25th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. SPEAKER (Hon. Sir John McLeay) took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
– I think the House would like to know that we have present in the gallery this afternoon six members of the New Zealand Parliament, led by the Honorable R. G. Gerard, Minister for Lands and Forests. We have also Mr. H. L. R. Niall, Speaker of the House of Assembly for the Territory of Papua and New Guinea, together with a delegation of eight members from that House. I am sure that the House would want me to extend to all those honorable gentlemen a very warm welcome.
Honorable Members. - Hear, hear!
Mr. GRIFFITHS presented a petition from certain electors of New South Wales praying that the House will take active measures to ensure (1) adequate finance for Local Government by providing in the Budget a definite and equitable percentage from Federal taxation and revenues as grants in aid to Local Government and (2) a review of Federal, State and Local Government, financial relations by a conference of the three arms of Government at the earliest possible moment.
Petition received and read.
Mr. BRYANT presented a petition from certain citizens of the Commonwealth praying that the Government remove section 127, and the words discriminating against Aborigines in section 51, of the Commonwealth Constitution, by the holding of a referendum at an early date.
Petition received and read.
– Does the Treasurer recall having said on 15th November 1960 that, because they were able to deduct the full amount of interest in arriving at their taxable income, companies which borrowed money by means of debentures and registered notes on which they paid 8 per cent, were in effect paying only 4.8 per cent.? At that time companies were paying tax at the rate of 8s. in the £1. The right honorable gentleman will be well aware that since that time the Government has increased the rate of company taxation to 8s. 6d. in the £1. I ask further: Is it a fact that, due to the policy of the Government of the United States of America in requesting United States companies to repatriate maximum profits to assist that country’s balance of payments, those foreign companies will raise loans on the Australian loan market by way of debentures? Is it a fact that the cost of those loans will be less than the interest rates paid by government authorities in Australia? If these are facts, what action does the Government intend to take to stop foreign owned companies invading the local money market?
– What the honorable gentleman puts forward is quite conjectural. Yesterday the Prime Minister indicated that this matter had been receiving the consideration of the Government and that he had been in communication with President Johnson in relation to it. We shall continue to keep under close examination developments arising out of the policy of the United States.
– I address to the Minister for External Affairs a question relating to the contingent of Commonwealth police which was sent to Cyprus for duty some twelve months ago. Is it true that this force of Commonwealth police was originally sent for a period of three months? How long is it intended that this particular force shall remain on its present tour of duty before returning to Australia? If it is intended to return the force to Australia in the near future, is it to be replaced by a further small contingent?
– The contract of service of members of the Australian police contingent in Cyprus was for 12 months. If my memory serves me aright, that period will expire on about 25th May. The future of the activities of the United Nations in Cyprus is the subject of pending consideration in the Security Council. If the
Secretary-General of the United Nations, following a meeting of the Security Council, were to request the Australian Government to continue to provide a contingent of police, we would have to consider that request. If, upon such a request being received, we decided to continue to provide a contingent, the position of the individual members of the present contingent would be governed by the fact that their contract of service is for only 12 months. I cannot forecast what action would be taken by the Government if and when a request was received. I should like to take advantage of the opportunity to say that Australia has very good reason to be proud of the way in which this particular contingent has served the cause of international peace in Cyprus. Members of the contingent have brought on themselves and on Australia generally very considerable credit by their efficiency, general conduct and demeanour.
– I direct a question to the Minister for the Interior. On two occasions during 1964, the Minister promised that amendments to the Electoral Act to allow for an Australian Country Party gerrymander of electoral boundaries would be introduced before May 1965. Will this promise be kept or is there to be a delay because the Country Party is not yet completely satisfied with the results of its work?
– It is true, I think, that on two other occasions the honorable member has asked me when the amendments to the Electoral Act might be coming into this House. On both occasions I said it would be approximately a year from the date of the first question; and the year will be up at the end of this session. I certainly hope the amendments will be introduced during the present session. But the Australian Labour Party seems to have some fixed idea that if there is any weighting of country electorates, such as there has been since Federation and such as there is in the large country electorates which are represented by many Labour members, it is gerrymandering. If that is gerrymandering, every form of electoral redistribution in almost every country in the world is gerrymandering because there has always been some form of allowance for large areas. I think the truth of the matter is that the Labour Party knows that its policies will not win votes in country areas.
– I direct a question to the Minister for Territories. In view of the presence in the House today of a delegation from the House of Assembly of Papua and New Guinea will the Minister inform the House whether he has reached a decision on the recommendations by the Currie Commission on higher education in Papua and New Guinea?
– A decision has been reached on the report of the Currie Commission and I hope to issue a Press statement tomorrow.
– Will the Minister for Immigration inform the House whether any further developments have taken place regarding the restoration to its mother of a part aboriginal child who was taken out of Australia in April 1964?
– The only information available is that the child and those who have it are out of Australia. The matter has been placed in the hands of Interpol with a request that it obtain information about the child. There is no certainty whether the child is in the custody of the McLeans but there is some suggestion that it might be in the hands of Mrs. Joan Smith who accompanies the party. That is the only information I have.
– I direct a question to the Postmaster-General with reference to the statement made by him in announcing the introduction of 10 automatic post offices in capital cities to dispense lettercards, change and stamps in denominations of Id., 3d., 5d., 6d., ls., ls. 3d., 2s., and 5s. In view of the problems associated with the early introduction of decimal currency and the fact that these machines will only supplement the present opportunities to purchase stamps in daylight hours, will the Minister consider diverting the purchase cost of some £15,000 to provide rural automatic exchanges to telephone subscribers whose service ceases at night time?
– As to the automatic post offices to which the honorable member has referred, these will be equally suitable for decimal coinage as for our present coinage. The honorable member also referred to the use of the money for the provision of rural automatic exchanges. This is not merely a matter of supplying the money. It involves also the question of obtaining the equipment from the manufacturers. We are installing automatic exchanges as fast as we are able to obtain the equipment from the suppliers at the present time.
– I preface a question to the Postmaster-General by saying that it is significant that on a number of occasions during recent election campaigns - both State and Federal - there have been infringements of the Broadcasting and Television Act which have favoured the Government parties. I specifically draw to the Minister’s attention the fact that on Friday, 5th March 1965, at 7.10 p.m. a Mr. H. Plumridge made a radio broadcast over station 5 AD in South Australia. The broadcast contained political comment relating to the South Australian election which was held the following day, 6th March 1965. Will the Minister peruse the contents of this broadcast and submit to Parliament a report stating whether the radio station and Mr. Plumridge breached the Broadcasting and Television Act? If they did, will he launch a prosecution?
– I will be pleased to ask for the script in relation to the broadcast referred to, and examine it.
– Can the Treasurer clarify the position with regard to taxpayers who may wish to submit a proposed transaction to the Commissioner of Taxation for a ruling or guidance before finalizing the transaction? Is this opportunity in fact available? Is such information given in line with the New Zealand Commissioner’s determination that “ Where the question posed is of a general or hypothetical nature but the issues involved are clear and interpretation of the particular point is established, the information as requested will be given”?
– Yes, Mr. Speaker, I have examined this matter and have discussed it with the Commissioner of Taxation in recent weeks. The Commissioner tells me that where all the issues involved in a question are clear and interpretation of the particular point is established, information will be given to inquirers. The Commissioner is currently extending the scope of his assistance to interested persons. He is issuing public information bulletins which will give answers to questions arising from the more important of the discretionary powers included in the income tax law last year. The objective of these bulletins is to answer questions falling within the particular pattern of known cases.
Where information in the relevant bulletins is insufficient to indicate the answer to a particular problem the Commissioner is prepared, so long as full particulars of the matter are given to him, to do all in his power to supply information on the manner in which it is proposed to exercise the discretionary powers.
– I ask the Prime Minister: Has he seen recent statements made by Australia’s High Commissioner in London, Mr. Downer, to the effect first, that it would be a tragedy for Britain to join the European Common Market -
– Hear, hear!
– Is that the voice of Eric Butler? Secondly, that Britain has ignored the older members of the British Commonwealth in favour of the new emerging nations and that Britain should reverse this attitude? Do these statements represent Government policy? Is it the intention of the Government to permit its representatives abroad to lecture the new British Labour Government about its attitude towards the Common Market, when the former Conservative Government was left mercifully and completely free of such unwanted lectures?
– I think the honorable gentleman may take it from me that there will be no discrimination exercised against the Labour Government in Great Britain. It is the government of Great Britain and I treat it as such, without any discrimination and from no party aspect. I have ‘heard something about the speech referred to by the honorable gentleman. I never comment on a brief report of what somebody has said. I will obtain the full text of the speech and, if it becomes necessary to comment on it, I will do so.
– Will the Minister for the Army say whether adequate recognition of the value of a trained male nursing sister is provided for in Army organisation? Is it a fact that because there is no provision for male nursing officers a highly qualified male nurse can be offered a posting only as an orderly and that a male assistant matron of a training hospital can be absorbed into the Army only as a sergeant orderly, whereas a female with equivalent qualifications probably would be offered the rank of major? Would such circumstances provide a good case for a claim for equal pay in reverse? Will the Minister give sympathetic consideration to a well documented case relating to male nurses and Army service, which I will be happy to submit?
– I think the reason why male nurses are not employed in the Army in peace time is that the total requirement for nurses is small and great administrative and accommodation problems would arise if male nurses were employed. From my observations the relations between the male and female sides of the Army are extremely harmonious and close. Subject to the qualification that I would not want in any way to disturb that harmony, I will be only too glad to undertake the examination sought by the honorable gentleman.
– I ask the Treasurer a question. The Commonwealth Superannuation Board in its quinquennial report last year recommended as a matter of urgency that a substantial surplus in the superannuation fund should be distributed to pensioners and contributors. When is the
Government likely to introduce legislation to amend the Superannuation Act in order to give effect to the Board’s recommendations? Will the Treasurer report on the present position so far as the numerous matters referred to in the Board’s quinquennial report are concerned?
– This matter has already received a good deal of Cabinet consideration. The Government is anxious to see that any recommendations that it places before this Parliament have the widest support within the Public Service, and I am sure that our efforts in this regard have the approval of all honorable members. Yesterday or the day before the Secretary to the Treasury had discussions with representatives of the Public Service organisations, canvassing with them various possibilities which might be considered for the disposal of the fund surplus. As to when amending legislation may be brought before the Parliament, I would certainly hope to do this in the course of the present sessional period or, failing that, in the Budget session. However, I am working in anticipation that the necessary legislation will be ready in this sessional period.
– Is the Prime Minister yet able to say when the report of the Vernon Committee, which is inquiring into the economy, will be furnished?
– There have been some delays in the final preparation of the report. I have had lengthy discussions with the Chairman and Deputy Chairman of the Committee and I told them that there was widespread feeling in the House that we should know how soon the report would be available. I have been informed in the last 48 hours that the report will contain, in its final form, two volumes - both quite lengthy, very substantial volumes. One of them will be answering the main questions that were put. The other will really consist of a series of appendices. The first report, which will be the important one immediately, I am told, will be available by the beginning of May, and when that happens and the Government has had a chance to have a glance through the report, it will then be laid on the table of the House.
– Has the attention of the Minister for Health been drawn to a problem regarding the importation of timber through the port of Townsville in north Queensland? I understand that timber can be imported into Queensland only through Brisbane, and this is causing great concern to the Townsville Harbour Board, for obvious reasons. Could consideration be given to establishing an inspection service at Townsville to overcome this problem and also to protect the local timber industry?
– This is the first advice that I have received personally about this matter, although a few days ago it was raised in the Queensland Press. It is a fact that quarantine inspection points have been established at the first ports of entry, the capital cities in each State, and also at Newcastle, New South Wales. Outside of that provision, timber is not allowed to be imported. The main reason for the quarantine controls, of course, is the protection of the Australian timber- industry from, principally, the Sirex wood wasp and from other plant pests and diseases. As the honorable member perhaps appreciates, the Sirex wood wasp is already in Australia. It was brought here in timber from New Zealand some years ago. Some idea of the cost to the industry can be gained from the fact that since 1961 the Commonwealth and State Governments have spent over £600,000 on the eradication campaign, but the wasp is still infesting centres in Victoria and Tasmania. So the first consideration, as far as I am concerned, is the protection of the Australian industry. However, when I read the reports in the Press I did arrange for some investigations to be made. We have officers going to north Queensland now and we shall see whether we can provide the facilities which have been requested.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for the Interior. It relates to an item in the Sydney “ Daily Telegraph “ regarding the use of government cars by members of Parliament. First, a matter of nomenclature: The Minister is reported to have referred to private members of Parliament as “ ordinary members “. Can he assure me that he is not as ignorant about parliamentary terms as one naturally expects Press reporters to be? Secondly, Sir, a matter of substance, lest he should put me on the carpet: When, on Tuesday morning, I catch the 15 minutes past 8 plane at Kingsford-Smith airport to attend meetings of the Foreign Affairs Committee in Canberra, will I be expected - as, of course, I would be quite happy to do - to travel to the airport on my private and quite ordinary scooter?
– First, I should like to make a comment about the newspaper report. Newspapers like to pick on members of Parliament, their activities and the institution, whenever possible, and one of their favourite marks is the use of Commonwealth cars by members of Parliament. If I did use the term “ ordinary members “ when defending back-benchers, it was my mistake, but I do not recall using the term. I did say that any criticism in the Press of the back-bencher - the ordinary member of Parliament - is unfair, because he has limited use of cars. If occasions arise - and they do, rarely - when somebody misuses a a Commonwealth car, the matter is generally brought to his attention. In respect of the particular case that the honorable member for Bradfield has brought up, the regulation provides that members of Parliament are allowed to have cars to and from their homes in the capital cities if they leave before 8 o’clock in the morning, and if they arrive in the capital cities at 8 o’clock or later at night; but they must be going to or coming from sessions of the Parliament. If they are coming to Canberra to attend a meeting of a statutory committee they are also allowed the use of a car.
– I ask the Treasurer: Is it a fact that current bank advances amount to £1,200 million? Is it a fact also that the increase of one-half per cent, in interest rates will apply to current borrowings? Is it further a fact that this increase will mean an added cost of £6 million a year to secondary industry, exporters and primary producers, although the latter are suffering from a fall in wool prices and a large number of them are suffering also from severe drought conditions?
– The honorable member mentioned an increase of one-half per cent. The increase in the maximum overdraft rate is one-quarter per cent., not one-half per cent. Preference will, of course, continue to be given to certain categories of borrowers, particularly those who are engaged in rural production and others who are producing to earn an export income for this country. As to the returns to the banks in this situation, I point out that regard must be had to the increased interest rates for deposits, and to other factors. If the honorable member will put his query to me in more precise terms, I shall see if I can give him a rather more detailed answer.
– In addressing a question to the Minister for Primary Industry, I refer to Australia’s balance of payments problem and to the significant and massive part played by rural exports, which bring in over £1,000 million, in assisting to overcome this problem. I ask the Minister whether these rural exports, amounting in value to over £1,000 million, represent only a part of the huge rural production in Australia. I ask further whether the Commonwealth Government’s contribution towards rural extension services amounts to only a few hundreds of thousands of pounds per annum and whether it is intended to increase this amount so that larger sums will be expended on rural extension work in Australia. What progress has been made in this direction? Have there been any negotiations with the State Governments on the matter? If so, what has been the result?
– The honorable member’s question refers directly to rural extension services. The provision for the payment of grants by the Commonwealth to the States for this purpose will expire on 30th June of this year. The actual amount expended in direct grants is £650,000, but I remind the House that other advisory services which may be regarded as extension services are provided also. For instance, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization imparts to producers the results of the work done by its experimental stations. That is in addition to the ordinary rural extension services.
The Government authorised me to have discussions with the State Ministers on this very vital matter. I have had discussions with them and am now to meet them again.
– I address a question to the Prime Minister. The right honorable gentleman will recall that in his second reading speech on the Universities (Financial Assistance) Bill in October 1963 he announced that the Universities Commission had recommended a grant of £5 million to support special research activities at universities during the 1964-66 triennium, £1 million to be distributed in the first year and the balance after the Australian Universities Commission had had an opportunity to study the whole problem. Since the Universities Commission has not completed its examination, or the Government has not endorsed its findings, and since most universities are now having to cut back their allocations for research in the academic year which has now commenced, I ask: What is the reason for the delay? When does the right honorable gentleman expect to announce what research grants will be made to each university and when they will be made?
– I shall take the opportunity to verify what I said on the occasion referred to by the honorable member. I should like to look at it. On the matter of tertiary education, including the universities, I anticipate being in a position to make a statement, as a result of the most recent reports, at the beginning of next week.
– My question to the Prime Minister is prompted by the visit of His Grace the Archbishop of Canterbury to Australia at this time. By way of explanation I point out that in Britain he ranks in order of precedence next after the Royal Dukes. Is the Prime Minister aware that in Australia the Anglican Primate of Australia and the Roman Catholic Archbishop take precedence in accordance with the date of their consecration, and that heads of Churches rank twentieth in the Commonwealth table of precedence? Is the Prime Minister also aware that they rank after foreign ambassadors, the judiciary - including the Chief Justices of the States, the Chief Judge of the Commonwealth Industrial Court, and the Chief Judge of the
Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission - the Chiefs of Staff of the Defence Forces and members of the Senate and House of Representatives? I further ask the Prime Minister: By what authority is the Commonwealth table of precedence in Australia laid down? If it is within his province will he have the table reviewed with the object of placing the heads of Churches in a position better befitting their importance to the general wellbeing of the Australian community?
– First, I point out to the honorable member that in England the Church of England is the established Church. That explains the position of the Archbishop of Canterbury in England and is the reason for the position he occupies on the table of precedence. He is the Archbishop who crowns the Monarch.
– I wish I could crown you.
– Half a crown would do in the honorable member’s case. The problem of the order of precedence is an old and very tortuous one. I have become involved in it on more than one occasion. It has been very difficult indeed and we have done our best with it. There is one odd thing about the Commonwealth table of precedence - which, of course, is laid down by Commonwealth proclamation - and that is that it differs in almost every particular from the orders of precedence in the States. If the honorable member would have a look at the order of precedence in his own State he would discover that anybody connected with the Commonwealth judiciary, the Commonwealth Parliament or the Commonwealth Government is really the least of God’s creatures. If the honorable member thinks there is some advantage to be gained from my looking at this matter I shall do so, but I remember some years ago having a great deal of discussion about it and thinking that we had arrived at a pretty reasonable solution.
– My question is directed to the Prime Minister. Is the right honorable gentleman aware that the Sydney “ Sun “ newspaper of 5th March stated that the Federal Government had decided to underwrite the Askin policy of promises for the forthcoming New South Wales general election? Is this true?
– If it were true it would be the first true statement I had ever read in the Sydney “ Sun “.
– My question is addressed to the Treasurer. In view of some of the suggested difficulties which may be experienced through American investment in this country, does the right honorable gentleman consider that the negotiation of double taxation agreements with some Continental countries would widen our investment spectrum, to the great advantage of this country?
– I think it would be of advantage to have a wider range of investment or less of a concentration, if that is the way it should be fairly expressed, than occurs at the present time. Out of last year’s capital inflow about £98 million came into Australia from the United States of America, slightly more than £98 million from the United Kingdom and the balance of up to £215 million from other sources. It is of advantage to us in many respects to have so much of the capital investment here from overseas from countries which have very similar attitudes to our own and with whom we can more readily develop an understanding and a co-operation, but there has been a growing interest in the countries of Europe in Australian investment over recent years. Several of them have approached us for a double taxation agreement. That has been under consideration in relation to particular countries but there are some complexities and some practical problems, one being to establish a balance of advantage that runs fairly in both directions. In most instances the gains to the countries of Western Europe would be much larger than those to Australia. On net balance we would be the losers. We do not normally take a narrow view of these things, but at present I am not in a position to state the outcome of these discussions. I can assure the honorable member that we are giving close consideration to the requests which have reached us from these other countries, including one from Japan.
– I direct my question to the Minister for Territories. Has the Minister’s attention been drawn to off-shore fishing by foreign interests around the coast of Papua and New Guinea? Will he consider acquiring a fisheries protection vessel for this area, such vessel to be manned by Papuans and New Guineans?
– The answer to the honorable member for Batman, of course, is that this problem of off-shore fishing relates not only to the Territories but also to the rest of Australia. I can assure him that the fishing industry in Papua and New Guinea was one of the factors which the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development considered at great length. We are certainly considering the best ways of developing the fishing industry in New Guinea, and no doubt something will come out of the discussions.
– My question to the Prime Minister concerns the proposed Commonwealth secretariat. Can the right honorable gentleman say whether the setting up of the secretariat is finished? Is the Government in a position to give a broad outline of the nature of the work proposed to bc carried out by the secretariat?
– The position is that a body of officials met in London at the beginning of the year and discussed the problems connected with the establishment of a Commonwealth secretariat and made a report, a copy of which goes to each Commonwealth government. The Government of Australia has that report under examination. The first thing that would be done after the examination would be for me to communicate with the Prime Minister of Great Britain and with the other Commonwealth Prime Ministers indicating what our views are and what our criticisms or suggestions may be. Then, in the normal course, one would expect the matter to be brought to finality at the next Prime Ministers’ Conference. A proposal has been made in some quarters that the secretarygeneral of the proposed secretariat should be appointed before that meeting. Whether or not that will happen, I do not know. It is a matter which is at present under dis cussion between the various Prime Ministers. Of course, when I have determined our view and have communicated that view I will be very happy to let honorable members know the run of our own mind.
– I direct a question to the Minister for Territories, who seems to be pursuing a policy of ignoring the Parliament. Earlier in question time today the Minister, in reply to a question about the Currie Commission’s report, said that he was going to issue it to the Press and not to the Parliament. I come, particularly, to a recommendation made by the Select Committee on the Grievances of Yirrkala Aborigines, Arnhem Land Reserves, of which the Minister was a member. That recommendation, in the Committee’s report issued at the end of 1 963, reads -
That for the next ten years there shall be a Standing Committee of the House of Representatives to examine from time to time, the conditions of the Yirrkala people and the carrying out of this Committee’s recommendations.
I repeat, the Minister was a member of the Committee which made that recommendation, which was received by the House. As the Yirrkala people definitely need this kind of standing committee and the implementation of that report, will he implement forthwith the recommendations contained in the report of the Committee?
– I believe the Government has taken great notice of the report of that Committee, because, after all, the chairman of the Committee has been appointed Administrator of the Northern Territory and I, who was a member of the Committee, have been appointed Minister for Territories. I think this is a great advance in the interests of the Yirrkala people.
– I have received a letter from the honorable member for Scullin (Mr. Peters) proposing that a definite matter of public importance be submitted to the House for discussion, namely -
The failure of the Government to protect the economy by effective measures which would control the flow of capital into Australia.
I call upon those members who approve of the proposed discussion to rise in their places. (More than the number of members required by the Standing Orders having risen in their places) -
.- The United States of America and the United Kingdom are having balance of payment difficulties. They have spent so much abroad that their overseas funds are being depleted, and they seek to remedy the position by controlling the funds of their own nationals throughout the world. They are discouraging investment overseas by their nationals. To me, that appears to be justifiable. However, the Government of Australia is entering emphatic and bitter protests. The President of America made a statement telling American companies that they should remit home a higher proportion of the profits they earned abroad and rely more on borrowing abroad the funds needed for expansion and avoid new direct investments which would not yield quick returns.
It is against this policy of the United States of America that the Prime Minister of Australia (Sir Robert Menzies) has sent a communication to the President of the United States. The United States of America, Mr. Speaker, is not the only country that has adverse balances of payments. Australia has, during the last 15 years, had a succession of adverse balances of payments and she has met those adverse balances not with the money of her own nationals but with money borrowed abroad. She has met them by selling a bit of Australia to overseas interests. During that period a total of about £2,000 million of overseas money has been invested in this country. The difference, of course, is that the Americans seek to get out of their difficulties by utilising the resources of their own nationals. We have saved the solvency of this country by utilising the resources and the money of countries overseas. What will the Government of Australia now do?
As the policy of America - and that of the United Kingdom also - means that money to meet our overseas deficits will not flow into this country from the United States and the United Kingdom we will then have to finance those deficits from some other source. On what other source will we rely? Where will we go for money to replace that which was flowing into Australia from America and the United Kingdom? The Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) in answer to a question in this House today, suggested that we will give taxation concessions to the investors of Japan and West Germany and other countries in Europe - including Sweden, as one of my colleagues points out - in order that money will come to Australia to replace that which we cannot get from the United States of America and the United Kingdom. There is more to it than that, of course, because in this financial year there will be a greater financial deficit than almost any we have had in the history of this country. Only twice previously - if twice - in our history have there been greater overseas deficits than we will have during this financial year.
In 1952 we had a deficit of over £500 million, and the Prime Minister went to the microphone and announced to the people that Australia was in danger of insolvency overseas. In 1960, preceding the credit squeeze, there was a deficit of £300 million. I have here a document issued by the Chamber of Manufactures which says “Trade Deficit a Darkening Cloud”. It says that on the arithmetic of this organisation there remains a current account deficit of £500 million for this year. In recent years the Opposition has asked whether or not it is a good practice to borrow overseas and to sell our assets overseas. We have continued to finance our current account deficits by the inflow of private capital from abroad, but £500 million this year is well beyond our capital inflow expectations. That means that not only have we a deficit of £500 million due to trade discrepancies, but also we have the added disability that arises from the fact that the United States and the United Kingdom will not flow their money into this country as they have in the past. This Government has been warned that that position would come about. We warn this Government now that if, instead of rectifying the present method of allowing finance to come into this country, and if, instead of scrutinising the needs for which that capital is used, it merely induces more capital to come from Japan, West Germany and other places, it will inevitably only be putting off the evil day.
The position that has arisen, of the United States and the United Kingdom preventing or discouraging the flow of capital from those countries into Australia, will arise inevitably in regard to every other country. The time arrives when we have sold so much of our country to overseas investors that little or nothing remains to be sold, and then a decrease in the inflow occurs. That decrease ultimately leads to the end of the flow of capital into the country. When that position arises and the country is paying to overseas investors immense dividends on the moneys that have been invested, the country becomes merely the hewer of wood and the drawer of water for the exploiters in the other countries.
We warned the Government about the position. We warned the Government that an unchecked and unregulated capital inflow would mean the creation of monopolies. We pointed out to the Government that hundreds of agreements restricting the export of goods from Australia are imposed upon organisations in this country by overseas bodies. Those restrictive agreements prevent us building up overseas funds. We pointed out that strategic and defence resources of Australia are under the control of overseas firms and that their development depends upon overseas institutions. We pointed out that whilst today it is the United States and the United Kingdom, tomorrow it may be Japan and the next day it may be Indonesia or the Soviet Union which will control the economic resources that will be so necessary to us in the hour of danger. But the Government took no action.
We pointed out to the Government that almost every other country which is a vast importer of capital has laws or treaties that govern the type of capital that shall come into the country, the conditions under which it shall come in and the manner in which it shall be expended. The United States has hundreds of treaties with South American, European and Asian countries, which determine, on a basis that is agreeable to both countries, the inflow and outflow of capital to and from the United States. The Japanese Government has laws and regulations which govern the flow of capital into Japan. Only such capital as will promote the development of Japanese industry or safeguard Japan’s overseas balances is admitted into that country. Even India, which is hungry for resources from overseas, has a vast number of complicated regulations which prevent the indiscriminate exploitation of its people, its resources and the nation by overseas capital.
But this Government does nothing about this matter. In the past it has done nothing to see that the capital that came to Australia was utilised so as to create assets with which the assets of this country that were sold or pawned overseas could be redeemed. After all, the proof of the value of overseas capital to the Australian community is that the capital, by its operations within this country, does things which enable Australia in the future to become less dependent upon overseas capital. But overseas capital has been so operated and so channelled that we are more dependent on it today than ever before.
Anyone who has read the newspapers recently - I will not quote the exact extracts - will have seen that there is a growing opinion that action should be taken. Americans have come to Australia and have said, in effect, that the people of Australia should have a governing interest in all industries within Australia, that Australians should not be dominated or dictated to by the bad men of American business - those are the exact words of one leading American businessman - and that the bad men of American business, and American investors, would have a greater respect for the Australian Government if it determined to act always in the interests of the Australian people.
The United Kingdom Government and the United States Government are acting in the interests of their respective nations. They are saying: “ We intend to preserve our solvency abroad by the utilisation of resources that are dominated by and under the control of our people “. They are entitled to do that. But for 20 years this Government has done absolutely the reverse. In order to entice capital of any description to Australia it has not merely sold but encouraged the sale of long established Australian industries. It has promoted the monopolies which exclude the investment of Australian capital. For instance, General Motors-Holden’s Pty. Ltd. makes a 900 per cent, profit which is payable in New York. Not £1 of Australian capital is allowed to be invested in that business in order to secure a 900 per cent. profit. But that company will utilise the capital of Australians at 5 per cent, interest. There are a fixed rate of interest for Australians and unlimited profits for the company’s overseas shareholders.
Only the other day, apparently in answer to the President of the United States of America, G.M.H. put in the newspapers of this country an advertisement stating that it will pay 7i per cent, interest to Australian people who will invest in its undertaking. Australians are to lend their money to the company at 7i per cent, so that somebody who does nothing in connection with the production of a motor car, who has never seen the G.M.H. works in Victoria, who has provided no resources in connection with the development of the company and who lives in the back blocks or some city of the United States, shall receive a profit of about 900 per cent. My time has almost expired, Mr. Speaker. I suggest that action be taken - belated though it is - to control overseas investment in Australia.
-Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
– Mr. Speaker, the subject introduced by the honorable member for Scullin (Mr. Peters) is a tremendously important one. It deserves to be discussed dispassionately, objectively and, indeed, constructively by all sections of this Parliament. There is great value to Australia in the happy association, during the years of office of this Government, between a strong inflow of people under a well organised migration programme which is supported by all sections of the Parliament, and an inflow of capital which has made possible the absorption of hundreds of thousands of new settlers.
Listening to the speech made by the honorable gentleman, one would have thought that there was not the slightest virtue in the capita] that has reached us, in the improved techniques that have accompanied that inflow, in the diversification of Australian industry and in the absorption of the thousands of people who have come to settle in Australia into employment in the new industries. Not one sentence in the speech made by the honorable gentleman reflected any value whatever to this country in the investment that has reached us.
It was almost a poisonous stream that came from the honorable gentleman, a sort of diatribe attacking the Government because it had the effrontery to permit the investment in this country of the savings of people overseas. Almost every other developing country of the world is pleading for investment from overseas so that it can get ahead with its own development. We are using the savings that we are building up in this country. We have a good record of savings. Four fifths of the investment in Australia today comes from the savings of the Australian people. The remaining one fifth comes from the savings of people in other parts of the world who are prepared to risk their own savings in the hope that they will find a profitable and rewarding investment in this country. They do not go to every country for investment. Capital is a very sensitive item.
– It is too risky in many other countries.
– It is too risky in many other countries, and it is the stable situation and the politically reliable condition of Australia which have made Australia an attractive venue for investment. This appeals to people in other parts of the world. I should like to hear a balanced and representative view given from the opposite side c-f the House as to where Opposition members stand on this issue. I refuse to believe that, although the honorable member for Scullin carries on this occasion the responsibility and distinction of being the spokesman for this side of the House, the honorable gentleman’s view is representative of that of the Labour Party as a whole. I have quoted here on other occasions extracts from the Labour “ Speaker’s Notes “ in which a number of advantages which have come to Australia from overseas investment are recited. These include new industries, new skills, additions to our population, and research which has become available to us and on which work is done in other parts of the world.
I do not think anyone watching the Australian scene could deny that over the past 16 years since this Government came to office we have established the greatest era of prosperity and progress in the history of this country. It has been an era in which we have been able to sustain more consistently and at a higher level than any other industrialised country honorable gentlemen opposite could name the level of employment for our people, with good conditions and good wages. Does the honorable member for Scullin believe that there is no connection between that result and the capital which has come into this country over the period? Sir, what we ought to be looking at is whether there are dangers associated with the inflow of capital and whether there are ways in which we could have a better outcome from the investment here. I do not deny that there are dangers inherent in the importation of capital. Those dangers have been debated in this House and other places at various times. What we have to try to weigh is the balance of advantage for Australia.
The honorable gentleman creates some great scare story about the current deficit situation in which we find ourselves this year. This is not the first year in which Australia has run a current deficit. We have done so for many years. We did in the years in which honorable gentlemen opposite were themselves in government. It may comfort the honorable member for Scullin to know that considered as a proportion of our export income and of our gross national product, the income which is payable overseas from the investment that has come here is, if anything, a slightly lower proportion of our gross national product - and, at that, it is about 2 per cent, only - and a slightly smaller proportion of our export income than it was in 1947-48, the year in which the big inflow of migrants commenced. Does that suggest that the country has been slipping into some disastrous situation?
What has been happening over this period is a great expansion of Australia’s economic base. Australia is a much stronger country. Australia is a much more prosperous country, and we have much more versatility in our industrial capacity than we had in those days. Many of these industries have themselves provided import replacements for us. How many Australians today would be driving around in their own motor cars if we had to import motor cars and use up foreign exchange for that purpose? Yet, the automotive industry has come to us as a result of a series of investments not only from the United States but also from Britain and European countries. Japan even has in contemplation some automotive investment here.
While we are on the subject, let me say that the honorable member for Scullin has a curious phobia about General MotorsHolden’s Pty. Ltd. I have rarely heard him make a speech in which he has not attacked the company. Yet Australia has received great benefits as the result of the activities of the company. One of the interesting things about this matter is that the honorable gentleman overlooks the fact that Australian people reap a very substantial financial return from the operations of General Motors-Holden’s Pty. Ltd. If he is looking for an Australian equity, he will find that the Australian people have an equity in G.M.H. There is not just a handful of shareholders who might be able to take advantage of some arrangement if General Motors-Holden’s provided an equity participation here. But Hi million Australian people have a share in the profitability of General Motors-Holden’s because we collect 42i per cent, of that company’s profits in tax and when it sends some of the balance overseas we get another chop at that under the withholding tax arrangement. So, there is this equity.
In more recent times, it is worth noting, G.M.H. has built up an export income for this country. In a statement which he put out as recently as 4th March 1965, the Managing Director of General MotorsHolden’s Pty. Ltd., Mr. Hegland, said that export earnings this year were expected to reach £9 million. He said also that it was now the company’s policy to keep the dividend pay-out inside the company’s export earnings, barring no major downturn in export returns. What is true of G.M.H. here will be true, I believe, to an increasing extent, of industries established in Australia from overseas but which, by their efficient operation, are able to develop an export market as well as contributing to the Australian market.
I repeat that what we must ask ourselves is whether this country is on net balance gaining from this overseas investment. I do not think there could be a reasonably minded person in the country who would not admit that this company has made a major contribution to our development, our growth, our strength and our prosperity in earlier years and that, situated as we are with a great continent to develop and with a determination to go on with our migration programme, we shall have a need for capital to supplement our own savings for as far ahead as we can see. I want, as other members of the Parliament want, to guard against the situation where the basic resources of this country have fallen into the control of overseas interests without any basis of Australian participation. We have used from time to time such persuasive influences as we can exert in particular situations where we felt it desirable to encourage Australian participation. It is significant that in two of the important proposals to reach the Government in relation to the development of the bauxite deposits at Gove, substantial Australian participation is proposed.
If any concern is felt about our capacity to pay our way in the future, let me say that any possible incapacity in this direction is the consequence of the fact that Australians themselves have either been unwilling to finance a good deal of Australian developmental activities or have lacked the financial capacity to do so, leaving overseas investors to provide the required financial backing. The activities I have in mind include the oil search that has been going on in Australia, the development of iron ore deposits and the development of bauxite deposits. These will either save us, as in the case of the development of oil resources, a very large import bill which we have to meet at the moment, or, as in the case of the development and exploitation of iron ore deposits and the development of bauxite deposits and treatment of the ore, build up a considerable addition to our export income. What we have to concern ourselves with is the profitable application of this overseas investment in ways which will result in increased export income, which will enable us to reduce our imports and which will strengthen us nationally by enabling us to absorb more people and provide employment opportunities for them.
I said a little earlier that I believe it is unfortunate that this very complex and far reaching issue should come before us in this way, virtually in the form of a political attack on the Government. First of all, a discussion in these circumstances leaves us with insufficient time to canvass al] aspects of the matter. Secondly, it is surely a reflection of the state of the Australian Labour Party that not only should this dis cussion have been initiated by the honorable member for Scullin, who has for a long time expressed opposition to overseas investment in Australia, but also that such opposition has been building up on the Labour side during the years in which American investment has been increasing in this country. In fact, three of the four speakers on the Labour side in this debate, as they have been announced to me, are people notorious for their antipathy to America and all things American. They are the honorable member for Yarra (Dr. J. F. Cairns), the honorable member for Reid (Mr. Uren) and the honorable mem ber for Scullin. Of the four speakers there is left to us my friend the honorable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr. Crean) who, if he entertains feelings of that sort towards American investment, has certainly been much more discreet in relation to his expression of them.
I hope that the House will find a better opportunity for thrashing out this matter. We shall have before us soon the report of the committee of inquiry chaired by Sir James Vernon. We have had extensive discussions in the Cabinet at times on this matter and I believe we shall have a good deal more when the comments of the Vernon committee become known to us. At an appropriate time I think it would be of national advantage if the Parliament could, in a constructive and objective way, examine the many problems inherent in a policy of encouraging overseas investment, and I think we would profit nationally from such a discussion.
.- I would like, first, to read the terms of the matter of public importance proposed for discussion by the honorable member for Scullin (Mr. Peters). They are -
The failure of the Government to protect the economy by effective measures which would control the flow of capital into Australia.
I should think that it is implicit in the terms of that proposition that the Labour Party at least does not believe that in no circumstances should there be foreign investment in Australia. What it suggests is that there ought to be some regulation of the flow of capital into Australia, and perhaps some conditions also imposed upon the entry of such capital. I should also like to say at this point that there is no doubt that Australia’s overseas reserves would be nonexistent if it had not been for the flow of foreign capital into Australia in recent years. In the last 10 years at least, on current account - that is the difference between exports and imports, making allowance for invisibles as well - Australia has had a deficit of about £150 million a year on the average, or something like £1,500 million over the period of 10 years. Our reserves at the moment are £800 million or slightly less, so that if it had not been for foreign capital we would have had a minus quantity of reserves.
What the Government does not do, of course, and certainly has not done in this debate, is to distinguish between two quite separate problems. There is the problem of the balance of payments on the one hand, which is fundamental and which, unfortunately, I have not the time to go into this afternoon. Secondly, it is surely incumbent upon the Government of Australia, as it would be upon the government of any other country, to examine the control or the ownership by people outside the country of industries within it. I do not regard an attack of this kind by the three honorable members on this side who have been mentioned this afternoon as any more un-American, if that is the appropriate term, than the recent action of President Johnson in taking certain measures to control his balance of payments position has been un-Australian.
Lest anybody think that this is not a serious situation, the control of industry in Australia by people outside Australia, I would just like to bring to the attention of the House a matter that I think has been noted by most honorable members. I refer to a paper that was delivered at a symposium on investment in Australia held on Wednesday, 17th February and reported in the Melbourne “ Age “ on 1 8th February. In the report a table is given headed “ Foreign Ownership in Australia “. The figures were supplied by Mr. Wilson of Australian Paper Manufacturers Ltd. The table shows that overall, covering the whole field, Australian secondary industry is controlled from overseas to the level of 25 per cent, to 30 per cent, of total activity in this country. But what is of great significance is the information given concerning certain individual industries. I shall quote some figures from the table -
I stop here, although many other examples are given. Does anybody think that it is desirable that Australian industries of such a high level of strategic significance should be controlled to such a degree from overseas?
I should like to tell the House of an example I have encountered in my own electorate of an industry which has been affected by control passing into the hands of overseas investors. I refer to a firm which has been active in the fields of soap and foods. It was formerly known as Kitchen’s and was taken over by the Unilever undertaking. It is pretty hard to establish whether Unilever is now basically English or American, but the controlling firm decided recently, by a decision taken presumably by people outside Australia, to shut down one section of the factory altogether and to transfer the activities previously carried on in that factory from Melbourne to Sydney. No-one seems to worry about the fact that the lives of 200 or 300 employees are involved, but there you have a decision about an industry being conducted in Australia that has not been taken in Australia. These are the kind of things that the honorable member for Scullin is getting at. He is saying - he has the full support of this side of the House - that it is not being anti-American or anti-British to do as we have suggested. Rather, it is being primarily pro-Australian. One of the problems here lies in undistributed profits. Every penny of those profits is taken out of the hides of the Australian people, very often in the form of excessive prices, and that gives additional ownership outside this country.
The latest figures that I have relating to overseas investment in Australia for the years 1962, 1963 and 1964 were issued as recently as 24th February 1965. In round figures, the apparent capital inflow in 1962 amounted to £150 million, in 1963 to £222.5 million and in 1964 to £215 million. That flow of capital inward includes, of course, that very mysterious item “ unremitted profits “. But let us look at the other side of the picture. Outflow in 1962 amounted to £97.6 million, in 1963 to £128 million and in 1964 to £133 million. In other words, we are rapidly reaching the point where the outflow each year - that is, the profits earned on capital already invested - is of the staggering magnitude of nearly £200 million. The Government has suggested that it is un-Australian to call attention to this factor. It is time that the Commonwealth Government did as the Government of the United States is doing and took steps, on the one hand, to promote our balance of payments position and, on the other hand, to ensure that industry which is operated in Australia is at least substantially controlled by Australians.
In our economy manufacturing is still the biggest single source of employment. This may not continue to be the position in the future. Nevertheless, at present it is the biggest single means of absorption of those people who come onto the labour market each year. However, the decisions that are taken in nearly one third of manufacturing industries - at least in excess of one quarter of them - are not taken in Australia. I have in mind the fields of chemicals, oil exploration, the distribution of petrol, the manufacture of motor cars and even some of our basic minerals. Mr Isa Mines Ltd. is unfortunately a good enough example of this. It can be said that in 95 per cent, of cases in some fields, and in 50 per cent, of cases in other fields, those industries are not Australian owned and controlled.
We believe it is time that something was done. We have not sufficient time this afternoon to specify what steps should be taken, but at least this Government should rise from its dilatory sitting position and state whether it is as alarmed about this matter as are other people in the Australian community. These feelings are not confined to members of the Labour Party. Surely the Government will not pass off this complaint by claiming that anyone who is critical of the position is anti-American or anti-British. As I have said, we are no more anti-American in this respect that we believe President Johnson has been anti-Australian, although presumably the Government thinks he has been anti-Australian if the letter which the Prime Minister sent to him recently is any indication.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
– The speeches that we have heard this afternoon from Opposition members indicate clearly the obsession that they have about controls. They seem to think only in negative terms and not nearly enough of the positive side of things. Australia is a young and growing country, a rapidly developing nation which needs the inflow of capital from overseas. Any action that is taken to control, regulate or restrict - call it what you wish - the flow of capita] into Australia will have a detrimental effect on us. Inevitably it will scare oil much needed capital, and valued existing investment will melt away slowly but surely, to the detriment of the industries concerned. Not only this, but I believe such a method of controlling the inflow of capital would immediately encourage inflationary tendencies in our economy.
Overseas capital has been prominent in the post-war years in the development of our natural resources, in the rapid expansion of many of our major industries and in the establishment of new large scale industries. At the same time, interest has not been confined by any means to large scale industries. The spread of investment is reflected in the increase in the number of agreements between local and overseas organisations and the diversity of industries involved.
Profits reserved by companies to finance expansion have been a very important source of capital for industrial development, and the willingness of overseas investors to re-invest their profits is a measure of the confidence that they have in Australia. It is a very good thing indeed for Australia and for the future of our country that such a climate exists. The Australian Government welcomes and always has welcomed overseas investment, particularly investment of the kind likely to help in the balanced development of our resources which are great and scattered. Much work has yet to be done, and we need capital with which to do it.
As the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) pointed out earlier, we particularly appreciate overseas investment when that investment brings with it new techniques and new skills -or the successful fulfilment of the particular project which has attracted the investment. To encourage the capital investment in which we on this side of the House believe most firmly and which we regard as an important ingredient in our national growth and advancement, we have negotiated from time to time taxation agreements with the governments of the major overseas investing countries designed to relieve double taxation on income flowing between our country and theirs. All this has helped to make for goodwill, better understanding and certainly from our point of view, greater development.
An analysis of overseas investment in Australia must be objective and rational. I realise that some honorable members opposite are not capable of bringing to bear objectivity or rational thinking, but I believe that for any analysis to be worth while it must be along those lines. As the Treasurer said on another occasion, an analysis of this kind should be based not on emotional or political considerations or on any understandable sense of nationalism, but rather on a realistic appraisal of Australia’s needs. I believe that expresses the position extremely well and sums up in a sentence what I have been trying to say.
The Treasurer is also on record as having said that any general system of screening overseas investment or imposing conditions on its entry would turn away more desirable investment than it would keep out undesirable investment. We do not deny that perhaps there are, here and there, elements of investment that are not desirable. I have in mind the case of a company that is not working efficiently seeking to take over an organisation that is working efficiently. We do not regard that as a desirable form of investment, but there is very little of that. For the great part, the investment is most desirable and worth while and we welcome it.
For many years - at least for 15 years - Australia has enjoyed a reputation for political and economic stability. It is indeed fortunate for this country and foi its future that such a political and economic climate exists and that we have friends in big investment countries overseas who regard Australia as a good avenue of investment. Far from failing to protect our economy, this Government, by its financial and economic policies over the last 15 years, including the allowing of a reasonable inflow of capital from abroad, has speeded up our rate of development in very many fields. The Government has sustained an increasing immigration programme. This was mentioned this afternoon by the Treasurer. It has provided the wherewithal to strengthen our defences and to improve our education system, and it has contributed significantly to import replacement, with a consequent saving of overseas exchange. The present Government has achieved a good share of overseas markets for our manufactured goods. It has encouraged the growth of Australian industry in a much greater variety of fields than would have been possible without British and foreign investment in this country.
Investment, Sir, does not necessarily mean control. I am afraid, however, that many honorable members opposite fail to make this distinction. It is one that I emphasise. In fact, a large and growing proportion of the overseas capital invested in Australia is what we call “portfolio investment”. This is investment made for precisely the same purpose that you or I or any other Australian citizen buys shares on the local stock exchange - just as a form of personal investment. It has been estimated that approximately one quarter, or perhaps a shade more, of the total capital investment in Australian industry is owned by British and foreign investors. The remaining three quarters, or near enough to three quarters, is owned by Australians. So it is quite incorrect for honorable members opposite to suggest, or by implication to say, that there is any threat of domination in this field by overseas concerns. Speakers on the other side of the chamber so far have produced no facts or figures to prove that there is any foreign domination or any threat of foreign domination m the investment field. Nor, I suggest, is there any foreseeable threat. Obviously, if we judge by the hostile way in which this matter has been submitted for discussion this afternoon, Opposition members have some fears on this score. But I believe that, for the most part, whatever fears they entertain are hypothetical and without real substance.
.- Mr. Deputy Speaker, I support the discussion of this subject as a matter of urgent public importance as submitted by the honorable member for Scullin (Mr. Peters). At the outset, may I direct the attention of the House to an inspired Press leak from the Cabinet. This was the substance of a report in the “ Daily Telegraph “ of Monday last under the headline, “ Clamp on American investors “. This article, based on an inspired Press leak, mentions two members of the Cabinet - the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. McMahon), who is a prominent member of the Liberal Party of Australia, and the Deputy Prime Minister (Mr. McEwen), who is Leader of the Australian Country Party. They are reported as supporting the clamp down on American investment. The lonely man of the Cabinet is the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt), who is now sitting at the table. We know that on the issue of foreign investment this Government is divided. This is why there is such small ministerial backing for the Treasurer on this matter today. We know that a junior Minister will speak later, but no senior Minister will support the Treasurer this afternoon.
I should like to refer honorable members to the “Daily Telegraph” of 29th May 1963, which reported remarks made by the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) at Port Lincoln in the by-election campaign for the seat of Grey. I shall quote from this report in the right honorable gentleman’s favorite newspaper. The report is headed, in heavy, black print: “ Investment Welcomed. ‘ Confidence Vote ‘ from Overseas “. The Prime Minister is reported as having said that investment in Australia in the past ten years had been phenomenal and that hundreds of millions of pounds had been invested by the United States of America and Britain. The right honorable gentleman is reported as follows -
But every time I mention these facts there will be some bunch of Left Wing men who will say: “ You are pawning the country to the overseas bankers”. Really, the Labour Party has got me baffled.
Only one person is baffled. That is the Prime Minister. We know that, only recently, he stated that he wanted to see
Australians participate in foreign companies in Australia and it is interesting to know that he is now moving away from the Treasurer towards the Minister for Labour and National Service and the Deputy Prime Minister.
We find the Prime Minister now in good company, for he has joined the ranks of the so-called left wing. We know that the Deputy Prime Minister joined the ranks of the left wing several years ago in opposing the inflow of indiscriminate foreign investment. We in the Australian Labour Party oppose indiscriminate foreign investment and we have with us not only the Deputy Prime Minister but also the Financial Editor of the “ Sydney Morning Herald “, the financial writer for the Melbourne “Herald”, Mr. John Eddy, and Maxwell Newton, who was once editor of the “ Australian Financial Review”. Let us keep in mind, too, that the most respectable of stockbrokers throughout Australia - men such as Sir Ian Potter and Mr. Staniforth Ricketson - are aligned with the so-called left wing in opposing this indiscriminate inflow of foreign investment. So also is a broad section of the Australian community aligned with this so-called left wing, as it was described by the Prime Minister at Port Lincoln in May 1963. As a socialist member of this Parliament I shall support any Australian, including members of the Australian Country Party, or any other member on the Government side of the Parliament, who will oppose indiscriminate foreign investment as the Deputy Prime Minister did.
May we remind the Treasurer that, at the conference of the Victorian Country Party on 2nd April 1963, the Deputy Prime Minister said -
We are selling a bit of our heritage each year.
Warning has been given time and time again. Surely we know that foreign investment has taken control of Canada. Walter Lippman has written that more than 50 per cent, of Canadian manufacturing industry is owned by American investors. Surely we must learn from history in this young country. Our great problem has been that, during the last 15 years, under the administration of the present Government, we have had a deficit balance of trade with all countries of £1,902 million. With our traditional trading partners, the United Kingdom and the United States, we have had a deficit balance of trade totalling £3.666 million including invisibles - £2,072 million for the United Kingdom and £1,596 million for the United States. On the other hand, we have had a credit trading balance with countries such as Japan, Belgium, France, China, Russia and other Eastern European countries. Yet we still have a total overall deficit of £1,902 million.
We have met this deficit by increasing Government borrowing and indiscriminate private foreign investment. As the Deputy Prime Minister has said, we are selling a bit of our heritage each year. Indeed, we are eating the heart out of our heritage. This Government has been pawning Australia’s future. This is typical of our Prime Minister. His attitude is: Let us live well today and tomorrow will look after itself. This is typical of the approach of the Government as a whole. The Prime Minister did not imagine, as he made his remarks at Port Lincoln in May 1963, that we would have an economic crisis over foreign investment so soon. He imagined that we would have rosy years ahead of us as we lived on the sale of our national heritage. Why has the present crisis come about? We know that it has arisen because the United States of America has had a balance of trade crisis and is determined that more and more of the profits of American investment overseas shall be returned to that country.
Many things could be said about matters such as double taxation agreements. At question time today, we heard about agitation for double taxation agreements with further countries. A conservative estimate is that the double taxation agreement with the United Kingdom has cost Australia £130 million. The undistributed profits tax of 2s. in the £1 was abolished by this Government in 1951. If it had remained, Australia would have obtained about £25 million from it. This means that we have made a gift of nearly £155 million to British investors. Australia entered into a double taxation agreement with the United States of America in 1953 and this has cost Australian taxpayers £42 million. The abolition of the undistributed profits tax has cost a further £24,700,000. But we should look further at the handouts given by this Government to the top 102 companies, the .19 per cent, of the 54,000 companies in Australia, which receive onethird of all profits. This Government has granted them a very liberal depreciation allowance. In the last year of office of the Chifley Administration this allowance amounted to only £96 million; last year it was £670 million. As a percentage of the gross national product, in the days of the Chifley Government it was 4.2 per cent, and last year it was 7.7 per cent. This means that the Government has given an additional 3i per cent, of the gross national product to that section of industry, which is seeking to maintain a monopoly. The Government has given handouts to the companies not only by entering into double taxation agreements and abolishing the undistributed profits tax but also by granting a liberal allowance for the depreciation of plant.
We believe that the Government should plan and control foreign investment. We know that we have difficult days ahead of us, but we believe that it is impossible to apply one policy to all foreign investment. An attempt must be made to distinguish one type of investment from another. We should allow essential foreign investment and technical knowhow to come to this country, if we need it. We may need foreign capital for other purposes; but we must get out and plan. The honorable member for Ryan (Mr. Drury) criticised controls. We on this side of the House believe in planning. We want to plan the future of Australia for the benefit of Australia and of Australians, not for the benefit of a small minority section. The Government represents a small section. It represents a monopoly section, of which foreign companies form a part.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
– One wonders what thoughts pass through the minds of Opposition members who, in raising this matter of definite public importance, express concern about the inflow of foreign capital. Probably three reasons prompt them to raise this matter. The first is a matter of national pride or national concern that Australians should participate in companies established in this country by foreign investors. I will accept that point of view. I think all Australians feel that Australia should be a partner in enterprises established in this country by foreign investors. The second point of view probably prompts many Opposition members. It is that demagogues can get up and blow off about a national issue that engenders emotions in the people. In many a country, demagogues have aroused the emotions of the people and taken over the government, only to lead the country to economic ruin. The third reason is that some left wing members of the Australian Labour Party see this as a wonderful opportunity to further their anti-American feelings.
– What do you mean by left wing?
– I do not think any Opposition members know where they are, whether they are right wing or left wing.
We have been told that there is great concern about foreign investment in Australia and that there is danger at the moment. I think we should take the other point of view and be very proud that Australia is receiving so much foreign capital. The world is hungry for capital. Those who travel through the less developed countries of South East Asia will know that they are crying out for money to develop all types of industry, both secondary and primary. Australia is one of the few countries that is receiving a fair share of foreign capital. Those who hold the view that this will be a permanent feature of the Australian economy are in for a rude awakening, because foreign investment can be cut off at any time. Other countries have found that this is so. While Australia is able to accept foreign capital without being unduly harmed we should welcome it. We are a country that is developing and must continue to develop. We are surrounded by countries that look jealously at us. We have a moral right to hold this country only if we populate it and develop it. But populating the country requires a large amount of capital for the construction of homes, schools, roads and so on, and a development programme needs even more capital for secondary industries, primary industries and mining industries. A new country such as Australia is does not have the capital resources to do all that needs to be done.
America today is the greatest capital exporting country, but for a big part of its history it was a net capital importing country. Until 1923 America was a net capital importing country and it is only since then that it has been able to export capital. I hope that Australia will develop to the point where it too will be a capital exporting country.
Why is this foreign capital coming to Australia? It is coming here because we have political stability and sensible economics. We are developing along sensible and progressive lines and there is every prospect that the expenditure of money in this country will be rewarded. That is why Australia is regarded as a good place for investment. Perhaps Opposition members are a little jealous that we have created this wonderful attitude in the minds of people throughout the world. But it should not be thought that we accept all foreign capital as being good. At minor points in our economy foreign investment has been to our disadvantage.
– Such as?
– Well, I do not think it is good for foreign capital merely to replace Australian investment in some existing Australian industry, such as a butter factory or a flour mill - but these are only small spots in the economy.
– Why do you not do something about it?
– I think we are. The fact that we have this debate today shows that we are doing something. We express the point of view that the Government welcomes partnership in foreign owned enterprises in this country and that we are not happy about foreign companies taking over existing Australian enterprises. Overseas investors know of our feelings on these matters. It was pleasant to read in today’s newspapers that a big company in Australia, Conzinc Riotinto of Australia Limited, is making a bonus issue of shares and is making the largest part of this issue available to Australian shareholders. This will increase the Australian shareholding in the company from 10 to 15 per cent. Do Opposition members not welcome this? It is a move in the right direction and I would be pleased if other foreign owned companies adopted the same policy. I would be pleased, for instance, if General Motors-Holden’s Pty. Ltd. allowed Australians to become partners in the company.
As has been mentioned by other honorable members and by the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt), the inflow of foreign capital has two effects. It helps with our balance of payments and it helps to develop this country. If Australia is to develop we must have the capital to buy machinery. With foreign investment comes knowhow - the knowledge of how to develop mining projects and secondary industries. In addition, foreign capital helps us to find a market for our products in many countries. The foreign investors have traditionally sold their products in these markets. As the organisations establish themselves in Australia we are given a permanent outlet for many products. Over the years the Opposition has been very keen to refer to what has happened in Canada and to say how that country has been exploited by the United States of America. The honorable member for Reid (Mr. Uren) was again very happy to reiterate what he has been saying for years about this issue. In Canada, some members of Parliament climbed on the band wagon and talked about the great harm that was being done to their country. There was a change of government and the new government lasted for a period, but the realities came to the people and there was another change of government. Then the Canadian Royal Commission on Banking and Finance, known as the Porter Commission, was set up. In 1964 the commission issued a report from which I should like to read the following -
It should be pointed out that it-
That is, foreign investment - brings with it important advantages which contribute to domestic employment and economic growth.
We do not look with favour at Canadian legislation which thwarts capital flows for reasons unrelated to our underlying economic need for them. If .certain practices of either foreign or domestically-controlled enterprises are found to be harmful, we would prefer that any remedies be directed to the practices themselves and not to investment as such.
As long as this-
That is, foreign investment - is productive and adds to Canadian income and wealth, it will give rise neither to serious servicing costs in relation to Canadian earnings nor to misallocation of resources in the Canadian economy. On the contrary, H will accelerate our development and bring close the day when this country will become on balance a net exporter of capital to other nations.
That was the view of the most recent commission to examine the situation of Canada. The Labour Party in this place seems to have one attitude on this issue although, as we all know, it has many attitudes on other issues. However, it is interesting to note that State Labour Parties, particularly those which have the responsibility to look after the affairs of a State, welcome foreign capital. States such as New South Wales, such as Western Australia when Mr. Hawke’s Government was in power, and such as Tasmania, regularly send representatives overseas and do all that they possibly can to attract foreign investment to Australia to help development. I welcome at this time overseas capital that will develop this country. I believe that the more capital that comes here to develop Australia, the safer this country will be for our future generations.
.- The young and rather inexperienced Minister for the Interior (Mr. Anthony) wonders what has prompted the Labour Party to raise this matter at this time. The reason, which seems to have escaped the Minister, is exactly the same reason that apparently prompted the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) to make a special plea to the President of the United States of America this very week about this matter. The reason that has prompted the Opposition to raise the matter in debate this afternoon is the very reason that has prompted Cabinet - perhaps it is the inner Cabinet - to give a great deal of consideration to this matter in the last week or so. The reason that has caused the Opposition to speak on this issue today is the reason that, presumably, caused the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. McMahon) to make a very impassioned speech on the subject in Cabinet and the reason that caused the Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr. McEwen) again to repeat the submissions that he has now been making consistently for three or four years. The reason that caused the Opposition to raise this matter this week is the reason that caused the leader of the party to which the Minister for the Interior belongs, the Minister for Trade and Industry, to raise it consistently for the last two or three years - precisely the same reason. Therefore, I find it a little difficult to understand the attitude of the Minister for the Interior.
The position is that for five or six years the Australian Labour Party has advised and warned the Government of the need to avoid the kind of difficulty that the Government now faces in 1965. For five or six years the Labour Party has been concerned to attempt to prevent exactly the same sort of difficulty that the Government is now wrestling with pretty strenuously. But for the greater part of this time the Government has been totally unconcerned about the difficulty. The Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt), has now found himself almost alone in an unqualified advocacy of foreign investment. To my knowledge he qualified that advocacy for the first time in this debate this afternoon when he said: “ I do not deny that there are dangers.” So even the right honorable gentleman from the Treasury, one who is more at home in Washington than in Canberra, has now at long last admitted: “ I do not deny that there are dangers.” This admission is a wonderful compliment to the Opposition. It has taken us six long years to educate the Treasurer to this point. But, of course, the Minister for Trade and Industry has been with us on this issue for much longer. He joined us in about 1960 or 1961 when he said almost precisely the same thing that we had been saying for many years - that while there are some useful forms of overseas investment, there are some very harmful forms as well.
In recent times the Press, including even the “ Daily Telegraph “, and the manufacturers and the investors - all people who qualify for the title “ Australians “ - have joined us, and now, presumably, the Government is sufficiently anxious about the situation to justify the report, which has not been denied, that appeared in the “ Daily Telegraph “. I should like to refer to that report which stated that the Prime Minister had made a special appeal to the President of the U.S. Yesterday the Prime Minister admitted that he had. He admitted that this matter, which the Opposition thinks is a matter of urgency, is so important that he, the Prime Minister of Australia, should make a special plea to the President of the U.S. Of course this is a matter of urgency. Can the Minister for the Interior any longer remain in doubt about this? Of course not.
But what good can come from this plea to the President of the United States? Only three years ago the Prime Minister made another plea to the President of the U.S. - he happened to be President Kennedy in those days - hut no specific promises came from the President in respect of trade. That was the outcome in 1962, and not one change has taken place in America’s trading relations with Australia since then, except that in the meantime we have reached an astonishing deficit of, I think, £195 million on our current trade with the U.S. The current appeal by the Prime Minister to the President of the United States is not quite as bad as the earlier one; it is not quite a special mission, although it is a special plea. However, I do not think it will produce any better results than the earlier one did.
In case the Minister for the Interior, or any one else on the other side of the House, remains any longer in doubt about the importance and urgency of this matter, I should like to refer to a report which might not have had much value if it had been denied, but which has not been denied. It was a report in the “Daily Telegraph” relating to a Cabinet meeting. 1 do not know how the “Daily Telegraph” finds out what goes on at Cabinet meetings, but apparently it does. Apparently it is not only discussions inside the Labour Party that are aired to the Australian newspaper readers. If what is contained in this report did not happen, the Treasurer can tell us so and he is saying nothing in denial of it now. He is silent. If this did not happen the Minister for Labour and National Service, who is about the House somewhere but has not taken part in the debate so far, can tell us that it did not happen. I cannot recall a debate on this subject before in which the Minister for Labour and National Service did not take part, but for some reason he has not participated in the debate today. If this did not happen, let him say so. The report states -
The Labour Minister (Mr. McMahon) is known to have been particularly insistent that Australia would have to face up to this problem quickly.
Did the Minister make any such statement as that? If the report is not true, he can say that it is not true. The report continued -
On his return from the U.S. recently, Mr. McMahon emphasised that while appreciative of American investment that added to Australia’s industrial capacity, he had a responsibility to secure expansion of Australian industry that would absorb the yearly increase of 100,000 in the worker force.
This is a report of the remarks of the Minister for Labour and National Service. Is he anti-American in saying this? The report continued -
America consulted its own interest in the withdrawal of capital and such withdrawals were always made at the moment that suited Australia least.
Has the Minister joined the anti-American group? I wonder. The report added -
This was the realm of international finance where all countries consulted their own interests first.
Of course they did, and it is not antiAmerican or anti-Australian to say so. Australia would certainly consider its own interests first. That is what the Labour Party in opposition today is demanding by this urgency proposal - that Australia act in its own interests and no longer brush aside this question as though it had no significance or importance. The report points out that the Minister for Trade and Industry submitted to the Cabinet a paper which contained views similar to those he has submitted in the past. Then this report in a large daily newspaper which circulates in the largestcity of Australia, after stating “ Cabinet has decided “, sets out a number of decisions. Did such a thing happen? Is the Cabinet so concerned about the matter that it has made some very positive decisions for the first time? It is the responsibility of the Government to make the Australian people and the Parliament aware of its decisions if it has arrived at any and not to hide behind the rather cold approach that it makes to questions that are asked in the Parliament.
It is of no wonder that the Cabinet has decided upon some additional action. Without being aware of the latest news on the subject, I predicted a few moments ago that the plea made by the Prime Minister to the President of the United States would not have the desired effect. I have just had brought to me a Sydney newspaper published this afternoon which carries the caption -
Johnson rebuffs Menzies.
The Treasurer and some of his colleagues are interjecting. It is all very well for honorable members opposite to quote from these newspapers when they are criticising the Australian Labour Party, but they do not like it very much when the position is in reverse. They derive great pleasure and rub their hands with glee when these news papers criticise the Labour Party or somebody else, but when those newspapers publish a report that does not suit our friends opposite they brush it aside and say that it is false or unconfirmed.
Presumably the Cabinet has decided on a number of things, but the Treasurer, who has a responsibility to keep the Parliament informed about what the Government is doing, has made no reference whatever to any of them. I say deliberately that the Government, as always, is concealing from the people and the Parliament of Australia the business of the people and the Parliament of Australia. This Press report states -
Cabinet has decided:
The general policy of acceptance and encouragement of U.S. investment to continue where such investment is:
Provides additions to Australian industrial complex and know-how.
In other words, the Cabinet has dealt exactly with the points that have been emphasised by the Labour Party for five or six years. The report further states that Cabinet has decided to be ready to take action through the Central Bank if investment does not meet those requirements. It then goes on to state that the Cabinet has decided -
To require U.S. investors to provide from overseas sources whatever credit they need additional to their equity capital investment.
To draw the attention of the U.S. Government to the highly discriminatory nature of the U.S. measures to restrict capital outflow.
Provision of priority credit facilities . . .
U.S. investors to be warned that Australia may have to re-examine its present policy of completely free repatriation of capital.
Presumably the Government has already decided in the Cabinet room to take certain action. But it is doing quite the reverse here; it is brushing aside the Opposition’s proposal as though it was of no importance and had no relevance to the subject. That is a completely dishonest way in which to conduct the affairs of this House.
.- A similar proposal has been submitted by the honorable member for Scullin (Mr. Peters) once or twice in the past. On this occasion he has done what he has done in the past; he has told us what he said on a previous occasion. He ranged over the capital structure of Australia and overseas countries and companies to such an extent that when he had finished his speech I was so confused that I really did not know what he was talking about. He said that the Australian Government and the Australian people would take capital from almost any country in the world and as a last resort would take capital from Indonesia. Any country that could obtain capita] from Indonesia within his lifetime or mine would indeed be a very good seller of its prospects. As the honorable member for Ryan (Mr. Drury) said, capital is one of the shyest of commodities. All countries have to use capital that is obtained not only internally but also from overseas. It is one of the commodities that we use in our daily life to build up the living standards of the people. As the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) said, we not only use capital but use it to increase the living standards of Australians and new settlers who are coming to this country in ever increasing numbers. There is no doubt in my mind and in the minds of some demographers that, if, since 1947, we had not brought in overseas capital amounting to approximately £2,000 million, our population would now be not 1H million but approximately 9£ million. Moreover, the living standards of those 9i million people would have been commensurately lower.
Since the last war all Australian governments have tried to obtain capital from overseas. Members of the Opposition, some honorable members on this side of the House and many of the Government’s critics have been influenced by what they think has happened in Canada and by debates in the Canadian Parliament about American investment in Canada. Since World War II Canada has obtained from the United States of America two-thirds of the capital that has been needed to build up its manufacturing industries. But in the same time only 25 per cent, of the capital that has been used to build up Australian industries has come from external sources. The Minister for the Interior (Mr. Anthony) made the pertinent point that the situation in Canada influences many people who discuss the economy of Australia. As the Minister said, a commission was appointed about four years ago to inquire into banking and finance in Canada. Last year that com- mission reported to the Canadian Government in the following terms -
It should be pointed out that it (i.e., foreign investment) brings with it important advantages which contribute to domestic employment and economic growth.
We do not look with favour on Canadian legislation which thwarts capital flows for reasons unrelated to our underlying economic need for them. If certain practices of either foreign or domestically controlled enterprises are found to be harmful, we would prefer that any remedies be directed to the practices themselves and not to investment as such.
As long as this (i.e. foreign investment) is productive and adds to Canadian income and wealth, it will give rise neither to serious servicing costs in relation to Canadian earnings nor to misallocation of resources in the Canadian economy. On the contrary, it will accelerate our development and bring closer the day when this country will become on balance a net exporter of capital to other nations.
Is not that the situation in which Australia now finds itself, with the small difference that investments by America in the Canadian economy amount to £18,000 million and American investment in the Australian economy is equal to one-eighteenth of that sum, or £1,000 million? The difference is so marked that I cannot see the relevance of references to the situation that exists in Canada, about which the Canadians themselves are quite happy.
However, I agree with the Treasurer when he says that the criticisms should not be lightly brushed off. Investment capital has contributed greatly to the development of Australia and of the living standards of people who were born in this country and those who have come here as new settlers. As I have said, the total amount of overseas investment in Australian manufacturing industries is not as the honorable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr. Crean) endeavoured to indicate to the Parliament and the people of Australia when he referred to it as being between 50 and 97 per cent, in certain industries. In the overall picture, overseas investment accounts for no more than 25 per cent, of the capital invested in Australian manufacturing industries. I repeat my earlier comment that Australia could not maintain its present growth without overseas investment in our manufacturing industries.
Reference has been made to the fact that India and certain other countries have imposed restrictions on capital inflow from overseas. Countries such as India, Malaysia and Taiwan have given a tax holiday to manufacturers in Australia, the United States, Germany or the United Kingdom who have funds to invest in their respective countries. They offer an inducement by giving them a tax holiday for, say, five years. We have not had to resort to such measures to induce investors lo come to Australia.
As I see it, there are two ways in which we can finance development. One is by local savings. As I have said, the Australian people have invested in Australian manufacturing, tertiary and primary industries more than 75 per cent, of the capital used in those industries. In manufacturing alone have we been using capital from overseas countries to the extent of 25 per cent.
I ask the Opposition and the House: How could Hi million Australians finance the tremendous development that we hope to see in the Hamersley Range project in Western Australia? Thiry-five billion tons of high grade iron ore are available there. This is a tremendous heritage for Australia, for the future use of our children and their children. How could Hi million Australians find the millions of pounds required to be invested in this development? I would judge from what members of the Opposition have said that they believe that we should develop these vast resources of iron ore only by digging out the ore, putting it in barges and sending it to Japan, America and England, letting the workers there process the material. I find it distasteful to realise that we have in Australia people who want us to be merely hewers of wood and drawers of water. As Australian companies and overseas companies progressively develop the iron ore at Hammersley Range, the bauxite at Weipa and Gove Peninsula and, I hope, eventually, the copper at Mount Isa, the people of Australia will be beneficiaries from this golden wealth. We cannot do it alone, so the money must come from overseas countries.
As to Mount Isa, those who think only of the welfare State are doing their best to ensure that we as a people gain no benefits from the vast copper resources in that area. Most honorable members realise that the international price of copper has risen by £52 a ton in the past seven months, since the trouble began at Mount lsa. Aus tralian users of copper have to pay an additional £200 a ton because of the forces at work at Mount Isa, and in other parts of Queensland. I should like to see the Opposition submit motions of censure directed at influences such as those evident at Mount Isa, which are likely to spread to other parts of Australia unless something is done about them.
It is true that overseas capital dominates some industries in Australia. We all know what has happened in the case of General Motors-Holden’s Pty. Ltd., but that company provides work directly for 22,000 persons and an additional 22,000 operate for the company as sub-contractors. The honorable member for Yarra has quoted many extracts from newspapers but he did not quote the statement from the United States of America to the effect that 74,000 persons - and that means 74,000 families - were relying upon General Motors-Holden’s Pty. Ltd. for their workaday life and their future in Australia. I support what the Treasurer has said, and I hope that we will not find matters of this kind on the notice paper until the Vernon Committee has submitted its report.
– Order! This debate is now concluded.
Bill - by leave - presented by Mr. Harold Holt, and read a first time.
– 1 move -
That the Bill be now read a second time.
The main purpose of this Bill is to provide a legal basis for certain administrative actions for which the Presiding Officers of the Parliament are responsible between the end of one Parliament and the beginning of another. Provision has also been included to cover interim periods caused by death, absence or illness.
Certain statutory duties are performed by the Presiding Officers under the Public Service Act, the Audit Act, the Parliamentary Proceedings Broadcasting Act, the Commonwealth Banks Act, and the Commonwealth Electoral Act. In the last three cases it is unlikely that there would be any need to exercise the functions when the Parliament is not in session. However, in the first two cases - that is, under the Public Service Act and the Audit Act - it may well be necessary for the Presiding Officers to exercise important functions in the administration of the parliamentary departments for which they are responsible. For example, after the Parliament had been dissolved on the 1st November 1963, there was no person, in the strict legal sense, holding the office of Speaker until the election of a new Speaker in the new Parliament on the 25th February 1964. During this period it was necessary to submit certain regulations to the Governor-General under section 9 of the Public Service Act to apply marginal increases to the salaries of certain positions in one of the parliamentary departments. Since there was nobody legally appointed to exercise the functions of the Speaker after the dissolution, the recommendation to the Governor-General for the gazettal of new regulations had to be deferred.
There are other examples which could be cited in connection with the appointment and promotion of members of the staff of the parliamentary departments which, for lack of a legal basis for exercising the powers of the Presiding Officers between the end of one Parliament and the beginning of another, would have to be held up with possible adverse effects on the individual officer’s rights.
We have, therefore, sought, in this Bill to provide a legal basis for the persons who had been the President and the Speaker immediately prior to a dissolution to continue to exercise the powers and functions of Presiding Officers under the laws of the Commonwealth after the dissolution of a Parliament until new Presiding Officers have been elected by the new Parliament.
– Have you satisfied yourselves that there is a constitutional basis for this?
– I. am bringing this Bill forward supported by the advice of the law officers, but perhaps the AttorneyGeneral (Mr. Snedden) could deal with this matter with more authority than I can. We have also included in the Bill provision that, if through death, illness or absence, a Presiding Officer or the person who had been a Presiding Officer is unable to carry out the .statutory functions attaching to his office under a law of the Commonwealth, then the Chairman of Committees or the person who had been the Chairman of Committees of the House concerned would have the powers of the Presiding Officer under the laws of the Commonwealth, until a new Presiding Officer is elected or the absence or incapacity terminates. The Bill which is brought forward is in line with the practice in the United Kingdom where there has been a House of Commons (Speaker) Act in force since 1832. I might add that we should have had a similar provision before this. I commend the Bill to the House.
– We are catching up with the Reform Bill!
– That is right.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Whitlam) adjourned.
Bill - by leave - presented by Mr. Fairbairn, and read a first time.
– I move -
That the Bill be now read a second time.
The purpose of this short Bill is to amend that part of the Coal Industry Act which deals with the Joint Coal Board’s banking operations and with the power of the Board to borrow money on overdraft. As the House is aware, the Board operates by virtue of almost identical acts of the Parliaments of the Commonwealth and of the State of New South Wales.
As they now stand the Commonwealth and State Coal Industry Acts require the Board to bank with the Reserve Bank of Australia. The Board’s principal bank accounts are in Sydney but accounts are also maintained in Wollongong, Newcastle, Cessnock and Lithgow. With the exception of one small account with the Reserve Bank of Australia which is an imprest account kept for the purpose of paying witnesses their expenses in attending the Coal Industry Tribunal, all these accounts are with the Commonwealth Trading Bank of Australia. The result is that the Joint Coal Board is in breach of both Coal Industry Acts. As I shall now show, this position has arisen following amendments made to the banking legislation of the Commonwealth, subsequent to the enactment of Coal Industry Acts.
Under the terms of the Acts, the Board, when it was established, was required to open and maintain its accounts with the then Commonwealth Bank of Australia. The Board accordingly opened accounts with the Commonwealth Bank at a number of metropolitan and country centres. Apart from the accounts at the country centres these accounts were all carried by the central banking section of the Commonwealth Bank which then performed both central and trading bank functions.
By the Commonwealth Bank Act 1953 the central and trading bank functions of the Commonwealth Bank were separated. A new corporation, the Commonwealth Trading Bank of Australia, was created which took over the trading bank functions of the Commonwealth Bank. The Commonwealth Bank continued in existence with its central bank functions. Late in 1954 the Board moved from its address in King Street, Sydney, to its present premises in Goulburn Street.
Shortly thereafter it requested the Commonwealth Bank to transfer all its metropolitan accounts except the one required for the purpose of the Coal Industry Tribunal to a conveniently situated branch in Oxford Street. This, in fact, was a branch of the Commonwealth Trading Bank and the Board was advised after the accounts were transferred that they would in future be with the Commonwealth Trading Bank and not with the central bank as hitherto. Similarly, as a result of the 1953 legislation, each of the country accounts was transferred by the Commonwealth Bank to the Commonwealth Trading Bank.
This position was basically unaffected by the Commonwealth banking legislation of 1959 under which, inter aiia, the Commonwealth Bank was renamed the Reserve Bank of Australia and the Commonwealth Trading Bank was placed under the control of a new corporation, the Commonwealth Banking Corporation. So far as the Board was concerned, this legislation meant that the Board’s accounts should be with the Reserve Bank and not with the Commonwealth Trading Bank where, with the exception of the one account referred to earlier, they were and still are held.
The Board’s present banking arrangements are efficient, convenient and satisfactory. It would not be possible for the Reserve Bank to provide the kind of banking service at present provided by the Commonwealth Trading Bank. The effect of the statutory changes which I have outlined above is that the Board cannot lawfully continue its present banking arrangements which it considers essential to its efficient operation. This is an unsatisfactory position which needs to be resolved by legislation. It is the Government’s view that the Board should be authorised to continue its present banking arrangements and, accordingly, the present Bill has been prepared to amend the principal act which is the Coal Industry Act 1946-1958.
A new section 19a is proposed for the principal act. This will authorise the Board to maintain an account or accounts with an approved bank or approved banks. Such approved banks will include the Reserve Bank or any other bank declared by regulations to be an approved bank for the purpose of section 15>a. Upon the coming into effect of the legislation now before the House, it is intended that regulations will be made declaring the Commonwealth Trading Bank to be an approved bank.
The power of the Joint Coal Board to borrow money is conferred by section 23 of the principal act and the opportunity has been taken to provide that the words “Commonwealth Bank” wherever appearing in this section will be omitted and replaced by the words “Reserve Bank”. Finally a section of the amending Bill validates the action of the Joint Coal Board in having maintained banking accounts with the Commonwealth Trading Bank in the past.
Under an agreement referred to in the preamble to the Coal Industry Act the Governments of the Commonwealth and of the State of New South Wales have undertaken not to take action without the prior concurrence of the other, to repeal or amend any of the legislation covered by the agreement. The concurrence of the New South Wales Government has been obtained to the amendment proposed in the present Bill. I should add that this Bill has been drafted by the Commonwealth Parliamentary Draftsman after consultation with the
State Parliamentary Draftsman, and in agreement with him. I commend the Bill to the House.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Luchetti) adjourned.
Bill - by leave - presented by Mr. Bury, and read a first time.
I move -
That the Bill be now read a second time.
The purpose of this Bill is to amend the Raw Cotton Bounty Act 1963, to provide for the bounty year to begin on 1st March and end on the last day of the following February in lieu of the period presently operative - 1st January to 31st December. The picking of cotton in Australia is begun in March and finished late in August while ginning, which commences in March, continues until late November.
In order that the grower may receive the benefit of the rates of bounty applicable in the year of ginning, the crop must be sold before the end of the bounty year. Experience has shown that the period from the end of November to 31st December is too short for the processors to complete all sales of raw cotton. Because the bounty rates are prescribed year by year, any carry over of stocks of unsold raw cotton from one bounty year to the next could result in a grower receiving rates differing from those prescribed for the year in which the cotton was ginned.
The effect of this proposed legislation would be to bring the commencement of the bounty year more into line with the ginning year and allow an additional two months in which to dispose of the season’s crop. It would also extend the terms of the Act for a further period of two months; that is, the present Act will cease on 28th February 1969 in lieu of 31st December 1968.
I commend the Bill to honorable members.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Pollard) adjourned.
– by leave - I move -
That the following Tariff Proposals being part of Order of the Day No. 16 - namely, Customs Tariff Proposals Nos. 19 to 24, Customs Tariff (New Zealand Preference) Proposals No. 7 and Excise Tariff Proposals No. 1 - be discharged.
These proposals were incorporated in bills which have now been assented to.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– I move - [Customs Tariff Proposals (No. 30).]
Mr. Deputy Speaker, Customs Tariff Proposals No. 30 relate to tariff alterations proposed by “ Gazette “ notice during the recent recess and now formally introduced in the Parliament as required by law. The duty changes, which resulted from the Government’s acceptance of recommendations by the Tariff Board and from the completion of a round of international negotiations, have been in operation since 29 th January 1965. A Press statement issued at the time by my colleague, the Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr. McEwen), and a copy of the relevant “ Gazette “ notice and Tariff Board report, were circulated to honorable members at the time the duty changes were made. “Gazette” notice No. 82, now covered by Proposals No. 30, introduced duties to provide increased assistance to the Australian production of 12-gauge shotguns. The new rates are 15 per cent. British preferential tariff and 25 per cent. most favoured nation for guns having a value of £32 or less. Above that value, the British preferential rate is reduced gradually to “ free “ and the most favoured nation rate becomes £8 each or 7½ per cent. whichever is the higher.
Following the completion of the international negotiations, the most favoured nation rate of duty on light weight woollen piece goods was raised to 45 per cent. ad valorem to conform to the level of protection recommended by the Tariff Board in its last report on this industry. A reduction of 5 per cent. in the most favoured nation duties on motor scooters and non-electric typewriters was also made as a result of the negotiations to which I have referred. Canada Preference Proposals No. 3 are complementary to Customs Tariff Proposals No. 30 and ensure that the preferential margin for non-electric typewriters of Canadian origin will be continued. I commend the Proposals to honorable members.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Pollard) adjourned.
– I present a report by the Tariff Board on the following subject -
Shotguns and parts.
Ordered to be printed.
Motion (by Mr. Bury) - by leave - agreed to -
That so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent three Customs Tariff Bills-
being presented and read a first time together and one motion being moved without delay and one question being put in regard to, respectively, the second readings, the Committee’s report stage, and the third readings, of all (he Bills together, and
the consideration of the Bills separately in one Committee of the Whole.
Bills presented by Mr. Bury, and together read a first time. ‘
– I move -
That the Bills be now read a second time.
Mr. Deputy Speaker, we have before us three Bills to amend the Customs Tariff 1933-1964, the Customs Tariff (Canada Preference) 1960-1964 and the Customs Tariff (New Zealand Preference) 1933- 1964. These Bills will enact the Tariff Proposals now before the House, namely, Customs Tariff Proposals Nos. 25 and 26, and Customs Tariff (New Zealand Preference) Proposals No. 8 which were tabled on 9th November 1964; Customs Tariff Proposals Nos. 27 to 29 which were tabled on 12th November 1964; and Customs Tariff Proposals No. 30 and Customs Tariff (Canada Preference) Proposals No. 3 which were tabled earlier today, 17th March 1965.
The Tariff Proposals of 9th and 12th November 1964 dealt with tariff amendments which were based mainly on recommendations by the Tariff Board. The other proposals which were formally introduced in this House earlier today relate to tariff alterations proposed by “ Gazette “ notice during the recent recess. Honorable members will recall that full documentation was distributed at the time the duty changes were made. Additional copies are available if required. I commend the Bills to honorable members.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Pollard) adjourned.
Debate resumed from 11th November 1964 (vide page 2792), on motion by Sir Robert Menzies -
That the Bill be now read a second time.
.- The Opposition welcomes this Bill, which extends practical aid to two Commonwealth countries, India and Pakistan, and promotes harmony and accord between them. The Australian Labour Party has repeatedly emphasised the importance of measures of this nature. At the last general election the Labour Party put forward a policy to provide for 1 per cent, of our national income to be devoted towards helping underdeveloped countries and promoting their welfare. If 1 per cent, of our national income were devoted to this purpose it would yield about £80 million compared with the sum of £45 million that is now being spent in Papua and New Guinea and under-developed countries through various agencies and organisations.
The ratification of the Indus Basin Development Fund Supplemental Agreement provides for an increased contribution to the valuable Indus Basin project. The Indus Basin Development Fund Agreement Act of 1960 authorised the payment by Australia of £6,965,000 to the fund. This Bill seeks the approval of the Parliament to the making of a further grant of £4,669,643. Australia’s total contribution to this splendid undertaking will then be about £1 1,635,000. This amount will be paid in instalments between now and 1970. Australia’s payments under this Bill will be in similar proportion to those made previously.
It is interesting to compare Australia’s proposed contribution of £4,669,643 under this Bill with amounts contributed by other countries. Canada has contributed 16,810,794 dollars. Germany has contributed 80,400,000 deutsche marks. New Zealand has contributed £503,434 sterling and the United Kingdom has contributed £13,978,571 sterling. The United States of America will provide 118,590,000 dollars by way of grant and 51,220,000 dollars by way of loan. The International Bank for Reconstruction and Development will make a loan of 58,540,000 American dollars.
It will be seen from this that Australia is playing a part as an active partner in the expansion of the resources of India and Pakistan and in providing for the harmony and wellbeing of their peoples. The total contribution for the overall scheme has risen from £357 million to £380 million. When Australia’s role as a developing country is considered our effort is, I believe, a very creditable one indeed. Many people in our country, as you know, Mr. Deputy Speaker, are quite restless because we are not doing more at home. They rightly point out that we have no major water project in course of construction north of the 26th parallel. There is emphasis also on the fact that we should be doing more in the Territory of Papua and New Guinea. I subscribe to the view that we should be doing more at home, but I also welcome this legislation which enables Australia, although itself a developing nation, to play a part as a partner with India, Pakistan and other nations in giving effect to a grand humanitarian concept based on the needs of the people of the sub-continent.
Some idea of this major project might be gleaned from the fact that the average flow of the six rivers which form the Indus Basin system is more than twice that of the Nile, three times that of the Tigris and Euphrates combined, and almost ten times that of the Colorado River in the United States of America. The division of the waters of the Indus system between India and Pakistan seems to have met with fairly general approval in those countries and helped to foster a feeling of friendship and goodwill so urgently needed in that part of the world. It is good that we can play a part in helping people less fortunate than ourselves.
The negotiations that brought about the treaty in the first place took a considerable amount of time, lt was a happy day not only for the people of India and Pakistan but also for the whole of mankind when the leaders of India and Pakistan came together for the purpose of signing this agreement. Those two countries had worked patiently from 1947 onwards for the purpose of reaching agreement. We know of the work of Mr. Eugene Black, whose initiative and friendly advice made a substantial contribution to the ultimate outcome. I do not intend to traverse an earlier debate relating to this matter, but it is important that we should remember that the eastern waters of the Indus Basin will go mainly to India, that the western streams will be available to Pakistan, and that India will pay Pakistan about £62.5 million sterling as a contribution towards the construction of the project. Both countries will co-operate to the fullest extent to further the development of the rivers. This is a very fine concept and it deserves the praise of the people of those countries and the good wishes of this nation and other nations participating in the scheme.
The agreement also provides for a permanent Indus Commission, consisting of one representative of each government, with a general responsibility to carry out the treaty and reconcile points of disagreement. It provides further that if there is any difficulty and the two countries are unable to resolve their differences a neutral expert will be called in for consultation. Thus we have not only co-operation between India and Pakistan but also Commonwealth and international co-operation. How much better this is than the constant friction in Asian countries, arguments and disputations, war and violence, with countries infiltrating their troops into the territory of others. This is an example of international sanity based on the needs of humanity. This great scheme will help to advance the living standards of the people of that area. Surely this programme should give inspiration and hope to the under-privileged people of all lands. Water conservation and irrigation and wise land use with modern methods of farming will assist to meet the needs of growing populations. More acres will be brought into production. There will be greater productivity as a result of better farming methods and more scientific use of the soil. Our reward in this undertaking will be the making it possible for life to continue, for people to survive. Survival can mean happiness for these people. This is a positive approach which reverses the negative attitude of defeatism towards Asian countries. I am tired of people who constantly refer to the problems of Asia with what is described as its population explosion. They are afraid to go forward with schemes for cultivating the soil, using new techniques for the growing of the necessary foodstuffs and for the manufacture of the products required by emerging countries.
We should be proud of our contribution towards this scheme. It will certainly not affect very greatly the national budget. We will not suffer because of it. I hope that this measure, which was introduced by a statement of a few words from the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) merely seeking authorisation of continuance of our co-operation, with an increased payment to the fund, will have a speedy passage through the Parliament and that by our actions, in co-operation with Commonwealth and other participating nations we shall give a form of leadership which will be followed throughout the world, bringing happiness, peace, contentment and good will to all of those people who sorely need assistance.
.- There is nothing in what the honorable member for Macquarie (Mr. Luchetti) has said with which I disagree, but I should like to add to his statements. I have a particular responsibility to do so, because I had the good fortune, during the recent tour by members of this Parliament, of India, Pakistan and Ceylon, to visit the Mangla Dam, which is the biggest unit in this developmental scheme. Therefore, I think it is only proper that I should give in some measure an eye witness account of the immense project that we saw. The first thing that strikes you when you go there is the magnitude of the scheme. When I inspect similar schemes in Australia my imagination rather boggles at their size, and this is a tremendous scheme. I could not help but be sceptical - indeed, I am a man of rather slow mental processes, as probably the House is now aware - when I was discussing this project with engineers. I did some arithmetic relating to costs, and I had the figures checked today. According to my calculations, the capital cost of storing an acre foot of water will work out at about £44 compared with about £4 at Chowilla and a little less on the Ord River. It should be realised immediately, therefore, that the operation in which we are engaged is no small one. Not only is the magnitude of the unit to be constructed great, but we are also taking part in storing some of the most expensive irrigation water in the world. I do not suggest by any means that we should not take part in the scheme, but we should be aware of our responsibilities.
The second point I raise is that one of the things that strike one forcibly when visiting the locality is the soil erosion problem with which the project will be faced. Having been brought up, so to speak, in a soil conservation field in my own State, this problem worries me perhaps even more than the capital cost of the water stored. There will be a tremendous risk of siltation.
The third thing that should be mentioned - we have to face up to all these difficulties - is that 100 square miles of country will be inundated. If my figures are correct, that will involve the resettling of well over 50,000 people. So we must realise that we are playing a part in a big project, and one bristling with difficulties. To use a slang phrase, why do we pull it on? On travelling through the area, the first thing that convinces one that something has to be done is the evidence of appaling poverty. One gets used to this as one travels through the Asian countryside because poverty is always there It is an ever-present burden that has to be borne, and that is another one of the reasons why we have to do something.
Then there is a particular technical problem that has to be faced. Pakistan is losing good irrigable country at the rate of 1 00,000 acres a year and the pressure of population on this diminishing supply of land makes some action even more urgent. But there are even more important issues between India and Pakistan at the moment than these human issues. It should be remembered that this dam, which, as I have mentioned, is the main unit in the scheme, will be in Kashmir and, as we know, Kashmir is a bone of contention between the Indians and the Pakistanis. For that reason it was even more necessary than ever that something should be done. Remember, too, that the stark necessity for this scheme springs from the partition of India and Pakistan - partition where the boundaries cross the rivers, leaving most of the dam sites in India and most of the canals and a good deal of the irrigable land in Pakistan. Therefore, there was a stark necessity to do something and, although it may be expensive, to do it quickly.
It is worth remembering, too, that the area irrigated in the Punjab by the Indus system covers 30 million acres - an area equal to that irrigated in the United States of America, and representing about one eighth of all the irrigated land in the world. There, 40 million people live. Therefore, as I say, it was necessary to do something even though it entailed some sacrifice. Desperate efforts were needed, particularly because of the lack of engineering data, lack of stream gauging information, and so on, in the past. Above all, it was necessary to do something because of the ill feeling that existed between India and Pakistan, inflamed by the difficulties those countries were having over Kashmir.
In the light of all these facts, it was not an easy exercise for the International Bank. I have no real criticism to offer because, looking back over the literature, it became obvious that the decision to build the dam and the estimates of the cost of construction of the various works were made under a cloud of great political uncertainly and under the handicap of absence of adequate technical knowledge. Because of the great need, and as a result of the leadership shown by the International Bank, the Governments of Australia, Canada, West Germany, New Zealand, Pakistan, the United Kingdom, the United States of America, and India came together in a consortium, as it were, to help fill the need. So far as I can see, it was originally estimated that the total cost would be about 814 million dollars. Australia’s share of this was originally expected to be 15.6 million dollars and it is well to realise that this works out at about four per cent, of the original amount of foreign currency that was to be contributed. So, Australia is making a considerable contribution and these things should be put into focus. America’s contribution was fixed at 482 million dollars compared with our 15.6 million dollars. This is another example, if another is needed, of the generosity of American support in this kind of project.
Because of the grave technical and political difficulties I have mentioned, it became obvious that the scheme was going to cost a lot more than was estimated originally. Therefore, it had to be recosted, and Australia’s contribution has been increased from £6.9 million to £11.6 million, an increase of 67 per cent. I do not complain about that. I merely want the House to be aware of what is happening. I will admit that when one visits the scheme, although one’s imagination is stirred by the immensity of the concept, one cannot help but feel concerned that there may be a little too much of the cost-plus system involved, but that is always one of the difficulties which go with large scale international aid projects, and the position has to be faced with particular urgency in this case because of the urgency of the need.
As I have said we are proud - certainly I am - to be able to support a scheme which, in its concept, and, I certainly hope, in its final execution, will play a part in achieving something in which we all believe. I was glad to hear the honorable member for Macquarie (Mr. Luchetti) speak as he did for we are continually hearing about the population explosion. We all know that it is easy to talk about the need for this kind of thing; we now have an opportunity to play our proper part in helping to do something about filling the need and helping these people. It is only proper that we should realise the significance of what we are doing, and, for that reason, I am very glad to support the Bill.
.- This measure has the full support of this Parliament, and in my opinion, rightly so. The project is magnificent in concept from any point of view and only the most selfish of people would criticise the expenditure of the proposed sum of money on a project so far away from Australia. Between the years 1960 and 1970, a total of 1,210 million dollars will be spent on this scheme in the Indus River Basin. That is the equivalent of approximately £A540 million. As the honorable member for Macquarie (Mr. Luchetti) has said, the contribution that Australia has made already is nearly £7 million. Our share of the originally planned cost of 895 million dollars was 15.6 million dollars, but as the scheme has progressed it has been found that there is not enough money to finish the work. A scheme of this magnitude, with its purpose and goal, must be finished. It will not serve its true purpose unless it is finished. That is why the World Bank and the Government of Pakistan have gone into the matter together and decided to add to the original cost another 315 million dollars. Of this extra amount Australia will be required to find £A4,669,643 making Australia’s total contribution to the scheme £A1 1,635,000. Of this amount £A3,270,000 has been paid so far, and the rest has to be paid in instalments by 1970.
In introducing this Bill the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) said -
The Australian Government was glad to participate in this enterprise which means so much to the welfare of the peoples of Pakistan and India and benefits political relations between these two countries.
The Labour Party says “ Amen “ to that. The honorable member for Macquarie, in presenting the Opposition’s supporting case, outlined the details of the scheme very well. I wish to make some general observations in support of the case he put forward. This is one of the world’s greatest efforts in international co-operation to help two countries in political and economic trouble. It is one of the world’s finest stories of the strong helping the weak and the rich helping the impoverished.
– We should have helped with the Aswan dam.
– My friend from Hunter, suggests that through the World Bank the Western countries should have helped the construction of the Aswan Dam on the River Nile. When the West refused to assist Egypt in developing that enormous irrigation project, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics stepped in and did so. That is a story that will go down in history to illustrate weak statesmanship and weak leadership at a time when so much could have been achieved at a relatively small cost compared with the overall figure. I am glad to have the interjection of my honorable friend.
The Indus scheme is one of the best modern illustrations of what a common urgent need can do to heal the wounds of bitterness between two countries. India and Pakistan realised that their survival depended to a great extent on the development of the Indus and its tributaries for the benefit of both countries. Out of a tremendous need to survive the two neighbours decided to end a long and ugly conflict, with the tremendous assistance of the countries mentioned by the honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Kelly). I repeat that this is one of the greatest stories in history. We have become so used to stories of this kind since the war that we may be a bit blase about them. It is interesting to note that since World War II the nations have tackled things that they had never previously thought of tackling in the whole history of civilisation. The United Nations makes the concept of the League of Nations that existed pre-war appear very puny indeed. The United Nations has pushed its frontiers into every nation and has established tremendous agencies to assist backward countries in the field of health, agriculture and research. One could enumerate at least two dozen ways in which the United Nations has pushed the frontiers of humanity throughout the world. The Indus project is one of the greatest examples of communal, international help.
The gigantic scheme will irrigate thousands of acres of parched land. As we know, water is basic to the survival of mankind. It is more important than electric power or any other amenity that honorable members like to name. Without water there can be no life. I am thinking of another canal not so far away from the Indus Basin which runs for more than 100 miles adjacent to the present Suez Canal. As far as I can work out, this fresh water canal was built by the Pharaohs long before the Suez Canal was ever thought of. The Suez Canal, another great project, runs parallel with this old canal of the Egyptians for many miles between Suez and Port Said. Back in those early times, irrigation was thought of and irrigation projects carried out. That canal still exists as a monument to the statesmanship of the Pharaohs and their desire to bring water to the parched land. It is still irrigating the desert from the River Nile.
The work that is being done in the Indus Basin will last probably for a thousand years. We are not doing something that will peter out in two years or five years. This tremendous project will help generations during the next thousand years. Money spent on diverting rivers into deserts, on building dams for irrigation purposes and on the construction of canals to divert water to parched lands should, in my opinion, have a top priority in all countries. Such expenditure should be considered as one of the best sorts of expenditure that any nation can incur.
We in this House know that many more millions of pounds should be spent on a task such as this in Australia, which is one of the driest parts of the world. If only we could carry out the Bradfield scheme for the inland. I hope that some day that scheme will become a reality. We have to think of the necessity to take water from the coast into the inland. We have only just scratched the surface of this problem. Some honorable members have been talking for years about the Burdekin scheme in Queensland. This Government has been in office for 16 years. Its supporters have done most of the talking but still the scheme is not implemented. If we can spend all this money - the total we will spend is more than £11½ million in ten years - on the Pakistan-India project, we should wake up to the necessity for irrigation projects in this country. This measure pinpoints the urgent need to carry out the same kind of work in Australia by changing the courses of rivers to help our inland areas. Mr. Arthur Hatfield has told us in “Australia Unlimited “ that about two million acres of Australia is turning into desert every year. Great sheep stations that once had 100,000 sheep on them now have 40,000. This wastage is going on inexorably. Sand is encroaching on our good soil and if this encroachment is allowed to continue we will not have much of our coastal strip to Live on in the next 20 or 30 years. It is about time we did something to overcome the erosion problem by diverting water into our desert inland. The Snowy Mountains scheme is one of our greatest concepts having been designed for that purpose. Mr. Deputy Speaker, I ask for leave to continue my remarks at a later stage.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
Sitting suspended from 5.45 to 8 p.m.
– I think every Australian, not only members of this Parliament, would be happy to support this Bill, which relates to a splendid example of co-operation by industrially advanced nations in a project designed to assist the less fortunately situated peoples of Pakistan and India. A tremendous programme is being put into operation in those countries. It is a worthwhile programme.
In considering the history of the project with which this Bill is concerned, one must refer to the situation that arose in 1947 when partition brought in its wake the migration of millions of people from one part of the area to the other. This gave rise to tremendous problems, which will be with the people of India and Pakistan for many years to come. Many of the refugees who moved from India to Pakistan and vice versa were farmers who required land and associated resources to enable them to continue with the work they had been doing. If we look at India, for instance, we find that wheat production there is not keeping pace with the population increase. Of course, this situation applies in other countries too.
One of the main aspects of the Indus Basin development project is that of water conservation and irrigation. Irrigation is not new to that part of the world, or to the world generally, having been used satisfactorily for some 2,000 years. Irrigation, however, does play a big part in developing land and in increasing food production. Coupled with irrigation is hydro-electric power. These are the foundations on which primary and secondary industries are built. These two factors are being combined in the project for harnessing the water of the Indus and its tributaries. This is a project which is being developed today although it will take some years to complete. Looking ahead, we see that all nations must continue to harness their natural resources if they are to employ their people and feed them.
I had an opportunity of examining the Mangla dam during the visit of a parliamentary delegation to Pakistan last year. It is a tremendous project. As the honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Kelly) pointed out a short while ago, it is a costly project. But it is proceeding under difficult conditions. We must recognise this. The area concerned is situated right at the north west corner of Pakistan and extends into Kashmir. The problems associated with it are immense but the project undoubtedly will be worth while. Some 10,000 Pakistani workmen are working round the clock on the project. They are using modern machinery and modern techniques of engineering. About 600 engineers from various parts of the world, including some from Australia - and from my own State of Western Australia - are also employed on the project. As I said previously, this is an international development programme designed to assist unfortunate people to help themselves. The Mangla dam reservoir will submerge some 65,000 acres of terrain and will displace 81,000 people. It will be a tremendous task to find new homes and other employment for these people. However, as we look at this development, we realise that it is the start to an expansion of agriculture, which is so important if these people are to be fed. It is extremely important that they use every drop of water available. In the industrial world hydro-electric power is essential. In the years ahead - indeed for hundreds of years - cheap power will be provided to many parts of this area.
I believe that Australia and the other nations of the world must not leave the project at this point but must continue to assist these countries to develop their industrial potential so as to enable them to advance. They cannot advance alone, nor can they do so if other countries of the world place barriers in their way. At present they have some factories. Their peoples have great ability in certain respects, and they must be encouraged to expand their industries. They have the raw materials, the steel and the other wherewithal to expand, but they must be taught how to develop. The peoples of these countries are not well educated. About 80 per cent, of them are illiterate. If they are to advance, they must be educated. These countries are making a genuine attempt to advance in the world, and they will succeed as their peoples gradually become educated, but they must continue to develop their industries.
We know, from our own experience, that primary production alone will not employ the people of this country. When we consider the few people we have in Australia and the vast secondary industries that we have to work with, we can imagine the tremendous difficulties involved in employing hundreds of millions of people in these countries, which have no vast industrial works. I feel that with power, water and assistance from the outside world, plus understanding - which is one of the main factors - these countries can progress. The millions of pounds which are being poured into this particular project will be worth while in the long run. We must regard this as the foundation stone for development. If the rest of the world understands the problems and assists these countries in solving them, they will progress.
Many economic factors are associated with this project - the cost of transport, the cost of port facilities and so forth. Transport and port facilities are not the best in these countries. However, these problems apply to other countries too. Many of the problems will be solved if we give assistance. From my observations, I concluded that these countries need our assistance in research and in engineering. Salt is a problem very evident in West Pakistan, where 20 million acres are already affected. That problem cannot be solved overnight; it can be solved only by modern research work. The present position cannot be permitted to continue. A solution must be found if West Pakistan is to develop its agricultural industries as they should be developed. The problem of excess salt is not unusual, but apparently certain aspects have created difficulty in this region. Pakistan has been an agricultural country for many thousands of years, but the farmers have not known, as we know in Australia, the advantages to be gained from the use of fertilisers. Here again, education is important. The scientists and research workers must prove to these people that the proper application of fertilisers is an answer to many of the problems they encounter in increasing productivity and building up supplies of foodstuffs. We know that it is sometimes difficult to encourage Australian farmers to adopt new scientific aids that are developed from time to time. The House oan imagine how difficult it is in these countries where farming is, in the main, much as it has been for many hundreds of years. But I feel that with our assistance and with that of many of the other countries of the world which have on this occasion given assistance in this matter, both Pakistan and India will progress.
I feel that the Governments of these countries are making a determined effort to solve some of the tremendous problems that have been created over the years and those which have arisen from partition. 1 feel that they will be successful. I have great confidence in them. They are people of great determination. The rights of the individual stand very high in their thoughts. While they continue to work and increase their education, their agriculture and their industry, I believe they will advance and become great nations. It gives me much pleasure to support the measure that is before the House tonight. I hope that, during the years to come, we will follow the trends of this Indus Basin development. I have no doubt whatsoever that we will see great advancements from it in these areas. Had it not been for this body of countries coming together - it was not easy, indeed it was difficult to bring them together to find a solution of this problem and to back it, in a practical way, with pounds, shillings and pence - there could have been a tremendous amount of strife.
Of course it is frightfully important to these countries to have adequate water supplies. This applies in many countries. Here, in Australia, we are beginning to realise the tremendous importance of water in our development, as our population grows, not only for irrigation and domestic use but also for the generation of hydroelectric power and for use in industry. Looking into the future to some extent - and perhaps the not too far distant future - I say that trade, among many other things, will be very important to India and Pakistan. They will have to import raw materials although, of course, they have a tremendous amount of raw materials in their own countries and can develop their industries. But this will not be good enough for them. They must be allowed to trade with other countries and thus become great trading nations. The best way I can see of bringing peace to the countries of the world today is to visit them and try to understand them. We must do this. From my own experience I feel that we cannot understand them unless we visit them and talk to the people and learn to understand their problems. I am satisfied that wherever I have been trade is very important.
These countries want to go ahead. They want to build factories and they want to work. When people are willing to do these things surely we, as civilised people, can get together around a table and sort out our trade problems in order to keep the world’s trade moving. We have much work to do in the fields of engineering, shipping, port facilities, transport, hydro-electric power and many, other things. We must help them to solve their problems, as we are doing by practical application here. From here on, I repeat, we must understand that the real problem is free trade - as free as we can make it - between the developed and under-developed nations of the world.
.- My speech was truncated by the suspension of the sitting and I am very glad to be able to finish it now. I promise not to take very long in doing so. The debate before the House at the moment is a very valuable and important one. This country now joins the ranks of countries which are preparing to spend money from their Consolidated Revenue on the development of other countries. In this case Pakistan and India are to share in the expenditure of £A.540 million on the Indus Basin development. The remarks tonight of the honorable member for Canning (Mr. Hallett), who comes from Western Australia - a very big State which needs millions of gallons of water to make it an even better State - were very wise and well timed. I appreciate his attitude to this type of problem.
The Government of Western Australia is trying to improve the productivity of the north-west corner of that State by the Ord River scheme. We have the Snowy Mountains scheme not far from here and in other parts of Australia we have smaller schemes designed to do the same sort of work as the Indus Basin development scheme. As I said before dinner, this is a challenge to Australia not only to spend money on irrigation projects overseas but also to spend it on Australian irrigation projects. I am convinced that we are not spending enough in Australia to divert our rivers and to water the waterless areas and prevent the erosion that is turning about two million acres of Australia into desert every year. This sort of thing cannot go on and still leave in Australia enough fertile land for us to live on in the next 40 years. We have to stop this flow of sand from the inland which is covering properties in western Queensland and western New South Wales. This Bill is a challenge to Australia to have another good look at what we are doing by way of irrigation in our own country. As we know, irrigation achieves tremendous changes in a district or country. It brings life where there was death and enables production to be doubled and. in some cases, trebled.
I know a farmer who has a very fine property 12 miles from Launceston and who is pumping water out of the Liffey
River. I first examined his scheme only a fortnight ago. He has increased production by exactly 200 per cent, by his own irrigation scheme, for which he had to pay. He is piping water across his property for spray irrigation. We have had potatoes growing under spray irrigation in Tasmania for the last three years. Where growers were getting five tons to the acre, under irrigation they are getting 12 tons.
– Is that in a part of the honorable member’s electorate?
– Yes. This is just an illustration of what water will do, even in country where water is not scarce, so what must this scheme do for Pakistan and India, where the land is parched and arid? Irrigation, once you put it into operation, changes the face of the land entirely and brings to reality the old biblical statement, in Isaiah, about streams in the desert. That is exactly what is to happen in Pakistan and India. Irrigation also enables primary producers to diversify their production, and this is important. Irrigation produces new towns. Population increase follows irrigation and increased production from the soil. What is more important still is that this scheme will enable those two countries to feed their hungry people. We know there are two million people in the world dying from starvation each year, even in this half of the 20th century. In the Asian countries starvation is a common thing, and so is death by starvation. This scheme that we are speaking about will give the Governments of Pakistan and India a chance to produce more food for their people. In that sense Australia is carrying out a great Christian act for these two impoverished countries.
I want to ask a question in conclusion: Can we justify this scale of expenditure? Well, there will be people in Australia who will immediately say: “ No.” There are selfish people who think that we have only to look after our own State or our own nation. Some people even go further than that and say that our job begins and ends with our own town and our own district and who say: “We are not interested in what happens in any other State and we are not interested in what happens in New Zealand, China. South East Asia, Africa, the United States of America, the West Indies, Russia or Pakistan.” There are folk who live the isolated selfish life and they are, of course, a brake on progress in any country, however well-meaning they may be. I feel that this Parliament probably would have the suport of 85 per cent, of the Australian people in an expenditure of this nature.
This is a 10 year project on which £540 million is to be spent by four or five countries. Spread over that lengthy period it does not mean that we will spend very much each year from our revenue to meet our part of the cost. It is not as if we have to find the whole £11 million in one year. It is spread over a period of 10 years. I feel that from every point of view this expenditure is justified. It is justified on humanitarian grounds alone. We are trying to help two countries to meet a human problem - their population problem and the problem of feeding their people. It is justified on the economic level because we are trying to strengthen the economies of these two countries. It is justified on the ground of increasing the quantity and variety of production. It is justified also on the international level in creating goodwill between Australia and these two countries. After all, as the honorable member for Canning said, if we can use trade to build bridges between nations we should do so as fast and as well as we possibly can. This is one way in which we can help to build a bridge between Australia and Pakistan and India. We may need those countries desperately within the next 50 years. This type of help may never be forgotten by them, just as the gift of wheat to India, granted by this Government a few weeks ago, may never be forgotten.
That gift of wheat was long overdue. In fact, about four or five years ago the Russians gave India 50,000 tons of wheat. It was the first big gift they had received from any country. If you want to expand your ideology, if you want other countries to become interested in you, if you want other countries to study your way of life and thinking, the best way to do so is to give them something for nothing - something for no return at all. This gift by the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics five or six years ago must have created a tremendous impression in the minds of the Indian people who were going through that terrible famine. Now Australia has come in at this late hour and has made a very wise and a very commendable decision in making this gift of wheat to India. These are things which help to avoid wars.
If you can spend £10 million on schemes like the one we are speaking of tonight, and by gifts of wheat to India, it will save spending £100 million in a war. This is the greatest investment against war that you can have. We spent millions of pounds in the Territory of Papua and New Guinea in spreading Christianity among the peoples of that Territory from 1870 onwards. That investment was the greatest we could ever have made there because when the Japanese invaded that Territory those peoples stood by Australia. They could have been won over by the Japanese if they had not been introduced to our own way of life through the missionary movements of the various churches and the education they received from church schools. As it was they helped to stop the Japanese. Investment in this sort of work for 70 years returned a dividend which probably saved Australia. These are the things which a bill of this nature brings to mind. It is not just a matter of a gift of money. It is a matter of what can go with it and what can result from it in the years ahead. So I repeat that this expenditure is justified from every point of view that you can think of, particularly in the sense that we are creating a climate between Australia and South East Asia, as it were, that could save us from a war in the not too distant future.
I feel that this scheme is something like a tributary to the Colombo Plan. It is not a part of the Colombo Plan under which nations are pouring money into South East Asia to provide technical assistance, engineering assistance for certain irrigation projects, and for the building of dams of another nature, and by training the people of South East Asia in their universities, but it is similar to the Colombo Plan. It is part of the same concept and ideology, and I therefore would call this scheme a tributary of the Colombo Plan and one for which I am proud to vote. I know every honorable member of this House also will be proud to vote for it. I would have been prepared to give a donation towards this scheme if it had been on that level, even though it concerns an area thousand’s of miles away from Australia.
– That is throwing money around.
– It is not throwing my money around. I am just saying what I would do if the opportunity were available. This scheme is part of the great concept that has grown out of the Second World War and the United Nations, as I said before the suspension of the sitting. Here we have another example of international assistance, of nations getting together to help other nations. There was never anything like it under the League of Nations. By comparison with the United Nations the League of Nations was a pale and anaemic affair. But the United Nations, with its hundreds of agencies, its vast expenditure in the under-developed countries and in all sorts of fields such as health, engineering, education and research, has led the way to a new concept in international and human relations. It has done a magnificent job and this is part of that job. We therefore support it sincerely and absolutely.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Aston) adjourned.
Bill - by leave - presented by Mr. Freeth, and read a first time.
– I move -
That the Bill be now read a second time.
This Bill is designed to amend the Pollution of the Sea by Oil Act 1960. The Principal Act gave effect to the provisions of the International Convention for the Prevention of the Pollution of the Sea by Oil which had been agreed to at an international conference held in London during 1954.
The title of the Convention makes its objects clear. It was drawn up because of a serious and growing problem of the discharge of oil into the sea by ships and the highly undesirable effects this had on fishing operations, beaches, sea birds and the like. This was internationally recognised and the Convention tried to overcome the principal difficulty; namely, the fact that each sovereign power can pass laws to prohibit or control the discharge of oil by ships in its own territorial waters, but no country has power to legislate in respect of the dis charge of oil by foreign ships in nonterritorial waters. The way in which the Convention sought to overcome this difficulty was to require the countries signatory to it to prohibit the discharge of oil by ships flying their flags in speckled zones adjacent to world coastlines.
Certain amendments to the original Convention were agreed to at a conference in London in 1962, but they will not come into force until 12 months after two-thirds of the number of countries which accepted the original Convention have signified acceptance of these amendments. This will not be for some time yet. The general aim of these amendments is to improve the effectiveness of the Convention and this Bill seeks to give effect to the amendments so far as they concern Australia. The amendments extend the types and sizes of the vessels to which the Convention applies. They extend the prohibited zones and they place a total prohibition on the discharge of persistent oil in respect of new ships of over 20,000 tons gross tonnage.
Because the Convention applies both within and outside territorial waters it was considered desirable to apply the provisions of the Convention in Australia by both Commonwealth and State legislation - the State legislation covering the position which occurs inside territorial waters - and before the amendments are fully effective they will require complementary State legislation also. Close collaboration between the Commonwealth and the State Governments has always existed in all matters relating to the pollution of the sea. There has never been any difference of opinion between the States and the Commonwealth on the necessity for such legislation, and the complementary nature of the legislation now enacted is of practical assistance in policing these measures because the States have much better facilities than the Commonwealth for preventing pollution within ports and harbours and within their own territorial waters. I make this comment because the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam) has suggested in another debate that recent High Court decisions have made it unnecessary to seek complementary State legislation. In view of the harmony and co-operation existing on this particular subject, the Government feels that the present approach is by far the best.
I do not propose to examine the details of the Bill in this speech, but there are a few points which may not immediately be clear and to which I would like to refer. The date of coming into operation of the Bill is provided for in clause 2 which lays down that the amendments will come into operation when the amendments of the Convention come into force. This will be when two-thirds of the subscribing powers to the original Convention signify their acceptance of the amendments. To date approximately 13 countries have accepted and the necessary two-thirds in number requires acceptance from 20 countries. It is necessary to postpone the operation of the Act in this way because the jurisdiction of the Commonwealth is exercised pursuant to its external affairs power and therefore should not be exercised until the Convention becomes binding on Australia.
Certain definitions are amended in clause 3 of the Bill. For example, the definitions of “ the sea “ and “ prohibited part of the sea “ constitute a more convenient means of laying down that the prohibited areas under the Act are those laid down in the Convention. In the original Act the prohibited areas were defined in the Third and Fourth Schedules, but they became unnecessary under the method now followed and are being repealed.
Clause 4 repeals section 6 of the original Act. That section specified the ships to which the Act applied, but since the term “Australian ship” is introduced in the amendments and defined under clause 3, section 6 of the original Act becomes redundant. Clause 4 also repeals and replaces section 7 of the original Act which is the main operative section of the Act. This section, which will become section 6, sets out the prohibitions in respect of the discharge of oil and the like which must be embodied in the Act in order to give effect to the Convention as amended. Subject to certain extenuating circumstances which are set out in sub-sections, it will be an offence for an Australian ship to discharge oil or an oily mixture into a prohibited part of the sea or, in respect of an Australian ship of 20,000 tons gross or more, into any part of the sea if the contract for building the ship was entered into after the date of commencement of the amending Act. The prohibited zones laid down under the Convention generally include all the sea within 50 miles of land. The Australian zone, however, extends for 150 miles from land except off the north and north-west coasts where the 50 mile limit applies. The penalty will remain at £1,000 for a breach of the section.
Section 8 of the original Act is repealed and a revised section is also inserted in its stead as section 7. This arises not from the amendments agreed to in the 1962 Convention but from the difficulty of applying the term contained in section 8; namely, “ country to which this Convention applies “. Certain countries have accepted the Convention with reservations and the new section 7 is designed to overcome this problem. The remaining amendments are generally of a consequential or administrative nature. I hope that honorable members opposite are as anxious as is the Government to do everything practicable to overcome the problem of oil pollution and that the Bill will therefore receive the full support of the House.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Beazley) adjourned.
– I present the following paper -
Commonwealth Parliamentary Association - Tenth Commonwealth Parliamentary Conference, Kingston, Jamaica, November 1964 - Report of Delegation from Commonwealth of Australia Branch - and move -
That the House take note of the paper.
The report that I have just presented relates to the visit of the delegation from the Commonwealth of Australia to the Tenth Commonwealth Parliamentary Conference which was held in Kingston, Jamaica, last November. The report of the proceedings of the Conference has now been printed. It will be available to all honorable members within the next few days. Some honorable members may have received copies of it already. It is particularly fitting that this debate should take place while we have with us in Canberra and, in fact, in the precincts of the House a distinguished visitor, namely the Honorable Blair Tennent, the Chairman of the General Council of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association for 1965.
This is the first time that a report on the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association conference has been presented to this House. The fact that this House wishes to formally consider this report and to debate the recommendations is, I believe, significant. Honorable members will realise that at this conference there were two or three matters which arose which to my mind could be of profound significance to the whole future not only of the Association but also to the whole of the Commonwealth of Nations. I believe that this similar pattern will grow in importance at future conferences. It is important therefore that this House should consider the issues that arose at the conference in Jamaica and should give thought to the views that should be expressed at future conferences by members of this House when these and similar matters again arise for discussion.
Members will note from the report that a critical situation arose in relation to the presence of delegates from Southern Rhodesia. There is no doubt that this situation could have involved a walk-out of some of the branch delegates. If this had happen-d. I believe that there would have been a deep split in the Association. This split would have deepened in the Association and would have then endangered the future relations of the whole Commonwealth of Nations. I think, however, that it is significant also, as honorable members will see from the report, that at the moment when the situation reached its crisis in the General Council, there was a realisation by all delegates that the future of the Association was of even greater importance than the issues arising from the situation in Southern Rhodesia. I believe that this augurs well for the future of the Association. The Commonwealth of Nations may have reason to be confident that future crises will be surmounted in as successful a manner as that in which this matter was solved at Kingston. All of us felt that the successful conclusion of this debate was aided to a great extent by the wisdom of last year’s Chairman of the Association, the Honorable Donald Sangster, Deputy Prime Minister of Jamaica.
It is quite clear to me that the issue of race relations will continue to be debated at future conferences. There was some evidence that our own views on these matters were not well understood in some parts of
Africa. I quote an extract from a speech by Dr. K. D. Konoso, a delegate from the new nation of Zambia, which will be found at page 238 of the report of the proceedings. He said -
I want to request the Australian delegates to deliver my humble message to their Government requesting that that Government do away with its white Australia policy and allow races other than white to migrate to Australia. Racial segregation fosters only racial friction and racial friction promotes disaster and war. Maybe there is a difference between the Australian white immigration policy and the policy of Southern Rhodesia and Africa. Perhaps the Austraiian delegation could enlighten me on this point because 1 do not see much difference.
This comment, fortunately, was an isolated instance at this conference, but I do think that it demonstrates the fact that delegates of the newer nations of Africa had little knowledge of the true situation that exists in this Commonwealth of Australia. For this reason amongst others, the delegation puts forward among its conclusions which will be found on page 25 of the report proposals for increasing the opportunities for interparliamentary visits.
Honorable members will remember that these proposals were referred to at the Prime Ministers’ Conference in London in June of last year. This matter was again debated in November at Kingston. There seems to be an increasing acceptance by all branches of the Association of the need for an increase in these visits between members of the various parts of the Commonwealth, since the end of the conference. There has been news also that other nations of the Commonwealth - Tanzania and Zambia - have taken note also of the proposals that the Australian branch put up at the conference and have felt that they would like to increase the visits made by their delegates to other parts of the Commonwealth. I think there is a realisation now of the importance of these inter-parliamentary visits and a move possibly will take place to increase them, I hope, in the coming 12 months.
Honorable members will note the other conclusions and recommendations contained at the end of this report. The majority of these conclusions relate to ways in which the organisation of the conference itself can be improved so that greater value will come from the debates. Another important recommendation concerns the relationship between the annual conference of Commonwealth Prime Ministers and the annual conference of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association. There is a growing realisation that there should be greater co-ordination between these two conferences and that this co-ordination could well be achieved through the work of the proposed secretariat. It is hoped that further steps in this direction can be taken during the coming year.
Finally, I should like to refer to the most encouraging part of the conference. This concerned the attitude which was taken by delegates at the conference to the stirring appeal made by the Leader of the Malaysian delegation for assistance in meeting Indonesian confrontation. Quite rightly in my mind, the Malaysian delegate stated that this issue was a test case for the Commonwealth. If the Commonwealth meant anything at all, it surely meant that other members of the family should give support when one of its members is the victim of unprovoked aggression, lt was quite apparent from the speeches made by delegates from other countries that they were anxious to record their support for Malaysia in her hour of need.
Mr. Deputy Speaker, the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association has grown rapidly over the past 10 years. It now comprises 93 separate branches. At the annual conference, the numbers grow. This year, there were 122 delegates at Jamaica. The numbers are likely to be increased at the conference to be held in Wellington, New Zealand, later this year. Not only does the size of the Association grow, but also the seriousness of the matters debated at the conference also deepens. In my mind, therefore, it is important that this House should consider these matters earnestly. I am glad that this House is receiving this report today. I trust that the debate which follows will be of value to the delegates who will be selected by this branch as our representatives to the forthcoming conference in Wellington.
We all know the importance that we attach to the deliberations of the annual meetings of the United Nations. I want to emphasize the fact that many of the important issues debated at the United Nations are also raised at the annual conference of the Com monwealth Parliamentary Association. But, at the C.P.A., we have the benefit of being able to debate these matters in a more intimate atmosphere. We have the inestimable benefit that we are all able to speak the same language. We are able, therefore, to understand each other’s point of view much more rapidly than delegates do at other world-wide gatherings. I believe that these annual conferences can be made to play a much more vital part in finding solutions to world tensions than has been realised possibly by many of us during the past few years. This is certainly the message that I would like to convey to the House on my return to Jamaica. In particular, I believe that we should endeavour to get amongst us all a greater knowledge of our colleagues in the newly emerging nations in Africa and that we should try to give them also the opportunity to get to know Australia.
Mr. Deputy Speaker, I have much pleasure in presenting this report. I should like to thank all the delegates who were with me in Jamaica for the assistance that they gave me during the conference. This includes not only you, Sir, and the other delegates from this Parliament, but also those delegates from the State Governments of this Commonwealth of Australia. I think we would all like to pay a special tribute to the great assistance that we received from the secretary to the delegation who is also the Clerk of this House.
.- I am very happy to associate myself with the motion moved by the Minister for Air (Mr. Howson), who was the leader of the Australian delegation to the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association conference in Jamaica. I would be less than generous, and it would be contrary to my make-up, if I did not .pay a tribute to the leadership of the Minister at that conference. He was personally a delightful man to associate with and he was hospitable in the extreme. He made the job of acting as delegate to the conference quite a pleasant one. Although he met with severe competition on the part of the Jamaican Government our Australian leader came to the fore and I believe we were all very happy to be associated with him and to enjoy his leadership. The Minister has given a factual report of what took place at the conference. It was quite an experience for me to be in attendance at this conference in Jamaica and to associate with so many people from other parts of the world. I think there were, as the Minister has said, 93 units of the Commonwealth of Nations represented at the conference. There were representatives from all parts of the world in various kinds of dress and of different colours.
I want to make one observation. There is a tendency in Australia to continue to use a phrase that is completely outmoded, to refer to the organisation in question as the British Commonwealth. Nothing could be further from a true description than the use of this designation in referring to the organisation. The Commonwealth of Nations is not British. Many of the members of it, the majority I would say, resent being called British. These are nations which have emerged from colonial rule and which, in many cases, have bitter memories of colonial rule. They are trying to throw off the yoke and they regard themselves as being completely nationalistic and independent.
It was an honour to sit in at the discussions and hear various issues raised. One of the important issues, in the discussion of which quite a number of delegates took part, concerned trade and aid. The “have not” nations were asking for more aid from the nations that have the wealth and the industrial capacity and who are members of the Commonwealth of Nations, principally the United Kingdom and Canada. Australia is one of those countries that are in between. It is a country that is partially industrially developed and a country that is developing and needs more and more assistance.
But I am naturally a pessimistic individual and I always look for a situation that could be worse than that which exists today. While there are many honorable members who feel that the Commonwealth is a grand organisation which is going from strength to strength, I believe that there are dangers in the situation at the present time. There is much evidence of cracks developing in the Commonwealth of Nations. I was fortunate enough to be invited, on the way to Jamaica, to visit three of the Commonwealth countries on the African continent. I also visited the Republic of South Africa. My visits to those places, particularly Rhodesia, Tanganyika and Zanzibar as they then were - they have now joined to form Tanzania - and Kenya, left me with misgiv ings as to the future. 1 believe that Africa is a continent which will present great world problems within the very near future. Racialism is an issue that is very much to the forefront of problems of that continent. Whilst I make this observation only in passing, and I would not intentionally commit any breach of the Standing Orders, I would say that in South Africa itself there are great problems which have caused resentment throughout the African continent.
I was in Rhodesia at a time when a very bitter election was being fought. Grave concern was felt and there was fighting in the streets. A very real problem has arisen in that country. It was a white-dominated country in which the Africans were enormously in the majority in numbers but in a hopeless minority as regards democratic and voting rights. Yet as we went further north to Tanzania and Kenya we found the reverse position. There is a growing tendency, as I said earlier, for racialism to assert itself and to overshadow all other issues, and I believe that real cracks are developing in the Commonwealth structure in Africa, where there is a grave threat to the Commonwealth and to the peace of the world.
Trade is perhaps the most important ingredient in binding the units of the Commonwealth today, and I believe that trade between Commonwealth countries is tending to break up. Various member nations of the Commonwealth are displaying a tendency to trade with countries that are not members of the Commonwealth of Nations. The countries df the West Indies are looking more and more to the United States of America. Jamaica has recently gained independence from the United Kingdom, although it remains a member of the Commonwealth and still recognises the Queen as the head of the Jamaican Government. Jamaica is looking more and more to the United States. The economy of that country is dependent for the most part on the aluminium industry, which is wedded completely to the United States. Jamaica is, of course, a great producer of sugar and rum. The rum is exported to the United States. Other spirits, for example gin, are exported to Canada. I cannot speak of the quality of the gin that is produced in Jamaica.
Jamaica is facing a migration problem, with which the United Kingdom is also vitally concerned. The problem facing the United Kingdom in this respect is that country’s own business, but I may say that Jamaica is also very concerned about the matter. This could cause difficulties in the near future and a weakening of the ties between Jamaica and the United Kingdom. Canada, I feel, is torn by troubles internally. Economically and industrially it is becoming more and more tied to the United States, and, of course, globally it is almost a part of the United States at the present time. So, Mr. Deputy Speaker, as I said earlier, I am somewhat pessimistic about the future of the Commonwealth. I am not delighted to be taking this stand, but I feel I must, in fairness to myself and in giving a report to the members of this House who were kind enough to send me to Jamaica, state things as I see them.
There is a move to establish a Commonwealth Secretariat. Just what it will do has not yet been decided, but I feel that the Secretariat, if established, will serve a useful purpose. Delegates representing a majority of the countries, did not want the Secretariat to be established in London. They felt that, as the Commonwealth is no longer a British Commonwealth or a white Commonwealth, the Secretariat should be established in one of the new countries. According to the discussions that I had with the African delegates, they felt that the Secretariat’s headquarters should be established in one of the newly independent countries of Africa.
Looking to the future, I feel that there is a great opportunity for cementing friendships - as we propose to do under the Indus Basin development legislation which we debated earlier today - between some of the countries bordering the Indian Ocean in the immediate vicinity of Australia. In the interests of world peace and of development, much could be done to develop a union or a Commonwealth of the countries in Africa, the countries of the Indian subcontinent, Malaysia in the east and Australia in the south. We ali have a common interest and we should do all we can to build up the goodwill that exists, to some extent, between us today.
I feel that it would be of great benefit to this nation if facilities were made available to all members of this Parliament at various times to visit the African continent.
I am indebted to the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) and to the Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr. McEwen), who was then Acting Prime Minister, for making these facilities available to me. I am very fortunate in having been able to visit Africa. There are real problems in Africa. We tend to take our views from the reports in the “ Sydney Morning Herald “, the “ Bulletin “, the “ Courier Mail “ and in some cases the extreme leftist newspapers. It is a good thing not to be blinded by reports in these papers which are of various shades of political opinion but to go and see the countries for ourselves. I feel better informed as a result of having gone to Africa and having seen the frightful problems that are facing the governments and the people there.
It has been said that Tanzania, a republic on the east coast of Africa, is the political battleground of Africa today. There are various ideologies battling for the minds of the men of the country. There is a tendency for Fascism to grow because the one-party system of government is developing on this continent. Tribalism is still a force in the lives of the people.
Now, Mr. Deputy Speaker, there are reasons why we can look to the future with hope, as far as the countries bordering the Indian Ocean are concerned. There is the Colombo Plan, to which Australia is a party. We are making a great contribution to the development of the countries that are signatories to the Plan. We are a member of the South East Asia Treaty Organisation. We have an interest with these countries on the cultural, the educational and the defence planes. I feel that we should try to develop trade and goodwill with them because I believe that Australia can play a great role in the maintenance of, perhaps, a limited Commonwealth. It certainly can give leadership in the matter on which I have touched.
Australia is highly regarded by the countries that comprise the Commonwealth of Nations. Some of the older countries are not regarded with the same esteem as is Australia. We should do all that we can to maintain the goodwill that exists, and, if possible, to extend it. What the future holds, of course, we shall see as time goes by. I think there will be many changes in the future; perhaps in the immediate future. I hope that they will be of advantage to all the countries that comprise the Commonwealth of Nations and that we will continue, as we have in the past, to give encouragement to those countries.
I hope that the Commonwealth is maintained. It is a force for good; There are many forces in the world today that do not exist for the good of the great masses of the people. The Commonwealth of Nations is an organisation that will help to develop the backward nations, to weld them into one common family and, I hope, to promote peace in the world. I again say that I am very grateful to my party for having selected me to go to Jamaica,, and to the Parliament for having approved of my being a member of the delegation.
– I very much welcome the motion which is before us tonight and the occasion of it. In the course of a parliamentary year, from time to time this Parliament examines and discusses issues of foreign affairs as they affect Australia, but it has seemed to me for many years that we have neglected, despite the importance of the issues involved, our relationship as a member of the Commonwealth of Nations with the problems of the Commonwealth. We are here as parliamentarians, and I am happy to say that this is a discussion in which we can talk as fellow parliamentarians, regardless of the section of the Parliament in which we sit. This is not a party issue. We can look constructively and helpfully at the issues of the Commonwealth and sec whether we cannot play some part in strengthening an association which can mean so much to the progress and the peace of the world.
The Parliament is, to us, the truest and most effective expression of democratic principles, an institution fashioned out of centuries of experience. To us of the now quite prolific progeny of the mother of Parliaments at Westminster, parliamentary democracy is almost as vital as life itself. It is the guardian and guarantee of freedom in the kind of community in which we live. So when we come to discuss particular matters such as those which have been raised tonight we are indebted to the Minister for Air (Mr. Howson) and the honorable member for Griffith (Mr. Coutts) for what they have said in relation to the conference of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association which they have just attended.
I should like to add to the tribute which I feel sure members of this House would wish to pay to the able leadership of the delegation by my colleague, the Minister for Air, and the team support that he gained from other members of the delegation. Now that this precedent has been established tonight, I hope that on subsequent occasions when we discuss reports on conferences of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association, I shall be joining in with a more topical discussion than that which I contribute now.
I take this occasion to look backwards and say something about the origins of this Association and its significance, and perhaps I shall then attempt, if time permits, to look forward a little. I am prompted to look backwards because on 9th January a very remarkable man, Sir Howard d’Egville, died. From the outset he was the principal executive of what we now know as the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association. From 1911 until 1959, a span of 48 years, he was intimately associated in that capacity with this Association. Undoubtedly it is true to say that there would not be an Association today had it not been for the tenacity, the determination and the devotion of this Englishman of vision and courage dedicated from the outset to a task which his own vision showed him to be one of the most rewarding to which he could devote his ability and his life.
I said in Canberra in 1959, on the occasion of Sir Howard’s retirement, that when the history of the Association is written it will be found to have been very considerably a biography of Sir Howard d’Egville himself. I did not realise fully how truly I had spoken until, since his death, I studied the contribution which this man made to the development of our Association. Let me remind some of the newer members of the Parliament how the organisation came into existence. In 1911 it was decided that representatives from the five Parliaments of the fully self-governing countries of the British Empire - dominions they were then styled - should be invited to attend the coronation of King George V. A Lords and Commons committee for the entertainment of dominion parliamentarians was formed at the beginning of the year and Howard d’Egville was invited to be its honorary secretary. The necessary funds were raised and a full programme for the visitors was arranged. This included luncheon in Westminster Hall, that historic shrine of parliamentary occasions and, indeed, of other great historical occasions in the long story of British parliamentary evolution.
Before the visit was over a suggestion was made by the late Mr. Leo Amery, M.P., that a permanent body should be formed under the name of the Empire Parliamentary Association to consist of branches in the fully self-governing dominions. Howard d’Egville was asked to be the honorary secretary of the United Kingdom branch. As early as July of that year he had drafted a constitution for the Association which was accepted and which guided the progress of the Association thereafter. I will not weary the House with all the detail of that early constitution, but it did include in its objectives the establishment of permanent machinery to provide more ready exchange of information and to facilitate closer understanding and more frequent intercourse between those engaged in the parliamentary government of the component parts of the Empire. This was in 191 1. The United Kingdom branch was formed immediately and branches in the Parliaments of Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Newfoundland, which was then a dominion, were formed the next year and in that of the Union of South Africa the following year, making six branches in all. Rather interestingly, having regard to the subsequent development of a multi-racial association of nations within the Commonwealth, these were associations, at that time, of branches of European race.
The United Kingdom branch was active from the outset. In 1913 about 15 of its members made a tour of Canada, New Zealand, Australia and South Africa. Mr. Leo Amery, in his autobiography “ My Political Life “, commented that “ the detailed arrangements were handled most efficiently by our own indefatigable secretary, d’Egville”. Also, the publication of a journal on the lines of the subsequent “ Journal of the Parliaments of the Commonwealth “ was considered, and it was only the outbreak of the First World War which postponed this.
The branch continued to hold its executive committee and annual general meetings throughout the war period, and in 1916 something like a conference took place - a “ war visit “ it was termed - of Empire parliamentarians. Howard d’Egville took a post in the secretariat of the Imperial War Cabinet, but he managed to keep on the secretaryship of the branch. In 1918 he was awarded a C.B.E. for his services. In the same year he succeeded, after much persistent effort, in moving the authorities to allow the branch to have its offices in the Houses of Parliament, and it was settled in the rooms off Westminster Hall where it still remains. Sir Howard often expressed his satisfaction at having obtained from His Majesty King George V a letter of warm approval of this acquisition. Once the war was over the Association went ahead rapidly. In 1921 d’Egville, for his energy and efficiency, had conferred upon him a knighthood in the order of which he was already a distinguished member so that he became Sir Howard d’Egville, K.B.E.
In 1920 was published the first number of the “ Journal of the Parliaments of the Empire “ as it was then styled. Now it is known, of course, as the “Journal of the Parliaments of the Commonwealth “. During the war, under the auspices of the Foreign Office, d’Egville had, on behalf of the branch, issued several pamphlets giving a review of foreign affairs. After the war ended the branch continued this practice and the result was the issue of the “ Report on Foreign Affairs “ published in the sams year, at first every two months and later every quarter. These two publications are now in their 46th year.
The first conference proper took place in South Africa in 1924. This was followed at two-yearly intervals by conferences in Australia and Canada. The economic depression precluded their continuation for several years. It was in the 1920’s that Sir Howard seems to have been responsible for an innovation which was to establish a principle of growth. This was ultimately to shape the present form of the Association. The original constitution laid down that the Empire Parliamentary Association should consist of branches in the Parliaments of the self-governing dominions of the EmpireThe innovation introduced was to extend membership to the legislatures of countries which were only partially independent. In 1924 a branch was formed in the Parliament of Northern Ireland. In the next year, branches were established in Southern Rhodesia and Malta, and in the following two years in the State Parliaments of Australia - a project that had long been mooted. In 1929, branches were formed in the legislatures of British India and Ceylon - vitally important accessions to the development of the Association. Following this, came the formation of branches in the provinces of Canada and in some of the smaller colonies. Bermuda, the Bahamas, Mauritius and Jamaica all formed branches before the outbreak of the Second World War. After the war, branches were formed in several of the African and Caribbean colonies.
During the 1930’s, once the slump was over, the Association continued to develop. There was a visit of Empire parliamentarians on the occasion of the jubilee of King George V. Before a similar visit two years later for the coronation of King George VI, Sir Howard d’Egville had another inspiration. For many centuries of British history, it had been the custom on the occasion of the crowning of a British monarch to hold the coronation banquet in Westminster Hall and, in the past, the monarch had acted as host to bring around him a body of his most senior and most distinguished citizens. This practice, however, had been discontinued since the reign of King George IV. Sir Howard conceived the idea of reviving this custom by means of a luncheon given in that same historic building to honour the new king and at which visiting parliamentarians from the Commonwealth and Empire, and other distinguished guests, would be present. This was accordingly held. At that time, the United Kingdom Branch acted as host.
When Queen Elizabeth was about to come to her coronation, we discussed what might be done in a somewhat similar manner and, again, we had what I believe will be agreed was something of an inspira-lion. We considered that, rather than look to the United Kingdom to act as host on this occasion, all the Parliaments of the Commonwealth should combine. So there we were, 700 parliamentarians met together in Westminster Hall to honour for the first time in history by this parliamentary banquet a monarch coming to a corona tion. It was a my great privilege to be Chairman of the Association at that time. I am sure that the House will understand me when I say that it was one of the most stirring experiences of a lifetime in public affairs not merely to have the emotional delight of being seated next to our Monarch but also to see before one 700 representatives from a total at that time of some 50 branches of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association. I was interested this evening to hear from my colleague, the Minister for Air, that the Mother of Parliaments can now point to 93 branches of the Association within the Commonwealth of Nations - a really remarkable manifestation of the spread of democratic practice through so many parts of our Commonwealth.
It is perhaps of some significance for us that as we discuss these matters tonight we have in the precincts, as my colleague has pointed out, the present Chairman of the General Council of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association, the Hon. W. B. Tennent, whom we can perhaps classify as a fellow Anzac, since he comes from New Zealand. It is perhaps of significance also that seated in the gallery facing me as I speak are some of our friends from our own Territories. No doubt they will be gathering from the narrative that I am unfolding - I hope not too tediously - something of the story of the evolution of this great Association to which we are so proud to belong.
During the Second World War, Sir Howard d’Egville went to the United States of America before the Americans entered the war. In Washington, he carried out some very valuable liaison work of a highly confidential nature. He had for some time been convinced of the importance of maintaining and improving friendly relations between the countries of the British Commonwealth and Empire, particularly the United Kingdom, on the one hand, and the United States on the other, and he conceived his particular task as doing this through the medium of their legislators. In 1943, on Sir Howard’s initiative, a British-American Parliamentary Group was formed in the United Kingdom Parliament with this object, and he became its Honorary Secretary and remained so until his death. He realised that Congress was widely separated from the United States
Administration, in a constitutional Sen.e and yet very powerful; hence a liaison between the two legislative bodies was highly desirable. Therefore, in 1950, he arranged with the governing body of the Association that a delegation from Congress be invited to attend the Commonwealth Parliamentary Conference in that year. This has become a regular practice and, ever since, a delegation from the United States Senate has regularly attended the Association’s conferences, except on one occasion. We hope that this practice continues.
After the war, the Association continued to progress, and a number of new branches were formed. The more recent history of this organisation is, I think, well known to honorable members, but, just before 1 conclude, may I add this comment: In my own Parliamentary lifetime, I have seen the transformation of the Commonwealth of Nations and conferences of Prime Ministers of the Commonwealth from a situation in which all the Prime Ministers were able to meet quite comfortably in the Cabinet Room at No. 10 Downing Street. In the early years, all were of European race and had very much the same general outlook and ideas. It was not difficult for them to reach a consensus on the issues with which the Commonwealth was .concerned, particularly in the international field.
– India was represented.
– I am speaking now of my early years. I am coming to the point raised by the honorable gentleman. [Extension of time granted.] I thank the House for extending my time. I shall not take very much longer. However, it is perhaps well that these things should at some time be placed in the records of the Parliament for those who later may have some research interest in the development of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association. The number of us who have any recollection of these events is diminishing.
My friend, the honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Beazley), raised a point about Indian participation. One of the significant revolutionary stages was reached when, in 1948, India, Pakistan and Ceylon were admitted to the Association. Although the earlier character of the Commonwealth seemed to continue for some years, we were then moving towards the stage, which has now become so manifest to us, of a multiracial association of peoples. I was vividly reminded of this at two recent gatherings. At the last Prime Ministers’ Conference, there were at the table 18 representatives, I think, of self governing Dominions of the Commonwealth. Only four were of European race. I had a similar experience at the conference of Commonwealth Finance Ministers in Kuala Lumpur last year. This is much more than a minority participation by representatives of European race with those from Africa and Asia. It is not merely a matter of racial difference. There are some tremendous differences in outlook and in objectives which, unless they are handled with skill, understanding and tolerance and a recognition of the interests and viewpoints of others, could lead to the early destruction of the Commonwealth. That to me would be one of the great disasters not only of a lifetime but of world history.
I am convinced that we in this Commonwealth of Nations embody the noblest objectives and the highest ideals and aspirations of mankind. If we can demonstrate to the rest of the world that peoples of many races, differing so markedly in tradition, habit and appearance and in all the characteristics that separate one human being from another, can combine in a democratic spirit with common objectives, in the main inspired by the principles of democracy as they are enshrined in the parliamentary institution, and can work co-operatively together for the growing prosperity of the world and the strengthening of the prospects of peace, we will have made the greatest contribution to the world that we could in our lifetimes.
I believe that this is quite a fragile plant at present. There is a disposition - an understandable disposition - for some of the newly emerged nations in the Commonwealth from Africa and Asia to think rather of an Afro-Asian alliance than of their membership of the Commonwealth. I believe that, given time, they will discover a greater value in their membership of the Commonwealth family than in the sort of factional politics that exist in the AfroAsian alliance, which after all is divisive and at worst would be destructive of much of what we hope to achieve in the world. Whereas an alignment of the one kind is divisive and destructive, an association of the kind to which we are committed is cooperative and constructive and holds out to the world some prospect of a peaceful collaboration in the future. We for our part as a Commonwealth Parliament and through our branch of the Association must do all that we can to strengthen the Commonwealth of Nations. We can play a not insignificant part in that objective if we give our support to the Association, see that we are well represented at the conference to which we send our delegations and have our members there devote themselves assiduously to the tasks of the conference and at the same time demonstrate to our colleagues from other parts of the Commonwealth that, despite any differences of race and other factors that may seem to indicate a difference of attitude or habits between us, we share ideals and objectives that are much firmer than are the factors that appear on the surface to divide us.
Having said that, Mr. Speaker, I again welcome the opportunity provided to us tonight to say something about an aspect of our parliamentary life that will have a growing importance in the years ahead if we prepare ourselves to regard it as of significance and from time to time use to the best advantage the opportunities presented for constructive discussion about it.
.- The Commonwealth and the Empire before it hit many countries as’ a revolutionary force. lt was a revolution by inadvertence. It is a revolution if political institutions are changed. It is a deeper revolution if philosophies are changed. It is a fundamental revolution if motives in living and character are changed. Entirely new goals were given to millions in Asia and Africa because of the impact of imperialism. Rajmohan Gandhi, grandson of the Mahatma, recently commented on the fact that many of his grandfather’s ideas were derived from’ Great Britain during the time of his residence in London. We know that ideas of democracy and social reform were derived from Great Britain by men like Nehru and subsequently applied against the continuance of the Raj. Ideas contrary to the caste systems were revolutionary ideas in India, and figures of British imperial history such as Sir Henry Lawrence who launched tremendous attacks on such institutions as the caste systems in India were in the social sense revolutionary figures.
In this sense, the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association needs to be a revolutionary force. It needs to be an instrument to transform societies for human dignity and wellbeing, an instrument to make stable independence work and an instrument for strong parliamentary institutions, which means, first and foremost, institutions free from corruption and imbued with vision and a constructive purpose. I sometimes think that if we learned the history of our own country properly we would notice that one of the most important transformations that took place in our history arose because of the ending of corruption in the British Parliament. The British Parliament which founded Australia in 1788 was a grossly corrupt Parliament. It rid itself of the Irish Parliament in 1801 by methods of the grossest corruption. But when men like Wilberforce had transformed the values of the British Parliament, in the 40 years after the foundation of Australia, an entirely different vision for this country came into the British Parliament. In 1789, all that a corrupt Parliament could envisage was a negative penal colony. By 1829, a Parliament with better values started to found in Australia a series of free colonies with free settlement and began to have a vision of this country as a nation. One of the problems in certain areas of the Commonwealth of Nations today is corruption and examination shows that corrupt Parliaments have no vision, just as a corrupt Parliament had no real vision for this country at the time of its foundation in 1788.
We need to be quite certain that the values expressed by our delegates to the conferences of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association back transition to what is right. I think the House will respect the suggestion of the Minister for Air (Mr. Howson) that visits by members of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association should be increased. I hope that they are. I hope that we show generous hospitality ourselves. But the unification of the Commonwealth will not rest primarily on increased visits; it will rest primarily on a common purpose big enough to unify the component parts. Are we in the Commonwealth prepared to unite in an immense effort to transform the material conditions of the Commonwealth in the underdeveloped areas and to transform illiteracy and, in the moral condition of the Commonwealth, to end corruption, oppression, race division and bitterness? I do not mean by denunciation of one another in these matters; I mean by a transformation of values - such a transformation of values as that which turned the corrupt British Parliament of the 18th century into the clean Parliament of the era of Gladstone and Disraeli. As the structure of the Commonwealth of Nations has become more and more elusive to describe because the removal of even the common Crown has made it constitutionally formless, the opportunities of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association have increased. As a conference of Commonwealth Parliamentarians it is becoming one of the most substantial links that there is in the Commonwealth. Potentially it can help foster ideas such as the rule of law, clean elections, constructive opposition and parliamentary authority. These things are vital in producing a sane world.
Some very great experiments are taking place in the Commonwealth. Africa, with independence coming in country after country over the last five years, is the venue for what is probably the greatest experiment in human freedom. The African nations have massive unemployment problems - Nigeria, for instance, has a million people unemployed - massive housing problems, grave problems of nutrition - especially kwashiorkor, the protein deficiency condition - and problems of corruption. They have come into existence in a world of ideological conflict. Recently, Dr. Hastings Banda of Malawi claimed that Communist China had offered £18 million sterling for recognition and that bribes of £10,000 a head were being offered from the same source to key politicians. Africa needs a political leadership of almost miraculous quality, one which cannot be bought, one which cm maintain passion and conviction in the face of illiteracy and social inertia, one that can maintain compassion in the face of some savagery, one that can maintain associations and alliances without subservience, and on; that can swiftly absorb political lessons accumulated by others more fortunate over some centuries. This is an immense programme. When we are critical let us remember that this is an immense programme such as our race has never been called upon to face. To effect this programme, Africa needs a vast number of people imbued with a selfless passion. That is what I meant when I referred to the need for an almost miraculous quality.
If the Commonwealth chooses to be an association of powers existing for purposes higher than narrow self interest, it has before it an immense task in co-operation, and in this co-operation the methods can be intelligently studied and recommended by the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association. The revolution of independence required courage; the revolution of independence now requires character, for in Africa, Asia and elsewhere whole States can simply fold up through sheer corruption. A revolutionary passion to achieve independence was comparatively easy to come by; a revolutionary passion to build nationhood, to cure corruption and to make national character a priority is something else again. It is far harder to transform the values of a community than to change its constitution - harder, but more necessary. In the United Kingdom, when Wilberforce and others transformed values they also transformed the constitution. But the past plagues Africa and Asia. Mr. Shastri, the Prime Minister of India, said on taking office: “ I do not have a clean slate on which to write “. I would add that none of the new States of Africa has a clean slate on which to write. They have legacies of savagery and some have legacies of slavery, but all have a state of underdevelopment with which to contend - poverty, illiteracy, immense social need and. again, corruption.
When Rajmohan Gandhi, the grandson of the Mahatma, started a moral rearmament campaign in India on the subject of corruption, on the sadism which leaves people to die in the streets and on the indifference which causes farmers in some of the best areas to farm only for their own subsistence, growing only one crop where they could grow three or four in the year, he was attacking the inertia underlying many of India’s problems. These problems are, of course, not unique to India, and neither is moral inertia, but this is absolutely essential work.
The Finance Minister of India says that 60 per cent, of income tax and 80 per cent, of sales tax remains unpaid. The railways lose because of multitudes travelling without paying fares. The Indian Parliament recently had before it . a report of one of its committees which described corruption in India as galloping. The report said -
The erosion of moral values and the utter disregard of ethical standards have caused the tentacles of corruption to envelop the entire life of the nation. Moral values have slumped to the bottom. Truth and honesty have become .things of the past. The common man has lost faith in the Government. Unless honesty at all government levels is ensured, the country’s social structure will crumble, bringing in its wake chaos and anarchy.
This report was adopted by the Indian Parliament. Actually only a revolution of national character can cure this. Education is not achieving it, for education, in many cases, is part of the corruption. A force of youth trained by Rajmohan Gandhi - youths who have made restitution for their own corruption and live a new quality of discipline - is being listened to in the Indian villages which once responded to the discipline and passion of Mahatma Gandhi. This is the kind of appeal which can reach the Indian villager.
India was attacked by China and showed the will and conviction to resist, but no mere ideological defensiveness can be India’s moral strategy in Asia. Asia will choose democracy if India lives it, and Communism if India does not. Unless India can develop a quality of integrity, will, conviction, courage and compassion, in a superior idea lived out that will shake to its foundations the ideology of Communism, based on coercion, China’s idea will inevitably triumph in Asia. Free men with a passion for justice and integrity, lived out, are the only real answer to disciplined men with a passion for world power based on class hate. This is the essence of Rajmohan Gandhi’s campaign for a moral renaissance in India.
Economic plans are absolutely vital, but they can collapse before corruption. The Commonwealth Parliamentary Association can become a moral force if it takes seriously the task of guiding member governments to go to the roots of the problems of the Commonwealth. Professor D. R. Shenoy, who is one of India’s representatives on the International Monetary Fund and formerly Director of Research for the Reserve Bank of India, from his examination of India’s administration came to the conclusion that corruption was running at the rate of bribes worth £565 million sterling a year. It is plain realism to back anything that lifts national character. It is plain realism to see that, in part, Australia’s security rests on the character of other peoples or falls with their weakness.
My colleague, the honorable member for Yarra (Dr. J. F. Cairns), has quoted Lieutenant-General James M. Gavin of the United States Air Force as having said, in relation to future war -
In fact this is the most probable nature of future war, a slow, almost imperceptible transition of a bad economic social and political situation into total disorder.
The moral situation, the presence or absence of corruption, is obviously the decisive ingredient in the economic, social and political situation in many Commonwealth countries.
The Government has recently made a gift of £5 million worth of wheat to India as famine relief. This is very good, and no one can disparage or belittle the gift in any way. But we need to move past the concept of famine relief to something bigger. We need to take responsibility for assisting India and Pakistan to create such a standard of nutrition in those countries that the point would be reached where no addition to the diet of that great sub-continent would lead to any further improvement in national physique. That is an optimum diet. We should aim at that optimum diet. Every ounce of technological, agricultural, nutritional, administrative, irrigation and grain storage aid should be thrown in, working with the appropriate authorities. India, with Japan’s efficiency in agriculture, could feed at higher levels of nutrition five times her present population. That is a remarkable situation, as between Japan and India. There is the possibility of the same technological transformation in India as occurred in Japan. As I said earlier, this would mean that at the higher levels of nutrition India could feed five times her present population.
Mr. Attlee, now Earl Attlee, when Leader of the Opposition in the Parliament of the United Kingdom, once said something to this effect about a certain colonial leader being sent to prison by the authorities in Britain: “Ah! The man has gone to prison. I expect to meet him at the next Prime Ministers’ conference.” This should remind us how persistently we fail to recognise the people who in their own countries represent the wave of the future. One thing the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association ought to be able to do is to give us a first hand impression of ideological trends. You are helped to see those trends if you maximise your power to listen to other people and if you minimise entertainment, especially liquid entertainment.
Let us consider for a moment the men who have been in prison. I refer to Mahatma Gandhi of India, Pandit Nehru of India, Jomo Kenyatta of Africa, Hastings Banda of Africa, Archbishop Makarios of Cyprus and Eamon De Valera of Ireland. We in the West have disapproved of Namdi Azikiwe of Africa, Kwame Nkrumah of Africa and Gamal Abdul Nasser of Egypt. Our approval or disapproval has small effect. Let us add to these people those who have been imprisoned or opposed at some time or other by France in IndoChina, Morocco, Algeria or former French Africa - men like Ben Bella or Sekou Touré - and we begin to ask ourselves whether in the last 50 years the West has ever seen clearly who are the people in Afro-Asian countries who represent the wave of the future. The Commonwealth Parliamentary Association meetings ought to lead to some perception of those sections of Commonwealth countries from which are emerging the ideas that will shape the future.
Youth becomes a force for renaissance if it is mentally alert and physically fit and, above all, morally incorruptible. Character makes possible and actually produces the new social structure that we must have. If the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association is capable of becoming the conscience of the Commonwealth in these matters, it will have an exceedingly important function to perform. Nigeria has one million people unemployed. Can the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association rouse other Commonwealth members on this question? In India there are many unemployed, including graduates. Is there a passionate concern for hungry men which will produce new methods in agriculture, fishing and pasturage? To tackle the problems of the Commonwealth is the most immense and exciting task before us.
The late Peter Howard, a journalist, playwright and director of Moral Re-armament, speaking on 12th November last at Dartmouth College, New Hampshire, in the United States of America, said -
The average income on that continent-
That is, Africa - is 30 cents a day per head. There is one doctor for every 17,000 people there compared with one for every 690 in this country. In tropical Africa infant mortality is over 25 per cent, of live births, compared with under 3 per cent. here. One African in seven can read or write. Less than half African children of school age are attending primary schools. The average African farmer produces 4 per cent, of the food raised by a farmer in this country.
The Commonwealth Parliamentary Association needs to be an organ of compassionate intelligence. It has opportunities to study immense needs, lt should be fully financed by member governments to make it a going concern. We should take on urgently, through such advice, the training of people in the emerging countries.
The Commonwealth Parliamentary Association should take on these objectives. If it does not, it will simply become a forum to express the bitterness of impoverished people - the frustration of people who believe that they are slighted by race superiority. 1 do not believe that this will happen. But a positive role for the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association will not come by chance. It will come by a clean cut decision to care and to go all out for our fellow members.
.- It gives me great pleasure tonight to speak about the report that was presented earlier by the Minister for Air (Mr. Howson). There can be no doubt about quite a lot of what was said by the honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Beazley). What he said contained a great deal of truth. As the honorable member has said, one of the difficulties confronting us is that the problems referred to are being looked at through European eyes without our trying to place ourselves in the position occupied by the African and Asian people. We must ask ourselves whether these conferences of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association are of any value or of any importance. I believe that, if we look at the overall problem which confronts the Commonwealth and the world generally n this stage, our answer to that question must be a resounding “ Yes “.
Earlier tonight the Minister for Air said that these conferences were important not only to the Commonwealth but also to other nations. That is an aspect of the matter to which we must give very serious consideration. It is my own personal belief that the contribution which the Commonwealth of Nations can make to the international scene is unlimited. As we strengthen the Commonwealth and achieve a greater understanding of our own problems and of the problems and difficulties which confront other nations within the Commonwealth, we will be able to make a vital and tremendous contribution to overcoming world problems.
Much has been said by other speakers about the recent conference of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association, and I do not want to cover the ground that they have covered. One of the important aspects of that conference was that the Australian representatives spoke as members of the Australian Parliaments. The Australian delegation included representatives not only of the Commonwealth Parliament but also of the State Parliaments. The delegates were members of various parties. Yet we were able to present to the conference, and to delegates during our association with them at other times, the point of view of Australia and of Australian parliamentarians. That was important. I pay a tribute to the Minister for Air for his leadership of the delegation. It was admired and respected by all members of the delegation. This Parliament can be proud of the contribution he made.
I wish to refer to the contributions that were made by members of the delegation in the various debates. I refer particularly to the debate on international affairs, because it was in this debate that we faced the problem caused by an attack on a member of the Commonwealth. Members of the Australian delegation who spoke in this debate referred to the support that we were giving to Malaysia and to the need for the conference to give attention to what was happening in this area. These statements were appreciated by the Malaysian delegates and I think appreciated and understood by other delegates at the conference. The Prime Ministers’ Conference is important but it is a conference of Prime Ministers of Commonwealth countries who get together on what we might call the leadership level to discuss problems which concern the Commonwealth of Nations and the world- I am prepared to say, however, that our Commonwealth Parliamentary Association conference is of even greater importance. I say that with all respect and appreciation of the value of the Prime Ministers’ Conference.
At the conference of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association, elected members of the parliaments discuss various problems affecting members of the Commonwealth of Nations. They talk these problems over together and try to understand what is happening in one country compared with what is happening in another. Because they talk about these problems, they get a greater understanding of them. The time spent together before the actual conference opens gives delegates an opportunity to understand and appreciate the country where the conference is being held. In addition, because of the association with fellow delegates socially and in studying industries and agricultural areas, more things are spoken about, understood and appreciated.
Let us consider another factor in regard to these conferences of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association. Many problems are discussed frankly and openly. There is no shelving of difficulties. If a serious difficulty arises it is discussed and a solution is found and that is the only way to learn about these things. Newly developed countries bring forward their problems at these conferences. We explain some of the problems that we have in Australia, perhaps some of the major factors in regard to immigration. We put forward our cass and explained the reason why Australia adopted a certain stand and took certain action in that sphere. As a result, I believe the other delegates went away from the conference with a greater understanding and appreciation of the action we had taken.
That is why I support wholeheartedly the suggested regional conferences. I support the idea of a closer association and more visits to the various countries of the Commonwealth of Nations so that in this sphere there can be deeper and fuller discussion of particular matters rather than a general overall discussion of things in general. The honorable member for Wilmot (Mr. Duthie), speaking in a debate earlier tonight, spoke about self-interest. He said he believed there was a greater appreciation of the need to understand the problems of other people and the need for us to assist other countries and to look to wider fields beyond the domestic problems of our own towns and cities. I believe a greater understanding and appreciation of other nations flows from the conferences of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association. The subjects discussed are widely varied.
That brings me to the subject of the oneparty government which is found in some countries of the Commonwealth of Nations. We cannot agree with this but I think we should try to understand and appreciate the reason behind it. To us that form of government seems strange in a parliamentary democracy. However, I think we can understand some of the reasons for it. One reason is that, at the moment, with independence having just been gained, and with the need for development, progress and stability, there is one major aim. It is surely the aim of all the people in these countries that there should be eradication of disease, advancement in education and a war against illiteracy. Therefore, there is one purpose, one dominant aim, and out of this situation there comes sometimes the thought: One party for one purpose.
I believe that this is a passing phase. As there comes in these countries greater stability, greater progress and greater development, so there will follow the trend of thought which will bring about, shall I say, a return to the two-party system. While perhaps we cannot agree with the oneparty system, while it causes doubt in our own minds because we see in it some things that are wrong, I believe that we should try to understand the reasons behind the actions that have been taken. In this way we can make a contribution.
I remember Sir Roy Welensky once saying at a dinner that we have to remember that in our countries democracy was not established overnight; that we have been evolving and learning from our mistakes since as far back as 1215. This realisation should help us to appreciate the situation of the new democracies, the newly developing countries. In this respect I believe that perhaps we have to be a little more careful on our own domestic scene, in our conduct in this Parliament. This may be true also of the Press of this country in its criticisms. We must not give to the newly developing countries by our actions, the idea that democracy is not as valuable to us as our words would have them believe. Restraint will benefit us.
One of the major discussions concerned trade and aid. I think we are able to put forward successfully the proposition that while we in Australia were prepared to assist some of the newly developing countries, they also had to do something to assist themselves. They should not merely stand and receive everything, but should take what is given and use it for further development and progress. We endeavoured to give them a sense of their responsibility, as well as an understanding of our responsibility in giving aid. Trade is of major importance in the world today, not only within our Commonwealth but in the international field. I believe that through the Commonwealth we can make a contribution to international trade in its widest and deepest forms.
There were occasions in the early days of the conference before the arrival of the Minister for Air, when I was acting leader of the delegation. The Minister has given me the privilege of placing on record our sincere thanks for the hospitality and kindness shown to us by the Jamaican Branch. Sometimes the hospitality and kindness we received almost overtaxed our strength because of the lateness of the hour that we went to bed after being shown the various industries and the agricultural and rural areas in Jamaica, and because of the early hour of rising to catch buses for further tours of the island.
We express our appreciation to the Jamaican Branch and to all the people of Jamaica who contributed to the success of the conference and to our enjoyment. Our best wishes go to the Chairman of the Association for this year, Mr. Tennent. We know that he, the New Zealand Branch and the people of New Zealand will do everything possible to ensure the success of this year’s conference. The only regret I had was that the Jamaican conference was in November, but the Australian cricketers arrived in the West Indies in February. I am sure that the conference was of tremendous value. I hope and believe that we, as Australian delegates, ensured that the other delegates when they left the conference knew a little more about Australia than they did before the conference began.
.- I desire to comment briefly on the report that is the subject of this debate. I agree with honorable members who have said that we are establishing a sound precedent tonight in debating the report presented to this Parliament by delegates who have attended a meeting of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association. Unfortunately not all of us have had the opportunity to study the report as carefully as we would have liked, but no doubt if the practice of debating these reports is continued we will pay greater attention to what transpires at future meetings of the Association.
The Minister for Air (Mr. Howson), the honorable member for Lyne (Mr. Lucock) and the honorable member for Griffith (Mr. Coutts) have told us what took place at the recent meeting in Jamaica. Unfortunately, the honorable member for Stirling (Mr. Webb), who was a member of the delegation, is unable to give us his personal account of the pleasure he derived from representing Australia and sampling the hospitality of the Jamaican Government. He has told me that he greatly appreciated the hospitality that was extended to him on this occasion.
A good deal has been said tonight about the Commonwealth. Invariably one of the subjects discussed at meetings of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association is the Commonwealth and its future role. We may be optimists or pessimists so far as the future of the Commonwealth is concerned, and it is difficult to say whose opinion is the correct one. But of one thing I am sure: The Commonwealth Parliamentary Association is one of the major bloodstreams of the Commonwealth. If the Commonwealth is to survive in the years ahead, as we all sincerely hope it will, the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association must play a major part in that survival. The Association is somewhat like the Commonwealth itself in that it represents people of all races and all shades of politics, not all of whom live under a system of parliamentary democracy as we know it. All sorts of systems go to make up the Commonwealth today. We are passing through a time of transition. As the honorable member for Lyne pointed out, one of the great values of these conferences is that they are not held at government level. Ministers who attend do so not as Ministers representing governments but as delegates to the conference. Members of all parliaments bluntly state their views - sometimes perhaps a little too bluntly, but that may be all to the good. The Association is a Commonwealth family. If any member of the Association thinks that another member is doing the wrong thing, there is no harm in saying so.
We have been told that trade and aid were matters discussed at the conference in Jamaica. Aid is, of course, essential to developing countries. It is something that we should give willingly. Most Commonwealth countries which need aid are not frightened to ask for it. But they must remember that they too have responsibilities to meet. I was fortunate to be present at the conference held in New Delhi, where I spoke to an old Indian leader of the Socialist Party in Bombay. Outside the conference meeting we spoke about the needs of India at that time. He said: “ Of course, we need a lot of help, but what we have to learn first of all is how to help ourselves.” 1 think that he was expressing the viewpoint not only of India but also of every other country, whether developed or under-developed. We can all help ourselves a bit more and, by helping ourselves, we. can put ourselves in a position to help our unfortunate neighbours.
Recently we received the report of a parliamentary delegation to South and South-East Asia. While that is not strictly within the ambit of this debate, let me say in passing that this Parliament is playing its part in seeing that members do travel abroad near our own shores and, as delegates to the Inter-Parliamentary Union and Commonwealth Parliamentary Association, further afield. All of us benefit by this. It should be our ambition as parliamentarians to see that every single member of this House, even if he has to be moved forcibly, pays a visit to our near neighbours and travels elsewhere abroad, not to see places but to meet parliamentarians of other nations, particularly those of Commonwealth member countries, and to get to know them better. I do not know much; about foreign affairs but I think I learned a lot at that Delhi conference. I remember sitting into the very early hours of the morning in Ceylon with Trotskyites, Conservatives, Communists and a bunch of other fellows, all talking about one problem, how best to bring about a better life for the people of Ceylon. I discovered that while those people had different labels all wanted to do something better for their own people. As members of the Commonwealth of Nations they wanted to play a part in building a better relationship amongst the nations of the Commonwealth and, in addition, amongst all nations.
I believe that some of the best debates on international affairs are held at conferences of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association. There we have delegates bluntly speaking their minds. In this very chamber we had a Communist delegate representing India. It was good, not because he was a Communist but because he was a delegate from India. He was able to see what sort of a democracy Australia was and what our living conditions were like. It showed clearly that even though one may believe in a different political ideology, if a person can gain the support of the people in his district he can be elected to Parliament, and if sufficient members of his party are elected they can govern the country. What we are trying to instill in the minds of all people is that democracy, the parliamentary system, and our way of life are best.
A real challenge undoubtedly faces Asia in particular, as has been stated tonight. India and other countries need help. It is said that there is a fight for the minds of people. In my book, it is a fight particularly to prove that our system can work and that those of us who are better situated than our neighbours are prepared to help. We are not doing that solely for the purpose of putting up a barrier or with a view to winning them over by bribery in order to hold off Communism. We are doing it because we believe they should be helped and because we are prepared to give them something. We are doing it also because we wish to foster our particular way of parliamentary government.
As I have stated, the blunt debating of such subjects as trade, international affairs, aid for the underdeveloped countries, the future role of the Commonwealth, health and defence does a lot of good. The
Minister for Air (Mr. Howson) has reported on how the Malaysian delegates were able to put their case to the nations of the Commonwealth. I think the opportunity they had then was a little overdue. I could be wrong, but I had felt for some time that not all the Commonwealth countries appreciated Malaysia’s need and her case against Indonesia. At the forum of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association, the Malaysian delegates were able to put their case, and any Commonwealth country which wanted to disagree with it had the right to do so.
The troubles of the Southern Rhodesian delegates have been mentioned. Of course there will always be such problems. Before South Africa left the Commonwealth, we had certain moments of hard going. But that does not matter. So long as we are prepared as an Association to allow our friends to tell us some home truths, and so long as we are prepared to accept them in the manner in which they are told to us, this Association will go on to even bigger and better things.
The next conference of the Association is to be held in New Zealand. Undoubtedly it, too, will be successful because all the conferences so far have proved successful. It is much easier for the better off countries such as Canada, England and Australia io offer hospitality and to make all the arrangements necessary to cater for delegates than it is for some of the underdeveloped countries, but all must have their turn. It is most important that all be treated as equals. Even if the going is hard, these countries should be encouraged at all times to hold conferences in their turn.
Before resuming my seat, I should like to support the remark of the honorable member for Griffiths (Mr. Coutts) that we should learn not to refer continually to the Commonwealth of Nations as the British Commonwealth. Some people do not like to drop the word “ British “, but anyone who has attended conferences of the Association realises only too well the resentment felt by delegates from some of the newly emerged nations when it is called the British Commonwealth. They ask: “ Why should it be called the British Commonwealth? Why should it not be called the Indian Commonwealth, or the Australian Commonwealth, or some other Commonwealth?” It is the Commonwealth of Nations, and we have to learn to appreciate that fact. This may seem unimportant to us; it may be something that we do not like doing, but we have to realise that we are members of the big family of the Commonwealth of Nations. The member nations of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association are proud of their individuality as member nations. Let us come together, work together and fight together, if necessary, for the things that we believe in. So long as we work to build a better Commonwealth, I am sure success will come our way. I sincerely believe that the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association can be one of the main bloodstreams that will help the Commonwealth to face successfully the troubles that may confront it in the future.
.- Some members of this House have been looking forward for a number of years to an opportunity such as has been presented to us tonight for the first time. It is appropriate, therefore, that we should thank the Leader of the House (Mr. Harold Holt) for this new procedure. We should express the hope that it will provide annually an opportunity for the House to debate the Commonwealth as a whole and the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association, in connection with which the Minister for Air (Mr. Howson) has tabled the report of the recent conference.
I move on quickly to deal with the Commonwealth for a moment or two. I would point out that the winds of change have certainly altered the face of the Commonwealth of Nations. It is interesting for us to be reminded that at the end of the Second World War there were five nations in what was known then as the British Commonwealth. Those five nations at that time embraced some 70 million people. Today the Commonwealth comprises 22 independent nations and represents nearly one-quarter of the people of the world living on about one-quarter of its land area. These nations are co-operating in a remarkable and most helpful enterprise of civilised living. In addition to the significance of the 671 million people within the Commonwealth we should remember that change has transferred this Commonwealth from an association which has been largely British, predominantly Christian and with its roots definitely in Europe, into one predominantly
Asian, of the Hindu, Muslim or Buddhist religions and with an historical emphasis based upon the eastern area of the world as we know it.
Such changes, of course, make an impact upon our established ideas of democracy. Our ideas of Parliamentary procedure and the methods of yesterday - as one of my colleagues and co-delegates to the conference has said already tonight - are not acceptable to all members of the Commonwealth today. This leads me to suggest that new formulas will have to be found. Flexibility, in its modern context, will have to be brought into the structure and fabric of the Commonwealth so that we can find a stability which will preserve what I want to refer to later as something unique in the structure and the activities of the peoples of the various countries of the world.
May I suggest to members of the House - I believe they will readily agree with my assertion - that overseas travel is basic to an understanding of the problems of the Commonwealth. I express my gratitude, as others have done, for the Government’s provision of the opportunity, not only to go to Jamaica to be one of the Australian representatives at this all-important Parliamentary Association Conference, but also to visit Africa, if it was our wish, on the way to the Conference to which we are now making reference. I found that my time in Africa enabled me to spend a period in South Africa and Southern Rhodesia, to pay a quick visit to Tanzania and to spend some very interesting and challenging days in Kenya.
I have not the opportunity tonight to share with the House some of the complexities which, of course, I recognised in South Africa, a country which until recently was a member of this Commonwealth. However, I came away more aware of the complexity of the problem in South Africa than I might have been when I arrived in that country. That is not to be wondered at. What a fool a man would be to think that in a seven day visit to South Africa - with its doctrine of apartheid, with the criticism of the world upon it, but still with the magnificent achievements of this the oldest and best-established area of Africa - he could open his mouth and express to the people who have lived in the complexity of that country the solution of their problems.
It was my privilege to visit Transkei. One of the vivid memories of this first overseas visit of mine is of my meeting with Chief Mantazima, the Chief Minister of the Transkei, this first Bantustan area of the republic. Having talked to him I thought that things might be working out the way they had been planned by the republic, for without a doubt the stamp of the republic is seen on this Bantustan ideal. But the very next morning it was my privilege to meet a man by the name of Mr. Knowledge Guzama, a prominent member of the Opposition in the Transkei Government. Confidently and unemotionally he said that he and his Opposition party stood for a multiracial state in the republic.
I was impressed with the achievements within South Africa in the field of industry. The integration of the Bantu into industry and the transfer of thousands upon thousands of the teeming multitude from slums to a very acceptable standard of housing are amazing achievements. These were but some of my impressions of South Africa. Again I wish I had time to expand on the impressions I gained in a seven day visit to Southern Rhodesia where every courtesy was extended to me as a visitor from this country. This contact left me with a keen appreciation of the ideals and achievements of the people in the areas that I was permitted to visit, although it was apparent that their philosophy and procedure might differ radically from our own.
I have mentioned the integration of the African. In the field of higher education, 1 noticed in the University of Southern Rhodesia that more had been done towards the integration of the African with the European student than many other countries are prepared to recognise. We need to be reminded, too, I believe, that Kenya, now independent, has followed her conviction about a one-party state. The Opposition has merged with the Government in that country. This is but one illustration of the lack of uniformity in this modern Commonwealth about which we are speaking tonight.
Leaving the African continent it was my privilege as a delegate to go to one of the real hot spots of the Commonwealth today, British Guiana on the South American continent.
My colleague and fellow delegate, the honorable member for Lyne (Mr. Lucock), and myself were probably the first Australian parliamentary representatives for very many years, if not the first ever, to visit British Guiana. Here again there was a keen appeciation of the fact that we representatives from one of the major member nations of the Commonwealth should be there to see for ourselves what the problems were and to view the amazing achievements in industry and in many other fields. We took away with us an understanding that as a member of this Commonwealth Guiana certainly merited our sympathy, our moral support and our practical assistance, perhaps by way of aid.
After leaving British Guiana we made a quick call at Trinidad. 1 started by talking about the value of overseas travel, and this leads me to say to the House that we were glad of the opportunity given by this conference to present the viewpoint of the Australian branches that all member nations should do their best to contribute even more freely to the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association so that, as other speakers have said, there may be, not an increase in junkets around the world, solely for the entertainment of delegates, but an expansion of fraternal visits designed to promote a better understanding of each other’s problems, particularly those of the newly developing countries of the Commonwealth.
Moving quickly to the conference itself, may I underline what may have been said by other honorable members a little earlier. It was the largest conference yet to be held by the Association. The 172 delegates, with whom we were associating, came from 36 Commonwealth countries, which are in various stages of constitutional development. We should know that by now there are 22 which have gained complete independence and there are others, up to the total of 36, at various stages of attaining independence. In addition, 38 provinces or State legislatures were represented. One had only to survey, in the meeting room at the University of Kingston, this representation of member nations to see for himself the changes about which I have already spoken this evening.
I want to mention, in passing, that within the council of the Association and, again, to some extent outside the opening of the conference at the university and by references in the various debates which took place, there was a deliberate attempt to exclude Southern Rhodesia from being represented in the conference. There was a demonstration by university students. With these, of course, we are familiar the world over. But this was a demonstration supported by some of the Jamaican leaders, intimating that here there was a distinct disquiet about a member of the Association and a member of the Commonwealth, namely, Southern Rhodesia.
This grouping of African nations, with other supporters, on a domestic issue was noted with concern, and I think it is important that we should put on record that wise leadership - as referred to by the leader of our delegation - took this matter in hand. It was emphasised that a domestic matter of this nature, particularly when it had been the subject of discussion at a Commonwealth Prime Ministers’ Conference, when the Africans there represented recognised this position, was a situation which had no relation to the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association. Domestic issues must be left to be solved outside the Association meetings. Quite correctly, it was ruled that Southern Rhodesia was entitled to her seat at the conference. But this is one of the significant trends within the Commonwealth and within the framework of the Association, which we must carefully note.
I now move along to the various debates which took place during the week of the conference; the international affairs debate, one dealing with Commonwealth organisations and one dealing with the future functions and roles of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association. I wish to refer quickly, as other speakers have, to the importance which lay behind the debate on international affairs. May I suggest that the reaction among delegates themselves was far more important than the views expressed by journalists far removed from the scene of our conference. As Australian delegates we were pleased to give practical support to our friends from Malaysia. At the Prime Ministers’ Conference in 1964, general sympathy was expressed with Malaysia due to the acts of aggression by Indonesia. At the conference in Jamaica, Malaysia, through her delegates, pointed out that words were insufficient and that she needed practical help. The Australian delegates were reinforced not only by the words of our Prime Minister when he referred to the loyalty which had always been found within the Commonwealth family, but also by the announcement by the Australian Government, just prior to our meeting in Kingston, of the new defence assistance plan which was being extended towards Malaysia.
Our friends from Africa, where unfortunately Communist China’s finance and influence are all too apparent, had been very vocal for days about the assistance required from major Commonwealth countries, emphasising again and again their problems, with which we were in agreement. I am sure that no honorable member from Australia would ever discount the problems of these nations, to which the honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Beazley) referred so ably tonight. There was an appreciation of the difficulties in Africa. But what we were keen to point out was that our friends from Africa could not expect the larger countries of the Commonwealth to be constantly at their call, assisting in such a variety of ways. Of course, in the debate on trade and aid it was revealed that there had been practical assistance at many points, and we were able to say that, on a general level, this would be continued and, in all probability, extended. But we came to the point of saying that the African nations, because of the call from Malaysia, should, in the spirit of the Commonwealth family, declare themselves as ready to give support, even if only moral support, although, if possible, they should give some indication of being ready to supply the more tangible assistance required by that country. I believe that the leader of the Australian delegation and other members spoke frankly and clearly in this debate and that our friends from Malaysia appreciated this sort of frankness and the expressions of support that we were prepared to give.
Time does not permit me to go further regarding Commonwealth organisations. I move to my conclusion, Mr. Speaker, by saying that the history of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association is interesting but it is the future which holds for us more than a challenge. The honorable member for Griffith (Mr. Coutts) referred correctly to cracks within the Commonwealth. The strains can be, and have been, considerable; we dare not minimize them. We ought to take note, I believe, that sharp disagreements on international and domestic policy have occurred. At the United Nations, when that body is in session, Commonwealth countries are not afraid to debate their differences in public. For my part, the Commonwealth represents a unique association with a tremendous potential for the peace of the world. This is a potential which we must guard jealously. I want to express the opinion that it is essential to have common sense and a keen understanding of the problems affecting member nations of the Commonwealth. I firmly believe that such understanding and common sense, together with wider travel so that we can fraternise with members from the newly emerging countries, will so stabilise the Commonwealth that we treasure that it will be permitted to contribute even more effectively than in the past to the welfare and happiness of people everywhere.
.- I think, Mr. Speaker, that a note of optimism should be brought into this discussion of human affairs. It is easy enough to spend time considering the problems of the world and then to decide that the game is hopeless. There are, of course, tremendous tensions and difficulties in the world. The Commonwealth, although it faces the difficulties inherent in an association of completely different nations with completely different attitudes, is an organisation from which many advantages flow. Those advantages are not always apparent to the people who govern but they are very apparent to the ordinary citizen who passes from one country to another. In speaking of the Commonwealth, we are speaking of an association of some 700 million people. As one honorable member opposite said, that is about a quarter of the world’s population. About a quarter of the earth’s surface is represented by the Commonwealth. Because of the affinity that exists between its members as a result of a common history within the former British Empire, there is a unique opportunity to do something in co-operation. There is a field of co-operation which does not exist for other nations. That is why I believe that tonight we should be examining this question in a mood of optimism.
It is obvious to me from my personal experiences last year that the barriers between mankind are falling down. It is easier to travel around the world today than it was even two years ago. It is possible to drive from London to Moscow and back again with not too many inhibitions. Today many persons in the world, no matter where they are and whether they are rich or poor, will offer the hand of friendship and a helping hand to somebody when he needs it. I believe that it is the responsibility of governments and organisations such as the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association to try to capture that spirit and to express it through social organisations and governmental agencies. The Commonwealth Parliamentary Association - representing directly about 700 million people, as it does - is a very important organ in the achievement of those ends.
What are the tasks that face us? First of all, there is the fact that the Commonwealth of Nations contains some of the world’s greatest skills and material resources, such as minerals. Some of the nations - Australia, Canada and Great Britain in particular - have within their bounds some of the world’s greatest and richest technologies. But the rest of the Commonwealth contains some of humanity’s greatest needs. However, we should not think of countries such as India as consisting purely of needs. I spent a fortnight or a little more in India only a few months ago. I asked the Indians to show me some of their greatest problems and some of their greatest achievements. There is no doubt that the problems of a country with 470 million people - I think that is the population - and 500,000 separate villages, are tremendous. In India there are schools without enough paper and without blackboards, and there are people building roads by carrying dirt in baskets on their heads.
But I also saw India’s aircraft factory which has 26,000 employees. I saw its machine tool works, which are the second largest in, as they say, the Western world.
That shows how pervasive are the ideas that flow out of Europe. I saw India’s atomic reactor and its ancillaries in Bombay and the fertiliser factories in the north. Admittedly, those things meet only a small percentage of India’s needs. I gathered the impression that in India there is a great amount of human resources which could be garnered if the world, and particularly the Commonwealth, rallied to its support. I presume that the position in Africa is much the same.
The honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Beazley), in putting the point that corruption in government has been a continual and besetting sin of humanity until recent times, also gave us some reason to hope that this problem will be overcome in these nations. In places like India, of course, it. is a continual struggle for the government. Every day I was in India, almost every newspaper carried an account of people being tried for corruption. I believe that in many discussions about the Commonwealth in the past we have been so obsessed with the doctrine of power being the source of government and the thing from which all good shall flow that we have forgotten the fields of co-operation between us. It is a simple truth that for the ordinary human being the fact that there is no consistent political power which ought to carry authority over the whole Commonwealth has no significance if there are things which do him good.
For instance, the co-operation between Australia and the United Kingdom and between Australia and New Zealand in the reciprocal social services agreements is much more valuable than any political authority could be. Again, British passports, or whatever you like to call them, which allow or assist people to travel around the world, are much more important than flags or political authority. The affinity arising from the English language, which is a pretty common factor throughout the Commonwealth, again is much more important than many of the trappings at which so many people look when they talk about the Commonwealth being at an end. I believe that it is in the spirit of co-operation between people that there lies the real hope of humanity. It is in this continuing co-operation and the expansion of it that the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association has its great opportunity for mankind. If we think for a moment of some of the things in which there is wide and expanding co-operation we bring to mind the Commonwealth Economic Committee, the Commonwealth agricultural bureaus, of which there are a number, the Commonwealth Telecommunications Board, the Commonwealth Education Liaison Committtee, the Commonwealth Shipping Committee and the Commonwealth Scientific Committee. I think it is pretty evident that in all these bodies the fact is that it is much easier for the nations of the Commonwealth to co-operate than it is for nations which are not members of the Commonwealth to co-operate. So, we find in air transport B.O.A.C., Qantas and Air India working as a complete team.
I rose tonight, Mr. Speaker, to congratulate those honorable members who spoke so forcefully for the continuance of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association and all its works, and to try to extend the idea that co-operation between mankind is a much more important fact than the simple political direction of mankind. In the field of co-operation, it is becoming increasingly easy for nations to act together. This is where the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association and parliaments in particular can do great work. There is no other institution which can do quite the same task as the parliamentary one. We are able to speak in a free and uninhibited way. There is a give and take and a free play of ideas in a parliamentary institution which does not exist in governmental institutions. I hope that the recommendations placed before the ‘Parliament by the members who were overseas at this recent conference will be adopted by the Government and given its full support and that humanity itself will become the most compelling and urgent consideration of all parliamentary institutions.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Motion (by Mr. Howson) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
.- Mr. Speaker, there is a matter that I would like to place before the House tonight. This is the recent decision by the Repatriation Department to grant a war pension to the widow of the late Frank Partridge who was fatally injured in a car accident last year. I might say that the driver of ‘.he other vehicle involved in the accident was completely exonerated by the coroner. I am not opposed, and 1 do not feel there are many honorable members who are opposed, to the granting of the pension to Mrs. Partridge. We realise that she has had a stroke of good fortune in having a pension granted by the War Pensions Entitlement Appeal Tribunal. We know that there are a great many war widows and ex-servicemen who have had many a battle with the Repatriation Department, only to have their claims denied.
I rise tonight in support of one of my constituents who has written to me. I would like to read part of her letter so that it mav be brought to the notice of the Minister for Repatriation (Senator McKellar), because I intend to make further representations to him on her behalf. She states -
I do not grudge Mrs. Partridge her pension for herself and her child, but I, also, am a widow of an ex-serviceman who served in the first world war and for whom I cared for over twenty years, as against Mrs. Partridge’s two years of marriage, but I was brushed off by the Repatriation Department when I asked for a war widow’s pension, although my husband had been granted a Repatriation pension in 1920 and was on 50 per cent, pension at the time of his death in 1962. My husband died, I maintain, from a war caused disability but, despite appeals, conducted for me by Sydney Legacy, the Tribunal refused me what I consider to be my right - a pension. . . .
My husband was not an officer, nor was he decorated, but did his duty as he saw it for ‘.his country and I consider that I, as his widow, should get the same consideration as Mrs. Partridge.
There are many members of this Parliament to whom representations have been made by women whose husbands were receiving war pensions at the time of their death and who explored all avenues available to them in their efforts to obtain war widow’s pensions but who finally were denied this benefit. There must be many honorable members who have been amazed to find that a War Pensions Entitlement Appeal Tribunal has, out of the goodness of its heart, granted a war widow’s pension to a woman whose husband was not receiving a war pension at the time of his death and who was killed in a car accident many years after the war. This woman has now been granted a war widow’s pension on the ground that her husband’s death was the result of a war caused disability.
The grant of a war widow’s pension is a great benefit to the lady in question because while receiving this pension she will be entitled to go out and work in the community. If she had been receiving a civilian widow’s pension she would not be entitled to go out and work in a factory or elsewhere or to be re-employed in her former occupation while receiving the civilian widow’s pension. She will now be able to work and also claim her war widow’s pension.
– There is also her child to be looked after.
– Yes, there is a child to be looked after while she is out of work. Yesterday in another place the Minister for Repatriation (Senator McKellar) was asked a question about this matter. We know that he is a new minister and that he has not had this portfolio for very long. I am happy to see that the former Minister for Repatriation has entered the chamber. He may be able to give us a few details regarding this lady’s claim. As I said, the Minister was asked a question yesterday in another place. In his reply he gave a short history of the matter, giving relevant dates, and he said that the tribunal finally upheld the appeal with effect from 24th March 1964. I believe many of us must be concerned with the suggestion that this pension has been granted as a special act of grace to the widow of a man who admittedly had an outstanding war record, who received the Victoria Cross and who was a soldier of whom Australia can be proud. We must be concerned about the great number of widows of members of the Forces who were not receiving at the time of their death the pensions applicable to totally and permanently incapacitated ex-servicemen or pensions at the 100 per cent, rate because it was not considered that their disabilities were war caused.
As I have said, the Minister gave an outline of Mrs. Partridge’s efforts to obtain a war widow’s pension. He said that she appealed to a War Pensions Entitlement
Appeal Tribunal, which was the normal procedure. He said that there was no question of any special act of grace or of any battle between Mrs. Partridge and the Repatriation Department as had been alleged in certain newspapers. He said -
I cannot give any reason at all for the decision of the War Pensions Entitlement Appeal Tribunal. It is an independent body set up to decide these cases on an independent basis. Reasons are never given for decisions.
I believe that a great many of us must have been amazed at the decision. We have from time to time presented cases to the Repatriation Department or the appropriate tribunals and although we have believed that our claims were just we have frequently had them rejected. This is one occasion on which I think the Minister should lay the relevant documents on the table of the House, including the reasons for the decision of the War Pensions Entitlement Appeal Tribunal, so that honorable members can decide whether preferential treatment has been given in this case. I also suggest that the Minister should have re-opened all cases in which repatriation claims by widows have been rejected, so that a similar measure of justice can be granted to other women as has been accorded to Mrs. Partridge.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 11 p.m.
The following answers to questions upon notice were circulated -
m asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
What action is being taken by the Government to implement the unanimous recommendations of the Joint Select Committee on Parliamentary and Government Publications which reported to the House on 13th May 1964?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows -
Following recommendations of the Joint Select Committee on Parliamentary and Government Publications upon the style and format of Parliamentary papers and Commonwealth publications, a Committee under the chairmanship of the honorable member for Ballaarat (Mr. Erwin) was appointed to produce a Style Manual for use in the Government Printing Office and in departments. In accordance with the recommendations, a reliable and efficient mail order service is being developed and other technical recommendations, such as those relating to flat wrapping, paper quality and paper sizes, are being put into effect wherever practicable.
The Government, however, has not yet made a decision on the principal recommendation that a Government Publishing Office be established.
m asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answer to the honorable member’s questions is as follows -
I understand this question as referring to all State Acts passed since the Merchant Shipping Act, 1894 came into operation. The following information is provided after consultation with the appropriate State authorities -
In the States of Victoria, Tasmania and Western Australia, there is no Act of the kind referred to in part (1) of the question.
In New South Wales, the Bill for the Act intituled the “ Sydney Harbour Trust and Navigation Amendment Act, 1908 “ was reserved for His Majesty’s pleasure. On 2nd April 1909 His Majesty was pleased to assent to the Bill which took effect on 4th May 1909, the date of the Proclamation published in the New South Wales Government Gazette, No. 56 (5th May 1909) at page 2374.
In Queensland, a Bill for an Act intituled “The Queensland Marine Act of 1958” was reserved for Her Majesty’s pleasure. On 29th October 1958 Her Majesty was pleased to confirm the Bill in pursuance of section 735 of the Merchant Shipping Act, 1894 and to declare Her Assent to the Bill. Confirmation and assent are contained in Order in Council 1958, No. 1749 which is printed in United Kingdom “Statutory Instruments 1958 “ Part I at page 1488. The Act was brought into operation on 30th October 1958 by a proclamation published in the Queensland Government Gazette of that date at page 771.
In South Australia, a Bill for an Act intituled the “ Marine Act, 1936 “ was reserved for the Royal Assent which was given on 2nd February 1937. The Act was proclaimed to commence on 1st July 1937 by a Proclamation published in the South Australian Government Gazette dated 25th March 1937 at page 641.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 17 March 1965, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1965/19650317_reps_25_hor45/>.