangements for the building of a national television station at Swan Hill and another one at Mildura. They will serve the electorate of Mallee admirably. The honorable member for Kennedy (Mr. Riordan) wants television stations in western Queensland. I sympathise with him. I believe that the national television service must be extended to the far-flung areas where commercial stations could not be run as paying propositions. I am sure that that will happen before long if there is anything like an adequate population to view the television programmes.
Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- I wish to renew the battle I have been fighting for several years to have a television translator station established in a section of northern Tasmania which at this time is not served at all, or which at best is served very inadequately by the television station at Launceston and the booster station on Mount Barrow which brings the ABT2 programme from Hobart to the north of the island. The Postmaster-General (Mr. Hulme) will recall that a few weeks ago I wrote to him about the village at Gowrie Park, which is about 14 miles south west of Sheffield in the northern part of the Wilmot electorate. Here there is a township that will soon have a population of 2,500 people, and will remain in existence for 12 years. It has been established to house the men who will be building a £60 million hydro-electric installation and, of course, their families. This is a very large undertaking, and having in mind the size of the island it will compare favorably with any section of the Snowy Mountains scheme.
The people who will live in this township come from Poatina, where there is another big hydro-electric installation, lt is near Launceston in my electorate and it cost £28 million and is just about finished. People who moved to Gowrie Park took the television sets which they were using at Poatina, but because of the geographical situation of the new village the sets are practically worthless. Programmes from Launceston can be picked up on odd occasions only. The people at Gowrie Park arc therefore seriously considering selling their television sets. I do not think this should be allowed to happen. I have asked them to refrain from selling their sets pending the conclusion of an investigation by officers of the Australian Broadcasting Control Board. This investigation is being carried out at the moment and the officers arc actually conducting their inquiries on the west coast of Tasmania. The investigation was initiated as a result of representations by me and by the honorable member for Braddon (Mr. Davies), in whose electorate the officers are operating at the moment trying to find a suitable spot for a translator station to bring programmes from Hobart to the thickly populated west coast area of Tasmania.
In reply to my submissions about this matter the Minister said recently that these officers would visit the island and conduct investigations. 1 am now appealing to the Minister, and through him to the Australian Broadcasting Control Board, to make sure that the officers involved visit the Gowrie Park hydro-electricity project village. Mount Roland, which is 4,000 feet high, overshadows the village. On three sides of the village there are mountains and on the fourth side are steep hills. The village will be there for 12 years and be cut off from television services unless we put a translator station on Mount Roland. I again appeal to the Postmaster-General to make sure that the men conducting the inquiry visit this area and make a careful, thorough investigation. It may be necessary to have a translator station to serve the west coast erected just east of Queenstown and another one at Mount Roland to serve Gowrie Park and the isolated areas in that mountainous part of northern Tasmania.
I have before me the sixteenth annual report of the Australian Broadcasting Control Board for the year ended 30th June 1964. At page 51 there is a reference to the legislation that was passed by this Parliament in October last year giving the Minister the right to approve of translator stations on the recommendation of the Broadcasting Control Board. The report quotes the second-reading speech of the Minister, and I shall read portion of it -
Notwithstanding the extensive coverage provided by existing stations and to be provided by the additional stations which have been approved, there will still be some 900,000 people without a satisfactory service. . . . The two methods most commonly used to provide service to such pockets of population -
The reference is to areas such as the Gowrie Park district to which I have been referring - are community television aerial systems and television translators. 1
The first method, of course, involves high costs for television viewers and is not recommended very highly, but the second method is recommended. Translator stations are most efficient. The report continued, quoting the Minister’s speech -
In many of the areas in question, however, it is possible to make use of translator stations and these have the advantage not only of making service available to all those situated within the area covered by its transmission but also of permitting the reception of programmes by normal means.
I should here explain that a television translator is, in comparison with a normal television station, essentially a low powered device, varying in power from a fraction of 1 watt to about 200 watts. It consequently has a smaller range. A translator, as the name implies, receives transmission from a parent television station and re-transmits the programmes on a different channel to be received by normal television receivers. No programmes are originated.
This is obvious, of course. The very term “ translator station “ indicates that it is a relaying station.
On page 52 the report continues its quotation of the Minister’s speech - lt is known that the licensees of some commercial television stations are interested in establishing translator stations for the purpose of providing service to poorly served pockets of population where their use is appropriate, but are reluctant to proceed in the matter because of the provisions of the Act to which I have referred. . . .
The Bill which I have introduced provides that the Minister may, after receipt of a recommendation by the Australian Broadcasting Control Board, grant a licence for a television translator station upon such conditions as the Minister determines.
There will, by the way, be no licence fee charged for a translator station. I quite agree with this. The report concludes its quotation of the Minister’s speech with a paragraph containing the following sentence -
Their main field of use is to provide service to some small populated areas which, because of topographical and other reasons, cannot be served by norma] high power stations.
That sentence sums up the position of Gowrie Park to perfection, as that village is surrounded by mountains. On page- 57 of the report the Board mentioned applications coming in for translator stations. It said that licensees of some commercial stations are urging the Board to allow such stations to be established. The national station in Hobart, by the way, is establishing a translator station to serve Queenstown, and the Launceston station TNT9 wants to have a translator station on or near Mr Roland to service Gowrie Park, which it cannot serve at the moment. The report said at page 57 -
The Board is at present engaged on an extensive programme of observations for this purpose.
That is, for the purpose of setting up translator stations.
Such surveys are also rendered necessary by the provision in the Act that the Board shall not recommend the grant of a licence for a television translator station in any area if, in the opinion of the Board, satisfactory reception of television programmes from a commercial television station is available there.
That is very important. It means that if the Board believes that a television station is going to be established that will serve the isolated area in the near future it will not allow the establishment of a translator station and the people will just have to wait. But at Gowrie Park there will be no television station in the foreseeable future that will provide anything like a satisfactory service. Gowrie Park, therefore, qualifies fully for a translator station. The Minister obviously has the power to do what we want done in our State so that the people at Gowrie Park will not be in the position of paying for their sets and their licences and getting nothing in return.
The Postmaster-General no doubt in due course will receive a report from the officers who are in Tasmania at the moment. I hope there will be a recommendation that on Mount Roland we will have a translator station to serve this area. I received a letter the other day from a resident in that area who complained about the shocking reception they are getting on their television sets. The writer said the reception was practically useless and asked me about selling his set. I advised against this at present. He spoke of several other people in the same position. Those people will lose a lot of money if they now sell the sets which they bought two or three years ago. I only hope that the Postmaster-General will not place them in a position where they will have to sell their sets. In that area there would be about 2,500 people, about 400 or 500 homes, and there could be 350 television sets sold. The Department will lose a lot of licence fees if it does not cater to these people in the way that I have suggested. 1 want to mention briefly the iniquitous telephone charges. If ever a government deserved defeat on one issue it is this Government. It has increased from £10 to £15 all installation fees. Already several folk have written to me saying that they will pull their telephones out altogether. Hundreds of people throughout Australia will do this. Maybe the Government’s action in increasing the charge is a subtle and cruel way of cutting down on the number of applications for telephones. If that is the method the Government is using to cut down on the installation of telephones then nothing could be more objectionable or contemptible. There are pensioners who will have to have their telephones disconnected. In Launceston it will cost them £27 to have them reconnected. To an invalid pensioner who has a doctor’s certificate saying that he must have a telephone £27 is a lot of money. It will cost £15 to install it and about £12 for rental for the first year. The action of the Government rn increasing these charges is the worst bushranging act of the mid-twentieth century. It takes us back to the days of John Gilbert, Ben Hall, Ned Kelly, John Dunn and several other famous characters of the 1870’s. Compared with what this Government has done in this respect those fellows were all gentlemen. What the Government has done to the people of Australia is iniquitous.
A group of blind pensioners wanted to come up to Canberra to meet the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) today and he refused to see them. He said he was just too busy.
– Is that true?
– That is true. A notice has been put on our board to that effect and I think it is a scandalous thing. This group cancelled its trip to Canberra because the Prime Minister is too busy to see them. No Prime Minister should be too busy to see a deputation of blind pensioners. The Prime Minister has a wall around him. He adopts the attitude of living in an ivory tower so that no-one can get through to him. These people at least should have had acceptance into his august presence but now their trip to Canberra is off. They wanted to appeal for special consideration in regard to these telephone rentals and charges and to ask that they be given exemption from the increased costs. I think the people of Australia ought to know that these blind pensioners were not able to see the Prime Minister today. Press publicity was given to this proposed trip and I thought that this would be one deputation that the Prime Minister would receive. It is just another that he has not received. In the last minute of my time I would like to congratulate the Department on the beautiful post offices it is building throughout Australia.
– Hear, hear!
– 1 agree with my parliamentary colleague - he is not my party colleague - the honorable member for Mallee (Mr. Turnbull) on this matter. These buildings are a credit to the departmental planners and architects. In many cases they arc the newest buildings in some towns which have not had a new public building for many many years. I hope the Department will continue building this type of post office. I would like to make a plea for Beaconsfield on the West Tamar in my electorate. The post office there is dilapidated and very small. 1 understand the Department intends to build a new post office there and I hope it will be included in the new estimates.
Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
– I note with satisfaction that the Postmaster-General (Mr. Hulme) is in the chamber and I am sure that I will have his full attention in presenting to him this case on behalf of a section of the Eden-Monaro electorate. I appreciate what he has done in establishing an automatic telephone exchange at Cooma and at Goulburn and
I am sorry that I have to denounce him for his treatment of Queanbeyan and adjacent towns. But, in the light of many courtesies that I have received from him since he became Postmaster-General, I know that he will appreciate that the cri criticisms I have to make of him are in his capacity of Postmaster-General and are in no way personal.
Whenever a tax or a charge is increased protests are inevitable. The Government of the day is aware of this in advance and waits confidently for the protests to fade away. However, sometimes the new impost is so outrageous and so unjust that the storm of resentment grows with time instead of subsiding. A government which is not mule-headed will then take a second look at (he matter and meet the genuine grievance. I ask the Postmaster-General and, through him, the Government to have a second look at the imposition of £20 a year for telephone rentals in Queanbeyan, Bungendore, Gundaroo, Geary’s Gap, Sutton and adjacent areas. I will give proof to the House that in these places the increased charges are, indeed, not an ordinary injustice but an exceptional injustice. No similar communities in any State will have to pay £20 a year as the communities in my electorate will have to do.
– They ought to change the member.
– We ought to change the Government and I might tell the honorable member who has interjected that a wave of anger is now sweeping all sections of the public, irrespective of party, in these townships because Australians resent a manifest injustice. I ask the Government not to be mule-headed but to re-examine the facts of this matter.
The general case against the increased telephone rentals has already been put forward and I strongly support it. But I am confining my limited time now to the particular case of the communities I have mentioned. Queanbeyan is by far the largest of them and the closest to Canberra. It is now being treated as part of Canberra for telephone charge purposes but it is not part of Canberra and this Government has refused it every privilege which Canberra enjoys. This attitude that Queanbeyan is a separate community and that its citizens are not entitled to the benefits applying in Canberra applies in a hundred things and it is understandable why this is so - because Queanbeyan is in the State of New South Wales. The Commonwealth Government does not regard Queanbeyan as part of the National Capital or the Australian Capital Territory and denies all the requests it makes to be granted the privileges and benefits equal to those of the people of Canberra.
Only two months ago the PostmasterGeneral, who is now at the table, applied this doctrine that Queanbeyan is a separate community and is not part of the capital. He applied it to Queanbeyan in the matter of telephones, when he flatly refused a request from Queanbeyan municipality to become part of an automatic telephone network with Canberra. Queanbeyan was condemned by the Postmaster-General to continue as a separate telephone installation with a manual exchange and inferior services. The Postmaster-General insists that this must be so and that Queanbeyan must continue as a separate entity within Mew South Wales. Yet, when he applies the £20 increase to Canberra on the ground that Canberra is an Australian capital city, he at the same time has the almighty gall to apply the same increase to Queanbeyan and to the small townships in the State of New South Wales within a radius of 20 or 30 miles of Canberra.
When the Postmaster-General recently insisted that Queanbeyan must persevere with a separate and antiquated telephone service and denied its claim to telephone equality with Canberra he said this -
The present capacity of the Queanbeyan exchange is 1,500 lines and it can readily be extended further. The exchange is capable of meeting expected needs for some years to come.
That was two months ago. I have a letter dated 17th September from the PostmasterGeneral’s Department, and I ask the Minister to take note of it. It reads -
With reference to your application for installation of a telephone service in your premises . . in Queanbeyan it is regretted that the Department is not in a position to provide the facility at present, as the necessary exchange equipment is not available.
First the Minister says Queanbeyan’s claim for an automatic service and to be linked with Canberra cannot be granted because the present capacity of the Queanbeyan exchange is 1,500 lines, that it can readily be extended further, and that it is capable of meeting expected needs for years to come. Then, almost in the same breath, his Department, says in a letter refusing a new service that the Department is not in a position to provide this service as the necessary exchange equipment is not available. Actually, this service will be provided only when an existing service is cancelled. I ask the PostmasterGeneral to examine that position.
I have said that a wave of anger is sweeping the communities that I represent at this imposition of the telephone rental of £20 a year, which otherwise applies only in capital cities and in Newcastle. A report published in the Queanbeyan “ Age “ a few days ago stated that the Queanbeyan Municipal Council had decided to protest vigorously following advice by the Postmaster-General that subscribers to the Queanbeyan telephone exchange would have to pay the £20 yearly telephone rental applying to capital cities as from 1st October.
The Council further decided to ask me to try to arrange a deputation to the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies). It felt that it had done everything possible with the PostmasterGeneral and that it could get no further with him. I have written to the Prime Minister and presented the request. At the same time-, I have stated that I will not be astonished if the Prime Minister finds himself unable to receive the deputation because he has very many demands upon his time. But I do ask the PostmasterGeneral to have a look at this matter again in the light of the obvious manifest injustices which exist in imposing this capital city charge on purely rural communities, some of which have no connection with Canberra whatever, which existed long before Canberra was built, and which have their own separate community life. 1 think that there are 19,000 subscribers in the Canberra area, but the people of Bungendore, Geary’s Gap, Gundaroo, or Sutton on the boundary, have no desire or need to call many of those 19,000 numbers.
They have a telephone service for their own needs, and, but for the artificial establishment of the national capital in Canberra, they would today be paying a rental of £8 a year. Instead, they are being asked to pay £20 a year.
– But they would be paying for trunk calls instead of local calls.
– That would be so if they were ringing Canberra. They would be paying a few pence in trunk calls if they were calling Canberra; but does the Minister compare that with the extra £12 a year in rental? Does he believe that the residents of Bungendore or Geary’s Gap would be spending £12 a year in making calls to Canberra?
– It happens in many parts of Australia.
– Yes, but 1 am pointing to a particular situation. If the Minister is speaking of Sydney and the suburbs of Sydney, they are an entity. It is quite likely that the residents of the suburbs of Sydney do ring Sydney; but the people of Bungendore, for instance, have very little occasion to ring Canberra. As I say, the communities of Bungendore, Gundaroo and others existed long before Canberra was established. Those people have their separate community life and would be far more likely to ring Goulburn. They will bc charged an extra £12 a year rental and at the same time they will have to pay trunk call rates to ring Goulburn, which is their own national New South Wales centre.
This is a strong argument. I hope the Minister will have a look at it. In case it is thought that I am exaggerating the feelings of the people in those areas, I point out that aldermen at that council meeting in Queanbeyan described the treatment being meted out to Queanbeyan and these other centres as a raw deal, as grossly unfair, as shocking and Ned Kelly tactics. I hand the Postmaster-General the detailed report of what they said and I ask him to have a look at it at his leisure.
The reason given by the Postmaster General himself for imposing a £20 a year ren*al charge in Canberra ought to be. a very good reason for reviewing and exempting the centres I have named from that charge. He said -
The status of Canberra justifies its being regarded as a capital city in Australia, and telephone subscribers are being called upon to pay rentals in keeping with that status.
That is his justification for imposing the higher charge in Canberra - that Canberra is a capital city, that the people here enjoy a certain status, and that they ought to pay for that status. I say that the case tor establishing the higher charge in Canberra is very weak indeed. In fact, it was devastatingly reduced by the honorable member for the Australian Capital Territory (Mr. J. R. Fraser) when he spoke the other night.
But if the case for imposing rt in Canberra is weak, the case for imposing it in Queanbeyan and the other adjacent country towns in my electorate is completely non-existent, particularly when, as the Postmaster-General himself insists, Queanbeyan is not entitled to become part of the integrated automatic Canberra - telephone service but must preserve its manual exchange and its antiquated installations and service. These are very strong reasons indeed.
The Postmaster-General has referred to his girl friend whom his predecessor introduced in such glowing terms to the people of Australia a couple of years ago. I refer to E.L.S.A. - the extended local service area system. E.L.S.A. was presented to the Australian public as a demure young modern of the highest standards, who would bring nothing but joy, light and happiness to users of the telephone service; but, the way the Minister is using E.L.S.A. now, he is making her into a Jezebel because he is imposing on everybody in the E.L.S.A. community charges which apply only in the capital cities of Australia.
– Not altogether.
– It applies in the area about which I am speaking.
– ‘That is only one area. It does not apply everywhere.
– And this is the area in which I am asking you to reconsider the matter. The Minister has strengthened my case by saying it does not apply everywhere. I think myself that this is an exceptional injustice. I most respectfully, courteously and strongly urge and ask the Postmaster-General to have another look at this and, if he can, to restore the previous charges in these areas. Queanbeyan, with 1,500 lines and with a manual exchange, ought to be charged the rate for under 2,000 lines, which is about £8 a year. The other exchanges in Eden-Monaro on which this £20 a year rental is being imposed, serve small rural communities with 20, 30 or 40 telephones. Many of the people living in these isolated communities are on very small incomes. Many of them are pensioners. The hardship on them is very severe, but the injustice is greater and it is the injustice which is being so tremendously resented throughout the whole of this area.
.- .1 wish to deal with the Commonwealth Railways and to refer in particular to the TransAustralia Railway. First I wish to point out that it is quite obvious that the railway authorities are finding it very difficult to hold such employees as track repairers and maintenance men. The Minister told me, in reply to a question I asked of him on 22nd September, that in the year ended 30th June 1961 there were 1,588 appointments and 1,507 terminations. In 1962 there were 1,502 appointments and 1,613 terminations, in 1963, 1,569 appointments and 1,501 terminations, and in the year ended June 1964, 1,414 appointments and 1,484 terminations. So over the four years there were 6,073 appointments as track repairers and maintenance men on the TransAustralia Railway and Central Australia Railway while 6,105 terminated their employment.
There must be a very good reason for this. I suggest it is due largely to the lack of amenities and to isolation, dust, heat and generally poor conditions. Bearing these things in mind and knowing that Peters Ice Cream (W.A.) Ltd. of Kalgoorlie was anxious to arrange for a supply of its products to be made available to the people living along the Trans-Australia line I wrote to the. Chief Traffic Manager to find out whether arrangements could be made whereby the people could be afforded the opportunity of buying these products. I had spoken to the Manager of Peters and the proposition his firm hae! put to the Commonwealth seemed to me to be quite reasonable. The idea was that Peters would hire to the Commonwealth a deep freeze unit or units to be used on trains known as the “Tea and sugar” or some other train if the Commonwealth so desired; that Peters would sell its products to the Commonwealth at a bulk rate; and that the Commonwealth would in turn sell the produce at arranged prices to the people. This meant that all that the Commonwealth would have to provide was space to store the units and also would have to employ someone to issue the various items and receive payment. In addition to ice cream in its various forms Peters was also prepared to supply sponge cakes, pies, pasties, sausage rolls and frozen fish. Imagine how welcome these items would be to people living out in the desert on the Trans-Australia line.
I received from the Chief Traffic Manager - who, of course, is in no way to be blamed - the following reply -
Your letter of January 29th, requesting that consideration be given to the supply of ice cream to employees on the Trans-Australia Railway is acknowledged, and it is advised that this proposal has been continuously under review since 1957.
Although it is agreed that the supply of ice cream and frozen foods to employees at line locations would provide an additional amenity, all avenues have been explored, but at this stage the installation of deep freeze units in the Provision Store Vans or the despatch by other transport is not practicable.
We are informed that since 1957 the chance of providing a worthwhile amenity to the people along this railway line has received consideration. The authorities would have us believe that for over seven years they have been trying to work out some way or other by which a deep freeze unit could be installed in existing transport. Anyone would think it required a special train.
Surely, however, considering what such a service would mean to the people along the line, it would not be too much to ask or to expect that if necessary even a special van be put on to carry this particular unit or units. The space required for one of the units is, in length 2 ft. 6 in., in height 2 ft. 4 in. and in width 1 ft. 8 in. Another unit is 6 ft. Oi in. in length, 1 ft. 6b in. in width and 2 ft. 11 in. in height. A remote unit would need a space of 2 ft. 6 in. in length, 2 ft. 4 in. in height and 1 ft. 8 in. in width. Surely no-one would suggest that it should take seven years to work out how one such unit or even two such units, could bc installed. So I wrote again to the Chief Traffic Manager giving details of the units and explaining to him the products that Peters could supply. I received a reply stating that nothing could be done about it.
Providing these several items of goods for sale on the line would no doubt help the employment position - this high turnover of labour - but, more important, it would be helpful to the people who have so little in the way of amenities and comforts. I know it is out of the Chief Traffic Manager’s hands, so I suggest that the Minister should interest himself personally in this issue and tell his Department that arrangements must be made to enable the people along the railway line to receive this service, if not from Peters then from some other source.
The next matter I wish to raise has been ventilated several times previously. Up to date the Government has not included either Geraldton or Kalgoorlie in its proposals for the extension of television to country areas. Not only that, it does not seem inclined to give any clear and precise statement of what is intended in this regard. Replies received to questions are always delightfully vague, unless of course we accept as the Government’s attitude the reply of the Postmaster-General (Mr. Hulme) on 5th May last when he said that he had no intention of recommending the expenditure of the amount of money required to provide Kalgoorlie and Geraldton with a national station.
Subsequently I asked him, by way of question in the House, whether the small amount of revenue expected from the two stations was an obstacle and, if so, whether perhaps the acceptance of advertising would supplement revenue sufficiently to allow the stations to be installed. The reply I received was rather surprising, because the PostmasterGeneral said that revenue was not the major difficulty. This made it appear that finance was not the problem he suggested it was when he answered a previous question.
Over the past couple of months events have happened which make it appear that commercial package stations may be given the green light for the areas I have mentioned. I am disturbed to think that perhaps the Government is considering a similar set up for a national station. It is with regard to that possibility that I want to address my remarks today. I should like to know just how good or how bad these so-called package stations might be. I have here a newspaper article which suggests that they are as good as a normal station. I shall quote relevant portions of the article -
Senator Branson said the so called “ package deal” television provided a service identical to that given by existing stations in W.A. and other States, but the set-up was not so elaborate.
However, the idea that the programmes by this medium were second-class could be dispelled immediately.
Senator Branson said that the type of station envisaged here would have a radius of approximately 25 miles, but it would be the policy of the Perth syndicate to provide translators to pick up the signal from Geraldton and boost it on to other areas, such as Northampton, Mullewa and Mingenew districts. 1
Senator Branson was emphatic that people in Geraldton and surrounding areas would not be asked to accept second-class television.
Inquiries I made earlier this year from a source which should be fully authoritative made it clear to me that package stations would not provide anywhere near as good a service as the service obtained from existing stations or those in the course of being established. I was also told that the range would be nearer 15 miles than 25 miles. In addition I was advised that the translation of programmes from package stations to areas outside the range was dependent on several factors and could not be considered as being certain to provide good reception.
I have no objection to package stations if they give good service. I can appreciate that from a commercial station viewpoint they may be the only possibility in certain areas, but I cannot agree that they are good enough for a national station. The people of Geraldton and Kalgoorlie are entitled to a service just as good as the service elsewhere. If a package station will give a service identical to the service provided by other stations I will be interested to learn why it was necessary to establish in other country areas stations which were so much more expensive. For instance, the 13 country stations in phase 3 were estimated to cost a total of ?6 million, which is an average of just over ?460,000 each, whereas the article I have just quoted stated that a package type station would cost only about ?30,000. 1 find it very hard to believe that a station costing only ?30,000 will give a service anything like as good as one costing ?460,000. I point out that if the cheaper station will give as good a service over a range of 25 miles, an expenditure of ?460,000 would provide 15 package stations that would cover an area four times greater than the area covered by one high power station. If that is so, instead of putting in high power stations at Bunbury and Albany at a cost of ?460,000 each, we could have provided, for about the same expenditure, 30 package stations, which would give identical service - or so Senator Branson claims, according to the newspaper article that I read - over an area eight times as great as the two high power stations would serve. If this is correct, not only Kalgoorlie and Geraldton but also other centres in Western Australia and in other States could be provided with television services.
I appreciate ‘that, because of additional construction and maintenance costs, the ratio of expenditure on each station may not be exactly ?460,000 to ?30,000 as I have suggested, but, nevertheless, for an equivalent expenditure a lot more area could be covered by the use of package stations if the newspaper report is correct. As this is a matter of considerable importance to many people in my electorate, I hope that the Postmaster-General will take the opportunity provided by this debate to go to the trouble of explaining the limitations of these so-called package stations and that he will reveal the Government’s intentions in regard to both Kalgoorlie and Geraldton. I ask him, if he can do so at this stage, to give us an idea when we can expect television services in those areas.
In the couple of minutes that I have left, I want to direct the Minister’s attention to the fact that interference to radio reception is still occurring in the districts of Esperance and Mallee in Western Australia. I appreciate that we have been promised a radio station in the area, although at present we do not know just when it will be established. I point out to the Minister that, in the meantime, the people of those districts are still suffering from interference to radio reception. Perhaps he will recall that transmissions from station 5CL in Adelaide, which is a high power station, were overriding or interfering with broadcasts from station 6GF at Kalgoorlie, which is a station of very low power. I understand that the PostmasterGeneral’s Department investigated the problem and altered the frequency of 6GF, which had been very close to that of 5CL, in the hope that this change would correct the situation. I point out that the trouble has not been corrected and that the radio service to the local people is still being interfered with. Those people are called on to pay licence fees as high as those paid by listeners in metropolitan areas, though metropolitan listeners have the choice of programmes from several stations all of which give them good reception. Therefore, I hope that the Minister will ensure that the matter is again examined carefully and that steps are taken to prevent this interference to the local programmes so that the people of the districts that I have mentioned may have good radio reception and enjoy good programmes.
– Mr. Temporary Chairman, the Estimates debate is interesting, but, unfortunately, it does not enable a Minister at the table, endeavouring to cover many matters that have been discussed, to make what may be regarded as a normal, coherent speech and to spend a good deal of time on a particular subject. It is my purpose this afternoon to deal with some of the matters that have been raised by various honorable members. I shall take them in the order in which the honorable members concerned spoke. In the first place, the honorable member for Kennedy (Mr. Riordan) raised the question of the provision of television services in the central west and the north west of Queensland. He pointed out that, in this vast area - if I may so describe it - some 23,000 people live. I emphasise that it would be impossible to provide from one television station transmissions that could be viewed by all the people who live in that part of Queensland. There are many isolated pockets of population there. The largest congregation of people is at Mount Isa, and there are numerous smaller centres such as Longreach and Barcaldine. Centres such as these could not support a television station.
It has been suggested that the Government accept full responsibility for the provision of television services in such centres. This would mean that the public of the metropolitan areas would have to accept responsibility for meeting the cost, because the Government has determined that the cost of providing national television services shall be met, not out of the public purse, not out of general tax revenue, but out of the licence fees paid by viewers. If this principle is adopted and we accept that revenue from fees in isolated areas is insufficient to provide television services in those areas, responsibility for meeting the cost has to be transferred to people in the areas where there are the largest concentrations of population. These, of course, are the metropolitan areas - in the main, the capital cities.
As was mentioned by the honorable member for Kalgoorlie (Mr. Collard), I have pointed out previously that the establishment of a television station of acceptable standard involves a capital cost approximating £1 million. The Government is not prepared - at the present time, anyway - to accept responsibility for this sort of expenditure to establish television stations in isolated areas, having regard to the people who will have to provide the funds needed. I have pointed out in this chamber on a number of occasions that, by the time we conclude the fourth stage of television, we shall have provided viewing for more than 90 per cent, of the Australian population. Bearing in mind Australia’s small population and its huge area and scattered settlements, and remembering that in the United Kingdom, which has a very small area and a population of more than 40 million people, television is not available to everybody, I consider that the performance of the Australian Government in providing viewing for 90 per cent, of the Australian population between the introduction of television in the financial year 1956-57 and 1966 will be very good.
The honorable member for Kennedy suggested that, when the microwave link between Brisbane and Cairns is completed, we begin work on the provision of two more microwave links - one between Townsville and Mount Isa and one between Rockhampton and Barcaldine or Longreach. I think that the honorable member, as the representative of a large area in central western and north western Queensland, is putting before me and before the Parliament representations that are acceptable to his electorate. He seems to have no real comprehension of the cost of the installations for which he asks. If the cost of these microwave links is added to the cost of establishing television stations, which I mentioned earlier, the total cost becomes even more prohibitive.
The honorable member for Deakin (Mr. Davis) voiced some substantial criticisms, particularly of the Australian Broadcasting Commission. I do not object to criticisms being made. Any query raised by a member of the Parliament is regarded by me as a test case on which I can perhaps test the efficiency of the Postmaster-General’s Department. I accept this as a ministerial responsibility, and I believe that most honorable members realise that this is the approach that I have adopted towards representations that they have made to me over the past 10 months. I place in the test case category many of the matters that were raised by the honorable member for Deakin. However, I want to answer some of his comments. In the first place, he voiced some criticism concerning the difference between total expenditure and total revenue of the broadcasting and television services. He pointed out that certain capital expenditure is incurred. The history of broadcasting in this country goes back to the 1920’s. It was never the intention of governments that a broadcasting service should necessarily be paid for by the community using it. This was not the attitude adopted to television, which could be said to be more in the luxury class than the broadcasting service. We have been able over the years to make television a payable proposition by relating the licence fees to the cost. This method has not applied to broadcasting. The loss on broadcasting has been incurred because it is inevitable, having regard to the policy adopted over the very many years that broadcasting has been undertaken, that there should be an overall deficit.
The honorable member for Deakin then referred to an unexplained £82,000 in the 32nd annual report, which was issued a short time ago. I am sorry that the honorable member is not present at the moment. There is a difference between the accepted basis of operation of the Australian Broadcasting Commission and that of most of our Government Departments. The Treasury permits the Commission to carry forward in a bank account capital moneys that are not spent in one year so that they will be available for expenditure in the following year. The discrepancy of £82,000, which the honorable member said was not explained, was in fact the result of such a transaction. The statement of operational expenditure which is found at page 26 of the 32nd annual report gives a total capital expenditure of £782,420. The appropriation from the Treasury for the year was £700,000. The additional £82,420, which is the amount referred to by the honorable member for Deakin, was the cash balance at the beginning of the year. I am prepared to accept that this could be more clearly stated in the accounts, but I think that this is a reasonable explanation that will be understood by honorable members.
The honorable member for Deakin said that an amount of £540 was not explained in the 31st annual report. There is an explanation. Somebody made a mistake when reading the proof containing these figures. The last line on the left hand side of page 26 of the 31st annual report shows a figure of £489,609. This in fact should have been £489,069. The final figures “ 609 “ should have been “ 069 “. This is the explanation of the difference of £540. Any suggestion of jiggery-pokery by the Commission would not apply.
The honorable member also referred to a difference between the date of the Commission’s report and the date shown on the acccounts. Section 78 of the Broadcasting and Television Act requires the Commission to prepare and submit to the Minister for presentation to Parliament a financial statement in a form approved by the Treasurer, together with a report on the operations of the Commission for the financial year concerned. These are two separate documents. I can appreciate that an honorable member may believe that the report is a report relating to the accounts. However, the Commission accepts that these are two separate reports. The financial statement is prepared, given a date and handed to the Auditor-General for audit purposes. Approximately the same date may be placed on the Commission’s report, or there may be two different dates. The report is not necessarily a report on the accounts; it is a report on many other activities, which may, of course, have a financial or a money value in the end. I make these explanations in relation to the matters raised by the honorable member for Deakin.
The honorable member for Hume (Mr. Pettitt) said that in New Zealand no local call fee is charged. This situation is found also in other countries. One could refer to the United States of America, where there is a multitude of different arrangements relating to telephone charges. But I point out, as I have previously, that New Zealand is very small in comparison with Australia. It could be fitted into an area extending from Melbourne to Brisbane and for 200 miles in from the seaboard. The problem of telephone installations in New Zealand is quite different from the problem of installations in Australia, where telephone services extend over tremendous distances. Whilst in many respects it would suit the Post Office to charge each telephone user a uniform amount that yield total revenue comparable to our current revenue, the people of Australia would find this very unacceptable.
I come now to the comments of the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam). His opening gambit was that New South Wales is getting a very raw deal in the allocation of funds for the provision of telephones. He bases his charge on the fact that New South Wales at the end of June had more deferred applications than all the other States put together. I have never hidden this fact. I told the Parliament in September - the Deputy Leader of the Opposition referred to this - that the Post Office had allocated 37 per cent, of its appropriation to New South Wales. This was the percentage of the total allocation of £77 million for works purposes for this year. But the amount allotted to New South Wales from the allocation for works connected with telephone subscribers’ services is slightly more than 40 per cent, of the total for this year. On the 1962 figures, New South Wales contains 37 per cent, of Australia’s population and covers 10.4 per cent, of the total area of Australia. I would suggest that if we provide slightly more than 40 per cent, of our total allocation for telephone services to New South Wales, then New South Wales is being fairly well treated. I do not accept the suggestion that, because the number of deferred applications in New South Wales is greater than the number in some other State, the other State should be treated less equitably than it is currently being treated. I believe that it is my responsibility to have full regard, as far as I possibly can, to all the claims that are made. In recent years, New South Wales has experienced colossal growth. Unfortunately, as the Deputy Leader of the Opposition said, the cost of providing telephones in Sydney, particularly in some of the northern suburbs, is much greater than it is in other places. Of course, the Deputy Leader of the Opposition does not suggest that in this situation it would be desirable to add another £5 or £10 a year to the rental charge for those people whose telephones cost perhaps £1,000 to install. He wants what he calls equity at one point, but would not be prepared to suggest some other sort of equity at another point.
The Deputy Leader of the Opposition also overlooks the fact that technical manpower is important in the installation of telephones. We cannot find just by waving a magic wand the sort of people we need to be technical officers in the Department. These people have to be trained, and they have to be trained in the Post Office because they cannot obtain the appropriate training anywhere else in Australia. Therefore, a number of years must elapse before we can increase substantially the number of people available for the installation of telephones.
Then I come to the honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Killen) who referred to the conduct of hearings in relation to applications for commercial television licences. I do not disagree with him. I think that, generally, it is appropriate mat the Board should conduct its hearings in the place for which the licence is to be given. The honorable member complained that the hearing in relation to the last Brisbane licence was held in Melbourne. I think it would be wrong for me as Minister to ‘give a binding direction to the Board instead of allowing it some element of judgment. The Board is the body concerned with this matter and knows the detail of the type of investigation it is making.
The honorable member for Wide Bay (Mr. Hansen) spoke of the lack of consideration being given to aged people, pensioners and blind people, and other members also raised this matter. I just want to say to honorable members that this is receiving my attention at the present time, but of course I make no policy decisions or announcements during a debate of this type.
The subject of translators was mentioned by the honorable member for Macquarie (Mr. Luchetti) and the honorable member for Wilmot (Mr. Duthie). We should not try to rush the provision of translators too quickly lest we find we have jumped from the frying pan into the fire. We have not at this time a great deal of technical knowledge as to the use of translators. I have asked the Australian Broadcasting Control Board to do something about obtaining the necessary technical information and it has agreed to install three test translators in appropriate areas. I believe that from the information we will get from their use we will be able to consider on amuch broader basis the installation of translators. I assure the Committee that this is not something that has been overlooked, but I remind honorable members that if they force the issue they may find that having got translator stations for their electorates within a very short time they may be subject to considerable criticism for giving the electorate something which is not very satisfactory when compared with the cost of the television sets that constituents will have installed.
– How will you decide where to place the test translators?
– I think that is better left to the Broadcasting Control Board rather than becoming a matter for decision by this Parliament, because there are 124 members in this chamber who could find a spot for a translator within their own electorate.
I should like to refer to the remarks made by the honorable member for EdenMonaro (Mr. Allan Fraser) who raised the local call problem of small telephone exchanges of which there are some within his electorate. This, again, was a case of a member of the Parliament thinking in terms of his own electorate rather than in terms of the broader situation. When the Extended Local Service Area scheme was introduced some years ago it brought considerable advantages to a large number of people by bringing many subscribers, who formerly were under an obligation to pay a trunk call rate for comparatively short distances, within the local service, giving them the benefit of a local call rate. I know that certain problems have arisen in a number of areas, but I think I am right in saying that since E.L.S.A. was introduced there have been about 1,000 requests throughout Australia for a re-location of a particular exchange from one area into another. Of the 1,000 applications approximately 800 have been agreed to. It may be that the honorable member for EdenMonaro should have put a request to me instead of merely criticising the situation.
What applies to smaller farming areas in the honorable member’s electorate is very similar to what applies in many other places throughout Australia. The same situation would apply around Newcastle. There would be many small farming areas with small exchanges in the E.L.S.A. area which takes in Newcastle or around places like Maitland. The same thing applies in my own electorate, which is a metropolitan electorate where a number of these smaller exchanges have been brought into the local area. I make that suggestion to the honorable member for Eden-Monaro because my Department would be prepared to consider his request and see whether anything could be done to assist. It would be very unfortunate if we were to criticise an accepted operation that applies throughout Australia merely because of isolated instances.
Many matters have been referred to during the debate, and I may not have replied to all the points raised. However, I will instruct my officers to scan the “ Hansard” report of this debate and as regards many of the matters raised I will provide the honorable member concerned with a written reply.
Proposed expenditures agreed to.
Remainder of Bill - by leave - taken as a whole, and agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment: report adopted.
Motion (by Mr. Howson) - by leave - proposed -
That the Bill be now read a third time.
.-I wish to make only one comment. It is greatly appreciated that the time given for the discussion of the Estimates this year has been longer than I have known for very many years. Honorable members have had a good chance to speak to the subjects before the Committee. The time that has been allowed for debate has been greatly appreciated.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a third time.
Consideration resumed from 11th August (vide page 81), on motion by Mr. Harold Holt-
That the Bill be now read a second time.
Question resolved in the affirmative. Bill read a second time.
Leave granted for third reading to be moved forthwith.
Bill (on motion by Dr. Forbes) read a third time.
SALES TAX BILLS (Nos. 1 to 9) 1964.
Debate resumed from 11th August (vide page 81), on motion by Mr. Harold Holt-
That the Bills be now read a second time.
– In introducing these measures on 11th August last the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) said -
The proposal to increase the tax on motor cars is one of the steps designed to produce the increased revenue ‘which is necessary in order that the Commonwealth may be in a position to meet its obligations as outlined in the Budget Speech.
It is estimated that this increase will produce additional revenue of the order of £6,250,000 in a full year and £5,000,000 for 1964-65.
The Opposition does not intend to oppose these measures but we think they are rather curious in all the circumstances. The Government has total Budget commitments of the order of £2,500 million, yet it wishes to impose a tax on motor cars that will yield an additional £5 million in this financial year. The legislation increases the rate of sales tax on passenger vehicles from 22i per cent. to 25 per cent. Since the legislation was introduced last August purchasers of motor cars have had to pay between £20 and £30 more for their vehicles.
It is pretty hard to understand the motives actuating a government to do something like this. If you read the suggestions in the Budget Speech of the dangers of what the Treasurer would describe as a boom or the outbreak of speculative buying in certain fields it would seem as though he was a little cautious and that he thought that if he increased the tax on a motor vehicle by about £25 it might have the effect of restraining to some extent the total sales of motor cars in Australia in a year. After the experiences of 1960 one would have thought that the Government would have been a little more appreciative of the role that the motor car plays in the Australian economy. Unfortunately at the moment there is a strike at General Motors-Holden’s Pty. Ltd., which is the largest producer of motor cars in Australia. That strike has lasted for almost three weeks. The strike has been brought about because employees of G.M.H. feel they are entitled to an extra £3 a week in wages in view of the success G.M.H. had last year. I think last year the profit of G.M.H. before taxation - I think this is the way such things should be assessed - was well in excess of £30 million. Employees of G.M.H. feel that they are entitled to extra wages because, after all, motor cars cannot be produced without men. There must be some equitable way of deciding the share of the company’s success to which the workers are entitled.
However, it is not my purpose this afternoon to canvass the merits of that strike other than to state that my sympathies are on the side of the workers. Throughout Australia the motor industry so far as it consists of constructing and assembling vehicles, making repairs to vehicles and making accessories - I include motor cycles and their accessories - provided employment in the year ended 30th June 1962, whioh is the latest year for which statistics are available, for 121,000 persons. It is suggested that in addition indirectly almost as many persons are employed in the distributing side of the industry, in service stations and on roads. So it will be obvious thai the motor car industry is most significant as far as the Australian economy is concerned. According to figures in the Australian Automotive Year Book for 1964, in the year ended 30th June 1963 the Commonwealth and State Governments got by way of taxes on motor vehicles in one form or another, including such things as taxes on motor spirit, sales tax on vehicles and registration fees, more than £200 million in revenue. So the motor car industry is fairly significant to the total revenues of the Commonwealth and State Governments.
The industry has a very large capitalisation - I think well in excess of £200 million according to the latest statistics available. Many of the principal producers of motor cars in this country have plans for considerable expansion in the future. In the last annual report of G.M.H. it is stated that the organisation proposes to spend £24 million on expansion in the next year or so. The organisation hopes that by 1966 it will be in a position to turn out 200,000 Holdens a year. Having in mind the fact that the Holden now accounts for a little less than 50 per cent, of total sales in Australia, it would appear that G.M.H. thinks that by 1966 the production capacity of the industry will be in excess of 400,000 vehicles a year.
Yesterday, when a suggestion was made that the Government should provide assistance to the gold mining industry the Treasurer said that one had to weigh the interests of one organisation against those of another in the economy. I concede that the gold mining industry is less significant in total to the economy than is the motor car industry although it is very significant to those who are engaged in it. But 1 suggest also that the role of the motor car in the economy must be properly assessed. It would seem that the Government has not quite learned from the mistakes of the episodes of 1960. When the Government increased the sales tax on motor vehicles in 1960 it was apparent to me that the Government was not aware of the extensive role played in the economy by the motor car. The motor car industry does not stop at the making and selling of motor vehicles. It affects internal activities such as road building. Such activity is a drain on the public purse, and there has to be an assessment of the needs of roads compared with the needs of other forms of public works.
In addition, the industry has implications of considerable significance to Australia’s imports. I have taken some figures from the annual report of the Tariff Board for the year 1963-64. At page 16 of that report an assessment is made of Australia’s imports by principal commodities. That assessment shows the following items, which are significant and which relate to the motor car industry: £117 million for the petroleum and shale Oils; £15.7 million for complete motor vehicles; and £102 million for motor vehicle components and replacement parts. In addition, rubber and substitutes accounted for £14 million. Those items add up to about £250 million a year. So, about one-fifth of all Australia’s imports relate to this significant industry, the motor car industry. Surely it is the duty of a government to have some idea of what the role of this industry, in aggregate, should be.
The industry has further internal effects. For example, it is probably one of the largest drawers on the steel industry. As everybody knows, at present certain sections of industry face considerable delays in having their orders for supplies of steel fulfilled by the Broken Hill Pty. Co. Ltd. How much steel is taken by the motor car industry determines how much is left for other sections of industry. The Labour Party has always believed that a government ought to have a target for the production of motor cars in the next five years - say, until the end of 1970. The Government ought to be in consultation with the motor car industry. It ought to be able to say to the industry: “ It is all right to have a production of 200,000 Holdens and 200,000 other vehicles by 1966, but we do not want you to expand as rapidly in the future as you have in the past “.
Perhaps people do not always realise how rapidly the number of motor vehicles in Australia has increased in recent times.
– Have you a breakdown of the figures, showing the figure for each company?
– No. I will come to that in a moment. I am suggesting that the House ought to be apprised of the rate at which the number of motor vehicles in Australia has increased in recent times. I have taken from an official publication of the Commonwealth Bureau of Census and Statistics some figures compiled from a census of motor vehicles as at 31st December 1962. That publication shows that at that date, in round figures, there were 300 motor vehicles in Australia for every 1,000 of the Australian population. Seven years earlier - that is in 1955 - the figure was 240 motor vehicles for every 1,000 of the Australian population. In other words, there was a 25 per cent, increase in the ratio of motor vehicles to population. In the same period the population increased by 14 per cent. That means that, roughly, there were 40 per cent, more motor vehicles in Australia in 1962 than there were in 1955. The actual figures were 2.2 million in 1955 and 3.2 million in 1962. I have rounded the figures off because I do not <think anything is gained by giving the figures down to the last vehicle. The output of motor vehicles has increased more rapidly than has the population.
Because the output of motor vehicles has increased so rapidly, a strain is put on things such as the development of roads and arterial outlets from cities. I know that the honorable member for Isaacs (Mr. Haworth), who interjected a few moments ago* has played a considerable part in agitating about road programmes. But, like everybody else, he should realise that whilst roads should have a priority they are not necessarily the only things that should have a priority. Surely it is sensible not to allow the need for roads necessarily to be conditioned by the sale of motor vehicles. That is why I suggest consultations with the industry. I do not think it would be very easy to set quotas for individual firms. The position in Australia is that about half of the vehicles are being produced by the one firm - ‘the firm whose production is held up at the moment. That firm supplies about 43 per cent, of the total number of vehicles. It has plans for expansion. Other motor vehicle manufacturers also have plans for expansion. Recently we heard that a Japanese motor vehicle manufacturer is endeavouring to enter the Australian market under the shelter of the differential labour conditions in Japan and by trying to get within our tariff barrier.
For the information of honorable members who are interested in this matter, I mention that quite a good analysis of the economics of the motor vehicle industry is made in a volume entitled “ The Economics of Australian Industry”, which was published recently and which was edited by Alex Hunter. Chapter 15 of that volume, which is on the motor vehicle industry, was written by Mr. George Maxcy. At page 501 he said -
Without protection, encouragement and at times vigorous prodding from the State, there would be no motor vehicles manufactured in Australia today.
I suggest that that is a pretty fair statement of the position. Australia, in view of its comparatively small population, is rather remarkable in that it has reached an annual production of motor vehicles in the vicinity of 370,000. It is quite a unique performance that that production should have been attained in Australia. But, as George Maxcy states, it could not have been attained without the direct assistance of governments.
Protection has been given by keeping out the imported article or allowing it to come in on payment of a tariff according to the degree of Australian manufacture or assembly. The object of that protection has been ultimately to produce a 100 per cent. Australian car. I think General MotorsHolden’s Pty. Ltd. claims that at present the Holden is 99 per cent. Australian. One or two other vehicles are in the vicinity of 90 per cent. Australian. The Government has indicated that it wants the whole industry in Australia to achieve a 90 per cent. Australian content. Whether that is possible remains to be seen; but at least that is a direct indication by the Government.
If this industry could not have developed to its present state without government assistance, surely there is nothing wrong in the Government setting an overall target for total production a few years ahead, particularly when the imported content is taken into account. Even if we achieve the objective of a motor car built 100 per cent, in Australia, we must remember that even now it costs us about £250 million a year to import oil products, car parts and mechanical devices, and I suggest that if the present upward trend continues until, say, 1970, a further £100 million will be required for imports of petrol and oil and automobile parts. If we increase our imports of motor cars and items associated therewith so we restrict our capacity to import other commodities if our export earnings do not rise to the required level.
A constructive approach to problems of this kind would, I suggest, be more sensible than the rather vague measure that is before us at the moment. Is it suggested that adding £25 to the price of a motor car will reduce the rate at which motor car sales have been rising in Australia in recent times? On an occasion some years ago when this subject was being debated I pointed out that in view of the prices of motor cars people got better value by buying motor cars than they did by buying other things. The last annual report of General Motors-Holden’s Pty. Ltd. takes about 12 lines to list all the new glamour devices that have been incorporated in the latest Holden motor car, and it tells us that despite the inclusion of these various refinements and a new and more powerful engine the list price of the standard sedan today is actually £55 lower than it was in 1952. There are very few items that one could point to in about the £1 ,000 price bracket the prices of which are now lower than they were in 1952.
Perhaps one of the reasons why the motor car has continued to sell at the price level at which it has been selling is that with the growing volume of sales the overall costs of production have been kept down, so that people get better value by buying motor cars than by buying other things. Perhaps this poses a challenge to other sections of industry to become more efficient than they are. Nevertheless, this does not remove from the Government the responsibility to see that development in such a significant industry as the motor vehicle industry does not surge too far ahead of development in other directions that are of importance to the community. I suggest that the Government has not yet discharged this responsibility. We are rapidly reaching the stage at which motor car travel at weekends on metropolitan roads or within 50 miles or so of capital cities can scarcely be called a pleasure. On Sunday afternoons along the beach front roads near Melbourne between 5 and 6 o’clock cars are bumper to bumper. This overcrowding problem arises every morning in the capital cities. It takes longer and longer to go shorter and shorter distances with faster and faster and longer and heavier motor cars. I notice that the Holden now is 246 lbs. heavier and 5.6 inches longer - and, I would say, faster - than it was in 1952. Yet in making certain journeys at certain peak hours it takes longer and longer to get to one’s destination because we have not improved our roads and developed our bridges and freeways in capital cities to keep pace with the increasing number of vehicles registered. Perhaps the Government is dipping its toe cautiously into the water of this problem by imposing this 24 per cent, sales tax increase, in the hope that it will have the effect of dampening down total sales. Total sales will be dampened down in any case if the strike that is now in existence continues for very much longer. Perhaps the Government win be the principal beneficiary of this strike in the long run, because it will abate the sale of motor cars to some extent.
I have tried this afternoon to show that this measure is rather pointless. The raising of £5 million in a Budget of £2,500 million seems scarcely worth the exercise. I still think that at the back of his mind the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) has something a bit more deepseated than merely the raising of £5 million in revenue. Perhaps if he finds that the 2i per cent, increase is not having the desired effect he will later increase it to 5 per cent, or 7i per cent. I do not know whether this is in his mind, but what I do suggest is that the method being used is perhaps not the most equitable way of determining total production and sales of motors cars in a community. It may well be that imposing a tax of the order of 20 per cent, is an easy way of raising £50 million a year or more, but it is not always the most equitable way. I suggest that instead of merely relying on the tax to help to tailor the market the Government ought at least to have a better understanding of the intricacies of the car industry and of its effects directly and indirectly, internally and externally. There ought to be better co-ordination between the Government and the industry than there seems to be at the moment.
I leave it at that, Mr. Speaker. We do not offer opposition to the Bills although we offer a certain amount of criticism of this cautious and rather curious exercise.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bills together read a second time.
Leave granted for third readings to be moved forthwith.
Bills (on motion by Mr. Harold Holt) together read a third time.
Sitting suspended from 5.53 to 8 p.m.
Debate resumed from 3rd September (vide page 972), on motion by Mr. Snedden -
That the House take note of the following paper - Australian Congress for International Co-operation and Disarmament - Ministerial Statement,
Suspension of Standing Orders
Motion (by Mr. McMahon) - by leave - agreed to -
That so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) and the honorable member for Werriwa (Mr. Whitlam) each speaking for a period not exceeding thirty minutes.
.- Mr. Speaker, next week the Australian Congress for International Co-operation and Disarmament will convene in Sydney. On 3rd September the Attorney-General (Mr. Snedden) made a statement on the pending Congress and the motion to debate it has remained dormant on the notice paper ever since. It might be wondered why a national Parliament should devote a whole night to debating the affairs of a private body, a voluntary association, a public meeting, and accordingly I shall commence with some statement of the attitude of the Government and the Opposition, and their supporters, to this Congress and speculate on the objective of the Government in making the statement originally and reviving it at this time, presumably with the object of publicising the Congress as near to its meeting date as possible.
After the Attorney-General made his statement about this Congress the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) issued a Press statement in these terms. I read from “ The Age “, of 15th September 1964 -
Members of the A.L.P. may attend the Australian Congress for International Co-operation and Disarmament to be held in Sydney, in an individual capacity but cannot claim to represent the party in any official capacity.
Members attending were under the obligation to advocate a peace policy, in conformity with A.L.P. policy.
This policy condemned all nations, without exception, which had refused to be signatories to the nuclear test ban treaty.
It was obvious the Federal Attorney-General (Mr. Snedden) in his statement to the House of Representatives had desired, by innuendo, to imply that there was something suspect about the attitude of the A.L.P. to the peace congress. “ I therefore wish to point out that the Australian Labour Party’s attitude to peace organisations has been laid down over the years and reaffirmed at the 1963 Federal Conference in Perth,” he said. “ By this decision, State branches were authorised to watch the position in their respective States and to report on any of these organisations which, in their opinion, was dominated by the Communist Party,” he added. “ In pursuance of this decision the New South Wales branch of the Labor Party, within whose jurisdiction the 1964 congress will take place, has decided that it will not be officially represented, but that individual members are permitted to participate.”
My leader went on and was reported as follows -
The AX.P. had never sought to discourage organisations genuinely concerned for peace and free from Communist influence. It would not tolerate the use of the name of the A.L.P. by any other political group, in support of proposals which were in flat contradiction to A.L.P. policy as laid down. “I expect any member of the A.L.P. who attends to emphasise our policy for positive international co-operation within the framework of the United Nations and for the banning of nuclear tests”, he said. Mr. Calwell said peace should not be made a dirty word.
Those who attempted to stir up emotional opposition toward everything that was attempted in this regard were out of touch with the realities of modern life.
The preliminary activities of the members of the congress would be closely watched, he said. “I hope that its decision will express a genuine attempt to promote policies of humanitarianism’ and the lifting of the threat of nuclear destruction.” “Should any attempt be made to use the congress for improper ends, there will be no hesitation on our part to disassociate ourselves from its activities.”
Now, no further reference was made to the Congress or to the Attorney-General’s statement concerning it until Tuesday when the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth) asked a question about it. Yesterday morning the honorable member for Higinbotham (Mr. Chipp) raised the subject at the meeting of his party. During question time yesterday afternoon the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) as Leader of the House, told me that he was going to raise it tonight. One can imagine that he and his colleagues said that this would be a good issue to raise before the Senate election.
This would be comparable to the Communist Party Dissolution Bill before the 1951 double dissolution, the Petrov defection before the 1954 House of Representatives’ election and the unity ticket allegations before the 1958general election. I would not attribute any such motive to the honorable member for Mackellar. Last June, in the Melbourne “ Age “ in a signed article, the honorable member for Mackellar said - “There is a tendency in Australia to use Communism as an election issue only, but this is not a good reason in itself to oppose Communism.”
Tonight we see vindication of the point of view of the honorable member for Mackellar that this Congress is being used as an election issue. It has been revived quickly from the notice paper.
– Do you object to that?
– No. Not at all. The Government cannot conceal its sins of commission and omission. It cannot conceal by this method its sins of commission in the H.M.A.S. “Voyager” matter or of omission in defence generally, or its preference to its powerful supporters like Mr. Ansett - “ Reg. Ansett’s Air Force “ as the Government Whip (Mr. Aston) felicitously expressed it - or its disagreements with State Premiers. Was it the Leader of the Australian Country Party (Mr. McEwen) or the Treasurer, or Sir Roland Wilson who told the Premier of Victoria to put up rates and charges and royalties? This issue, furthermore, cannot really conceal the Government’s delays in dealing with its election promise a year ago concerning the price of petrol or its promise to appoint a Bureau of Roads - whose members have not yet been appointed - or its promises to set up a home mortgage insurance scheme, or its failure to tackle prices as distinct from wages, or to get down to restrictive trade practices promised, of course, not before the last election but before the one before that. Nor can this issue conceal the disagreements that there are between the Government parties on overseas investment, or on the extent of the gerrymander for this House.
But, to return to the Congress, its organisers wrote to all members of the House. The organisers stated their objectives, or their ostensible objectives. They wrote to every member of this House from the Prime Minister down. It has been cynically suggested that they sought his patronage as that of a man who has pursued a consistent policy of disarmament; indeed, the right honorable gentleman, alone among the leaders of this area, has pursued a policy of unilateral disarmament Where else is there a country within thousands of miles which will not have a strike reconnaissance bomber before 1969 or a submarine force before 1968? This is the man who, as one of his early backers so happily described him, is the “ Baldwin of Australia “.
Why did the Attorney-General make this statement? I will quote his reasons. First of all he quoted from the words of his predecessor as follows -
The Government’s concern in connexion with the Congress is to see that those who were minded to associate themselves with it, particularly in the capacity ofSponsor, should be aware of its relationship to the Communist Party and in particular the World Peace Council, the Stockholm Congress, Sweden, and the Australian Peace Council.
The Attorney-General added -
They were thus able to make a judgment as to whether to sponsor or to participate clearly in the circumstances, and it will be recalled that, in the event, there were some very significant withdrawals.
The honorable gentleman named 10 persons in his statement. He mentioned the Reverend Alfred Dickie, the Reverend Frank Hartley and the Reverend Allan Brand. I do not think any of those is claimed to be a Communist. He also mentioned Mr. Samuel Goldbloom and Mr. Geoffrey Anderson.
– Ha! Ha! Ha!
– What was that?
– I just said: “Ha! Ha! Ha! “; that is all.
– That was what you said in 1951 when you named trade unionists who were not Communists.
– On that occasion the right honorable gentleman withdrew his aspersions. This time he has learned to brazen it out. He apparently laughs at my reference to Mr. Geoffrey Anderson. Mr. Geoffrey Anderson was mentioned in the “ Anglican “ newspaper of a week ago.
– The “Anglican”? That is one that James publishes, is it?
– Well, read on - the obscene publisher.
– The right honorable gentleman says it is an obscene publication.
– No. I said that the gentleman who publishes it was convicted of publishing an obscene publication.
– And so have a great number of other publishers. But the gentleman to whom the right honorable gentleman refers did not write the publication; he was the publisher of it. Let me refer to what the “ Anglican “ said -
Mr. Snedden’s action is quite preposterous, but it is too gross an affront to decency to be tolerated. It is all in the pattern of the smear technique which has become so common. This, technique was applied to one of the joint secretaries of the forthcoming Australian congress, Mr. Geoffrey Anderson. He is not and has never been a Communist. We avoid mentioning what some of his detractors did between 1939 and 1945, but we mention this: Mr. Anderson was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for gallantry against the enemy; he was twice mentioned in despatches; his grandfather was a Liberal member of the New South Wales Parliament-
– That is the only thing against him.
– You have not heard it all. There is worse to come -
His uncle is a member of die ministry-
– And your father was a pretty good man.
– And so was yours. I was mentioning the Attorney-General’s objectives in making his statement. He said that at the last Congress in 1959 there were some defections. There was, in fact, Dean Babbage. There was also Professor Stout, although it would need an expert in moral philosophy to say whether he was really in favour of that Congress or not. But I think he did not attend. Then there was Sir Mark Oliphant, who later wrote to say that he regretted that he had withdrawn. On this occasion, one gentleman has withdrawn. I am unable to ascertain his occupation or residence. But there have been some notable accessions. First of all, there is Sir Walter Murdoch. He too had a good father, and good uncles. He has the distinction of having been recommended by the Prime Minister for inclusion in Her Majesty’s latest honours list. And he was given top position in it. He was made a Knight Commander of the Most Distinguished Order of St. Michael and St. George. That is, he is right above the retired Ministers, the officers of the Second Division of the Commonwealth Public Service, the officials of the Returned Soldiers, Sailors and Airmen’s Imperial League of Australia, and the ministerial secretaries. After the Attorney-General’s statement, which was made to frighten people off, Sir Walter Murdoch decided to sponsor the Congress.
– Have you any Knights of the Thistle there?
– No Knights of the Thistle. They are too archaic to attend. But there are some simple Presbyterians who have given the Congress their blessing. On 16th September - the statement was made on 3rd September - the Presbyterian National General Assembly-
– Dominated by A.M.D.
– It did carry a resolution moved by the Reverend A. M. Dickie, who comes from Essendon North, in the honorable member’s electorate. The Assembly supported the resolution overwhelmingly. All fellow travellers! The resolution was -
The Congress offers an immediate opportunity for Presbyterians to enter into conversation with those not in the Church but who are concerned with the destiny of society.
The resolution expresses the hope that many churchmen will take part and asks the Church and Nation Committee to appoint one or more of its number to participate in the churchmen’s conference in the Congress.
The Social Questions Committee of the Newcastle Anglican diocese passed this resolution, after the Attorney-General had made his statement -
The Congress for International Co-operation and Disarmament offers Anglicans a valuable opportunity for examination and discussion of the paths to peace, and sincerely hopes that many Churchmen will regard this gathering as an occasion for active personal Christian participation.
Just to widen the spectrum, I remind honorable members that only yesterday the Methodist Church of Victoria and Tasmania sent the following message to the Congress -
It is hoped that as many Christians as possible of all shades of political opinion will participate actively in the discussions of Congress.
To become more ecumenical still, I quote from the “Catholic Worker” for this month -
The Australian Congress for International Cooperation and Disarmament, to be held in Sydney this month, has been denounced as Communistinspired and controlled. Communists and fellow travellers certainly manipulated the previous Congress in Melbourne, but they are less likely to get away with it this time.
On the evidence available, we cannot accept Mr. Snedden’s declaration that this Congress is connected with the Communist-controlled World Peace Council. It has, however, developed from the local one-eyed Peace Committee, and the sponsors who heavily outnumber Communists will need to be alert to their efforts to exert a disproportionate influence. The significant decisions are made at the committee level.
I have mentioned that the AttorneyGeneral’s object was to frighten people away. He did not succeed in this - there is another accession to whom I shall refer presently, Bishop Shearman of Rockhampton - but at least he was able to keep people out of the country who wanted to attend. After consulting with him, the Minister for Immigration (Mr. Opperman) decided to exclude the Mayor of Leningrad and Archbishop Alexei of Tallinn. My colleague from Hunter (Mr. James) asked a question about Archbishop Alexei and the Minister for Immigration said -
I must say first that I have no knowledge of the peregrinations round the world of the Archbishop. . . .
His actual words were “ social peregrinations “ but the word “ social “ was kept out.
– Order! It was left out by the “Hansard” staff.
– I thank you for the information. It is a pity that when the Minister was asked a question on this matter on the following day he did not have the same presence of mind to correct the report. His reply to the question asked by the honorable member for Hunter continued -
It is the policy of the Government where political events of an objectionable nature - mainly Communist controlled events-
The honorable gentleman said that he put in the word “ controlled “ - are concerned, those coming as delegates from Communist countries will be refused visas.
A couple of days later, on 15th October, the honorable member for Bowman (Dr. Gibbs) asked the Minister a similar question.
He then said that he did not realise there were two Archbishops named Alexei. but this was the other one. So, on 20th October I asked the Attorney-General himself a question in these words -
I ask him whether he can confirm the statements in last Thursday’s “Anglican” that the Archbishop was received in the United States last year by both Russian Orthodox and Protestant Episcopal leaders there, that he is a member of the Central Committee of the World Council of Churches and that a few weeks ago he was a guest of the Archbishop of Canterbury. Will the honorable gentleman disclose what facts to the Archbishop’s discredit have become known since he was admitted to the United States and Britain, or which of his characteristics are regarded as injurious here but not in those countries?
The gist of the honorable gentleman’s reply was that this was not the Patriarch of Moscow - and I had not said he was, nor did the “ Anglican “ say he was. The honorable gentleman said that he was reminded by the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) that the particular man refused a visa had not been a guest of the Archbishop of Canterbury. It is true that the “ Anglican “ erred there, but this man was invited to visit Britain by the Archbishop of Canterbury although he was unable to accept the invitation. Everything else the “ Anglican “ said about him was correct, as was confirmed by subsequent inquiries and also by the AttorneyGeneral’s silence on these matters in his reply.
I said that there had been another accession to this Congress since the AttorneyGeneral had made his deterrent statement. It was that of Bishop Shearman of Rockhampton, which is in the Anglican Church province of Queensland whose Metropolitan is Archbishop Strong to whom the Prime Minister referred at the time of our volte face in New Guinea as “ somebody called Bishop Strong”. The Bishop of Rockhampton sent a telegram to the Prime Minister. The Bishop had decided to attend the Congress after the Attorney-General’s statement, and after the exclusion of Archbishop Alexei of Tallin he sent the following telegram to the Prime Minister -
It is a profound pity that the Australian Government has refused entry visas to guests from the Communist countries invited to the Congress. I personally would welcome the opportunity to meet all these guests, especially Archbishop Alexei of the Russian Orthodox
Church. My reason for attending the Congress is because of my deep concern on the question of international co-operation. How can this cause be furthered if the Government takes this stand which denies us the opportunity of personal contact with these people? We in Australia, as I believe is probably the case with all peoples, live behind our own little wall, learning only from selected and censored information available to us through the Press. Personal encounter is the primary means by which this wall can be scaled.
I believe the basis of the Christian gospel is reconciliation. As a Christian this seems to me to be what is needed in today’s situation. I would hope that the Federal Government would see its way clear to reconsider its decision so that people of the quality of the Archbishop can attend the Congress.
The Methodist Church of Australasia (New South Wales Conference) unanimously passed the following resolution on this exclusion of the Archbishop -
The Methodist Church of Australasia (New South Wales Conference) expresses its regret that the Commonwealth Government has not seen fit to grant visas to the two Russian guests of the Australian Congress for International Co-operation and Disarmament. We believe that freedom of discussion between groups of nationals is essential for the creation of world peace and there can never be peace without this discussion. While we recognise the complex political factors which may have caused concern to the Government in this matter we believe that world peace would be furthered and not hindered by the granting of these visas.
It is significant that Archbishop Alexei is, as the “ Anglican “ has stated, a member of the Central Committee of the World Council of Churches. He was elected at the Assembly of the World Council in New Delhi three years ago. Last year he visited the United States of America to attend a committee meeting of the World Council of Churches. This year he attended the Prague AllChristian Peace Assembly to which greetings and good wishes were sent by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Sir Alec Douglas-Home - who is now a former Prime Minister of Britain - and President Johnson. The Archbishop has also visited, in his capacity of member of the World Council and also as a Russian Orthodox prelate, Greece, France, Hungary, Denmark and Sweden.
– That is not in his province; it is in a different province of the Russian Orthodox Church. On the Archbishop’s exclusion the President of the Aus tralian Council of Churches made this comment -
We believe freedom of discussion between groups of nationals is essential for the creation of world peace and that there can never be peace without free discussion.
The Attorney-General was true to form in his allegation of Communism against this Congress. We have learnt to treat with very great reserve his statements about Communism, because only in the last week and the week before he made statements very readily about a visitor to this country, Mr. Sachs. It is significant that he gave these replies about Mr. Sachs being a publicly confessed Communist, a self-confessed Communist, in answer to a man whose record would show him to have an aversion both to Mr. Sachs as a person who had been a Communist a generation ago and as a person who was still a Jew - a man who would peddle against Mr. Sachs the things which the South African Government spreads here through Mr. Eric Butler and other of its instruments.
– Others whom he patronises.
– Yes. Butler is a man who is able to rely, as the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Mr. Freeth) says, on crackpots to peddle his ideas. Eric Butler, through his instrument, the honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Killen), asked the Attorney-General a question about Mr. Sachs. One is tempted to repeat, in the terms of an earlier issue of the “ Anglican “-
The best way to ensure that this Congress is Communist-dominated is to shun it. The best way to ensure that the Christian view is put is to join it. It is hard to understand what Mr. Snedden is really afraid of, or what he really wants.
I have quoted sufficiently from people in public life, from people of goodwill, to show that it is perfectly logical, reasonable and humanitarian for people to attend gatherings such as this. My party has said this should be so. As long as the Government stifles discussion and withholds information on big issues in the world today people will seek to express their views and to exchange their views at gatherings such as this.
Of course, there are Communists who will espouse any issue, such as the treatment of Aborigines, such as Australia’s condoning of apartheid in international gatherings, such as Australia’s tender treatment of France in respect of her atomic tests and Australia’s boycott of China in respect of Chinese atomic tests. In all these matters nobody can be satisfied with the attitude of the Australian Government, and accordingly, Australian citizens are driven to discuss these matters in the only public forums which are available to them. The Government does not take the Australian people into its confidence on these matters. In thenanswers to questions without notice Ministers are evasive. In their answers to questions on notice Ministers are dilatory. Only yesterday I got an answer from the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Hasluck) to questions about our military obligations under the South East Asia Treaty Organisation in Vietnam, questions which had been on the notice paper for over two months. These are matters which obviously it would have been within the capacity of any competent and frank Minister to answer within a couple of days. Questions on this kind of subject are still on the notice paper. There is one in my name which the Minister for External Affairs has not answered for me after five weeks. It concerns civilian aid for South Vietnam which has been requested by South Vietnam and which has been suggested by the United States of America. These are matters in respect of which honorable members have sought information and Ministers have refused to give it.
Ministers rarely make statements on foreign policy for discussion in this House. They bring matters relating to foreign policy up for discussion when there is some military crisis. But there is an enduring crisis here. These things which I have mentioned are not epidemic. They are endemic. They demand not only military solutions, but political, social and economic ones. The Government does not provide opportunities for the regular discussion of these matters in the Parliament. Outside the Parliament, Ministers boycott the television and radio forums in which these matters can be discussed. It is known that the Australian Broadcasting Commission refuses to put on a programme relating to any controversial issue unless both sides appear and a balanced point of view can be presented. At election times, the Federal President of the Liberal Party of Australia tells members of that party not to appear on television.
At other times, the Prime Minister tells his Ministers that they are not to appear on “ Four Corners “ or other programmes that provide forums for discussion. Is it any wonder, therefore, Sir, that Australian citizens, including members of this Parliament - elected representatives of the people - decide that one of the few opportunities, to discuss vital issues is provided at congresses such as the one which is the subject of this debate?
– - Order! The honorable member’s time hasexpired.
– Mr. Speaker, wehave just heard a pathetic speech.
Opposition Members. - Oh
– Yes. I repeat that it was a pathetic speech. The question, before the Chair, though we may not realise it from what was said, concerns a paper - a ministerial statement in relation to thissocalled peace Congress. I would haveexpected that the spokesman for the Opposition, first, would have explained to us why he believed in the Congress and, secondly, would have told us that he would attend it,, and why. But, instead of that, we have heard a speech that was a rambling affair. I recall an old judge once telling an advocate in my presence that he had circumnavigated theentire globe of irrelevancy. If ever anybody did that, the honorable member for Werriwa (Mr. Whitlam), speaking as Deputy Leader of the Opposition, did it this evening. He circumnavigated the entire globe of irrelevancy. Here, we are dealing with a. conference and a very serious problem concerning the question of whether this is a Communist front - which it is, beyond question. But did the honorable member address himself to that matter? No. He went on a little voyage of discovery. Hetalked about the “ Voyager “ disaster. He talked about Ansett. He talked about homes. He talked about overseas investment. He even brought into the discussion Sir Walter Murdoch, a most distinguished scholar who has been honoured by Her Majesty, not for his political views, but for his great distinction in the world of literature. Really, the Deputy Leader of the Opposition is pretty hard put to it, is he not, when he has to come to this? He even told us who somebody’s uncle was. I have had a few uncles myself whom I have liked. But there may be nephews of mine who would not want me dragged up on the occasion of some debate in the future. The honorable gentleman is hard put to it in this debate.
Oddly enough, in the midst of all this, he has been devoting his attention to the somewhat anaemic labour of reading the “ Anglican “, which, may I tell you, is not the official organ of the Church of England. I happen to know that because, after it had published a few foul and defamatory remarks about me, I wrote to the then Synod of the Church and asked: “ Is this your official organ? “ I was hastily assured that it was not. The last time I heard of the publisher of the “ Anglican “, he was in a little trouble over an obscene publication, as honorable members will recall. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition, being frightfully anxious to avoid coming to the point, has been reading the “ Anglican ‘. If he can find a Presbyterian who is a little pink, he quotes him. That is easy enough. I know quite a few of them myself. If he can find a Methodist, he quotes him. He ran over the landscape and picked up a bishop or two, but never, from first to last, did he face up to the problem that once exercised his Party - the problem of whether this Congress is a Communist front. In spite of the most engaging invitations by some of my friends on this side of the House, he failed to say whether he would attend the Congress. I am prepared to lay a slight shade of odds within the limits of my purse-
– Within the limits of the honorable member’s purse, if he likes. Let me put it that way. That puts it a little higher. I am prepared to lay a slight shade of odds that the Deputy Leader of the Opposition will not be at the Congress, because he will realise that selfpreservation is the first law of life. That is how the matter stands, Sir. He tried to make something out of the Patriarch of Moscow. But he made such an awful blue there. He put questions in the House asking whether the Patriarch of Moscow - the guest of the Archbishop of Canterbury - had been refused a visa, or something of the sort. It turned out that he was not speaking of the right fellow. But that is nothing to the honorable gentleman. The facts come easily and depart easily on his tongue. He took up about 30 minutes of the time of the House without thinking fit to come to the point of this matter. 1 want to come to the point of it, Sir.
The Attorney-General (Mr. Snedden) made a statement on this subject, and it is on the motion that that statement be noted that this debate occurs, though nobody would have imagined it after listening to the speech just made by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition. After the AttorneyGeneral had made his statement in this House, the organisers of this beautifully polite, kindly intentioned non-Communist Congress were so shaken by what he had said that they advertised denying that the Congress was a continuation of a similar congress held in Melbourne in 1959. I do not remember most honorable members opposite, or even the honorable member for Werriwa, being at the conference of 1959. Although that conference had been practically conceded to be a Communist front, it was essential for the organisers of the present Congress to get away from that sort of thing. So they advertised, in a certain newspaper which I shall not advertise, denying that the Congress was a continuation of a similar congress held in Melbourne in 1959. But, at the very moment when the Attorney-General was making his statement in this chamber, a brochure was in circulation on behalf of the Congress. It stated -
In 1959, there was held in Melbourne the Australian and New Zealand Congress for International Co-operation and Disarmament. Following this Congress, State continuing committees were formed to carry on its work. In February 1964, representatives of these committees decided to convene a panel of citizens to form a provisional sponsoring committee to begin preliminary planning for a national congress in October 1964.
That Congress begins in a few days. Can anybody seriously believe that it is not the legitimate child of the 1959 conference? Yet the organisers of the present Congress advertised that it “was not connected with the World Peace Council or any other organisation either inside or outside Australia “. They expressly denied that the Congress was a continuation of a similar Congress held in Melbourne in 1959. Yet I have just quoted the words of their committee, which demonstrate that that was simply a flat lie.
On 18th August, before the statement -was made, Congress News Bulletin No. 3 was published. It contained a series of items which should be discussed at the Congress. After the statement by the Attorney-General, two of the items were omitted. They were the North West base and an independent foreign policy for Australia. This latter item was designed to get Australia, in the interests of peace, to abandon all its alliances with the United States, Great Britain and other countries. Sir, 1 can only assume that these items were so clearly related to Communist policy and unrelated to peace, as we understand peace, that the organisers felt that to have them discussed would rather reveal the true nature of the Congress. I do not need to labour this matter. Nobody with his ordinary wits fails to understand that this is a Communist-front organisation. Indeed, the honorable gentleman does not deny it. He merely quotes a number of people as giving respectability to a Communist-front -organisation, forgetting that the whole purpose of Communist-front organisations is -to get eminent and respectable people to lend an air of respectability to a conference that otherwise would be exposed as a Communist activity.
Why do these Communist-front organisations exist? The first reason that I can think of is that these people want to make Communists and Communism respectable. Nothing makes a person so respectable as to be seen in company with a bishop. That is a very interesting feature of life. Therefore, they get a bishop if they can. Nothing makes a person much more respect- -able than to be in the company of a Presbyterian clergyman. This appeals to me very much. I know two or three of them. I do not wonder that they are in this busi- ness. The first purpose of these organisa tions is to make Communists and Communism respectable. The second purpose is to weaken the will of free people to resist. This is tremendously important. Why do -they have a conference in Australia instead of in Moscow?
– You are not crediting the people with much common sense.
– If you do not mind, Reggie old boy; you are like me, a decent Presbyterian in your spare time. So behave yourself.
The second purpose of these organisations is to weaken the will of free people to resist. Why must these conferences be held in Australia? This is a vital question. If these people want to pass resolutions and explain to others the vital importance of peace, the abandonment of threats and the abandonment of aggression, why do they not operate in one of the Communist countries? Instead of doing so, they come here and bring some of their respectable sponsors here. Why do they do this? To tell the Australian Parliament not to be aggressive? To tell the Australian Parliament or Government not to lay covetous eyes on other people’s possessions, other people’s lands or other people’s freedoms? Can anybody with a grain of common sense suppose that any government, any party or any parliament in Australia needs to be persuaded that we want peace and we are against aggression? We do not need to be told about peace by these people. Some others in the world do, but these people never tell them.
One of the objects of these conferences is to divide the free world. I have not the time to do it, but if honorable members will look at some of the items that are to be discussed and have been discussed in the past at these conferences they will find that more is said in the resolutions and the debates against America than against the Soviet Union or Communist China. There is more cackle about American imperialism than there is about the sinister imperialism of the Communist world. But of course these people like to talk about American imperialism. They would have us believe - we have heard evidence of this in the last few days - that a great contribution to peace in the world would be made if the United States of America were to abandon South Vietnam, the South East Asia Treaty Organisation, its bases in the Pacific and, incidentally, Australia. I will defy anybody to find a single word spoken by any of these people that support S.E.A.T.O., A.N.Z.U.S. or the great liberal, free activities of the United States on behalf of free people all round the world. Not a word is spoken by them against the Soviet Union or Communist China.
– The Norm West Cape was on the agenda.
– Yes, but they have left that out for reasons that my honorable friend perceives in a flash. One of the purposes of these conferences is to promote nuclear disarmament. Nobody can deny that; it is all perfectly clear. It is on the record. We are all in favour of disarmament, but we are not such fools as to abandon the freedom of the free world by saying: “Abolish nuclear armaments but leave all conventional armaments untouched “. To do so, of course, would be to put the world in the hands of the Communist powers.
Another purpose of these conferences is to discourage military alliance against Communist aggression. “ Military alliance “ is a rude expression. Really, are we to accept this? I know that I am discussing something that the honorable member for Werriwa did not care to discuss. I happen to be discussing the motion before the Chair. I want to make it quite clear on behalf of my Government that we are not in favour of persuading or driving the United States out of Vietnam and the western Pacific. But the active sponsors, the real organisers, the Communist promoters of this Congress are. We are not in favour of destroying Malaysia and removing the British bases from Malaya and Singapore.
Where do the members of this Congress stand? Heaven knows, they have had three, four or five of these Congresses. The previous one was held in 1960 in Yokohama. I regret to observe that my friend, the honorable member for Reid (Mr. Uren), was amongst the delegates present on that occasion. I hope he has been misrepresented, but according to the report a unanimous resolution was carried attacking S.E.A.T.O., attacking Cento, which concerns us very much in the Middle East, and attacking other military alliances “ organised by imperialist powers”. I ask the honorable members to note the last words. Imperialist powers? I suppose that is a fine phrase to describe a very great power like the United States, a great power like the United Kingdom or a small power like Australia! We are all members of these treaty organizations. In Japan in 1960, since when, of course, they have suffered a sea change into something rich and strange, they were attacking all these things.
May I just say, because time is not unlimited - I am grateful to the House for having given me as much as it has given me - that in March 1951, which after all was after this Government came into office, the Federal Executive of the Australian Labour Party made a pronouncement. I shall quote its precise words. The Labour Party was a little more given to precision in those days than it is now. The Federal Executive said -
We further .denounce so-called peace councils as instruments of Soviet imperialism, and we warn members of the Australian Labour movement against being involved with appeals of organisations which exploit the desire for peace in the interests of Russian plans.
Those words, my honorable friend would agree, are fighting words. There is nothing ambiguous about them. They say, in effect: “ Don’t you be misled; don’t do anything about this.” Indeed, the Federal Executive went on to underline that expression in 1951 by stating that it further declared -
That this Federal Executive, being of the opinion that the Australian Peace Council is a subsidiary organisation to the Communist Party, we therefore declare that it is not competent for any member of the A.L.P. to be associated therewith and remain a member of the A.L.P…..
Those were the good old days of 1951 when the executive said: “ Don’t you go; if you go, you are out of the party.” Does anybody - I look at honorable members opposite - seriously want to tell me that these congresses have changed, that the congress of 1964 is utterly unlike the one of 1959 or is utterly unlike the one that was considered and adjudged in 1951? Nobody believes that. If honorable members look at the names, and in particular the ecclesiastical names, of some of the people connected with the congress then and connected with this one now, they will find exactly the same set-up.
I sympathise with a member of the Labour Party in this Parliament who is just as good a non-Communist as I am but who finds himself put in this ambiguous position. It is an ambiguous position. His own party has said: “ Have nothing to do with it or you are out of the party”; but now, in 1964, it says through the present leader, that the A.L.P. in New South Wales - there seems to be a rather limited exemption given on this occasion - the A.L.P. in New South
Wale* - which, I believe, was regarded, or professed itself to be, as right wing until it endorsed Mr. Leslie Haylen as a candidate in the Senate election, when it abandoned its pretence - has decided that it will not be officially represented, but that individuals are permitted to participate. If there was anything funny about this it would be the funniest statement in the world - to say to the A.L.P., in the greatest State in Australia: “ You are not to be officially represented. Whatever you do is to be unofficial. If any of your boys go, they must go unofficially. They must even conceal the fact” - no doubt - “ that they are members of the party “. What is this humbug?
What is the position of a party which says, in the largest State in Australia: “ Now look, we cannot officially be connected with this thing, but unofficially we don’t mind if you nip in the side door”. It is almost incredible.
– It sounds like Bolte to me.
– I know that the honorable member has succeeded for a long time in being both official and unofficial at the same time, being a rebel and being one of the Establishment at the same time. I envy him this. This argues his great talent. But it does not detract from the point that I am making, looking at my friend, the honorable member for Banks (Mr. Costa) and the rest of you. How can you be officially out and unofficially in? That is the position that the Labour Party has got itself into.
I conclude by saying that all of us in this Parliament - I say this with no reservations whatever - all of us want peace. None of us believes in an aggressive policy. We are, indeed, foundation members of ‘the nuclear test ban treaty. Nothing could suit a developing country like Australia more than total disarmament, honestly effectuated. Does any honorable member opposite seriously suggest that there ought to be unilateral disarmament in this world? Of course not. Therefore, what we are after - all of us - is ultimate disarmament, honestly effectuated, so that nobody is left with the power to crush another. But, those being our objectives, I come back to where I found myself a little while ago. Why have this conference? To persuade us of things- of which we are among the world’s greatest advocates? To persuade us? Of course not. These conferences do not direct themselves, to the Communist powers; they direct themselves to us. Therefore, it is proper to say to them and to their unofficial friends and sponsors: “What changes of policy do you seek in Australia? “
I do not want to have a lot of fustian here about wanting to get rid of the present Government, because honorable members have had that feeling - very properly, if I may say so - for the last 15 years. I do not want a fustian of that kind. What changes of national policy do you want, you unofficial supporters of this congress, without seeking such changes, apparently, m either the Soviet Union or in China. You do not want a reduced defence vote. The speeches I have heard recently indicate the contrary. Do you want a withdrawal from the South East Asian Treaty Organisation? Of course you do not. You would not dare to say you did. Do you want the abandonment of South Vietnam? If you do, which would make each of you more than an unofficial member of the Congress, pray get up and say so. Do you want the abandonment of Malaysia? Do you want a withdrawal from A.N.Z.U.S.?
Sir, I could go on over the whole line of what I have believed to be indisputable national policies in Australia, and I doubt whether I could get more than one, two or three people on the other side of the House who would say about abandoning them: “ Yes, this is what we want to do “. Yet, these being the objectives of this conference, we have reached a stage at which the Australian Labour Party, divided but still powerful, says to its members: “ Now, you cannot officially attend, but if you care to go along and lend the benefit of your presence to this conference that will be all right with us”. Sir, it would be a tragedy if well-intentioned people - many people on the list of sponsors are well-intentioned - were beguiled into believing ‘that those who are, as we in this place are, the practical friends of peace are in reality its enemies. The choice remains as it has stood for years: We can have either the peace of defended freedom or the peace of submission.
.- The Government of this nation, with all its resources, with everything at its command, has decided over the last few weeks to make a frontal attack upon an assembly of people in Sydney called the Peace Congress.
– Are you going to it?
– Of course 1 am. This is a very serious situation. But the striking thing about it is that an apparently informed statement delivered in this National Parliament by the AttorneyGeneral (Mr. Snedden) and a series of attacks by no less a person than the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) have failed so far to discourage even one person from associating with this Congress and have encouraged at least a large number of other people to become associated with it. The statements have encouraged a number of distinguished citizens to become associated with the Congress. So far all of the attacks that have been in the power of the Government to make have failed to discourage the support that has been forthcoming for this Congress.
The Prime Minister, as is typical of his form, has created a case of his own making against this Congress to be held at the end of this week. Hardily anything that has been submitted by the right honorable gentleman is a genuine case against the Congress. Most of it is the product of his own imagination. Most of it is assertions which are undocumented by facts and which in fact are not true. He made a great deal of capital out of one particular point at the end of his address. He said: “ Is it not a strange thing that the Australian Labour Party in Sydney cannot officially attend this Congress?” If the right honorable gentleman had had the decency to have his officers investigate the rules of the Congress he would have found that one of its rules is that no political party can officially attend the Congress. So the rules of the Congress apply and prevent any political party from attending. But the right honorable gentleman has not got in him that degree of fair-mindedness which would allow him to discover this.
Much of the case made by the right honorable gentleman assumes two points. He has gone .back into history and has made great play of the circumstances of 1951. He told us what happened in 1951. The greater part of his speech, based upon this particular point, assumes two conditions. It assumes first that the relations between this country and the rest of the world are the same as they were in 1951.. It fails to recognise that there has been a. >great change in the world since 1951. It. fails to recognise that the relations of thiscountry and of Great Britain and the United States of America have come muchcloser to the Soviet Union. It fails to< recognise that the right honorable gentleman, opposed to things like summit conferences, in the meantime came to support summit conferences. It omits all of the great transitions in international relations that have taken place over the last 12 years. It assumes also that the congresses in connection with peace that are meeting in Australia today are the same as those that met in 1951, and I will show in a few minutesthat there is a considerable difference.
But assume that the right honorable gentleman’s case was correct. Assume that his argument about the Labour Party of 1951, which he praised so much - those were fighting words, he said, that the Labour Party used in 1951 - was correct. What wasthe right honorable gentleman’s attitude to> the Labour Party in 1951? It was exactly the same as it is today. In 1951 the right honorable gentleman toured this country from one end of it to the other asking the people to ban the Communist Party. In this House he implied that certain leading members of the Labour Party would bebrought within reach of the ban if it was: carried into effect. Everything that the right honorable gentleman has said against the Labour Party tonight he said also in 1951. So his case fails because he has ignored the significance of the changes in history since that time - changes which he himself has resisted all the way and which have taken, place despite his own efforts.
Not so very long ago the right honorable gentleman, in respect of certain inquiries about the “Voyager”, was concerned tosay -
Therefore, I repeat what I said before: Do not let us wreck people’s lives for nothing … so long as I am Prime Minister I will stand for the law, for justice and for fair play.
That was the attitude adopted by the right honorable gentleman towards senior naval officers; but this evening, without one tittle of evidence, he has been prepared to accuse citizens of this country of treason. He has been prepared to say, without any evidence that decent people would accept, that the
Congress meeting at the end of this week is beyond question a Communist front. In a few moments I will examine the evidence adduced by the right honorable gentleman in support of that proposition. He went on to say that those who are running the conference and those associated with it have one intention and one purpose - to weaken the power of this country to resist; and anyone whose intent and purpose are to weaken the power of this country to resist is being accused of treason. The right honorable gentleman is prepared to use his power as Prime Minister of this nation to make allegations against citizens of this country that amount to that, but only a few weeks ago he was appealing for fair play in relation to officers of the Navy - a proposition in which I support him completely in respect of the Navy, but a proposition for which he stands condemned today as the leading smearer of this nation. In countries like the United States the smearers are among the lunatic fringe. Here they are led by the right honorable gentleman, who goes into battle as the leading McCarthyist in this country.
Talk about weakening the power to resis[. The Prime Minister has never been genuine about defence and the power to resist - not in 1914, not in 1939 when he called for a business as usual war, and not today. The right honorable gentleman has been prepared at all times during his political career to use the need for defence of this country in the interests of his own political party. He lays stress upon fear, upon suspicion and upon the threat of Communism. Yet he seeks to design Australian forces that go to Malaysia, which cannot possibly be involved in hostilities, as distinct from those of New Zealand. He makes a token contribution to South Vietnam - it has now risen to 154 - as part of his programme of deceit for the nation of which he is Prime Minister. These are formal and token forces in Malaysia. This is done because the Government, of which the right honorable gentleman is leader, knows that it does not possess nor is willing to get the reserves capable of supporting combatant forces in those parts of the world. The Government’s attitude to security and defence is a sham. It is a political trick. Now there is to be a Senate election. So what happens? The right honorable gentleman knows that newspapers of this country are telling the people of Australia: “ Government Faces Grave Crises “. The newspapers refer to crises in relation to taxation, airlines, restrictive practices and the Government’s dispute with the Premier of Victoria. In this situation the Government parties met yesterday and said: “ What can we do to distract the attention of the Australian people from the enormous political blues that we of the Liberal Party have committed during the course of the last two or three months? “ So the honorable member for Higinbotham (Mr. Chipp) proposed at the Party meeting yesterday that the Government should drag the Australian Congress for Peace on to the notice paper and attempt to distract the attention of the Australian people away from themselves.
Let me outline what the right honorable gentleman - the leading McCarthyist of this country - chose to say was his evidence that the men who will be associated next week with this conference are guilty of treason. He said first - he confined his attention to this and he thought it was a magnificent point when he made it - that this Congress was a continuation of the 1959 Congress in Melbourne. That was the substance of his case. He felt that if he could convict next week’s Congress in Sydney of that he had proved his point that they were guilty of treason. First of all, he accused the people who had made a reply in a newspaper of telling a flat lie. What was said in that newspaper was the simple truth of the matter - something with which the right honorable gentleman is never at home. Those people said, first, that the Congress in Melbourne in 1959 had appointed continuing committees to ensure that the democratic discussion of peace in this country would go on; that those continuing committees had appointed a committee of people to act in Sydney and to convene a committee of sponsors who in turn would call a Congress in Sydney at the end of next week; that it was merely a matter of saying that one Congress was in Melbourne and the other was in Sydney, and that the Congress in Sydney would be run predominantly by people from that city.
Having made that debating point out of the situation, the right honorable gentleman felt that he had proved his case. So he left out the evidence. He said: “This is a Communist front “. He relied merely on assertion. He did not deal with any of the allegations made by the Attorney-General; such as that 20 out of 600 people associated with this congress are members of the Communist Party. Even if that were true, are those men magicians? Are they capable of controlling completely 2,000 3,000 or 5,000 Australian citizens who have minds of their own - something that the bleating sycophants on the Government side, who follow their leader in this House, should have? Are they capable of acts of magic?
Let us have a look at the 1959 Congress and let us look at the general situation. Peace congresses are not places where we discuss dairy produce, pensions or tariffs. They involve the discussion of political issues which are of the most sensitive kind. So, allegations about Communism are inevitable. But are we to accept the position that in this nation any discussion of peace must necessarily be a discussion in which only treason can occur? Does the right honorable gentleman expect the people of this nation to say: “There shall be no democratic discussion of peace anywhere in this nation because, if there is, that is a place where treason will occur”?
Is that what the right honorable gentleman expects this nation to accept? Who is qualified to judge the nature of this organisation? Is the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth) qualified? Is the Attorney-General qualified? Is the Prime Minister qualified? They are biassed. It is as reasonable to ask those gentlemen to judge who is a Communist as it would be to ask Nasser to judge Israel, or as it would be to ask Bull Connor to judge Martin Luther King, because this is not something which, like a volume of “ Hansard “, can be weighed and measured. It is very substantially a matter of opinion. It is not just a matter of what you look at; it is a matter of the colour of the glasses through which you look. The glasses through which the Attorney-General, the Prime Minister, and the sycophants who are interjecting so ineffectively at the moment, look are dark indeed.
I come now to the 1959 congress upon which so much reliance has been placed. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam) dealt with the support given not by one or two churchmen but with the support given by the general assemblies of at least two churches. He spoke of the bishops and other senior members of churches, and of university people who have given their support. I want to say something about the Melbourne Congress and then, if I have time, something about the support given to it by the Labour movement. That Congress met and 3,000 to 4,000 people attended its discussions. It made one decision and one decision only. We have been told that the purpose of these congresses is for people to meet together so that Communists can engineer and manipulate the decisions.
This Congress in Melbourne, after seven days of discussion, made one decision. That decision was called a “Declaration of Hope “. Any manipulation of which Communists or anyone else were guilty at that conference must have shown itself in that decision. For the information of the House I will read that decision. It began -
This Congress of representatives of Australian and New Zealand citizens of diverse interests and opinions believes that another world war would be an unlimited disaster to the human race.
Does anyone here disagree with that? It went on to say -
We, therefore, affirm that the objective of all nations should be total disarmament, that the first steps towards this should be taken at once and should be accompanied at all stages by an accepted system of inspection.
Does anybody here disagree with that? The “Declaration of Hope” went on to say -
In view of the admitted danger to the health and future of the human race, we urge the immediate banning of nuclear tests, for which an adequate system of detection has already been proposed.
Does anyone here disagree with that? It continued -
The transition from an armament economy to a peace economy must be made on an orderly, planned basis.
I hesitate here because the word “ planned “ appears. I should imagine that some honorable members on the other side of the House would object to that word. But is there any reason why a congress of Australian citizens should not use it? The “ Declaration of Hope “ went on to say -
The money, resources and manpower now absorbed in arms production should be used to raise the living standard of people everywhere, but especially in under-developed countries.
Does anyone disagree with that? It continued -
We believe that the attainment of these objectives involves the increased effectiveness of the United Nations. To help achieve this, we urge the admission of the Chinese Peoples’ Republic and of all other non-member nations.
Perhaps there is room for some difference of opinion here. But why should that matter not be discussed in public in Australia? If members of the Government parties want to disagree with that proposition, why are they not prepared to put their views at the Congress or elsewhere? Why do they want to destroy the possibility of people assembling democratically and peacefully in Australia to discuss propositions such as that? The “ Declaration of Hope “ went on to say -
We deplore any breach of international peace, and affirm that there are no differences between peoples which cannot be settled by negotiation.
We believe that the responsibility for war is never one-sided and that all nations should forgive past wrongs. We believe that the development of peaceful relations, co-operation and respect between all nations is essential and possible.
We recommend the promotion of free cultural, scientific, industrial, sporting and other exchanges between countries, the removal of all travel restrictions-
Of course, members of the Government parties do not agree with that - they believe in travel restrictions -
We welcome discussion between the heads of nations culminating in agreement between Mr. Khrushchev and Mr. Eisenhower that a Summit meeting must be held. We believe that this should take place without delay.
Even the Prime Minister, in the end, came to agree with that; but he opposed it at the time when this decision was made. Finally, the “ Declaration of Hope “ said -
Encouraged by the public support for the Congress, we believe that people everywhere, working to achieve the aims of this declaration, can ensure international co-operation and disarmament.
Nowhere there was there any mention of unilateral disarmament. Nowhere there was there any statement against the United States of America. Nowhere there was there any statement in favour of the Soviet Union or of China. All the assertions to the contrary made by the Prime Minister are unsound in fact; they are figments of his own imagination. At no stage of the Congress of 1959 did any of the things that he asserted occur. I charge the right honorable gentleman with either carelessness amounting to irresponsibility or a deliberate intent to deceive and mislead this House and the people of Australia.
Quite a number of people attended the Congress in Melbourne. Mr. J. D. Kenny, Senior Vice-President of the Australian Council of Trade Unions, attended it. He made a report that the Congress had been successful and that he was satisfied with what had happened. He reported -
The A.C.T.U. has endorsed the findings of the Trade Union Conference and the Congress Declaration of Hope. These documents should be widely circulated, studied and discussed by all unionists.
And should that not be so? Mr. A. G. Piatt attended the Congress on behalf of the New South Wales Branch of the Australian Labour Party. He reported favorably upon the Congress. He said -
The personnel and influences responsible for the instigation and organisation of the Congress were prominent, respected and reliable members of the Australian Labour Party, the Trades Union Movement and other important sections of the Australian community whose real aim and objectives were to. by whatever means at their disposal, influence the peoples of all nations to agitate and bring pressure to bear wherever possible for the promotion of international co-operation and disarmament.
What has happened since then? The Australian Labour Party required its branches to investigate and observe the peace movement in the various States. I have in my hand the report from each of the branches of the Australian Labour Party. In none of those reports is there any suggestion that there was anything wrong with any of the peace organisations in any of these States, with the exception of one organisation in New South Wales, the South Coast Peace Committee. Then the Interstate Executive of the Australian Council of Trade Unions met and considered the circumstances and adopted this resolution -
The unions be advised that in our opinion the 1964 Congress being convened falls within the definition of a “responsible and sincere peace movement “ and that Congress should be supported.
This, then, was the finding of the Australian Labour Movement. It is consistent with the finding of the churches as detailed by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition. 1 have no hesitation in saying that the attempt made by the Government to blacken this
Congress is simply an attempt to divert the attention of the Australian people from the Government’s own continued failings in the hope that the coming Senate election will be decided, as other elections have been decided, on some irrelevant issue that has nothing to do with the circumstances and the welfare of this nation.
.- It was not my intention to mention any member of the Labour Party during my speech tonight. It was certainly not my intention to enter into personalities at all. I have never referred previously to the actions of the honorable member for Yarra (Dr. J. F. Cairns) in this House, but as I sat here and heard him trying to denigrate the character and the intentions of the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) I found it absolutely sickening. It was sickening to hear a man of the honorable member’s character, a man who has made more proCommunist statements in this House than any other member, a man who has made more anti-Australian statements in this House than any other member, devote half of the 20 minutes allotted to him to an attempt to blacken the character of the Prime Minister who has done as much for the freedom of the world and the peace of the world as any other notable person living today. Let me say that while we despise the honorable member’s politics we must admire his consistency, because at least since 1949 the honorable gentleman has been pushing these Communist front peace movements. If the House wants my authority for making that statement I shall quote from a booklet published by a former Communist, a man called Fred Wells. The booklet is titled “ The Peace Racket “, and on page 9 we find the following passage -
In Australia the Communist Party, working through “ respectable “ contacts, put out feelers for the establishment of a new Australian peace organisation and consequently, at a meeting in the home of the Reverend Victor James, Cathedral Place, Melbourne, on July 1, 1949, the Australian Peace Council was formed. “At the foundation meeting an executive committee of six was elected, comprising Reverend A. M. Dickie, Reverend F. J. Hartley, Reverend V. James, Mr. J. F. Cairns (then a university lecturer, now Member for Yarra) and two others.”
At least, as I have said, we can admire the honorable member for his consistency, because certainly since 1949 he has been associated with, has advocated and has been the greatest supporter of these peace movements in this Parliament.
As we know, in the Australian City of Sydney three days from now hundreds of men and women will be congregating for the expressed purpose of bringing peace to the world. The stated aims of the organisers of this conference are to prevent men from killing one another and to encourage man to live in peace with his neighbour, lt will be attended by dozens - nay, hundreds - of fine people who have been motivated by a love of God and their fellow man. These people will take part in this exercise which is called “The Australian Congress of International Co-operation and Disarmament “. It is with a heavy heart that I rise in my place tonight with one firm intention, and that is to do all in my power to destroy this conference.
When a man does such a thing as I have just expressed my intention to do, he must examine his conscience and decide whether he is doing the right thing because, as I have said, many fine and decent people believe in this Congress and its stated aims are to prevent men from killing one another. But I am doing this because I am persuaded beyond any reasonable doubt that this Congress is nothing more than a Communist ramp. I am convinced it is an exercise designed with devastating skill to eulogise Communist philosophy, sugar-coat Communist subversion, whitewash Communist mass murders and at the same time to denigrate the freedom loving nations of the world.
I said, and I repeat, that there will be many fine people at this Congress. At the same time I say that it will be dominated by men and women who have only evil in their hearts and who have dedicated themselves with a maniacal fanaticism to overthrow by force the Australian way of life and its freedom preserving institutions. One of the tragedies of our time - and it is a tragedy - is that peace has now become a dirty word. But it is typical of Communism and all those who support Communism, this philosophy of consummate evil, that they should turn clean words into dirty ones, revile all that is good and denigrate all that is noble.
On 3rd September the Attorney-General (Mr. Snedden) brought a statement into this House showing the relationship between the organisers of this Congress and the Communist Party. I believe he did a service to this nation and this Parliament When he brought that statement into this place. I ask: Why did the Attorney-General bring this statement into the House? Is anybody in this Parliament low enough or twisted enough to believe that a man of the integrity of the Attorney-General would bring this document in purely for political purposes? Is anybody twisted enough to believe that a man of the character of the Prime Minister would stand in his place and make a categorical statement that this is a Communist-run Congress if he did not believe that to be so? If honorable members opposite suspect the two gentlemen I have mentioned because they are members of the Government, I invite them to read what 53 decent members of the New South Wales Branch of the Australian Labour Party - 53 leading officials of trade unions - had to say about this exercise. I wonder what is the reaction of the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Devine), and other honorable members opposite who are trying to interject, to this statement signed and published by 53 men who are not members of the Liberal Party, not members of the Democratic Labour Party, not lay citizens but members of the Australian Labour Party. This is what they had to say in their statement -
From October 25-30 a National Congress for International Co-operation and Disarmament will bc held in Sydney.
This is the fifth such “ Peace “ -
I may tell honorable members that the word “ peace “ is in inverted commas -
Congress to held in Australia since 1950.
The past four National “ Peace “ gatherings and many of the organisations associated willi them have been exposed to the public as merely partisan pro-Communist outfits. . . .
We believe that there is little possibility of the October Congress being any different from its predecessors, especially the thoroughly discredited Melbourne A.N.Z. Congress. 1 invite by interjection an answer to this question: Does the honorable member for Blaxland (Mr. E. James Harrison), who is playing a curious role in this Congress, who has added his respectable name to this Communist sham, disagree with these 53 members of his own Party, members of respectable trade unions? I would like him to stand up and be counted. I would like all honorable members opposite to stand up and be counted so that we can see where they stand in relation to these 53 decent men. Why did not the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam) allow my friend, the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth), to table this statement in the House last night? This is not a salacious document. It is not a document issued by the Liberal Party or by some crackpot organisation. It is a document signed by members of the Labour Party, and the Deputy Leader of the Opposition refused to allow it to be tabled. Is he ashamed of it? I ask him: Is he going to the conference? I say to other people listening tonight: When you are trying in your minds to weigh objectively the question whether this is a Communist Congress or not, ask the questions I have just asked and also the others that I shall mention now. Why does the Seamen’s Union of Australia, a notorious union dominated by Communists, donate £500 to this conference? Does the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard) deny that the Seamen’s Union is a Communist dominated union?
– Of course I do.
– Does the honorable member for Lalor suggest that Mr. Elliott is not a self confessed Communist.
– The Seamen’s Union makes it possible for you to enjoy the imports from overseas. It takes the wool overseas for the honorable member for Corangamite (Mr. Mackinnon) to the Communist countries.
– It is not only refreshing but it is helpful to have such interjections recorded forever in “ Hansard “. I ask the men listening to this debate tonight why gentlemen like Mr. Solovey, of the Russian Orthodox Missionary Society, write a letter to the “ Sydney Morning Herald “ congratulating the Commonwealth Government for not allowing people like this into this country. Does the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam) disagree with this man? Why does the honorable member continue to champion people who belong to a foreign philosophy?
All these points will be developed by other speakers in this debate. None of them is necessarily convincing, on its own, that this Congress is a Communist ramp but surely, to any reasonable person, when they are taken together and added up, they are overwhelming proof that this is nothing more than a Communist exercise. The Prime Minister indicated that this meeting is a direct progeny of the 1959 Melbourne Peace Congress. Therefore, it would be useful to have a look at what some of the delegates to that conference said after they had attended it. I quote a Mr. V. Buckley who is reported in “The Observer”, of 26th December 1959, as saying this -
I do not belong, and I have never belonged, to any political party other than the Australian Labour Party, which I joined when I was 16. At the moment I belong to no political party and no political faction. But, added to all the reasons that men normally have for desiring world peace and wanting to discuss it, I have the additional interest that I am a pacifist. So, thinking it would be a good idea to go along and talk with my poetic colleagues about ways of achieving peace, I enrolled as an individual participant in the Writers and Artists’ section of the Peace Congress . . I discovered that the meeting was totally Communist-controlled, and that it was based On a set of fictions . . .
The platform speakers were encouraged by the example of the Chairman, Dr. J. F. Cairns, to speak strongly and at length on McCarthyism in contemporary Australia, though they were discouraged from speaking about anything more realistic . . . My remarks earned me the later epithet of “ splitter “, “ agent “, “ insincere “ and a suggestion that I had never done anything for peace.
Mr. Jupp, another member of the Australian Labour Party who was a delegate at the conference said -
The “ findings “ of the Citizens’ Conference were to be collated by a Findings Committee, the personnel of which was recommended by the Congress organisation and not elected from the floor of the Citizens’ Conference.
These findings were to be abstracted from the discussion by the Findings Committee, of which the most important member was Mr. Ralph Gibson, a leading member of the Communist Party. I cannot feel any confidence in findings abstracted by a committee which Mr. Ralph Gibson was on - he could not present my views nor those of most people in Australia.
Mr. Philip Knight also attended the conference. He said -
Two or three delegates, feeling that the conference had become futile, left the meeting. Immediately after their departure, they were attacked in personal terms. An attempt by the secretary of the University A.L.P. Club to defend the absent delegates was shouted down. . . .
The Communist line had a majority. The Communists ran the conference, not in the sense of forcing motions through; they did not move to “ hail the glorious Soviet Union “, but they did have an almost unbreakable veto on any motion which tended to criticise both the West and the East as contributing to world tension.
Finally, a character we all know, a Mr. Barry Jones was a delegate to the conference. Mr. Barry Jones, as far as I know, is still a member of the Australian Labour Party. He attended the education section of the conference. He said - :
From the second session onwards, unpleasant epithets were freely hurled at those of us who demanded time for discussion, and I was accused of being “ an agent of the D.L.P.” and a “ Catholic disruptionist “. . . .
Leaders of individual discussion groups were appointed before the conference ‘opened and they sometimes dominated discussion. Some of these were A.L.P. members or independents. In the case of the group leaders from New South Wales, they produced prepared motions on Saturday night.
There was no direct election of the drafting committee or of delegates to the final plenary session of the Congress as a whole. . . .
At the Drafting Committee, strong efforts were made to alter the wording of motions passed by the conference- e.g., to eliminate the reference to “ political police “ in the motion referred to above.
It is also interesting to examine what other people associated with this conference had to say. There is a Mr. Samuel Goldbloom who is well known. Here are some facts that cannot be argued. The Melbourne conference was organised essentially by Mr. Goldbloom and the continuation of the conference is also being run by Mr. Samuel Goldbloom. He was the central figure in the 1959 conference. He was responsible for the continuing activities of that conference and is to play a central role in the coming Congress. Some of his views might be of interest. Under his own name he wrote a pamphlet entitled “ German Rearmament - The Great Betrayal “. This is the man who is playing a leading part in this conference and who organised the last conference. It is interesting to get an idea of the shade of .his political colour. This is what Mr. Goldbloom had to say -
Here then, is the basic difference between East Germany and West Germany. In East Germany, in the Democratic Republic, the authorities on all revels are attempting to eradicate fascism and nazism - to build a generation which advances the ideas of peace, democracy and demilitarisation. In West Germany, the authorities of the German Federal Republic, are actively supporting and encouraging the rebirth of fascism and militarism.
Does anybody in this House believe that statement? I wonder does the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Clyde Cameron) subscribe to that view? This is a statement from the man associated with the Melbourne conference and directly associated with this Congress. People listening to this debate might say: “Well, what you have said makes the activities of this Congress sound a little dubious, but why should the Communists go to these extreme lengths to organise a peace conference?” Well, I will quote another member of the Australian Labour Party, Mr. J. P. Forrester, who was none other than a member of the Central Executive of the New South Wales Branch of the Australian Labour Party. He has written a book “ Fifteen Years of Peace Fronts “ in which he has stated” -
The purpose of the pamphlet is to show that despite the use of all the techniques of subterfuge, misconception, and evasion of which the Communists are masters, the “Peace” Congress duo to commence in Sydney on 25th October 1964, is a Communist “Front”.
The technique of using innocents and dupes to propagate the Communist cause was laid down long ago by Comrade Dimitrov, who declared: “ As Soviet power grows, we must practice the technique of withdrawal.
Never appear in the foreground. Let our friends do the work. We must always remember that one sympathiser is generally worth more than a dozen militant Communists.
A University professor who, without being a Party member, lends himself to the interests ot the Soviet Union, is worth more than a hundred men with Party cards.”
I find the next sentence quite pathetic. It is - “ A writer who, without being a Party member, defends the Soviet Union - the union leader who is outside our ranks but who defends Soviet international policies - is worth more than a thousand Party members.”
Mr. Forrester concluded on this sorry note
The proof that the Communist grand strategy is being implemented through the coming “ Peace “ Congress is produced here for all who care to read it.
There are many other quotations. It is not only the members of the Liberal Party and the Country Party who say that this is a Communist ramp. The respectable men in the Australian Labour Party also say it. The respectable and decent men in the trade unions also say it. If we want other evidence, we have only to look at the Com munist Press which has been vigorously publicising this Conference over the past several months. Is there a man in this House who seriously believes that the Communist Party wants peace? If there is, let him get up and say so. I do not believe there is such a member. If we start with that premise, why is the Communist Press publicising this Conference?
I sincerely hope that the many decent people who will be attending this Conference will find out for themselves what it really is - a monstrous Communist sham.
.- The contention that is widely abroad that the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) is losing the sharp edge of his debating capacity has been well and truly established this evening. Indeed, it is a fair assumption that the results of his diatribe tonight will be similar to those of the speech of the Attorney-General (Mr. Snedden). Since the Attorney-General delivered himself of his condemnatory speech on 3rd September this year, the Congress for International Cooperation and Disarmament has gone from strength to strength. The number of sponsors has increased tremendously. And what a pathetic performance it was tonight on the part of the honorable member for Higinbotham (Mr. Chipp). The best he could do was invoke the use of the names of 53 trade unionists in Australia - 53 people who showed no enthusiasm for this Congress. He could mention only 53 out of some 300,000 trade unionists throughout Australia. Why, this is nothing more than a concession to the democratic state of the trade union movement and the Labour movement itself, and it is in sharp contrast to the attitude of the Government on these matters. Not one of these 53 people would deny his fellow unionists the right to attend this conference. If they feel that there is a need to warn of Communist domination this in itself could well be a virtue, and we do not deny them the right to counsel and advise in this way.
Let me contrast the attitude of the Prime Minister of this country with that of the leader of the United States of America, President Johnson, who, on 25th September, said -
We have the strength and self confidence to be generous towards our friends and unafraid towards our adversaries. A nation strong in its might, secure in its belief, steadfast in its goals, is nol afraid to sit down at the council table wilh any other nation. Only the’ weak, and’ the timid need fear the consequences of communication and discussion. We have never been such a nation. We will never be such a nation. The Presidents of the last 20 years have been willing to go anywhere, talk to anyone, discuss any subject, if their efforts would strengthen freedom and advance the peace of the world. I will do the same-
We of the Labour movement take that attitude. The Attorney-General has not counselled the people of Australia to engage in that democratic process. Surely he should concede the right of all citizens to come together to discuss the great problems that confront mankind. But, despite his speech, despite the deterrent nature of his efforts and overtures, let me predict that on Sunday next, 25th October, there will be more than 5,000 participants attending the opening of the Australian Congress for International Co-operation and Disarmament in what is, I suppose, the greatest community rallying point in the city - the Sydney Stadium. After all, the business of providing the means by which the voice of the people may be enabled to ring out is true democracy. Those 5,000 people who will be attending will not be attending merely as individuals; they will be there in representative capacities. Many of them will be attending on behalf of professional organisations, many will be attending on behalf of churches, and others will be attending as representatives of trade unions, parents’ and citizens’ organisations, artists and writers groups, and so on.
The Attorney-General was concerned to know that the number of sponsors was in the vicinity of 500. He thought this number was far too great. One would think that the greatest virtue of the Congress would be that it had such a large number of sponsors. If it had too few sponsors, that certainly would not be a mark of its democratic content. I am pleased to say that the number of sponsors has now grown to 670. As the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam) has pointed out, there has been one defaulter - one has withdrawn his name - but no-one has been able to ascertain his address.
Who are these people? Are they all unsuspecting dupes and pawns in the Communists’ game? I took the trouble to go through the list of sponsors, and I ascertained that there are 32 parliamentarians, including 18 members of both Houses of this Parliament. Up to the 20th August, there were 52 listed under the heading “ Church representatives “ and I am told that this number has now grown to 70. Under the heading “Educational representatives “, there are no less than 64. They represent bodies of teachers from the various schools throughout Australia. There are 40 professors, lecturers and so on from universities. Under the heading “ Business and professional groups “ there are no less than 90 representatives listed. They include 40 doctors, all of whom, apparently, according to the Prime Minister and the honorable member for Higinbotham, are more or less dupes or pawns. That is hardly a tribute to the thinking of the enlightened section of the community interested in international affairs.
As my colleague, the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, has mentioned, there are also a number who have come in as a direct consequence of the intimidatory efforts of the Attorney-General. One who fits into this category is Bishop Shearman of Rockhampton. I think that Professor Sir Walter Murdoch also came into it as a direct consequence of those efforts. Under the heading “ Trade unions “ there are no less than 110 trade union leaders listed. All these people, apparently are to be looked upon as dupes and pawns, with no capacity to think for themselves. The conference is maligned because of the technique of attracting sponsors. This is called a Communist technique. Why, I remember the “Call to the Nation” which could be designated as nothing other than an extreme right wing affair. It was the initiator in this country of the sponsorship technique. The Foundation for Aboriginal Affairs in New South Wales is going about its organisation in a similar way. Right round the world, the technique adopted is to seek to obtain sponsorship for worthy efforts.
The Prime Minister has speculated about the things that are to be discussed at this Congress. I have before me some of the paraphernalia that has been distributed by the Congress organisers. One thing that stands out in a very salient and impressive way is the fact that a number of these issues are similar to those upon which resolutions were passed by the Conference of
Commonwealth Prime Ministers and which were made the subject of a declaration in March 1961. Apparently it is quite all right for the Commonwealth Prime Ministers to talk about these things, but it is very sinful for the Australian people to become engaged in a consideration of such important matters as those which I shall now mention. The first relates to the French atomic tests in the Pacific and the partial test ban treaty. ls it a crime to discuss these matters? We are told by the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Hasluck) that the banning of the proposed French tests is the accepted and declared policy of this Government. Nevertheless, there is an apparent need for the people of Australia to encourage the Government to do something effective because, so far, it has shown no inclination to give a lead similar to that given by the New Zealand Government.
Another matter for discussion relates to the economic and social consequences of disarmament. Is this not another important sequel to the declaration by the Commonwealth Prime Ministers? If we do get disarmament, is there not a need to re-orientate the economies of the world to ensure that the best interests of the people can be served? Who can discourage consideration of such matters? Another subject for discussion is the maldistribution of the world’s wealth and its effect on world peace. We have all lent our names to the Freedom from Hunger Campaign inspired by the United Nations body which gave birth to this great effort on the part of the people of the world to alleviate the starvation that prevails to the extent that two-thirds of the world’s population is in need of food at the present time - 2,000 million people out of 3,000 million are starving. Two people die every second from1 starvation. The Minister for Territories (Mr. Barnes) laughs at this.
– Yes, because I am thinking: What have you done about this?
– So far as I am concerned my consistency on these matters was evidenced in a fairly practical way as the chairman of my own local group. I canvassed people and addressed many local organisations, and so did many of my colleagues concerned with the alleviation of human suffering throughout the world. We commend the further consideration of matters of this kind.
The threat of nuclear and biological war is another topic to be considered, and another is Australia’s relations with Asia. We do not concede these to be topics forbidden for discussion.
Why does the Government seem to have a vested interest in people being uninformed on matters of this kind? Why does it stand against public discussion and depress the democratic involvement of the people, as was the case in the Dark Ages? After all, if the Government did have a mind to encourage discussion on these subjects, how would it go about preventing domination by Communists or anybody else? What would it do? What solitary addition can it suggest to the procedure which has already been adopted? There has been so much humbug and cant about this so far as organisation of the Congress is concerned. They wrote to the Prime Minister on 7th May indicating their intentions and asking for his counsel and advice. I have a copy of that letter in front of mc. They wrote to the Attorney-General and asked for his suggestions to ensure that this Congress could not be adversely affected as a consequence of Communist domination. They asked: What can you do to help? Will you participate? Will you become a sponsor? I doubt whether the honorable gentleman even replied.
Then, of course, all the leading churches were written to. The organisers sought to make it democratic. Why did not the Attorney-General encourage participation? If he had stood up in this Parliament and said to the people of the nation: “ An important congress is taking place and there is a danger of Communists taking control of it; go along and ensure that they do not take control of it”, he would have rendered a worthwhile service to the Congress and to the nation; but instead he has chosen to impugn the motives of decent people. He has indulged in a smear campaign under the privilege of Parliament. He would not dare go outside of this Parliament and repeat the things he has said here. He has engaged in insinuation, has rarely been specific. He mentioned specifically one person, a Freda Brown, whom he designated as a Communist. However, it has been ascertained that never at any time has she had any involvement with the Congress, nor does she intend to participate in it.
Then there were three reverend gentlemen: Why should they have been assailed? They were originally associated with the sponsoring body. They were the Rev. Alfred Dickie, the Rev. Allan Brand and the Rev. Frank Hartley. Their reputations can stand any test. As my honorable friend, the Deputy Leader of the Opposition pointed out, it seems to be a remarkable thing that so many Distinguished Flying Crosses were handed out to Communists. My friend and colleague, Geoff Anderson, D.F.C., who has been in the Australian Labour Party for 20 years, is the very essence of decency, and I personally resent the attack that was made on him.
On 3rd September the Attorney-General said that brochures seeking support for the Congress listed rather more than 100 sponsors. He said that 20 of those sponsors had been identified as members of the Communist Party and five as members of the Communist Party Central Committee. I challenge him, or anyone who might represent him tonight, to name those 20 people. When he made this assertion, about 100 sponsors were listed. I have gone through this list carefully with a number of trade unionists and political leaders, but this claim of the Attorney-General’s cannot be substantiated. After all, there are now 670 sponsors and if there are 20 Communists among them it means that one in 33 is a Communist. As a consequence of this the Government is prepared to throw in the towel and encourage non-participation in the Congress. Why, it would mean, if we related this to the number of members in this Parliament, that if 3i Communists came into this Parliament they would be more that a match for the Liberals, more than a match for the Country Party. This would be the kind of adversary and opposition with which the Government could not cope, and just as it has thrown in the towel in the face of adversity in times of international crisis - in times when disaster has faced this country in the past - so would it go to water if 34- Communists arrived here as part of the 1 24 members of this Parliament.
Time does not permit me to cover as much ground as I should like to cover, but I would like to make the point that every effort is being made to encourage the parti cipation of the churches in this Congress, and as a result of proposals put forward by a standing committee of the Methodist Church of Victoria a procedure was adopted whereby the various components of the Congress would have complete autonomy and would not have any prospects of being taken over and overruled by any other part of the Congress. I have been interested to see the steady involvement of the various churches. A resolution carried by the Melbourne Anglican Synod on 9th September 1964 stated -
Recognising their sincerity in the pursuit of truth and peace this Synod extends its goodwill to those clerical and lay members whose convictions lead them to take part in the Congress for the purpose of radical, responsible and religious criticism.
It has already been mentioned that three bishops of the Church of England are participating in the Congress.
– That is sofour all told. I was interested to see that Bishop Moyes communicated with the Press on several occasions. He drew particular attention to the Lambeth conference. A resolution which was passed at that conference in 1958 is significant and worth mentioning now. It stated -
The conference reaffirms that war as a method of settling international disputes is incompatible with the teaching and example of Our Lord Jesus Christ and declares that nothing less than the abolition of war itself should be the goal of the nations, their leaders, and all citizens. As an essential step towards achieving this goal the conference calls upon Christians to press through their Governments, as a matter of the utmost urgency, for the abolition by international agreement of nuclear bombs and other weapons of similar indiscriminate destructive power, the use of which is repugnant to the Christian church.
Bishop Moyes said -
One might imply from this resolution that the Church of England - or at least its bishops - would do their utmost to see that such a congress as is being planned for October this year made a real contribution to the cause of peace and the abolition of war.
Many other comments have been made by church leaders, but I am afraid I will not have time to mention them. Even in my own area one of our leading Methodist lay preachers, Ray Watson, who is also a leading member of the New South Wales Bar, is participating to the greatest possible extent in the preliminary meetings of the Congress. This gentleman, I remind the
Minister who is interjecting, was four times a Liberal candidate in various State and Federal elections. It seems to me that the Liberal parliamentarians are getting themselves a little out of touch with the situation. I could make many other quotations from clergymen indicating their enthusiasm for the Congress.
I have been interested to see the conglomeration of policies that is involved in the restriction of the issue of visas to people who wish to visit this country. “ Muster “, the official journal of the Graziers Association of New South Wales, had something to say about this. That journal represents graziers and cannot be regarded as a Labour publication. It stated -
Silly: Just how silly can our politicians make Australia look in the eyes of more mature nations?
The answer would seem to be that the sky’s the limit.
Latest piece of bumble-footedness is the refusal of the Federal Government to allow two quite eminent Russians, the Mayor of Leningrad and a high dignitary of the Orthodox Church, to enter the country . . .
This journal went on to discuss the incident in condemnatory terms. The Methodist Conference, a short time ago, sent the Prime Minister a telegram in these terms -
Believing that freedom of expression of opinion is fundamental to Australian democracy and that exchange visits between Australia and the Soviet Union are the best means of improving relationships we are deeply concerned at the refusal of visas to Russian delegates and request reversal of decision.
I hope that the decision will be reversed, Sir. Since my time has almost gone, let me finally echo the words and hopes of the prophet Isaiah -
They shall beat their swords into plough shares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- Mr. Deputy Speaker, the statement that we are discussing this evening is intended to show the people of Australia the real purport of the Australian Congress for International Co-operation and Disarmament to be held in Sydney later this month. Much has been said tonight about the intentions of the Government in presenting this statement and allegations have been made that the intention is to restrict democratic discussion and to try to minimise opportunities for the genuine discussion of peace. This is not the intention behind the statement made by the Attorney-General (Mr Snedden). What the Government hopes to do is to establish that this Congress is just another in a series which has been held over the years and which has been influenced by Communist policy. This is not just a congress that has been convened to discuss peace. The discussions will not be purely democratic and open discussions on peace. This Congress will be influenced in a subtle way by the same people who participated in each of the other peace congresses that have been held over the years.
The Attorney-General said, among other things, that the Congress held in Melbourne in 1959 was described as the Australian and New Zealand Congress for International Co-operation and Disarmament. It is notable that the words “ New Zealand “ have been omitted from the title of the Congress soon to be held in Sydney. If we look at the connection of Communists with this Congress and consider the split between the Communist Party of Australia and the Communist Party of New Zealand, we get a firm indication of the purport of the Congress about to be held in Sydney. This is the aspect of the Congress that I should like looked at by many genuine citizens of Australia who have been beguiled into supporting this conference. This seems to me to be a complete vindication of all the allegations that have been made concerning Communist sponsorship of the Congress. Why is it that the Communist Party of New Zealand and the Communist Party of Australia do not seek to unite in this Congress to be held in Sydney and hold together in a united peace conference as they did in 1959? I suggest that the reason is very well illustrated in an excellent pamphlet published by the editors of “Dissent” earlier this month under the title, “ The Peace Movement “. The writers state -
Experience has shown that when the Moscow and Peking groups come into collision within Communist-front organisations, enough dirty linen is washed to destroy any facade of responsibility. Polemics released by the pro-Peking breakaway group of the Australian Communist Party have made it quite clear, for example, that the Union of Australian Women was an arena of struggle between the two groups and that the Muscovite
Communists won. Much the same thing has happened with a number of international organisations which Communists, and others, have stoutly denied for years were Communist-fronts.
It is suggested, Mr. Deputy Speaker, that this is the reason why, at the Congress to open in Sydney on 25th October, there are to be no representatives of the Communist Party of New Zealand in the persons of some of those people who have broken away from the sponsors of the present Congress and who were associated with the 1959 Congress.
This dialectic argument between the two sides has proceeded largely on the basis that the Communist Party in New Zealand has followed the more belligerent MarxistLeninist philosophy whereas the pro-Soviet Communist Party of Australia purports to support more subjective methods which the Marxist-Leninist group alleges are based on more idealistic wishful thinking leading to a pacifist role, and an idea that peaceful coexistence may be sustained. In this dialectic argument, we see a violent conflict that has been expressed frequently in the Communist Press. Most interesting of all is the document, “ National Inter-Party Discussion Material “, distributed by the Communist Party of New Zealand in April 1964, in which we see a specific mention of the role of the Communist Party in mass movement for peace. It is stated in these words -
Our main tasks in mass movement may be briefly summed up as follows: -
To greatly step up our efforts to unite the widest section of the New Zealand people -
This is a New Zealand publication, but the remarks apply equally to Australians and to any other people. It continues - in a broad and sweeping movement against the; policies of aggression and war.
I remind honorable members that this purports to be a peace movement -
Here, we see that the Communist Party has itself stated the role that it intends to play in peace movements. If we look back over the history of these movements, we see how frequently similar views have been expressed in the past and how they will again come to the fore at this peace Congress to be held in Sydney.
The dialetcic argument that I mentioned has been carried on in quite a number of pamphlets by way of argument between Mr. E. F. Hill and Mr. L. Sharkey, two well known Australian Communists. In another publication entitled “ Rebuild Trans-Tasman. Communist Unity “, we see something more, of the intentions of Communism and something more of the clash which was finally brought to a head and as a result of which was established the Communist Parly of Australia (Marxist-Leninist) This is the Party to which one of the reverend gentlemen who was not mentioned this evening by the honorable member for Hughes (Mr., L. R. Johnson) belongs. This reverend gentleman’s name appeared in the list of sponsors of the 1959 Congress. I refer, of course, to the Rev. Victor James. One of the notable things about this pamphlet, “ Rebuild Trans-Tasman Communist Unity “, is that it reports not only a speech made in Canton by Mr. V. G. Wilcox, who, I understand, is the leader of the Communist Party of New Zealand, but also the whole of correspondence between the General Secretaries of the Communist Party of Australia and the Communist Party of New Zealand. This argument by correspondence shows that, even after protracted exchanges these people were unable to come to any firm agreement. In fact, as is shown at the end of this publication, they finished by publishing two separate brochures, one expressing the philosophy of the Communist Party in New Zealand, which follows the ideas of Communist China, and the other expressing the philosophy of the Communist Party of Australia. This publication provides most instructive reading. The split is highly relevant in the context of the coming Peace Congress and peace movements in general. The fact that there has been a split in New South Wales has meant that we have not one Communist newspaper but unfortunately we have two. Looking back over the pages of the “ Vanguard “ newspaper, which is published by the Communist Party Marxists and Leninists, we see something of the philosophic concept behind the split. If we look further we find in the
July issue a full report about the new rival Communist Party. The pages of this newspaper disclose some of the details of the rival movement, which was established by and in support of the Chinese Communists and the New Zealand Peace Council.
Let us not forget at this stage that there are two peace movements. There is not just the one about which we are speaking tonight. There is not just the Australian Congress for International Co-operation and Disarmament that is to be held in Sydney, which is supported, as I intend to prove and has been shown tonight by the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) and the honorable member for Higinbotham (Mr. Chipp), by the Soviet-aligned Australian Communist Party. There is also the other peace movement that is supported by the New Zealand Communist movement. This is referred to in the pages of the “ Vanguard “ newspaper. The July issue contains a report of an interview with the Reverend Victor James, who, as I mentioned earlier, was a sponsor of the 1959 Congress but whose name now is notably absent. He was one of the foundation members of the Australian Peace Council. Something of the one-sided attitude of the Reverend James comes out of a report of his which was published in the “ Vanguard “ newspaper after he returned from an Asian economic seminar held at Pyongyang, the capital of Communist Korea. He spoke of the reconstruction of North Korea after the war. He said - the reconstruction after the devastation of the war was incredible. The country was fully restored.
In South Korea the picture was very different. There was extreme poverty and a growing revolt amongst the people against their conditions. The people’s movement was becoming very strong in South Korea.
This is typical of the one-sided attitude of this reverend gentleman, who was one of the early sponsors of the Peace Council. He was also a member of the delegation which attended and supported the proceedings of a Pro Communist China Peace Congress held in Tokyo this year and of which I intend to say a little more later. The *’ Vanguard “ does not support the Congress. Its view is summed up in the issue of August 1964 in which the following report appears -
Now it is the job of all genuine peace fighters to see that the peace movement generally and the’ Australian Peace Congress to be held in October are not manipulated into supporting the policies of U.S. imperialism which has the ultimate aim of aggression against the People’s Republic of China.
The revisionist leaders of the Communist Party of Australia have no difference with Dr. Cairns and other Labour leaders like him who arc now lining up wilh U.S. imperialism against the people of Asia and, at the same time, the Australian people.
The implication here, of course, is that the Opposition members in fact support the Soviet philosophy and not the Chinese philosophy. That is the reason for the allusion here. This is the reason why the “ Vanguard “ newspaper, which expresses the Chinese philosophy, is stating that the Soviet Communist Party will dominate the Peace Congress to be held in New South Wales. The July issue contains the report of the interview with the Reverend Victor James, of whom I have spoken.
The split between the two Communistinspired peace movements is very real. The issue of 7th August 1964 of an English language periodical published in Peking, the “ Peking Review “, once again carries the implication that the Soviet-aligned party will be behind the Australian Peace Congress. We once again see a statement that the peace movement sponsored by the World Council of Peace, which is a reference to the Australian Peace Congress, will be under the control of a certain power and follows a completely erroneous line. Right through these Chinese Communist publications and Chinese affiliated publications we see these continued allusions to the fact that the New South Wales Peace Congress will without doubt be dominated by the Australian Communist Party and by Soviet-aligned philosophies. This is further illustrated by the article in the “Peking Review “.
There has been direct disagreement between the two parties on another level. The “ Vanguard “ of August carries a long statement from Peking by the Peace Liaison Committee of the Asian and Pacific Regions. I take it that this organisation in China is the Communist Chinese front equivalent to the World Peace Council. There was a direct disagreement between the two views at the meeting of the World Peace Council Presidential Committee held in Budapest last April. The Chinese delegation alleged that the World Peace Council had insulted the Vietnamese delegate by refusing to hear him in person at the full Council meeting. Some of the details of this incident appear in the “ Tribune “ of Wednesday, 10th June 1964. The “ Tribune “ carries the following report -
The Chinese spokesman immediately accused the executive officers of “ slighting “ the Vietnamese representative.
On return to Peking, the Chinese delegation publicly stated that the Vietnamese delegate had been insulted by being refused admission to the full Council meeting.
This, of course, is the full council meeting of the World Peace Council, at which I understand some of the sponsors of this movement were present. I wanted to refer above all to a report made by Mr. J. E. Heffernan, the General Secretary of the Sheet Metal Working, Agricultural Implement and Stovemaking Industrial Union of Australia, on bis return from the World Peace Conference which was held in Tokyo earlier this year. Let me immediately assure honorable members that this gentleman attended not just one World Peace Conference; he attended two. It is rather interesting to see his attitude towards the two conferences. Of course, he thinks that the conference sponsored by the Soviet branch of the Communist Party went swimmingly and he speaks of it in glowing terms. But the conference sponsored by the Chinese-affiliated party is in a different category altogether.
– It is a different kind of peace.
– Exactly. In his report to the trade union movement, Mr. Heffernan said -
It is also of interest to note that this organisation, conveniently formed in time to receive an invitation from the Japan Council, does not support the partial Test Ban Treaty. . ‘. .
He went on to elucidate some of the things it did not do. He said that the main theme of the Tokyo conference was an attack on the Hiroshima-Nagasaki World Conference, which is the other conference. He said -
The “ delegates “ from overseas all seemed to have been well schooled, because every one of them included terms such as “ splitters “, “ divisionists “. . . .
He added -
The dreary debate dragged on for several days; one session concluding at 2 a.m.
In his report on the Hiroshima-Nagasaki conference, he commented on the difference and said it was a welcome change from the three days harangue at the Tokyo conference. This gentleman is one of the vicechairmen of the Australian Congress for International Co-operation and Disarmament which is to be held in Sydney later this week.
The reason why it was absolutely essential for the Government of Australia to let the very many genuine people know these facts about the Congress is that they may attend without being aware of the Communist affiliations with previous peace conferences and they may not be aware that the whole peace front has been established purely to divert genuine men and women away from a genuine desire for peace. If the Congress succeeds the world “ peace “ will definitely have a smutty connotation. This is the message which it is absolutely essential that the genuine people who are supporting this Congress appreciate.
The honorable member for Yarra (Dr. J. F. Cairns) suggested that in spite of all that has been said no sponsors of this conference had withdrawn. I am sorry, but one has already withdrawn. In addition, 1 have spoken to a number of the sponsors and a good many have had second thoughts. A good many are asking themselves how unbiased will be the resolutions passed at the conference. This is the point that I should like to pass on today. Let them see when they attend the conference what chance they will have of having passed any resolution which is contrary to the Soviet line. Let us not forget that there will be, perhaps, resolutions passed that will conflict with the attitude of the Chinese Communist Party.
The reason why I have mentioned all these facts tonight is that there are two peace movements. I would be very interested to see what would happen to the Australian Communist representatives if people such as the Rev. James, who supported the New Zealand movement and who attended the previous conference, were to attend this conference. I trust that resolutions which conflict with the Soviet line will be put so that we can see how genuine these people are.
.- The honorable member for New England (Mr. Sinclair) has dealt at length with the ideological differences between Communist China and the Soviet Union and, of course, his remarks overflowed into a discussion of the peace movement. I do not want to deny that those two subjects overlap, but the honorable member knows that the statement made by the Attorney-General (Mr. Snedden) was an attempt to smear this Australian Congress of International Co-operation and Disarmament. The honorable member for New England knows that apart from one person nobody has withdrawn as a sponsor of this Congress. Yet some 60 to 70 people have added their names in order to become sponsors, since the statement was made by the Attorney-General. One of these people is Sir Walter Murdoch, whose knighthood was recommended by this Government. I remind the honorable member for New England that he has received correspondence from many people in his electorate protesting against the statement made by the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) and the statement made by the Attorney-General. The honorable member knows that that is the case, so why does he not have the courage to say that he has received protests about statements made by the Government?
– I received protests, but I disagreed with them.
– You did not. If you look at “ Hansard “ you will see that you did not say anything about that. What you did say was that many people had said to you that they had bad second thoughts about the Congress.
– So they did.
– Order! The honorable member for Reid will address the Chair and the honorable member for New England will cease interjecting.
– The truth is that these people protested against the action of the Government. The name “ New Zealand “ has been omitted from the title of this Con gress and, as a consequence, the theory has been advanced that this is a Communist conspiracy. The truth is that only five delegates representing New Zealand attended the 1959 Congress. This was a weakness. When we were organising this conference, and I, the honorable member for Reid, was part of the organisation, we decided to delete the name “ New Zealand “ because we thought that New Zealand was not sufficiently well represented. There was no conspiracy. If the honorable member wants to look at anything to see if we are excluding anybody he should look at the two main principles that we stand for at this conference. The Congress is based on two beliefs: First, that there should be a full and frank discussion in Australia of international co-operation and disarmament; secondly, that no minority group should be allowed to dominated or should be excluded.
The honorable member for New England has said that there is a pro-Peking group in Australia. That is right. I have no doubt that E. F. Hill and his supporters will attend the Congress. He will certainly be there, so this means that the whole of the arguments presented by the honorable member for New England completely crumble. The great conspiracy of which the honorable member complains is that we took the name “ New Zealand “ out because the New Zealand Communist Party was pro-Chinese and we wanted to exclude the pro-Chinese, but we have agreed that minority groups are allowed to attend, but that they shall not dominate nor be excluded. Of course Communists will attend. We are well aware that Communists will bc there, but if they try to push one set of ideas or one point of view they will be curbed. I have no doubt of that.
The honorable member for New England is well aware that within his electorate are professors and lecturers of the New England University who are sponsors of this Congress. There are also lecturers from the Armidale Teachers’ College. In addition, there are ministers of religion. Surely that honorable member has great respect for Bishop Moyes. Does he suggest that Bishop Moyes is a pawn? Does he respect Bishop Moyes?
– I respect Bishop Moyes.
– Of course you do. Bishop Moyes has devoted his life to this country and has given us wisdom, tolerance and understanding. Bishop Moyes has supported this Congress and will not be intimidated by the Government.
I want to answer quickly the criticism levelled by the Prime Minister. The Prime Minister said that I attended the sixth world conference against atom and hydrogen bombs held in Japan. That is quite true; I did attend the conference. Certain decisions were arrived at by the conference and they were not all unanimous decisions. I have supported the Labour Party’s policy through and through. I will attend this Congress and 1 will support the point of view of the Labour Party, and no other, at the Congress. My views are on record in this Parliament, and 1 will continue to put those views. I want honorable members to consider my experience and my position. I, like many members on the Government side and on this side of the chamber experienced some hardships and difficulties during the last war. 1 saw horror inflicted by man upon man, horror such as few people have seen. I saw the end of the war. I saw the dropping of the second atomic bomb, on Nagasaki. When I returned to Australia, like other honorable members I lapsed into apathy and gave peace and war very little thought. It was not until I had been a member of Parliament for nearly 12 months and the Melbourne Congress was held, and I was asked by my colleagues if I would like to go to the Congress, that I began to think deeply about these subjects. I attended the 1959 Congress. At that Congress it was not the oratory of J. B. Priestley but the chalenging words of Linus Pauling that led me to the peace movement. I make no apologies for that to any member of this Parliament. So far as I am concerned the Labour Party has given me the right to participate in the peace movement. I have been an activist in the peace movement since 1959 and I am not ashamed of the contribution that I may have made to the welfare of my fellow man. The rules of the Australian Labour Party, of which I am a member, permit me to associate with and participate in the peace movement, and I will continue to participate in it.
Linus Pauling was a Nobel Prize winner for chemistry in 1954. During the McCarthy era he was smeared as a Communist, a dupe, a red, but one must bear in mind that again in 1962 Linus Pauling won the Nobel Prize for peace - only the second man in history to win the Nobel Prize twice. But things changed in America. During the Kennedy era Linus Pauling was accepted at the White House. He is in Australia for the Congress and he will make a great contribution to it. I ask everybody who may be listening to this debate tonight to listen also to Linus Pauling and his challenging words because no other man in the world has attempted so well to tell the people of the horrors of nuclear war and of what fall-out from nuclear weapon testing can do to future generations. This is the great thing that the peace movement is doing.
I propose to quote from President Kennedy’s “ World Peace “ speech made on 10th June 1963 at an American university. He said - “ There are few earthly things more beautiful than a university,” wrote John Masefield in his tribute to English universities - and his words ure equally true here. He did not refer to spires and towers, to campus greens and ivied walls. He admired the splendid beauty of the university, he said, because it was “ a place where those who hate ignorance may strive to know; where those who perceive truth may strive to make others see “.
The peace movement is a place where those who hate ignorance may strive to know and where those who perceive truth may strive to make others see. That is the real desire of the peace movement. I said earlier that the nuclear bombs that were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki and which killed 100,000 people were equal in explosive capacity to 20,000 tons of T.N.T. The regular nuclear weapons of today are rated at 10 and 20 megatons - equal to 500 and 1,000 times the explosive force of the bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Some time ago the Soviet Union tested a weapon of 58 megatons. Russia has bombs of 100 megatons capacity.
The scientists of the world have estimated that the great powers have stockpiled bombs totalling 320,000 megatons capacity. Let us put this situation in simple language. If that stockpile were used at the rate of 6 megatons a day, which was the total explosive force of all the bombs dropped in the last war, it would take 146 years to exhaust it. What do we want to do? We do not want just to kill the human race - we want to kill and overkill. It is about time we stopped thinking about fear, hate and suspicion. We want to build tolerance and understanding. As far as I am concerned I want to try to build tolerance and understanding, not just between the people of this nation but between people of all nations. In this struggle in the world all rights are not on one side and all wrongs are not on the other. There are some people in the world who want to use nuclear weapons. An election is looming in the United States of America. One of the candidates for the Presidency is Senator Goldwater, who has said that he wants to use conventional nuclear weapons. President Johnson has said, as reported in the “Daily Mirror” on 8th September this year -
Make no mistake, there is no such thing as a conventional nuclear weapon. Modern weapons are not like any other. In the first exchange 100 million Americans and more than 100 million Russians would be dead. And when it is all over our great cities would be in ashes, our industries destroyed, and our dreams vanished.
What were the views of General MacArthur on this matter? In Korea General MacArthur wanted to use nuclear weapons on the Chinese supply lines beyond the Yalu River. But by 1961 General MacArthur had changed his views, and said -
Global war has become a Frankenstein to destroy both sides. No longer is it a weapon of adventure - the short cut to international power. If you lose you are annihilated. If you win you stand only to lose. No longer does it possess even the chance of the winner of a duel. It contains now only the germs of double suicide.
Who are the madmen who want to use nuclear weapons? In 1946 the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth) advocated using nuclear weapons against the Soviet Union to force peace on the world. A few days ago in this Parliament he advocated the use of nuclear weapons to denuclearise China. These are the men - the Goldwaters and the Wentworths - whom we must tame. We must stop all this hate. I know there are men of good will on the Government side. We must come together on this question. The peace movement does not stand for unilateral disarmament. It stands for total and complete world disarmament with adequate inspections. These are the aspirations of the peace movement. We have pacificists in the peace movement but most of us stand for the defence of Australia, just as does anybody else. We love Australia but we want to see tolerance and understanding between us and our neighbours.
What would result from the holocaust of nuclear war? In his book “Kill and Overkill “, Ralph E. Lapp, the well-known American physicist who was attached for a long time to the American Atomic Energy Commission, wrote -
The well-known American biologist H. Bentley
Glass, a member of the Atomic Energy Commission, said: “ In the absence of fall-out shelters for animals, all wild and domestic animals in the combatant countries would be exposed to lethal doses of radiation. Not only would the meat and milk supply go with the cattle, but an even greater disaster would be the destruction of birds. Without birds to feed on them the insects would multiply catastrophically. The insects - not man or other proud species - are really the only ones fitted for survival in the nuclear age. They - and bacteria - are enormously radiation-resistant. The cockroach, a venerable and hardy species, will take over the habitations of the foolish humans and compete only with other insects or bacteria.
There are men who want to make the world like that.
In 1946 Albert Einstein - possibly one of the greatest men in history - speaking about future wars, said - lt directly concerns every person in the civilised world. We cannot leave it to generals, senators and diplomats to work out a solution over a period of generations. There is no defence in science against the weapon which can destroy civilisation.
Our defence is not in armaments, not in science, not in going underground. Our defence is in law and order. Future thinking must prevent wars. At the congress to be held in Sydney between the 25th and the 30th of this month, people will be trying to bring other people together to discuss international co-operation and disarmament and to build understanding between countries. This is the only way that we can break down the differences between nations. There is no future in hate.
– At this stage of the debate it must be obvious that there is little to be said that has not been said already. There are some people, moral Pharisees, such as the honorable member for Reid (Mr. Uren), who believe that they have the sole right to preach peace and who will never be convinced that this Sydney Congress is a Communist front. But there is this to be said about the debate this evening: First of all, I believe it to be incontrovertible that the peace conference to be held in Sydney next week is a direct descendant of the peace conference held in Stockholm in J 948 and the peace conference held in Australia in 1949.
I agree with the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) that the Sydney conference is a direct lineal descendant of the Melbourne conference of 1959. I will not go through the nine infamous steps to the Sydney conference, which have been mentioned by my colleague, the AttorneyGeneral (Mr. Snedden). But I will quote what has been said about the Sydney conference in “ Peace Action “, the journal of the New South Wales Peace Committee. lt said - (n February 1964, representatives of these Committees- that is, the continuing committees which were formed at the 1959 Melbourne Conference - . . decided to convene a panel of citizens to form a provisional sponsoring committee to begin preliminary planning for a National Congress in October 1964. 1 do not need anything more than the Attorney-General’s statement and the statement that I have just read to prove conclusively that the conference to be held next week is a direct descendant of the 1959 peace conference.
The second point that I make tonight is that in my opinion it is incontrovertible that this conference has been organised and will be manipulated by the Communist Party of Australia. The third point that I make is that it is incontrovertible that the tactics of all peace conferences are, as far as public opinion will permit, to force upon an unsuspecting public the foreign policy or the overseas policy of the Soviet Union and the overseas policy of the Communist Party of that country. Peace conferences hope to weaken the will of the democratic countries, of the idealistically minded people - or the neurotic people, as I describe some of them - to swallow the propaganda of the Communists. Their policy is divisive. They hope to be able, by dividing public opinion, to destroy the willpower of the democratic countres to resist Communism.
Earlier tonight the Prime Minister drew a distinction between the 1951 policy and the 1964 policy of the Australian Labour
Party. Before I come to that. I direct attention to the fact that the policy of the Government on these peace conferences has been completely consistent and internally coherent. Ever since we have known of these so-called peace conferences we have attacked them and we have warned wellmeaning people not to become associated with them. Their intention is to subvert these people and to make them agents acting against the interests of their own country.
I want to point out as strongly as I can the contrast between the 1951 policy and the 1964 policy of the Labour Party. In 1951 the Federal Executive of the Labour Party said -
We further denounce so-called Peace Councils as instruments of Soviet Imperialism.
As I said before, the tactic is to use these peace conferences to propagate the foreign policy of the Soviet Union. The Federal Executive went on- to say -
That this Federal Executive being of the opinion that the Australian Peace Council is a subsidiary organisation lo the Communist Party, we therefore declare that it is nol competent for any member of the A.L.P. to be associated therewith and remain a member of the A.L.P. . . . ‘
It must be significant - this is what the Prime Minister said - that in 1964 the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) states that the Australian Labour Party in New South Wales has decided that it will not be officially represented but that individual members are permitted to participate. Here is a complete revolution in thought, a complete change in attitude. We are entitled to ask ourselves this question: Why has there been this intellectual somersault, this political somersault?
I believe that there are three or four good reasons for it. The first one is that 31 members of the Parliamentary Labour Party are sponsors of the Sydney conference. In New South Wales, 8 Labour members of Parliament and 3 members of the State Executive of the Labour Party are sponsors of the Sydney conference. Secondly, the Leader of the Opposition was compelled to agree that members of the party could attend for the good and sufficient reason that he is a member of the Victorian Executive of the Labour Party. This is dominated by. the left wing of the party, and the left wing is under strong Communist influence. So, the conclusion is inevitable. The honorable gentleman is a captive of the left wing, which is controlled by the Communists, so he had no alternative but to agree to the proposal that members of his party should go, listen and become indoctrinated.
The third reason that I put to the House is that Mr. Leslie Haylen, a former member of this House, is the third member of the Labour Party’s Senate team in New South Wales. At this juncture it could not be thought that the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) would disown him or brand him as an associate of the Communists. In fact, the Leader of the Opposition was compelled to toe the line and to permit Mr. Leslie Haylen to go along and play his part in being used as a tool of this congress and its subversive aims. I mention but one other reason. It is that so much of the funds of the Labour Party comes from the left wing unions. If those unions were to be disowned, a Senate election campaign could not be fought effectively by the Labour Party.
What does all of this add up to? It adds up to this: The Labour Party has attempted to paper over the cracks. These cracks are too wide to be concealed; they are there. What would have happened if there had been an attempt to stop members going to the Congress is that there would have been a schism in New South Wales as great as there was in 1954 and that in itself would have led to the destruction of the Labour Party and its defeat in both the Senate election and the New South Wales State election next year. 1 point out that the cracks are there; the divisions are there. The Labour Party is hopelessly divided into three groups - one left, one right, and one of which nobody can quite tell just where it is going or where it stands. We have here again the nauseatingly familiar sight of the Labour Party being divided on matters of the greatest importance to this country. On matters which concern our future, members of the Labour Party are hopelessly divided; they cannot unite and support a unified defence policy and a bi-partisan foreign policy. 1 come now to a point which, in my opinion, has not yet been dealt with effectively here tonight. It is this: What is the true policy of the Soviet Union and of the Communist Party? 1 have said that this policy is to weaken the will and the capacity to resist of well meaning Australians - the capacity intellectually’ to resist. They do this by trying to divide public opinion. Internationally I think it can be said that this is also their objective in military terms. Events in West Berlin, West Germany, Korea, North and South Vietnam have all provided illustrations of the method of geographically dividing countries so that in time their capacity and will to resist will be destroyed and the Communists will be able to make a fairly easy take over. At home we find that they use this same tactic of division. They believe that if they can divide people on ideological grounds, on grounds about which people have deep feelings, they will be able to destroy our will to defend our country and protect ourselves. 1 want to put this part of my argument in this way - and here I use the word “ incontrovertible “ for the fourth time: I think it is incontrovertible that the centre of diplomatic and military activities has shifted from Western Europe to the Far East and India. I believe this to be true. Many great statesmen believe that the centre of world politics has shifted to the Pacific theatre and the countries of the Indian Ocean. The objectives of the Soviet Union in the present circumstances are these: First, to destroy the reputation for integrity of the United States of America and drive that country’s forces out of South Vietnam; secondly, to destroy the concept of Malaysia and boost Indonesia; thirdly, to force upon Australia what is called an independent foreign policy. I ask honorable members to interpret that word “ independent “ in the light of the Marxist glossary, meaning that we should adopt a policy of neutralism.
Against that background it is not extraordinary that in various parts of the Asian continent and in Australia today four peace conferences have been or will be held. One of them was admittedly organised by the Peace Liaison Council, an offspring of the Chinese Communist Party which first came into being in 1954 and was resurrected this year, lt is nonetheless an offspring of that Peace Liaison Council which is a Chinese Communist organisation. Is it not remarkable that in Nagasaki-Hiroshima, in Tokyo, in Sydney, and shortly also in Delhi in India, these peace conferences are being or are to be held, all of them having their origin in the Peace Council of 1948 which devised the mechanism by which Soviet foreign policy should be propogated throughout the world?
The best way I know of testing whether the conferences being held are the instruments of Soviet propaganda is to determine whether they follow the Communist party line. If they do, I think it is conclusive proof that they are the instruments of Soviet policy.
Let us look at the resolutions rejected at the 1959 Melbourne conference. When we do we are forced to the conclusion that every one of the resolutions rejected could only have been rejected by the Communists. They could never have been rejected by persons democratically minded or who believe in the fundamental freedoms that are so precious to us. The first of these defeated resolutions was one in favour of freedom in all countries for the propagation Of pacifist propaganda. The 1959 conference rejected the recommendation that pacifist propaganda should be disseminated anywhere in the world - Communist propaganda yes, pacifist propaganda no. The second resolution defeated referred to freedom of the Press, including freedom from government control. That was rejected, and why? Because in Soviet Russia itself there is no freedom of the Press. Mr. Krushchev was summarily dismissed a few days ago and did Izvestia or Pravda, come to his aid? No, of course not. The Press in Russia is controlled by the Praesidium of the Communist Party. Another defeated resolution concerned the guarantee by the great powers of national boundaries as established by law or convention.
The conclusion is inevitable - these people will not permit a guarantee by the great powers of our independence and freedom or of the independence and freedom of those countries that we believe should remain free.
Let me now turn to another conference, the Nagasaki-Hiroshima conference. Here no word of criticism was directed at the Soviet Union. Let us consider some of the resolutions passed there, and consider them against the background of Soviet objectives in this theatre, the destruction of South Vietnam, the withdrawal of the United States forces, and the destruction of Malaysia. We find that each one of the resolutions of this conference is designed to achieve Soviet objectives. The conference demanded that the United States military intervention in Vietnam and Laos be stopped and that the United States withdraw all its own forces from Vietnam and Laos. Secondly, the conference demanded that American nuclear bases in Okinawa be removed and it opposed the stationing of nuclear carriers and the calling of American nuclear submarines at Japanese ports. Finally, the conference condemned the United States for carrying out underground nuclear tests.
There was not a single word of criticism of a threatened nuclear explosion by the Chinese, not a single word of protest about nuclear explosions by Russia. These people are for the Russians and against us. The resolutions passed at the NagasakiHiroshima conference, and the resolutions passed at the various peace conferences I have mentioned are all propaganda for the Soviet Union, the propaganda of the Communist Party.
I make my next point. Is there in substance any similarity between the resolutions passed at Nagasaki and the resolutions that the organisers of the conference in Sydney want passed? Let me read just one or two of the sort of resolutions that they have placed on the agenda. The organisers want a discussion on Vietnam along the lines of “ Yanks go home “. They want Malaysia and Indonesia discussed. They want Malaysia to be broken up and Indonesia to become powerful. They want nuclear free zones to be discussed. They also had listed a discussion of the base at North West Cape. They have now deleted the last from the agenda. As the Prime Minister said, it was originally recommended that there should be an independent foreign policy for Australia. This too, as a smokescreen, has been deleted.
I do not think it can possibly be doubled that the people who drafted the resolutions at Nagasaki-Hiroshima are the same kind of people who drafted the resolutions that are to be put before the Sydney conference next week. There is no doubt about that, and anyone who acts as a sponsor of this conference should know that he is associating himself with the foreign policy of the Soviet Union. ,
I want to finish with these two observations. First, I have pointed to the fact that these peace conferences are the instruments of Soviet foreign policy. I have pointed to the fact that all the resolutions are of the same kind and are directed against our interests, directed towards isolating us and towards the fractionalisation of the free world - a free world broken into fragments so that it can be conquered piece by piece. I finish on this note: President Johnson in a speech made within the last three or four days, immediately after the removal of Mr. Khrushchev, pointed out that we are opposed by a detestable and implacable enemy. That enemy is the Soviet Union and Communist China. Each of those countries is ruled by a Communist Party.
If the people of goodwill attending the Sydney Congress wanted to support a genuine peace movement they ought to be drawing attention at home to the dangers of Communism and to the dangers that we face unless Communism is destroyed, instead of supporting it. This is a subversive organisation.
In this House we should make clear what the intentions of the so-called Sydney Peace Congress are. Let us, as free and peaceloving people, dedicate ourselves to the cause of Australia, the cause of destroying Communism here and making this country ever free from Communism and always free for democracy.
Mr. E. JAMES HARRISON (Blaxland) [II. lj. - This debate tonight was intended, J think, to hinge around two things: First, the speech of the Attorney-General (Mr. Snedden) made on the 3rd September and, secondly, the Australian Congress for International Co-operation and Disarmament that is to be held in Sydney and with which I will deal in a moment. I want to say to the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. McMahon) before he leaves - I see he is leaving quickly - that in all my experience when this House had a matter before it that deserved the earnest consideration of every honorable member, particularly Ministers, I have never witnessed a Minister so dishonest in his approach, getting down to the point of miserable political levels, when there was a world political issue to be discussed.
Let me come back to the speech made by the Attorney-General. I am glad the
Attorney-General is in the House because the honorable member for Higinbotham (Mr. Chipp) said that I was playing a strange role. I am glad the honorable member is back because he is the one playing the strange role as I will show when I go on. If he had any honesty of purpose he would not deliver a speech such as he made tonight. Let me state the reason why I take part in this debate. It is because of what the Attorney-General said on the 3rd September. He said -
Attention had previously been drawn to the well-known Communist tactic of obtaining a broad sponsorship of well-known people who, unaware of the real purposes of the activity, are persuaded to lend their names to what, on the face of it, might appear a worthy cause.
I repeat the words “ might appear a worthy cause “. One of the honorable members who have been interjecting said that the Minister for Labour and National Service made a good political speech. It was. But it did not contain one comment of value in the cause of peace. Let me revert to this Australian Congress because here is where I join issue with the Minister who left the chamber a few moments ago. Is it likely that Bill Evans, Junior Vice-President of the Australian Council of Trade Unions, would be opening a conference as chairman if it were dominated by Communists? Is it likely that Albert Monk, President of the Australian Council of Trade Unions would be delivering the opening address at a conference controlled by Communists? Is it likely that on the second day of the conference Jim Kenny would be delivering a speech if the Congress was controlled by Communists? Finally, in reply to a question that was thrown at the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam), and I now accept the challenge: Is it likely that I would be delivering the last address on the last day of this conference if it were dominated by Communists? I will be at the conference.
Directly, I will indicate clearly why I will be taking part in this Congress and why I am a sponsor for it. The Congress will be discussing French nuclear tests. This Government has already made some kind of a half-hearted protest about that. It will be discussing the partial test ban treaty. That is a very vital issue in world affairs today, with China taking the attitude she is taking. It will be discussing nuclear-free zones as mentioned by the late President of the United States of America, Mr. Kennedy. Quite unlike what the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) tried to infer tonight the discussion concerning disarmament is headed “Disarmament with Control”. The honorable member for Higinbotham asked what my role is. I want to tell him. There is one thing that I never was, and never will be, and that is a fearful creature who is not game to stand up for the things he believes in. As a trade unionist in this country who has had the privilege - I say privilege - of leading at a trade union level and being associated with Bill Evans, Albert Monk and with Jim Kenny, I take pride in the fact that I believe I am doing something towards educating people - those who may not know how to do it - to play the right role in the interests of peace on the face of the world. Why did the Minister who has just left the chamber go back to 1948? Why did he do that? Why does he dodge altogether the real effect of Albert Monk and the people that this Government depend on to keep the trade union movement in this country away from Communism participating in the Congress?
Let me remind the honorable member for Higinbotham that if I had taken up the role that he suggests I should take up on this issue in the middle 1930’s, the Trades and Labour Council of New South Wales would still be under Communist control. It is the honest trade unionists such as Albert Monk, Bill Evans, Jim Kenny and thousands of others like myself who go out and play the role of trade unionists and fight the Communists at their own game in their own shows. We are not afraid, to go into a conference and preach peace in the way it should be taught. It is because we have had that experience that we can fight these people. It is all very well for honorable members who have never seen a worthwhile fight on this kind of question to interject. I have been in fights in the early 1930’s where bike chains have been produced and I know what it means. I am not afraid of the Communists or their tactics. I believe it is the Labour Party that will finally lead this world to peace.
Let me tell the honorable member quite frankly why I am associated with this Congress. I am a sponsor for three reasons.
First of all I believe that if every free man in the world had the courage to stand on his feet and to be counted as working and pleading for a peaceful world, we would have one. It is because of the lack of courage of people who have not the fortitude to get up and say what they should be saying and stand up and be counted throughout the world - and in this Parliament - that we have the situation we have in this world today. The second reason I am a sponsor is because I happen to be a trade unionist. I have been leading in the trade union movement since 23rd March 1936 and I am now in my 29th year with the movement.
One of the things, that has never left me is the knowledge that trade unionists throughout the world produce the weapons that destroy trade unionists in other sections throughout the world. Let us bear in mind the fact that the pension provided for war widows under the Repatriation Act is poor compensation for the loss of a husband as far as the wife is concerned. It is much less compensation for the worker who helped contribute bis might and his knowledge and energy to producing the weapons that destroyed his co-worker in some other place and caused that worker to go to the grave. Anybody who has played his part in the trade union movement recognises that trade unionists in one part of the world produce the weapons to destroy trade unionists in another. If the honorable member for Higinbotham’ had any semblance of the approach of trade unionists to this problem he would understand this and be proud of any sponsoring arrangement I might make to try to avoid this kind of situation on the face of the world.
My third reason - and I say it with reverence - is that the late President Kennedy left a message that all people, in good conscience, should take notice of. I will refer to the last speech that the late President Kennedy made to the United Nations on 20th September 1963. Let me quote what he said, for I know that the honorable member for Higinbotham will be just as impressed with it as I was. While I live I will fight to try to follow the pattern set- by a man who dedicated his life to peace. The words I am about to quote were said by the late President Kennedy less than nine weeks before an assassin’s bullet destroyed him. They were said in what was his last significant speech about peace. They were -
Today the clouds have lifted a little so that new rays of hope can break through . . .
I refer, of course, to the Treaty to Ban Nuclear Tests in the Atmosphere, Outer Space and Under Water - concluded by the Soviet Union, the United Kingdom and the United States - and already signed nearly a hundred countries.
That was his lead-in to his subject. He went on to say -
The world has not yet escaped from the darkness. The long shadows of conflict and crisis envelop us still, but we meet today in an atmosphere of rising hope, and at a moment of comparative calm.
Let the honorable member for Higinbotham listen to and devour these words -
My presence here is not a sign of crisis but of confidence. 1 am not here to report on a new threat to the peace or new signs of war. I have come to salute the United Nations and to show the support of the American people for your daily deliberations. 1 emphasise the next words -
For the value of this body’s work is not dependent on the existence of emergencies - nor can the winning of the peace consist only of dramatic victories. Peace is a daily, a weekly, a monthly process, gradually changing opinions, slowly eroding old barriers, quietly building new structures. And however undramatic the pursuit of peace, that pursuit must go on. 7 repeat that those words were said nine weeks before President Kennedy’s death. He went on -
And if we fail to make the most of this moment and this momentum - if we convert our new-found hopes and understanding into new waits and weapons of hostility - if this pause in the cold war leads merely to its renewal and not its cm’ -dien the shaming indictment of posterity will rightly point its linger at us all. But if we can stretch this pause into a period of fruitful cooperation
Let mc repeat those words -
But if we can stretch this pause into a period of fruitful co-operation - if both sides can now gain new confidence and true experience in concrete collaborations for peace -
These are not the words of Jim Harrison or Gough Whitlam: they are the words of a President who was the leader of a nation -
If we can now be as bold and as farsighted in the control of deadly weapons as we have been in their creation - then, surely, this first small step can be the start of a long and fruitful journey.
Those are the words that impressed me and n.ade me determined that for the rest of my life I would do what I could to emulate that national leader whose destruction was a world tragedy. Let me quote another short passage from the late President’s speech. He said -
But I would say to the leaders of the Soviet Union-
I, in my turn, say it to those honorable members on the Government side who will follow me in this debate, to the Minister for Labour and National Service, who has left the chamber, and to the AttorneyGeneral who is sitting at the table - and to their people, that if either of our countries is to be fully secure, we need a much better weapon than the H-bomb - a weapon better than ballistic missiles or nuclear submarines - and that better weapon is peaceful co-operation.
The better weapon of peaceful cooperation has not been mentioned by the Prime Minister or by any honorable member on the Government side tonight. It is a standing disgrace to this Parliament that we should have in this chamber a Prime Minister and Ministers who will stand up and destroy the image of a man who, on 20th September 1963, laid down this pattern for the future of the world.
Honorable members opposite must know where I stand and why I adopt the role I do. I am proud to adopt this role because the late President of the United States of America set the pattern for the future of the world. Trade unionists alone may be able to carry it on, and I become disgusted when I hear the kind of shallow, narrow talk that I heard tonight about the New South Wales Executive of the Australian Labour Party not putting its imprimatur on us to attend the conference as representatives of the party. Honorable members on the Government side do not or will not understand that as soon as one party puts a political imprimatur on delegates to a conference such as this it destroys the very purpose of the conference. The essence of a conflict is introduced and other political parties come in. You do not get peace out of political conflict; you get it out of peaceful co-operation. I am not afraid of the Communists because I believe the light of day shines from the Australian Labour Party. I believe that through this alone will we finally win the fight to establish in this country and in others the kind of thinking and understanding that was so capably enunciated by the late President of the United States of America in that speech which surely must have been read by every member on the Government side. I do not want to descend to the kind of propaganda that we have seen in the Press during the last few weeks. On one occasion this headline appeared in the Press -
Scientist Scathing on Refusal of Congress Visas.
Under it appeared the statement -
The Federal Attorney-General (Mr. Snedden) was “a possible Australian successor to McCarthy,” an internationally prominent American scientist said in Sydney yesterday.
Where does that get us? The AttorneyGeneral has to accept the responsibility for creating the atmosphere that invites that kind of retort, and every time you invite that kind of retort you get one step further away from the peaceful mission of the world. Another headline read -
Government puts Ban on Russians.
Where does that get us? Let me read one paragraph of the article that appeared under that headline -
An official said last night the Immigration Department had refused to issue visas for the Russians “ as a matter of Government policy “.
And this was done after the late President Kennedy had had a special telephone line installed between the White House and the Kremlin in order to maintain constant contact between the leaders of Russia and America. Who are we that we should be inferior to the Americans in national leadership? Surely if such fine leadership can be given by the President of America we ought to have in this country a Prime Minister and Cabinet big enough to emulate his thinking and to try to bring about peaceful understanding and peaceful co-operation in this world. But instead, we are treated to the kind of contributions that we have heard tonight from members on the Government side. Do they not understand that every time they spread hatred of the kind that has been spread here tonight they destroy the very existence of those things that make for world peace? We cannot live on hatred. Every time hatred comes in the door understanding goes out of the window. I say to honorable members on the Government side who have spoken tonight that the contributions they have made will be on record, and they do not do democracy justice in the eyes of the free world, or of the other side either. This Government, and especially the Minister for Labour and National Service, who has left the chamber, refuses to face up to the facts.
Yes, there will be Communists and there will be Labour men at this conference. There may even be one or two Liberals at it. But what is the motive behind all this? Someone said there will be 600 people there. If some Liberals could attend the conference and show that we are wrong, if they could induce us to change our thinking, that is the type of national leadership we want in the world today. Victories cannot be won by people who run away like cowards. Members of the Labour Party, and trade unionists in particular, never run away from their responsibility, on the State level, on the national level and on the political level, to do those things that are in the interests of free people, wherever they may be. Let me conclude by quoting what were almost the last words uttered by the late President of the United States of America - I emulate the spirit of these words as much as I can. He said -
Peace does not rest in charters and covenants alone. It lies in the hearts and minds of the people. And if it is cast there, then no act, no pact, no treaty or organisation can ever hope to preserve it. So let us not rest all our hopes for peace on parchment and paper - let us strive also to build peace in the hearts and minds of our people.
For that I will work while I live.
– I think the honorable member for Blaxland (Mr. E. James Harrison) is sincere, even though wrong. The Opposition speakers who preceded htm earlier tonight I think were just wrong.
On the 23rd May 1963 this House passed a resolution on disarmament, and the Opposition, to its credit, supported it. The organised Peace Movement chose to ignore that resolution because although it was in the interests of peace and humanity it was not in the interests of Soviet Russia. This is the real charge against the Congress: Not just that it is the instrument of Soviet Russia but that, being the instrument of Soviet Russia, it is the enemy of peace. The people who are supporting it, many of them well intentioned - although the controllers I think in. point of fact understand it - do not realise that this Congress is directed towards covering up the Soviet
Union’s plans for sabotaging world disarmament.
I am in favour of disarmament. I am in favour of peace. I am in favour of security. J am not just making a political matter out of this. I want to say the things which would help Australia. It is because of this that I want to say the things which will expose the truth about this Congress as a Communist front. I should have thought that the Opposition would have wanted the same things, but it has not. It is unfair, of course, to say this about Labour people, because many Labour people think exactly as I do on this matter. I believe that some members of the Opposition even in this Parliament so think, but they have not had the courage to get up tonight.
Why will Labour not help? There is evidence that this Congress is Communist dominated. It is, unfortunately, detailed evidence. We wanted to produce it in this House, but the Opposition would not let us do so. We wanted to table the documents. There is no time to read them all out, but the Opposition will not allow us to table them. All honorable members opposite can say is: “This is McCarthyism “. Who do they say are the McCarthys? This first document is headed “Statement by N.S.W. A.L.P. Trade Union Officials on the Communist Party’s Current ‘Peace’ Front”. The 53 people who have signed this document are not just 53 members of trade unions but 53 officials of trade unions in positions of responsibility. The signatories support peace; they expose the truth about the Communist Party.
What about the pamphlet that the Dissent Trust published. It is written by a man named Harold Crouch, a member of the Australian Labour Party. “Dissent” is not an anti-Labour publication. The document stales -
This pamphlet presents documentary evidence which shows that the “Australian (formerly “and New Zealand”) Congress for International. Co-operation and Disarmament “ is a Communist front organisation.
It further says -
Since the Communist Party of Australia is absolutely discredited it must speak through other organisations if its voice is to be heard.
I wonder whether honorable members opposite understand how they are being used is one of the “ other organisations “ - the megaphones for the Communist Party.
Should I take this pamphlet by Fred Wells, another member of the A.L.P. It is entitled “The Peace Racket”. It contains plenty of details. Its first paragraph states -
The Peace Congress to be held in Sydney from October 25 to 30 1964 is a Communist front. That so many obviously non-Communist churchmen, writers, artists, politicians, trade unionists, and prominent citizens are sponsoring the Congress does not alter the fact that the Congress is Communist inspired and will be manipulated in such a way that its propaganda and its findings will be an echo of the foreign policy of the Soviet Union.
Fred Wells: Another candidate for McCarthyism. Should I take the pamphlet entitled “ Fifteen Years of Peace Fronts “ - a most well documented pamphlet writen by J. P. Forrester, a member of the Central Executive of the New South Wales Branch of the A.L.P. In the first sentence of the introduction, the following appears -
The purpose of the pamphlet is to show that despite the use of all the techniques of subterfuge, misconception, and evasion of which the Communists are masters, the “ Peace “ Congress due to commence in Sydney on October 25th 1964, is a Communist “ Front “.
He proves this, chapter and verse, over some 62 pages. These aic the documents which members of the Opposition are trying to cover up and conceal. These are documents produced by members of their own Party. I am told that the man Forrester is to face a “ kangaroo court “ convened by the left wing of the Labour Party for what he has done, and he is going to be discredited.
Where are the McCarthys now? Who are the McCarthys? These are the people who were defamed and smeared by the honorable member for Yarra (Dr. J. F. Cairns) in this House only a few moments ago. He, himself, is the leading Mccarthyite in this Parliament.
These documents, and particularly the Forrester documents, to which I have referred show in detail how this conference in Sydney is the lineal descendant of the preceding conferences. They show that this Congress is part of a Communist organisation stretching back at least to 1948.
The honorable member for Yarra knows this very well because, as Mr. Forrester says, the honorable member for Yarra has been in this racket since 1949. He was in the first convening body for this chain of Soviet fronts. It is a shame to the party of which’ he is a member that although at that time it very rightly and properly condemned these fronts as Communist inspired it nevertheless, through fear or some other motive, was unwilling to deal with the honorable member for Yarra. He faces no court. He is not going to be expelled. Oh no. His only crime is being pro-Communist, not antiCommunist. The honorable member knows very well the chain of events to which I have referred, because he has played a prominent part in it; I would say a guilty part. He knows, but he gets up in this House and has the effrontery to say that tha peace movement has “changed since 1951”. If the peace movement has changed the honorable member for Yarra has not. So, that is the first proof - the details.
The second proof: What do they do, what do they say? The Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. McMahon) a few moments ago referred to the Heffernan document. Mr. Heffernan, a member of the A.L.P. apparently is also one of the sponsors of this conference as secretary of the trade union panel. Resolutions that the Minister read out appear in Mr. Heffernan’s document under this guise - (These resolutions can be a guide to all people throughout the world who work for peace.
Have a look at them. Every one of them is Soviet slanted. Not one of them was against the interests of the Soviet Union, but many of them were against the interests of Australia.
Let me come to an even more disgraceful incident which, if Mr. Forrester is to be believed, concerns the honorable member for Reid (Mr. Uren), and let him answer for this if he dares. According to Mr. Forrester, the honorable member for Reid attended the 1960 conference in Japan, and at that conference the documents show that the resolution was passed unanimously. Even if the honorable member for Reid happened to be absent on that day, he has adopted the resolution because he has worked consistently ever since with the organisation which passed it. Let me read some parts of that resolution to the House -
The peace-loving peoples of all the countries of the world, particularly the People’s Republic of China and other Asian countries supported this movement against the common enemies.
We are convinced that the new Japan-U.S. Security Treaty is a colonialist and economic invasion jointly implemented by the United States and Japan.
This plan is considered part of the world-wide colonialist and economic invasion.
That is against Australia’s interests, but honorable members opposite say it is not againt the treaty to which Australia is a party. But listen to this. It hangs around the neck of the honorable member for Reid-
We call upon all peoples of the world to realise and resist the provocative and dangerous role of S.E.A.T.O., C.E.N.T.O. and other military alliances operating in Asia and organised by imperialist powers…..
Can a loyal man put his signature to that? Is the Labour Party going to tolerate in its ranks a man who has this hanging around his neck? A little while ago we were told that the altitude was: “ Oh, you can go to the peace conference as individuals, but you must support Labour policy.” Is this Labour policy? I was not there myself, but Mr. Forrester says that the honorable member for Reid attended this conference. The documents show that the resolution was unanimous, and even if the honorable member for Reid happened to be away on the day that this resolution was passed, nevertheless, he has adopted it and condoned it by four years of subsequent conduct. Let the honorable member for Reid answer for that.
Let us look at the members of this directing committee. There are ten of them. They are Lawes, Brand, Taylor, Heffernan, Wheelwright, Mrs. Holmes, Mrs. Latona, Mrs. Anderson, Allen and Goldbloom. These are the names set out on the conference’s own document. At least seven of those people have their roots deep in this racket. So, a large majority of the members of the controlling committee have been in the racket for a long time. How can it be said that this conference is free from manipulation? Look at the list of the official speakers who were invited by this controlling committee. There were a couple of Russians, and the Paulings, who have been in every Communist peace front for donkeys’ years. Is the conference not manipulated? The controlling committee is composed of people who have manipulated past conferences, the decisions of which we know and can see. Furthermore, in the last couple of years, these people have attended three conferences overseas - in Moscow, Warsaw and Japan. They have now integrated this Australian conference into the fabric of the World Peace Council, which, as honorable members know, is a Communist front.
This is how these people operate. They prejudice altogether the power of the incoming innocent sponsors to make vital decisions. The keynote speakers are chosen in advance by this Communist influenced committee - by people who have this long record, as shown by the documents, of collaboration with Communists. These people have never taken our side against the Communists but time and time again in international matters have taken the side of the Communists against us.
I believe that the principal object of the present Congress is to be an alibi conference. It is not to be a working conference. The purpose of this Congress is to win respectability and cover for the Communist Party. Perhaps the best illustration of the way in which such objectives are achieved is contained in an account written by Mr. J. Normington-Rawling, who was for a long time a senior official of the Communist Party of Australia and who, on its behalf, before the war, organised a conference much like the one about to be held in Sydney. He writes -
We saw that our first job was to get hold of persons widely acceptable and untinged with Communism, or with association with Communists, to send out invitations to a conference. The present writer was given the job of setting the whole thing moving. We had our eyes on the Right Reverend E. H. Burgmann, Bishop of Goulburn . . .
Through one, A. E. Eichler, a Party member, who delighted in trying to convert to Communism those he called the “ petty-burgeois “, I became acquainted with a Mr. Symmington, one of a circle around the Reverend Stuart Watts, editor of the “ Church Standard “. Soon I became friendly with Watts, an unassuming and earnest gentleman, a liberal and a humanist, and we invited each other to write for our respective papers. Mr. Symmington arranged that he. Stuart Watts, the Reverend Roy Lee of the Morpeth Theological College where Burgmann had been Rector, and myself should have lunch together . . Bishop Burgmann’s name was mentioned - obviously, it had to be - the obtaining of his signature was to be precedent to their putting theirs to the invitation.
I had now to get the Bishop’s signature. I composed the letter of invitation and it was sent to the Bishop, together with a letter urging him to sign it, by the late David G. Stead, a scientist, a past president of the League of Nations Union, one who called himself a socialist and who was sympathetic to our Movement. Burgmann signed.
For “ Burgmann “ yesterday read “ Moyes “ today. Bishop Burgmann was completely innocent of any evil intention. He did not realise that he was at the centre of this web of intrigue being woven around him. He did not know the purposes for which he was being used. As the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) said earlier this evening, nothing gives greater respectability than having a Bishop on your side.
Honorable members can now see how the organisers of the coming conference in Sydney are working. I do not believe that this will be anything more than an “ alibi “ conference. Its purpose is to put in operation the machinery needed to win respectability for the controlling Communists. I have tried to put before the House relevant documents, which the Opposition would not let me table. These are documents written by Opposition members’ fellows in the Australian Labour Party. When we look at these documents, we know for a fact that the forthcoming conference in Sydney will be manipulated by the Communists. As such, it will not help the cause of peace. It will help the plan of Soviet Russia to sabotage peace and real disarmament. It will do this by covering up for Soviet Russia in a way which is in line with the foreign policy of the Communist Party.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Kelly) adjourned.
Bill received from the Senate, and read a first time.
Bill received from the Senate, and read a first time.
Bill received from the Senate, and read a first time.
Motion (by Mr. Snedden) proposed -
That the House de now adjourn.
– I wish to advise the House that Mr. William Tompsitt, the Principal Attendant, will proceed on furlough, prior to his retirement, at the close of business tomorrow. Mr. Tompsitt commenced his service with the Parliament, as a member of the staff of the Joint House Department, over 37 years ago, and his first sitting day was the first sitting day of the Parliament in Canberra on 9th May 1927. Mr. Tompsitt was appointed to the House of Representatives iti 1933 and became Principal Attendant in 1946. He was honoured by Her Majesty the Queen with the British Empire Medal in 1959. Mr. Tompsitt has had long and loyal service with the Parliament and I am sure that all honorable members will join with me in wishing him well in his retirement.
– Mr. Speaker, I should like to associate all members on the Government side of the House with the good wishes that you have expressed to Mr. Tompsitt. He has become, I think, a personal friend, by his cheerful and helpful presence here for so many years, to all members who have come and gone through this place since he has been here. The career that you have set out in detail for us indicates a remarkable length of service to this institution. Literally, it dates back through the full course of the history of this Parliament in the present building. Mr. Tompsitt will have seen governments come and governments go, and will have seen members come and members go, but he has gone on with a security of tenure which I think many of us would envy. However, having served the institution well, he goes to his retirement. In doing so, he carries with him the warm regard and best wishes of, I am sure, every member in this place.
.- I join with you, Sir, and the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) in paying tribute to this very kindly and courteous man. He is one of the most courteous persons I have ever mct. I know his history fairly well. He started work at the age of 12 in Melbourne and secured employment with the Commonwealth Parliament on the eve of its departure from Melbourne for Canberra. He told me that when he was appointed as a very junior mem .ler of the staff he was given rail tickets to Canberra. He came here with quite a few people much senior to himself, and people holding very high offices. Of all those with whom he came, I think there will be only four remaining when he leaves. One is the Clerk of the House of Representatives, Mr. Alan Turner, another is the Parliamentary Librarian, Mr. H. L. White, another is Mr, L. C. Key and the fourth is Mr. R. C. Loof. In a few years they too will be gone.
This gentleman whom we are honouring with our tributes tonight saw a lot of history made. He happened to be in the room of the Speaker of the day, Sir Littleton Groom, when the Prime Minister of the day, Mr. S. M. Bruce, needed a vote to save his Government in 1929. What happened is, of course, fairly well known. The Speaker requested Mr. Tompsitt, who was a very junior person, to remain in the room, and he is probably the only living person who could tell the story of the discus- ions between Mr. S. M. Bruce and the Speaker when Mr. Bruce appealed to the Speaker to come in and save his Government. I suppose Mr. Tompsitt will never reveal the details. He, like all those others who came here in the early days of the Parliament, has played his part. Perhaps it was a humble part, but it was always an important part. He has done his work with dignity and with consideration for visitors, for members and for those under whom he served. In his own quiet, humble way he has served the Parliament and the nation very well.
.- I would like to be associated with the comments that have been made about Bill Tompsitt. I have known him since I came to the Parliament and I have had several close associations with him. I remember that in about 1945, at the time of a meeting of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association, two very nervous people, in the persons of Bill Tompsitt and. myself, made their first aeroplane flight - between Sydney and Newcastle. That is an event that has made me remember him, as well as the pilot of the aeroplane.
Bill Tompsitt commenced here, I find, on 9th May 1927. Although it was some years later, that was the day and the month in which I chose to get engaged. There is some sort of association there. Tonight, as we pay tribute to Bill Tompsitt for the services he has rendered in his position, many honorable members would no doubt wish that they in another sphere might emulate his period of service and leave with the same goodwill, grace and blessings of honorable members from both sides of the Parliament. I do not know whether Bill Tompsitt thought of this, but I wonder whether he delayed his retirement to wait for a change of government. It is not pleasant to think that his wait has been in vain. Tonight, quite sincerely, I would like to place on record my appreciation of his friendship. He goes into retirement after many valuable years of service. He has carried out his duties, I would say, with humility, with dignity and with competence. He takes with him the warm regard, goodwill and friendship of all who have come in contact with him in the time he has been here. I would like to echo the sentiments of the Leader of the House (Mr. Harold Holt) and the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) and say we wish him good health and many years of happiness in retirement.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 11.50 p.m.
The following answers to questions upon notice were circulated -
m asked the Minister representing the Minister for Health, upon notice -
Has the Department of Health created, as recommended by the National Health and Medical Research Council at its meeting in May 1955, a permanent organisation to maintain constant liaison between interested Commonwealth departments and State departments of health, and of native administration for the study of problems affecting the health and social advancement of the Aboriginal population and for planning and coordinating remedial measures to be applied as joint enterprises by Commonwealth and States in co-operation?
– The Minister for Health has furnished the following reply -
In January 1961, a Ministerial conference on native welfare, which was attended by the DirectorGeneral and other senior officers of my Department, was held in Canberra. Among the many problems discussed were several of a specifically health nature. These included:
The provision of health services to
Medical Research Council with regard to particular fields of research.
It was also decided that all such conferences should thereafter meet biennially.
Similar problems affecting Aborigines were discussed at the next Ministerial conference which was held in Darwin in July 1963. I attended this conference in company with senior officers of my Department. Here it was decided that a standing committee should be established to meet biennially, on alternate years to the Ministerial conferences, this committee to consist of officers from the various State and Commonwealth Government Departments concerned with problems of Aboriginal welfare. The first meeting of this Committee took place in Canberra in May 1964. Several aspects of the health of Aborigines were discussed, including the activities of both the Commonwealth Department of Health in the Northern Territory and the National Health and Medical Research Council, with particular reference to leprosy control and the provision of tuberculosis allowances to Aborigines.
n asked the Minister for Territories, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows -
y asked the Minister representing the Minister for Health, upon notice -
– The Minister for Health has furnished the following reply -
Approval has not been sought by hospital and medical benefit funds for an increase in members’ contributions.
n asked the Minister representing the Minister for Civil Aviation, upon notice -
– The Minister for Civil Aviation has supplied the following information -
s asked the Minister representing the Minister for Civil Aviation, upon notice -
– The Minister for Civil Aviation has supplied the following information -
Transport Conventions, (Question No. 558.)
m asked the Minister for
External Affairs, upon notice -
What transport conventions drafted since World War I (a) have already been ratified by Australia and (b) are still open for ratification by Australia?
– The Acting Minister for External Affairs has furnished the following reply -
Convention for the Regulation of Aerial Navigation, 1919, and Amending Protocols.
Convention and Statute on International Regime of Maritime Ports, 1923.
Convention for the Unification of Certain Rules of Law relating to Bills of Lading, 1924.
Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea, 1929.
Convention for the Unification of Rules relating to International Carriage by Air, and Protocol, 1929.
Convention respecting Load Lines, 1930.
Convention on International Civil Aviation, 1944.
International Air Services Transit Agreement, 1944.
Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea and Regulations for Preventing Collisions, 1948.
Convention on Road Traffic, 1949.
Convention on Damage Caused by Foreign Aircraft to Third Parties on the Surface, 1952.
Convention on the Pollution of the Sea by Oil, 1954.
Protocol amending the 1929 Convention for the Unification of Rules relating to International Carriage by Air, 1955.
Convention on the Taxation of Road Vehicles for Private Use in International Traffic, 1956.
Convention on the Territorial Sea and the Contiguous Zone, 1958.
Convention on the High Seas., 1958.
Convention Supplementary to the 1929 Convention for the Unification of Certain Rules relating to International Carriage by Air Performed by a Person other than the Contracting Carrier, 1961.
Convention and Statute on Freedom of Transit, 1921.
Convention and Statute on the Regime of Navigable Waterways of International) Concern, 1921, and additional Protocol.
Convention on the International Regime of Railways, 1923.
Convention on Immunity of State Owned Ships 1926 and Additional Protocol, 1934.
Agreement on Maritime Signals, 1930.
Agreement for a Uniform System of Buoyage, 1936.
International Air Transport Agreement, 1944.
Convention for a Uniform System of Tonnage Measurement of Ships, 1947.
Protocol on Road Signs and Signals, 1949.
European Agreement supplementing the 1949 Convention on Road Traffic and 1949 Protocol on Road Signs and Signals, 1950, and Amending Agreement, 1955.
Convention on Civil Jurisdiction in Matters of Collision, 1952.
Convention on Arrest of Sea Going Ships, 1952.
Customs Convention on the Temporary Importation of Private Road Vehicles, 1954.
Customs Convention on Containers, 1956.
Customs Convention on the Temporary Importation of Commercial Road Vehicles, 1956.
Customs Convention on the Temporary Importation for Private Use of Aircraft and Pleasure Boats, 1956.
Convention on the Taxation of Road Vehicles Engaged in International Goods Transport, 1956.
Convention on the Taxation of Road Vehicles Engaged in International Passenger Transport, 1956.
Convention on the Contract for the International Carriage of Goods by Road, 1956.
Convention regarding the Measurement of Vessels employed in Inland Navigation, 1956.
European Agreement on Road Markings, 1957.
Convention relating to the Limitation of the Liability of the Owners of Sea-going Ships, 1957.
Customs Convention on the International Transport of Goods under Cover of TIR Carnets, 1959.
European Convention on Customs Treatment of Pallets used in International Transport, 1960.
International Regulations for the Prevention of Collisions at Sea, 1960.
Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea, 1960.
Convention relating to the Unification of Certain Rules concerning Collisions in Inland Navigation,1960.
Convention for the Unification of Certain Rules relating to the Carriage of Passengers by Sea. 1961.
International Convention concerning the Carriage of Goods by Rail, 1961.
International Convention concerning the Carriage of Passengers and Luggage by Rail, 1961.
Convention on the Liability of Operators of Nuclear Ships, 1962.
Amendments to the Convention for the Prevention of the Pollution of the Sea by Oil, 1962.
Convention on Offences and Certain Other Acts Committed on Board Aircraft, 1963.
son asked the Minister for Repatriation, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows -
In addition there is a panel of Visiting Specialists in Psychiatry who attend R.G.H., Concord as required.
Six full-time Resident Medical Officers are also available at Concord for the care of psychiatric patients. Each of these Resident Medical Officers is qualified as M.B., B.S., and three are studying for the post-graduate qualification D.P.M.
The restoration centre, wilh its emphasis on rehabilitation, is designed to cater for the period between the patient’s treatment at the intensive therapy centre and his return to the community.
In short, psychiatric services at R.G.H. (Concord) are adequate for present patient needs, and are being further developed concurrently with advances in modern medicine.
m asked the Minister for Repatriation, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows - 1. (a) 17, (b) 33, (c) 12. 2. (a) £2,780, (b) £8,055, (c) £174. These amounts represent the annual liability which would need to be accepted in each case if the reductions referred to in Question 1 were not made.
y asked the Minister for Repatriation, upon notice -
What are the principal means adopted by the Repatriation Department to disseminate information regarding benefits and treatment available to eligible ex-servicemen, cx-servicewomen and dependants
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows -
Several departmental publications prepared for the information of interested ex-service organisations and individuals are freely available from Branches of the Department in each State. A booklet entitled “Repatriation Benefits” deals generally with war and service pensions, medical treatment, general assistance and other repatriation matters. In addition there is a number of leaflets covering particular aspects of the repatriation system prepared specifically to assist those making claims, lodging appeals and the like.
This information is supplemented as appropriate by Ministerial and departmental press releases covering matters of interest within the Repatriation field and announcing or explaining variations in present benefits or introduction of new benefits or changes in eligibilities. Items covered by these press releases are also included in a fortnightly Repatriation Newsletter which is circulated widely throughout the Commonwealth.
In addition the Repatriation Commission’s Annual Report which is tabled in Parliament provides a wealth of information about the Department’s activities in connection with the provision of benefits, treatment and general assistance for Repatriation beneficiaries. i
As well as the information available in published form the Department’s offices in each capital city include in their service to Repatriation clients, provision of information and advice for those who seek it. There is also an approved programme of regular visits by experienced departmental officers to country areas in each State. These visits provide for country ex-servicemen and women the advice and assistance which is available at Branch Offices for those residing in the metropolitan areas.
y asked the Minister for the Navy, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows -
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 22 October 1964, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1964/19641022_reps_25_hor44/>.