25th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. SPEAKER (Hon. Sir John McLeay) took the Chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.
Mr. COCKLE presented a petition from certain electors of the Division of Warringah praying that the Australian Government seek to persuade the United States of America to agree to an immediate cease fire in Vietnam so that a negotiated settlement may be reached under the auspices of a re-convened Geneva Conference.
– I ask the Minister for the Navy a question. I think it was in the course of the debate on the loss of the “ Voyager “ that the Prime Minister said that the Government would appoint a ministerial committee to examine conditions in the Royal Australian Navy and that the committee would be chaired by the Minister for the Navy who, in turn, would be assisted by the Chief of the Naval Staff. I now ask the Minister: Has that committee been appointed? If not, when will it be appointed?
– An announcement concerning this matter was made to the Press, I think, on 20th December, in conjunction with an announcement on the appointment of a co-ordinator of naval safety which was also mentioned in the Prime Minister’s statement in September. In accordance with that statement, a ministerial committee was established in that month, with terms of reference as stated by the Prime Minister; namely, to consider ways and means of reviewing naval organisation, procedures and methods, so as to make improvements where these are found to be desirable.
The committee consists of the Minister for Defence, who is in another place, the Minister for Supply, the Minister for National Development and myself. The late Senator Harrie Wade was also a member of it. The committee has available to it the professional advice of the Chief of the Naval Staff and also other senior naval officers, as required. The committee has held a series of meetings since its inception. It has under continuing consideration a wide range of matters affecting naval administration. These matters have included organisation, operational procedures and personnel policy, in addition to a close examination of various specific matters which arose out of last year’s inquiry into the loss of the “ Voyager “. The committee is a committee of the Cabinet and, in accordance with the normal practice, reports, as necessary, to the Cabinet. A report on its investigations is currently before the Cabinet for consideration.
– Can the Minister for Labour and National Service advise me of the facts about the reinstatement of former employees at Mount Isa Mines Limited who are members of the Australian Workers Union and unions affiliated with the Queensland Trades and Labour Council? There still seems to be some doubt about which employees are to be reinstated by the company. Will the Minister please ascertain the facts and let me know them? Can the honorable gentleman also tell me why the conference convened by Commissioner Harvey was adjourned?
– Two groups of unionists are involved in the Mount Isa dispute. Let me take them not so much in order of precedence as in order of convenience. There is a group of unions - craft unions, as they are called - associated with the Queensland Trades and Labour Council. The company has stated that it will take back all members of those unions who were on its books on 14th December and that it will do that without any reservation whatsoever. In other words, members of the unions affiliated with the Queensland Trades and Labour Council will be taken back unconditionally. In no circumstances can the Council claim that any members of unions affiliated with it may be victimised.
The second group of employees consists of members of the Australian Workers Union. The company has decided that it will take back all members of that union other than those members of the Committee for Membership Control who have been involved in intimidation or violence. In respect of these unionists, the company has said that it reserved the right to look at each of the applications individually. It has done that in the interests of the underground miners who should not be subjected to threats of violence and intimidation underground. That, as I understand it, is the position with regard to the two groups of unionists.
Secondly, the honorable gentleman asked me about the cause of the dispute itself and what is now happening at the conference convened by Commissioner Harvey. I refrain from making what might be called personal observations because the condition at Mount Isa today is so delicate that any personal observations from anyone could be misunderstood and could be a cause both of misapprehension and misgiving. An additional 43 men returned to work today. It is worth while commenting on the fact that these men returned voluntarily. That 864 men at Mount Isa have returned to work illustrates clearly that if the men are given the opportunity by their unions they will return in increasingly large numbers.
– Will the Minister for Territories state the number of applications the Government has received for the mining rights over the area of the Gove Peninsula bauxite deposits recently made available for development? Further will he outline the conditions laid down to protect the nation’s interests and the interests of the indigenous people of the area? Has the mining authority of the Pechiney Company of France in the same area been cancelled or renewed? If it has been renewed, under what conditions?
– Two applications to mine and treat bauxite at Yirrkala on the Gove Peninsula have been received. At present we are examining them and eventually the Government will make a decision. I have previously announced the conditions which successful applicants will have to observe, one of which concerns the protection of the interests of Aborigines. We expect these conditions to be complied with - in fact, we insist that they be complied with, particularly those relating to the Aborigines. Until a decision is made by the Government I am unable to add anything to that.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Primary Industry. First, to relieve the present shortage of potatoes has the Government made any agreement with the New Zealand Government for importations of potatoes? Secondly, has the Minister any knowledge of the availability of potatoes from New Zealand? Thirdly, if potatoes are to be imported from New Zealand will the Government consider introducing aa arrangement similar to that which applied in like circumstances in 1961 when imports were made by and distribution was arranged through one Australian importer? Fourthly, will the Government make sure that the availability of seed potatoes is not disrupted during the present shortage?
– I cannot say that we have, in effect, made an agreement for the importation of New Zealand potatoes, but the New Zealand Government has issued export licences, and some import licences have been granted in Australia to enable potatoes to be brought here for processing purposes. The Minister for Customs and Excise has made a statement to that effect. The only information I have about the availability of New Zealand potatoes is that it was announced over the radio this morning that it is estimated that New Zealand will have about 6,000 tons available and that the New Zealand Government is surveying the position. We can expect more authentic information probably next week. The honorable member has asked whether there could be one point of receival similar to what we had in 1961. However, certain quarantine conditions had to be observed governing the importation of potatoes in 1961. So that those conditions could operate objectively it was arranged that the Tasmanian Potato Board - Mr. Foster was the man concerned - would be the sole authority for distribution purposes. On that occasion potatoes were distributed for general use. Those conditions do not apply at present because the potatoes being imported are used for processing purposes and may be inspected by quarantine authorities at the point of processing. The honorable member has asked about seed potatoes. My information is that there will be a shortage of seed potatoes. The systems under which seed potatoes are grown in Victoria and New
South Wales differ. In New South Wales growers plant specifically for seed potatoes. I have been told by the New South Wales Department of Agriculture that the acreage of seed potatoes this year will be between 700 and 800 acres compared with 1,200 acres previously planted. I am unable to obtain an accurate assessment of the position in Victoria. Queensland obtains its supplies of seed potatoes from Victoria or New South Wales.
– I ask the Minister for the Army: If two year conscripts are considered suitable recruits for the Australian Regular Army, why is it thought that two year volunteers would not be suitable? Why has no boost been given to voluntary enlistment by offering a two year period of engagement for volunteers?
– Careful consideration has been given to providing a two year engagement for enlistment to the Regular Army. However, it must be remembered that there are disadvantages in a two year engagement even in relation to national servicemen. Those disadvantages have been stressed many times. I have often made the point that the introduction of a two year national service scheme makes it all the more important in maintaining an efficient Army that we continue to attract long term volunteers. In other words, the introduction of a national service scheme which involves a proportion of the Army on two year engagements is an argument for retaining a minimum three year engagement and preferably a six year engagement for volunteers.
– On 25th March I asked the Treasurer a question about sales tax on freight on goods supplied to north Queensland wholesale merchants. The right honorable gentleman undertook to give me a considered answer. Is he now in a position to supply the answer? If not, will he indicate when he will be in a position to supply it, as north Queenslanders are showing a very lively interest in this matter?
– I should be in a position to give the honorable gentleman a general answer on this matter in the course of the day. That has been available for some time. However, I had been looking into particular aspects of the question. I shall follow up the matter now that the honorable member has raised it and see how speedily I can meet his request.
– Has the Prime Minister received representations from the Queensland Government for special assistance in the drought currently affecting that State? If so, will the Prime Minister say what assistance is to be provided? If no request of this nature has been received, does this indicate that the Queensland Government is not at present concerned about the serious ill effects of the drought in the State? If representations for assistance have not been received from the Queensland Government, will the Prime Minister initiate an urgent survey of the serious drought situation in Queensland and advise the State Government of the assistance that the Commonwealth is prepared to extend?
– The idea that any State Government of any complexion would be indifferent to a widespread drought within its boundaries is too ridiculous for words. Whether a particular application has been received I will not attempt to say offhand, because a number of applications from States in relation to various disasters have come in. However, I will find out and I will advise the honorable member.
– I wish to direct my question to the Minister for the Navy. Last night in this House the honorable member for Yarra stated that the Chinese military forces were organised for defence rather than attack. The honorable member also quoted from a magazine, which stated -
The Chinese Navy is purely a defensive unit geared to operate in shallow coastal waters.
Can the Minister now give information on the composition of the Chinese Navy and its potential role?
– I listened last night with a great deal of interest to the honorable member for Yarra. I think he quoted from “Newsweek” and also said that this same statement had appeared in various newspapers, such as the London “ Times “ and the “New York Times”. In actual fact, the Communist Chinese Navy has submarine and surface units capable of operating in ocean waters. The Chinese themselves will determine the disposition and employment of these forces, but we would, of course, expect them to operate in both shallow and ocean waters. I might draw the attention of honorable members to the latest edition of “Jane’s Fighting Ships”, which is considered to be a fairly authoritative journal in these matters. The journal states that the Communist Chinese Navy has a complement of some 81,000 men and has various types of vessels. Apart from such vessels as destroyers and destroyer escorts, it has in its possession some 21 Soviet “ W “ class submarines, which are long range ocean-going vessels.
– And very old, too.
– They are not very old at all. They are quite operational and fitted to do the job they were designed to do. Apart from this, the Chinese have four “ S “ class submarines and three “ M-V “ class for training purposes. Overall, the Communist Chinese Navy has a fairly strong attack potential.
– I desire to ask the Postmaster-General a question. Why did he close the Strawberry Hills post office in Sydney? Is he aware of the inconvenience caused to residents who must walk a quarter of a mile crossing three streets - Elizabeth, Cleveland and Chalmers Streets - to find the post office that has been transferred to the new mailing branch of the General Post Office?
– Wherever a post office may be established, it would be conveniently placed for some people and perhaps would be somewhat inconvenient for those people who live farther away from it. Having regard to the total operations of the Postal Department in the area and the fact that we are spending a very substantial amount of money on the mail exchange at Redfern, it was believed to be in the best interests of the Department and substantially of the people in the area that the post office be transferred from Strawberry Hills and be associated with the mail exchange.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for Health, lt relates to the introduction today of new medical benefit tables. I ask: What advantage can accrue to contributors in Victoria from the decision of a New South Wales fund controlled by New South Wales hospital interests to commence operations in Victoria, which is already adequately served by the existing 44 funds which cover 83 per cent, of the people of Victoria? Is this fund notorious for its departure from agreements as between funds in order to gain some advantage over other funds and has this brought about unsavoury quarrels among Blue Cross organisations in New South Wales? Will the Minister assure the House that he will not permit a similar rat race for customers in Victoria through lavish advertising campaigns, gimmick inducements outside the regular benefits and higher commissions to selling agents?
– I appreciate the interest that the honorable member takes in this matter, but I ask him to consider it in its correct perspective. I know that there is some concern in Victoria - ‘this has already been expressed by the honorable member for Isaacs and other honorable members from Victoria - regarding the movement into Victoria of a large New South Wales hospital and medical benefits fund. The application of this fund for entry into Victoria was completely in accordance with the conditions laid down under the National Health Act. It is also in accordance with the arrangements and understandings of the Commonwealth Health Insurance Council. My understanding is that the fund has given an assurance that it will adhere to the basic rates which operate in Victoria. Indeed, one table only has been applied for by this fund and approved by the Government for operation at this stage. I can assure the honorable member that the conditions laid down will be observed and that the Department certainly will watch the situation very closely to see that none of the other problems he has in mind arises.
– Will the Minister representing the Minister for Defence ascertain whether any decision has been made as to who will staff and operate the new canteen and cafeteria now nearing completion in the Russell Hill area adjacent to the Defence and Service Departments? If no decision has been made will he give an opportunity to those employees in the Russell Hill group of offices who will be using the canteen to express their views as to whether the services should be provided by the Australian Services Canteens Organisation or by the excellent food service managed by the Department of Labour and National Service?
– I have no personal knowledge of the proposals to which the honorable gentleman refers. I shall refer his question and comments to my colleague in another place and secure an answer.
– My question, directed to the Minister for Primary Industry, concerns the wool marketing plan proposal. Have negotiations between the executive of the Australian Wool Industry Conference and the Government been completed? Is the Minister able to say when the terms of this agreement will be announced and details of the plan made public?
– I have had a series of conferences on behalf of the Commonwealth Government with the executive of the Australian Wool Industry Conference. I think I can say that up to the present the negotiations have been completed sufficiently for the executive now to submit proposals to the Wool Industry Conference which I understand is to meet on 22nd April next. As soon as I have finalized the draft I will be in a position to state the elements of the proposals that have been agreed upon,
– Does the Treasurer recall stating in a letter dated 12th October last year that the framework for a suitable amendment to the Commonwealth Employees Furlough Act had been devised, affording relief in relation to long service leave rights to those genuine employees who return to the Commonwealth Public Service after more than one year in retirement on superannuation? Does the Treasurer realize that this important matter was listed to be dealt with by the High Council of Public
Service Organizations about two or more years ago? If so, does he not consider that the time is well overdue for the presentation to the Parliament of the necessary legislative amendment?
– I shall see the present state of motion in this matter and advise the honorable gentleman later in the day.
– I ask the Minister for Health whether he has seen a report of research being carried out at the Roswell Park Memorial Institute of New York on the development of a new vaccine against leukemia. Can he give the House any information in addition to that which has appeared in the daily Press about these experiments? Is it the intention of our own research laboratories to pursue independent research in an endeavour to eliminate this disease?
– A considerable amount of research is being carried out, particularly in the United States of America, in trying to discover the causation of and an effective cure for leukemia. At present, it is not possible to make any constructive comment because the experiments are yet in their very early stages. Perhaps a more hopeful experiment is that being conducted in the United Kingdom where a Doctor Negroni has claimed that he has isolated a virus in a patient suffering from leukemia and is proceeding with further experiments in this particular direction. But again this experiment is in its very early stages and it is not possible to comment in any constructive way at this stage. I can assure the honorable member that we are keeping very closely in touch with the experiments that are being conducted and will provide facilities for assessing the results of those experiments here. We will do everything possible, of course, to assist in this field when some further information is available.
– I ask the Prime Minister whether he is aware of the discontent existing amongst third division telegraphists and postal clerks at the delay of a year and a half by the Public Service Board in dealing with the union’s pay claim on behalf of its members. Will the right honorable gentleman encourage and, if necessary, instruct the Public Service Board to engage in a process of genuine and expeditious conciliation on this and other industrial matters, thereby giving effective meaning to the first objective of the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Act?
– I was under the impression that this was among the matters that are now under negotiation between the Board and the union concerned. If that is so, all I can say is that I have been kept informed from day to day about progress - not that progress has been as rapid as might have been hoped for - but the matter is in process now, and I am hoping that a satisfactory result will be arrived at.
– I address a question to the Minister for Social Services. It relates to the answer given by the Treasurer to the honorable member for Sturt on Tuesday night last relative to the refunding of surplus moneys in the Commonwealth Employees’ Superannuation Fund. Has the Minister given consideration to the position of superannuated officers who receive an age pension as well as their superannuation payments? Will their age pensions be affected by the proposed cash refund?
– The refunding of superannuation moneys as mentioned by the honorable member is determined by whether or not that refund is made in a lump sum or spread over a period. As I understand the position, the payment is to be made in a lump sum. Consequently, it will be treated as capital for the purposes of the Social Services Act. In every individual case, the position will depend upon other assets that the recipient of social service benefits mighthave. Therefore, the matter will be one for determination in each individual case. The final decision will depend upon the quantum of other assets possessed by the person concerned.
– I preface a question addressed to the Prime Minister by referring to a newspaper report on yesterday’s light rain over Newcastle and the Hunter Valley, which stated -
In the drought crippled Maitland area, clouds promised rain throughout yesterday but none fell.
From my own personal observation over the past month, similar cloud formations have been present on numerous occasions and it almost rained, but only a few drops fell. I ask: How extensive are the rain making operations of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation? Is the Organisation satisfied that rain can be produced from suitable clouds? In view of the disastrous drought which is now widespread over the continent, will the right honorable gentleman confer with the Minister for Air and arrange for suitable aircraft of the Royal Australian Air Force to be fitted with rain making equipment so that, when the Weather Bureau or the meteorologists of the R.A.A.F. report that rain clouds are within reasonable distance of the base, seeding operations will be undertaken so that no opportunity will be missed to bring rain to drought crippled areas?
– I will be very happy to refer these questions and observations to my colleague in another place who is more familiar with the details of the C.S.I.R.O., which he administers, than I am.
– My question is addressed to the Treasurer. I refer to the Commonwealth Banks Act 1959-1961, section 73, sub-section 1 of which states -
In determining whether or not finance shall be provided for a person, the Development Bank shall have regard primarily to the prospects of the operations of that person becoming, or continuing to be, successful- and shall not necessarily have regard to the value of the security available in respect of that finance.
I ask: Is the Treasurer aware that many people are still of the opinion that this clause is not being implemented and that even if an applicant for a loan from the Development Bank can meet all general requirements, there is little chance of the granting of a loan unless he has substantial security or cash? Will the Treasurer make investigations with a view to ascertaining if there are grounds for the view expressed, and if he then decides in the negative will he endeavour to give some specific information illustrating that the provision mentioned is operative?
– I do not think I need make any special examination of the matter because this is a subject which I have discussed on several occasions with the Managing Director and Chairman of the Board of the Development Bank and I am assured that effect is being given to the provision of the statute. Specific instances have come under my own notice. The Bank does not concern itself primarily with security. It concerns itself primarily with the prospects of success of the applicant, the developmental character of the project and the repayment period of the loan. Now, that last reference does not imply that loans are necessarily of limited or short duration. I know of some loans from the Bank which run as long as 20 or 25 years. The honorable member can be assured that this principle does guide the Bank in its approach to these matters and. while decisions on particular loans remain matters for the Bank itself, if he has any particular instance where he feels that this has not worked out as intended by the statute I will be glad to see that the matter is conveyed to and considered by the Chairman of the Board or some appropriate member of the staff.
– My question is directed to the Minister for the Navy. I ask the Minister whether he has now reconsidered his previous decision not to assist sea cadets in the provision of suitable and adequate training facilities? Is the Minister aware that the Tasmanian Government is financially subsidising sea cadets in obtaining training premises despite the fact that* this matter can only be regarded as a Commonwealth responsibility? If the Minister is aware of these facts will he say why sea cadets are not considered important enough, collectively, to attract the provision of these facilities?
– First of all, may I say that I would not even suggest that the sea cadets are not important. They are a very important group of young people. But I want the honorable member to understand that sea cadet units are formed under directions that the Navy shall be responsible for equipment and certain training assistance and that the provision of accommodation is not a responsibility of the Navy. Accordingly, that has not been a naval responsibility.
– Why should it not be?
– This is a policy matter. Since it is, that is the only comment that I am prepared to make at this stage.
– I wish to ask the Minister for Primary Industry a question. Does the honorable gentleman expect that, before the House rises for the Easter recess, he will be able to make a statement in this place on the proposed wool marketing scheme so that honorable members may have an opportunity to consider the scheme before the Australian Wool Industry Conference meets on 22nd April during the forthcoming parliamentary recess?
– It cannot be said that the scheme will be a completed one ready for discussion until the executive of the Australian Wool Industry Conference has made known to the Conference any agreement reached with the Government and obtained confirmation thereof by the Conference. At that stage, obviously there will be an opportunity for the whole matter to be debated. However, I am prepared to take the House into my confidence as far as we have gone. I hope to do this today if I reecive the necessary leave to make a statement.
– My question is directed to the Prime Minister. I ask: Has a report been received from the committee appointed to investigate the high cost of transport in northern Australia? If not, when is a report expected?
– The answer is: “ No report has been received “. I have not recently been told when a report is expected. The honorable member having inquired, I shall find out from the chairman of the committee, if I can, approximately - it can be only approximately - when we may expect to receive a report.
– My question, which is addressed to the Minister for External Affairs, relates to economic development in Asia. Can the honorable gentleman give to the House any information regarding a proposal put forward and, I understand, adopted at the recent conference in New
Zealand of the Economic Commission for Asia and the Far East for the establishment of a development bank for the financing of suitable projects in the undeveloped countries of Asia?
– For some time, the Economic Commission for Asia and the Far East has been studying a proposal, sponsored mainly by Asian countries, that an Asian development bank be created. The general operations of the proposed bank are to be similar to those of the similar banks in Latin America and Africa. The general idea is that funds for this bank will be provided by many countries, mostly ones outside Asia, and that the bank will then be able to finance development projects. The recent conference in Wellington agreed to a resolution the general effect of which will be that the proposal will be further examined. In short, no final decision to create such a bank has been made, but the proposal is still being examined.
– I ask the Minister for Supply: Has he had discussions with leaders of industry about Australia’s defence supply capacity? What plans has he to bridge the gap between our growing defence needs and our capacity, which has been reduced by the closure and demolition of former defence establishments? What plans has he to produce weapons and ammunition at present being imported from overseas? Is it true that, in the future, greater emphasis will be placed on production by private enterprise rather than by Commonwealth departments? Finally, is the Minister satisfied with this nation’s strategic fuel reserves?
– The honorable gentleman asks a series of questions, no doubt arising from the meetings which were held in Sydney on Monday of the reconstituted industrial advisory committees. About 100 of Australia’s top industrialists are banded together in a series of 12 committees of this kind covering particular classes of industry to assist the Department of Supply in its constant assessment of Australia’s industrial capacity. This is nothing more than an industrial series, but at any one time it enables the Department of Supply to have an assessment of any weaknesses which may exist in the Australian industrial production scene. I think I should tell the honorable gentleman that
I am quite satisfied that Australian industry, with one or two exceptions as to classes of munitions, is quite capable of meeting the foreseeable requirements of the Defence Services. It will be understood that, in relation to things like aircraft, ships and, perhaps, advanced electronics, if I may choose three particular departments, the capacity does not exist in Australia to meet the Services’ requirements within the present time scale. For the class of war which can be envisaged at this stage of the game the honorable gentleman may rest assured that we have adequate capacity.
Motion (by Mr. Adermann) - by leave - agreed to -
That so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent the consideration of Notice No. 1, General Business, being continued until 3 p.m.
– I move -
That this House is of opinion that the recommendations of the Joint Committee on Constitutional Review which reported to both Houses in 1958 and 1959, particularly those recommendations with respect to the terms and rotation of Senators, the number of Senators and Members of the House of Representatives, the division of States into electoral divisions and disagreement between the Senate and the House of Representatives, should be submitted to the people for their approval.
This motion is one of several put forward by the Opposition in 1959 in an attempt to prod the Government into taking some action to implement the recommendations of the Joint Committee on Constitutional Review. At this moment four Bills are on the Senate notice paper for the taking of referendums on the Committee’s recommendations. It is now nearly six years since the unanimous report of She Committee was presented to this Parliament. I should like to observe at this stage that the Committee consisted of 12 members, 4 from the Senate and 8 from the House of Representatives, equally divided between the Opposition and the Government parties.
Two general elections and a Senate electionhave intervened. But nothing has been done, and nothing has been attempted. The Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) promised to consider the report “with loving care”. We can only assume that he meant then that he would kill it with kindness. But I regard constitutional reform as ‘being far too important to be treated as a matter for party debate. In many ways it is the most important and urgent question facing this Parliament and this nation, because, increasingly, our outmoded Constitution is becoming a brake on our growth and progress.
I think it is true to say that no opposition has committed itself so fully and generously as we of the Labor Party have done in an effort to assist and encourage the Government to take action to secure constitutional reform. We have said plainly, and without equivocation, that we will support a referendum or referendums to secure the implementation of each and every one of the recommendations in the report. We have pledged ourselves to this course in this Parliament. We have incorporated this pledge in the platform and policy of our Party. We have made our position clear and definite. No party has ever before so committed itself in advance, and no party could do more than we have done to secure the very thing which, as long ago as 1938, the present Prime Minister himself stated was our most pressing need - the reform of the Constitution. In 1938 - 27 years ago - a reform of the Constitution was our most pressing need.
– The Prime Minister was young and brash then.
– He was certainly younger then and he was then more enthusiastic for constitutional reform than he is today, but he could still recover some of his pristine fervour in this regard. I hope he does. This motion at present before the House deals specifically with those recommendations with respect to the terms of senators, the number of senators and members of the House of Representatives, the division of States into electoral divisions, and disagreement between the Senate and the House of Representatives. I should point out that this motion was, of course, set down by me on behalf of the Opposition long before I knew, or even suspected, that there was strong support within the Government ranks for the breaking of the nexus between the number of senators and the number of members in this House.
We on this side of the House await, with more than usual interest, the Government’s declaration of intention on this matter. It would appear that by premature disclosure to the Press, one or some of his ministerial or party colleagues - perhaps from New South Wales - have greatly embarrassed the Prime Minister. When I say “from New South Wales “ I am not referring to members of Parliament from New South Wales; I am talking about the garrulous, faceless men of the Liberal Party in that State. When the Prime Minister’s announcement is made to the House we will be able to judge this proposal on its merits. Between now and then we will suspend judgement. But again I repeat, if the proposal is one which implements the recommendations of the Committee on Constitutional Review, or any of them, the Labour Party will support its passage through Parliament and work to secure its acceptance by the people.
For what were, presumably, good and sufficient reasons, the founding fathers of the Constitution and our nation established a Senate of 36 members, and a House of Representatives of 75 members. This is expressed in section 24 of the Constitution, which states that the number of members of the House of Representatives shall be, as nearly as practicable, twice the number of senators. In 1901, the population of the Commonwealth stood at 3i million. This meant that in the first Parliament there was on average one member for every 50,000 persons. By 1948, with a doubling of the population, there was an average of only one member for every 102,000 persons. Therefore, in 1948 the Government - the Chifley Labour Government - decided to increase the numbers in this House to 121. But to achieve this increased representation, it was necessary first to increase the number of senators from six to ten for each State. This was, of course, rendered inescapable by section 24, which ties the size of this House to that of the Senate in the ratio of two to one. This is the central point that must be borne in mind in any proposal to improve the representation of the people by increasing the number of members; that is, until the Constitution is changed, until the nexus is broken, no worthwhile increase in the membership of the House of Representatives is possible without a substantial increase in the number of senators. For example, to increase the number of members of this House by 24, it would be necessary in theory to increase the Senate by 12, two more from each State. But in actual practice, that would be only the beginning of the story.
No government would want an even number of senators retiring from each State at each election, since each party would almost certainly return an equal number. To put it at the very least, there would be an enormous risk of the Senate being in a state of perpetual deadlock. This is why at present we have five senators from each State retiring at each election, and why, before 1948, we had three. No other system would be workable or politically practicable. Thus, in practice, the size of the Senate would have to be increased by 24, making 14 from each State, with 7 retiring at each election. Therefore, we have the extraordinary position that in order to obtain any significant increase in the present size of the House of Representatives we would have to increase the number of senators by 24.
It is obvious that until, and unless, the nexus is broken, a satisfactory increase in the number of members of this chamber will be impossible, because it is unlikely that either Parliament or the people would accept the disproportionate, unnecessary and undesirable increase in the size of the Senate that would be involved. The policy of the Labour Party is that the Senate should be abolished. Many members of the Government parties probably do not agree with that, though the people do. But I imagine that there is, at least, general agreement on the undesirability of any substantial increase in the number of senators. Indeed, the Committee on Constitutional Review thought it should be limited to the present number of 10 for each State.
The Committee on Constitutional Review gave long and detailed consideration to the question of the desirable size of electorates, and decided that there should be an average of one member for each 80,000 persons. This would be equivalent to approximately 46,000 electors for each member in this chamber. The Committee pointed out that in the House of Commons there was one member for about every 81,000 persons. In Canada, which has a federal system of government, there is one member of the House of Commons for every 64.000 persons. With our population now standing at more than 11 million, we have on average one member for every 90,000 persons. Further increases in our population will make the electorates more and more unwieldy, and the quality of representation less and less adequate, unless the size of this House is increased.
The first Parliament had, as I have said, an average of one member to every 50,000 persons. If that ratio still applied, this House would now have 220 members. But under the Constitution this would mean a Senate of 108. That is, to say the least, a rather daunting proposition. But it does illustrate graphically the need for breaking the nexus between the House of Representatives and the Senate. Because I believe in Australia, because I believe that it will survive and grow great, and because I believe in parliamentary democracy, I believe that the time will come when this House will and must have at least 220 members. That will be when we have 20 million people, in my view.
Nobody is asking for a return to the quota of 1901. We are not seeking a return to a quota of 50,000 persons per member. But the quota of 80,000 per member, as suggested by the Committee, is eminently reasonble. And that quota is necessary if the people are to be properly represented and if this Parliament is to function effectively. If the 80,000 quota were to be adopted now, we would have a House of 144 members.
Whilst in 1901 there may have been some unnaturalised persons, or aliens, in Australia, the success of our immigration policy has been such that, although many of the one million non-British people who have come to Australia have become naturalised, at the moment we have 250,000 unnaturalised people. They pay their taxes; they have their rights; they claim social service benefits; they implore honorable members to assist them with their problems, such as re-uniting families. All honorable members, but particularly those who represent inner areas, spend a considerable amount of time on the problems of unnaturalised people; but those people are not taken into consideration in the fixation of the number of electors for each electorate.
I might say in passing that there is no physical reason why this chamber, if it will not now quite accommodate 144 members could not be made to do so. Only quite minor structural alterations would be needed. Be that as it may, sooner or later the number of members of the House of Representatives will have to be increased. Indeed, that is not really the question at all. The real question is whether or not the Senate must be enlarged simultaneously. We believe it should not be.
The only sensible approach is to adopt the recommendation of the Constitutional Review Committee. The Constitution should be changed. The nexus should be broken. The House of Representatives - the House of the people as opposed to the House of the States - should be free to secure adequate, reasonable and efficient representation by the abandonment of a formula which, however appropriate it may have been to the circumstances existing in 1901, has become unwieldy, expensive and increasingly undemocratic in its operation.
In its consideration of the number of members and the size of electorates, the Committee on Constitutional Review had regard not only to the need for adequate representation of the people and the impossibility of achieving this if members were called upon to serve and represent many more people than the 80,000 optimum. The Committee also thought very deeply about the nature and requirements of the workings of this Parliament as a democratic institution. It pointed out that if the House of Representatives were too small it could not fulfil all its functions properly.
The majority of the Ministers must always be provided by this House. At present, 20 of the 25 Ministers are in this House. We also have to provide a Speaker and a Chairman of Committees. If the Parliament is too small, there will be insufficient members to provide a representative forum of debate, and too small a pool from which to draw future Ministers. And there can be no doubt that, the smaller the Parliament, the greater the dominance of the Executive is likely to be. I look forward to hearing the honorable member for Bradfield (Mr. Turner) speak on this matter, because I know he has given some attention to this aspect. I think he would agree with me when I say that a House in which one-fifth of the members are Ministers is particularly vulnerable to Executive domination and increasingly powerless against Executive arrogance, if any is ever attempted.
Let me sum up my argument in this way: There is a good case to be made out for increasing the size of the House of Representatives now. There is an unarguable case that the size of the House of Representatives will have to be increased as the population grows. There is no case at all for increasing the size of the Senate now or in the foreseeable future. Therefore, that section of the Constitution which prevents a substantial increase in the one, without a substantial increase in the other, should be altered.
Another recommendation referred to in my motion deals with the division of States into electoral divisions. This recommendation, designed to guarantee equitable distribution, is contained in chapter 8 of the Committee’s report. The report discusses the provisions of the existing Commonwealth Electoral Act, which allows the electoral commissioners to adopt a margin of allowance of one-fifth more or one-fifth less than the electorate quota. In paragraph 316 of its report, the Committee said: -
The Committee feels constrained to say, however, that the one-fifth margin on either side of the quota for a State which the Act allows may disturb quite seriously a principle which the Committee believes to be beyond question in the election of members of the national Parliament of a Federation, namely, that the votes of the electors should, as far as possible, be accorded equal value. The full application of the margin each way to two. divisions in a State could result in the number of electors in one division totalling fifty per cent, more than the number of electors in the other division. Such a possible disparity in the value of votes is inconsistent with the full realisation of democracy.
The Committee therefore recommended that a safeguard should be inserted into the Constitution - should be taken out of the Electoral Act and inserted into the Constitution - namely, that the permissible margin of difference on either side of the quota should be reduced to one-tenth of the quota. This, the Committee believed, and I believe, would combine all reasonable flexibility with safety against a gerrymander.
I await the Prime Minister’s views on this recommendation with more than ordinary interest. In its section on electoral divisions, the report further recommends that the independence of the distribution commissioners should be written into the Constitution as an additional safeguard. The principle involved in this case is that the Commissioners responsible for arranging the boundaries should be independent of any Minister. This is no reflection on the integrity of Commissioners past or present, or of Ministers past or present. But the independence of the Commissioners should be guaranteed by the Constitution, for the future protection not only of the Parliament and the people, but of the Commissioners and Ministers themselves.
There is certainly room for debate on who should actually constitute the commissions. Some have suggested that the Chief Justice of the High Court should be the Chairman of the Commission. Under New South Wales and Western Australian legislation a Supreme Court Judge is Chairman. On this point there is room for difference, but I am firm in the belief that the Commissioners, whoever they are, should be persons free, beyond all shadow of doubt, from ministerial or other influence.
J will deal only very briefly with the other two recommendations referred to in my motion. One deals with the terms of senators, the other with means of resolving deadlocks between the two Houses. The recommendation of the Committee on the terms of senators is that instead of holding their places automatically for six years they should hold them until the expiry or dissolution of the second House of Representatives after their election. If implemented, it would mean that the fate of the Senate would be tied much more closely to the realities of politics - the realities as they exist here in the House of Representatives. And it would avoid the need for separate and costly Senate elections when the two Houses fall out of alignment. We are in such a phase now, and there is no end in sight to this state of affairs unless the Constitution is altered or unless the term of this or some subsequent Parliament is shortened by a premature election of the House of Representatives.
Under existing conditions the people are faced with the prospect of an election for the House of Representatives not later than the end of 1966 and a Senate election before the middle of 1968, and so on. In the nine years 1961 to 1970 there will have been six separate elections. The Committee’s recommendations on disagreements between the two Houses were designed to seek and find alternatives to a double dissolution. Page 20 of the report gives two alternatives to a double dissolution. I commend these recommendations to the Government, as I ask that all sections of the report be placed before the people at a referendum without further delay.
I end as I began, by saying that the Labour Party believes fervently in the need for constitutional reform, and will do all in its power to secure the implementation of the unanimous all-party recommendations of the Constitutional Committee of Review. Let me quote a very high authority on the need for reform. I ask honorable members to listen intently to this.
– And respectfully.
– Intently and respectfully. This high authority said -
I should say that in the first place it seems to me that in Australia there are certain things which constitutionally and from a government point of view are very desirable. The first is that there shall be a new Constitution. I have arrived at that conclusion after years of experience in both State and Federal politics.
That voice of experience was the voice of the present Prime Minister, and he was speaking in 1942.
– He was very wise.
– Very wise, and very right. Let the Prime Minister be guided by the ghost of his younger, more vigorous, more imaginative self. He has been remiss, and highly blameworthy in his remissness, for he has neglected an opportunity that other Prime Ministers could only dream about - the guarantee of all-party support for a wide measure of constitutional reform.
Our offer remains, so the opportunity remains. The time is late, but perhaps it is not too late. We must start somewhere, some time. The first referenda presented to the people should be those necessary to remove discrimination against the Aborigines. But the recommendations referred to in my motion are vital and urgent, if the people are to be properly represented and if the Parliament is to be made to work. Is it too much to hope that even at this late stage, the Prime Minister will act to achieve that “ new “ Constitution which he demanded nearly a quarter century ago?
– I hope that I will not disappoint either the Leader of the
Opposition (Mr. Calwell) or anybody else in this House when I say that I have no intention whatever of making a party debating speech. The Leader of the Opposition did not do so either. I have no desire to do it because I agree that the issues of constitutional change ought not as a rule - and there may be some exceptions to this - to be settled or thought of in purely party terms. Indeed, I am able to say that I find myself in agreement with much of what the honorable gentleman has said. I think he is a little optimistic, if I may put it to him, when he asks that all sections of the report be placed before the people at a referendum without further delay, because he will agree with me that experience indicates that if that were to be done the whole lot would be lost. A great mass of proposals for constitutional change cannot be put before the people with any real expectation of getting them through. It has been tried and it has failed. The whole problem of constitutional change in our country is bedevilled by the fact that the disposition of the people is to say: “When in doubt, vote ‘No’”. The change suggested needs to be crystal clear. It needs to be one which does not lend itself to misinterpretation or to absurd fears which are occasionally promoted. These requirements are not easy to attain, but simplicity on a matter which really engages the public attention and to which the people will direct their minds thoughtfully is essential.
I do not propose to cover the whole field that the honorable gentleman has dealt with, and for one very good reason - I am not here to indulge in the luxury of offering a lot of personal views on a variety of matters. The Government has, in fact, under its immediate consideration two aspects of the reforms which have been indicated, and I think I can say something about those, but in relation to others I am not in a position at present to make any definitive statements of policy on behalf of the Government. When I can, of course I will, because I do not at all underestimate the importance of these matters. One of them, the question of the division of the Commonwealth into electorates, on which the report has made proposals which are supported by the honorable gentleman, will no doubt be the subject of discussion when we introduce electoral legislation, because some of the points he has made, particularly about differentials, will very legitimately then be open for discussion. I do not want to anticipate that, but I do want to say something which I do not think is at all controversial about two of these matters. I will start with the last one mentioned by the honorable member. With the proposition that section 127 should be repealed we entirely agree. When any referendum is instituted that most certainly must be one of the questions. It is completely out of harmony with experience and modern thinking and, indeed, with a great deal of our own legislation in this Parliament relating to Aborigines. The retention of the old fashioned provision in section 127 is quite out of harmony with the elevation of the Aborigines into the ranks of citizenship. But it has been customary, and the wish has been made clear in a number of petitions, to associate with the repeal of section 127 the removal of what has been called the “discriminatory provisions “ of section 51. On that I would, with great respect, challenge the assumption that is made. May I read the provision to the House in order to refresh its memory. Section 51 states -
The Parliament shall, subject to this Constitution, have power to make laws for the peace, order, and good government of the Commonwealth with respect to: - (xxvi.) The people of any race, other than the aboriginal race in any State, for whom it is deemed necessary to make special laws:
It has been suggested that that provision discriminates against the Aborigines of Australia. I would have thought that the contrary was the fact. Parliament has been given power to make discriminatory laws in relation to the people of any race - special laws which would relate to them and not to other people; laws which would treat them as people who stood outside the normal grasp of the law, enjoying its benefits and sustaining its burdens in common with all other citizens. I would have thought that the perfect state of affairs in Australia would be that any Aboriginal citizen felt that he did stand equal with every other citizen before the law, enjoyed its benefits and took his own part on a proper basis in sustaining its burdens. I have no doubt whatever that this provision in the Constitution was designed having regard to conditions that existed at that time and the possibility of having to make a special law dealing with, for example, kanaka labourers - perhaps a special law to deport them from .the country or to confine them to some particular area. There was a good deal of discussion about this at the time this provision was framed. Therefore the framers of the Constitution inserted this provision, but they left out the Aboriginal race because they did not wan to discriminate against the people of the aboriginal race. All we have to do now is to cross out this reference “ other than the aboriginal race “ and we confer on this Parliament a power to make a special law which relates to the Aborigines and 10 no other people.
– If you do not mind I want to pursue this. I do not think it is at all out of place. There is a second point about it, and this does concern me. If the Commonwealth, as one of its heads of power under section 51, has the right to pass special laws with respect to the Aboriginal race, I wonder what limitations will be on that separate head of power. Would this enable the Parliament to set up a separate body of industrial laws relating to Aborigines or some other kind of law - health laws, quarantine laws or laws under any of the other powers of the Parliament? It may well be true that it could because, make no mistake about it, this would be a head of power standing not inferior to any other power contained in section 51. That is a matter that requires a great deal of thought. I do not want honorable members to think that I have arrived at some positive conclusion about it. I am raising it here in order to indicate that it wants a good deal of thought and that we would want to give it a great deal more investigation than we have before we favoured changing the provision in section 51. But we would be very happy to see the end of section 127.
The other matter about which I wanted to say something concerns section 24. The Leader of the Opposition has said most of it, and, if I may say so. very well and clearly. I do not want to subtract from what he has said. I just want to add a little to it. Section 24 of the Constitution is a puzzler. It reads -
The House of Representatives shall be composed of members directly chosen by the people of the Commonwealth, and the number of such members shall be, as nearly as practicable, twice the number of senators. 1 confess that I do not know what “as nearly as practicable” means. If it means mathematically practicable, then we must have 120 members and that is the end of it. We have never had exactly twice as many members as senators that I can recall in the history of the Parliament, but we have been, in a sense near enough. Today we are a couple over that provision, with two other members full of hopes. I do not think anybody seriously thinks that there could be an effective challenge at law to the existing numbers. Nor, indeed, would I think that if we went to 123, 124 or 125 members we would necessarily violate the provision, because what is practicable involves consideration of hard facts other than mathematical considerations. Still, it would be a bold man who would think that we could make any sizeable addition to the numbers of the House without incurring the risk of running foul of section 24. The moment somebody indicates that somebody is thinking about increasing the number of members of the House we will get the orthodox complaint in some quarters that there are already too many members of Parliament. This is the cheapest cry in the world, but it is always produced. A good deal of unthinking criticism is put forward when any suggestion is made that the number of members be increased. I have read some of it in the last few days. It is quite unthinking.
It therefore becomes necessary that I should say what the Leader of the Opposition has already said. There is one single fact that cannot be ignored if section 24 and the little collection of sections stand as they are. Unless you are to have a perpetually deadlocked Senate, you cannot increase the numbers in the Senate except by 24. If you increase the total number of senators by 12 it will mean that at each election 6 senators are elected for each State. The result will be 3 elected on each side. There is the very definition of a perpetual deadlock. So if you are to have a Senate that is workable - an unworkable Senate would be a menace - you must increase the number of senators so that at each election each State will elect 7 senators. You will then have 4 on one side and 3 on the other. This means increasing the size of the Senate by 24. That would mean increasing the size of the House by 48 members.
– Too many.
– If they all were like my friend I would be quite happy, but nobody in this place at this time thinks it is necessary to increase the size of this House by 48 members. We may think it desirable to increase it by 10, 12 or 15 but not by 48. Such a proposition would not enter anybody’s mind. Yet we are presented with a choice in which we will make either no increase in the numbers, an increase so nominal that it does not violate section 24, or a vast increase by increasing the size of the Senate by 24.
– Why not wipe out 24?
– If my friend from Tasmania wants to have an argument about that, all I can say is that he ought first to take it on with Senator Wright. The point I am making is obvious enough to all honorable members, though I think it has been overlooked by some of the incipient critics. The point is that this House has a choice. It can either for all practical purposes keep its numbers static or find itself increasing the size of the Senate, under the existing law, so as to be able to increase the size of this House. In my view, it would then be compelled to increase the Senate by 24 - nothing else would work - and be required to increase the size of this House by 48 or 46, whatever the figure may be. It cuts both ways. If the numbers are to be as nearly as practicable twice the number of the senators, the position would be that the number in this House would need to be as nearly as practicable 168. Nobody proposes that; nobody would think of it at this time.
I have said all this to show to the House that we adhere to the principle that is involved in that part of the report that says that the nexus ought to be broken. If it is not broken, there is no flexible future for this House. I have been reminded of my long experience in these fields. It is indeed long. I have been through a few referendum campaigns and I have come to respect the genius of the people for voting No. If we go to the people with a proposal to amend the Constitution to break the nexus between the two Houses, the first question that will be asked by those opposed to it - there will be quite a lot of people opposed to it, particularly in some States - will be: “ You want this so that you can increase the size of the
Parliament. By how much do you want to increase the size of the House of Representatives? “ That raises problems that do seriously require a great deal of thought. We would need to consider how these matters are to be presented and the extent to which we can go into details. We must be as forthcoming on those matters as we can. If we are not, we will be told that we are hiding something and the result will be disastrous from the point of view of ever increasing the size of this House. I am not at this stage proposing positively to give a programme for the Government on these matters. We must consider the various aspects. They are associated in the public mind with other matters concerning electoral laws and the spread of boundaries, which, as everybody knows, are matters of acute difference of opinion. As I have said, we will by suitable legislation give the House the opportunity for a debate and, therefore, decision on these matters.
When I rose this morning all I hoped to do was to raise one of two of the matters that I do think are worth considering and which have been exercising our minds quite a lot. I wished to emphasise - it is very desirable to emphasise this on constitutional matters - that I really believe there is a very substantial body of opinion in common in this House. The qualifications that I have put have not been so much qualifications of principle as of application in the matters I have dealt with.
.- I second the motion. The Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) and the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) have, I am certain, expressed the overwhelming view of members of the House that it should be possible to increase the number of members of this House without making a corresponding increase in the number of members in the other place. This is a matter upon which honorable members from both the Government and the Opposition in both Houses were unanimous in 1958 and 1959 on the Constitutional Review Committee. They had discussed all aspects of this and other features of the parliamentary machinery for three and four years. This unanimity on section 24 of the Constitution has persisted for nine years. There can be no doubt that the overwhelming number of members in this House would support a referendum before the people to make it possible to increase the number of members of this House without increasing the number in the other place.
Whenever members of the Parliament are unanimous on some issue or nearly unanimous - I have heard no dissent in this case - allegations are made throughout the land that we are looking after our own interests. The Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition have made perfectly plain that there is no constitutional limitation at present on the Parliament increasing its numbers in both Houses as long as the increase is in the same proportion. Both gentlemen have pointed out that the only practicable way to increase the numbers under the Constitution as it stands is by multiples of 24 in the other place and 48 in this chamber. There is no constitutional limitation at all on the extent to which members of the Parliament can put their heads together, if that is the allegation, to increase their numbers. The proposition which was made by the Constitutional Review Committee and which I understand we now have in mind was shown by the Leader of the Opposition to introduce a limitation on the numbers in both chambers. The Constitutional Review Committee unanimously recommended that the number of members in the other place should be not less than six nor more than 10 from any State. It also recommended that the number of members in this House should be not more than one for every 80,000 of the population. So in fact the Parliament would be asking the public to put a limitation in the Constitution that is not there at the moment.
I join with the Prime Minister in his contempt for some of the arguments concerning an increase in the numbers that have been put in the newspapers in the last few days. I frankly cannot understand the logic of some of the newspaper editorials. The newspapers say that there are too many members of Parliament in Australia. When a proposition was put a few years ago to reduce the number of members of Parliament in Australia by giving the people the opportunity to abolish the Legislative Council of New South Wales, which is not directly elected by the people, the same newspapers urged its preservation. Where is the logic in this? It may be that there are too many members of Parliament in Aus tralia. I shall not assert that members of Parliament in the States are not doing a busy and valuable job. But what I shall assert, and I believe every honorable member in this chamber would also assert from his own experience and from his observations of his fellows, that the work of members of this Parliament is increasing. The statistics and documents establish that the work of this Parliament is increasing more in amount and complexity than the work in any other Parliament. It may be that the work is increasing in all Houses, but in some it is increasing very slightly. But here, in the number of days we sit, in the number of hours we sit during those days, in the number of questions we put on the notice paper and which Ministers answer, in all these respects this Parliament is increasing its work very much more rapidly than is any other Parliament in Australia. This is so not only in internal arrangements in Australia made inevitable by the increased complexity in our financial, economic and social relations, but it is also so externally. As far as this country’s relations with other countries are concerned this Parliament has the sole responsibility. International legislation demands more and more scrutiny, and it demands that scrutiny in this Parliament. It is no reflection on members of other parliaments to say that the work of this Parliament is increasing rapidly. Editorial writers should attempt a reconciliation of their views on the necessity of preserving the Legislative Council of New South Wales and the necessity of keeping the Federal Parliament down to its present numbers.
There is no ceiling on the numbers in both Houses as the Constitution stands, but if the people are given a referendum on this subject they can place a ceiling on them for the first time. There is no reflection on senators - and the senators on the committee did not think there was - in precluding an increase in the numbers in the Senate. The functions of senators differ very largely from the functions of members of the House of Representatives. Members of the House of Representatives are involved in much more electoral work. Senators are able to devote themselves much more to matters of general policy, and the Senate in recent years has had many thorough and beneficial committees of inquiry - into television, into the planning of Canberra and so on. This work can be done by a Senate of the present size adequately and, in fact, admirably. In the United States of America, for instance, two senators are enough to look after the population of, say, New York, Texas or California. They have differing secretarial assistance according to the population of their States, but as spokesmen and policy makers - and the United States Senate has many more functions than the Australian Senate - two members per State is adequate, as is a chamber of 100. There is no need to increase the number of senators in Australia, but there is a necessity to increase the number of members in the House of Representatives.
This is an argument on which I think we are all convinced, but I think we have to counter the spurious arguments that are put forward outside. This is not a matter on which objection would be raised, as it is in most referenda, on the two counts of State rights and private enterprise. When the Commonwealth Parliament puts a referendum to the people it is often said on the first count that State rights are being overridden, and on the second count that government is being augmented and private enterprise is being diminished. That would not occur in this instance. This is a matter which concerns the machinery of this Parliament. It is a matter in which the public will determine how best this Parliament can discharge the functions which the public expects its members to discharge for it. On the first point, the breaking of the nexus contained in section 24 of the Constitution, it is heartening to see that there are continuing unanimity and approaching action. As the Leader of the Opposition has said, the Opposition will certainly support in every way that it can any referendum which the Government puts to the people.
The Prime Minister said also that whenever there was a referendum the people would be given an opportunity to repeal section 127 of the Constitution which excludes Aborigines in calculating the number of divisions in each State. There can be no question that there, too, members of both Houses, and all parties, would support the proposition. There can be no doubt that the public would support it, and there is no doubt that people in other countries would expect us to take this action. The Prime Minister mentioned also the words in paragraph (xxvi) of section 51, the only other part of the Constitution in which Aborigines are mentioned. The repeal of the words in that paragraph is also incorporated in the motion by the Leader of the Opposition which has been only partly debated and which has been on the notice paper since last May. It is not involved in the present notice of motion. Nevertheless, since the Prime Minister mentioned it-
– I mentioned it because the motion today uses the words: “That this House is of opinion that the recommendations of the Joint Committee on Constitutional Review “ - and so on. I thought it was covered.
– I am clear in my recollection that the Constitutional Review Committee advised positively that section 127 should be repealed, and expressly reserved its decision on section 51 (xxvi) because, as it said, it had not had time to conclude its deliberations on it. The view which the Prime Minister has expressed was expressed also by many members of the Constitutional Review Committee, and by me too, at the time. I have changed my opinion since then, for two reasons. I can see the validity of the suggestion that there could be discrimination against Aborigines if this particular section of the Australian community can have laws passed about it by the Commonwealth Parliament whereas no other section can. There could be discrimination in that way. But the countervailing views that I have come to hold are these: First, there have been, and there still are, some obnoxious State laws which make it desirable for the Commonwealth Parliament to pass inconsistent laws which would then override the State laws. Some of these are in relation to industrial and social conditions. It would be desirable for us to pass direct industrial laws repealing provisions of Commonwealth and State awards which exclude Aborigines from some benefits. The other reason I have changed my mind is that the Aborigines at this stage have a want of social capital which cannot be said to afflict any other section of the Australian community. There is, as regards Aborigines, the necessity for positive additional housing and social and educational measures, which does not apply to other sections of the community, and where this Parliament has the financial and national competence to apply, all-embracing co-ordinating measures on their behalf. Nevertheless this does not arise out of the present motion.
The Prime Minister mentioned also the division of electorates upon which the Constitutional Review Committee reported, but about which he said discussions should wait until the Commonwealth Electoral Bill comes before the Parliament. I would hope that honorable members on both sides of the House would see -the desirability of asking for the people’s opinion on this subject if and when any referendum is held. It would cost no more to ask their opinion at this time. This is not one of those “ diverse matters “; it is a related matter to which the electors could have their attention directed when they are dealing with the machinery of this Parliament. Our Constitution contains exceptionally few civil and political guarantees; there is no guarantee in it against what is called “ gerrymander “. I will illustrate this from what can happen as the Act stands and from what could happen under the Government’s announced proposals that there can be, and in fact should be, a 20 per cent, variation up or down from the quota. Assume that a quota is 45,000. The margin could be applied in such a way as to result in electorates within the range of 36,000 to 54,000, the second figure being half as large again as the first. If, as the Constitution permits, we were to pass an act to divide any State into electorates of equal population, and then to allot some of those electorates three members each and others two members each, there would be an outcry. This is possible under the Constitution as it stands just as it is possible under the announced proposal. It is equally constitutionally possible at present to give one member of Parliament one and a half times as many electors as another member and to allot three members to one electorate and two members to another electorate of the same population. We should tolerate this no longer. We ought to give the people the opportunity to express their views at this time. We can do so without additional cost or time. This is an issue upon which the South Australian electors recently expressed their views quite dramatically, and it is also an issue upon which the Supreme Court of the United States of America has, over the last three years, enforced its interpretation of the American Constitution. We should not have to approach the High Court to enforce a similar interpretation. The people should be given the opportunity to express their views when a referendum is being held. Why should not they be given the opportunity to preclude a gerrymander of the divisions in this Parliament and to incorporate a democratic guarantee in the Constitution? Why deny them the opportunity? Why arrogate to ourselves the right to say how they will be represented? This is the opportunity and we should take it.
A former member for the largest electorate in the world - Kalgoorlie - Mr. Peter Browne, a Liberal member and protege of the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) wrote to the “Age” three weeks ago saying in effect-
– He lost his seat.
– He lost his seat because of a general swing. He pointed out that country members in electorates like that were able to make themselves better known than city members and that residents in such electorates could communicate with their members as readily as the residents in city electorates.
– Do you accept that?
– Yes. I have not the time to read all his letter, but this is the conclusion of Mr. Peter Browne, the last Conservative member for Kalgoorlie -
If ever there was a case for loading the vote of a country elector - and this I do not admit - there is certainly none today.
That is the view of the Treasurer’s protege and undoubtedly of the Treasurer himself.
There are two other matters upon which the Committee reported and upon which a critical position has again arisen - the terms and rotation of senators and the procedure for resolving disagreements between the Houses. The people should be given the opportunity - and only this Parliament can give them this opportunity - ito express their views on these remaining recommendations of the Constitutional Review Committee concerning the machinery of this Parliament. The Constitutional Review Committee was set up in 1956 to review not only the various economic deficiencies which had appeared in the Constitution, but to consider the difficulties which had recently occurred in the working of the Parliament. One of them was the fact that separate elections for the Senate and the House of Representatives had been held in 1953 and 1954 and that a premature election had had to be held for the House to bring both elections back to the same day. The second point was that the Government was to lose its majority in the Senate as from 1st July 1956. The third was that differences between the Houses could lead through a cumbrous procedure to a double dissolution and even then there could be a joint sitting on no more than one bill.
The same position has now recurred. It will not be possible to bring elections of the two Houses into harmony until the time comes to elect senators to take office in July 1968. It will not be possible to do it at the next House of Representatives elections, which must take place before March 1967. Even if the term of the House of Representatives is again truncated, there can be no concurrent election for the Senate until the elections for the House of Representatives after next. Secondly, there is no possibility pf a double dissolution except in the Easter session next year because there will not be sufficient time for the Houses to disagree before then and it will be too close to the next House elections thereafter. Thirdly, the possibility of disagreement between the Houses is now greater because the Government will once again lose its majority in the Senate after 1st July. These recurrent problems can all be solved by the people at the one referendum if the Parliament will only give them the opportunity recommended in 1958 and 1959.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- One would hesitate to disagree with the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies), particularly when he assesses the attitude of the Australian people, an exercise at which he has been uncannily right on a number of occasions. Nevertheless, being occasionally optimistic, I would hope that there may be a better prospect that a referendum can be carried in this country today than was the case, say, 25 years ago, before the war, or even 10 years ago, because I believe that we have in the community a greater proportion of young people who are better educated and more enlightened than we have ever had. Further, our Constitution is not regarded with the same reverence as, say, the American Constitution. Having said that, may I express my pleasure that there has been so much unanimity in this House on a number of matters relating to the amendment of the Constitution, particularly in regard to the desirability of increasing the number of members in this chamber? This, of course, is highly important and significant. I think the vast majority of members in this House would be prepared to accept such proposals.
The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) has dealt with a number of matters, but in the short time available to me, I shall confine myself simply to one or two that have particularly interested me. Here I am sorry to introduce, perhaps, a note of disharmony at least as far as some of my colleagues are concerned. I refer in particular to that part of the honorable gentleman’s proposal in which he speaks about the division of the State into electoral divisions.
Arguments have been advanced in the past regarding the great burdens that are laid upon country members. I confess that the functions of this House have increased greatly, but I would recall that only a dozen or so years ago the number of members of the House was doubled. I would remind the House that transport has improved greatly. Despite many complaints, roads are much better than they were, especially in country areas, and vehicles are much better than they were. These factors have eased a situation which might otherwise have become more difficult.
Again - and I think this has been pointed out - by the very fact that their electorates are small, city members are extremely accessible to their constituents. This throws a greater burden upon them. Furthermore, large numbers of new Australians live in city electorates, and although they do not have a vote and their names do not appear on the roll if they are not naturalised, nevertheless they do make considerable demands upon the time of city members. The point I really want to make in connection with this kind of argument is that the remedy is not to have a smaller number of voters in country electorates as compared with city electorates; the real remedy is to have more members. This is a point which those who think that country members have greater burdens cast upon them in serving their constituents should bear in mind. No doubt they will all be unanimously in favour of increasing the number of members in this House to remedy this particular complaint.
In the opening address given by His Excellency the Governor-General at the beginning of this Parliament, the Government indicated certain directions in which it proposes, if the Senate permits, to amend the Electoral Act. I should like to analyse very briefly what the proposed amendments amount to. I may as well put it quite plainly to begin with. The real objective is to bring about a great disparity, on a uniform basis, between the number of electors in country and city seats. As the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam) has pointed out, it would be possible under the present provisions of the law, which I trust will be altered by constitutional amendment, to have 36,000 electors as a minimum number and 54,000 as a maximum, assuming a quota of 45,000. This, of course, leaves the path wide open to gerrymander. The position should be safeguarded in the Constitution and I hope that a referendum to achieve this will be introduced, if not now at some other time, because some day the avalanche will fall.
Let us have a look at the proposed amendments. Under the Commonwealth Electoral Act as it now stands the distribution commissioners are bound to take into account certain matters. First of all, under section 19 they have to consider “ community or diversity “ of interest. This, according to the speech by the GovernorGeneral at the opening of this Parliament, is to be altered. Instead of “ community or diversity of interest” - quite a neutral matter, of course - it is to be “community of economic, social and regional interests “. I think all honorable members will see that this is quite a difference loaded in favour of rural areas. Under the existing law the commissioners have had to take into account “ means of communication “. Under the proposed legislation they will have to take into account “ difficulties of communication “. They have had to take into account “ physical features “. They will still have to do so. This does not effect the balance of representation. They have had to take into account “ existing boundaries of divisions and sub-divisions “. This is to be omitted in the new proposals. This suggests, of course, radical changes in boundaries and in one direction only - in favour of country areas.
Under the existing law the commissioners have had to take into account “ State electoral boundaries “. This is omitted simply because it is unnecessary. But certain new matters will now have to be taken into consideration. These include “ remoteness or distance “. I do not think this relates to the electorate of Bradfield somehow. Another consideration is to be “ the relative areas of proposed divisions “. The next is “ trend of population changes “. This, of course, might operate in a different direction. I do not have time to enter into the reasons why, nevertheless, this might not have the effect that some people suppose.
Obviously, the tolerance of 20 per cent., or one-fifth more or less than the quota, leaves plenty of scope for what I might call jiggery-pokery. A little bit of intimidation and a little bit of propaganda directed at the distribution commissioners might make them pay a great deal of attention to size, remoteness, difficulties of transportation and so on, and some of our friends are not unskilled in the arts of propaganda, intimidation and so forth. It so happens that in the past the division of electorates in the Federal sphere has been pretty clean. It has not been so in Queensland, in South Australia or even in New South Wales. I think that there is much to be lost by having dirty hands in this matter.
– There will not be any dirty hands.
– It should be assured through the Constitution that there will not be dirty hands in this matter. I would prefer assurances in the Constitution to assurances by Ministers. If the Government attempts to gerrymander then, inevitably, it will be met by reprisals on the other side. This is greatly to be avoided.
Over a period of time there has been an evolution towards the proposition that one vote should have one value. There has been an evolution through four phases. First, in the 18th century in England it was the powerful, the wealthy and the better educated classes who monopolised seats in the House of Commons. In the next phase it was the merchant and manufacturing classes who achieved wealth, education and power. Then came the blue collar workers, as we would call them today. Finally came the masses. Incidentally, at various stages certain tests - property tests and so forth - were imposed. These may have been fair enough in an earlier age when the people of the village had not a horizon beyond the village green. They were similar, perhaps, to the people of say Papua and New Guinea who, wc might say, do not have a horizon beyond the rim of their hills and who, therefore, are not able to exercise political power with wisdom. But today in Australia the situation is totally different.
Today there is complete literacy in this community. More and more people are leaving school later, and more and more are going to universities. I think the newspapers are more informative, although they include a lot of inferior material. There are very informative paper-backs which are widely read. Radio and television have enlightened our people. Today the whole mass of the people is better able to form political judgment than it ever was in history. The reason for discrimination between one class of people and another has disappeared.
Some of our friends would like to impose other tests. They say that people living in the country areas provide most of our exports. Well, if export earning capacity is to be a test, why not give special privileges to the steel workers of Newcastle, Port Kembla or Wollongong who also earn exports. This is a ridiculous test. What about differences in education? No. What about differences in wealth? No. Then there are the interests of the rural areas as distinct from the city areas. This, of course, is something on which a whole political party has been erected. My observation, for what it is worth, is that the still, small voice of rural interests seems to be heard loud and clear in councils where policies are determined. Tn England the Lord Chancellor still sits on the Wool Sack because this was the foundation of the British economy. Wool has not been Britain’s economic foundation for a long time. He should have been sitting on a coal sack for years, for example. Perhaps soon he ought to be seated on a nuclear pile; that is if we are to accept the principle that the foundation of the economy should also be the foundation of the Lord Chancellor.
Times can change. It may be that over the next half century or so the paramount position of wool will no longer exist in Australia. It may be that manufactures will be more important. But once the strength of the rural interests is fixed and they are given some special voting power, then forever you are fixed with that situation. I want to refer to what has happened in regard to this matter in the United States of America where rural interests were well established politically before the great manufacturing interests were developed. According to the “ New York Times “, in Nevada the population spread between the smallest and largest electoral district for the Upper House is from 568 to 127,016. So, theoretically, 8 per cent, of the voters can determine the Government. In Connecticut the range in the Lower House is from 191 to 81,089. So 12 per cent, of the people theoretically could elect the Government. In New York in the Lower House the range is from 15,044 to 314,721. So there, 34 per cent, of the people could elect the government. This is so even unto this day. Why? Because when people have power they seldom relinquish it. Legislators have not thought fit to give proper representation to the great manufacturing interests that have grown up in the last 100 years. Those interests did not have the numbers. So this is an irreversible process. Once you give special voting rights to some section of the people, you are stuck with that situation forever.
It is true, of course, that a revolutionary judgment has been given by the Supreme Court of the United States of America. That judgment is based on two simple propositions in the United States Constitution. Article I states that the House of Representatives shall be chosen “ by the People of the several States “, and that is all. The Fourteenth Amendment to that Constitution prescribes that no State shall “ deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws “. On those two simple foundations, the United States
Supreme Court has ruled that electoral districts shall be as nearly equal as is practicable. The words “ as is practicable “ allow considerable latitude, which has been hailed with delight by the Minister for the Interior (Mr. Anthony), who is now at the table, and this kind of situation of tolerance is a reason why the Australian Constitution should put such a matter beyond doubt, whatever the courts may decide.
I should like to quote the words of Chief Justice Warren, who delivered the judgment of the United States Supreme Court. He was originally a politician and he then held a different view. But when he went to the Supreme Court Bench he had to be just. In his judgment, he said -
Legislators represent people, not trees or acres. Legislators are elected by voters, not farms or cities or economic interests. To the extent that a citizen’s right to vote is debased, he is that much less a citizen. The weight of a citizen’s vote cannot be made to depend on where he lives.
So the decision of the Court was that the electoral districts - we would call them electorates - must be, as nearly as is practicable, equally populous.
Curiously enough, Sir, in section 24 our Constitution has words somewhat similar to those in the United States Constitution. This section provides -
The House of Representatives shall be composed of members directly chosen by the people of the Commonwealth . . .
Not by stones, trees or acres. I do not know what the courts would decide about such a provision. In any event, the matter should be put right in the Constitution, and I stand for the 10 per cent, tolerance recommended by the Constitutional Review Committee to limit the possibility of gerrymander in a very substantial way. I entirely agree with this and I hope that the Senate, too, will take the view that these safeguards should be provided in our Constitution. If they are not, the time will come when the avalanche will fall and those who seek to do injustice will be likely to be buried in the debris.
.- Mr. Deputy Speaker, the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies), in discussing one section of the Constitution referring to Aborigines which may be amended, used the word “ discrimination “. It seems to me that we get hold of words such as “ discrimination “ and “ Senate “ and allow them to confuse us. We say that discrimination is a bad thing. When the name “ Senate “ was chosen for the Upper House of the National Parliament of Australia, people thought that the Senate would be a States House, like the Senate of the United States, although the whole history and structure of society in the two countries was different. This is extraordinary testimony to the power of words. Discrimination is not necessarily a bad thing. It depends on the way in which one discriminates. I have said in this House before that we discriminate in favour of a man who is wounded in war, for we give him a repatriation pension. We say that he has special disabilities that need to be provided for, and he is given something that other citizens do not receive. This is right. Discrimination is right if it is necessary.
It is of no use for any honorable member to stand in this place and say that there should be no discrimination with respect to Aborigines, when the plain, unvarnished truth is that we now discriminate. In the Northern Territory, only 50 out of 5,000 aborigines receive award rates of pay. Federal arbitration awards specifically deprive fullblood Aborigines of award rates. What is the sense of saying that we must not amend section 51 (xxvi) of the Constitution, because that provision protects the Aborigines against discrimination? The true significance of this placitum is that it establishes that there is no such thing as Australian citizenship.
The founding fathers of the Commonwealth Constitution went through a whole series of extraordinary manoeuvres to destroy any concept of citizenship and any concept of citizenship in the Constitution. Their whole vision was of subjects of the Queen in an imperial Commonwealth. The opposite concept, which some of the founding fathers tried to enshrine in the Constitution, and which is excluded by section 51 (xxvi.) is the concept of citizenship laid down in the United States Constitution. The Parliament of Tasmania tried to embody this concept in our Constitution. The provision in the United States Constitution is contained in Article XIV, which provides -
All persons born or naturalised in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.
Queensland totally deprives fullblood Aborigines of the right to vote. Because there is no such thing as Australian citizenship, the Australian Parliament cannot reach into the State of Queensland and declare: “ You are depriving natural-born citizens of a right “. Section 51 (xxvi.) of our Constitution guarantees that we shall not interfere with the policy of any State on Aborigines. The policy of any State that likes to reverse our present trend and totally deprive Aborigines of any meaningful citizenship rights, including the right to vote, is beyond the power of this Parliament to deal with.
If there is such a thing as Australian citizenship, it should be safeguarded by this Parliament as, in the United States, citizenship is safeguarded at present by the President and the Congress. When American States deprive negroes of the effective right to vote, the United States President is ultimately using the sanctions of the Constitution when he puts Federal troops into those States to ensure that negroes, who are citizens of the United States, are allowed to vote. I do not suggest that we want this power to safeguard citizenship as a means of fighting the States, but I do suggest that a whole series of discriminatory laws with respect to Aborigines is necessary.
We say that we do not intend to discriminate. What rubbish! Aborigines have been occupying land in various parts of Australia since time immemorial. Yet we deny them the slightest entitlement to one square inch of that land and push them off it as soon as anything of value to a European is discovered on it. At the same time, we content ourselves with this mealy mouthed statement that we do not discriminate against Aborigines. I think that, in the sense of material standards, we have almost the worst native policy in the world. I can never join in the righteous denunciations of South Africa that we hear in this House, because, from what I have seen in South Africa, the material conditions of the natives there are immeasurably higher than the material standards of the Aborigines of Australia. There is a case for the Commonwealth Parliament to have power in rela tion to Aborigines. Those of us who travelled over much of Australia and studied the conditions of Aborigines as members of the Select Committee on Voting Rights of Aborigines realise that anyone who would say that the States have been doing a marvellous job is either very blind or very complacent.
I do not want to dwell on the matter any more except to say: For heaven’s sake, if we in this Australian Parliament cannot guarantee citizenship, let us accept the fact that our Constitution acknowledges only the status of subjects of the Queen and that, no matter how many acts of Parliament we pass, we cannot reach into the States and create any form of meaningful citizenship. Until placitum (xxvi.) of section 51 of the Constitution is amended, Aborigines can have no effective Australian citizenship.
Sitting suspended from 12.45 to 2.15 p.m.
– The discussion that we are having on the proposed constitutional amendments touched this morning in the speeches of the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) and the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) on the question of a constitutional provision to prevent gerrymandering. I do not want to make any accusation against the Country Party. Its belief in the weighting of the country vote, however, should be subject to a logical analysis. The Country Party has many times expressed the opinion that a heavy weighting given to the rural vote will lead to rural development or, at least, to development of rural amenities. I have never heard where this desirable result has worked out. South Australia is a case in point.
In South Australia the rural vote had four times the value of the metropolitan vote and, notwithstanding that, Adelaide represents within South Australia’s own State framework the greatest over-development of a capital city in the Commonwealth. It has a far greater proportion of the States population than any other capital city. This thesis that the giving of very heavy representation to the country will somehow or other lead to a dispersal of industries simply does not work out. I am not entirely certain whether my distinguished friends from the Country Party are very enthusiastic if a factory is put up in their electorate, especially if it is surrounded with Labour voters. I admit that the Leader of the Country Party (Mr. McEwen) has covered this position by saying that he is not concerned about increased Country Party representation so much as he is concerned about increased country representation. He has said that, so far as he is concerned, it is immaterial whether the country people elect a Labour representative or a Liberal representative. So I will admit that within the framework of his logic he does cover all these positions; but I think in his heart what he does hope for is increased Country Party representation.
Nevertheless, I want to say that I do not think representation has had anything whatever to do with the development of rural industries. If it had, South Australia would be the clearest case in point of a high development of industry and spread of population outside the capital city. I think we just have to come back to the point that what we are asking for are constitutional guarantees that the people of Australia will get the Government that they elect. We have seen for a long time in South Australia a government elected which for many years did not have a majority of the votes cast in its favour. If we are to come to the view that the Australian people should have a government that they do not elect, why not abolish elections altogether and have the Governor-General nominate both Houses of Parliament and be done with it? Surely it is a very important request that we as an Opposition are putting forward in this constitutional amendment following the unanimous report of the Joint Committee on Constitutional Review, representing all parties - that there should be no gerrymander and that there should be legal or constitutional guarantees against a gerrymander.
One of the interesting things that the Joint Committee on Constitutional Review pointed out is that the provision in section 29 of the Constitution that the Parliament of the Commonwealth was given power to take from the States the function of drawing the electoral boundaries was deliberately designed to prevent gerrymandering. Again, they were drawing their analogies from American experience. The States of America, when they had the power to draw Federal electoral boundaries, had grossly gerrymandered them; and, because of this experience, the power was vested in the Commonwealth Parliament to draw the boundaries of its own electorates. As the intention was to avoid a gerrymander and the Constitution in this section was framed with that motive, it would be a complete tragedy if we did not at this present period of time proceed to see that this national Parliament puts guarantees into the Constitution to ensure that the Australian people shall get the Government that they elect.
On this question of the rural vote there appear to me to be problems that are insuperable. 1 do not see that representation leads to the development of industry. We are having a very heavy expenditure in the north of Western Australia on the development of the Ord River project, but the political representation of the Ord in this Parliament is by one member. It is not suggested that the honorable member for Kalgoorlie (Mr. Collard) sits in this place with the other 123 members all hostile to the development of the Ord River because it happens to be in his electorate and that we should have 20 members for Kalgoorlie to ensure the development of the Ord scheme. This thesis that the development rests upon the multiplicity of representation is pretty weak. I cannot see how anyone can stop a stocking manufacturer who intends to open a factory from putting it near Sydney or Melbourne or some existing great magnet of population where he has his labour and materials. If we have private investment going where it gets the best return, we have what we have had in our country the whole time - the constant enlargement and development of the capital cities. So we must come back to the proposition that when we are dealing with representation we are dealing with the representation of people. I believe that we should get as near to the old Chartist principle of equal electoral districts as we can. I think that the suggestion by the Joint Committee on Constitutional Review that a 10 per cent, variation either way is sufficient is a good one.
I have friends who have a farm of 1 1 ,000 acres. Once upon a time that area was’ occupied by five farms. We are getting this constant consolidation of properties and the enlargement of properties throughout Western Australia, with farms becoming businesses requiring more and more capital and producing more and more of everything except Country Party voters. But I do not know how we can resist this trend. I certainly do not think we should alter our electoral distribution to try to make up for it. I believe that the Country Party, holding the balance of power as it has for many years, has been quite able to give whatever representation the rural interests needed, 1 leave the subject of guarantees against gerrymander and move on to the nexus between the House of Representatives and the Senate whereby the House of Representatives must be twice the size of the Senate. This, again, is based on the belief that because the Senate was called the Senate it would be a States’ House, like the Senate of the United States of America. Actually ths Senate of the U.S. began as an ambassadorial body. The whole American Constitution grew out of war. The Continental Congress was an alliance, in effect, and the concept underlying the Senate was really ambassadorial. The Senate consisted of ambassadors of the States who held their alliance together to fight for independence. The Senate of the U.S. was given very great powers for this reason and it was really intended that, with the President, it should be the vital part of the Government of the U.S. Because we called our second chamber a Senate, for some reason or other we thought that it would be a States House like the United States Senate. But, in point of fact, it is just another upper house in the context of the British system of responsible government, in which the executive is not an independent president standing, with his nominated cabinet, separate altogether from the Parliament, but a cabinet sitting within the Parliament and depending upon the confidence of the House of Representatives.
The crises between this House and the Senate have never been on State issues. No-one could pretend that the double dissolution of 1913 on the question of preference to unionists was on a State issue in which the Senate was defending State interests. No-one could pretend that the crisis between this House and the Senate in 1951 over the structure of the Commonwealth Bank of Australia was on a State issue in which the Senate was defending States interests. Yet those are the two matters upon which there have been double dissolutions. We can sit here and wrack our brains to find a State issue On which there has been a crisis between this House and the Senate, and I think the only one that we will find is in relation to the Queensland sugar industry. That industry is confined to one State or at least there is a distinctive Queensland interest in it. But every other interest that is represented by members of the Country Party - for instance, the wheat, wool and dairy industries - transcends State frontiers and nothing which is distinctive and which we can say it a State matter is done by the Senate in respect of those interests.
The theory that there must not be more than twice as many members of the House of Representatives as there are senators was really designed to cover the contingency of joint sittings. It was felt that a State interest represented by the Senate would be swamped if the size of the House of Representatives were three or four times as great as that of the Senate. But, in the entire experience of the Australian Parliament since Federation, that has worked out not to be a consideration that actually matters. We members of the Opposition, therefore, believe that this link between the size of the House of Representatives and the size of the Senate should be cut.
As the Prime Minister has said, we may want to increase the size of the House of Representatives by a smaller number than would be required by the minimum acceptable increase in the size of the Senate. If we were to increase the number of senators by 12, giving each State two more senators we would be involved in increasing the number of members of this House by 24. We may want to increase the size of this House by 10; but we cannot do that at present. I believe that the plea made by the Leader of the Opposition for the removal of the nexus is sound because there is no discernible State interest represented by the Senate which could be overwhelmed by the abolition of this link between the sizes of the two Houses.
We endorse the warnings of the honorable member for Bradfield (Mr. Turner) about the dangerous and permanent nature of gerrymanders. We certainly hope that the path of the Government will not be to make provisions to destroy the essential democratic nature of the Parliament by gerrymanders.
– Mr. Speaker, I wish to make a personal explanation. Shortly after the sitting was suspended for lunch, the Minister for the Interior (Mr. Anthony) expressed to me his resentment at what he believed to be a slur that I had cast upon him. I wish to make it clear that I had no such intention. When I spoke about a gerrymander, I meant simply the proposed introduction of certain amendments to the Commonwealth Electoral Act, which would have the effect of overweighting the interests of one section of the community. That is what I meant by a gerrymander.
When I spoke about propaganda in favour of undue weight being given to area, difficulties of communication and so forth, I did not mean that I thought the Minister himself would be twisting the arms of the distribution commissioners. I referred rather to the kind of propaganda which the Leader of the Country Party (Mr. McEwen), for example, has directed at the people in general and which, no doubt, the distribution commissioners themselves have had ears to hear, again emphasising area, difficulties of communication and so forth.
– What did you mean when you spoke of intimidation by Ministers?
– I did not.
– Yes, you did.
– I will explain precisely what I meant. I meant that the Leader of the Country Party expresses himself in very forceful language and, when he expresses himself in that language and speaks about the necessity for the recognition of the disabilities suffered by country members, that is apt, perhaps because of his position and his weight in the community, to have a considerable influence upon those people who hear him, including the distribution commissioners.
.- The speech made by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) this morning brought forward proposals for electoral reform. From the speech made by the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) it appeared that he was not in disagreement with those proposals. From where I stand, I do not find myself in disagreement with them either. One of the proposals is to increase the size of the House of Representatives. If that will have the effect of making larger electorates somewhat smaller, I am certainly in favour of it. Despite what the honorable member for Bradfield (Mr. Turner) has said, the people who represent country electorates in this House, no matter to what party they belong, have difficulty in representing them well and properly and in putting themselves before the people. It is not as easy for them to do that as it is for a member representing a small electorate.
My electorate of Gippsland happens to be the second largest electorate in Victoria, but it is not very big compared with the gigantic electorates in some of the other States. It has its complexities, because of its nature. It contains 14 shires, including 2 cities; 200 schools, 12 agricultural societies, 27 Returned Servicemen’s League clubs and 10 Rotary clubs. I could add to that list, because each one of the shires and cities has all the organisations that go to make a happy, healthy and progressive community. At some time during each year, I, as the Federal member for the district, am called upon to meet the members of those organisations. That is one of the problems of the country member, no matter to what party he belongs. Let us not overlook that. The honorable member for Bradfield should come with me on a couple of weekends and see the sort of itinerary that I have to keep and the miles that I have to drive to keep engagements in my electorate. So, I do not find myself in disagreement with that proposal. If there are to be more members of the House of Representatives, I hope that the increase certainly will reduce the size of the large electorates.
In regard to the practicability of fitting more members into this chamber, I do not think there is any difficulty about that. With due respect to you, Mr. Speaker, I suggest that your chair could be pushed back through the wall behind you. That wall and the Press gallery could go back a little further. The arms of the horseshoe-shaped seating arrangement could be extended to accommodate the new members. But there is one difficulty. The members who now are squeezed into offices, with three or four members in each office - particularly those, such as myself, whose offices are in Siberia, upstairs on the Senate side of this building - are hoping that when the new wing is opened the congestion will be relieved and we Siberian members will have our offices closer to the centre of activity. By increasing the number of members in the House of Representatives by too many we will add to the confusion that exists at present. That point should be studied well.
Some people inside and outside this place - I include the honorable member for Bradfield in this - seem to place a different emphasis on where political representation should come from and from where the balance of political representation should come. The honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Beazley) mentioned the United States at one stage, lt is interesting to note that in the United Kingdom the five major cities, including London, have 145 seats in the House of Commons in a total of 630, or 23 per cent, of the total number. In the United States the five major cities have 61 seats in the House of Representatives in a total of 435, or 14 per cent, of the total number. In Australia, the five major cities are represented in the House of Representatives by 60 members out of a total of 122 members - 49 per cent, of the total representation. These are remarkable figures. It would seem that the United States, which physically is somewhat similar to Australia, in trying to determine proper policies for development has discovered the need for a spread of electoral representation. The United Kingdom, which after all is smaller in size than Victoria, has also recognised the need for a spread of electoral representation.
Of course, there is only one way under our Constitution whereby we can get a spread of electoral representation, and that is by the weighting of electorates. In 1948, when the Australian Labour Party was in power and there was a redistribution, my electorate was given a weighting of 14.3 per cent, below the quota. The gigantic electorate of Kalgoorlie in Western Australia was given a weighting of 16.35 per cent, below the quota. The small city electorate of Curtin, in Western Australia, was given a weighting of 13.12 per cent, above the quota. So in 1948 the Australian Labour Party apparently recognised the need for a spread of electoral reresentation and from listening to the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) this morning I do not think he disagrees with that principle. He is probably in favour of it still, although I think he referred to a tolerance of about 10 per cent. Frankly, I do not think the proposition goes far enough, because although Australia is one of the large land masses of the world, and is the most sparsely populated continent, it is the most centralised nation, lt is an undeniable fact that those who live on less than 1 per cent, of our land mass are in a position to dictate the policies which govern the development of the whole of Australia. Because of that, I dispute what the honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Beazley) said about this. I think that the 20 per cent, weighting of electorates, provision for which is written into our electoral law and has been there for 60 years, is the minimum which we can find acceptable. After all, the United Kingdom has 100 per cent, weighting of electorates for what it calls “ remote electorates “. If we are to get dispersal of population and balanced development of industry we must come back to the grass roots of the situation and must have decentralisation of political representation.
This is not an attempt at gerrymandering, as has been suggested by many members. We members of the Country Party have had to live with the term “ gerrymander “ for some time. We are not asking for a gerrymander. All we ask is for the implementation of a law which was agreed to in 1901 and which has not been amended. To prove my sincerity, and that of the Australian Country Party, on this question of gerrymandering I suggest that a judge should act as redistribution commissioner. This would lift the whole atmosphere of redistribution right out of the party political scene. I do not think it is fair that paid employees of the Commonwealth should, as redistribution commissioners, make decisions of this type. I am not casting aspersions at redistribution commissioners, but let us examine the position in Western Australia during the last redistribution. Western Australia was to lose one seat, and six seats in Western Australia were to be contained in or around Perth and another two seats away from Perth. On the figures I studied it seemed that six of those seats would go to the Liberal Party, one to the Labour Party and the other to either the Liberal Party or the Country
Party. I repeat, I am not casting aspersions at the commissioners, but let anyone who talks about gerrymandering examine the Western Australian situation. We should have a judge in charge of the redistribution commissioners, who could act as advisers to him. If we appoint a judge of probity and experience he can give full weight to amendments of our electoral legislation mentioned by the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) in his policy speech, and which will come before this Parliament.
To prove my sincerity I would go further. I do not think that even the selection of a judge would be sufficient. I think that in future all the evidence on redistribution should be made public. It is completely inequitable that false or biased evidence can be given to a redistribution commission and can go unchallenged. What sort of evidence goes before a redistribution commission? Does the honorable member for Grayndler (Mr. Daly) know what evidence went before the redistribution commission about his electorate? Of course not. He is not in a position to know. Let all the evidence given to redistribution commissions be made public. It is true to say that unchallenged evidence given before redistribution commissioners could influence unfairly their attitude to electoral boundaries. I pointed to Western Australia as an example. What evidence went before the redistribution commissioners in Western Australia? Does anybody know? I do not know. All I know is that there was something wrong with the redistribution in Western Australia, and as a member of this Parliament I will be hard to convince that there was not something wrong.
I know of no arena where evidence is given to influence decisions affecting the public interest where opportunity for the right to challenge that evidence is not automatic. As examples I need cite only the Tariff Board, royal commissions, courts of law or the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission. The decisions of all these bodies affect public interest, and on every occasion when evidence is given before them any individual has the right to challenge that evidence. It is only fair and just that a redistribution commission, whose decisions affect the electoral representation of this House, should also hear the evidence in public. The evidence at present is given in secret and is not made public. It is not open to challenge, and that situation is not good enough. Let us get rid of this hole and corner method. Justice must not only be done, but must be seen to be done. Let us begin by having public scrutiny of all evidence given to the commissioners.
– Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. The honorable member for Gippsland, following on the matter raised by the Leader of the Country Party (Mr. McEwen) and the honorable member for Bradfield (Mr. Turner) about reflections on a Minister, is, in effect, stating that the previous Minister for the Interior (Mr. Freeth) was a party to a crooked gerrymander in Western Australia. I take it as a reflection on the former Minister for the Interior. I am not going to ask for it to be withdrawn; that is not my worry - but I point out to you, Mr. Speaker, that this is a matter which requires your judgment.
– I rise to speak to the point of order, Mr. Speaker. I challenge the basis of the point of order. My colleague has made no reference whatever to the former Minister for the Interior, therefore the honorable member for Grayndler has no point of order.
– Order! As a matter of fact, the Minister has jumped my claim. I point out to the honorable member for Grayndler that the honorable member for Gippsland has made no direct charge against any former Minister.
– Thank you, Mr. Speaker. The members of the Country Party in this House are asking for the implementation of a law which has existed for 60 years. We are asking for the implementation of a principle to which the parties in all States seem to adhere. Are the State Liberal Parties of Western Australia and Queensland parties to a gerrymander because they have weighting of electorates? Is the Labour Party in New South Wales party to a gerrymander because it has weighting of electorates? Are the Country Parties of Western Australia and Queensland parties to gerrymander? Of course not. Weighting of electorates is a principle which is recognised not only in the Australian States but which is used continuously in the United Kingdom and in the United States. They certainly have better balanced development than we have in Australia.
I repeat that gerrymanders are more likely to be continued by hiding the evidence given to commissioners or even by some snide twisting of the arms of commissioners. In saying that, I do not wish to reflect on the commissioners. Let us remove forever this atmosphere. Let us have the light of public scrutiny on future redistributions.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Duthie) adjourned.
Message received from the Senate intimating that it had agreed to the following resolutions -
That Senator Laught be appointed to fill the vacancy on the Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs.
That until such time as the vacancies for members of the Senate on the Committee are filled by members of the Opposition, Senator Branson be a member of the Committee.
Bill presented by Mr. Adermann, and read a first time.
– I move -
That the Bill be now read a second time.
The Australian poultry industry, through its principal producer body, the Council of Egg Marketing Authorities of Australia, has drawn the attention of the Government to the critical economic situation that has developed in the industry, and has submitted proposals to the Government which will introduce a measure of stability into the industry - a stability which so far this industry has been unable to obtain under State government legislation. In order that honorable members will fully understand the situation, which is rather complex, I propose to touch briefly on the egg marketing system practised in Australia, followed by an explanation of the problems that have arisen and the action that the Commonwealth Government proposes to take to rectify the situation.
The marketing of the eggs produced in Australia is primarily the responsibility of the State egg marketing boards which are constituted for this purpose under State legislation. In an endeavour to assist the producers with the disposal of that portion of their production which is surplus to local demand, the Commonwealth Government has established the Australian Egg Board to market export surpluses. All State egg boards are enabled to use the facilities of the Australian Egg Board, to avoid export competition amongst themselves, if they so desire. The net prices which the boards pay producers for their eggs are normally comprised of two components. These are the relatively high returns from local sales and low returns from export sales. All producers who market through their State egg boards incur deductions, commonly called equalisation levies, from their gross payments, to meet the losses experienced from sales by the boards in export markets. In recent years, export prices have been very low indeed and in some years production surpluses have been high. A high surplus means high equalisation levies and a lowering of the net returns to producers.
When equalisation levies are high, many producers avoid paying their levies by illegally selling their eggs intrastate or legally selling them interstate under the protection of section 92 of the Constitution. This means that any losses from export sales have to be met by those producers who market through their boards. Obviously, the greater the number of producers who avoid paying the levy, the higher the unit rate of levy has to be on the remainder. The effect of this higher levy is to encourage even greater numbers to trade outside of their boards and this in turn necessitates a further rise in the levy. The chairman of one of the State egg boards recently stated that his board had lost one-third of its local market to interstate operators.
The end result of this type of situation will be chaos in the egg marketing system and the State egg boards themselves will be forced to trade interstate in competition with their own producers if they are to survive. No board or individual will be prepared to sell on the export market, and cut threat competition on the Australian market will force prices down until eventually they are at approximately the same level as the export prices. The industry as we know it today could not possibly survive under these conditions, and only some of the very large operators would be able to carry on in the hope that their losses could be recouped at a later date when there was a general famine in eggs. The egg industry would be a speculator industry with recurring gluts and famines and consequent violent fluctuations in prices to consumers. The quality of eggs would also suffer.
It was with these facts in mind that the Council of Egg Marketing Authorities of Australia, known as C.E.M.A., approached the Commonwealth Government with its stabilisation proposals, which are designed to ensure that all producers bear their share of the losses experienced in the disposal of the export surplus which they help to create. The purpose of this Bill is to impose a levy in respect of hens which are kept for commercial purposes and which have reached six months of age. This is the means sought by the industry as the most practical way of achieving an equal contribution by all producers towards the losses mentioned above, and is the principal feature of the stabilisation proposals submitted by C.E.M.A.
There is other legislation necessary to implement these proposals. This other legislation concerns the collection and distribution of the levy, and I shall deal with these aspects in two other bills which I propose to introduce in conjunction with this Bill. However, I would like to emphasise now that all of the proceeds of the levy will be repaid to the industry through the State egg boards. The boards will use the proceeds to meet trading losses on exports in place of the proceeds they had previously obtained from their equalisation levies.
The levy proposed is to be applied at the end of each fortnight at a rate to be laid down by regulations, after recommendations in this respect by the C.E.M.A. have been considered. The rate may be no higher than that recommended by C.E.M.A. The President of C.E.M.A. has foreshadowed that the rate it will recommend to operate from 1st July 1965 will be 3id. per fortnight, which on an annual basis is approximately 7s. per hen. The levy is not to be applied to the first twenty hens. This number of hens is chosen as it is considered adequate to provide sufficient eggs to meet the need of a producer and his family. The levy is payable by the owner of the hen and there is provision for exemption from the levy of prescribed classes of hens.
As the introduction of this Bill implies, the Commonwealth Government has endorsed the C.E.M.A. stabilisation plan. However, before it did so, State Governments were canvassed to ascertain if they would be prepared to implement a basically similar scheme. The States, after examining this proposition by the Commonwealth, declined to undertake the implementation of such a scheme on the grounds that a levy similar to that proposed held legal problems for the States, and in any event the industry needed stabilising on a Commonwealth rather than a State basis. After endorsing the C.E.M.A. scheme, the Commonwealth Government agreed to prepare draft legislation for the State Governments to examine and the Commonwealth also gave an undertaking that if the States supported the draft legislation it would be placed before the Commonwealth Parliament for consideration at the earliest opportunity. All State Governments have now indicated their support for this legislation.
The industry itself has shown its support for the scheme which was unanimously endorsed by the C.E.M.A. The CE-M-A. is a body comprised of all the members of all the State egg marketing boards and a substantial majority of its membership consists of producers elected by their fellow producers. The Bill, together with the other two bills I have mentioned previously, gives an important Australian industry the opportunity to stabilise itself, lt places the affairs of the industry virtually in ils own hands but does not involve the Commonwealth in any residual financial liability. It is a measure devised by the industry for the industry and, if passed, its successful continuation rests with the industry. I commend the Bill to the House.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Pollard) adjourned.
– by leave - For the information of honorable members I lay before the House copies of the following correspondence between the President of the United States of America and myself relating to the possible effects of measures taken by the United States Government to improve the balance of payments position of the United States of America -
Letter dated 12th March 1965 from the Prime
Minister of Australia to the President of the United States of America.
Letter dated 12th March 1965 from the President of the United States of America to the Prime Minister of Australia.
Letter dated 24th March 1965 from the President of the United States of America to the Prime Minister of Australia.
I table these documents and copies will be available for all honorable members. So there is no need for me to read them to the House at this stage. Honorable members will see that in his letter of 24th March the President made it clear that the door is open for discussion and, as I understand it, elucidation of the United States policies. As these matters are of great moment for us, I have asked the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) to pay a short few days visit to Washington to have talks with the Administration. The Treasurer can do this immediately after the discussions with the Premiers and would not need to be absent for more than a relatively few days. Because I think honorable members would wish to have an opportunity of debating the issues involved. I present the following paper -
United States of America Balance of Payments Programme - Ministerial Statement, 1st April 1965- and move -
That the House take note of the papers.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Calwell) adjourned.
– by leave - I wish to inform the House that discussions will be held in Canberra next week between officials of the British, New Zealand and Australian Governments about some important Nauruan matters. These three Governments are jointly responsible for the administration of Nauru under a United Nations Friendship Agreement and are partners in the British Phosphate Commission. The talks to be held next week are in preparation for later talks with representatives of the Nauruans. Honorable members will recall that talks took place in August last as part of a series of discussions with representatives of the Nauru Local Government Council. These talks have been concerned with possibilities of resettling the Nauruan people, political advancement for the Nauruans, the level of royalties payable on phosphate exports from Nauru, together with other matters related to the phosphate industry.
The question of resettlement of the Nauruan people, who number about 2,700, was discussed very fully at these talks in August 1964. Australia had offered to the Nauruans the prospect of establishing themselves on Curtis Island off the Queensland port of Gladstone. It was proposed that they should become Australian citizens and that arrangements would be made that would allow them to have extensive powers of local government and to retain their distinctive identity as a Nauruan community. The costs of resettlement, estimated at £10 million, would be met out of funds provided by the Governments of Australia, Britain and New Zealand.
The Nauruan representatives agreed that Curtis Island was generally suitable as a place for resettlement. They said, however, that they did not wish to become Australian citizens or to be subject to Australian laws in such matters as taxation, immigration and customs. They said that, after careful deliberation and discussion, the Nauruan people had come to the view that the difference of approach between the Commonwealth Government and the Nauruans left no prospect of agreement about Curtis Island or about any other island close to the Australian coast. Defence and quarantine matters might be the subject of treaties between the Nauruans on Curtis Island and the Commonwealth Government and possibly some arrangements might be made in relation to external affairs; apart from these matters, however, if they were to resettle on Curtis Island it would be as a separate and independent nation and the Commonwealth had said that it could not accept this. They stated categorically, therefore, that the proceedings for the acquisition of properties at Curtis Island for their resettlement should be discontinued and that they intended to remain on the island of Nauru. The representatives of the Australian Government in these discussions urged the Nauruans not to close the door upon resettlement but the Nauruans maintained their attitude.
The Australian Government has given this question the fullest consideration. It has come to the conclusion that, in view of the very clear attitude of the Nauruan representatives, the particular re-settlement proposals involving Curtis Island should be dropped. In order to end uncertainty about their future position, the residents of Curtis Island and the Queensland Government have been informed. The Australian Government has no other specific proposals to make to the Nauruans regarding their resettlement. It still considers, however, that, in view of the inevitable growth in the present population, the high standard of living enjoyed by the Nauruan people, the small size of Nauru and the limitations of its natural resources other than phosphate, in the long run the Nauruans’ own interests will require resettlement. The Australian Government, therefore, whilst not pursuing the proposal for resettlement at Curtis Island, remains of the view that resettlement is desirable in the interests of the Nauruans and will consider any new suggestions by the Nauruans in the spirit of willingness to co-operate in solving this continuing problem. In accordance with the usual practice, a visiting mission from the United Nations will shortly be visiting Nauru and the mission will have the opportunity, in the course of its visit, to test the attitude of the Nauruans towards resettlement.
The discussions with the partner governments and with the Nauruans will also cover the arrangements for government of the island. The Nauru Local Government Council representatives in last year’s talks asked that a Legislative Council be established in 1965 and that they be given independence by 1967. The Australian Government undertook that it would examine carefully the possibilities of greater participation by the Nauruans in the administration of Nauru. The Nauruans proposed in August that ownership of the phosphate industry should be transferred to the Nauruan people. The Australian representatives, in indicating that this request could not be agreed to, pointed to the present and future benefits accruing to the Nauruan people from the vigorous and efficient phosphate industry. They explained that the legal basis for the British Phosphate Commission’s operations stemmed from the pur chase of phosphate rights from the commercial undertaking which had owned them before the First World War.
Another important matter that has been under discussion is the level of phosphate royalties. In August 1964 the Nauruans were offered an increase of 50 per cent, from 2s. 8d. to 4s. per ton in the cash payments to be made to or on behalf of the Nauruan people. This was in addition to meeting the costs of administration on the Island of approximately lis. per ton. An offer was also made, related to a proposed increase in output of phosphate, for an increase from ls. to 3s. per ton in payments to the Long Term Investment Fund which was created several years ago to provide a fund for the benefit of the Nauruan people after the phosphates were exhausted. At current rates of interest and on the proposed rate of output of phosphate, the fund would build up to approximately £20 million. The Nauruan delegation had proposed an increase in royalties to 14s. 8d. per ton but this was not accepted by the Australian Government. The level of phosphate royalties along with the other matters I have mentioned will be further considered with partner governments next week and later with the Nauruans when talks can be arranged with them.
I present the following paper -
Nauru - Ministerial Statement, 1st April 1965- and move -
That the House take note cf the paper.
Debate (on motion by Dr. J. F. Cairns) adjourned.
Bill presented by Mr. Adermann, and read a first time.
– I move -
That the Bill be now read a second time.
The purpose of this Bill is to provide the machinery for the collection of the levy imposed under the Poultry Industry Levy Bill. The Bill makes provision for the Commonwealth Government to make arrangements with the State Governments for the State egg marketing boards to collect the levy on behalf of the Commonwealth and for the money collected to be paid to the
Commonwealth. At present the State egg boards impose equalisation levies and either collect them from the producers whose eggs do not pass through the boards’ floors, or deduct them from the amounts which the boards owe the producers whose eggs do pass through the boards’ floors. Under the new stabilisation proposals which this legislation helps to implement, the State egg boards will cease collecting equalisation levies, and on behalf of the Commonwealth will collect instead the levies imposed under the Poultry Industry Levy Bill.
As the State boards will need to continue to make charges on producers for administration purposes, producers can have both State and Commonwealth charges deducted by the State egg boards, or can pay these charges to the State boards, instead of making separate payments to State and Commonwealth authorities. The methods provided for in this Bill have been agreed to by the State Governments and endorsed by producers as the most convenient means of payment of the proposed levy. I commend the Bill to the House.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Pollard) adjourned.
Bill presented by Mr. Adermann, and read a first time.
– I move -
That the Bill be now read a second time.
This Bill provides for the creation of a Poultry Industry Trust Fund and for payment into this Fund of amounts equal to the amounts collected under the Poultry Industry Levy Collection Bill. Payments out of the Fund are to be made to the State Governments for financial assistance to the poultry industry. These payments for financial assistance to the poultry industry are designed to meet the trading losses experienced by the State egg boards in the disposal of surplus eggs. The Minister for Primary Industry is to authorise the amounts to be paid to the States, after taking into account any recommendations of the Council of Egg Marketing Authorities of Australia. The Council is a predominantly producer body comprised of all the members of all the State egg boards, and is the body best fitted to make recommendations in respect of the trading losses experienced by the State egg boards.
As the State egg boards will cease collecting equalisation levies when this legislation is implemented, they will need finance to enable them to continue paying producers for their eggs. To meet this requirement, this Bill provides for arrangements to be made with the Reserve Bank of Australia to loan money when necessary to the State egg boards under Commonwealth Government guarantee. If the Commonwealth Government is ever called on to meet the guarantee, money standing to the credit of the Poultry Industry Trust Fund shall be used to meet the guarantee. There is also provision in the Bill for an annual report on the operation of the Act and for the making of regulations. The Bill is supported by the State Governments and by the poultry industry, and, as part of the legislation aimed at stabilising the Australian poultry industry, will fulfil a need in the industry which has been evident for many years. I commend the Bill to the House.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Pollard) adjourned.
– by leave - I should like to report to the House the progress that has been made in discussions between the Commonwealth Government and the Executive of the Australian Wool Industry Conference on the question of a conservative reserve price scheme for wool. Further details have still to be discussed with the Conference which, after its meeting on 22nd April, will make recommendations to me on such matters as voting qualifications and whether a referendum of growers should be compulsory. If a compulsory referendum is decided upon, it will be necessary for me to introduce legislation into the House. This would provide an opportunity to debate the proposals I shall now set out.
Proposals for a conservative reserve scheme, based on the recommendations of the Australian Wool Board, were submitted to the Government by the Executive of the Conference last year. After initial consideration of the proposals, the Government appointed an inter-departmental committee to make a detailed study of certain aspects of the scheme. Following consideration by the Government of the inter-departmental committee’s report and subsequent negotiations with the Executive of the Conference, the Government and the Executive have reached agreement on the main elements of a scheme.
I can now inform honorable members that the Government has agreed in principle to the introduction of a conservative reserve price scheme within the auction system, along the lines agreed upon, providing that wool growers approve such a scheme at a referendum. The next stage will be for the proposals agreed between the Government and the Executive to be considered by the full Australian Wool Industry Conference.
The main features of the proposed scheme are -
Wool growers would contribute, by way of levy, a capital fund of £30 million over a period of seven years.
Apart from the growers’ capital fund, the scheme would have ready access to additional financial backing of £50 million. The arrangements for this backing are still under negotiation.
In addition to the levy for the capital of the scheme, wool growers would pay a small annual levy for a contingency fund to be used in meeting the the operating costs of the scheme when necessary.
The levies for capital and contingency funds of the scheme would be collected as part of an overall levy not exceeding 3 per cent, per annum of the gross proceeds of wool sold, which would also cover growers’ commitments for promotion and their current contribution for research.
The annual levy for the capital of the scheme would be not less than 1 per cent, and all receipts from the levy fixed for capital purposes would be paid into the capital fund. If this rate did not yield a minimum of £4 million in any one year the deficiency would be made up from the total proceeds of the overall levy of 3 per cent, by adjustments of the receipts from the other components of the 3 per cent.
After reaching the level £30 million by accumulated wool grower contributions, interest earnings and net profits, the capital fund would be revolved. However, only the amounts actually contributed by wool growers by way of levy would be repaid to them under the revolving arrangement.
To enable the scheme to start before sufficient growers’ funds are accumulated, the Government would be prepared to make advances to the scheme for the buying-in of wool.
The Government decided that it would guarantee the provision of any further funds that might prove necessary beyond the £80 million.
The Government and the Executive of the Conference are agreed that the average reserve price must be kept within a conservative range. While recognising that no precise formula can be laid down for this purpose, the Government wishes to ensure that all possible care is exercised in determining reserve prices. To this end, certain general objectives, guiding principles and criteria have been agreed upon with the Executive of the Conference.
To administer the scheme an authority would be set up within the framework of the Wool Industry Act 1962-64. The reserve price authority would be autonomous in regard to the administration of the scheme.
The scheme would be subject to a complete review in the fifth year of its operation.
In regard to the question of the control of private selling which has been raised by the Executive of the Conference, the Government has undertaken that, if a reserve price scheme is introduced and it is found that exports of privately bought wool are militating against the effectiveness of reserve prices, the Government will take corrective action.
The Chairman of the Australian Wool Industry Conference, Dr. J. Melville, has informed me that he will be sending details of the proposals agreed upon by the Government and the Conference Executive to all members of the Conference. The proposals will be considered by the full Conference at its meeting in Canberra on 22nd April, 1965.
Debate resumed from 17th March (vide page 72), on motion by Mr. Bury -
That the Bills be now read a second time.
.- The Opposition is opposing Customs Tariff Bill (No. 1) and the other related Bills. It is doing so because it objects to the removal of the temporary duty on processed continuous filament fibre yarns. We consider this matter to be of great importance. It is necessary therefore to register our opposition to the action by opposing the Bills as a whole. As the House is aware, the Bill covers a fairly wide range of products. The Opposition offers no objection to the proposals in respect of the tariff changes that are being made, but it does offer strong opposition to the proposal to remove the temporary duty on these man made fibre yarns. I repeat that in order to register that opposition we are opposing the Bills as a whole.
I do not intend to take up the time of the House by discussing the other items that come under the Bill. I intend to use my time on discussing the matter with which the Opposition is primarily concerned. The situation is that there are about five producers in Australia engaging in the production of these processed continuous filament fibre yarns. I think all of them are in Victoria, five of them being in the metropolitan area of Melbourne, one in Bendigo and one in Shepparton. To begin with, the location of the industry is one that, it seems on the face of it, it should be the responsibility of the Government to try to preserve. There is some element of rural location, with the provision of employment in Bendigo and Shepparton. Greater detail in respect of this, and the importance of these industries to the towns concerned, will be given by the honorable member for Bendigo (Mr. Beaton) a little later.
I shall now deal with the structure of the industry. The raw yarns aire processed by two large producers in Australia, namely
Fibremakers Ltd. and Courtaulds (Aust.) Ltd. which are at the point of considerably expanding their plant for the production of these processed yarns. The industry is supplied by a considerable volume of imports, very largely from Great Britain and other countries in the Western world. This is a matter which I shall deal with particularly in a few minutes. The industry is considerably protected at the point of importation of the raw material. That is the first point that the House must note. The second point is that it will not be sufficiently protected, if this Bill goes through and becomes law, at the point of the production of the processed yarns. That is the subject of our objection.
There has been a permanent duty of 12i per cent, under the most favoured nation provision, but on imports from Britain - the British preferential tariff - there is no prohibition at all. That is the permanent situation, and that will be the situation if this Bill becomes law. After an examination in June 1953 by the Special Advisory Authority a temporary duty of 25 per cent, was imposed on the importation of these yarns. This Bill proposes to remove that temporary duty. The first thing that impresses one on examining this industry is the apparent and striking contradiction that exists, as it must, in increasing force in the industry. By that I mean that we are protecting the importation of raw materials for processing to the raw yarn stage by two, or perhaps only one, large producer. In other words, a very large monopolistic concern - which is really the Imperial Chemical Industries company - is being protected while it is laying down plans for increased output in the future with obviously only one purpose in mind. There is no suggestion that these raw yarns are going to be exported from Australia. All we know is that they are going to be processed in Australia. I want to know who is going to process them. If the five relatively small concerns that are not integrated with the two large ones are right - and I believe they are right - in saying that unless something is done they will have to reduce output to below an economic level or that they will have to close down altogether, I want to know who is going to process the yarns that result from fibre making, ls this Bill an indication of an attempt completely to monopolise the processing industry from the raw chemical base onwards? I suspect that it is. I think that what we are going to be involved in in the course of the year, when we have the Tariff Board’s report on the chemical industry as a whole before us, will be the protection at increasing rates of the basic chemical processors in this country. To my way of thinking, we shall be laying the foundation for an integrated monopolistic structure from bottom to top.
That is what seems to me to be involved, for it would not be reasonable to assume that we are planning for the development of a basic chemical industry for processing these yarns to the raw yarn stage if the yarns were not going to be processed further somewhere else in Australia. If the small independent concerns like the five about whom we are concerned in this Bill are not going to be able to process them, then who is? If they are not, then quite clearly it will be possible for the large concerns which are laying down the foundations of the process, as the fibre makers are in this case, to obtain either control or ownership of the processing firms which, further along in the vertical integration, could supply them with raw materials at reduced rates and so enable them to compete effectively against any independent competitor in the industry. Therefore I think the mechanism of monopoly is being laid by the kind of legislation we are considering this afternoon.
This is in strange contrast with the attitude of a government which, for five years, has considered the introduction of antimonopoly or restrictive trade practices legislation. The great day when the Attorney-General (Mr. Snedden) will come into this House with that legislation has been long awaited by the people of this country. The Government has become notable as one which does not keep promises, and it has made many promises. First, it promised many long years ago to put value back into the £1. Now, after having promised to introduce legislation to deal with restrictive trade practices, the Government, as a result of Tariff Board reports, seems to be introducing legislation designed to lay the foundations for a monopoly in the fibre yarns industry.
The Tariff Board has made a case for the removal of this temporary duty. That case is based largely on the fact that the difficulties that confronted the industry in 1963 no longer face it. The Tariff Board says that the difficulties that were present in 1963 and which justified the imposition of a temporary duty of 25 per cent, no longer exist and therefore the duty should be removed. In reply, the industry says that although the difficulties which confronted it in 1963 have become less by 1965, it is in no different a position from that of industry generally. That is to say, in 1963 it had been adversely affected by the credit squeeze introduced by the Government in 1961-62 both on the side of its own operations and on the side of the demand for its products and, with the measure of general economic recovery that has taken place since 1963 it has improved to soma extent. But those who speak for the industry say that it is in exactly the same position as every other industry in this respect and that therefore this factor should not be taken into account when the tariff is being determined.
A further point is that the report on which this proposal is based contains tables on page 9 indicating that there has not been any significant increase in imports. Those tables cover the years 1962, 1963 and 1964 and set out Australia’s production in relation to imports. The import figure is shown as representing a fairly low proportion of the total. Imports are shown as haying risen to their highest point in 1963 and then having dropped to a mere 10 per cent, by 1964. The report states-
It may be seen from the above table that the apparent supply of processed yarns on the Australian market rose during 1962-63 by some 1,784,000 lb., an increase of about 47 per cent., of which only about 800,000 lb. can be attributed to imports.
The argument, therefore, is that there was a very considerable increase in the supply of processed yarns, and the demand for them, on the Australian market and that only a small proportion of this increased supply was in fact provided by imports.
Let us examine this argument for a few minutes. The first thing that I wish to point out is that the statistics relating to processed yarns are certainly very unsatisfactory. On page 5 of his report of 7th June 1963, the Special Advisory Authority made this clear. He said -
My assessment of this case has been made difficult by the fact that the official import statistics are somewhat misleading.
Our assessment of this matter has been made somewhat difficult by the fact that the import statistics are misleading. As a matter of fact, many of the import statistics seem to fit into a pattern that has been evolved without any concern for providing information that will be of value to any economist or any analyst of economic trends in Australia. Certainly, in the form in which they come to us, many statistical tables provide us with very little assistance when we are trying to determine whether there has been an increase or decrease of certain imports with which we might happen to be concerned in the tariff field. 1 think that in the Department of Customs and Excise or the Bureau of Census and Statistics we need to have someone who will go to work to remove this deficiency which the Special Advisory Authority emphasised in his report and which 1 emphasise on behalf of the Opposition. Indeed, 1 think there is need for the appointment of someone with a relatively new approach to this matter to simplify tariff documents generally. To my mind, the documents that we get are unnecessarily complicated. I am confident that although I am comparatively inexperienced in this field, I could, after a few hours work, simplify them and save a few thousand pounds in their presentation. I cannot understand why we continue to have served up to us this obviously unsystematic, obscure and very often irrelevant material. In the first place, it is difficult to discover what the actual imports are but, with their usual courtesy and speedy response, the officers of the Department of Customs and Excise did their best during the week to provide me with what they had. We can find fault sometimes with the kind of information we are given and the documents we are shown but no-one can ever find fault, in my experience, with the attitude and response of the public servant himself. They are always first rate.
The information provided to me shows that in late 1964, and right up to the end of that year, there was a significant increase in imports of tariff item No. 460(b)(2) (d)(1), which does include quite a number of the yarns other than raw yarns with which we are concerned here. The figures in relation to nylon, wholly or chiefly, 60 denier and under, to which I would like to direct the attention of the Minister for Housing (Mr. Bury), because I am not sure that he is aware of them, are as follows -
The figures in relation to nylon polyamides, wholly or chiefly, over 60 denier, not being dyed, are -
The figures for nylon, wholly or chiefly, over 60 denier, dyed, are -
There are other items in which there was a slight increase, but it is not significant until we come to Item 18. 241 - nylon, 60 denier and under. The figures are -
The figures for Item 18. 243 - nylon over 60 denier are -
Another item in which there has been an increase is Item 18. 241 - nylon, wholly or chiefly, not being raw yarns, 60 denier and under. Apparently this is another classification of nylon. Until November 1964 there was nothing at all in this classification. I do not know whether this means that it is a new classification or whether it is the same. The figures are -
There is a further classification of nylon in Item 18. 243-nylon wholly or chiefly, not being raw yarns, over 60 denier, not being dyed, and there were very small amounts, or none at all imported during 1964. In January 1965 imports totalled 25,459 lb. The figures for Item 18. 244- nylon, wholly or chiefly, not being raw yarns, over 60 denier, dyed, are -
These tables seem to indicate that there has been an increase in the importation of the yarns which will be competing with the output from the five factories that were protected by the temporary duty of 25 per cent. The increases, where they have occurred, have taken place since the removal of the temporary duty in October last. The duty was removed in October and all we are doing at this moment is considering the Government’s proposal to give legislative approval to that decision. I am not able to judge whether the increases in importations have been significant, but the factories concerned, and their association, claim that they are significant and that the Government must take account of them. I will have a few words to say about what the Government has done in respect to this in a moment. But before doing so I would like to refer to the other point, the relative difference in the cost of production. The Tariff Board apparently feels that, in the light of the comparison set out at page 10 of its report on processed continuous filament man-made fibre yarns, Australian producers are not at a great disadvantage compared to overseas competitors. There is also a table at the bottom of page 9 of the report dealing with raw nylon yarn prices in Australia and Britain. The table shows us that, according to the denier of the nylon concerned, there is an Australian disadvantage ranging from i per cent, in one case to 8 per cent., 9 per cent., 10 per cent, and 11 per cent, in other cases. In all except one case the disadvantage is over 8 per cent, and in most it is from 10 per cent, to over 1 1 per cent. The same situation is found in respect to raw polyester yarn as set out in table No. 1 1 on page 10 of the report. Here the apparent Australian disadvantage ranges from 10.6 per cent, to 11.9 per cent.
The first point I want to make is that these are comparisons of prices in the United Kingdom and prices in Australia. There is no indication in the tables whether the cost of transport from the United Kingdom has been taken into account, but, at any rate, although the margin does not appear to be great, it may well be significant. An average of perhaps 10 per cent, can be quite significant. The next thing in respect to these costs is that, of course, they are not costs of production; they are prices. Two things must be said. One is that the cost of the product is very largely a matter of the materials used in it; labour costs are certainly less than 20 per cent, of the total. This means that where the Australian industry has to operate on the basis of a protected raw yarn that comes to it, it may well be at a significant disadvantage because of that protection itself. Secondly, the labour costs would be considerably less in Great Britain than in Australia. Perhaps they will be considerably less for some of the competitors who may well come into the Australian market now that they know that there is no 25 per cent, tariff operating against their imports. This may be especially true of Japan and, perhaps, West Germany. In Japan labour costs are still extraordinarily low, giving that country an advantage which should not be readily accepted. Apparently those who rule Japan are still willing to employ labour at very low rates of pay.
Whatever may have been established by competition against Australian manufacturers over the last 12 or 18 months, it does not follow that precisely the same situation will be established in the future. Now that the tariff protection has gone, we may well face a quite different import situation in the next 12 months. We may face a situation in which imports come from low wage countries and from countries that have greater advantages in relation to raw and processed materials than has been the case with Great Britain, from where a large proportion of our imports has come in the past. As appears at page 11 of the report on processed continuous filament man made fibre yarns, the Tariff Board stated -
The Board considers that the processing of continuous filament yarns in Australia is a worthwhile industry which would warrant assistance if such were necessary and could be afforded at reasonable cost. The local producers are, however, in no immediate need of assistance and the Board is unable to assess their possible future needs. It notes that provisions exist for urgent action which could be used to counter a sudden adverse change in the position of the Australian industry.
We know that these conditions exist. I understand that action has been taken already and that a Special Advisory Authority hearing on the subject took place last Friday. All these circumstances indicate that there is reasonable doubt about whether the industry may be subject - if it is not already subject - to increasing competition from overseas which may make it very difficult for the industry to continue to operate.
In view of this doubt, the Australian Labour Party takes the view that we should not remove the protection - that where there is doubt, that doubt must be resolved in the interests of the Australian producers. We think that this is most important for the economy as a whole, and that the interests of Australia require the Opposition and this Government to take a stand in defence of Australian industry and to be less concerned about following the dictates and the wishes of overseas investors of capital, overseas exporters and their representatives here. We think it is time the Australian side of this issue was given increased emphasis. We have gone too far already in our willingness to make concessions to foreign capital and to foreign exporters by allowing them to extend their influence over the Australian economy.
We believe that the factories engaged in this industry in Australia are efficient by the standards that exist in the rest of the world. But those factories find it difficult to compete with other manufacturers very largely because the processed raw materials used by the Australian manufacturers come from a plant in Australia operated by an overseas concern with all the advantages of Australian production. This plant may, if the process of development that I outlined a few minutes ago is allowed to continue, obtain a complete monopoly in the production of these yarns in Australia. This is a situation that cannot be ignored, and the Australian Labour Party is not prepared to ignore it. We believe that, if decentralised establishments such as we have at Bendigo and Shepparton, and at Brunswick and Coburg in Melbourne, are, as the Tariff Board recognises, worthwhile enterprises that would warrant assistance, any questions of doubt must be resolved in their interests.
The House has been allowed an extra week to consider these Bills, which were originally to be dealt with last week. We have considered them very carefully in the light of an examination of the position of the manufacturers and of the statistics, as fully and as adequately as we could get them. We are satisfied that the Customs Tariff Bill (No. 1) should not be passed. We believe there is reasonable doubt about whether the Australian industry will be adversely affected if protection by a tariff of some 20 or 25 per cent, is not immediately extended. Therefore, after thorough consideration, the Opposition has decided to oppose the Customs Tariff Bill (No. 1).
.- Mr. Deputy Speaker, the honorable member for Yarra (Dr. J. F. Cairns), early in his remarks, criticised the method of presentation of tariff measures such as these, and I shall not pretend that I find them fascinating to read or very easy to understand. But I should like to pay tribute to the Department of Customs and Excise for the improved form in which these Bills have been presented to us, and particularly for the improvement in the Schedules which tell us what the proposals relate to. Secondly, I congratulate the Standing Orders Committee, which initiated a procedure for debating tariff measures under which members are allowed to discuss general principles at the second reading stage and details of items in Committee. I assume that the Bills now before us will be considered in Committee and that we shall then have a chance to discuss each item in detail if we wish. Therefore, I am very sorry indeed that the Opposition has chosen to vote against the Customs Tariff Bill (No. 1). Honorable members opposite do not contend that they are opposed to most of the items in that measure. They oppose only one item, and that item, which is in the Second Schedule, may be discussed at the Committee stage. Surely the proper course would be to vote against the particular item that is opposed rather than to try to throw out the whole Bill. The course chosen by the Opposition shows its disregard of the forms of the House and serves only to make already murky waters more muddy, for we are discussing something that many people clearly do not understand to begin with. I am sorry that the Opposition has adopted this approach under the new system of dealing with tariff measures.
I propose to discuss processed continuous filament man made fibre yarns and to reply to the points made by the honorable member for Yarra. But I shall do so at the proper time, when the Second Schedule to the Customs Tariff Bill (No. 1) is considered at the Committee stage. I shall not be diverted from my intention, at this second reading stage, to discuss the principles underlying the tariff amendments embodied in the measures now before us. This, I think, is the proper function of a contribution to discussion at the second reading stage.
First, I should like to say that for many years I have been a voice crying in the wilderness in respect of tariffs. I have no illusions about whether I have held honorable members fascinated when discussing tariffs. I have fought a lonely and uphill battle. However, I am almost embarrassed to find that I am now thinking almost the same way as reputable and important people, or to put it another way, perhaps they are now thinking the same way that I am thinking. I am not sure which is the correct way to put it. I believe that I ought to take advantage of this opportunity to quote from a newspaper report of the views of Sir Warren McDonald, Chairman of the Commonwealth Banking Corporation. He is a man of some responsibility, and the newspaper report quotes him as having said the kind of thing that I have been saying - though, of course, I have not said it so well, Mr. Deputy Speaker. On 18th February last, the “ Australian “, under the headline, “ ‘ No tariff aid to second raters * - banker “, published the following report -
Only companies likely to become relatively efficient over a reasonable period should receive tariff aid, the chairman of the Commonwealth Banking Corporation, Sir Warren McDonald, said in Sydney yesterday. “ This is because the inefficient manufacturing firm, not only adds to costs, but diverts important resources from more profitable uses,” he said.
This was music to my ears. 1 seem to remember that 1 had been saying it for a long time - probably with little effect. I take the opportunity of reading this expression of Sir Warren McDonald’s views to the House now so that honorable members will realise that there are important people who think in the same way as I think on these issues.
– Did the honorable member express those views?
– For the benefit of the honorable member, I repeat that these views were expressed by Sir Warren McDonald, as reported in the Press.
I now want to return to the principles relating to the consideration of these tariff measures, and I propose to deal with several important tendencies that have become apparent during the recent recess. Many great and important tariff inquiries have been in progress. One related to industrial chemicals, and this was tremendously important. There have been other inquiries relating to motor vehicles, replacement engines and the like. For my sins I spent most of my time during the recess wading through great masses of evidence. From that reading came several important principles of which I believe honorable members should be aware. The first is that far too often there is the bland assumption that secondary industry is entitled to a certain rate of profit, no matter whether the rate of profit includes the excess cost of unused capacity, as is sometimes the case. This is the kind of thing that the Tariff Board was critical of in its annual report, and it is the kind of thing that I am critical of today.
I do not resent a company making a profit. That is a perfectly proper way to behave and I think that Australia gains from it and is better for having companies making profits. I like to make profits myself, but I have no right to demand from the community a rate of profit. If I can earn it myself, that is well and good; but some sections of secondary industry - some sections only - are inclined to think that the community should guarantee them a rate of profit through a subsidy or tariff. But when they go further, as occurred in the inquiry into industrial chemicals, and demand a rate of profit which is calculated on the overhead cost of excess capacity, then the argument becomes fundamentally economically foolish. To accept the argument that companies are entitled to this rate of profit on unused excess capacity is deliberately to encourage the construction of unused capacity. We all recognise that this is fundamentally foolish.
There is another slant to this kind of argument and this demand for profit. I refer again to the inquiry into the chemical industry and to Imperial Chemical Industries of Australia and New Zealand Ltd. Of course, that company makes artificial fibres - or, as the honorable member for Yarra said, Fibremakers Ltd. is I.C.I. This company is continually demanding what it calls a reasonable return of profit. As honorable members know, most of the shares in that company are held overseas. Honorable members know also that overseas, as well as in Australia, this company is the main producer of artificial fibres, which is the main competitor with wool. I find it ironical that the Australian woolgrower is not only expected to pay the increased cost of spray materials and so on due to the high tariff necessary to protect the chemical industry, and so have his profits reduced, but is also required to guarantee profits to I.C.I., in particular, and give that company even more resources with which to produce better and cheaper artificial fibres.
The second tendency that emerged from the recent inquiry is the danger of putting tariffs on goods and raw materials used by secondary industry. I have often pointed to the danger of this. For example, there are many more people engaged in processing P.V.C. than there are in making the resin, and if the duty on the resin is too high the processor of the resin - the man employing most of the labour - is disadvantaged. It is no good saying that we will increase the duty on a P.V.C. article because as soon as we do that we automatically switch the demand to glass or aluminium or some other substitute. This is the kind of thing that I have probably been boring the House with for years, but I think it is important. It is interesting to find at last that the user of materials, even more than those who produce for export industry, is now finding that the screw is turning. If honorable members examine the evidence that was given at the inquiry into the chemical industry they will find an overwhelming concern, not so much by the exporting groups who have done their best and made out a very good case, but by the user industry which finds itself being placed in a continuously more difficult position. This is something that we, as a House, should take more cognizance of than we have in the past.
The third tendency which I believe is important is the belief that tariffs are necesary to develop Australia. I admit that they sometimes help, but often they have the opposite effect. For instance, one of the exciting developments in Australian agriculture during the last few years has been the increased use of nitrogenous fertilisers. I have seen nitrogen being used on the light sand plain country around Geraldton in Western Australia by that remarkable man, Eric Smart. I have seen it used with great effect in the sandy country of the South Australian Mallee and I have seen it used on the Ord River. This fertiliser is becoming increasingly important and will continue to grow in importance so long as the price does not become too high.
The I.C.I, company is making urea and anhydrous ammonia at Botany in Sydney and is asking for a duty of 25 per cent. This would mean a duty of £8 a ton on urea. The freight from Sydney to Perth would be about £12 a ton and the freight from Japan for large quantities would be about £6 a ton. So if I.C.I, gets its way, Eric Smart and his fellow farmers in Western Australia who labour under the delusion that they are doing something about developing Australia will have to import urea and pay a duty of £8 a ton. It has been admitted by I.C.I, that it cannot supply the demand and that, even if it could, the high freights to Western Australia would make it cheaper for the Western Australian farmer to import the products and pay the duty. Yet this is being done in the name of development.
It is true that I.C.I, has asked for a bounty of £10 a ton on contained nitrogen in urea to be paid by the taxpayer to the user of this fertiliser. This would work out at about £4 15s. a ton for urea, so evidently the taxpayer is expected to weigh in and sugar the pill so that I.C.I, can make what it calls a reasonable rate of profit. But in any case, it is certainly not within the province of the Tariff Board to recommend a bounty to the user; it can only recommend that it be paid to the manufacturer. Bounties can be given in other ways, but certainly it is not within the province of the Board to recommend that a bounty be paid to the user. This duty is to be imposed for the sake of development, so they say. It could not be imposed to create employment, surely. The I.C.I, plant, if working fiat out, has the capacity to make about 30,000 tons of urea a year, and evidently it cannot make the extra 5,000 tons needed. That quantity has to be imported. If I.C.I, uses the duty of £8 a ton that it has asked for, and if they ask for it I presume that they need it, the duty will cost an extra £280,000 a year. As there are less than 50 men employed in the plant, the extra cost would work out at £5,600 extra for each man employed. If the bounty payment were added to this - this is what I.C.I, has asked for - the total cost would be £444,250, which is more than £8,000 for every person employed. I suggest that with these kind of figures in mind we should look with a bit more scepticism on the argument that tariffs are necessary to develop Australia. I repeat that they are necessary in some cases, but in many cases exactly the reverse is the position.
Another tendency should be mentioned at this stage. I refer to the use of the sliding scale duties as an aid to protection. This is another matter that emerged from the current inquiry into the chemical industry. In this instance I shall use suppositious figures to give an example of the kind of thing that can happen. The duty on any product may be, say, 25 per cent, and the f.o.b price may be £20 a ton. The duty may be increased, and very often is, by the same amount as the f.o.b. price is below £20 a ton. This is a kind of dumping duty that is used to stop goods from being dumped in Australia, and this duty is now being asked for by the chemical industry as a general method to be used. There are dangers in this method that we should all recognise. This system has been abused by interests represented at recent inquiries. The floor price of a product may be fixed at £20 a ton when the proper world parity price is £15 a ton. The use of this method has certainly been asked for in the current chemical industry inquiry. The result would be that the actual duty would be 58 per cent., made up of the 25 per cent, ordinary duty and £5 a ton or 33 per cent, dumping duty, instead of the 25 per cent, which would appear in the schedule. The result is that the actual duty is far higher than appears to people who do not follow these matters carefully.
There is another great danger in this system. Even if the £20 a ton fixed as a floor price is the true world parity f.o.b. price at the time, that state of affairs may not continue. For instance, in the petrochemical industry the position is changing continually. World prices are falling continually as new techniques are adopted and new plants come on stream. So, in my hypothetical case, because the world price fell from £20 to £15 a ton, the duty would rise automatically. That would tend to insulate the industry from import competition much more than the Tariff Board intended. It also would prevent pressure being exerted on the Australian industry to adopt new techniques that are adopted overseas. A classic case of that in Australia is in respect of phthalic anhydride. I do not say that we should disregard the idea; but we should be aware of this new tendency and the fact that it contains hidden dangers which people do not usually recognise.
Another tendency has emerged in recent Tariff Board evidence. It is interesting to look at section 15 of the Tariff Board Act, under which the Minister may refer to the Board for inquiry and report a question whether a manufacturer is taking undue advantage of the protection afforded him by the tariff or by the restriction of the importation of any goods, and in particular in regard to his (i) charging unnecessarily high prices for his goods; or (ii) acting in restraint of trade to the detriment of the public; or (iii) acting in a manner which results in unnecessarily high prices being charged to the consumer for his goods. So, in this case the power and responsibility of the Tariff Board are plain.
In the current inquiry in respect of replacement engines and parts, a great Australian company - the Repco organisation, which is the only Australian manufacturer of engine bearings and easily the biggest manufacturer of replacement parts - is asking for a 45 per cent, most favoured nation duty to protect it against imports. The Repco company is a very efficient one. I have had the pleasure of being shown through its plant. I have a great admiration for the quality of its management and the way in which it tackles its technical problems. I am not criticising it as a company. 1 am not criticising the way it goes about its manufacturing processes. 1 am criticising it for making some of the requests that it is now making. It is doing particularly well. Last year its profit was running at the rate of 15 per cent. Its profit rate has been consistently high over the years. There is nothing wrong in that and 1 am not criticising that. But there is something wrong in the company asking Australian users of spare parts to subsidise its profit.
There is another side of this matter. The Repco company is a component of and takes an active part in the Wholesale Automotive Spare Parts Association - W.A.S.P.A. for short - which operates a very carefully controlled and carefully policed organisation which sells parts at fixed discounts and entry to which is very difficult to obtain. It is interesting to know that members of the Association are able to get a 55 per cent, discount on the list prices of parts. The Association is very careful about who it will admit to membership.
What is the merchant who cannot get into the Association, and who hopes to be competitive with his W.A.S.P.A. competitor, to do? He is forced to import. The idea of stopping the possibility of such imports, which might make it difficult to maintain or increase prices, sparked off the present enquiry. It was not the fact that imports were coming in. The company admits that it has nearly all of the Australian market. It certainly has all of the market to which it is entitled. It does not pretend - nor should it - to make all of the bearings that are needed. Some bearings have to be imported because the demand is not great. The company is not worried about the threat of imports as much as about the prospect that somebody may keep its prices down.
The company’s excuse may be - I have heard this stated - that if it can get high prices on the local market it will be able to sell more vigorously on the export market. It sells on the export market now, I suppose, on a. marginal cost basis. In other words, the company is expecting the
Australian users of parts to subsidise users in other countries. Some people will think that that is a proper way to behave; but the farmer who has to buy spare parts for his tractor or truck in Australia will look with a rather jaundiced eye at his overseas competitor whom he is subsidising and enabling to purchase parts more cheaply. So I hope that the Government will begin to use the powers that it has under the Tariff Board Act, to take action against companies which are abusing the protection that they now have. I do not say that the Repco company is abusing the protection that it now has; but if the tariff for which it is asking is imposed it will be abusing that protection.
I now turn away from Tariff Board evidence. There are two general matters which I believe should be mentioned. Often I have expressed in this chamber my concern about the statement made by the Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr. McEwen) on 17th October 1962 to the effect that the Tariff Board was expected to keep within its sights statements made from time to time by responsible Cabinet Ministers. I am concerned for two reasons. One is that I fear that pressure may be put on the Tariff Board by this and other governments for it to give politically satisfactory answers to economic questions. That is a dangerous proceeding. My fear in this regard is not unfounded. It is supported by a statement that was made by the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard) who, with his characteristic courage and forthrightness, immediately confirmed my fear. On 13th November 1962 he said-
If we see fit, when we are in government, we can say: “The Tariff Board must keep within its sights Labour’s traditional policy in regard to protection of Australian industry.” Do not worry. We will do it. If it is good for you it is good for us.
When the honorable member for Lalor speaks, I can understand exactly what he means because he says exactly what he means.
The second reason for my concern is a recurring one. I think it is proper that I should direct the attention of the House to it again. No-one quite knows which responsible Cabinet Minister is making the statements that the Tariff Board is expected to keep within its sights. It is difficult for me, looking at the matter rather carefully as
I do, to know which statements are expected to be riding instruction to the Board. I do not say that in a derogatory way. Let me put it in the way the Minister for Trade and Industry put it. It is difficult to know which statements the Board is expected to keep within its sights.
For instance, right in the middle of the recent Tariff Board inquiry into the chemical industry, an article by the Minister for Trade and Industry dealing with the great future and importance of the Australian chemical industry appeared in the January issue of “ Impetus “, which is the journal of the New South Wales Chamber of Manufacturers. I do not think that statement was one that the Tariff Board was expected to keep within its sights, but I am not quite certain. Certainly, that construction was put on the Minister’s article by many people and many institutions. For example, I have in my hand a cutting from the “ Financial Review “ of 3rd February which carries this headline: “ Chemical Industry given Tariff Boost by McEwen “. The article under that headline stated -
The Federal Government has reaffirmed its strong support for the chemical industry, as the Tariff Board prepares to resume its detailed inquiries into the industry later this month.
I repeat that I do not think the Minister for Trade and Industry meant that article to be riding instructions to the Tariff Board. But it is unfortunate that I and other people do not know which statements are made as guidelines for the Board to follow. It would be a great benefit if such statements as are made from time to time could be identified clearly and unmistakably. At present there is an element of doubt, and this is not always healthy.
Another matter of high principle at which we should look concerns the Government’s decision at the recent General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade conference on undeveloped countries that it could not accept the proposals that Australia should make “ across the board “ tariff reductions to aid undeveloped countries. In his Press statement on the subject the Minister said -
In Australia’s stage of industrial development it is not possible for an Australian government to undertake such a blanket commitment.
I do not pretend to know enough about the negotiations to criticise this statement or to be critical of so able a battler in the international negotiations field as the
Minister is. Without the evidence, such criticism would be, for me, dangerous. So I will not criticise what was in the statement, but what was not in it. Let us agree that we have developmental problems; but so have other affluent Western countries, or if they have not they think they have. We should remember that we have a greater percentage of our work force engaged in secondary industry than has the United States, so we cannot really claim with conviction that we are a frontier country.
What really worries me is that there was no statement from our representative at these G.AT.T. talks about what we were prepared to do to help. We know from bitter experience that countries which rely on exports of primary industries face particular problems. We know that trade is more important than aid. We realise that there are particular problems attached to helping other countries. We know, and we continually repeat with fitting phrases, that we live on the edge of Asia, that we have a special interest in the area and that we hope that as the undeveloped countries get off the ground they will become important customers. Indeed, our experience with Japan reveals that this can be so. We all realise our opportunities and our responsibilities when we are speechmaking, but what we cannot do is make up our minds to put some of our precepts into practice. Let us admit that Australia has special problems, although all countries think they have special problems too. If we have special problems, we also have special responsibilities, and if we accept these then we must do more than make eloquent speeches and knock back G.A.T.T. proposals.
At some time we must have a positive policy on what we are prepared to do to help, by trade, the development of these undeveloped countries. Perhaps the Government is waiting for the Vernon Committee’s report and for that reason I can understand it marking time. However, the sands of time are running out. In the meantime I cannot help remarking that we are a large affluent country with a large heart and large responsibilities, but in the field of economic aid for undeveloped countries we have a policy which does not match our precepts.
In conclusion I want to refer briefly to a matter which was raised by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) during the debate on the motion for the adjournment of the House on 12th March. He brought into the House some samples of imported knitted shirts and asked the Minister for Trade and Industry to take action to protect Australian manufacturers. I have a tremendous regard for the kind heart - the soft heart - of the Leader of the Opposition, but in future I shall watch his head. First, he should have known, if he did not know, that a tariff debate was just around the corner. He could have gone, as I have gone, to the Opposition Whip, who is always helpful and can say what is pending. If the Leader of the Opposition had gone to his Whip or had looked at the notice paper he would have discovered that we were to have a tariff debate on this particular subject. I do not think it was worthy of the Leader of the Opposition to bring the subject into the House in the offhand way he did. Secondly, the Leader should know that the Tariff Board is an advisory body to investigate such matters. Surely he does not expect the Minister for Trade and Industry to wave a wand and bypass established procedures just because he has raised this matter. Thirdly, he should realise that the case is not as clear as he suggests it is. I guess some people in his electorate are interested in buying cheap shirts. It is quite important to poor people to be able to do so, and he must have some poor people in his electorate.
– They are also interested in getting a decent wage.
– But this is the sort of thing in which the Leader of the Opposition must be interested.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- I am sorry that the honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Kelly) was, like the war-time shirt, cut short. I want to refer to one or two matters he raised during his wide-ranging speech on tariffs and our economy generally. First he found fault with the statement by the Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr. McEwen), which was agreed to by the Australian Labour Party, that the Tariff Board should bear in mind the policy of the government of the time. I believe that tariffs hold too important a place in our economy to be disregarded in the control of general economic policy. Indeed, there are other aspects of economics over which the Menzies Government has very little control - for instance, the fringe banking institutions. To use a farming expression with which the honorable member for Wakefield would be familiar, the Menzies Government operates with a leg rope. The honorable member for Yarra (Dr. J. F. Cairns) said that the Government was operating blindfolded. To me, a government without control of the economy is not a government at all, and in respect of tariffs and fringe banking institutions the Government should have greater control.
The honorable member for Wakefield said, in effect, that although tariffs are sometimes necessary they are rarely warranted. That seemed to me to be the general tenor of his remarks. He should never lose sight of the fact that the great mass of the Australian work force is employed in secondary industry and that the work force of the rural sector has been remarkably reduced in the post-war years. I will admit that in some respects there are anomalies in the tariff policy, and I shall point to one of them presently, but I remind the honorable member for Wakefield that if the Australian worker could use the argument advanced by the honorable member the worker could legitimately complain about the protectiongiven to the Australian farming community in respect of lamb and dairy products, including butter, from New Zealand. The ordinary Australian worker could say that these goods would be much cheaper than the Australian article and could ask why he could not buy them in Australia. We are obviously not able to buy them because of the protection given to the Australian producer. This makes living dearer in Australia. I am not complaining about this. 1 agree with this circumstance, because the farming community would suffer if this were not the position. The honorable member, as a farmer, should recognise this and should take a more balanced view of the situation.
We are discussing bills relating to customs duties which cover a wide variety of goods including metals, machinery, textiles, drugs and chemicals, vehicles and agricultural products, but the particular item to which I want to speak is that relating to processed continuous filament man made fibre yarns. As the honorable member for Yarra said, we are opposing Customs Tariff Bill (No. 1) not because we oppose its provisions in respect of other items but because we oppose the removal of the protection to this particular industry. It seems that to vote against the second reading is the only practical method of showing our opposition in this regard. The result of the Tariff Board’s investigations into this industry is illogical to say the least and if the honorable member for Wakefield had remained in the chamber I am sure that even he would agree with me.
The proposal before the House stems originally from representations made by the Associated Chambers of Manufactures of Australia, which was concerned with the effect that imported man made fibres were having on the local industry. In 1962 the Tariff Board considered that the industry’s fears of undercutting were, in the Board’s word, premature, despite overseas activities in market surveys, the establishment of selling agencies in Australia and the low level of prices overseas. But the industry’s fears were justified. On 7th June 1963 the Special Advisory Authority recommended the imposition of a temporary duty of 25 per cent, ad valorem on processed continuous filament yarns. Supporting the recommendation the Special Advisory Authority made these points -
Those were reasons given by the Special Advisory Authority for the imposition of a temporary duty. I propose to show that virtually the same circumstances exist now as existed at the time of the imposition of that special duty. The 25 per cent, duty provided a measure of protection to the industry and gave it a greater share of the Australian market, until the Tariff
Board recommendation embodied in the Bill now before the House was presented in November last. From that day, the Australian industry has been under threat. Immediately orders with Australian factories were cancelled. Users of processed yarn sought and obtained orders at lower cost from overseas. The orders which were placed within Australia were no longer of a firm nature but were, and still are, subject to cancellation at short notice.
I believe that this Parliament should give protection to efficient Australian industries where it is shown that competition from overseas can damage those industries and where, in particular, that competition stems from advantages that are not within the reach of Australian industry. I point out that the encouragement of Australian manufacturing industry is vital to the provision of employment, first to thousands of young school leavers and, secondly, to the thousands of newcomers to our shores each year. It is vital also to encourage the replacement of imports by Australian made goods and so relieve the balance of payments problem - a problem which is to the forefront of Government and Parliament thinking even now.
There are special factors inherent in Australian industry which we surely should consider. It should be realised that having a comparatively smaller market than overseas industries, Australian industries are at a considerable disadvantage compared with industries in more populous manufacturing countries whose domestic markets and export outlets give opportunities, with modern production methods, of a much lower unit production cost. Given equal conditions of raw material cost, labour cost and other factors, Australian industries still face this disadvantage. The processed man made fibre yarn industry is in this position. A far greater volume of production gives Britain and other manufacturing countries advantages over our processed yarn industry. The industry in Australia is highly capitalised. Consequently, any appreciable reduction of production resulting from a smaller share of the Australian market because of overseas intrusion must result in higher unit costs. So the greater the amount of imports, the less chance Australian industry has of competing unless, hoping for the best, it maintains full production and builds up stocks of processed yarn.
This has been the case over the past few months because the industry has no desire to dismiss its trained and loyal personnel.
The key question this Parliament must answer before it accepts or rejects this proposal concerning processed yarn is whether local industry suffers some disadvantage and whether it is under threat from overseas. Before I attempt to establish what I believe is a substantial case for the Australian industry I want to refer to a statement by the Special Advisory Authority concerning import statistics. In his report of 7th June 1963, when he instituted the temporary tariff, the Special Advisory Authority said -
My assessment of this case has been made difficult by the fact that the official import statistics are somewhat misleading.
It is a serious situation to have misleading statistics provided to the Board, the Authority and this Parliament. I understand that the practice is for the statistics to lump together details of imports of both raw yarn and processed yarn. It is important that accurate statistics be available to the Parliament and to the Board. If action has not been taken as a result of that statement in the Special Advisory Authority’s report, something should now be done to remove this shortcoming. The Special Advisory Authority also said -
However, having regard to the imports of processed yarn as assessed by the Australian manufacturers, the imports which users expect to make during the remainder of this year, and the fall in the Australian throwsters’ and the raw nylon yarn manufacturers’ sales, I am convinced that the present position of the Australian processors is such as to justify the taking of urgent protective action.
So the Special Advisory Authority had to rely, then, on the industry’s estimates, and I believe that a similar position operates now. The statistics available are not, apparently, satisfactory and the industry itself has to make estimates of the situation. The information given to me by the industry indicates that orders booked overseas for arrival in the months of February and March total 250,000 lb. This represents about 25 per cent, of the annual Australian market. If honorable members refer to the report of the Special Advisory Authority they will see that imports in June 1963 when the Authority recommended the 25 per cent, temporary duty were running at approximately the same level as they are now, so that since the removal of the duty the position has reverted to that which existed in June 1963. The plain fact is that for maximum efficiency and the lowest possible unit cost of processing, industry needs at least 90 per cent, of the domestic market. For a time after the temporary duty was applied this position was reached. I point out that there is no evidence of the industry taking advantage of its position to increase prices during this period. Indeed, the industry, as is mentioned in the Special Advisory Authority’s report, gave unqualified guarantees to the Authority that its price levels would not rise.
I submit that the industry should be permitted to use its full capacity. This entails having at least 90 per cent, of the domestic market and requires the retention of the protective duty. A further threat to the industry has arisen. It has become known in the industry that Germany and France together are holding stocks of 70 denier counts yarn to the extent of four million kilograms, which is approximately nine million lbs. These stocks are far in excess of normal holdings and the industry fears that these two countries will be desirous of selling their stocks at any price. There is a strong prospect that the surplus stocks could be dumped in Australia, especially when there is no protective tariff. This is a matter of concern and certainly the situation is not one in which tariff protection should be removed.
Protection has been given to the suppliers of raw yarn, Fibremakers Limited. I understand that this firm has now been taken over by British Nylon Spinners, which is, in effect, under the control of Imperial Chemical Industries of Australia and New Zealand Limited. In this connection the honorable member for Yarra (Dr. J. F. Cairns) mentioned an interesting point earlier - the prospect of a takeover of the processing industry by what could be a monopoly. There is a danger of this happening if the processing industry falls by the wayside as a result of lack of protection. As I have said, protection has been been given to the suppliers of raw yarn under the Customs Tariff (Dumping and Subsidies) Act, but how effective can this protection be when the customers of the raw yarn manufacturers are not protected, and in fact are forced to buy their raw yarn at costs inflated by the protective duty on that raw yarn? Processors have already been forced to reduce their orders with Fibremakers Limited. This happened, as I mentioned earlier, before the June 1963 report. Consequently the raw yarn manufacturer is under threat because his customers are unable to purchase his product. As a result the whole industry is under threat. Obviously any protection given to Fibremakers Limited, the raw yarn manufacturers, is unreal unless its customers are also protected. It is my understanding also that as a result of the removal of the temporary duty on the processed yarn Fibremakers Limited will seek further protection.
I said earlier that I believe this Parliament should protect efficient industries. There is no suggestion in the Tariff Board’s report that this industry is not efficient. I believe the plant of the B.L.B. Corporation of Australia in Bendigo is a fair example of the Australian processing industry. It processes raw nylon and other synthetic materials into various kinds of texturised yarn. It has an annual output of about 1,300,000 lb., representing a turnover in the vicinity of £1,500,000. Of this £1,500,000 about £250,000 is spent in the Bendigo area on a payroll for about 150 employees and on payments to local suppliers for the various goods required by the firm. It can be seen that this is a vital industry for the city of Bendigo. It has a modern, up-to-date factory which I have inspected myself. It has modern plant, efficient management and a well trained and efficient work force. The company is continuously engaged in obtaining and installing the most modern machines. When it commenced operations it had spindles capable of 30,000 revolutions a minute. It later installed spindles with 75,000 revolutions a minute and it is now planning to install spindles of double that rate, 150,000 revolutions a minute. It is producing now twice as much per hour as it did two years ago. I am no expert, but I venture to say that anyone who examines this industry must come to the conclusion at which I arrived, that it is an efficient Australian industry.
Of course 70 per cent, of the company’s cost of production is accounted for by the cost of raw yarn, and consequently increased efficiency can have only a limited effect on the eventual sale price of the finished product. Clearly the industry is threatened in circumstances over which it has no control. The factory of the B.L.B. Corporation, as I have already said, is located in Bendigo. There are other factories, I understand, located in other country areas. For instance, there is the establishment of Cleckheaton (Yorkshire) Limited. These enterprises provide greatly needed employment opportunities in decentralised areas. It may be that they account for perhaps only 40 per cent, of the total production of the industry in Australia, but it is important that this Parliament should recognise that a threat to the industry is a threat to decentralised industry in places where population and employment opportunities are of vital importance to this nation.
There are a number of inconsistencies in the report of the Tariff Board which I want to highlight. If honorable members examine the report they will have no real difficulty in finding them. On page 11 of the report the Board said -
For all five throwsters which submitted evidence 1962-63 was a more profitable year than 1961-62 despite the fact that there was a general reduction in prices during the second half of 1962-63.
Is this a fair comparison? Was there an Australian company which was successful in that year 1961-62? It was a shocking year for industry. It was the year of the infamous credit squeeze, and a comparison like this is certainly not a fair basis to use. I am certain that the profits of these firms are not excessive. Again on page 11 the Board said -
Since mid-1963, when the temporary duty was applied, processed yarns from overseas sources have been difficult to obtain.
The facts of the matter are that the level of exports from overseas throwsters has not declined at all. Naturally enough, exporters in other countries have sought markets to which they can gain easy access, without having to face protective tariffs. Obviously when the temporary protective tariff was applied in Australia they looked elsewhere. On page 9 of the report the Board said -
The share of the Australian market actually held by the local throwsters did fall during 1962- 63. Imports constituted 18 per cent, of total supply in 1961-62 and 26 per cent, in 1962-63. There was a strong recovery by local producers in 1963- 64 when imports were only 10 per cent, of total supply.
This last sentence, “There was a strong recovery by local producers in 1963-64 when imports were only 10 per cent, of total supply “, indicates that this temporary duty in June of 1963 had the desired effect, that it did give protection and enabled the industry to gain a greater proportion of the home market.
In addition the Board in making this statement acknowledges the import competition experienced by the industry. It gives the figures in Table No. 8 on page 8 of the report, showing a gradual increase in imports from March 1962 to the peak month of April 1963. The Tariff Board deduced also, on page 8 of the report, that the reason for the fall in imports after June 1963 was primarily a shortage of supplies from overseas. The industry rejects this completely. Immediately the temporary duty was announced orders ceased to be placed with overseas throwsters. Consequently shipments fell away, and clearly the duty was responsible.
On page 9 of the report we see Table No. 10, which lists the prices of raw nylon yarn to users in Australia and the prices of comparable yarn to users in Britain. I will give a couple of examples. For 100/25 semi dull raw nylon yarn the price in Australia was 15s. lid. per lb., while the price in Britain was 14s. 4d. The apparent Australian disadvantage was ls. 7d. per lb., or about 11 per cent. I am not now citing the biggest differences or the smallest differences. I might add that nylon of denier 70 to denier 100 and 140 constituted the great mass of the imports from overseas of processed yarns for Australian production. I think it is fair to take those figures. I have taken 125 denier. The 140 denier is 15s. 7d. Australian and 14s. Id. British, which is a disadvantage of ls. 6d. or 10.7 per cent. The Tariff Board stated -
Most of the Australian production of processed yarns is in deniers of 70, 100 and 1*0 and in these particular cases it would seem that the disadvantage is of the order of 10 per cent.
Surely this is a clear admission of a disadvantage suffered by the Australian industry. Quite frankly, I cannot understand why some compensatory tariff was not recommended. At page 10 of its report, the Board said -
A comparison of unit costs showed that a high proportion of total cost of production was represented by raw yarn. In the case of the British costs as well as the Australian, the raw yarn generally accounts for around 70 per cent, of total cost. Direct labour represents a comparatively small part of total cost, generally less than 10 per cent.
With such a large proportion of costs attributable to raw material, the disadvantage admitted by the Board, which was 10 per cent, for raw materials, becomes a most important factor. I am at a loss to understand why this disadvantage at least was not compensated for by the imposition of a tariff. It is true that labour costs are only approximately 10 per cent, of the total cost of production; but even here the Australian industry has a disadvantage.
I shall quote from a statement made only recently by a representative of the Throwsters’ Association of Australia. He said -
The current situation with overseas supply is that Members of the Association have been confronted with low price quotations for prompt shipment from the United Kingdom as early as November 16th, two working days after the Board’s report was tabled in Parliament. Current local prices compare adversely with these quotations.
I will give only one comparison of these prices. For 2 fold 70 denier crimped nylon type 6, the Australian price was 21s. 9d. to 22s., and the United Kingdom price landed here was 17s. This is a difference of 4s. 9d. to 5s. per lb., which is a difference of almost 25 per cent. I have not time to give other comparisons. These quotations, given only a few days after the Tariff Board’s report was tabled, confirm the prediction of the Board on page 1 1 of its report. It said -
It is apparent, however, that there has been pressure from imports in the not far distant past, and evidence by witnesses suggests that th,s could be repeated in the future. Substantial increases are at present taking place in overseas capacity. If these increases are not matched by increased overseas demand, there could be a downward pressure on overseas prices.
That is exactly what is happening. The Board in my opinion, and in the opinion of the Australian Labour Party, has advanced sufficient reasons for giving a protective tariff. I have outlined many of them. The 10 per cent, disadvantage is admitted. As I have just said, the Board admitted that there has been pressure from imports in the not far distant past and there is evidence that it could be repeated in the future. There is evidence of a downward pressure on overseas prices.
– Do you not think that there ought to be pressure of imports?
– I agree that competition is good, but I do not agree that Australian industry should be leg roped by higher raw material costs to permit overseas processers to come in and to have an advantage over the Australian industry. I do not think that any Australian who looks at this in a reasonable way would differ from my view.
I have given many reasons for a protective tariff, including the admission of the Board that the industry suffers a 10 per cent, disadvantage in respect of raw materials. The Board readily admits on page 1 1 of its report that the processing of continuous filament yarns in Australia is a worthwhile industry. Yet its decision in effect entirely removes any protection against shipments from Great Britain, which is the source of most of our imports of processed yarn. This, as I said earlier, seems illogical.
How does the Minister regard the situation? I and the industry have been seeking the only way out, and that is another emergency hearing by the Special Advisory Authority. I have not been advised by the Minister - I have not had any further correspondence from him - but I understand that the hearing by the Special Advisory Authority took place last Friday. If the Minister did in fact request this hearing, he must have had some evidence that prompted him to do so. He must have believed that there was a case. I believe that a case can be found in the information from the industry that I have placed before the House and in the inconsistencies in the Tariff Board’s report which is now before us.
– I support in principle the Bills now before the House. Before going any further, I would like to comment on one or two points that have been made by honorable members who have already spoken in this debate. The honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Kelly) made a valid point when he said that many people in the community today - I might add, thinking people - are becoming more and more worried about the future of industries that consistently apply to the Tariff
Board for protection. He referred to the remarks of Sir Warren McDonald. 1 should like to refer to a recent newspaper article, which, unfortunately, I do not have with me at the moment. It included a statement from a State chamber of commerce, not a chamber of manufactures. It pointed out that people in tertiary industries, in some ways the end users of the basic manufactured goods, are suffering from the increase in cost of production of their own articles. I would also mention that today more and more economists are becoming interested in this field and indeed are worried.
I also support the honorable member for Wakefield when he speaks with some feeling about the problems of under-developed countries, particularly those that are our neighbours in the south west Pacific area. Reference was made last night to certain comments made in maiden speeches. I would like briefly to refer to a point I made in my maiden speech not very long ago. When referring to simple manufactured articles coming from under-developed countries, I suggested that our tariff policy should be bent to allow the entry of some of these not very important goods into our country in an effort to build up these underdeveloped countries and so improve their position as possible buyers of many of our goods, both primary and processed. I support the honorable member for Wakefield on this point.
I am very glad that the honorable member for Bendigo (Mr. Beaton) has been around this important factory in his area. This seems very right and proper to me. He pointed out, as did other Opposition members, that this industry needs more help. He rather castigated the Government because, in his view, it did not completely control the economy. Surely here is a basic difference. Does he intend to control the economy in every way, and what is his definition of this? Or does he also wish to control industry? In effect, he has more than one finger in the pie. He also said that over the years the agricultural work force has been reduced. This is quite so, and there is a very good reason for it. The increased efficiency of operations in nearly every agricultural industry since the war is so marked that a smaller work force is sufficient. Economic areas are becoming better and efficiency has led to increased production. This is just the point that he has overlooked in his attempt to build up the case for higher tariffs in the industry under review in this Bill. The same comment would apply to many other industries. While I am on the subject of primary production, I wonder whether the honorable member thinks it fair that primary industries should continue to carry, as they have, in effect, for many years, the burdens of certain secondary industries that have become uneconomic. It is all very well for people to point out all sorts of faults in primary production, but surely the fact that I have just mentioned is inescapable. I suggest that the argument of the honorable member for Bendigo was a little bit theoretical on that point and a trifle out of touch with reality.
Getting even more down to facts, I suggest that we must consider seriously the cost of production of industries and the implementation of legislative action in relation to the return those industries provide in hard currency. There is no doubt that at present, as has been the case for many years, we exist, to the extent of about 85 per cent., on the export income earned by our primary industries. I do not wish to be parochial, but let us get down to facts and not just theorise on which industries deserve more propping up in order to have a good profit margin or for other reasons. Can we afford to throw our profitable industries to the wolves - I mention a few in the primary field such as wool, wine, wheat? We are attempting to spoil the competitive position in respect of the very industries we are seeking to protect. It seems axiomatic to me that we cannot. The competitive position of wine exports two years ago was probably as good as it has ever been. The competitive position of Australian wines today has altered to the extent that it is practically not competitive in most markets. We have to look very carefully before, in effect, we kill the goose that lays the golden egg. We could so easily move the whole emphasis from the industries in Australia that are producing hard currency to those which are completely on the other side of the circle. We could be unduly propping up industries that can never become competitive on world markets.
Having dealt with the ideas that the honorable member for Wakefield mentioned
I should now like to turn to the points under consideration. Like the honorable member for Wakefield I intend to generalise on theories in a fairly broad way this afternoon and to reserve specific instances for mention at the Committee stage. First I should like to quote from page 10 of the Tariff Board report, dated 25th February 1965, on copper and brass strip. The paragraph that appeals to me reads -
In deciding on this recommendation, the Board was influenced by the fact that production of these materials is no longer in the experimental stage.
No longer in the experimental stage -
The Board recognises that the replacement of the bounty by a duty will probably increase costs to users. The evidence indicates, however, that the major users should be able to absorb some increase in costs, having regard to their current level of profitability.
I repeat those words, “ that the major users should be able to absorb some increase in costs “. I do not think that anyone in this House holds the view that we should become a nation of free traders or that we should not try to help infant industries to establish. I do not think I can go so far as the honorable member for Wakefield went, but 1 do go with him to the extent that I believe we should be more selective and more specific in the treatment of individual industries.
I do not believe .that in tariff debates anyone should generalise and say, in effect, that this thing is right and the other thing is wrong. The honorable member for Wakefield has not done this. He was very specific on that point. It would be very serious for us to lose sight of the two points that were made in the report I have just read. The first point the Board made was that production was no longer in the experimental stage, and the second was that the evidence indicated that major users should be able to absorb some increase in costs. I think that most honorable members are well aware that during the break between the sessional periods evidence was given to the Tariff Board by a council which calls itself the Australian Chemical Industry Council. I intend to refer every now and again, with your permission Mr. Speaker, to certain evidence submitted by this Council to the Board, because I consider that in view of the two points I quoted from the Tariff Board’s report the type of evidence they are giving could be a very great danger indeed to the economy of Australia.
I gather that the Tariff Board was presented with evidence covering a wide range of chemicals, some of which are not even yet manufactured in Australia. We have reached the stage for the first time, as far as I can see, of being concerned about anticipatory duties. I understand that 20,000- odd chemicals are affected in .this basic field. Evidence was given by Henry York & Co. Ltd. I think that the honorable member for Wakefield has already pointed out that the Council asked for a 25 per cent, increase in duties on urea and other nitrogenous fertilisers. He pointed out also the huge trend in the increased usage of nitrogenous fertilisers in Australia today. Anyone who has had the good fortune to look at agriculture, particularly in the northern hemisphere, knows of the huge increase in yields and productivity when nitrogenous fertilisers are within reach of farmers who wish to use them.
I gather that evidence has also been given to support an application for offsetting what would amount to £8 10s. a ton in the case of most nitrogenous fertilisers by the payment of a bounty of £4 15s. a ton. I do not know what are the opinions of other honorable members in this House about bounties. All I say, and I will say it again before the end of this speech, is that if the cost of granting protective tariffs continues to mount Australia will have to adopt bounty measures in many fields in order to keep many of its export industries going. To keep increasing tariffs seems to me to be stupid, like a dog chasing its own tail. We must be careful to encourage industries into this country, but I cannot see any sense at all in taking money from Peter to pay Paul. The complexity of this tariff business is getting worse and worse, and I do not believe it is in the interests of the country in general.
I desire to make two points that may at this stage appear to be unrelated. I refer to the fall in world prices of many commodities and in particular I have in mind the prices of many chemicals. If we apply greater tariff protection to the production of basic chemicals in this country and the world price - as I think the honorable member for Wakefield firmly pointed outis falling, all the time our competitive position is becoming worse and worse. My idea is that if protection is given to any firm to enable it to become established and produce economically, that firm should also make a donation towards export earnings. I could name many firms that act in this way. One that comes readily to mind is Philips Electrical Industries, Pty. Ltd. I do not think it received heavy tariff protection - I may be wrong - but it does provide us with some export earnings, and I think that is a reasonable approach to take when considering helping any industry with tariff protection.
I wish to refer to another unrelated matter. It is the evidence given by the chemical companies in which they suggest the removal of certain chemicals from the tariff structure and bringing them under by-laws. I believe that by the cancellation of by-laws, which could be done by departmental action, many of these imports could be fr:e. I refer to articles that probably enter Australia today either free of duty or on 7i per cent, most favoured nation duty. They could then be subjected to 50 per cent. British preferential tariff or 60 per cent, most favoured nation tariff by means of departmental regulation.
I believe that Parliament should have a careful look at this matter because it rather transgresses my idea of the responsibilities of Parliament. If we do not watch it, there are many ways in which the power of Parliament, which is the direct representative of the people, could be whittled away. This is an interesting example of the same principle. Why do we have bills introduced on the floor of the House? Why do we have second readings and third readings? Why do we have the bicameral system? The whole procedure is designed to give proper consideration to anything that is brought before the Parliament. I hope I am not too wide of the mark, but I would take it that, if given effect to, this suggestion submitted by the Australian Chemical Industry Council could detract from the power and proper responsibility of Parliament itself. I may be wrong, but I make that brief suggestion. Although it is not related to this particular Bill, it is related to evidence which is at present before the Tariff Board and I make the point because I think it is the sort of thing that Parliament should be aware of, and should watch for and, indeed, in connection with which it should exercise its proper responsibilities.
The honorable member for Wakefield referred to the terms of this particular reference. I understand that this time the Tariff Board has been asked to take into account, not only the job opportunities in these industries, but also effective protection of employment and investment and, worse still, profitable development. 1 would not mind development one bit as a term of reference to a Tariff Board inquiry, but 1 do not think that the profitable aspect is a good thing for us to have to consider in this particular context.
– If the honorable member will excuse me for a minute, I shall come to that point. Nobody will question the benefits to be gained from proper protection in order to encourage the development of our secondary industries. But how far should such protection go? Are we obliged to guarantee very considerable preferential entry of these firms into the Australian market - into What might be termed virtually a captive market? Surely we should be able to hope for progressive withdrawal of protection in the hope that secondary industries may ultimately, as I said a moment ago, make a contribution to our export earnings.
Is it our business, as members of Parliament, to support measures increasing the profitability of these companies from general revenue derived from taxing the people of Australia? I do not believe it is possible to make sweeping generalisations, particularly when criticising tariff proposals, but I do believe that Parliament should look very carefully at the instances in which companies which have been set up in Australia for some years are unable to make a reasonable profit. I believe that our tariff policy should give every aid to the attraction of international capital and to the development of secondary industry, but I doubt very seriously whether it is in our interests unduly to prop up by duty industries that, frankly, are not and, perhaps, cannot become economic. If the evidence of these companies - I gather it can be proved - amounts to the fact that they are not economic, then Parliament must be very careful not to become involved in a cost price spiral based on ex cess capacity, perhaps poor management, or even exorbitant ideas of profit.
Furthermore, in the case of chemical companies, I would point out that many hundreds of different types of chemicals are produced. It would obviously be unwise to pick out one or two for special protection or special consideration without taking into account the effect that will have on the manufacturers of these chemicals as a whole. I join with the honorable member for Wakefield who pointed to the ludicrous position in which we, in effect, subsidise people engaged in manufacturing industries to the tune of £8,000 per labour unit to enable them to produce at a high level of profit artificial fabrics, margarine and so on in competition with people who are supplying a good deal of revenue by way of taxation. I refer in particular to such taxpayers as the producers of wool, leather, tallow, butter.
Another matter that we should not overlook is the location of industry. I do not pose as an expert on the location of industry. Furthermore, neither I nor the party to which I belong believes in coercing industry to go to one State or another whether it be under the guise of decentralisation or under the guise of one State working against another. We just do not believe in that. I am not at all sure that the honorable member for Bendigo (Mr. Beaton) is opposed to that because I remember the remarks he made a little while ago to the effect that this Government controls neither the economy nor industry. Perhaps he and I think a little differently.
The point here is that there are many factors which influence the economic location of industry. I think the honorable member for Bendigo mentioned the location of raw materials. If he did not, the honorable member for Yarra (Dr. Cairns) did. There are all sorts of factors which affect the economic location of industry. For example, the amount of South Australian salt used by large chemical firms suggests, on pure economical grounds, that a good case could exist for at least some firms being located somewhere near the Port Stanvac refinery and the salt deposits of South Australia. Salt is a high volume, expensive raw material to transport in relation to its low value. Again, costs of electricity are important. Perhaps I shall be forgiven by honorable members if I take this opportunity of stating that of the mainland States electricity costs in South Australia are the lowest. They are slightly lower than the costs elsewhere. Therefore, before we even think in terms of increased tariff protection in the case of chemical firms are we, indeed, even convinced that they are located in the best economic position? I pose that question without any pretence of saying that these industries are located wrongly because we cannot say that without looking at all sides of the case. But I do put it forward as a point that might well be noted.
Because the Australian market is a secure and growing one, it has been an attraction to overseas investors. But should the taxpayer be asked to pay to support growing companies that do quite logically wish to come to Australia? This to my mind does not make sense. It seems, for instance, that the normal business risk that some firms would take when they invested in Australia is a small one compared with the investment prospects and risks involved in other nations.
Many overseas chemical firms at present supply chemicals to Australia. If a barrier is placed against the importation of their goods into this country, do we imagine that they will not wish to join in the merrygoround also? Would this have an effect on the size of the market for the firms which are here already? Just where do we stop this dog chasing its tail type of action?
– There is more unused capacity.
– Yes, there would be more unused capacity on which, no doubt, evidence would be given to the Tariff Board in a submission with the idea of further increasing tariffs in order to make them, in this case, profitable. It does seem that this has gone a little too far in terms of pure logic. I can understand, perhaps, the discomfiture of the honorable member for Bendigo who so valiantly tried to put forward a good case on behalf of his electorate.
– It was a good case.
– Exceedingly good.
– It was exceedingly good. I would be the first to congratulate the honorable member on his effort. I congratulate him even further on the fact that he seems to have his entire party behind him on this issue which, of course, is no mean effort at all. But who has got up so far and put the case for the tertiary user? It is all very well to consider the basic manufacturer. What about the person who has a margin on which to sell? What about the person who is a shopkeeper? If the honorable member for Bendigo who is trying to interject will wait a minute, I will get right into his corner. What about the person who has to order dozens of suits? What about his cost factors? What happens next?
– What about wages?
– Exactly. That is the point I am attempting in my amateurish fashion to get to. There is just no end to this business at all. The honorable member for Bendigo, for instance, mentioned the fact that butter can be gained very easily from New Zealand. So it can. Wool can be gained very easily from Australia, probably to Australia’s advantage. But we are not debating this point. What we are really debating is in the national interest what is the right course to take. The only reason I am speaking at this stage is to try to make my position as plain as I can.
The other point, of course, about all these protective tariffs is that they enter into the lives of every one of us in some way or another. I am sorry to have to hark back to the chemical industry but here I gather there are over 20,000 articles on which submissions have been made to raise the tariff protective duty. If there are not that many - I may be wrong here - .they affect the cost to the consumer of something over 20,000 articles. This affects the ordinary family unit and applies to detergents for sinks and other articles that we basically use in our every day living which will all be reflected in the consumer price index and, of course, through this index, in the basic wage itself. I maintain that competition should be allowed to exist and will do so in the future if the imported product carrying extra cost of transport over great distances is allowed to act as a leveller. Australia’s coastline is a unique example in terms of distance. If we intend to allow development to occur in remote areas of Western Australia, Northern Territory and Queensland, can this be done by simply repressing all competitors and asking the people from those areas to bear the burden of 2,000 miles cost of transport from the southernmost quarters of Australia? I agree that frequently a good argument can be developed to support the contention of heavier tariff duties. I do agree with that. But I also agree that we must not hasten too quickly and risk the competitive position of exports from this country, be they the results of primary or secondary industries, on which we lean very heavily at the present time.
I have attempted to look at this problem with all its great ramifications and complexities in an objective fashion. I must suppose that the second reading stage on tariff bills has largely been ignored by this House in the past with one glorious exception because members were mostly in favour of the recommendations of the Tariff Board. If there is a difference on future occasions I think it will be because evidence given by various firms has claimed protection in terms of profit which, if accepted, could not be readily met by the user industries no matter which ones they are. Of these industries, by far the hardest hit, in my opinion, would be the farm producer. Because of these observations, I fear I must give personal notice of intention to become increasingly belligerent in what I regard as the national interest if proposals such as those I have read just recently should be recommended to the Government by various Tariff Board inquiries. If this or any other government in the future accepts this degree of protection for manufacturing industries, then no alternative exists but to bolster primary industries and user industries with heavy bounty payments.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- Mr. Speaker, I do not intend to say much in regard to this measure. The proposal before the House involves a substantial number of commodities. First of all, we have a proposal dealing with ginger, oil of ginger, and oleo resin. It is notable that in regard to the proposal concerning this primary industry the Tariff Board has recommended a most substantial increase of duty. There was not one word of protest from the lips of the honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Kelly) regarding this recommendation. Here is a very small industry in Queensland. It is a delightful industry, I would say, because I am very fond of ginger. The only complaint I have about the Queensland ginger is that, in comparison with .the imported ginger, it has not quite enough bite in it. It is like the contributions of the honorable member for Wakefield to some of these debates. However, this is a very nice little industry. I wish it well.
When we take into consideration some of the comments of the honorable member for Wakefield in regard to tariffs and examine them, we wonder where his consistency resides. He has said today that it is questionable whether some of these small industries are worth while. If we look at the Queensland ginger industry, we will find that the last return indicated that there were 68 people growing ginger in that State. The industry is relatively well organised and has a marketing board. It has been established for a number of years. But the Tariff Board report indicates that, in the main, everybody who is engaged in this industry, wholly or in part, runs out when the market is not so hot, and grows vegetables, sugar and other primary products. This particular type of industry, if the view of the honorable member for Wakefield on secondary industry is applied to it, is one which might well be extinguished without loss and the requirements of ginger imported. I do not advocate that, but this is the sort of advocacy that is made by the honorable member in regard to a fairly wide range of secondary production in Australia.
I point out to the honorable member for Wakefield and other honorable members that whilst the Tariff Board report on this particular item, which I support, recommends to this Parliament an enormous increase of protection for ginger produced in Queensland, it is true to say that if we abolished the tariff on ginger tomorrow and this country became dependent upon imports of ginger from China and Hong Kong, we would pay through the nose for it. The price of imported ginger would be higher than we now pay for the Queensland ginger that is protected. The price then would be higher than that which we now pay for ginger from north Queensland. They are the facts. The duty on ginger might appear to be a relatively unimportant matter, but ginger is in very wide use in Australia. It is used in wine and in sugar. It is distilled and is used in a variety of forms. It is used in the catering industry and in the manufacture of ginger beer. It is used in the manufacture of a wide range of delectable food and drink products. It would be a tragedy if we took the advice of the free traders in this country and threw the ginger growers of Queensland to the wolves, all for the sake of a belief that after we got rid of them we could buy ginger cheaper from the shrewd traders of Hong Kong and the mainland of China. That just does not make sense.
I am somewhat critical of the honorable member for Angas (Mr. Giles). He made an excellent speech, to which he had given a lot of thought, but he came round to the old question: Who bears the burden of tariff protection in Australia? He answered himself by saying that it is the poor old primary producer. This country has about 250,000 rural holdings, I believe. “With managers and workers, those holdings employ about 400,000 people. On the other hand, there are 10i million people in this country who depend upon the products and exports of the primary producers. To the primary producers of this country, the local market constituted by those 10i million people is of immense importance. If the Government did not give protection to the industries in which those people work, many of the people would not be here and many of the industries would not exist. What would happen then to the primary producers, who require machinery and a wide range of services and commodities for their productive efforts? This is a co-operative society in which we live not one consisting of two separate entities - primary producers and manufacturers.
– The honorable member said this last year.
– I said it last year. Everything that the honorable member for Wakefield said was a repeat of what he said last year. We cannot ram these points home too often. They are truths. We listened to the honorable member for Angas talk about the chemical industry. Let me go quickly through the history of the fertiliser industry. After all, artificial fertilisers are chemicals. In 1919 I bought my supplies of artificial fertilisers from one of a group of four manufacturers - Wishart and Company, Mount Lyell Fertilisers Ltd., Cuming Smith and Co. Ltd. and, I think, Nobel (Australasia) Pty. Ltd. I found that I paid the same price to all of them. They all paid their agents the same commission. Every condition of sale that was imposed upon a consumer was the same in each case. In the head office of the Mount Lyell company there was an agreement under which every firm in the group promised that if any of them departed from the price set, the conditions of sale, the payments to the agents and all the rest, they would pay a penalty to other members of the group of £500. It was a tight combine, rendering a service to the primary producers and other people. Within a few years, three of the companies merged openly and became Australian Fertilisers Ltd. Within the last couple df years they merged with Imperial Chemical Industries of Australia and New Zealand Ltd.
Let us follow the history a little further. We now find that the I.C.I, group has merged with Australian Fertilisers Ltd., which, in turn, is associated with Shirleys Fertilizers Ltd. of Queensland and other groups. We find that Cuming Smith, which retained a separate identity in Western Australia for a number of years as Cuming Smith Farmers Co-Operative, I think, or Cuming Smith Farmers Company Ltd., has recently become the Cuming Smith B.P. Co., with the B.P. organisation holding a 50 per cent, interest. We now have an announcement that Consolidated Zinc Corporation Ltd. and the Rio Tinto concern have established an enormous industry in Newcastle, in association, I think, with Sulphide Corporation Pty. Ltd. or the Cockle Creek group.
The announced intention of Consolidated Zinc and Rio Tinto is to make urea. I inform the honorable member for Angas and the honorable member for Wakefield of this. Both of them were complaining about the increase of £8 or £10 a ton in the price of urea. Consumers have been paying an excessive price to importers for urea, and they will pay the same price to the Australian manufacturers. They will be no worse off in that regard, but they will be better off to the extent that there will be more Australians working under Australian conditions and that a powerful company will be established. The Government will be able to put the boot into the company by way of taxation and will be able to take a huge amount of revenue from it, as it dees from the rest of the artificial fertiliser group.
It was not tariff protection that built up this immense combination of artificial fertiliser manufacturers. What built it up was the absence of the Government’s much boasted restrictive trade practices legislation. In the absence of effective legislation of that type these groups are exploiting their power. That lack, and invariable opposition of Government supporters to any suggestion for an alteration of the Constitution to allow a thoroughgoing investigation to be made of the operations of these combines, has led to the creation of vast amalgamations of capital in manufacturing industries. They are the facts.
I want to get back to the Bill. I am not the only one who has wandered away from it. We find that in respect of the product mentioned by the honorable members for Bendigo (Mr. Beaton) and Yarra (Dr. J. F. Cairns), it is not so long ago that this product had a special protective duty of 25 per cent. - in 1963. This has now been reduced to 12i per cent. Either the Special Advisory Authority - I think it was Sir Frank Meere, a most competent officer - was a bad judge and did not do his homework properly when he fixed the duty at 25 per cent, only 12 or 15 months ago, or there has been an enormous alteration in the economy of this country, or the Tariff Board made a ghastly mistake and did not do its homework either.
– The position has changed, not the economy in Australia.
– Does that justify putting on a tariff of 25 per cent, and then suddenly reducing it to practically nothing? There is something wrong somewhere. Under those circumstances, the benefit of the doubt should go to the manufacturers or the processors. For those reasons, the Opposition objects to the alteration of the rate. When we say that we object and that we are going to vote against this measure, that does not mean that we are against the increased tariff on ginger and against some other alterations.
I noticed another item in this schedule. Fairly heavy duties were placed on dental chairs, but these are being eliminated. I wonder why? Looking at the Tariff Board report, we find that the market for dental chairs in Australia is about 150 a year. Last year 147 dental chairs were imported from all over the world. Yet in Australia there is an industry which has produced a satisfactory article. The Australian manufacturer objected to the abolition of import duties, but it was pointed out in the report of the Tariff Board that he had failed to supply his cost of production figures, that he was operating only in a small way, that the kind of equipment being used was not very efficient, and that overall the industry was not very efficient. Nevertheless, I do not know of any reason why such drastic action should have been taken that this industry, which has been manufacturing dental chairs for hospitals, dentists and others, has been almost killed. It has been a valuable industry. It has given employment to quite a number of men and was worthy of more generous treatment.
We have had placed before us recommendations in regard to typewriters. We have discussed ginger, fertilizers and yarns, but now I want to introduce a little more variety into the debate by referring to shotguns. At the present time, 12-gauge shotguns having a value not exceeding £32 each are free of British preferential tariff but are subject to a most favoured nation duty of 7i per cent. Apparently somebody in Australia has started to manufacture shotguns. That is a good idea. It is now proposed that imported shotguns having a value not exceeding £32 should attract a British preferential tariff of 15 per cent, and a most favoured nation tariff of 25 per cent. That is a good idea, too; it will help la encourage the local industry. But we are faced with the strange situation that those duties will be applied only to shotguns having a value not exceeding £32. Shotguns having a value exceeding £32 but not exceeding £106, which now are free of British preferential tariff but are subject toa most favoured nation duty of 7i per cent., will attract a British preferential tariff of £8 and a most favoured nation tariff of £8. Shotguns having a value exceeding £106 will be free of British preferential tariff but will attract a most favoured nation tariff of 7i per cent. In other words, there is to be no change in respect of shotguns, having a value exceeding £106. I should have thought that it would have been a good idea to put a prohibitive tariff on shotguns with a value in excess of £106. If an ordinary shotgun worth £32 will not bring down a bird, I am not too sure that a beautifully inscribed luxury gun will do so.
That is all I have to say. I deplore the constant sniping of the pseudo free traders in this Parliament and their continual efforts to create the impression that the primary producer always carries the baby. In fact, he would be carrying twins if he had to depend solely on the avaricious importer who, in the past, robbed every section of this community right and left when free trade applied to the goods in question.
.- The honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard) mentioned a matter on which I should like to comment, too. He implied - 1 agree with him - that debates on Tariff Board reports, particularly those that concern the textile industry as a whole or sections of it, seem to be used by certain members of the House as an opportunity to keep a cold war going between primary industry and secondary industry. To my mind, there is no need to bring up constantly the fact that the primary industries are providing a great part of our export income. We know they are, and we appreciate the importance of what they are doing. The argument that the imposition of duties on imported articles to protect Australian industry will cause terrible damage to the primary industries of Australia is not a completely valid one. It is about time that we all realised that primary industry and secondary industry are interdependent, and that certain primary and secondary industries need protection.
The primary industries of Australia are of great importance. So are the secondary industries. It has been stated here from time to time that secondary industry provides only 27 per cent, of the jobs in Australia. Whilst manufacturing industries provide about this percentage of the industrial jobs in Australia, what is not always realised is that every one of these manufacturing jobs provides two other jobs in other industry - in the distribution services and in the retail area. So the importance of manufacturing industry cannot be measured simply by the fact that 27 per cent, of the people of Australia are employed in that sector.
The honorable member for Angas (Mr. Giles) said that an increasing number of economists were taking an interest in the tariff setup in Australia. Generally speaking, ever since the year dot economists have taken an interest in the tariff setup of the nation in which they have lived. They have not just started to take an interest in these matters. I once heard a rather good story about a student who sat for a university examination in economics which sums up pretty well the situation in regard to economists and the practicability of acting on their findings and theories. The student in question failed at his final examination. He sat for a supplementary examination and discovered that exactly the same questions were asked as in the earlier examination. He thought he ought to tell the master in charge of the examination that that was so. The master agreed. He said: “ Of course they are the same, but this time the answers are different “. Perhaps that story does not give a true indication of the worth of economists to Australia, but it illustrates the fact that there are very wide differences of opinion amongst economists about the solution of various problems in the tariff field.
The Bill before us deals with several tariff matters. Most of the discussion has been concerned with item 460, which relates to certain processed polyamide or polyester yarns. The Tariff Board’s report of 8th October 1964 deals with this particular subject. From time to time various sections of the textile industry have been the subject of reports of the Tariff Board. In my opinion, one of the reasons for this is the consistently unrealistic attitude of the Board to the various complexities of this industry.
In this Tariff Board report on processed continuous filament man made fibre yarns to which we are referring so much, the Board, in the last two paragraphs on page 11, stated its inability to deal with the matter that the Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr. McEwen) referred to it, which appears at page 3 of the report. The Minister asked the Board to report on two questions, the first of which is stated in these terms -
The reference went on to state certain tariff items under which imported yarns of this kind would be classifiable. In the last two paragraphs on page 11 of the report, the Board virtually admitted its inability to ascertain the facts that would enable it to report on the first of the two questions referred to it by the Minister. Indeed, this report is one of the vaguest and weakest Tariff Board reports that I have ever read. The second last paragraph on page 11 states -
It is apparent, however, that there has been pressure from imports in the not far distant past, and evidence by witnesses suggests that this could be repeated in the future. Substantial increases are at present taking place in overseas capacity. If these increases are not matched by increased overseas demand, there could be a downward pressure on overseas prices. However, it is not possible to predict the extent of any future price movement of processed yarns.
I emphasise that admission by the Board. The paragraph continues -
Similarly, no prediction can be made in respect of raw yarns, the prices of which will affect the competitive position of processed yarns.
The Tariff Board said that it could not predict the position in the future, yet recommended that the temporary duty of 25 per cent, introduced on the recommendation of the Special Advisory Authority be completely removed. The Board recommended not just a reduction to 12i per cent, but complete removal. This is not the first time that the Board has recommended the total removal of a temporary duty of 25 per cent, introduced on the advice of a Special Advisory Authority and has treated the textile industry in this fashion. Apparently, in the eyes of the Board, there is no in between stage. The Board appears, in my opinion, to lack a sense of balance on some occasions. It just takes the view that, only a few months before, the advice tendered by the Special Advisory Authority was completely wrong and that that Authority should not have recommended a temporary duty of 25 per cent.
I now turn to the industry itself. The production of processed continuous filament man made fibre yarns has two aspects - the throwing process and the processing of the raw yarn. The first point to bear in mind is that this is the strongest yarn in the world. Secondly, it is also an essential basic material in defence production. This fact, of course, is never mentioned by those who support the Tariff Board on this issue, nor was it considered by the Board, apparently, when it took the opportunity to recommend the total removal of the temporary duty. Not once was there any mention of defence or the immigration programme which makes it necessary for us to find jobs for the continued inflow of migrants. The fact that firms such as Fibremakers and Courtaulds have huge amounts of capital invested is overlooked. Those with one-track minds who are dedicated antagonists of all tariff protection never mention these matters. This is the sort of attitude that always amazes me in debates on tariff measures.
Here we have a basic defence material - raw nylon yarn - the production of which in Australia could cease completely without protection for itself and for the throwing industry. If we produce no raw nylon yarn here, not one aeroplane would be able to land in this country, because a basic ingredient of aircraft tyres is raw nylon yarn. Secondly, we would have no heavy trucks or heavy wheeled equipment in service, because raw nylon yarn is an essential requirement for the manufacture of tyres for such vehicles and equipment. Furthermore, much of the service equipment used by our soldiers depends on raw nylon yarn for its manufacture. The material used in parachutes, tent fabrics, sleeping bags for our troops, waterproof clothing, webbing and .the like is processed from raw nylon yarn. All these items are essential equipment for the defence forces. Those who describe this industry as inefficient and who say that it should be closed down apparently want to depend on Japan, Russia or China for these basic materials that are so important to our defence effort.
This situation presents a threat to basic defence industries. What has caused this threat? It is due to the fact that the Tariff Board has taken an unrealistic view on protection. Those who support the Board on this issue imply that no other textile industry anywhere in the world is protected, whereas the truth is that in Japan and the United States of America, which have huge home markets, the textile industries are protected.
– Whom is the honorable member criticising?
– I say: Whomever the cap fits, let him wear it. I am criticising the antagonists of tariff protection of any kind of industry. As I have said, Japan and the United States of America protect their textile industries against imports from other countries, as do the Italians, the Germans, the French and the British.
I have pointed out that raw nylon yarn is vital to our complex of defence production. Therefore, the industry that produces this yarn is a vital industry. Those who oppose tariff protection never mention the dumping tactics that are indulged in by some countries. The raw nylon market in Japan has collapsed completely and the Japanese manufacturers are hoping to flood the Australian market with their product.
– It will be just like the dumping of calico by Red China.
– Yes. This is another illustration of the need for the Tariff Board to adopt a realistic attitude and to take effective action. There is no doubt that our defence potential depends on our ability to produce clothing and other equipment. We must have the skill, the machines and the material to produce the defence equipment that we need, Mr. Deputy Speaker.
In my view, the Tariff Board’s report is completely unrealistic. This is proved by the last paragraph on page 11 of the report, which states -
The Board considers that the processing of continuous filament yarns in Australia is a worthwhile industry which would warrant assistance if such were necessary and could be afforded at reasonable cost. The local producers are, however, in no immediate need of assistance and the Board is unable to assess their possible future needs. It notes that provisions exist for urgent action which could be used to counter a sudden adverse change in the position of the Australian industry.
The Board was told that a sudden adverse change would occur. This has happened, and the question of protection for processed continuous filament man made fibre yarns, and raw nylon yarn, has now been referred to the Special Advisory Authority only about four months after the Tariff Board presented its report. I think the Tariff Board ought to be ashamed of the report it has presented to Parliament on this occasion. A much more realistic attitude should be taken by the Board, particularly towards an industry which is so important to the defence of this country.
– Will the honorable member vote with the Opposition?
– Of course I will not vote against this measure. However, I make it clear that we have machinery set up to investigate these matters. Because I will not vote against the measure I am not denied my right to criticise the report and to back up my criticism with facts to prove that the report is wrong. It has been proved wrong because it has now become necessary to refer the matter back to the Special Advisory Authority. I hope that the next time it is referred to the Tariff Board the Board will be much more specific in giving reasons for its recommendations and will take a far more realistic attitude towards this essential defence industry.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Peters) adjourned.
Sitting suspended from 5.57 to 8 p.m.
Message received from the Senate intimating that Senator Hannaford has been appointed a member of the Joint Committee on the Australian Capital Territory to fill the vacancy caused by the death of Senator Vincent.
Debate resumed from 30th March (vide page 440), on motion by Mr. Hasluck -
That the House take note of the following paper - Foreign Affairs - Ministerial Statement, 23rd March 1965.
.- Since the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Hasluck) made a statement on international affairs in this House on 23rd March, by the time the debate finishes or is adjourned tonight 30 members will have spoken on this subject and made reference to the statement by the Minister. I appreciated the statement by the Minister. I found that I was in accord with practically everything he said. Especially, I was in accord with the point he made as to which side we should take. He pointed out that the side which we do take is the side that has always stood for freedom and liberty and the side that is traditionally strong in those things which make a nation. The statement was greatly appreciated by the members of this House.
As 30 members will have spoken on the statement when the debate finishes or is adjourned tonight, it shows very clearly that the Government is conscious of the fact that such subjects need to be debated fully. It also shows us very clearly that the Government, in allowing private members to speak on this subject during three sitting days, is appreciative of the contributions made by them. The debate may be closed tonight or it may be continued on another day. Even if it concludes tonight this House will have had a great opportunity of discussing the subject.
First, I want to say one or two things about the overall position. After 25 or 26 speakers have spoken on a subject, it is very difficult for new speakers coming into the debate to cover new ground. I just want to refer to the overall view, and then I want to make some reference to the speeches that have been made on the subject by honorable members opposite. Of course, the danger spot, as far as world peace is concerned, has shifted to South East Asia. We very seldom hear Europe mentioned regarding war or peace in these days. What is the real story? For years and years in the cold war the Communists have been trying to push across South East Asia. In this House many debates have taken place as to what should be done. The cry has been, as it is now, to negotiate. Of course, negotiations get to the stage of a danger point. There is only one thing that can be done. It has been mentioned in this House by honorable members in the past. We must say to the Communists: “ So far and no farther.” If we do not say that and if the negotiations reach the danger point and the Communists continue to move across Asia, it will be no time before they get into Malaysia and then close to our shores and the danger will be with us.
There was quite a different atmosphere altogether in Malaya before Malaysia was formed. As a contribution to the strategic reserve, Australia sent men over to fight the Communist guerrillas and terrorists in the Malayan jungles. At that time the Opposition was opposed to sending those men overseas. Their main job was to fight a ruthless foe. After they had been there for some years and the Malayan Prime Minister and others had said that they appreciated Australia’s action in sending the troops there, gradually the Opposition came to realise that it was not good for Australia and it was disastrous for them politically to continue to oppose our forces making up part of the Commonwealth Strategic Reserve. So, rather reluctantly, the Labour Party supported the forces being in Malaya. No-one will know exactly how much good the forces did, but we know that they helped to rid the Malayan jungles of Communists. Without them Malaya may have been overrun. It may have encouraged other Communists to come into the area if our forces had not been there active and ready to protect freedom in that part of the world.
America, of course, has entered the picture and is playing a magnificent part in South Vietnam. I want to say one or two things about why America is there. I refer to a publication entitled “ Aggression From the North. The Record of North Viet-Nam’s Campaign To Conquer South Viet-Nam”, which has been circulated to honorable members. In the foreword by President Lyndon Johnson dated 17th February 1965 he said that America’s purpose in Vietnam -
These men are invaders and, worse than that, they are Communist invaders. Normally people in North Vietnam do not support them, although in a speech by the honorable member for Reid (Mr. Uren), on the very subject about which I am speaking, he said -
Why has the Vietcong been able to survive for so long? Guerrilla warfare can continue only if most of the people support it. It will not survive if the people do not support it.
I do not agree with that statement.
I have had as much experience in Malaya, or Malaysia as it is now, as most honorable members in this House - perhaps more. In fact, if one takes out three or four members, I have had 50 times the experience of the remainder. I know the Malayan people because I was in their country for ten months before the Japanese finally struck. I have been in their homes, met them every day, talked to them and have a good idea of how they felt about things at that time. Some people may say that was 20 years ago, but die national outlook of a nation, whether it is Australia, the United Kingdom, the United States of America or Malaysia, does not change much even in 20 years. So I have been able to understand the position.
The Malayan people, as they were then, are not warlike people and they have never been equipped to fight. I would say that the people in North Vietnam are much the same type of people if you take out the Communists who have been trained and given weapons. Therefore, I believe that the honorable member for Reid was completely wrong when he said that guerrillas cannot exist unless they are favoured by the people. These people know that they must be on the winning side. That is the full story. They know that they are not armed and that the Communists are armed. What chance would they have if they tried to fight the Communists? Therefore, what has been said by the honorable member for Reid is not strictly correct. I believe that the rank and file of the people in both South Vietnam and North Vietnam are probably not in accord with the disaster that the Communists are causing.
I want to refer, now, to what was said by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) because, after all, he leads for the Opposition in this House in most debates, and he led for the Opposition in this debate. He made one or two very remarkable statements. I will take them as I come to them. They may not be in sequence. He said -
We want the American presence, strong and powerful, in Asia and the Pacific. We want it, because Australia needs it until all nations are prepared to disarm.
Does the Leader of the Opposition think that all nations, at any time in the lifetime of the present generation or in the lifetime of the present people living on this earth, will decide to disarm? This is only wishful thinking and is merely a debating point. Ever since the world began people have been trying to bring about peace. In the past attempts have been made to bring about world peace and everybody was satisfied that it would come when Napoleon was put on the Isle of Elba, but he escaped and the whole world was soon aflame. It all depends on the leaders of countries whether there is war or not, and I believe that this expression by the Leader of the Opposition was solely wishful thinking. lt is pleasing to know that he wants America to be there with Australia. I know ‘that in time of war the Australian Labour Party wanted America to be with Australia, and of course that was good. To want America to be with us in Vietnam or some other place that is a dangerous corner also is good - very good. But that view is a little distant from the general idea which was held by some honorable members in this place a little time ago - much more than it is now - that we should not co-operate with America. I believe that America, being an English speaking race, is one country that Australia must co-operate with in conjunction with the Commonwealth countries. Some honorable member has said in this House that America is having too much influence on Australia. Let me say that the British people have had much more influence on America through their language and in other ways than America could ever have on Australia. Let us remember also that the people who really are leading America today had as their origin the British Isles.
When we look at what has been said by the Leader of the Opposition we see that his whole theme is “ negotiate,” but he does not say at any time how we can negotiate. He merely says that we should negotiate. You must negotiate with some one, and if your opponent will not negotiate with you, how do you negotiate? This is a very difficult position. The Leader of the Opposition pointed out that many prominent people - honorable members heard them mentioned at the time - say that we should negotiate, but if we look through the names of the people he mentioned we learn that none of those people is responsible for any kind of negotiation - each just says that we should negotiate. It is all very well to tell us that we should do something. Australia is a peaceful nation. It wants peace and would do anything possible to bring about peace, and I believe that the same applies to America. It was on the same day as the Minister for External Affairs made his statement - 23rd March - that President Lyndon Johnson said -
The United States will never be second in seeking a settlement in Vietnam that is based on an end of Communist aggression.
Any peace must be based on a cessation of Communist aggression because, after all, if peace were not brought about in this way we would be back to a state of cold war. You cannot go into a hot war and then come back into a cold war and have the same kind of aggression in a peaceful way in the cold war after you have fought a hot war. Let me remind honorable members of one or two other statements made by President Johnson. He said -
The people who are suffering from this Communist aggression are Vietnamese.
He went on to say, and these remarks have been quoted before -
The United States still seeks no wider war.
This is the whole theme of the Commonwealth of Nations, America and the British people. They have no territorial claims. There is a song called “Land of Hope and Glory “ which has never become as popular with English speaking people as it should have been, yet it is one of the most stirring and finest songs that one could hear. Among its words are -
Wider still and wider shall thy bounds be set; God who made thee mighty, make thee mightier yet.
It is because of those words that the song has ceased to be popular. The British, the Americans and the other people who are our allies do not want wider still and wider the boundaries to be set, nor do they want to be mightier yet. That is why the song has not become very popular. We come then to the remarks of the Leader of the Opposition who said -
Aggression in all forms must be resisted. We believe, however, that the Australian Government has failed totally to take any diplomatic initiative either to end this dispute, or to end its temperature.
The Leader of the Opposition and the other speakers from the Opposition side of the chamber did not suggest any way in which the Government could act. The only suggestion that I can make, and I have been asked by interjection to make it, is that we support what is being done, because what is being done could, if anything can, bring us peace.
I do not support the suggestion that we should go into China and fight there. The honorable member for Reid had something to say about that. He said that there had been parades and big talk in China, but so far there has been no action. He added: “But how far can we push the Chinese?”.
We have not pushed the Chinese at all. The honorable member said that in China big parades are held and that at present China has probably 12i million to 15 million men under arms. He said that when he was there the Chinese were having parades all the time. Surely honorable members realise that one of the things that most impresses the Asian people is a show of strength. The Chinese leaders know that, and we are now starting to learn it. We see evidence of this in a statement released by the Minister for the Navy (Mr. Chaney) in which it was announced that certain ships of the Royal Australian Navy - the antisubmarine frigate H.M.A.S. “Yarra”, “ Vampire “, “ Melbourne “ and other ships - embarked prominent civilian and service guests at Kuala Lumpur and other places in Malaysia where the guests were shown the ships in action. The statement adds -
Seaborne air power was demonstrated by aircraft operating from the Royal Navy carriers “ Eagle” and “Victorious”.
We must make the Asian people realise that we have the strength. In the cold war, with everybody apologising and nothing happening half the time, the Asian people took our attitude as a sign of weakness and we were pushed back all the time. But now that America has said: “You can go so far and no farther”, and has shown strength there is a real chance to get peace.
It is for that reason that the speeches I have made in this House have taken the line that although the Government’s side has said that America is doing the right thing, the Opposition has said that so far as it is concerned it is all right for America to be in that area but we must negotiate. America must be in a position to negotiate from strength, but one cannot negotiate in any other way with a guerrilla force of Communists. One must have some grounds for negotiation - some solid and legitimate ground. I believe that America will continue to fight in that part of the world, not only for her own people, because she does not want to be there, but for our people and the whole world. I believe that there will come a time when we will be able from strength to negotiate and put an end not only to the present conflict but to general Communist aggression in this part of South East Asia.
– There is no more frustrating subject to talk about in this Parliament than foreign affairs because of the ever changing pattern of struggle between nations on the other side of the world. It is common to get blood pressure about an issue today and cold feet about the same issue tomorrow. We have had much criticism levelled at us because we dared to look at the United States of America from a different standpoint from what the Government would look at it. I feel that our attitude in this respect is certainly justified. We are prepared to criticise the actions of the British Government anywhere in the world, if we think it is carrying out a policy with which we do not agree. The same applies to the United States of America. The fact that the United States of America is powerful and strong in a military and economic sense does not mean that everything it does is right. After all, people who have dominated by strength have often found their weakness. Many people who have thought they were strong have ended up by being weak. America, just because she is strong, does not have the right to carry on a struggle in Asia without receiving criticism from other nations, if it is thought that criticism is justified. The Americans are our friends and always will be. We are their friends, too, as has been proved in the past. But when we assess American intervention in Asia in the same way as we assess intervention by China in North Vietnam, we do so because we feel there is a point of no return, to go beyond which could have disastrous consequences for the whole world.
A lot of people make money out of war, and this is one of the greatest tragedies of our times. If all armament factories were government owned and there were no private profiteers from war, war could be buried or put in a museum. But many armament profiteers in America are afraid of peace breaking out in Asia. That is a fact. When the Korean war ended, unemployment in America rose to six million. There you have an example of the economic nature of war and of how many people are affected by it on the home front.
In this House in 1951 I said that the task of Western diplomacy was to drive a wedge between Peking and Moscow and to keep the rift as wide as we could - in other words, to divide the Communist world. I suggested at that time that Mao Tse-tung could become the Tito of Asia. We find that, in the years since then, that has practically come to pass, for the Communism of China, like the Communism of Yugoslavia, is of a different type from the Communism of Russia. In China we have an intense Chinese nationalism, and this has developed a distinctive nationalistic Communism of Asia, distinct from the Leninism of Moscow. Interestingly enough, if we look at the situation we find that the Chinese people are Chinese before they are Communists. Their nationalism is inborn and comes from the grass roots of the people. Their Communism is superimposed on the nation, forced from above. Their nationalism is a native plant, enriched in China’s soil.
We owe much to the great nation of China down through the centuries. The Communism of the Chinese, however, is a foreign ideology, imposed from without. It is their nationalism which will prevent Moscow from utterly and completely dominating China. If Russia tries to dominate China as she has dominated countries in Europe, that will be the rock on which she will perish. This nationalism is a safety valve and, in my opinion, it will save China from accepting the full-blooded Leninistic Communism of Moscow. The rift between Moscow and Peking has been widening over recent years. There is an ideological and technological difference which runs deep down. There is jealousy between the two nations as to which is to be the Communist leader in Asia. In the document supplied by the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Hasluck) during his speech on international affairs, we find the story of this rift. In the document “Notes on International Affairs “, at pages 37 to 42, there is a clear statement of the differences between these two Communist countries as far back as 1960. 1 have listed six different ways in which they have clashed in the last five years, showing how deep down is the difference between them. It is to the advantage of the West to keep that rift wide and to widen it further, if possible.
Another factor in Western diplomacy in Asia which I have criticised is its lack of ideology, its lack of a full appreciation of psychological warfare. In this field of warfare the Americans are like a bull in a china shop. They have not the finesse of diplomacy that the British have. They know only one strength - military strength - and they are using it to the best advantage. The economic, social and psychological weapons have hardly been tried by the Americans, and until they use them they will never win the war in Vietnam, even if they make it a massive war, because the Communists have perfected ideological warfare. They are winning the battle for men’s minds in South Vietnam while the Americans are bombing radar stations in North Vietnam. It is down in the grass roots of a country that true allegiances lie.
The men from North Vietnam, trained and dedicated Communists, who meet the people in the villages, talking to them, living with them and sharing their lives, are the ones who will win their allegiance. But bombs will not do it. That is what has been going on all the time - day and night - over the last 10 years in this sad and stricken country. You do not change a man at the end of a rifle. We think we are safe because we have better armies, bigger navies and more modern weapons, but they will not ensure our ultimate safety if we do not win the war for men’s minds - and that is an ideological war. In my opinion we are fiddling - ideologically - while Asia burns. Another point about this war is its nature. It is like the war in Malaya, where it took some 12 years of struggle to defeat about 3,000 Communists, with a tremendous amount of money poured in and many men’s lives lost. The United States of America has poured in aid worth 3 billion dollars without avail.
Peter Smark of the “Australian” went to Saigon last year and made a study of the war in Vietnam. In an article in the “ Australian” he told us that in every ricefield and in every village the conflict goes on. The article reads -
How goes the war? The U.S. is losing. The Vietnam war is not to be won by international flexing of muscles, by first statements which ring right across to Moscow and Peking from a strong man in Washington. It is a shadowy conflict with no front, a thing of stealth and treachery, setting brother against brother, father against son. In a thousand ricefields in a thousand villages, small men in simple, black, peasant garb can afford to laugh at Washington. They are winning the war.
And they are not winning it with arms. The article continues -
Strong U.S. action has taken the thoughts of American military men here on to a higher plane, where the U.S. can manoeuvre vast fleets and massive air power. But soon they will have to think again about the war and thoughts of the war bring back frustration, stifled gnawings of despair. In plain fact, the U.S. is constantly deepening its military commitments in men, material and money in South Vietnam and yet the situation is steadily deteriorating. Vietcong guerrillas are constantly boosting their strength and the nation grows daily more weary and sick to the soul of conflict.
Peter Smark said, further -
At present, almost 2,000 Vietnamese die each month in the ricefield war. Nearly half are Communists, mostly southerners. Despite this death toll, the guerrilla strength has risen from 20,000 wellarmed regulars two years ago to 35,000. There are also perhaps 70,000 irregular guerrillas who ambush and attack in areas near their homes. Also, perhaps four million South Vietnamese shelter and assist the Vietcong or at least refuse to inform on them through fear of persuasion, or through indifference.
Our efforts are constantly frustrated. We are just not getting to the four million people in South Vietnam who are sheltering the agents of Communist North Vietnam.
People have asked: Is it a civil war? The line that was drawn in 1954 across the waist of Indo-China, along the 17th parallel, cut a people in two. Relatives were separated and the economy was truncated. The only differences between the north and the south are in geography and leadership, and leadership is the key to the present tragedy of a people divided. Have the people of South Vietnam turned on their so-called government? I should imagine that thousands have done that and have joined the guerrilla bands. What have they had to be proud of for the last 10 years? What have they had to have faith in for the last 20 years? What have they to lose? First, they had the French and then they have had half a dozen regimes each lasting only overnight. Of course there is an element of civil war about the conflict in Vietnam. They want rice and get rifles.
Here we have the seeds of rebellion and bitterness. The seeds of civil war, violence and bloodshed are all contained in the shocking leadership that South Vietnam has had over the past few years, and perhaps over the past 20 years. The leadership has been so bad that, in fact, the United States has been governing South Vietnam from the Pentagon in Washington as a sort of absentee landlord. The ultimate result of the present policy of the United States in South Vietnam is to take the country over entirely. Is that General Taylor’s as yet unspoken hope? Is that the next act which will be forced on the United States in its intervention? That would bring China full-bloodedly into control of North Vietnam and would result in a head-on clash between the United States and China, which could trigger off a third world war. It is a delicate, tightrope situation, if ever there was one. The further the United States penetrates into North Vietnam, the greater is the chance of such a final conflict.
The Government of South Vietnam is a foreign bolstered government which, however we may decorate the facade, cannot hide the frightening weakness, the disastrous rivalry, the blatant inadequacy, the appalling incompetence, the dictatorship, the political vacuum of a war-torn, tragic and unhappy land. In today’s Melbourne “ Age “, Walter Lippman makes some very potent comments about the war in Vietnam. He says -
After two months of bombing North Vietnam, it has become manifest also that the bombing has not changed the course of war . . .
But if we had an American army of 350,000 men in South Vietnam, and extended the war in the air, we would have on our hands an interminable war without the prospect of a solution.
To talk about freedom and national independence amid such violence and chaos would be to talk nonsense.
Then he criticises McNamara’s statement about wars of liberation and says -
This is a profoundly and dangerously false notion, and it shows a lamentable lack of knowledge and understanding of the revolutionary upheaval of the epoch in which we live.
Then he refers to several rebellions that have occurred around the world in recent years. None of them was inspired by the Communists, but the Communists took over many of them and supplied the leadership. If we can brand a revolution a Communist inspired one, why cannot we cause a few revolutions? Why cannot we cause a few Christian revolutions? Why cannot we cause a few democratic revolutions? Why cannot we take over men’s minds in the same way as the Communists do? Why cannot we fight back? Why is it that the Communists always win the battles for men’s minds and start the revolutions? If we are to hit back, let us hit back in that way.
The tragic situation in South Vietnam calls not for continued United States intervention but for United Nations intervention on a massive scale. We believe that the situation in the Congo could be repeated in Vietnam. The United Nations could take over from the Americans and with American assistance, greatly reduced from its present level, maintain a peacekeeping force in the country while the country sorts itself out. Qf course, we must not give the impression that we want the United States to get out without the Chinese withdrawing from North Vietnam as well. We want a two-way withdrawal. We want the United Nations to handle the situation with a combined force from several of the smaller nations, including Australia. The United Nations force would prevent the arrival of armaments in the south or the north from any other nation. Why could not this problem be handled as other problems have been handled, namely, by the United Nations using a police force in the area? Unless we do something like that, this war could lead to a third world war.
North Vietnam thrives on guerrilla warfare. If there were an international police force in Vietnam, it would help to reduce greatly the value of guerrilla warfare. In this conflict we see, in stark relief, the outcome of keeping mainland China out of the United Nations for so long. If China had been in the United Nations five or six years ago, I believe that, because of appeals by world opinion and the handling of the situation by the councils of the United Nations, this war would never have gone as far as it has gone. China would ‘have been dealt with as a member of the United Nations. If. the United Nations had had control of the situation over the last eight or nine years, this struggle could have been prevented and South Vietnam could have had a democratic government by now.
It is obvious that the area is not ready for self-government. For decades the French did nothing to plant the seeds of democratic government in Indo-China. They did nothing to train the local people to take over the civil service and political control of their own country after decades of occupation. Colonial rulers in Africa and Asia have always been frightened of having enlightened peoples in their colonial empires. Suppression of political and intellectual aspirations was part of the famous gunboat philosophy. This fear of giving colonial peoples the weapons to govern themselves was bound up with survival as colonial powers. Some colonial powers argued this way: Give them education and the power to govern themselves, and we give them the power to kick us out. So we have the tragedy of peoples in Asia not being given the democratic weapons with which to fight back against revolutions and the advance of well organised Communism from the north.
Senator Wayne Morse, in a magazine article, quotes a Republican member of the United States House of Representatives as writing these words in a letter to him -
So far as I can tell, the governments of North Vietnam and South Vietnam are just about Tweedledum and Tweedledee and neither the people nor the governments on either side would recognise democracy if they should meet it in broad daylight and on the main street of Saigon, their main interest being in another bowl of rice,
That sums up the situation very clearly. While the French dominated Indo-China it was in darkness, and after the French left Indo-China it stayed in darkness. The people were left helpless, hopeless, leaderless and untrained for the tremendous responsibilities of running their own affairs democratically. That betrayal by a colonial power, like similar betrayals by other colonial powers elsewhere, is one of the massive betrayals of history. By leaving the country hopeless and helpless against the enemy to the north of it, the French sowed the wind, and now we are reaping a whirlwind which could involve atomic and nuclear warfare.
There was a political, ideological and intellectual vacuum just waiting to be filled by someone or some country with an ideology and the determination and leadership to fill it. So, in comes Communism with its dedicated and fanatical leadership, fighting to expand southward. South Vietnam was left unprepared by the French - it is still unprepared as far as its own strength is concerned - to meet the invasion of ideas and arms from the north. Therefore, we have a big problem on our hands and we have a big responsibility.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
-We have just heard a tirade of abuse against the United States of America which to me was quite pitiful and which, I am sure, to the people of Australia was quite disgraceful. I took a note of one expression used by the honorable member for Wilmot (Mr. Duthie). He said that there were many in America who were afraid of peace breaking out in South East Asia. This is rather a pitiful statement to make, when we in Australia depend upon the United States. For myself and, I believe, for most thinking people in Australia, I say: “Thank God for America “.
I congratulate the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Hasluck) on making an excellent, clear and concise statement which, if I may say so, had all the hallmarks of being written by himself and not by somebody for him, which is unusual in the case of a ministerial speech. I would say that he was right when, in his opening remarks, he stated that force and power were the main determinants of what happens. We would certainly wish it to be otherwise at the present time, but it is a fact we must recognise. This will remain so while Communism tries to impose itself on the world by force.
The Minister also referred, and I thought properly so, to the fear of people in all parts of the world of the possible use of nuclear weapons. In this field, of course, there is the new fear of the possible obtaining and using of nuclear power by Communist China, which brings this matter more sharply to our minds. I agree with the Minister’s remarks about the United Nations and his statement that there will never be full security for anyone unless and until the exercise of power is made subject to agreed principles of international conduct. I think that those are words of very great wisdom. He went on in no uncertain terms - unlike the honorable member for Wilmot - to nail the conflict in South Vietnam for what it is. The Minister said that this was just another case of Communist aggression and terrorism directed from outside to destroy democratic freedom and take a country over in the Communist cause of world domination. This is very true indeed.
The Minister stated in very moderate language the difficulties raping us in the Indonesian confrontation of Malaysia. The attitude of the Opposition is very difficult to understand. It is amazing to me how honorable members opposite pass over or deal lightly with the grave danger to us of the forward march of Communism and its power in South East Asia, although they give emphasis to subsidiary matters. This has been apparent right through their speeches. There has been great emphasis on the fact that there has not been recognition of Communist China in the United Nations. This matter is important, I know, but it does not bear directly upon this Communist menace which threatens Australia. Honorable members opposite spoke of France’s daring to acquire nuclear weapons and to test them in the Pacific. Whilst we do not favour this, after all is said and done it is not something to go to town about at this moment when we are discussing particular matters in South East Asia. This is also true of the use of non-lethal gas by the United States. It was refreshing last night to hear at least one member of the Opposition say that he agreed with the use of non-lethal gas. He said that whilst this was a psychological matter he did not disapprove of its use in certain circumstances.
Tonight the honorable member for Wilmot dealt with the question of the civil war factor in South Vietnam. This factor exists to a certain extent but it is not the great thing. There is no doubt that since the division of South Vietnam from North Vietnam, South Vietnam has not been given a chance to settle down internally, because it has been infiltrated from the north, the infiltrators being aided and abetted by other powers in an effort to take the country over as a Communist State. It was very interesting to hear some of the Labour speakers chiding the Minister on what they called his over-emphasis of aggression from North Vietnam. After all, are we nol talking about the aggression from North Vietnam, which is causing the difficulties that we are now suffering in South Vietnam? Is not this what brings America into the picture and is it not the cause of the dangers that we are facing?
As the honorable member for Mallee (Mr. Turnbull) properly stated tonight, nothing has been forthcoming on which there could be negotiations for peace. We are fully in favour of negotiations if there is a basis for them. Negotiations are mentioned also in relation to the Malaysia question. We agree with negotiation if a case is stated upon which negotiations can take place. It was refreshing on this occasion to note that the Opposition has now given up the old cry, “Bring back our troops from Malaysia”, which was heard for a long time. It was interesting to hear the honorable member for Yarra (Dr. Cairns) refer to the difference between Berlin and Cuba on the one hand and Vietnam on the other. He said -
In Berlin and Cuba two great powers used their strength to deter the use of force.
In my opinion, this shows a great distortion of mind and of fact. As I understand it, one great power backed down in the face of force and thus war was prevented. Does he suggest that we should back down and let the Communists have South Vietnam to save the possibility of war? This is implicit in his speech and the statements that he has made. We should have this position quite clear.
Ever since World War II all the people of the world have lived in a state of fear. The cause of this has been the drive of Communism for world domination. No standards, principles, truth, logic, agreements or ethics of human conduct have been allowed to stand in the way of Communist advancement. Power, destruction, murder, subversion, deceit, lies and tyranny have taken over, and millions of people have been forced to live a Communist way of life. The God-given right of the individual to freedom has been destroyed. Indeed to Communism and Communists there is no God.
Australia’s place in South East Asia is a matter to which I think we do not give enough attention. We should look at the facts as they are. We are a young country of only 11 million people, geographically situated in the East, right on the border of the West. We have great traditions which we take from the West. We are a Western democracy, yet we are on the borderline between East and West. We are endeavouring to establish a young nation that will be a great nation if we only do right, but we are only now laying the foundation for this great young nation. To the north of us, over half of the world’s population lives. Only , now are these people sorting out their way of life. Many of the countries to the north have gained their independence only in recent years. I instance such countries as India, Pakistan, Ceylon, the Philippines, Malaya, Singapore, Indonesia, and the countries of Indo-China - North and South Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia. Then, of course, there are North and South Korea and Formosa. All of these countries, except those which have already gone over to Communism, are jealous of their right to independence, but every one of them without exception is being infiltrated. We are in the position where a country of more than 700 million people is standing over us. Communist China stands menacingly over the whole of this area where people are desperately fighting to maintain their independence.
It is as clear as daylight that unless the Western bloc of powers, headed by the most powerful nation on earth, the United States of America, stands by those people in South East Asia they will all fall into the Communist net. This is not a wild statement but plain facts which any thinking person will realise. If this is allowed to happen, where will Australia be? A firm stand must be made somewhere. Where is it to be made? It is being made in South Vietnam. The Americans have made it clear that they will stand there. As the Minister pointed out in his statement, if the stand is not made in South Vietnam it will be made elsewhere. If we let South Vietnam go, Thailand will be next and then Malaysia. Indonesia will become a Communist satellite State right on Australia’s doorstep. This is not wild talk. This is a fact that confronts Australia and the world today.
We support the Americans in South Vietnam because we know that if there is any weakness in or withdrawal from South Vietnam that country will be in the hands of the Communists within a matter of days. A stand must be made, and it must be continued. The same applies to Malaysia. Why will people be so foolish as to think that Britain in Malaysia or the United States in Vietnam can withdraw from the operations they are undertaking in those areas? Who can estimate how long it will take to retain independence and preserve freedom in South East Asia? What prophet can come forward and say: “This conflict will be over in a year or two “? No one can foresee at this stage how long the conflict will take. Thinking people will realise that it will be a long haul and that we will have to make contributions and sacrifices for many years, as will our allies, to preserve the freedom of the South East Asian countries. To succeed, we must be united as a people. This is one of the greatest pities.
How much damage is done by our not being united in a common cause? The Communists are united, and that is thenstrength. Unfortunately there are critics who will not see clearly the writing on the wall; who will not see clearly the inevitable consequences of inaction. We have to face the situation, and to succeed we must be united.
Our defence effort must be increased over the years because this is not a short range situation. It is difficult to see just when it will end. This being so, the efforts of Australia in the years ahead must be concentrated on this danger spot to us and to the world - South East Asia. We should look at our representation in South East Asia, because it must be continuous and concentrated. It is vital to our future. The Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Hasluck) has an overall responsiblity in all parts of the world, including South East Asia. I do not know whether he will agree with me, but I believe the job too big for one man. I believe it is too much to expect one man to keep in daily contact with the details of events in Asia. I know that we have ambassadors and departmental officials in each country, and I know that they do a good job. The Minister, too, does an excellent job and I have the highest possible regard for him, but he must spend long hours studying the details of reports and assessments of the position in each of the South East Asian countries.
It is my opinion - and it has been for a long time - that the Minister should have some support. An assistant Minister could be appointed to concentrate on the affairs in South East Asia. Of course, he would be under the control and direction of the Minister for External Affairs. However, it is necessary that we should get to know the personalities in these countries. This is not a situation which will end tomorrow; it will continue for many years. It is necessary to maintain close contact with the personalities who are controlling the affairs of these countries. Frequent visits should be made to South East Asia. I know that the Minister has been there and that he will continue making frequent visits. This is necessary if a continuous contact is to be maintained with the personalities in that part of the world. I believe, too, that the Minister has to keep a constant check on our ambassadors, our representatives and our officials in each of these countries, to make sure that we know in minute detail what is happening. We cannot know unless we maintain an intimate contact with our representatives in these countries.
This special task could be performed by tacking it on to one of the lesser portfolios, for instance, the Navy or Air portfolios. The appointee could be Assistant Minister for External Affairs. If this suggestion is regarded as undesirable, the least that should be done is to appoint an ambassadorallarge in South East Asia to maintain the closest possible contact with the Minister. This ambassador-at-large would rove around the area getting to know the personalities who direct the destinies of the various counttries and reporting to the Minister on what is going on. I believe this is important. I have held this view for a long time. I have had some experience of this aspect of Government and I believe this is something to which the Government should give attention, because in the 170-odd years of our existence we have had nothing more important to deal with than the question we are facing now. We must preserve freedom in the independent countries of South East Asia: If not, God help Australia.
.- The honorable member for Bennelong (Sir John Cramer), the former leader, of our Australian Army, probably embarrassed his colleagues, and the entire Parliament, by his slavish support for all United States attitudes when he said, in his dramatic eulogy: “ Thank God for America “. Someone said ages ago that our foreign policy is non-existent until the mail arrives from the United States. Our role as an ally of a great power, the United States, is best fulfilled by constructive criticism and helpful advice designed to develop a foreign policy with greater finesse and better prospects of success than are in evidence at the present time.
The honorable member has engaged in a very crude exposition of the problems of the day. Are we engaged at this time in a limited undertaking in South East Asia and South Vietnam that can be liquidated by a negotiated peace? Or is it subversive to suggest that such is the case? On the other hand, are we engaged in the containment of everything that looks like Communism in Asia? Of course, the honorable member for Bennelong would have a definition of Communism that would embrace anything that looked like fervent nationalism, a desire for emancipation from the colonial yoke, communalism, co-operativeism, socialisation and socialism. All these things would come under this wide sweeping heading of Communism, such is the obtuseness of the honorable member for Bennelong in these matters.
In the United States itself many people are engaged in constructively analysing American policy. For example, in the recently arrived edition of the “ New Republic “, an American magazine which has sustained itself by public support because of its thoughtfulness, the following statement appears -
We find in Asia, as elsewhere, different kinds of Communism whose relations to China and the Soviet Union range all the way from complete independence to complete subservience. To treat all these Communisms alike on the assumption that they are all equally subservient to either China or the Soviet Union or to both is the height of doctrinaire folly . . Our attempts to contain Chinese predominance in Asia -through local military operations is about as sensible as would be China’s trying to contain the American predominance in the Western Hemisphere by committing her military forces in defence of one or the other of the Latin American countries.
– Does the honorable member agree with that?
– That is the position. Of course I agree with it. I want to refer briefly now to’ the unfortunate incident which occurred last Tuesday - the destruction of the United States Embassy in Saigon - because this came as a solemn reminder of the rapidly deteriorating position in South Vietnam. The killing and maiming of civilian personnel, both American and Vietnamese, are to be deplored and are deplored, I am sure, by every honorable member in this House. No doubt it was intended as a reprisal for recent bombings of North Vietnam and for the use of gas. Already this crude manifestation of the bitterness and hatred prevailing in Vietnam shows indications of reproducing itself a thousand times over. This self-generating process holds no hope for the 13 million people in Vietnam. Indeed, it offers only danger to the rest pf the world.
Yesterday United States and South Vietnamese bombers, by way of retalition struck at four radar stations on the North Vietnam mainland and in the South China Sea. This was the biggest number of targets selected for an operation in any one day, so things are getting out of hand at a very rapid pace. The Americans, feeling aggrieved, can still be expected to retaliate even further, some say by naval blockade of North Vietnam and part of China, others say by the bombing of North Vietnam and China itself. This can result in situations from which there can be no extrication. Where will it all stop? Every act of belligerence, every assault on the oppressed and suffering humanity by the Vietcong, by North Vietnam, by the United States or by South Vietnam serves to aggravate rather than alleviate the problem which has motivated America’s involvement in that area. It is a matter of concern to all of us that General Maxwell Taylor, the special Ambassador, sees nothing ahead except no limit to the horror that has been in evidence for some time. Of course, military minded and military trained personnel can be expected to come up with answers of that kind.
In this debate which has proceeded for some days the declared objectives of the United Nations have been violated in this place by men of goodwill but of limited comprehension. Speaker after speaker on the Government side has sought to make “negotiation” a dirty word. To seek a peaceful settlement is, for them, subversion. We think of the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth) who advocated the bombing of Chinese factories and munitions plants. Apparently, in all his naivete he thinks that he can get away with an act of aggression of this kind. Imagine how things would stand if this honorable member had his hot little finger on the button that would plunge the world into destruction.
Then we have the honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Killen) who, with the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies), criticised the 12 bishops who dared to advocate a negotiated peace. He said: “ We cannot fall back and ,say ‘ negotiate and discuss ‘ “. This indomitable and intrepid spirit from Moreton simplifies the problem by saying that it is better to be dead than red. I put this alternative to him:
It is better to be negotiated than annihilated. It is better to have the rule of law than the horror of war. Co-existence is a reality in Europe. It was achieved by more thoughtful men than the honorable member for Chisholm (Sir Wilfrid Kent Hughes) who, wim his typical belligerence, now chooses to interject. It is the alternative to the massacre of millions of people in Asia and we on this side of the House offer no apology to the people of Australia or to the world for the fact that we stand for the attainment of co-existence in South East Asia in the same way as it has been accomplished by United Kingdom and United States attitudes in Europe.
The Minister for External Affairs (Mr: Hasluck), whose statement gave rise to this debate, was no more inspired about the need for a negotiated peace than was any of those honorable members to whom I have referred. I look at the “ British Information Services” bulletin dated 24th March 1965 and I see that this total attitude, this attitude indicative of horror which has come from the Government side, is in sharp and vivid contrast to the attitude of the United Kingdom Government. After all, that is the Government with experience. That is the Government which has such extensive diplomatic involvement in the trouble spots of the world. It is interesting to see how the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom stood up to interrogation after the use of gas was revealed in the House of Commons a short time ago.
He stands for a negotiated settlement. He makes the position perfectly clear. He is in good company with the others who support a negotiated settlement of this question. They include the Secretary-General of the United Nations, the Canadian Prime Minister, Mr. Lester Pearson, the Government of India, the United Kingdom Foreign Secretary, Mr. Stewart, and, of course, the Leader of the French Government, General de Gaulle, who can speak authoritatively on these matters after the 80-odd years’ experience that his country had in South East Asia and especially in Indo-China.
Let me refer very cursorily to some of the points made by Mr. Wilson, the British Prime Minister, when he was interrogated a few days ago in the House of Commons. He said -
This righting has changed entirely in kind as well as degree and therefore carries with it all tha time greater dangers. That is why it is important, particularly after certain disappointments last week, for an initiative to he taken to try to get a lasting and robust peace, to guarantee freedom in that part of the world.
In answer to another question Mr. Wilson said -
On the question of negotiations and initiative we proposed to the Soviet Foreign Minister last week an initiative by the two co-chairmen.
Mr. Wilson was referring to the fact that the Soviet Union and the United Kingdom are co-chairmen of the Geneva Convention. He continued -
This was rejected. I would have thought that the position now is that if the two co-chairmen cannot go ahead there is a duty on us to take the initiative with a view to effecting a peaceful and lasting solution to the whole Vietnam problem.
In another reply to a question Mr. Wilson said -
I am afraid that a lot of children have been killed both in North and South Vietnam during this fighting. This is the reason for all of us to do everything in our power to get this matter settled on a satisfactory basis. … We always understood, from the time when the co-chairmen were first appointed, that one of them would be in the Eastern camp and one in the Western camp. I have seen no sign at all that the Soviet cochairman showed any inhibitions about expressing his support for his allies in this matter, and we have shown no inhibitions either. I do not believe, nevertheless, and I said this to Mr. Gromyko, that though there are these differences, they should stop us acting on those points on which, I hope, we are agreed, namely on seeing what are the next steps which will lead to a settlement.
Dogged determination to obtain a settlement of the Vietnam problem is apparent all through the answers given by Mr. Wilson in the House of Commons. It is this kind of spirit that we would like to see manifested in this place.
What are the attitudes of Government supporters in this matter? They say that Australia condones the use of gas, napalm and fragmented steel spray from the bomb called “ lazy dog “. They contend that the solution to war is war itself. They justify the Tonkin Gulf incident. They justify the bombing of North Vietnam and the escalation of the war to China itself. Their plan is to step up the war. This, in their view, will cause the Vietcong to lay down their arms and China to cease being concerned about encirclement or the ever expanding United States defence perimeter, as it is called in strategic terms. Government sup porters anticipate a cowed and cringing China - one quarter of the world - beaten, demoralised and frightened. Apparently the Soviet Union has been completely forgotten in this plan. Many people would think tt wise for the West to keep Sino-Soviet tension rising rather than force the two countries into an alliance. But be that as it may, the plan which honorable members opposite support involves a full scale confrontation with China, with all the attendant prospects of nuclear exchange, or else the Government and the members who support it are playing with fire and provoking China up to but not beyond the point of tolerance. We assume that the antagonist will do what we could never do - capitulate to threats and intimidation or even temporary reverses. Even in the French Indo-China war and the battle of Dien Bien Phu this was never achieved. It has never been achieved in the past and is not likely to be achieved in the future. .
Such a course contravenes our commitments under the United Nations Charter. This fact seems to be attributed little significance. We have never sought recourse to the United Nations Charter since hostilities broke out in Vietnam and since this country became involved. Bearing in mind the provisions of Article 2, section 4, of the United Nations Charter and knowing that Australia was a signatory to the Charter, I have wondered what the Government has been thinking of in following the course to which it has committed itself in Vietnam. Article 2, section 4, of the Charter reads -
All Members shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state, or in any other manner inconsistent with the Purposes of the United Nations.
Article 33 refers to the duties of nations involved in disputes. I wonder what the Government has done about this Article? Section 1 reads -
The parties to any dispute, the continuance of which is likely to endanger the maintenance of international peace and security, shall, first of all, seek a solution by negotiation, inquiry, mediation, conciliation, arbitration, judicial settlement, resort to regional agencies or arrangements, or other peaceful means of their own choice.
Article 37 is worth mentioning since honorable members opposite and the Minister in particular seem to have forgotten about it. Section 1 reads -
Should the parties to a dispute of the nature referred to in Article 33 fail to settle it by the means indicated in that Article, they shall refer it to the Security Council.
Our course and that of the United States are at variance with and are violations of the Geneva Agreement of 1954 which marked the end of French rule in South East Asia. To avoid infringing the terms of the Agreement, United States military personnel engaged in South Vietnam were first called advisers, but that subterfuge has now been thrown overboard and abandoned. Now 25,000 United States military personnel are said to be in the area and actively engaged in the war - a war that has in 10 years killed 160,000 people, tortured and wounded 680,000 and imprisoned 370,000. The war has disrupted the lives of 30 million people. It has delayed the progress of nations and caused many nations to divert their economy to things other than those which are designed to benefit the community.
Let us recall how we in Australia came to be involved in this war. If we had time to trace the history of this war we would realise that it all has been a shocking mistake. The first mistake was the support of the Diem Government, which did not fulfil the obligation it had to the United States to effect reforms concerning the right to vote, the easing of cruel taxes and a campaign against disease and illiteracy. Soon after the Diem Government took office it launched a great struggle against the Buddhists of Vietnam, who comprise 80 per cent, of the South Vietnam population. Soon after that, in 1963, a coup took place and there has been a rapid succession of governments in the intervening period. The country has had eight different administrations in 16 months. All of them have failed to effect reforms. None of them was democratically elected. None has brought democracy or freedom to the country. Yet we still piously talk about fighting for democracy and the freedom of the South Vietnamese people. In fact we are pursuing neither war nor peace. We claim that we are in South Vietnam by invitation of the Government. In fact there was an intrusion into a civil war in contravention of the Geneva Convention. Which government asked us to be there? Which government has asked us to stay? None of the governments that have been in power expresses the will of the people. Their instability indicates this.
There is a hostile atmosphere surrounding our involvement in this war. The only thing to do is to have recourse to the Geneva Convention and make every possible effort to bring about a cessation of hostilities. I strongly recommend to the Minister and to those honorable members who are listening that Australia engage itself in formulating a new defence and foreign policy based on our concern for the area. I believe that we should be working for a stronger United Nations.
.- Listening to the honorable member for Hughes (Mr. L. R. Johnson) one would think that the United States of America, aided and abetted by Australia, was almost responsible for what is going on in Vietnam at present. The honorable member did not begin to suggest that the Communists and the Vietcong guerrillas have been at war against the South Vietnamese for quite a considerable time, aided and abetted now as they are by the Communist Chinese. I think it is disgraceful that we should hear in this chamber suggestions that we are not acting correctly in backing those forces that seek to remain free and democratic. I believe Australia is doing completely the right thing.
I greatly admire the comprehensive statement that has been made by the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Hasluck). It is one of the most lucid and clear expositions we have ever heard in this House from a Minister for External Affairs. I offer the Minister my very warm congratulations, not only on his speech but also on the way he has been handling his portfolio since he assumed it a little less than a year ago.
The honorable member for Hughes rather shocked me in the opening passages of his speech when he sought to identify fervent nationalism with the cause of Communism. It is childish to suggest that Communism and nationalism are identical. It is true that Communism battens on fervent nationalism just as it battens on any grievance in any country it seeks to dominate; but to seek to identity Communism with fervent nationalism, as the honorable member did, merely serves to underline how little some honorable members opposite understand about Marxist-Communist ideology and doctrine.
I believe it is the duty of everyone in this Parliament to understand something of the basis of this doctrine because the world today unhappily is divided into two camps as we know only too well. On the one hand there is the free world of which we are fortunately a member and of which we intend to remain a member and, on the other hand, there is the Communist world. We must face realities, but I suggest that the honorable member for Hughes did not do that.
The honorable member referred to the use of gas in Vietnam. I should like to quote from a communique issued by the Embassy of the Republic of Vietnam in Canberra on 26th March. I propose to read this in full because I believe too little publicity has been given to this facet of the war in Vietnam. On the other hand, too much publicity has been given to the fact that gas was used without enough explanation as to the kind of gas and the circumstances of its use. The Press communique states -
With a view to clarifying public opinion on the exaggerated importance given to non-lethal gas by the Vietnamese Armed Forces, the Embassy of the Republic of Vietnam wishes to stress that:
Gas has been used only on three occasions during minor local military operations.
This was tear gas of a type which momentarily disabled the enemy, put him out of combat, and was in no way lethal or noxious.
Humanitarian considerations were the sole motives leading to the use of the said gas, as the Vietcong have often resorted to barbarous methods, using innocent villagers as a protection screen on the battlefield, and mingling with the peasants in villages to launch attacks on our troops.
Thus, the use of non-lethal gas will spare lives of innocent villagers in tactical situations where conventional weapons are not desirable.
I think this is the first time that the communique has been quoted in full in this House and I believe that it should be in the record because of the references that have been made to the use of gas in Vietnam. The honorable member for Hughes wants a negotiated settlement in Vietnam. In other words he and some other members of the Opposition want peace at any price. The honorable member for Hughes quoted as his authority on this point the socialist Prime
Minister of Great Britain, Mr. Harold Wilson. I do not accept Mr. Wilson as the ultimate authority on South East Asia. I believe the reality of the situation has been put by our own Minister for External Affairs in the speech we are debating. I for one do not want to see a negotiated peace on terms which will mean that South Vietnam will be handed to the Vietcong guerrillas and the Red Chinese troops who are backing them.
The honorable member for Hughes said in a cynical way that honorable members on the Government side spoke piously about assisting in South Vietnam. I believe we speak proudly of the assistance we are giving in South Vietnam. We on this side of the House are 100 per cent. in support of what President Johnson and the United States Administration are seeking to gain there. They are seeking to gain a true peace and not a peace along the lines advocated by the honorable member for Hughes. Since this debate began more than a week ago a very important statement has been issued by the President of the U.S.A. May I quote briefly three or four important passages from President Johnson’s statement? It is a lengthy statement but I shall quote only a little from the first three or four paragraphs because I think they embody the correct line for us to be thinking about. President Johnson said -
My final quotation from President Johnson’s speech is this -
The United States still seeks no wider war. We threaten no regime and covert no territory. We have worked and will continue to work for a reduction of tensions on the great stage of the world. But the aggression from the North must be stopped. That is the road to peace in South East Asia.
I and my colleagues on this side of the House support the President’s expression of views and we are diametrically opposed to the views expressed by honorable members opposite concerning a negotiated peace no matter upon what terms. I think that the bomb outrage in Saigon a few days ago gave even a more complete answer than did the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) to the Anglican Bishops who wanted Australia to pull out of South Vietnam and were opposed to us taking part in the maintenance of liberal and true democracy and freedom in that part of the world. It must have been a shock to them and to every honorable member of this House to read of the terrible bomb outrage against the United States Embassy in Saigon which cost the lives of 16 persons and the wounding of 150 others. It is all very well for some honorable members opposite to refer to the war of liberation in South Vietnam. They are being caught in the very snares and wiles of Communism and Communist dialectics. The so-called war of liberation is a war of aggression against the freedom loving country of South Vietnam which we are trying to assist.
I do not propose to spend anymore time replying to the honorable member for Hughes because there are other matters on which I wish to speak. As we know, there have been tensions between Soviet Russia and Communist China. I do not believe we can place any long term reliance on any tensions that might exist between them. The basic difference between them - and I say this for the benefit of honorable members opposite who know very little or nothing about Communism and its ideology - is that the Soviet ideology is one of coexistence which in the Marxist Glossary means victory on Communist terms. In other words it means long term victory on terms which, in the meantime, involve subversion and sabotage of the free world by all means short of a hot war.
On the other hand I think of Communist China as a dragon - not a reluctant dragon but a fiery and very aggressive dragon with sharp claws and sharp teeth and a willingness to use them as India and Tibet have learned to their cost. This year of 1965 in Communist China is the Year of the Snake. The Year of the Snake is the year in which Communist China will seek to harass, to undermine and to bite its so-called opponents. In other words, we of the free world can expect trouble from Red China. The dragon is going to show its teeth and its claws in this Year of the Snake, 1965. In this context, I cannot help thinking of the words of Mao Tse-tung - they are in writing in the Library for anyone who cares to look them up. He said* -
Political power grows out of the mouth of a gun.
How can anyone talk peace with a man who has that outlook? Mao Tse-tung, as far back as the 30’s and perhaps even earlier, wrote books and pamphlets explaining that Communist strategy in relation to the countries to the north of Australia. He explained the strategy and the use of guerrilla warfare and tactics that the Vietcong Communists have been so cunningly and skilfully using in recent times. Mao Tse-tung is a man of his word. He is not a man who makes statements lightly. As we would have been wise to have taken note of the writings of Hitler in the 30’s, so we would be very wise to take careful note of the philosophy and the strategy of Mao Tse-tung as revealed in his own writings.
I have here a little booklet issued by the headquarters of the South East Asia Treaty Organisation in Bangkok. I will read three or four short paragraphs from the introduction to the booklet, which is called “ Communist Tactics in Asia”. The introduction reads - “To destroy from within” - this is the key to Communist tactics in Asia.
I hope that those honorable members opposite who have exposed their ignorance of Communism and Communist ideology will take careful note of these paragraphs. The introduction continues -
Where the opposition to Communism is too strong to be attacked directly, then it must be undermined from within.
So the Communists conceal their real objective, which is power, by professing to support peace, democracy and social progress. Often they make considerable advances in non-Communist countries by the zeal with which they appear to back these desirable aims.
But Communist promises, when in opposition, and the realities of Communism in power are quite distinct. Thus Kerala provides an example of intimidation and repression by a Communist Government, which is totally at variance with the pretension to “ full democracy “ made elsewhere in India.
Democracy and reform are merely catch-words for the Communists in opposition; their real aim is revolution, not reform, the destruction of the existing system and not its betterment.
I repeat that that is the introduction to an official booklet called “Communist Tactics in Asia” which is issued by S.E.A.T.O. Headquarters in Bangkok.
Reference has been made in the course of this debate and on other occasions to the desirability or otherwise of diplomatic recognition of Red China. I prefer to call the country “Red China” rather than “ Continental China “, which is the name so frequently used by honorable members on the other side of the House, because I believe that the description “Red China” signifies much more clearly the political doctrine of the country. Sir, I believe that those who glibly advocate the recognition of Red China diplomatically and its admission to the United Nations either do not know or prefer not to recognise the fact that Red China demands, as part of the contract, that the 11 million Nationalist Chinese on Formosa be handed over to Communist China. Mao Tse-tung, Chou En-lai and other leaders of Communist China have made it perfectly clear that they will not tolerate two Chinas in the United Nations. We in this country back Nationalist China and its representatives at the United Nations. We do not recognise two Chinas, nor, I hope, do we intend to do so at any time. We recognise Nationalist China, and
I do not believe that any thinking Australian -certainly not any loyal Australian - would wish to see the 11 million Nationalist Chinese on Formosa handed over willynilly to the mercy of Red China on the mainland.
It has been argued, of course, that Britain has diplomatically recognised Red China. But this was a number of years ago when the terms of the contract of recognition and admission to the United Nations were quite different from the present terms. There is in fact only a charge d’affaires in Peking representing Britain and only a charge d’affaires in London representing Communist China. It is not full diplomatic recognition; it is only partial recognition. As I say, the recognition given by Britain at that time did not involve the handing over of the 11 million Formosans. I believe that the result of a recent gallup poll would have been very different if it had been put to the people who were interviewed that the
II million people on Formosa would necessarily be handed over to the mercy of Cornmuni* China if Australia, America and other countries agreed to give diplomatic recognition to Communist China and to ask for her admission to the United Nations.
It is true that General de Gaulle wants some different kind of arrangement. He wants a 5-power conference, including Communist China. I can only suggest, with all respect to the President of France, that he is not aware of or is omitting to take into account, the fact that the Formosans would be placed in a most invidious, if not a dreadful, situation. Let us never forget that international Communism aims at world conquest. The partial nuclear test ban treaty of August 1963 was certainly a milestone along the long, hard road towards a better understanding between East and West, but we should bear in mind, I suggest, that the Soviet has since exploded very large nuclear weapons underground, and some of the radioactive debris has apparently escaped into the atmosphere. This is forbidden by Article I of the test ban treaty. The Soviet has a long record of broken treaties. Communist China and France have refused to adhere to the treaty and have since exploded nuclear weapons.
For some time we have heard much talk of colonialism and neo-colonialism. All this talk is directed against the Western countries of the free world. I would like to know why there is this double standard. Why is it all right for Russia to have under her yoke great numbers of people in Hungary, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Finland, Latvia, Estonia, Lithuania and many other countries? Why is it all right for the Russians to be colonialists in a very dreadful sense but not all right for Malaysia to be in some remote way still tied to Britain? I think that this double standard should be brought to an end and there should be one standard. “Colonialism” means one thing or the other. It cannot mean something for the free world and something else again for the Communist world. Never let us forget that one third of the world’s population today is writhing under the colonialism of international Communism. The terms “colonialism” and “neo-colonialism”, I submit, are too mild to describe the conditions of slavery and brutality, concentration camps and liquidations practised by the rulers of Soviet Russia and Communist China.
.- I must be the concluding speaker in a long line of speakers who have addressed themselves to this debate since it was initiated in this House a week ago by the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Hasluck). It has been a very interesting debate and a diversity of opinions have been expressed by honorable members from both sides of the House. The first matter on which I want to comment is the almost concluding statement of the honorable member for Ryan (Mr. Drury) who, like a great many members from the opposite side of the House, addressed himself to the subject of the recognition of Red China. The honorable member for Ryan said that he preferred to call that country by the name “ Red China “. It has been referred to by members on this side of the House as “ mainland China “. It is a country of 700 million people.
It is difficult to understand the attitude of the honorable member for Ryan and other honorable members on the Government side of the House who have addressed themselves to this subject and have spoken against the recognition of mainland China. Never at any stage during their addresses did they refer to the question of trade with mainland China, or Red China, as the honorable member for Ryan prefers to call it. There is no doubt that the Government has for some time been trading with mainland China. I do not think any honorable member in this House would deny the Government the right to trade with mainland China. Certainly members on this side of the House have never quarrelled with the Government’s attitude in that respect, but we have never been able to understand the thinking of a government which, on one hand will deny the recognition of a government controlling more than 700 million people but, at the same time, has no hesitation in trading with that government. It can be said at once that at least the Government of the United States of America is consistent. It does not recognise mainland China and it does not trade with mainland China. The Government of Great Britain is also consistent. It recognises the Government of Red China and it trades with the Government of Red China. The Australian Government says that there is no possibility of its recognising mainland China, but it has no hesitation at all in trading with te government of 700 million people in South East Asia.
This Government, after all, is helping Red China to sustain its primary industries so that it can develop its manufacturing industries. The Minister for External Affairs who sits at the table, knows that last year more than 5 million tons of wheat was sent from this country to mainland China. The Australian Wool Board is at this moment endeavouring to promote trade in wool between mainland China and Australia. The Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen), who leads the Australian Country Party and who appears to be the strong man on the Government side of the House, has no hesitation in assisting the Government of mainland China with exports and thus enabling it to establish textile industries. Australia, as I have already indicated, is helping mainland China to establish its secondary industries because we are subsidising at this stage its primary industries.
I said that this is a most interesting debate. It has centered in the main around the questions of mainland China, the conflict, or revolution as it is termed, in Vietnam and the confrontation of Malaysia by Indonesia. No-one underestimates the seriousness of the situation in Vietnam, but I was surprised tonight, when listening to the honorable member for Mallee (Mr. Turnbull), to hear him say that there was no possible hope of successfully negotiating for a peaceful settlement in Vietnam. Later, the honorable member for Ryan supported the statement that had been made by the honorable member for Mallee. The honorable member for Mallee went on to say that because for 2,000 years there has never been a period in the history of the cilivilisation of man when there has not been a war, it would not be possible to anticipate a period in the future when there will not be war.
– That is right. But I did not make the other statement that the honorable member attributed to me.
– The honorable member for Mallee now wishes to qualify his statement. We on this side of the House say that is should be possible to obtain a negotiated settlement and a peaceful solution to the problems in Vietnam. Because the United States of America is involved in the way that it is, every honorable member on this side of the House agrees that it would be extremely difficult at this stage for the United States of America to withdraw from Vietnam because of the complicated situation in that country. Nor would any member of the Opposition seriously suggest that at this stage the United States of America should be compelled to withdraw from Vietnam until a peaceful solution has been effected in that area.
Because it has not been possible for the United States of America to secure a peaceful solution to the problems in that area, that does not necessarily mean that a peaceful solution to those problems is not possible. The honorable member for Hughes (Mr. L. R. Johnson), who preceded me earlier in this debate on behalf of the Opposition, referred quite rightly to a statement issued recently by the British Prime Minister in which that gentleman indicated to the House of Commons that he himself had endeavoured to seek a peaceful solution to the war in Vietnam, and that his action had been supported by the SecretaryGeneral of the United Nations. Surely this Government is prepared to accept the good offices of the United Nations in these matters? I have heard honorable members on the Government side, including the Minister for External Affairs, express their complete faith in the ability of the United Nations to find a peaceful solution to the problems that now confront the world in the area to which I am referring. But this Government says that it is not possible for the United Nations to secure a peaceful solution to these problems, and that it is not possible for the Secretary-General to secure a peaceful solution.
Honorable members on this side of the House believe that a peaceful solution to these problems is possible and that such a solution should be pursued. This conflict, revolution, or war, as it may be termed, has now been in progress in the South East Asian area - particularly in South Vietnam - for almost 10 years, and we are no nearer a peaceful solution than we were when the conflict originally commenced. I do not believe it is possible to secure a peaceful solution to these problems while we are engaged in a military conflict. One must readily understand that there are people in North Vietnam who believe that their point of view, so far as their own country is concerned, is the correct one and that their policy should be pursued. The people who constitute the Government in South Vietnam are just as adamant that their point of view must prevail and that, while a military situation continues in this area, a peaceful solution to the problem is most unlikely.
Therefore, I was disappointed that the statement made by the Minister for External Affairs made no reference to means by which Australia could use its good offices in helping to secure a peaceful solution to the situation in South Vietnam. Certainly, the Minister mentioned Australia’s military obligations in the area. But is it sufficient to look only to military obligations? I believe that Australia, being on the perimeter of the Pacific basin and being associated in the region with several of the large powers, is sufficiently important as an international power, and is certainly sufficiently important economically and in many other ways, to be able to give a lead in efforts to resolve the situation and to secure a peaceful solution to the problem. At the same time, Mr. Deputy Speaker, I believe that we have certain obligations towards Indonesia. The Minister has not hesitated to point out that Australia is committed to assisting Malaysia in certain circumstances. But we must be prepared also to assist Indonesia and we must recognise that the kind of situation that is developing there can only harm that country economically. The more the economic situation in Indonesia deteriorates, the less is the possibility of achieving a peaceful solution to the problem there.
I should now like to mention another omission from the Minister’s statement. I acknowledge at once that he proposed a much wider basis for discussion in this debate than the particular matters that he himself mentioned. But he completely neglected to mention in relations between India and Pakistan and between those countries and China. Far too many people in India and Pakistan go to bed hungry, wake hungry, go to work hungry and go back to bed again still hungry. Far too many of the people of those countries have been denied the advantages of health and the benefits of medicine and all the other community services and amenities which Australia and other countries in economic circumstances better than those of India and Pakistan are able to provide for their own people and which the developed countries could help to provide for the people of those two nations. Certainly, great masses of the people in India and Pakistan believe that their situation has never been worse and that any change in government could not be worse than the kind of government they have experienced so far. This kind of situation exists in a great many undeveloped countries.
I believe that, in every respect, the Australian Government has a great responsibility towards India and Pakistan. India was attacked by China and we did very little to assist our sister Dominion except make some services available to the Indian Government. Since that time, have we endeavoured to use our good offices to resolve some of the problems that now arise in relations between Pakistan and India? Has the Minister for External Affairs ever made such an attempt? He must know that these problems exist. He must understand that the Government of Pakistan was only too ready to blame the Indian Government for the conflict betwen India and China. I believe that the Australian Government could do a great deal to assist the people of both India and Pakistan. Only those who have been to those two countries can understand the immense human problems that have developed there over the centuries. I believe that much could be done by Australia to help solve these problems.
It is perfectly true, Mr. Deputy Speaker, that Australia has been able to achieve a great deal in South East Asia. We have given economic assistance in many ways. But I believe that this Government could do a great deal more in the future to assist the countries of the region. If this Government, in co-operation with the Governments of the other Western powers that are interested in the South East Asian area, is able to ensure that the great countries of Pakistan and India remain aligned with the Western powers and continue to progress towards a democratic way of life, there will certainly be some hope for democracy in South East Asia. But if India and Pakistan go into the Communist camp, other South East Asian countries will follow their example. So we have a great responsibility to do what we can economically, in an advisory capacity and in many other ways to ensure that India and Pakistan are assisted in every way possible, even if this means that some sacrifices must be made by the Australian people.
In this address, Mr. Deputy Speaker, I have endeavoured to touch on what I believe are some of the human problems that have led to the great conflicts in the South East. Asian and Pacific regions. We must never under-estimate the power of the Australian nation, for we are a considerable force. This country has great industrial potential. I firmly believe that it has great influence in this region. We have never occupied any country in the South East Asian area and I believe that, generally, we are readily accepted and well regarded by the peoples of the region. Therefore, we have a responsibility and a duty to do what we can to ensure that the better conditions that we believe ought to be attained in South East Asian countries are fostered to the best of our ability.
So I say that, although the Minister for External Affairs, in his statement, certainly dealt with the problems that exist in Vietnam, he overlooked some of the other major problems that, collectively, will have to be considered by the peoples of South East Asia. I hope that when the Minister next makes a ministerial statement on international affairs on behalf of the Government, he will give us his views on the problems that, as I have explained, already confront India and Pakistan and the problems that will certainly develop within the next decade in the relations between those two countries over Kashmir. The Minister must know that these problems will need attention even if we are able to solve the problems that exist in relations between South Vietnam and North Vietnam, and that there is every possibility that other troubles will occur in the South East Asian area. In conclusion, Mr. Deputy Speaker, I repeat that I believe this Government has a responsibility for doing whatever it cart do to seek a peaceful solution to the problems that I have discussed.
.- -The honorable member for. Hughes (Mr. L. R. Johnson) in his address to the House a short time ago devoted 10 minutes of his time to belittling and rubbishing the United States of
America. Does he not realise that the defence and survival of this country depend upon the co-operation and friendship of the United States and upon its willingness to assist us if we are attacked? The honorable gentleman devoted the remainder of his speech to putting forward a proposal that the South Vietnamese should negotiate a settlement with the Vietcong and the North Vietnamese. In this respect he was supported by the honorable member for Bass (Mr. Barnard).
Let us suppose that when I get home to Adelaide tomorrow night I find that a burglar has broken into my house, has stolen half my goods and is still there proceeding to steal the rest of them. Apparently, I am not to throw him out. I must not call the police. I must say to him: “ Look here, old fellow, let us negotiate. Let us call in a justice of the peace to decide how much of my goods you may have and how much of them I am entitled to retain.” The proposition put forward by the honorable member for Hughes and supported by the honorable member for Bass is just nonsense. The North Vietnamese have unlawfully attacked the South Vietnamese. They are in possession of a large part of the territory of South Vietnam. The South Vietnamese, with the support of their generous American allies and with support from ourselves and other people, are endeavouring to throw the burglars out. To suggest that the negotiations should be initiated by . the South Vietnamese is nonsense.
I wish to spend the little time I have tonight in dealing with the United Nations. I take this opportunity to thank the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Hasluck) for giving me the privilege of being one of those to represent Australia at the 1964 General Assembly of the United Nations. I wish to say “ Thank you “ to the excellent officers that we have in our mission overseas. They helped me tremendously in fulfilling my duties. The 1964 General Assembly was, I think, probably one of the most interesting that has been held because the whole survival of the United Nations . was threatened. Representatives of the various countries came before the Assembly, faced with the threat of the destruction of the United Nations, and put up the best battle they could for its survival. One would be bold to predict the outcome of the negotiations that are going on at present to save the
United Nations. The fault certainly does not lie with the Charter of the United Nations. The principles of the organisation are as sound today as they were when they were first drafted. The trouble lies in the failure of certain nations to observe the principles of the Charter. The late President Kennedy foresaw this crisis coming. He said -
Our instrument and out hope is the United Nations and I see little merit in the impatience of those who would abandon this imperfect world instrument because they dislike our imperfect world.
That is the problem the world is facing today. The instrument - the United Nations - is not wrong; the world is wrong, and certain nations are wrong in not carrying out the Charter.
The main impression that I gained from the General Assembly was that an overwhelming majority of the nations of the world, and particularly the young and emerging nations, place tremendous faith in this organisation. Many of them see it as their only hope. They feel that if the United Nations goes, their hope of survival as independent nations will go too. I wish that I could quote from the speeches of all the Foreign Ministers and representatives who spoke during the General Assembly meetings. I shall have time to quote from only a few of them. The representative of Brazil said -
The United Nations is, in today’s world, the essential tool for the maintenance of peace. Without it nothing is possible. The people of Brazil see in the United Nations a form of international relations essential to the contemporary world.
May coming generations never be in a position to say that our actions were dictated by immediacy when it was our duty to be men of vision; may they never say that at this crucial moment we lacked the courage and the wisdom to build the happier world which was almost in our grasp.
Let us turn to the speech of the representative of Zambia, one of the countries of Africa. He said -
The Republic of Zambia regards the United Nations as the greatest single hope which we have for the future and our membership as the greatest of the responsibilities which our freedom has brought.
The representative of Togo said -
The United Nations is the last hope of mankind in this century of confusion and incoherence, of imperialism in its many forms, and of hypocrisy. Indeed, how can one kil] hope without perishing?
I would like to quote more of the speeches, but time does not permit me to do so.
I say that the United Nations is the hope of these nations, and if we destroy hope we destroy the nations. Therefore, every effort must be made to maintain the existence of and support for the United Nations. However, none of us can be sure what the outcome will be. At the moment there is no solution of the problem that is facing the United Nations. Unless it is solved it must destroy the organisation. I therefore believe that we should be looking to what I may describe as our second line of defence. What is to happen if the United Nations ceases to exist, as did the League of Nations before it?
I noticed during the General Assembly debates that many nations were getting together in groups. While there is general suspicion of one country providing military help to another country, as that is regarded as a form of colonialism or neo-colonialism, to use a newly-coined word, there seems to be no objection to defence by the United Nations or defence by a group of nations bound together for a particular purpose. For example, recently we have seen the emergence of the union of African nations. The African nations have got together and have said: “An attack on any one country in Africa is an attack upon all of us.” Each country virtually has undertaken to go to the aid of any other country in the event of attack.
Similarly, the South American states have formed an organisation, and there is mutual agreement not only to defend one another but also to assist one another. We know that in the Communist group there is cooperation, either under the leadership of Russia on the one hand or of China on the other hand. There is a tightly knit cooperation, and these nations make it perfectly clear that an attack on any one of them is an attack on all of them. I believe that the greatest force for peace would be an association of the English speaking peoples of the United States of America, the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. These are all people who have a common background and who speak the same language. They all believe in democracy in the sense that we know it and understand it - democracy in which there is a government and an opposition, where there is a secret ballot, where there are freedom of opportunities, freedom of religion and freedom of association.
An association between the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand would be an association of 280 million people holding or controlling very substantial territories and a tremendous industrial organisation. I believe that if we could, without surrendering our sovereignty, get together and discuss international problems in the early stages and decide on the action to be taken in the particular circumstances, it would be known that our foreign policy is one policy instead of, possibly, five policies.
I believe that at the present time the U.S.A., which is the most generous nation the world has ever known, is getting little, if any, thanks for the great aid that it has given to the under-developed nations. Some of those nations have said openly that the American action is a form of neocolonialism, an endeavour to gain some kind of control of other countries by virtue of the money that it gives or lends to them. However, there is no objection to economic or technical aid given by the United ‘Nations, nor, I believe, would there be any objection to technical aid or economic assistance given by a group of nations. The fear of colonialism would not exist if the aid were given by a group of nations rather than by an individual nation. Therefore I suggest that an association of the English speaking people, not giving aid individually but as a group, would not only serve a great purpose in assisting under-developed countries but also would allay the suspicion that now seems to appear when an individual nation provides economic aid. I believe that our Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) or our Minister for External Affairs should confer immediately with the leaders of the English speaking countries that I have mentioned in an endeavour to see if we cannot discuss matters of great international importance before things happen, instead of after.
One of the great troubles of the last few years was the Suez crisis. It does not matter who was in the right and who was in the wrong. On that occasion the United States of America and Great Britain took a different stand on the same problem. I believe that that sort of thing must never happen again. Consultation prior to taking major decisions is essential. After all, with modern communications, it would be possible to discuss problems by telephone all over the world, and certainly between the English speaking countries that I have mentioned, before definite action was taken.
If we could get some kind of organisation, bloc or economic community of English speaking peoples - it would not matter what it was called - we would have an association which could, without any loss of individual sovereignty, confer and come to a common decision before action was taken. During the last few years the Communist countries, with their expansionist ideas, have been watching like hawks and trying to drive a wedge between the United States of America and the United Kingdom. At the first sign of any differences between these two great democracies the Press of the world is roused. I believe that that sort of thing should not be allowed to happen in the future.
By forming an association we would not be creating any precedent. As I have already mentioned, this has happened with the Arab bloc, with the African bloc and with, the South American bloc, all to great advantage. I believe that an English speaking association would be the greatest force for peace the world has ever known. As we are all strong economically - we are classed among the wealthy nations of the world - we have the industrial and commercial ability to provide a tremendous amount of aid to the under-developed countries. But how can we provide aid individually if, when we do so, we are to be charged with neo-colonialism, of trying by economic means to gain some control over a country? If economic aid and technical assistance are to continue they must continue on a basis of assistance either through the United Nations or through a group of nations such as we have in the Colombo Plan. Under that scheme aid can be provided without the threat or fear that it is for the purpose of gaining some kind of control over a country which has recently achieved its sovereignty and prizes that sovereignty very dearly.
In the few seconds- remaining to me I should like to congratulate the Minister upon the excellent speech that he made at the United Nations and upon the tremendous lead that he gave.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Collard) adjourned.
Bill returned from the Senate with an amendment.
Literary Censorship - Political PartiesMount Isa Industrial Dispute - Newstead Post Office, Launceston - Representations to Ministers.
Motion (by Mr. Hasluck) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
.- Tonight I should like to raise a matter concerning a book which has been declared under Regulation 4a of the Customs (Prohibited Imports) Regulations to be a prohibited import. The book is entitled “An ABZ of Love”. It is written by Sten and Inge Hegeler, two Danish psychologists. Inge is a doctor and Sten is apparently a well known psychoanalyst in Europe. The thing that concerns me is that the people responsible for the regulation of the entry of books into this country have decided, under regulation 4a of the Customs (Prohibited Imports) Regulations, that this book is either blasphemous, indecent or obscene, since those are the three categories of prohibition under the regulations. But although this book is banned here it is freely available in Britain and is, in fact, recommended reading. I have here a letter from a librarian in a large public library in Britain, recommending the book and saying, amongst other things, that he would recommend it to any person who came into the library seeking a serious work on the subject of sex. I would like to read to the House a review from the “ Times “ Literary Supplement of January 1964. It is as follows -
The authors of “ An ABZ of Love “, which appeared first in Denmark in 1962, appreciate that most of those who read books of sex instruction ure looking primarily for practical rather than theoretical information. As the title suggests the matter is set out alphabetically, each heading is followed by a definition and, in most cases, this is then expanded with explanations, examples, comments, all pertinent and concise. There are the u,u:il diagrams and, what is much less usual, some excellent line illustrations which show inoffensively and convincingly what one might expect to see in a sexual situation: An agreeable change from those sections of the male and female pelvises which arouse wonder and confusion but no emotion more tender than these.
The encyclopedic format is not, of course, a new one; but what is new is the attitude of the writers. Sten and Inge Hegeler are husband and wife, doctors and psychologists; but in spite of all these qualifications they do not preach or harangue or moralise except on the broadest humanist principles. Moreover, they appear to understand what the general reader wants from a work of this kind. Their facts are accurate, up to date and sufficiently comprehensive. They cover, in a remarkably small space, a wide field of subjects which have some connection with the main one of sex; Anxiety, Satisfaction, Symbol are headings to be, perhaps, expected; the inclusion of Identification, Lodgings, Relativity less obvious, but justified in the event. The authors describe the mechanics, the variations, the pleasures and the difficulties of the sexual act. They deal with the usual manifestations of sex and with the unusual, from coitus within marriage, to necrophilia and bestiality. They give exact instructions on practical details, such as how to practise birth control, where to get the necessary apparatus, how much it costs, and what to say to the retailing chemist. All the information is given without condescension or patronage; the authors’ comments made sometimes separately, sometimes jointly, are informed by tolerance and humanity.
The book is supposedly aimed at couples in their 30’s and 40’s, but might well be given to the most ignorant of beginners. It is time that the subject of sex was brought out of the pyx and treated with less reserve and more commonsense; when it is related to daily life it loses neither its sanctity nor its symbolic value. This book, which treats the subject with understanding and with feeling, should be available in both the adult and junior branches of public libraries, and it might profitably accompany the testament often found despondently lying on the shelf by the hotel bed.
Well, Sir, we in this country have a much more restrictive and puritanical outlook, which I rather expect is a hangover from the Victorian era. The person to whom this book was supplied - a constituent of mine - has been in this country only a matter of a few months, and this is the situation that presents itself: In England this person was regarded as being mature enough to purchase this book from the public bookshelves and to read it without apparently suffering any extensive moral, physical or psychological damage. But immediately on transposition to this country that person apparently loses all this maturity and his capacity to read this book dispassionately, in seeking information on a subject which is tremendously important to our community life.
– Has the honorable member read the book?
– What does the honorable member think of it?
– I would recommend it to any person seeking a serious treatment of this subject. Another thing which concerns me is why Australians should be regarded as being less mature than the people of Britain, where this book is freely available. Again, why is it that we are regarded as being completely immature and incompetent to handle a banned work of this kind when the Minister, with one slash of his pen across a page of a letter, can decree that a large number of such books shall be released to the public? Then suddenly, in a matter of a minute, we are transformed into a mature race able to read those books with profit and without any disturbance to our morality.
I commend the previous Minister for Customs and Excise for the way in which he released a considerable number of books from the restricted list. However, I feel concerned at the fact that he was prepared to stop far short of the target which he should have set himself. I am particularly concerned that he should have been prepared to have his decision dictated to him on at least one occasion of which I am aware. He should make his own decisions, based upon the values of the books rather than on political considerations. I refer to a book called “Lolita”. This book was recommended by the Literature Censorship Board for release, but because of political pressure the Minister overrode these people - as he has authority to do - and the book is off the shelves. I have read this book too. I obtained it from the Library here. I would not be bothered wasting my time reading it, except for the purpose of investigating its suitability for public consumption. If it were freely available in the bookshops I would not buy it. It is to my mind glossy, superficial and slick, and I certainly do not see anything radically demoralising in it.
For some time I had a copy, handed to me by someone, of an unexpurgated edition of the book “Lady Chatterley’s Lover”. I cannot understand why it should be banned here and not in Britain. Again, if it were not for the controversy surrounding it, people would not be interested in this book. I believe that 90 per cent, of the people who read such books would probably not have wanted to read this one if there had not been all the fuss about it. I certainly would not be bothered reading it. It is a grossly overrated work.
The way in which the Department of Customs and Excise, or whoever is responsible for determining whether a book is allowed into this country, reaches the decision, also leaves me with a great deal of concern. I asked the Minister for Customs and Excise a question on just how his representatives applied the policy, and what qualities established the entry or non-entry of books into Australia. I asked him to define the standards applied. His reply, which appears in “ Hansard “ of 20th May 1964, reads inter alia -
Standards are not capable of definition but it is fair to say that both the Minister and the board are concerned with what is appropriate to the mature adult mind.
That is a rather nebulous definition of how the Government approaches this very serious problem. What is satisfactory for the mature adult mind? I rather suspect that, instead of the mature adult mind being considered, the juvenile mind is being considered and, once again, I feel that there is an exaggerated concern in this field. The subject of sex is extraordinarily important, requiring a more dispassionate and more objective discussion within all sections of the community. If we treat it as a subject that will be discussed in whispers and giggles behind closed doors and that schoolboys will reflect on in all sorts of fantastic forms and gain distorted ideas of, we are going to continue to have a large number of neurotic people in the community suffering from all sorts of painful complexes and inhibitions. “An ABZ of Love” is an authoritatively written work and has something valuable to offer to the community. As I said, I have read it. The matters dealt with in it are subjects which I have seen discussed in books allowed into this country without any restriction.
– Did the honorable member learn anything from it?
– I did not, because most of the things discussed in it are in other books which are available to the public.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
– In the first place, I wish to give the House the facts about the matter mentioned by the honorable member for Oxley (Mr. Hayden). As he pointed out, the book “An ABZ of Love” is a prohibited import in terms of regulation 4a of the Customs (Prohibited Imports) Regulations. That regulation deals with blasphemous, indecent or obscene works or articles. I have no doubt that people who think as the honorable member does object to such a regulation almost on principle.
The history of this matter is that one copy of a privately imported Danish edition of this book was prohibited in July 1963. Being in Danish, I presume that that copy did not find its way to the honorable member. In November 1963 a commercial importer appealed against the prohibition of the importation of the book and, in doing so, submitted for review a slightly expurgated edition published in Great Britain. Both editions were referred in the normal way to the Director-General of Health, who advised the Minister for Customs and Excise that they were considered to be unsuitable for general release. The DirectorGeneral pointed out that by the author’s own statement the book was written for the 30 to 40 years age group. His advice went on to say that the book was considered to be suitable only for restricted release to relevant professions, such as medical, legal and marriage guidance. The release provisions of regulation 4a require the Minister for Customs and Excise to obtain the advice of the Director-General of Health in respect of any application received for the special release of books of this kind. Approval to import “ An ABZ of Love “ has been granted to several qualified medical practitioners.
Of course, the honorable member for Oxley has made a number of representations on this subject, following representations made by a constituent of his. In regard to the request to import this book, the importer was deemed to lack the professional qualifications set down by the Director-General of Health as a prerequisite for its release. Both the Director-General of Health and the Minister for Customs and Excise, in replying to earlier representations by the importer, pointed out the circumstances applying to the book’s restricted release. The honorable gentleman has now raised the matter in the House. That is the history of the matter.
I wish to refer to one argument - the main argument - used by the honorable member to justify the release of this book. That argument is that because something is all right in the United Kingdom it is all right here. Of course, essentially this is not a party political matter. But in my time in this House I seem to have heard a lot about Australia making up its own mind about these matters. Different standards apply in different parts of the world. In this respect, our standards are a little different from those now prevailing in Great Britain.
– Does the honorable member suggest that people should denounce in public and practise in private?
– Order! The honorable member has already spoken.
– The honorable member may admire things that are done in the rest of the world. He may admire the kind of standard which sets up the Hollywood alley cat as more or less a model for womanhood everywhere. That is another standard. Well, he is entitled to his views. If a lot of the sort of conduct written up in this book were performed by the cat kingdom it would be just an unpleasant noise on a tin roof. Where it occurs amongst humans, it becomes a sort of golden headline. Then one can go further. In some countries, if it is written up in all its sordid, salacious detail, it becomes a literary masterpiece. In some of these matters, our standards happen to differ from those of Great Britain. As far as the Minister for Customs and Excise and I are concerned, we will stand by our own standards in these matters.
.- Last night in the Parliament the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Mr. Freeth) said -
The honorable member for Grayndler can never be counted upon to pour oil on troubled waters.
I accept the rebuke from the Minister but cannot overlook the fact that it was a strange remark, coming as it did at that time from the Minister in charge of the Pollution of the Sea by Oil Bill 1965. Tonight, therefore, I desire to make a sincere, effort to show the Minister to be wrong, to act the part of conciliator and harmoniser and to endeavour to heal the breach between the
Liberal Party Minister for Shipping and Transport and his coalition colleagues of the County Party on the question of redistribution.
The differences between the Minister and the Country Party go back to the time of the last redistribution of electoral boundaries. When the Minister, as Minister for the Interior, was in charge of the proposals, Country Party members believed that he approved a redistribution, particularly in his home State of Western Australia, designed to reduce the parliamentary representation of the Country Party. Their antagonism and anger reared into public recrimination to such an extent that both the Deputy Prime Minister (Mr. McEwen) and the Minister for Shipping and Transport went on record to express their rather doubtful respect for each other. In fact, the Minister for Shipping and Transport believes that the Country Party sought to unseat him with, as he said, the co-operation of the Labour Party. The Liberal Party, in a rather unkindly fashion, said that the Deputy Prime Minister was at times referring to my very distinguished colleague from Western Australia, Mr. Joe Chamberlain, as “ my good friend Joe “. That was the extent to which the Liberal Party said they had gone.
In order to refresh the memories of honorable members, let me recall a few of the things that were said about redistribution. For instance, in 1963 one newspaper recorded a “ Strong McEwen Attack on Redistribution “. After this attack was made, the Minister for Shipping and Transport had this to say in the “ Farmers’ Weekly “ of 1st August 1963 -
If Mr. McEwen disagrees with what Cabinet decides, or has decided, and wants to express disagreement, there is only one course open to him, as he accepted in the case of Mr. Bury, namely resign. If he, or any other Minister, discusses outside Cabinet the details of proposals before Cabinet, then this is in flagrant breach of all principles of Cabinet responsibility and, again, he has only one course - to resign. If he, or anyone else, tells or publicly speculates about individual ministerial opinions expressed around the Cabinet ta’ble, again he is talking so much out of turn that he should resign.
This was because the Country Party believed a redistribution which was detrimental to it had been approved by the Minister for Shipping and Transport. Even as late as last year, the Minister made a statement during the Senate campaign. The “ West Australian “ newspaper reported it as follows -
Mr. Freeth said the Country Party called itself the specialist party - specialist in rural problems. “To me it has always seemed strange that, seeing itself in this role, it does not contest the biggest rural electorate in Australia, the electorate of Kalgoorlie,” he said. “On the other hand, in Senate elections it tries to conceal its identity in city areas by claiming simply to be the ‘ Government ‘ Party, thus hoping to deceive Liberal supporters and virtually gain votes by false pretences.
This was what the Minister for Shipping and Transport said, and he was not far out, by the way. With the demotion of the Minister to the Shipping and Transport portfolio from the Interior portfolio, and his replacement by a Country Party Minister, everybody thought that harmony existed between the Minister and the Deputy Prime Minister and others. But such was not the case, and today in this very Parliament before our eyes disharmony flared into the open for all to see. The honorable member for Bradfield (Mr. Turner) started it. He mentioned the word gerrymander and referred to sheep, cattle, trees and broad acres. This is Country Party territory, particularly the gerrymander territory. Then he spoke df intimidation. The Deputy Prime Minister was present. The honorable member for Bradfield was subsequently called upon to make a personal explanation and to apologise to the Minister for the Interior (Mr. Anthony), whilst at the same time put up with interjections from the uncomfortable Leader of the Country Party and Deputy Prime Minister who, in addition to having a guilty conscience, was not satisfied with the explanation and made no bones about showing it.
The honorable member for Bradfield, while apologising to the Minister, made a most unkind but very factual reference to the intimidatory language and attitude of the Country Party Leader on redistribution. It was an unfortunate and distressing scene as you, Mr. Speaker, will recall. It was a public display of anger and hatred for a colleague, unprecedented on our side of politics, as the bitter truth dawned that at least one member of the Liberal Party was a wake-up to the proposed gerrymander of electorates by the Country Party. Without doubt, the honorable member for Bradfield exposed for all to see the fact-
– Order! I think I should point out to the honorable mem’ber that he will be out of order if he canvasses a debate which occurred in the House.
– I would not do that for a minute, Mr. Speaker. I just make a passing reference to this.
– Order! The honorable member has already made his passing reference.
– Without doubt, the honorable member for Bradfield showed that the electoral gerrymander was on. That revelation revived all the old hatred and animosity for the Minister for Shipping and Transport. The honorable member for Gippsland (Mr. Nixon) then got the call. He had his instructions: “ Forget the motion “-
– Order! I must ask the honorable member to refrain from canvassing a debate which occurred in the House earlier today.
– I say that the honorable member for Gippsland had his instructions: “Tip the bucket and forget the debate”. I make no further reference to it. A debate which had commenced on the highest level finished on the note that the honorable member for Gippsland-
– Order! The honorable member is defying the Chair.
– In what way, Mr. Speaker?
– Order! The honorable member is now canvassing a debate which occurred in the House earlier today. I must direct him to refrain.
– All right, Mr. Speaker. I was making a passing reference to the fact that statements were made whereby it was indicated by a member of the Country Party to all and sundry that the former Minister for the Interior, now the Minister for Shipping and Transport, was a party to a redistribution which was unfair and which was brought about in a gerrymandered way in order to deprive the Country Party of representation.
-Order! The honorable member must not continue with that line.
– Mr. Speaker, I point out to you that the insinuation has been made by a member of the Country Party and is known to members throughout this Parliament that the Minister for Shipping and Transport prior to the last election was a party to doing things which were not in keeping with the high principles and standards appropriate to a Minister of the Crown. This was the insinuation Which was made. So bad was it, Mr. Speaker, that I felt compelled to rise in my place to protect the Minister, not for any love of him, but because my feelings were outraged by the way in which he was attacked and by the vile insinuations which were made against him and officers of his Department. The point I make is that these things should not pass unnoticed. An honorable member had to apologise to a Minister today because he had reflected on that Minister’s integrity, and I suggest that the former Minister for the Interior is entitled to the same type of apology because of the insinuations made-
– Order! The honorable member is out of order. I ask him to resume his seat.
- Mr. Speaker, I-
– Order! The honorable member was warned that he must not canvass a debate which occurred in the House earlier today. He has ignored the warning, and therefore I must ask him to resume his seat.
– With regard to your ruling, Mr. Speaker, I submit that the honorable member is not canvassing the subject matter of the debate; he is referring, and is entitled to refer, to differences of opinion between members of the Government parties. He is not saying whether a gerrymander is justified. He is referring to the attitudes of members of the Government parties as revealed in the debate. It is not the subject matter of the debate but the conduct of the speakers that he is canvassing.
– The honorable member even stated who had received the call and he continued to discuss the subject matters that were discussed today. I directed his attention to the fact that he was out of order in doing so. He had adequate warning but he persisted in following that line so I was compelled to ask him to resume his seat.
– Mr. Speaker-^ -
– Order! The honorable member has been asked to resume his seat. I call the honorable member for Lilley.
Motion (by Mr. Daly) proposed -
That the honorable member for Grayndler be further heard.
– Order! The honorable member is out of order. I call the honorable member for Lilley.
– It is rather enticing to say something in passing about the remarks of the honorable member for Grayndler, but I have only 10 minutes in which to speak and I cannot waste time with that kind of thing.
– The honorable member will still waste time.
– We will see whether I do. There are one or two matters concerning the recent industrial dispute at Mount Isa which sooner or later must be made public. It is not my intention to canvass the merits of the dispute. It is not my intention either to criticise those who took part in the dispute. I propose to say something about the funds which have been raised to assist the miners and other workers at Mount Isa.
It is worth considering that the Australian Workers Union, which is the principal union in the field and which had the responsibility for the major portion of the funds to be distributed to over 80 per cent, of the workers from the middle of December 1964 until the end of February 1965, disbursed £25,000 in a little over two months. We know that on 1st March the disbursement of these funds was taken over by the Queensland Trades and Labour Council which was assisted by the Broken Hill Barrier Industrial Council. It is in this regard that there is grave cause for disquiet.
It is known that Mr. Macdonald, the secretary of the Queensland Trades and Labour Council, said in a very private statement to a small number of union officers in Melbourne recently that his organisation had raised £60,000. It is also known in various areas that the Queensland Trades and Labour Council intended to disburse £8,000 a week. It was stated that at this rate of disbursement the Council could keep the dispute going for two months. This would have required £64,000. So the Queensland
Trades and Labour Council was responsible for about £60,000. Now we must ask ourselves this question: Has this money been distributed?
It is known that money was distributed to between 700 and 730 men on the field and to 1,000 children. Of those men, about 400 were married and the remainder were single. The disbursement was on the basis of £6 a week for a married man, £5 a week for a single man and £1 for each child. When we work this out, we find that the disbursement amounted to something like £5,000 a week. Remember that the budgeted amount was £8,000 a week, so there was a discrepancy of £3,000 a week.
Then it was indicated that there would be a rather more generous disbursement of £8 10s. a week for a married man, £5 a week for a single man, £1 10s. for the first child in each family and £1 for each subsequent child. On this basis the disbursement was between £5,800 and £5,900 a week. There is a discrepancy of a little more than £2,000 a week between the amount that the unions in Broken Hill understood would be disbursed and the amount actually disbursed. At this stage it appears that the Queensland Trades and Labour Council has about £30,000 still in kitty waiting to be disbursed. We have a right to ask whether it is intended to distribute this money. I have shown that there is a discrepancy of between £2,000 and £3,000 for every week of the dispute between the amount collected and the amount disbursed and that there is an overall surplus in the fund of about £30,000. Will that amount be distributed?
It is pertinent to ask certain questions about this matter. Has this money been short-circuited by the Queensland Trades and Labour Council? Through my family and otherwise I have had a long association with Broken Hill and I know that the miners there are very generous. They decided to give £2,000 a week but they did not give it through the Queensland Trades and Labour Council; they gave it direct to Mount Isa. Soon after deciding to give this money the miners of Broken Hill sent one of their officials to Mount Isa. He saw certain things in the town and reported back to Broken Hill, saying that things were all right in Mount Isa. But thereafter the distribution of money from Broken Hill was considerably tightened, so apparently the people of Broken Hill were not completely happy with way things were going in Mount Isa. Their words are not as strong as their actions.
The discrepancy in the money distributed in Mount Isa needs investigation. One might ask what right we have to ask that this money be accounted for. Have we any right to require the Secretary of the Queensland Trades and Labour Council, Mr. Macdonald, to account for moneys contributed to the fund? There is no greater authority on this matter than the Australian Council of Trade Unions. Let me remind honorable members that last year when there was a dispute at General MotorsHolden’s Pty. Ltd. the A.C.T.U., as is always the case when it manages a dispute, published progress figures showing the donations received for its strike fund and the source of those donations. Some donations were anonymous. That information was available to affiliated unions and their officials. But the Queensland Trades and Labour Council has never done anything like that.
About £60,000 was received into the strike fund, of which about £30,000 must still be in kitty. We have a right to ask what has happened to that £30,000. I do not know whether the dispute at Mr Isa has been settled, but one thing is clear: For every week that the dispute continued there was a discrepancy of between £2,000 and £3,000 between the amount intended for distribution and the amount actually distributed. This is a serious matter that should be aired publicly. The matter attains a little added significance when we consider the fact that the Queensland Trades and Labour Council is in fact the Queensland branch of the A.C.T.U. In these fields the principles adopted by the A.C.T.U. in relation to obtaining and distributing strike money and the publishing of regular progress accounts of amounts raised have been good ones, but the Queensland branch of the A.C.T.U. has not observed any of those principles. We are very apprehensive as to what it may do with the money. The money may have been short-circuited. It may never have got to Mr Isa to help the people who were suffering various forms of distress. Strikes always bring distress. Money was contributed to the fund by many people in Australia who in some cases seriously penalised themselves in order to contribute. Did this money get to Mr lsa or has it remained with the Queensland Trades and Labour Council and its officials?
I do not want to canvass the subject any further. I wish merely to make those points. Unlike the honorable member for Oxley (Mr. Hayden), I want to be dispassionate about this subject. For every week that the Queensland Trades and Labour Council was handling the dispute there was the discrepancy to which I have referred. At this stage about £30,000 is unaccounted for. About half - I am being generous - of the money raised has been distributed. In addition we ask that in this matter the principles and practices and the traditions of the A.C.T.U. in its acknowledgment of contributions to strike funds be adhered to. If they are not adhered to I think a great many people have cause to be very suspicious about where the money has gone.
.- I take this opportunity of raising a matter that concerns the Postmaster-General (Mr. Hulme) who is in the House now. I have referred this matter of the Newstead post office in Launceston to him by correspondence over a number of years. In addition 1 have referred it to his predecessors over a number of years. I am sorry to take up the time of the House in dealing with this matter now, but I am sure honorable members will appreciate that I seldom use the forms of the House to deal with matters that concern my constituency. However, in my opinion this is a matter that should be seriously considered by the Postmaster-General. The Newstead Post Office in Launceston is a sub-standard building and this fact is well known to the Postmaster-General. I have informed him that it is a prefabricated building. Surely the Minister must concede that a prefabricated building is no longer suitable for this area.
It is true that the building was erected during the Second World War when there was an immediate need for post office facilities and this structure was the only building that the Postmaster-General of the day could secure for Newstead. But the situation has been explained to the Postmaster-General time and time again, not only by me but also by one of his colleagues in the Cabinet who has also made representations to him. From time to time, he has made various statements on this matter. The answer I always receive from the Postmaster-General is that the Newstead area does not warrant improved postal facilities. Some years ago, in response to my representations, a new post office for Newstead was placed on the Estimates. In other words, the PostmasterGeneral of the day had agreed to erect a new post office in this area; but at the end of the financial year, the post office had not been built and I found then that this item had been taken off the Estimates.
Surely if the Postmaster-General’s Department believed, so many years ago, that it was necessary to erect a new post office at Newstead and the Government agreed that the vote for it should be included in the Estimates, the present PostmasterGeneral ought to be able to give a reasonable explanation of why a new post office has not been erected. 1 suggest that the PostmasterGeneral has a case to answer. There is a need for a new post office at Newstead. The use of a prefabricated building which was erected during the Second World War should not be tolerated in a growing suburb of Launceston. If the Postmaster-General tried to provide the same type of postal facilities in Canberra there would be an immediate public outcry and I would not blame the people of Canberra for refusing to accept this type of post office.
– What is the population of Launceston?
– It is almost as large as the population of Canberra. The population of the area to which I am referring has increased considerably in recent years and I suggest to the honorable member for Denison (Mr. Gibson) that the area I have mentioned, Newstead, would have the same population as the area in which he recently opened a new post office in the City of Hobart. The Minister knows the facts. He knows that the land was made available, that the post office was included in the estimates a number of years ago and that it has since been removed from them. No reason has ever been given to me by the Postmaster-General’s Department for not proceeding with the erection of the post office. The Department has since sold some of the land that was originally purchased for this purpose. I hope that tonight the Postmaster-General will be able to give mc some reasonable reply and an assurance that at some time in the near future a new post office will be available in this area.
Let me point out how fantastic the PostmasterGeneral’s Department can be when replying to representations made to it. When these representations have been made from time to time, not only by me but also by a responsible Minister, the reply has always been to the effect that the business in the area does not warrant the erection of the post office. The Minister has gone on to explain that the business referred to is the business that the Department knows is passing through the present post office. The Minister, if he is fair in his approach to this matter - I have every reason to believe that he will be fair - must concede that if the building is a sub-standard building - I have already shown that it is - and if it is poorly situated in the area, as indeed it is, obviously it will not attract the custom that a post office in a reasonable building would attract in this area. Over the years, the population of the area has increased substantially. It is a rapidly developing district. A new and substantial shopping area has been built around the post office. In addition, the number of people who have moved into the area has substantially increased in recent years. There is a need for this post office. A case has been made out for the erection of a new building, and I hope that the Minister will be able to provide me with a reasonable reply.
I want to raise one other matter. I deprecate the action of the PostmasterGeneral and the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Mr. Freeth), who in recent months have adopted the practice of providing the Minister for Civil Aviation (Senator Henty) with replies to personal representations that have been made by honorable members from Tasmania, particularly, of course, members of the Australian Labour Party. I will admit at once that this does not apply only to honorable members on this side of the House. Both the Postmaster-General and the Minister for Shipping and Transport have adopted these tactics even with honorable members on the Government side, especially senators. Briefly, what happens is this: A member makes representations to either the PostmasterGeneral or the Minister for Shipping and Transport, as I and my colleague, the honorable member for Braddon (Mr. Davies), did only a short time ago by telegram. The answer came back to both of us, but before we had received our replies the
Minister for Civil Aviation, who is in another place, had given the story to the Press in Tasmania.
These tactics are very low. If a member makes representations to a responsible Minister, he has a right to expect a reply before such reply is passed on to any other member, whether the other member happens to be a Minister or is a backbench member on the Government side of the House. I do not believe that the PostmasterGeneral has been guilty of this practice, at least for a long time. The criticism applies much more seriously to the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Mr. Freeth), who has been guilty of this practice over a long period.
If I am not furnished with a suitable reply from the Postmaster-General tonight, I hope to be able to resume this discussion next week when I will be able to present documented evidence which will show that, despite the fact that representations have been made by honorable members on this side of the House to responsible Ministers, those honorable members have been denied a reply until after the information has been given in another place.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
– I was interested in some of the remarks of the honorable member for Bass (Mr. Barnard) this evening, and I was particularly intrigued by his comments during the last few minutes of his speech when he made the accusation that matters raised by members of the Opposition are, in fact, disclosed to members of the Government parties - particularly in the Senate - before answers are given to those members of the Opposition. I give a denial to that accusation. There have been matters affecting the northern area of Tasmania which have been the subject of representations to me over a considerable period by all members from Tasmania, whether they be members of the House of Representatives or of the Senate. I remember signing, only yesterday, some five or six letters to members, giving an answer to their representations.
I do not think that I should be put in a position where I have to give a reply to the first person who made the representations a day before I give a reply to the next person, and so on with the others who have asked for information. If representations are made in relation to the same matter, when a decision is arrived at it is made available to all members who have made the representations.
What has been said by the honorable member for Bass tonight is typical of what happened only a short time ago. I invited the Minister for Civil Aviation (Senator Henty) to open a post office in the electorate of the honorable member for Bass. After the post office had been opened, the honorable member for Bass wrote to me, objecting because the invitation had been sent to the Minister.
– I objected because no invitation was sent to me.
– I will tell my own story. The honorable member had his opportunity to speak a few moments ago. Now I am going to tell my story in relation to this matter. The honorable member for Bass complained to me about this. Members of his own party had informed me that he was ill in hospital, but still he complains, although he was in that situation, about not receiving an invitation.
– Was not I entitled to an invitation?
– Just wait a minute. The Minister for Civil Aviation telephoned the home of the honorable member for Bass a few minutes before he went to open this post office. He was informed by the wife of the honorable member for Bass that the honorable member was still in hospital, or at any rate was in bed and was unable to attend. The Minister said that he would be pleased to inform the people of the honorable member’s apology for not being present. Those are the circumstances. I believe that what I have just said indicates the credence which can be given to the story which the honorable member has told tonight.
I shall now say something about the post office to which the honorable member referred. It is a prefabricated building, put up during the war period. I suggest that the honorable member go to Queensland and look at some of the timber buildings there which were put up 40 or 50 years ago. There is almost not a member of this House who has not made representations to me over the last 15 months for a new post office to be built somewhere in his electorate. A prefabricated building put up during wartime is probably in a much better condition than many of the wooden structures that were put up years before the prefabricated building was erected.
The honorable member for Bass said that at one time provision for the Newstead post office work had been included in the Estimates. That is not a matter within my responsibility, but 1 dare to suggest that developments in other parts of Australia have been much greater than developments in the Launceston area. The demand for the expenditure of capital funds by the Post Office in places like Sydney, Melbourne and the other capital cities has been tremendous, and an assessment of the requirements of Launceston compared to those of many other places, particularly country towns and some of the urban areas of the capital cities, indicates quite clearly that circumstances in such places are such as to merit more immediate consideration for the spending of money than is the case with Launceston.
I do not make any apology in this matter, Sir. I came into the House this evening not having at my fingertips all the details involved. If the honorable member had told me earlier this evening that he intended to raise the subject, I could have had more information available. In my view, this action by the honorable member for Bass has been taken because he wants to make a big noise about little. And he wants to make it in a public place in the hope that he will embarrass me. I assure him that I am not at all embarrassed. I am confident of the ability of the officers of the Postmaster-General’s Department throughout Australia to assess proper priorities in all the States. They do this year by year in determining the works programme. As I have said, I offer no apology, Sir. I believe that there is no greater justification for complaint by the honorable member for Bass than by other honorable members. It is just impossible, in present circumstances, for the Post Office to meet all the requirements expected of it.
.- Mr. Speaker-
Motion (by Mr. Aston) put -
That the question be now put.
The House divided. (Mr. Speaker- Hon. Sir John McLeay.)
Majority . . . . 27
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Original question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 11.21 pm.
The following answers to questions upon notice were circulated -
s asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows - f take it the honorable member is referring to the Report of the Advisory Committee, appointed by the Australian Broadcasting Control Board, on Educational Television Services. The Board has submitted the report to me and it is at present under consideration.
t.- On 23rd March the honorable member for Gippsland (Mr. Nixon), asked me a question without notice concerning the availability of literature for school children on the changeover to decimal currency. I now have some further information which may be of interest to the honorable member.
In co-operation with the Commonwealth Office of Education and the State Departments of Education, the Decimal Currency Board has arranged an extensive programme of education in decimal currency matters for schools throughout Australia.
Teachers will be assisted by the despatch to them of a special manual which will help them inform children on such matters as the history of currency in Australia; moves for currency reform; the Decimal Currency Committee (formed in February 1959); advantages of decimal currency; the Currency Act 1963; converting £ s. d. amounts; decimal currency notation; the new notes and coins; conversion of monetary machines; C-Day and the transition period; and conversion tables of £ s. d. and dollars and cents. About 160,000 copies of the special manual are being printed and distribution to teachers has commenced.
Next week, the 2,500,000 school children throughout Australia will receive the first of six “Dollar Bill” letters. Dollar Bill is the Decimal Currency Board’s educational cartoon character, and it is hoped that the letters will be so attractive to children that they will keep them in sets and make sure their parents read them too. The Dollar Bill letters are being prepared in bright colours with many pictures of the coins and the animals represented on them. They will contain numerous drawings of the Royal Australian Mint and other “ money making “ activities.
In addition, the Board is arranging to send 150,000 copies of five different full colour posters to schools - one for each class. The posters will be printed in vivid colours, and have been rated, I understand, by some educational experts as among the most appealing yet offered for school instruction in Australia. The first of the five posters is at present being distributed, and the others will follow over the next two school terms.
With all this information available, it is the hope of the Decimal Currency Board - and myself - that not only will our school children be fully and accurately informed about decimal currency but that they will be able to carry the decimal currency messages through their parents to the whole community.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 1 April 1965, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1965/19650401_reps_25_hor45/>.