25th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. SPEAKER (Hon. Sir John McLeay) took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
– I address my question to the Minister for Labour and National Service. Did the Minister say at a Victorian Chamber of Manufactures seminar that Australian unionists had a significantly better industrial record than workers in the United States? Will he consider making a fuller statement on this matter to dispel the false conceptions of Australian industrial lawlessness which he himself has so sedulously and provocatively built up?
– I spoke at a seminar of the Chamber of Manufactures on industrial relations. J stated there that those who favoured the system of collective bargaining, or joint consultation as it is called in the United Kingdom, might be favouring green fields looked at from afar. 1 went on to point out that whereas three hours per annum per working man were lost in the United States, in Australia only two hours were lost. I did that in order to contrast the system of collective bargaining with the system of arbitration as we know it in Australia. I do not think it is strictly relevant to the question of whether we can do with far fewer strikes in this country than we have at the moment. There are occasions on which some may feel there is justification for a strike. I do say that if one looks at the strikes that have taken place in Victoria in recent weeks, such as the strike in the wool stores and the strike in the air transport industry, it is difficult to imagine that there could be any justifiable ground whatsoever for those strikes.
– I address a question to the Minister for the Navy. The Minister will recall informing me that H.M.A.S. “Hobart” would be commissioned in December. Only yesterday we had a timely reminder from the honorable member for Bendigo that Christmas is drawing closer. Can the Minister say whether the original date for commissioning is still firm, and can he indicate what stage preparations have now reached?
– I think that when I last answered a question from the honorable member about this ship I gave the commissioning date as 11th December. Due to certain tests that have been carried out, the date will now be 18th December. Last week the ship was taken out on trials by the United States Navy Board of Inspection, which acts on behalf of the United States Government since the purchase of the ship is under a government to government contract. The Board of Inspection passed the ship, and it will now be handed over to the Australian naval authorities for commissioning on 18th December.
– I ask you, Mr. Speaker, a question. Is it true that last night a visitor was arrested in Kings Hall and this morning was charged before a Court of Petty Sessions in Canberra and fined? If this is so, may I ask whether you knew of the arrest and charge and whether the procedure in any way contravened the privileges of the House?
– I am not familiar with the facts of this case, but I will certainly inquire into it. As it was concerned with Kings Hall it would come under the Joint House Committee. I will let the Deputy Leader of the Opposition have a reply as soon as I can. I hope that this will serve to make us alert to people who mooch around the place for other than parliamentary purposes.
– Has the Minister for Health seen newspaper reports of a statement said to have been made by the President of the Australian Cancer Society, Dr. Hanson, to the effect that 40,000 Australians - more than the number of Australians killed in the Second World War - would die in the next 10 years of lung cancer caused by cigarette smoking? Has the Minister been approached by an expert delegation which requested him, inter alia, to declare smoking to be a health hazard, to educate the public accordingly and to control the advertising of cigarettes? Has the Minister come to any decision with respect to these excellent suggestions which, if implemented, will undoubtedly assist in reducing the sum total of human suffering?
– I did meet a deputation from the Australian Cancer Society in Canberra yesterday. We had fairly lengthy discussions on the matters referred to by the honorable member, many of which concerned other Commonwealth Ministers and State Governments. I have undertaken to examine the various points that it raised and which concern my Department and also to refer the other matters that concern other departments and the States to the responsible Ministers. I did make a brief statement about the deputation afterwards. The deputation also had a Press interview and published a few of the submissions it had made to me. At a later stage 1 hope to be able to say something further on this subject.
– I address a question to the Minister for Social Services. Is the Minister aware of the increasing number of pensioners who are finding it more and more difficult to secure low cost accommodation? Is the main purpose of the Aged Persons Homes Act to encourage charitable and other organisations to construct this type of accommodation? If so, why is it that the Government will not amend the Aged Persons Homes Act to allow the value of land donated by local government authorities to attract the £2 for £1 subsidy? This is a fair question.
– I am familiar with the continued concern of the honorable member for West Sydney for the housing needs of aged people. The fact that he has mentioned this problem frequently in the House indicates his concern. However, he is not alone in this. He will be aware that through the operation of the Aged Persons Homes Act an amount of £25 million has been spent on providing homes for the aged. It is felt that provision is made through the Commonwealth-State Housing Agreement to enable the State Governments to provide housing facilities for the aged. In this way it is intended that local government and State Government bodies should be able to provide whatever accommodation they deem fit in their particular localities and within their particular responsibilities.
– I ask the AttorneyGeneral a question. Does he recall having promised the leaders of the new States movements in Australia some six months ago, on the occasion of the last Premiers’ Conference, that he would prepare a compendium of legal opinions having a bearing on the creation of new States and would supply the new States movements with a copy of this document? Can he say how far he has progressed with the preparation of this compendium?
– I was so asked. I have done a great deal of work on the matter. It is nearing the stage where I can regard it as ready to be presented to the Prime Minister because this was a request which came out of the Premiers’ Conference.
– I address a question to the Minister for Labour and National Service. Was the Minister correctly reported as saying at a Victorian Chamber of Manufactures seminar that employers should organise better to resist “ excessive demands by employees”? Which awards secured by which unions does the Minister regard as excessive or over generous, and which could have been diminished by firmer action? Does the Minister regard statements designed to set employer against employee consistent with his responsibilities as Minister for Labour and National Service?
– I think it would be wise if I let the honorable gentleman have a copy of the relevant part of what I said, which has been accurately reported. If he had accurately read the report he would not have asked this question. The simple fact is that I was referring to over award payments. These payments had been referred to already by the President of the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission and by at least one other speaker at the seminar. We do view with some concern the over award payments that are being made outside the arbitration system itself. This was at a time when inflation in this country had got to a stage when it was of considerable concern to the Government itself. Nonetheless, I will have an accurate copy of what I said given to the honorable member. He will see that I referred to over award payments and not to award payments.
– I ask the Acting Minister for Primary Industry whether he has had a closer look at the question I asked yesterday in which I inquired whether it was true that a large number of applications for enrolment for the wool reserve prices plan referendum were completed incorrectly. Can the Minister say now what is being done to see that all growers entitled to vote are given a proper chance to be properly enrolled?
– As a result of the question asked yesterday by the honorable member for Wannon, I have had talks with officers of the Department of Primary Industry and also with the Commonwealth Electoral Officer. He informs me that a number of the enrolment application forms are defective because they have been incorrectly filled in. Some of the voters’ declaration envelopes containing the ballot papers also are defective. The main reason that these are defective is that trading names or names of the principals of a partnership have been entered on application forms for enrolment or declaration envelopes.
– This is a Dorothy Dixer.
– Order! The honorable member for Reid will remain silent.
– A number of people are very interested in this matter to see that they are not disfranchised in this election. That is the reason why I am giving a complete answer on this question, Mr. Speaker. As partnerships are not voting units, each partner must make a separate claim in his own name and must sign the claim and the declaration envelope individually in his own right. Declarations have been left completely blank, have not been signed or have not been witnessed. These defects are cropping up even though wool growers have been requested in the explanatory memorandum to read the forms carefully before they start to fill them in.
The Electoral Office is returning the defective applications and unopened declaration envelopes together with an advice explaining the defect and asking wool growers con cerned to complete fresh applications or declaration envelopes and return the forms without delay. This action will continue while there is time to do so up to the close of the poll so that every qualified wool grower is enabled to record an effective vote at the referendum.
– Does the Minister representing the Minister for Civil Aviation know that Canberra airport was closed yesterday for certain periods because of high cross winds? Is he aware that pilots of planes were critical of having to land their aircraft in these cross winds and that it was only their superb flying skill that averted any disaster? Can the Minister state when the Government intends to build an all weather airstrip to service the Australian Capital Territory?
– I notice that my colleague made a statement in the other place yesterday in which he said that had there been any danger involved with the crosswind landings the airport would have been closed. In fact, when the crosswind component on the airport at Canberra exceeds a certain figure - I cannot give the honorable member the actual figure - the airport is closed. On one occasion I was carried on to Sydney because the crosswind component was excessive. I am sure there was no danger yesterday, and I think in normal circumstances the Canberra airport is quite adequate.
– I ask the Treasurer a further question about credit for farmers affected by the drought. In a specific case, a farmer, whose property is worth about £25,000, and who owes the bank £8,000 and the wool or pastoral firm £2,000, has been refused any further credit. What does the farmer do now? Can the Treasurer inform the House whether the Treasury has had any discussions with the Treasuries of New South Wales and Queensland to work out how best farmers can obtain credit in this pretty desperate situation?
– I think two aspects of this matter can be mentioned at this stage. The honorable member was present, as he will recall, when a deputation was received by the Prime Minister. The meeting was attended by representatives of grazier and farmer organisations and by some members of this House. He will be aware that, arising from those discussions, it was agreed that officials from the Treasury should contact officials from the Treasuries of the drought affected States to discuss further the ways and means by which the Commonwealth could co-operate to advantage with the State Governments. In addition, the Reserve Bank is, as I have told the House on earlier occasions, maintaining close contact with the various banking and other financial institutions that can play a part in this matter. Only yesterday I received a further letter from the Governor of the Reserve Bank reporting to me on further discussions that he has been conducting in this matter. As to the specific case mentioned by way of illustration by the honorable gentleman, I do not know whether he would wish me to pursue this with the bank concerned. If this is his desire, I shall be glad to discuss it further with him.
- Mr. Speaker, I desire to ask you a question. Why is it that you always place attractive and important visitors on the Opposition side of the chamber, in full view of members on the Government side but unfortunately out of view of Opposition members? I think you will agree that honorable members on this side of the chamber are entitled to justice.
– I inform the honorable member that morally I am obligated to protect the interests of the wives.
– I address my question to the Minister for the Army. Has he seen a report that the father of Warrant Officer Swanton, who was recently killed in Vietnam, was advised of the fact in a telegram that informed him that he himself had been killed? Can the Minister say whether this mistake was made and, if so, whether anything can be done to ensure that such mistakes, which in this case obviously caused deep distress, do not occur again?
– I regret to say that this mistake was made. It occurred because both father and son had the same initials. Steps have been taken to ensure as far as is humanly possible that this sort of thing does not happen again. To put the matter in perspective perhaps I should inform the honorable gentleman that the telegram was only a confirmatory one. It was not sent until after Mr. Swanton had been personally advised by an officer in Brisbane of his sad loss. This is the practice that is adopted whenever possible in all cases in which casualties occur.
– My question, which is addressed to the Minister representing the Minister for Civil Aviation, is supplementary to that asked by the honorable member for East Sydney. I ask: When a decision to close an aerodrome because of weather conditions is made is the decision made solely by the Department of Civil Aviation or does each airline concerned individually make its own decision whether to operate its planes in and out of the airport in the prevailing conditions?
– As the honorable will realise, this matter does not come within the jurisdiction of my Department and I am not fully conversant with it. My understanding is that the local representative of the Department of Civil Aviation, after studying various instruments that he has for the measurement of the crosswind component, decides whether an aerodrome is to be closed. I shall see that a full answer is supplied to the honorable gentleman.
– I preface my question to the Acting Minister for Primary Industry by reminding him that Australians individually have been helping the export drive by despatching to their relatives and friends in the United Kingdom Christmas parcels containing Australian commodities. In the past these hampers have exclusively contained Australian products such as Australian canned fruits and canned meats. Would the Minister be surprised to know that I have received a number of complaints indicating that important Australian commodities are being replaced by items such as Danish cream, Danish sausages, Danish pate de foie, Canadian roasted nuts, Norwegian shrimps, Norwegian crabs, Hawaiian pineapple, French snails-
– Order! The honorable member is making his list too long. He should direct his question.
– Will the Minister take up the matter with the Australian Canned Fruits Board, the Australian Dried Fruits Control Board and similar Australian instrumentalities with a view to making an approach to appropriate Australian firms to have Australian goods packed in these gift parcels?
– The honorable member has posed a very interesting question. I know that if I were sending a gift parcel of this kind overseas I would hope that Australian foods were included in it. I believe that half the fun of receiving a gift hamper from Australia is the knowledge that it contains Australian products. I am sure that the people who have arranged to have these gift parcels sent overseas would be surprised to hear the information that the honorable member has given.
– I ask the Minister for External Affairs a question. Has he noted that the State Department of the United States of America has acknowledged that it turned down proposals for talks to bring about peace in the war in Vietnam and did not make these proposals public? Was the Australian Government aware at the time that the proposals had been made? If so, does it know why they were rejected and why they were not made public? If the Government knew nothing of the proposals until recently will it now ascertain what they were and whether they were such as would have given even a slight hope that they would be successful? Will the Government use every endeavour now to see that these proposals are taken up?
– I should like to reply to this question with some care because it it a question of considerable importance. It is, I think, based on newspaper accounts that have been published in Australia about a magazine article published in America. We have not yet seen the magazine article; we have to depend upon the newspaper accounts of what was in the article. From the newspaper accounts it appears that the writer of the article in the magazine used as his authority a conversation that he claimed to have had with the late Mr. Adlai Stevenson, so his information was second hand. More seriously, of course, the article purported to repeat a conversation with a person who is now dead and cannot check the accuracy of the report.
The Australian newspapers contained some account of the comments made on this article by American spokesmen. They reported Mr. McNamara, the Secretary of Defence, as saying it was totally false. They also reported an officer of the Department of State as making certain observations. We have received from Washington our own account of what the officer of the Department of State said. I think that the accounts published in the newspapers in Australia can best be described as selective reporting because among the statements made by the officer of the Department of State were one or two sentences which apparently were not reported or were not reported widely, in Australia. One of the statements made by the officer was -
Throughout this period, that is, the period of time dealt with in the “ Look “ piece-
Meaning the piece published in the magazine “ Look “-
Ambassador Stevenson had a number of confidential discussions with the Secretary-General on the possibility of working towards a peaceful settlement in Vietnam, lt would be highly inappropriate to disclose the details of any specific proposals which were discussed. Secretary McNamara did not participate in the United States Government handling of this matter.
Another statement that the spokesman for the Department of State made in this comment to the Press was -
Numerous third party contacts with North Vietnam were reported to us throughout this period. On the basis of the total evidence available to us we did not believe at any time that North Vietnam was prepared for serious talks.
That was a judgment which the appropriate officers of the United States Administration made. 1 can add a little information - not conclusive information - from my own sources. In December 1964 I had a conversation lasting over an hour with Mr. U Thant. The whole object of that conversation was to hear from the SecretaryGeneral at first hand the efforts that he had made and other efforts that might be made in order to bring about a ceasefire or to bring about discussions in Vietnam because at that time our Government, in common with the United States Government, was most assiduously trying to bring a conclusion to hostilities and trying to promote discussions. U Thant, with some frankness, spoke to me and told me what he had been trying to-do. I do not propose to breach confidence by reciting the details of that conversation.
Later, in March of this year, the Australian Ambassador to the United Nations headquarters, Mr. Hay, on instructions from Australia, also called on the SecretaryGeneral and had a further conversation along similar lines. He reported to us. Again it would be improper to disclose the details of those conversations, but I will say that nothing in my own conversation or in Mr. Hay’s report of his conversation would enable us to to say anything other than that the magazine article as summarised in the Press reports does not represent an accurate account of the exchanges that took place. I say specifically that from such knowledge that we had, the magazine article as summarised in Press accounts does not represent an accurate account of the exchanges that took place. It will be apparent from that that throughout this period - and this is where I come to answer the latter part of the honorable member’s question - the Australian Government was trying to keep as closely in touch as it could keep with all the efforts that were being made to bring about discussions. It was because of the attempts that we ourselves were trying to foster to see whether this unfortunate conflict could be ended that we kept so close an interest.
We are aware of the great efforts that the Secretary-General of the United Nations and many other people made in order to promote discussions. We also know that those attempts to bring about discussions did not succeed. Perhaps the most conclusive thing I can say in answer to the honorable member’s question is that the second half of 1964 - when, by implication, Hanoi was supposed to be making overtures for a ceasefire - was precisely the period in which North Vietnam was sending its 325th regular division into South Vietnam.
– I address a question to the Minister for Labour and National Service relating to the proposed migrant hostel at Randwick. The Minister will recall that when I raised this matter last week he informed me that, after discussions with the Randwick Council on the plans for the proposed hostel it was intimated that no objections would be raised to the proposal but that subsequently the Council had raised some objections. Is he aware that the Randwick aldermen unanimously agreed with the Mayor that the proposed hostel would be an unfavorable development and that the Council should oppose it? Further, could he outline the course of the discussions between officers of the Randwick Council and officers of Commonwealth Hostels Ltd. and Commonwealth departments?
– As the honorable gentleman has said, questions were asked in this House about the building of a Commonwealth migrant hostel close to the Rand.wich rifle range. I was under the impression that we were entitled to think that the Randwick Council looked favorably on the erection of a hostel there. The hostel is for migrants. As I have said to honorable gentlemen and to the House, it will be aesthetically developed in order to fit in with the locality. We know that it will be a structure of high quality.
My attention has been drawn to the fact that the members of the Randwick Council are giving the impression that there have been no discussions with the Commonwealth Government. This leads me to answer the last part of the honorable gentleman’s question. I have looked at the papers and I have had discussions with him about the matter. On 28th September, the General Manager of Commonwealth Hostels Ltd., with the Chief Property Officer of our own Department of Works, interviewed the Mayor and officers of the Council, who said they were most interested and thanked us for putting them in the picture at such an early stage. On 16th October 1964, the Director of Works for New South Wales reported that the Randwick Council had no special requirements as to the hostel. In March of this year, the provisions for the Randwick hostel were again discussed by the Department of Works and the Randwick Council.
After those discussions, at which a number of points of detail were raised which the officers of the Department went away to consider, it was reported that no objection in principle to the proposal would be raised. On 2nd November, the Department of Works wrote to the Randwick Council saying that the matter was now before the Parliamentary Committee on Public Works. On 9th October, at my request, the Chairman of Commonwealth Hostels Ltd., Sir Tasman Heyes, accompanied by the General Manager of the company, saw the Mayor, the Deputy Mayor and the Town Clerk of the Randwick Council. The report submitted to me was that in their opinion the main basis for the Council’s objection was one of drainage.
Those are the facts. I, for one, regret that members of the Randwick Council have attempted to create the impression that there have been no discussions with representatives of the Commonwealth Government. This matter is now in the hands of the Parliamentary Committee on Public Works, to which all the facts will be made available.
– I preface a question to the Minister for Territories by stating that last night in a statement on Rhodesia the Prime Minister said -
What is needed in Rhodesia is a reasonable timetable, accompanied by a special educational campaign, to which all of us might well contribute something, to fit the African voters for their ultimate authority.
Has the Government adopted this policy in the Territory of Papua and New Guinea? If so, will the Minister inform the House of the timetable being followed, and how long it is expected will elapse before the people of Papua and New Guinea are granted self government and eventual independence?
– I have never heard a more ridiculous question. The situation in New Guinea is completely different from that in Rhodesia. We have a common electoral roll in New Guinea and we have provided the people of Papua and New Guinea with a House of Assembly in which their representatives are able to state their wishes. Obviously our move in the direction of providing the people of Papua and New Guinea with self government is very rapid and meets with the full approval of the people. They have stated this on many occasions. What they are concerned about are pressures from outside which are endeavouring to hasten the move towards self government. This is an attitude which the people do not want. They are very satisfied with their progress. They are very keen on further economic development, which is something about which they are very concerned.
– My question is addressed to the Treasurer. Has the right honorable gentleman been informed that the honorable Robert Macaulay, Q.C. of Canada, as the Australian Broadcasting Commission’s guest of honour last weekend, said that to see Australia today as a Canadian is to be full of wonder at Australia’s potential? Is the Treasurer prepared to support the visitor’s specific reference to foreign investment being the catalyst for development and his statement that rejection of the principle of foreign investment means the acceptance of a straw hat economy?
– I do not always have the opportunity to hear the “ Guest of Honour “ broadcast on a Sunday night. I have usually found when I have had the pleasure of doing so it is of a high quality and very informative. It did fall my way when driving home on Sunday night to hear this particular speech in full, and I share the reaction which obviously was that of the honorable gentleman. I thought that Mr. Macaulay not only spoke in terms of practical good sense but also that the parallel he was able to draw between the circumstances of Canada and Australia was highly informative and extremely topical. I was so impressed with the speech that I sought the full text from the Australian Broadcasting Commission and obtained some extra copies. If any members of the House are sufficiently interested to study this very informative matter, I have copies available in my office.
– I direct a question to the Minister for Shipping and Transport. Is it a fact, as stated in another place, that a
New South Wales Act of 1886 giving authority for the construction and operation of the tramway between Broken Hill and Cockburn provided that should the New South Wales Government acquire the tramway compensation would be 21 times the average profit of the Silverton Tramway Company over the previous seven years? Is it also a fact that under this provision the compensaton would amount to £4,400,000? Will the Minister say whether the Government of New South Wales intends to acquire the tramway? If it does not, is it intended to construct a standard gauge line between Broken Hill and Cockburn along a new route? Will the Minister ensure that the construction of this section of the standard gauge railway between Brisbane and Perth will not be delayed and that the railway will be operating by 1968?
– I think the honorable gentleman correctly quoted the provisions of the New South Wales legislation authorising the construction of the Silverton tramway line, but the present intention is, I understand, to construct a new route from Cockburn to Broken Hill. Negotiations are at present proceeding with the New South Wales Government and the South Australian Government, both of which are concerned in the operation of the new route. On the present programme, it is confidently hoped that the railway will be completed by the time the Port Pirie to Cockburn section is ready.
– I ask the Prime Minister whether he has seen a statement in which the Premier of New South Wales is reported yesterday as follows -
Much more finance was required from the Commonwealth for drought relief than was envisaged in correspondence from the Prime Minister, Sir Robert Menzies.
Is that statement sheer humbug, having regard to the Commonwealth’s offer of virtually unlimited assistance for drought relief administered by the States? I further ask: Is the claim that finance would be available for drought relief - and I quote the Premier of New South Wales again - “ in accordance with the items set out in the State budget “ also a misstatement of fact? In view of the serious confusion that exists, will the Prime Minister whisper in the ear of the New
South Wales Premier and explain that spending and lending to aid primary industry and others in drought areas means budgeting and that the Commonwealth hopes that New South Wales will exercise its rights in a responsible manner?
– How can the Prime Minister whisper in the ear of the New South Wales Premier? The question should be ruled out of order.
– I think the Leader of the Opposition is overlooking the marvels of modern transport. Whispering would not be impossible. I do not want to associate myself with any strong words about this matter. I think the Premier of New South Wales has fallen into error, judging by his reported statement in the Press regarding what I said. He appears to have regarded my proposal as being limited to certain budget items, whereas it was intended to be a general proposition and intended to give all the necessary assistance to take up all the losses on the New South Wales Budget that were attributable to drought relief. But, realising that he has misunderstood what has been said, I have been in consultation with the Treasurer and I propose to send a further communication on this matter to the Premier. When I have done that perhaps I will be in a position to tell the House its nature.
– I ask the Minister for Immigration a question. Have some applications for naturalisation been rejected on the ground that the applicants, for some reason, were not considered to be suitable persons to become Australian citizens? If so, are some rejected applications subject to further consideration if the applicant can overcome or correct the reason for rejection? Is the rejection of other applications quite definite and permanent? If so, are the persons whose applications have been permanently rejected allowed to remain in Australia if they wish? If so, what is the distinction between being acceptable for permanent residence and being suitable for citizenship?
– From time to time, applications for naturalisation are refused on the ground that, for reasons of character or otherwise, the applicant is not suitable to be an Australian citizen. The Department of Immigration and I reserve the right to decide whether an immigrant may become an Australian citizen. Immigrants whose applications for citizenship have been rejected may apply again. In some cases, their applications are granted when their conduct and attitude are shown to have changed. It is considered a privilege to become an Australian citizen, and it is the prerogative of the Australian Government to bestow citizenship on immigrants. Some people come here from Iron Curtain countries to which they cannot later be deported even if they are undesirable. As I have said, there are some whose character and conduct are not considered suitable for persons who aspire to Australian citizenship.
– Then why keep them here?
– I can say to the honorable member that although they are allowed to be in this country there are, unfortunately, some of them whom we do not regard as fitting within the category of those who may become naturalised.
– Order! I ask the House to come to order. I point out that at times there is so much noise in the chamber that it is impossible to hear the questions and answers. It is also most discourteous to the member or Minister who receives the call immediately after question time for other members to dawdle on their way out, thus interfering with the business of the House and causing offence to other members.
Discharge of Motions
Motion (by Mr. Chaney) - by leave - proposed -
That the following Orders of the Day, Government Business, be discharged -
– I would like to speak briefly on No. 37, Public Service (Papua and New Guinea) Ordinance, Withholding of Assent. I believe a fundamental question is involved here. Tt is one that was raised at question time today.
Mr. SPEAKER__ Order! The honorable member is not entitled to discuss the subject matter of these motions that it is proposed to discharge. He may go no further than argue whether one or more of them should or should not be discharged.
– I was merely making the statement that some of these issues are very important, that they ought not to be discharged and that the Parliament ought to sit until they are adequately considered.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Debate resumed from 16th November (vide page 2797), on motion by Mr. Harold Holt-
That the Bill be now read a second time.
.- This Bill and the two cognate measures which are being dealt with refer to the proposal to adopt decimal currency as from 14th February 1966. Whether or not we believe this proposal to be in the interests of the country or of the majority of the people, it has now been generally conceded that decimal currency, like the atomic bomb, is here and we have to live with it. I am concerned that we may have developments here similar to those which followed the introduction of decimal currency in South Africa. It occurs to me that there may be sharp increases in prices which will mean an increase in the cost of living.
Most of the items that are likely to be the subject of sharp rises or falls are the lower priced articles. They are articles that people purchase regularly, perhaps daily or perhaps two or three times a week. They are articles that do not permit of bulk purchase. I know that some manufacturers have taken steps already to alter the method of retailing their products. The Wrigley Co. Pty. Ltd., for instance, has decided to withdraw the small packets of chewing gum that it has been selling for years and to put up its product in a larger pack which will sell for 5 cents. The smaller package previously sold for 2d. But one cannot buy newspapers three at a time, although, of course, some people have accounts with newsagents and settle up at the end of a week or some other period of time. However, the person who buys his newspapers as he goes must be wondering what will be the position with newspapers for which he now pays 4d. or 5d.
I addressed a question to the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) on 29th October on this subject. I pointed out something that has not been mentioned by the Decimal Currency Board, by the Treasurer himself, by the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) or any other member of the Government when they have said that no sharp increases in prices of consumer goods followed the introduction of decimal currency in South Africa. I pointed out that in South Africa a half-cent piece was brought into use, and that this limited the amount of price increase in cases in which the price of an article in pennies could not be converted into an exact number of cents. This would apply particularly in the case of articles costing 2d., 3d., or 4d. or some number of shillings plus 2d. or 3d. or 4d. The Treasurer said, in an answer that he gave me yesterday - lt seems very doubtful indeed that the use of a half-cent coin in South Africa could have been entirely responsible for this comparative price stability.
I know that this was brought before the Decimal Currency Board when it was investigating this matter. The half cent would be of greater value than the halfpenny. For some time Australian banks have refused to recognise the halfpenny as a unit of currency. It will accept only multiples of halfpence. Nevertheless an examination of newspaper advertisements clearly indicate that the halfpenny is a unit of currency in prices, particularly in the prices of household articles and linen. How often do we see material advertised at, say, 14s. Hid. a yard. It is also important in wages that are based on hourly rates calculated on fortieths to accord with the 4G-hour week.
After I had asked the Prime Minister whether he would deplore any undue profiteering that took place at the time of conversion to decimal currency I asked the Treasurer whether any of the newspapers had indicated that they would be increasing their charges at the time of the changeover. I mentioned newspapers that are currently selling at 4d. or Sd. a copy and asked whether it would be considered profiteering if the price were increased to 5 cents or whether the newspapers would be regarded as merely catching up with competitors who have already increased their prices to 6d., the equivalent of 5 cents. In his reply the Treasurer said -
As to the questions relating to the possible future price of newspapers, the only announcement I have seen so far is that one newspaper now charging Sd. will be reducing its price to 4 cents (4.8d.) from C day onwards.
It is a popular theory of the Treasurer, the Government and of supporters of decimal currency that reductions in some items will offset increases in others. I have not such faith in human nature. I do not ask honorable members to cast their minds back further than the last Budget when increases in excise were announced. Many persons - not only retailers - took advantage of this announcement to increase their prices to cover the increased excise and to add to their own profit. I am not confident that some newspapers will reduce their prices while others increase their prices and so the position will even out. I understand that two newspapers have already announced that they will be increasing their prices from 4d. to 5d. soon and that on C day they will be reducing them to 4 cents. I do not know whether this is being done to confuse the newspaper purchasers or to add to the general confusion that will exist at the time of conversion.
Many small items will be affected in the changeover. I instance a box of matches that can be purchased for 2d. at present. I know that it may be a saving to purchase such items by the dozen. Several confectionery lines are retailing at 3d. now. What will be the position on C day? There is no exact equivalent to 3d. in decimal currency. The Decimal Currency Board has distributed pamphlets lavishly to familiarise people with decimal currency. I obtained a pamphlet on an aeroplane. It indicated that 2d. is equal to 2 cents and that 3d. is equal to 2 cents. Can we take it that the confectionery lines that are selling for 3d. now will retail at 2 cents? This would result in a drop in the profit margin of the retailer or the profit margin of the manufacturer. It would clear the minds of the general public if the actual position could be announced before C day. The situation will be further confused by those shops and businesses that continue to use pounds, shillings and pence during the two years transition period.
In his second reading speech the Treasurer said that almost 500,000 machines would require conversion or replacement during the changeover. He said that the Board had so far approved the replacement of some 60,000 machines which would otherwise have been eligible for free conversion. Compensation rates have already been published for some 40,000 machines. I presume these are adding machines, cash registers and similar equipment. A constituent of mine was disturbed recently when he had a dollar sign key affixed to his typewriter. The agent for that brand of typewriter occupied a shop next door and persuaded my constituent to have the conversion made. It took a few moments only, but the charge was £2 10s. My constituent was told that this was a uniform price and that it would have cost him the same had he taken his machine 20 miles away to be converted. The thought arises in my mind: How many people will enjoy a bonanza at the expense of the Australian public? I understand that to replace and alter all machines will cost about £30 million, or 60 million dollars. How much is being made by those persons effecting the changes to machines?
I read recently that taxi proprietors in one capital city intended to apply for an increase in fares. This is in a State where price control is exercised by the State Government. It was decided to defer the application until after the introduction of decimal currency, when taxi meters could be altered at the same time. How many other people are sitting back waiting for the conversion and not indicating their intentions? The Postal Department has taken a lead in this matter. It has announced the new postal rates. A little earlier, the Department increased from 4d. to 6d. the cost of local telephone calls from public booths. So, over the last 18 months, this Department has been drawing an additional profit from public telephone services through this increase in price which has been introduced so that the proposed 5 cent piece can be used instead of the 6d. piece when conversion to decimal currency takes place. I come now to postal charges. The position is quite all right with regard to the fee for the first ounce of a letter. The present charge for each additional ounce is 3d. but the charge for the second ounce is to be increased by three-fifths of a penny and will become 3 cents. So, the cost of a four ounce letter, which is now ls. 2d., will rise to 13 cents, an increase of one and three-fifth pence.
Earlier today I had a look through the lines of groceries advertised in one of the metropolitan newspapers. I then attempted the conversion of some of the prices of those goods which were mostly the ordinary household goods in every day use. Converting the price of each of these items to the nearest cent I found that in respect of more than half of them there was an increase in the price. Having made allowance, in the conversion, for the increases and reductions of prices in respect of 20 items, I found that there was an overall increase of 3d. An increase of 3d. may not seem very much by itself but it will mount up when it is involved in the thousands of articles which are purchased every day. The suggestion that so much will be taken off the cost of other articles and that this will counteract any slight increase in prices has been proved to be more accurate in theory than in practice. No doubt, some items could be purchased in bulk and a saving could be made in this way. But other items are purchased every day. For instance, there is milk. In quite a number of centres, milk sells at10d. or11d. a bottle. What is to be the price, in decimal currency, of this essential item which is used every day by all families? Will we pay 9 cents a bottle, which would be a reduction on the one hand, or is the price to be increased on the other hand? I still cannot believe that increases will not take place in the prices of a number of items. For that reason, I urge the Government to pay close attention to any increases which occur at this time. I know that the Government has believed always in free enterprise even to the extent that it believes that it should not interfere by introducing prices control. The Government believes that prices control is something that is within the jurisdiction of the States. I hope that there will be the greatest co-operation between the States and the Commonwealth in keeping a watch over prices when Australia converts to decimal currency.
What I mentioned earlier with regard to newspapers is worth noting. Will the price of newspapers, which are currently selling at 4d. or Sd., be increased after 14th February?
It is interesting to note that the proprietors of one of the newspapers which had the most to say in castigating members of this House for granting themselves an increase of salary in 1963 increased the price of that journal from 4d. to Sd. four days after the announcement of that rise. It had no hesitation in doing so and no explanation was made to the public as to why the price was increased. If this state of affairs is good enough for one group in the community then surely it is good enough to apply to other groups. For this reason, I should like statements on the new prices to be made as early as possible by people who will be concerned or whose manufactured articles and products will be concerned in the conversion to decimal currency if the prices of their products do not convert evenly to decimal currency. I should like them to indicate their precise proposals for C Day. Once again, I accept the fact that decimal currency is with us. I urge the Commonwealth to co-operate as closely as possible with the States so that there will be no excessive profiteering when the changeover to decimal currency takes place.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clauses 1 to 17 - by leave - taken together, and agreed to.
Consideration resumed from 15th September (vide page 923), on motion by Mr. Harold Holt-
That the Bill be now read a second time.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Leave granted for third reading to be moved forthwith.
Bill (on motion by Mr. Howson) read a third time.
Consideration resumed from 15th September (vide page 924), on motion by Mr. Harold Holt-
That the Bill be now read a second time.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Leave granted for third reading to be moved forthwith.
Bill (on motion by Mr. Howson) read a third time.
Debate resumed from 9th November (vide page 2475), on motion by Mr. Adermann -
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– There being no objection, that course will be adopted.
.- The three measures before the House relate to one of Australia’s very important primary industries, the tobacco growing industry. We are taking the three measures together. The first is the Tobacco Marketing Bill, the second is the Tobacco Charge Bill (No. 1) and the third is the Tobacco Industry Bill. The first Bill will establish an Australian Tobacco Board and will vest it with certain authority, exercised with the aid of complementary legislation passed by the three tobacco growing States. The second Bill will amend the Tobacco Charge Act of 1955. It will enable the Australian Tobacco Board, by a process set out in the Bill, to extract from the Tobacco Industry Trust Account an amount estimated at £30,000 to cover the costs of the operations of the newly created Board. The third Bill will authorise an increase of charges now imposed on tobacco growers at the point of sale, I think, and on manufacturers at the point of manufacture. The proceeds of the charges are devoted to promotion of the tobacco industry, research into tobacco growing, preparation of publications and a wide range of subjects designed to improve the growing of tobacco and associated matters. The Opposition agrees with the principles contained in the Bills. 1 do not suppose that anybody in this Parliament has had a longer association with the legislative side of the tobacco industry in Australia than I have. That is not necessarily to my credit. From 1924 onwards, in a State Parliament and in this Parliament, I have noticed the trials and tribulations of the tobacco growers. They have been many and they have been varied. A wide variety of legislative enactments, covering research, war time processes and so on, have been in force from time to time. But we always appear to end up not much further forward. The tobacco growers are still dissatisfied, up to this stage anyhow, and the manufacturers are still dissatisfied. One wonders why. Perhaps some unseen force is operating. By a coincidence, this may have been revealed in a suggestion made in today’s Press that the industry and people who are even remotely associated with the sale of the product of the industry are engaged in an activity that is rather wrong. Perhaps it is a coincidence that an article in today’s Press states ‘hat people interested in the deleterious effects of smoking are deeply concerned that so far this Parliament, and for that matter other Parliaments, have taken no definite action to ensure that tobacco consumption is not encouraged. It seems to be definitely proved that the end result of excessive smoking is lung cancer. I agree that it is high time that somebody took some action to ensure that television advertising is not used to encourage the consumption of cigarettes in particular. I speak as one of the foolish people who smoke, although I have given up smoking cigarettes.
The Parliament last night heard that an embargo has been imposed on the importation of Rhodesian tobacco. I think that was a correct decision in the circumstances, regrettable though they are. I do not expect that the Australian tobacco manufacturing industry will have any difficulty in obtaining alternative supplies. At the time of submitting a report a month or two ago, a manufacturing company said that it was heavily overstocked. No doubt, alternative supplies can be obtained from South Africa, America, Greece and other sources. In the economic sense, though this may not be gratifying, it is at least worthy of note that, if the iniquitous habit of smoking is to continue and if it is believed that the demand must be satisfied, the Australian tobacco growing industry has very clearly shown its capacity to grow a quantity of tobacco. Although this quantity is not yet sufficient to meet all the requirements of smokers in this country, the growers are increasing production. It was estimated that, in 1964-65, 11,000 short tons of tobacco would be grown. A short ton is 2,000 lb. The estimated production, therefore, was approximately 22,000,000 lb. In fact, the growers produced about 23,500,000 lb. In 1955-56, our production was only 2,9S6 tons. The acreage in 1955-56 was 12,000 and today it is 26,000. The value of production in 1955-56 was a little over £3 million and in 1963-64 it was £16,161,000. That is a considerable increase in that period.
The point I want to make is that this increased Australian production, and, of course, subsequent consumption after processing, has been achieved despite opposition, which has been bitter on some occasions and moderate on others, and despite the assertions of people like some of the manufacturers that Australia could not and would not ever produce tobacco of a satisfactory quality. The increase in production and in the value of the leaf produced in Australia is due largely to two factors - first, tariff protection and secondly, at a later stage, legislation enacted by this Parliament under which manufacturers became entitled to a rebate of tariff duty paid on imported tobacco provided a specified proportion of Australian leaf was incorporated in the manufactured product. I believe that this rebate system was introduced about the financial year 1954-55. The proportion of Australian leaf required to be used to qualify for the rebate was then 2i per cent.
Despite the consistent and persistent opposition of the manufacturers the percentage of Australian leaf required to qualify for the rebate has crept up and it is visualised that within the next two years 50 per cent, of Australian leaf will be specified.
Whenever the percentage fixed for the forthcoming year is announced the tobacco manufacturers start to wail to the public claiming that they will not be able to supply Australia with cigarettes of as high a quality as hitherto. However, when one reads some of the annual reports made to the shareholders of the manufacturing companies, examines the profits made and listens to their television advertising, especially if one is a smoker, one can arrive at only one conclusion: The cigarettes and other products manufactured from tobacco, even with the ever increasing proportion of Australian leaf, are as good as we have ever had. We know, and I emphasise, that one of the great difficulties of the industry has always been that whereas on the one hand there are thousands of growers on the other hand there are only four purchasers of leaf. This is like the old story of the wool industry and the story of the wheat industry before the wheat growers became organised. The unorganised majority of growers are individually at the mercy of four powerful companies.
Let us have a look at the structure of one of these manufacturers to illustrate the immense financial power that can be exercised. Rothmans of Pall Mall (Aust.) Ltd. is a very efficient company which commenced operations in Australia in the financial year 1955-56. I understand that it began with capital of £500,000 received from a parent company overseas and £500,000 obtained from Australian sources. In the first year of its operations it lost £196,000 and in 1956-57 it lost £220,000. It showed a profit of £252,000 in 1957-58, £1,003,000 in 1958-59, £1,901,000 in 1959- 60, £2,017,000 in 1960-61, £2,187,000 in 1961-62, £2,339,000 in 1962-63, £2,583.000 in 1963-64 and £2,944,000 in 1964-65. In round figures, over nine years, this efficient company has made profits totalling £14,810,000 and built up reserves of about £4 million. It is now holding tobacco stocks estimated in its own balance sheet to be worth more than £15 million. Yet it is still grizzling and protesting about the quality of Australian leaf.
I am aware that at the end of last season there was some difficulty in selling some of the leaf. Rothmans and some other manufacturers jacked up and, after negotiations with the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr. Adermann), said that they would not purchase the balance of the leaf unsold in excess of a quantity agreed on between the respective companies. They said: “ We would sooner burn it.” I thought that this was magnificent propaganda, Mr. Deputy Speaker. It emphasised that this powerful financial entity, which is wonderfully managed, had a very capable publicity section. What better publicity could it get in the public mind than by stating that it refused to accept any more Australian leaf, which it described as inferior, and that the best thing to do would be to destroy this leaf? In effect, its slogan was: “ Smoke Rothmans. We will not buy, leaf of inferior quality.” That represents excellent public relations. The leaf has been bought by somebody. I do not know how much, if any, Rothmans bought. Imagine the impact on the public mind when people hear of this great manufacturing company refusing to buy what it declares is inferior leaf.
This story that Australian leaf is poor has been told for many years. In this instance it has been very astutely used to build up the reputation of the products marketed by Rothmans. I do not doubt that they are of good quality. I have been a guest of the company on an inspection of its factory. It is an excellent establishment. The directors, of whom I believe there are about eight, include Sir William Gunn, Dr. J. H. Moolman, who was once Chairman of the South African Wool Board, and Sir Edgar Coles. According to the company’s balance sheet the directors’ fees and emoluments last financial year totalled £79,000. Not many tobacco growers got a sniff of that. I do not doubt that directors of the capacity shown by the directors of this company, since they were able to earn for the firm profits last financial year of £2,944,000, are worth every penny of the fees and emoluments that they draw. But the public relations propaganda used by the company appears to be to the detriment of the tobacco growers.
The firm’s activities have proved to be so profitable as to lead to a new investment which was mentioned in the last balance sheet. The directors stated that the results of this investment were very satisfactory. The company acquired a 10 per cent, interest in an Australian merchant banking company, Merchant Bills Corporation Ltd., the other shareholders being prominent London merchant bankers and Australian companies. The parent company of Rothmans, of course, is in London. This Australian company is marvellously prosperous. But if this Parliament had listened to it, to Godfrey Phillips International P:y. Ltd, W. D. and H. O. Wills (Aust.) Ltd. and the fourth big company, given heed to their attitude to Australian tobacco leaf and relented in the face of their oppositon to the requirement that an increasing proportion of Australian leaf be incorporated in manufactured tobacco products, agreeing with these companies that this would prevent them from turning out good products, the tobacco growers of Australia would have been dealt with in a sorry fashion.
I now turn directly to the Bills before us, Mr. Deputy Speaker. The Minister for Primary Industry gave us an outline of the situation that arose in 1961 under the bad old order1 when there was a crisis in the industry. The honorable member for Indi (Mr. Holten) knows that on a number of occasions the honorable member for Yarra (Dr. J. F. Cairns) and I went to Wangaratta and met the tobacco growers, who were in dire distress. We know that similar distress occurred in tobacco growing areas in Queensland and elsewhere. Eventually, under pressure, the Government had to introduce legislation to afford relief to growers whose leaf the manufacturers refused to buy. The manufacturers had the power of life and death over the industry. Eventually, much of the leaf was accepted and was used in cigarettes. I do not suppose anybody noticed any change in the quality of the cigarettes, even assuming that the use of this leaf did influence the quality.
The great problem in setting up a marketing authority for this industry, as it has been with other industries, has been the Australian Constitution. In the past nothing of a satisfactory character has ever been enacted by this Parliament to enable the establishment of a marketing authority for wheat unless the government of the day has been able to obtain the consent of the State Governments to enact complementary legislation. After many years the Government has succeeded - I am glad that it has - in extracting promises from the Victorian Government, from the New South Wales Government, I understand, and from the Queensland Government to formulate complementary legislation which will enable satisfactory Australian control to be established. The Minister indicated to us that a board, to be called the Australian Tobacco Board, would be set up under the Act. He told us that it would have 12 members, 4 representing the growers, 4 representing the manufacturers, a representative of each of the three State Governments concerned and a representative of the Commonwealth as chairman. We do not disagree with the establishment of a tobacco board, but in Committee the Opposition will move an amendment to provide for the increased representation of growers and decreased representation of manufacturers on the Board. That will be explained at a later stage.
The Minister told us that it had been agreed between the States and the Commonwealth Government that an annual Australian marketing quota of 26 million lb. would be fixed as the amount to be allocated between the States, by common agreement, for purchase by the manufacturers in those States. He said that tobacco crops would be classified and graded according to that classification and that any leaf additional to the 26 million lb. would be in another category and would be dealt with accordingly. He added that the plan provided also for -
A grade and price schedule, to cover the sale of the marketing quota, designed to yield an average minimum price of 125d. per lb. based on a normal crop fall-out.
Those words show that the plan is to settle an average price that quality leaf will bring. In effect, it will be the equivalent of the appraisal system used in the sale of wool. However, it is at this point of the scheme that all the difficulties in the world occur.
We know that the tobacco industry is a particularly difficult one in which to establish grades. We know also that wheat can be graded without any difficulty. The major portion of the crop can be graded as f.a.q. Wheat from the north-coast of New South Wales and from Queensland, where it has a higher protein or gluten content, may be graded as a premium wheat and it is easy to establish which is non-f.a.q. wheat. There is no difficulty or disputation about that. Wool can be graded into 3,000 types as were set out under the United Kingdom - Dominion Wool Disposals Ltd. arrangement, known as the Joint Organisation. Other honorable members may have had a different experience, but I have never heard of a decision made in the appraising of wool being challenged by a wool grower. When it comes to tobacco the story has been entirely different. Using wartime powers, the Menzies Government, I think it was, established a tobacco board. A schedule of grades of leaf was provided and prices were based on them. In the postwar period troubles began to occur about the correctness of the grading of types of tobacco leaf. Although Government appraisers were employed, both growers and manufacturers began to challenge the classification of the tobacco leaf under the schedule.
The stage was reached eventually when the growers were offered a continuation of the Australian wartime tobacco board provided that the States would play ball, but the growers were not really interested. It was impossible to get complementary legislation passed by all the tobacco growing States and the Australian grower kicked the wartime system overboard. He has been in trouble ever since. At this stage, the system is to be reintroduced. We hope that it will work satisfactorily. But we can read into the Minister’s speech on introducing this Bill some doubt that is in his mind as to the way that the system will work even now. I repeat that we hope that it will work. By common agreement between the manufacturers and the respective State Governments, a temporary scheme has been working over the last 12 months. Under that system a Commonwealth arbitrator was appointed to settle disputes between buyers and sellers on questions of grading. The Minister has told us that this system had been operating on an interim basis during the 1965 leaf selling season and that the broad functions of the proposed board have been carried out by an interim committee.
The Minister then stated the powers and functions that are to be derived from complementary Commonwealth and Stateleigslation. They include -
Then he said, in setting out the programme -
The Minister went on to state that under this system-
The figure of 26 million lb., which has been set as the annual marketing quota, is the average of the leaf sold in the three years ending 1964.
That is the base. He continued -
Having regard to views of both manufacturers and growers, and bearing in mind that manufacturers were carrying substantial excess stocks at the end of the 1964 season, the Government considers that the stabilisation of the annual marketing quota at this level is reasonable.
A little later he said -
Because of the failure of growers and manufacturers to agree on the details of a grade and minimum price schedule, the Commonwealth, in view of the proximity of the commencement of leaf sales in March this year, was reluctantly obliged to construct a schedule, based on the available information, to operate for the 196S selling season.
Later he expressed a doubt about getting agreement on the grading system, but he added that he felt that some aspects of grading were part of the teething troubles.
Then he said -
More importantly, however, they–
He was referring to the manufacturers - allege that the schedule contains some grades of leaf which they claim are unusable.
On the other hand, the growers are not satisfied with the schedule. Nevertheless, it is notable that in the trial run last season 95 per cent. of the leaf was bought by the manufacturers.
Associated with this measure is an amendment to the Tobacco Charge Act (No. 1) and the Tobacco Industry Act. The Tobacco Industry Act 1955 was the Act under which the Tobacco Industry Trust Account was set up. The Trust Account, in my opinion, has enabled magnificent work to be done with the funds accumulated from charges on tobacco sold and manufactured. Its charter was to allocate funds for research, promotion and publication of brochures and to make recommendations to the Australian Agricultural Council on rebate percentages and so on. It is unfortunate that in the last report there is a reference to the difficulties of the Central Tobacco Advisory Committee and the sub-committee on research appointed by that Committee. They refer to the difficulty of obtaining trained technical staff and experts to carry on the work of research, due to the inadequate salaries offered to the people required for that type of work. That is rather a sorry state of affairs, and I hope the Government will take some measures to remedy it.
The Central Tobacco Advisory Committee consists of, I think, 15 members, representing every facet of the industry. There are on it representatives of the Commonwealth Government, the State Governments, the Department of Customs and Excise, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation and the manufacturers. I believe that it does good work. On checking over the reports that have been submitted from 1955 up to the present time, I find that the Tobacco Industry Trust Account has provided £1,700,000 for distribution. This money has been made available to the respective State departments, to the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation and to some other authorities. After the expenditure of that vast sum of money over a period of nine years - expenditure for the purpose of improving the quality of Australian leaf - it is rather unfortunate that the manufacturers still complain about the quality of the leaf. I agree that complaints may be a stimulus to achieve perfection, but my humble opinion is that, having in mind the expenditure of this huge sum on research and the advertisements of manufacturers describing the virtues of their cigarettes, there is undoubtedly being grown in Australia today first quality leaf. This leaf is available to the manufacturers. It will be good if the Board which it is proposed to set up under this legislation can work in harmony with the respective States and if the growers are given protection by having adequate representation on the Board. I should like to see the growers placed in at least as strong a bargaining position as the manufacturers. I should like to see them in a stronger position than they have been in the past in that respect.
I shall reserve further comment until we are in Committee. I hope the legislation will pass speedily through the House and that it will result in the required improvement of this very valuable Australian industry.
.- I strongly support these Bills, which seek to introduce a stabilisation plan for the Australian tobacco growing industry. There can be no doubt that orderly marketing will provide a solid foundation for this industry, which, as the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard) has just said, has been marked by trials and tribulations at least since 1924. I have not been associated with the industry for that length of time and I cannot speak from the lengthy experience of the honorable member for Lalor, but I have been associated with it for the past seven years, since 1958, and from that experience I can say that it is a turbulent industry. It has been subject to fluctuations for very many years, and the proposed stabilisation plan will surely contribute much to the ironing out of those fluctuations. It will certainly put the industry on a much sounder and more organised basis, to the benefit of both growers and manufacturers.
I should like to emphasise that this Government, which has been in office for the last 15 years, is deserving of commendation for the interest it has taken in the industry and for the strong support it has given to the growers engaged in it. It must be agreed that, whilst the growers have been faced with considerable difficulties over the years, most of them have been enabled, by this Government’s support, to ride over those difficulties. Indeed, many people have enjoyed great prosperity from the industry.
– A lot of them have gone broke.
– The honorable member for Bendigo has said that many tobacco growers went broke. They did, particularly in 1961. There is no doubt that the happenings of 1961 caused great unhappiness to many people. But the faults were not all with the Government, with the manufacturers or with the growers, as I shall illustrate shortly. I well remember 1961. The honorable member for Lalor recalls that he and the honorable member for Yarra (Dr. J. F. Cairns) came to Wangaratta then on a couple of occasions. I live at Wangaratta and represent the people there in the Federal Parliament. Whilst I appreciate that the honorable member for Lalor can speak from personal experience of that particular area, I should like to emphasise that from about May to November of 1961 I had a great deal more to do with the troubles that the tobacco growers there were experiencing than did any other honorable member from Victoria.
I well remember the queues of growers at my office, seeking some sort of assistance. I can remember drawing up a form for them to fill in for submission to both the State and Federal Governments, seeking relief. On this form were set out all the relevant facts relating to their position. That was certainly an extremely sad time for many people. The stabilisation plan envisaged by this Bill is intended to prevent that sort of thing from happening again. There is no doubt in my mind, and there never was, that in 1961 the tobacco manufacturers did not give the growers a completely fair deal. There is also no doubt in my mind that many growers were misled by those who represented them at the top of the industry. During the summer of 1960, the leaders of the industry were urging people in the Wangaratta area, the Myrtleford area and the Whitfield area to buy land at high prices - at anything from £300 to £400 an acre - and to plant tobacco on it. The motto used by these leaders of the industry was: “ You grow it and we will sell it.” They had no thought of a reasonable percentage increase of production that would be the subject of decision by the Government.
It was obvious to anyone driving around the district that there would be great overproduction in the area. I well remember that in the January before the sales started there was tobacco planted everywhere, on all sorts of ground and in all sorts of areas.
This happened mainly because the leaders of the industry at that time were saying: “You grow it and we will sell it.” They were, in effect, saying to the growers: “ Take no notice of what is a reasonable attitude for the Government to accept; take no notice of the manufacturers’ requirements, lust put it in, and we will sell it.” Although this was not the sole cause, it was certainly one of the major causes of the trouble in ]961. Another major cause was the argument that took place about quality, lt will be another attribute of this scheme if under it quality can be defined within certain price and grade schedules. Everyone who has had anything to do with the industry shudders when he hears somebody say: “This is not quality tobacco.” 1 can recall that back in 1961 I had sample hands of tobacco all over the floor of my office. I can recall experts and leaders of the industry having a look at that tobacco. One was Mr. Phil South to whom I should like to pay tribute. He was a great help to me in 1961. Later he was appointed a Commonwealth arbitrator, but unfortunately died suddenly. As well as Mr. South there were leading growers’ representatives, well known in the tobacco industry. These men came into my office and had a look at the hands of tobacco on the floor, some of which had been sold and some of which had not. The prices were concealed and there was nothing to tell which leaf had been sold and which had not. The variance in the opinions of these experts on what leaf had been sold and what had not was remarkable. I can remember one hand of discoloured broken tobacco. One expert had a look at it and said: “You would not get a sale for this.” Another had a look at it and said: “This would bring 176d. “, a price which was very good. The second expert was right: The tobacco had brought 176d. per lb. That illustrates the state of the industry in 1961. 1 can also remember going down to the floor of a tobacco broking firm on which there were thousands of bales of tobacco. The tobacco growers pointed to two groups of bales which were separated by a corridor. They said that one lot sold for 14 Id. and that the other one had not sold. They called in some of the most experienced growers and asked them to have a look at the two lots and say whether they could tell which lot had been sold and which lot had dot
I stood there as a very interested spectator. I had made up my mind, and I remain of the same opinion today, that I would never be a judge of the quality of tobacco. I can remember what happened very distinctly. Two or three very experienced growers were asked to say which bales had been sold and which bales had not been sold. They could not tell the difference.
– It is easy. It all depends whether you are a grower or a manufacturer.
– These people were growers. I am making the point that it is extremely difficult to define the word quality.
– It is quality tobacco when they want it and when they do not want it it is not.
– Some growers have come to me since 1961 and have admitted to me that their leaf was green and immature at the time. Not everyone has done this, but quite a few growers have come to me since and said that they had some green stuff and some immature leaf in the offering they made. So it was not all the manufacturers’ fault. I have mentioned the overproduction angle, which should not be forgotten. In 1961 the Deputy Prime Minister (Mr. McEwen) and the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr. Adermann) worked unceasingly to try to solve this problem. I can remember the Deputy Prime Minister saying that he had spent more time on the tobacco industry than he had spent on the European Common Market discussions, which were at their peak at that time. He and the Minister for Primary Industry worked tremendously hard in the interests of the growers, while still trying to preserve the system that we and most people support, namely that manufacturing enterprises should be entitled to run their businesses as they see fit. In 1961 the percentage of Australian tobacco that had to be used in the manufacture of cigarettes had been increased, but there was considerable production over the required percentage, it is a fact, however, that manufacturers were not buying right up to the percentage at that stage. The Government made a straight out grant of £175,000 to growers. The grant was made in January 1962 after the general election of 1961. The Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) had announced that the
Government would make this sum available to growers in Australia to enable them to pay their grocers’ bills. 1 think each grower received about £150. Some people said that it was not the right procedure to adopt, but I agreed with what was done. Many growers had suffered great hardship and tragedy.
I wish to consider this word “ quality “ a little further. I was in America last year. As we know, the manufacturers said that 100 per cent. Australian tobacco could not be used in cigarettes because of its quality. They said that people would not smoke all Australian tobacco and that they were taking a big risk in using up to 50 per cent, of it. In spite of the warnings by various authorities, 1 smoke. I am a light smoker - I smoke a cigarette with a menthol content. When I was in America last year I smoked the same menthol type cigarettes. They contained no Australian tobacco. I defy anyone to tell the difference between the cigarettes I smoked in America last year and the cigarettes I smoke when I am in Australia. Quite coincidentally there arrived today in my mail, Mr. Deputy Speaker, a packet of unbranded cigarettes. The letter accompanying the cigarettes came from the office of W. D. & H. O. Wills (Aust.) Ltd. It reads -
Enclosed herewith is a packet of 20 cigarettes manufactured by W. D. & H. O. Wills (Aust.) Ltd, from Australian tobacco leaf which has been the subject of recent discussions and negotiations between the Minister for Primary Industry, the Minister for Customs and this Company.
In proffering these cigarettes to you for your sampling, W. D. & H. O. Wills (Aust.) Ltd. has no wish to imply that the Company is opposed to the concept of a Tobacco Leaf Stabilisation Scheme.
So the company is in favour of it. It is not sending these cigarettes to members of Parliament to influence them to vote against the plan. The letter goes on to say -
The cigarettes we are inviting you to sample have been manufactured from that 5 per cent, of the 196S leaf crop quota grades which we as manufacturers rejected as unusable (we shall not, in fact, use this leaf in our normal manufacture) and which we claim should be immediately removed from grade/price schedules for future years.
I was in my office preparing the speech that I am making now when I opened the envelope containing the packet of cigarettes. I opened the cigarettes with some reluctance as I thought I might never make this speech if I were to smoke one of these cigarettes. However, I thought that it might be very appropriate to smoke one, and I did. In my judgment, Mr. Deputy Speaker, W. D. & H. O. Wills (Aust.) Ltd. has made a mistake in sending these cigarettes to members of this Parliament, because I reckon they are very good. As a matter of fact, I reckon they are better than the ones I am smoking at present.
– They are cheaper.
– The honorable member for Bendigo is certainly right when he says they are cheaper. I did not want to rely on my own judgment, so I proffered one of these cigarettes to my colleague, the honorable member for Moore (Mr. Maisey), who is known to be a good judge of cigarettes. Not longer than half an hour ago I asked him whether he would mind trying one of these cigarettes and giving me his report on it. I did not indicate to him what I thought of the cigarettes. My colleague kindly gave me his report a few minutes ago. He said that in his opinion the cigarette is very lightly packed or rolled, to use the better word. He said that it has a tendency to burn a bit more quickly than other cigarettes that he smokes, and perhaps with a little more heat in it, but not as much as one would expect from a cigarette so lightly rolled. He states that the taste and flavour are good. In fact, he states that if the cigarette were packed a bit more tightly one would be flat out to tell the difference between it and any other cigarette he has ever smoked. May I have the honorable member’s confirmation of what I have just said? The honorable member indicates his approval of my summary of his report.
This is an interesting matter because these cigarettes are made of pure Australian leaf. They are not blended like other cigarettes, which at this time contain about 47 per cent. Australian leaf and 53 per cent, imported leaf. These cigarettes are made of 100 per cent. Australian tobacco and are made from the 5 per cent, of leaf that has been the subject of argument between the Minister for Customs and Excise (Senator Anderson), the Minister for Primary Industry and the tobacco manufacturers.
– The manufacturers described the leaf as unusable.
– As my friend has reminded me, these cigarettes have been made from leaf which the manufacturers rejected as unusable. This is an extremely interesting experiment which the Wills company has invited us to undertake. I confess that I was surprised at the quality of these cigarettes. Now the situation is even more confused.
I have devoted most of my speech to the word “ quality “ as it applies to tobacco leaf. I emphasise again that everybody concerned with the industry, be he grower, manufacturer or a member of Parliament, has been at one time or another almost bemused by the word “quality”. I could give examples of how confusing this word can be. I could tell honorable members that one buyer used to buy for a certain company as well as for himself. Anything that he bought for the company at below a certain price used to be charged to himself and anything that he bought for the company at above a certain price was charged to the company. There is no doubt that this is a tough industry. Make no mistake about that. There are tough men on all sides - on the manufacturing side and on the growing side. 1 have told them so. There also are tough men in the Government. However, I have always told the growers - I told them in 1961 in probably the darkest days of the industry - that we must consider the position of the manufacturers because they are the growers’ customers. The Government must be prepared for the manufacturers to seek to get their way, just as it must be prepared for the growers to try to get the best end of the stick. But the greatest benefits will accrue to the industry if both sides work together. That is the aim of this legislation. The growers have a responsibility to the Government to use the latest methods and to work together.
In the past there has been friction not only between growers and manufacturers but also between growers in different States. I was pleased to hear the Minister for Primary Industry say recently that there is definite evidence of more co-operation this year between Queensland growers and Victorian growers. We cannot serve any useful purpose by blaming one side for the turbulence or fluctuations in the industry. As the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard) said, these things have been going on since 1924.
– And even before that time.
– Even before then. When the honorable member for Lalor was speaking one of his colleagues interjected and implied that the growers were very poor and had never achieved any prosperity from the industry. Nobody should fall into the error of thinking that many growers have not prospered. What has happened to the £15 million per annum that the growers have been receiving for their crops in the past three or four years? In 1949 they received about £670,000. If the growers have earned an average of £12 million, fo keep the figure at its minimum, in each of the last five years, they have earned £60 million in that time. Do not let anybody say that a lot of growers have not done well out of this industry. If anybody thinks that the growers have not done well and are not doing well out of the industry, let him try to buy a tobacco farm that has received a decent quota for this season. Then he will see whether some people have done well out of the industry. As the Deputy Prime Minister said recently, the average tobacco grower has got more out of tobacco than the average wool grower has got from his industry. The tobacco grower’s average annual income has been better than that of the wool grower.
So, from my fairly solid experience of this industry over the years I have brought to the attention of honorable members some relevant points which, in my opinion, should be borne in mind. Let us hope that we never return to the conditions of 1961, when on a couple of occasions we had meetings of 700 and 800 people in the town hall in Wangaratta. I see the stabilisation plan as being of wonderful benefit to the industry.
The Bill provides that the Australian Tobacco Board will comprise four growers’ representatives, four manufacturers’ representatives, three representatives of the Governments of the States concerned and one representative of the Federal Government as Chairman. It has been claimed to me that there is no grower majority on the Board. That is fair enough. I think that the provision of four representatives of the respective Governments should ensure that a balanced judgment will be reached on the problems that are sure to arise. This Board is not the complete answer to the industry’s problems, but it represents a pretty balanced set-up. It is interesting to note that in 1936 a tobacco board was established in New Zealand to help to introduce organised marketing at a time when the industry had been in chaos for many years.
The Board will consist of four growers’ representatives, four manufacturers’ representatives and one representative of the Government. I think the constitution of the Board is satisfactory for a start. The honorable member for Lalor did not particularly criticise the attitude of the Government towards growers over the years. I think he knows that the Government has done a great deal to assist Australian growers in many ways. For instance, it extended the maturation period for tobacco from 12 to 18 months a couple of years ago. The Government also took a strong stand recently when it decided not to allow a rebate of duty to tobacco firms that would not buy a certain amount of the tobacco crop. I might also refer to one of the fundamental points of this scheme, in which a basic Australian quota of 26.S million lb. is set. The growers wanted to have the figure fixed at 28 million and the manufacturers wanted 22 million. Last year, by the way, the crop amounted to a record quantity of 34 million lb. The Government persuaded agreement on 26.5 million lb., 4.5 million above what the manufacturers wanted and only 1.5 million below the figure asked for by the growers. This is simply another example of the way in which the Government has acted in the interests of growers. There have been many other instances. The position now is that this legislation needs to be accompanied by complementary legislation in the States, and I understand that the Minister for Primary Industry has been assured that this will be forthcoming.
There are many other aspects of this extraordinarily complex and turbulent industry that I could have mentioned, but I see that my time has almost expired. In conclusion I hope that the State Governments will enact complementary legislation and I hope that it will be successful. I am sure the Federal Government will stand ready to correct any injustices that may be done, either to growers or to manufacturers. I think that with the passing of this legislation we may see a new era of stability in the Australian tobacco industry.
.- Like the honorable member for Indi (Mr. Holten), I come from a big tobacco growing area - the Cairns district, around Mareeba, Dimbulah, Emerald Creek and adjacent centres. Some of the finest leaf in the world is grown in that area. Some of the remarks made by the honorable member for Indi proved to me that he has had a fair experience of the tobacco industry, particularly on the growing side. I have had a good deal of experience myself in this field. I know that in this industry there have been faults on the side of the growers as well as on that of the manufacturers, but I do not agree with the honorable member that tobacco growers have been more prosperous than wool growers in Australia. I will not have that at all.
As the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard) has said, it may be suggested that we should not be pushing this industry as we are doing because many people in Australia in the scientific and medical professions have said that the use of tobacco is injurious to health and that we should be trying to depress the industry rather than to improve it. However, like my fellow members I welcome this attempt to regulate the marketing of tobacco leaf. I have refrained from making this matter a political football. I have been in constant touch with the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr. Adermann) and have followed his attempts to introduce legislation to stabilise this very important industry. The livelihood of many families could have been affected by the making of early statements that might have affected negotiations that were going on. I may say that I did not approve of those negotiations because I thought the Government should have been more direct in dealing with this matter and should not have given so much latitude to the manufacturers, even if it meant opening a manufacturing plant of its own in competition with the private manufacturers to prove that the stabilisation scheme was workable and to give the growers a just return for their labour. The House has already heard the honorable member for Lalor stating the profits made by tobacco manufacturing firms in Australia. I wish I could say that returns to growers had been maintained at a similar high level, but unfortunately they have gone up and down and at present they are far down.
I support the amendment that will bc moved by the honorable member for Lalor. I do not think it is fair to give every manufacturer representation on a Board set up to give justice to growers as well as manufacturers. If you give full representation to one section of the industry then you should give it to the other. If this is impossible, the next best approach is to cut down representation on both sides. We believe that the membership of the Board should be as outlined in the amendment; in other words, it should be the same as suggested by the Minister with the exception that there should be two growers’ representatives from each State, plus one other. This is not a new concept, because the Australian Wheat Board has a similar constitution. There are two representatives of wheat growers from each State on that Board. I might also say that the Wheat Board consists of 15 members, so that the 13 members suggested for the Australian Tobacco Board would not make it unwieldy. I think the amendment is a reasonable one. It would give the tobacco stabilisation scheme a chance of achieving success similar to that enjoyed by the wheat stabilisation scheme.
In his second reading speech on this Bill the Minister for Primary Industry said -
Tobacco growing in Australia has had a long and chequered existence but it has been in the last decade that the existing industry has undergone a marked change. Betweeen 1956 and 1961 the Australian tobacco crop increased from about 6 million lb. per annum to about 30 million lb. per annum. This rapid expansion was not without its problems and tobacco growing was extended into areas considered by some to be unsuitable.
The tobacco growing industry in the United States of America has also had a chequered career. Until it adopted plans for stabilisation the United States used to import 50 to 60 per cent, of its tobacco requirements for blending and other purposes. Today that country imports less than 15 per cent, for blending purposes and it exports leaf to all parts of the world. When our Australian Tobacco Board is established it should aim at using 100 per cent, of Australian tobacco in manufacturing processes in this country. This may be impossible but at least it should be the aim of the Board, which will have power to report to the Minister on anything that it considers would be of benefit to the industry. This would include research to improve the quality of tobacco grown here and it would cover anything else that the
Board might consider would be of benefit. It is a pretty wide power and it provides opportunities for the industry to improve to such an extent that perhaps we could finish up with 100 per cent, of Australian leaf being used in tobacco manufacturing processes in Australia. It is impossible to set an annual marketing quota of 26 million lb. in an industry like this. In 1964-65, for instance, the north Queensland crop was hit by unfavourable climatic conditions and fell well short of the quota. Factors that are completely outside the control of the growers should be considered and a short fall in any one year should be made up in subsequent years. In the opinion of most growers the average minimum price of 125d. per lb. is too low. They claim that 1 32d. per lb. would have been more realistic bearing in mind the increasing costs of tobacco growers whose crops must be constantly watched and treated.
The Australian tobacco growers are the only growers in the world required, by the higher grading standards demanded of them by manufacturers, to destroy, after production, about 15 per cent, to 20 per cent, of the tobacco leaf produced. Despite this, manufacturers’ claims of poor quality appear to be never ending. Between 1961 and 1 963 the tobacco areas of Western Australia, on the Burdekin, in southern New South Wales and at Gunbower were virtually wiped out. The sales of 1964-65 saw pressure applied to other areas in New South Wales, Victoria and southwest Queensland. It was obvious to growers that this was a continuing process. It is no wonder, therefore, that they were determined to call a halt to it. This stabilisation scheme is the result. Growers have had to pay a price for it by a reduction in quantity from the 34 million lb. produced in 1963-64 to 26 million lb. a year for four years at an average minimum price of 125d. a lb. as compared with 140d., 134.8d. and 123. Id. a lb. in the preceding three years. However, this was the price they were prepared to pay to achieve stability in the industry.
It is interesting to quote the quantity of tobacco imported into this country by manufacturers. In 1964-65 the total quantity imported was 28,251,297 lb. Most of this came from the United States of America - nearly 16 million lb. From Rhodesia the imports totalled nearly 7£ million lb. and from South Africa nearly 4 million lb. Only thousands of pounds were imported from other countries less fortunate than those others, yet these countries are deserving support because they are developing and low standard countries which need trade. It is interesting also to note that the Australian manufacturers in 1954-55 imported only insignificant quantities of South African tobacco leaf but since then such imports have increased considerably, amounting to almost 5 million lb. in 1963-64 and almost 4 million lb. in 1964-65.
South African leaf is universally accepted as being of poor quality, and the absorption of this poor quality, particularly if used by only one manufacturer, could have a considerable influence on the quality aspects of the finished product. This could be the reason why only the best Australian leaf is being readily purchased at auction and the lower grades rejected.
In paragraph 133 of its report for the financial year ended 30th April 1964 the Republic of South Africa’s Tobacco Industry Control Board states -
The exportation of tobacco has clearly become an essential part of the marketing of South African leaf, lt is therefore of vital importance that established outlets overseas be maintained.
The Tobacco Growers Council (Australia) has pointed out that during its formative years Rothmans of Pall Mall (Aust.) Ltd. purchased a run of the grades from the crop and despite its repeated claims that it buys only the top grades of leaf and pays the highest prices it is a well known fact that up to 1963 it registered all its purchases at 10Od. and over in the name of Rothmans and its purchases below 10Od. in the name of Nelson, its chief buyer, who is also a registered tobacco manufacturer. This fact is known to the Commonwealth Departments concerned.
Is is on record, and proof would be available through Department of Customs and Excise sources, that all its low grade purchases during this period made in the name of Nelson were in fact paid for by Rothmans and used in its factories. As a typical example the Council cites the case of Rothmans’ purchase of 2,736 bales weighing 308,189 lb. at 35d. per lb. in July 1959 in Brisbane. In 1958 a quantity of tobacco leaf was left unsold on the Brisbane floor and after representations to W. D. and H. O. Wills (Aust.) Ltd. who at that time were underwriting certain grades in the crop, this leaf was re-examined by Mr. Munster of Wills and the Queensland Board’s chief appraiser, Mr. Holborn. Some of the leaf was cleared, but about 160 tons comprising these 2,736 bales were classified “ reject “.
During the intervening period from about October 1958 to July 1959 this leaf had to be moved several times and stored under highly unsatisfactory conditions, and stacked four and five bales high. In July 1959 Mr. V. Brink, Rothmans’ leaf director, approached the Queensland Board and negotiated the purchase of all this leaf at 35d. per lb. The leaf by that time was in such a shocking state that the Queensland Board insisted on the bales being inspected prior to delivery, and, despite the fact that Mr. Brink was prepared to take every bale, the Queensland Board refused to sell some of the bales because of this condition.
A fairly full description of the circumstances surrounding this incident has been given merely as an example of Rothmans purchases of what can only be described, because of its condition at the time, as the very dregs of Australian tobacco leaf. The Council was obliged to point out that this was not an isolated instance, and also instanced Rothmans’ purchases of leaf from the North Queensland Tobacco Growers Co-operative Association Ltd., Seale and Smale in Western Australia, and its purchases during 1962 of leaf from the 1961 crop which Rothmans itself declared as being reject.
AH this merely goes to prove that Rothmans at that time freely purchased and used these grades of leaf which it is now claiming as reject leaf. The Council points out that all this was taking place at the time when the Rothmans cigarette was being accepted by the Australian public as the best seller and was far and away the company’s largest selling brand contributing to the very handsome profits it was making. Any suggestion that this low grade Australian leaf was not being used in the Rothmans cigarettes cannot be sustained because other brands it was producing at the time formed a very small proportion of its total output.
Does not this prove that this so called low grade reject leaf, as both Rothmans and Wills now describe it, is not only usable but is consumer acceptable as shown by Rothmans performance during this period in progressively increasing sales to reach record levels in the competitive Australian market? That it is consumer acceptable is apparent from what the honorable member for Indi, the honorable member for Moore (Mr. Maisey) and the honorable member for Bendigo (Mr. Beaton) said about the sample pack of cigarettes distributed to several members of the Parliament.
These facts of themselves completely nullify the ridiculous claims made by this company and by Wills that they will not be forced into doing what they call debasing their product and that they will not be forced into buying what they now choose to term low grade reject leaf and that more of the lower grades in the schedule must be eliminated before they will accept it. When one adds to this the fact that they are progressively incorporating larger and larger quantities of poor smoking quality South African tobacco into their products it can be readily appreciated why they are so anxious to eliminate in ever increasing quantities the lower end of our schedule. It must be obvious to anyone with even a slight knowledge of the industry that they require the better quality grades of Australian leaf to carry the poor smoking quality of the South African leaf in their blends.
These statements have been made by the Australian Tobacco Growers Council. I wholeheartedly support them. It is of no use the manufacturers declaring that such leaf is unusable when we find imported leaf of a lower grade or standard is coming into this country and being used by the cigarette manufacturer and the pipe tobacco manufacturer. I also received one of those packets of cigarettes to which reference has been made. But I have given away sucking not because of my doctor’s advice but because smoking affects my throat. No matter what type of cigarette I have tried - whether it be the ordinary cigarette or the menthol flavoured cigarette - I still suffer a sore throat as a result of smoking. So I am not going to smoke those cigarettes. I will take the word of the honorable member for Indi, the honorable member for Moore and the honorable member for Bendigo that the cigarettes produced by W. D. and H. O.
Wills from rejected leaf are as good as any they have smoked. I believe that to be true.
A cigarette manufacturing plant was opened in Mareeba. Unfortunately, the shareholders in that plant, who were the local tobacco farmers, required their money for investment in their own farms rather than in this manufacturing plant. They were not able to obtain more capital to modernise their plant and produce a better cigarette. I am not sure, but I think it was Rothmans that bought them out. The undertaking folded, not because the cigarette produced was not good enough but because the farmers did not have the finance or could not obtain the finance to improve the machinery and so improve not only the cigarettes they produced but also their advertising, particularly the attractiveness of the cigarette packet, which was very much against them. With my colleague, the honorable member for Lalor, I believe that this Bill is necessary to stabilise the industry. We support the Bill but we believe the amendment we shall propose in relationship to the composition of the Board will give a better chance of success from the point of view of not only of the growers but also of the manufacturers.
.- The Tobacco Marketing Bill and associated Bills represent a considerable achievement by the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr. Adermann), as previous speakers have pointed out. The tobacco industry is a widely dispersed and fragmented industry. It is one that concerns a large number of small holdings. These holdings are situated on the eastern coast of Australia from the north of Queensland down to Victoria. The large number of growers of tobacco is in contrast to the high concentration and organisation of the few buyers of the crop they produce. The achievement of a marketing scheme which brings together one, two or three buyers and a large number of growers represents a great deal of work on the part of the Minister and his advisers. It is a success story in itself. I am quite sure that it will be the basis for the future prosperity of, and stability in, the Australian tobacco industry.
I would like to point out that stability marketing is not the whole story with tobacco. What is needed particularly in my area at the present time is some stability at the production end. The area I speak of is the one area in New South Wales where tobacco is grown to any extent. Tobacco is grown along the border rivers between Queensland and New South Wales on the western slopes of the Great Dividing Range. This area produces a not inconsiderable amount of tobacco. It produces, in fact, about 9 per cent, in weight of the total Australian production. But the quality of the tobacco leaf produced in that area has been significantly better throughout the years than the leaf produced either by Victoria or by north Queensland. So, the value of New South Wales tobacco used is proportionately much higher than the figure of 9 per cent, of the Australian total in volume.
The industry is worth about £1£ million a year to the growers in the district and consequently to the district generally. Yet, this industry in New South Wales is faced with extinction at the present time because no government, past or present, has provided an adequate water supply for the tobacco growers. The reason why no dams have been constructed on the border rivers is apparently that the Governments of New South Wales and Queensland have never been able to agree to come together in partnership to construct those dams. It is true that a partnership agreement was drawn up in 1947 and that various moves have been made by each Government since that time. But no successful collaboration between the two State Governments has taken place. Last year, the two States did combine to make an approach to the Commonwealth Government to ask the Commonwealth to come in as a third partner in the construction of dams on the headwaters of the border rivers. But the Commonwealth Government rejected the proposal. I believe that the Commonwealth Government has a responsibility in this matter. The Commonwealth cannot stand aside from a problem such as this because the New South Wales-Queensland border rivers system is the only border rivers system in Australia in which the Commonwealth is not already a partner in the construction and maintenance of water storages. Unless the Commonwealth does throw its weight into the balance, nothing will be done for many years to come and this tobacco industry which is so seriously afflicted by the present drought will be extinguished.
There is a feeling in the area that loo much of the attention of the Commonwealth and too much of the taxpayers’ money has been spent on the construction of water storages in the south of New South Wales on the Snowy Mountains scheme and that no attention whatsoever nas been given by the Commonwealth to water conservation outside that restricted zone. The feeling is expressed that it is high time taxpayers in other parts of Australia shared in the benefits of Commonwealth funds in the direction of the conservation of water. It is a fact that the Snowy River project is drawing to a conclusion. It is probable that already some members of the Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Authority could be released for planning other works in other parts of Australia. Naturally, their work must be carried out well in advance of the actual physical construction of water storages. If some members of the planning staff of the Authority are available for other duties, I urge the Commonwealth Government -to offer their services to the State of New South Wales for the planning of water storages on all the rivers running west from the Great Dividing Range in northern New South Wales. These rivers are not dammed at all at the present time. The construction of water storages would result in great expansion in the production of tobacco in the northern area and would lead to the growing of other crops, such as cotton, which would be of tremendous value to Australia.
The production of tobacco in northern New South Wales, which, even without aid from governments, has been of considerable value, amounting to £1,500,000 annually, could be increased enormously if security of water supplies could be guaranteed through the construction of dams. The cost of the dams would be relatively very small. Dams in this area are necessary for many reasons, apart from the guaranteed provision of water for irrigated crops. They are also necessary, and will always be necessary, to regulate the flow of the western flowing rivers. As those who are familiar with the west know, a feature of these river systems is their extreme variability. In good seasons they may carry a run off of 38 million acre feet and in bad seasons have scarcely no run off at all. In order to prevent these rivers from scouring their banks and from doing damage all the way down their courses, it is necessary to control them. Control must start in the headwaters, up in the ranges where the rivers rise.
As I said earlier, I do not believe that this is a matter that can be left safely to the care of a State administration. Experience has shown that the States are unable to act where borders are involved. For political reasons and because the borders are so far distant from the capital cities of the States, the States have found it impossible to come together in partnership for the construction of the works. I urge the Commonwealth to take note of this proposal and to offer the services of its skilled staff from the Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Authority and also from the Bureau of Agricultural Economics of the Department of Primary Industry to ensure that the waters of rivers flowing westward from the Great Dividing Range in northern New South Wales are used to the best advantage to guarantee and to underwrite the production of tobacco, to stabilise the production of tobacco in the area and to make it possible for other irrigated crops to be grown. Generally, we should secure the flow of water through good seasons and bad in all the western flowing rivers.
.- The Australian Labour Party welcomes the Bill to provide for the stabilisation of the tobacco industry. It will provide the growers with an assured market and a minimum price for their product. The quota is set at 26 million lb. Several Opposition members - the honorable members for Lalor (Mr. Pollard) and Leichhardt (Mr. Fulton) and myself - have spoken on a number of occasions before in this Parliament about the problems of the industry. I do not wish to go over all that I have said, even as recently as two or three weeks ago. Suffice it to say that there has been chaos in the industry throughout the last decade. This industry has been a little like the Government’s economic policy of boom and bust. We have had a boom and then we have had a bust, and unfortunately we have had too many busts.
It may be said that some of the growers have been partly at fault in that they have not prepared for the proper maturing of their leaf and so on. However, I cannot escape the conclusion that the tobacco manufacturers are the niggers in the woodpile and have created problems in the industry. The recent history of the tobacco growing industry has, I think, been studded with classic examples of malpractice that have begged for action by governments, both State and Federal. The tobacco industry is a little like the egg industry. Many small holdings are spread over a large area. Many people have suffered because of the chaos in the industry and I believe that some of the chaos results from what I term the inexplicable actions of manufacturers. Allegations have been made - with some substance, as I see it - of discrimination against individuals at the point of auction. Allegations have been made, again with some substance, of discrimination against districts. We have seen strange situations arise. Leaders of the tobacco growers who have raised their voices to protest about discrimination against their district have found that their leaf has been bought at a good price, though its quality has not differed from the quality of leaf offered by their neighbours who have not been able to get a bid. It seems to me that an effort has been made to buy them off and so quieten their protests.
Between 1961 and 1963, areas in Western Australia, southern New South Wales, along the Burdekin in Queensland and at Gunbower in northern Victoria were affected. If they were not wiped out, they came very close to it. In the sales last year and again this year, pressure was applied to some other districts such as Wangaratta, Whorouly, Markwood in Victoria and parts of south-western Queensland and again to the district of Gunbower in northern Victoria, which received its final blow. It was quite obvious to growers and to me that this was a deliberate campaign to eliminate certain districts from tobacco growing in Australia.
The principal point debated by manufacturers and growers is that of quality - the grade and price schedule, which is the essential part of the stabilisation scheme. This matter is in dispute and I want to say a few words about quality. I go back a few years to the time when Rothmans of Pall Mall (Aust.) Ltd. came into the market. I am not in any way biased against this company. It revitalised the tobacco manufacturing industry, and revitalised it at a time when quite clearly the other manufacturers were resting on their laurels. In this respect, the company has done a good job. There was rapid expansion in the industry and manufacturers generally sought to buy leaf of any description. They encouraged growers to produce any sort of leaf. They paid high prices for the leaf and the industry boomed for a short period. This encouraged an influx of new growers into the industry. Some of the new growers tried to grow tobacco on unsuitable soils. They paid tremendously high prices for land and, incidentally, made fortunes for land agents and sharks who battened on them. Some growers did not play the game, as the honorable member for Indi (Mr. Holten) said.
Unfortunately, many growers went broke. They paid high prices for land which sometimes was entirely unsuitable. I might say at this stage that I think the States have a responsibility to see that tobacco is produced on suitable soil. I think they have a responsibility to the industry and to the individuals in the industry. Many people came into the industry at the time of high prices and boom conditions and went on to land that was completely unsuitable. I think that the Departments of Agriculture in the States should have at least warned them that the land was unsuitable and should have protected them. I hope that the States will prevent a recurrence of this situation in the future.
Leaf of the kind which the manufacturers bought and used for a number of years, and on which their whole product was based, they now say is unusable. I just cannot accept their explanations. As the honorable member for Leichhardt mentioned, one company used an artifice. It put up a dummy at the sales. It said that it bought only tobacco above a certain price. The dummy apparently bought the tobacco that sold at lower prices but in fact the company bought the cheaper tobacco. It merely adopted an artifice. I do not know whom it thinks it fooled. The manufacturers say that the Australian leaf that they do not wish to buy is unusable. I have received a number of letters about this matter, which represents the main factor in dispute between the growers and the manufacturers.
All honorable members, I understand, have received a packet of cigarettes from W. D. & H. O. Wills (Aust.) Ltd. with a covering letter in which the company states that these packets of cigarettes - one for every member of the Parliament apparently - have been manufactured from tobacco that, in the terms used by the tobacco companies, is unusable. The Wills company stated in its letter that no-one with any responsibility to the industry would suggest that tobacco of this quality should be incorporated in cigarettes offered to the Australian public. Like the honorable member for Indi, I determined to put the matter to the test. Without any fanfare of any kind and without any mention of whether these cigarettes had charcoal filters or filter tips at all or whether they came in a flip top box or were impregnated with menthol or anything of the sort, I merely said to some of my colleagues, in effect: “ Have a fag “. They each took and smoked one as I did myself. I said to them: “ What do you think of these cigarettes?” The reaction was much the same as that mentioned by the honorable member for Indi. I found that these cigarettes, though I grant that they were not of top quality, were not objectionable. They seemed quite reasonable smoking to me. Indeed I enjoyed a couple of them. My colleagues’ impression of them was much the same. The general reaction was that they were not a bad sort of cigarette. This rather sends up in smoke, as it were, the case that the Wills company attempted to make. Its action in distributing these packets of cigarettes in an effort to indicate how unusable was the leaf from which they were made has boomeranged on the company. The consensus among honorable members to whom I have spoken is that these are not bad cigarettes. So the argument of the company is in a sense defeated.
I now want to go a little further, Mr. Deputy Speaker. The company stated in its letter that these cigarettes were produced solely from the 5 per cent, of leaf which the manufacturers claim is unusable and which they consider is not suitable for smoking. It stated that these cigarettes are not of acceptable smoking quality. Concerning this 5 per cent, of leaf that is said to be unusable I have a letter written by Rothmans of Pall Mall (Australia) Ltd. as a result of a speech that I made in this House on 20th
October. Commenting on my speech, among other things the letter stated - lt happens to be true that leaf we have been forced to buy is in part unusable . . .
I emphaise the words “ is in part unusable “. The Wills company said that it is completely unusable - that it is no good at all - but the Rothmans organisation claimed only that the leaf is in part unusable. That may be fair enough. What does the Minister for Customs and Excise (Senator Anderson) say about the matter? He must have had some sort of expert advice on it. He was questioned about the matter in the other place on 5th October. I shall not quote all his comments, which covered a page of “ Hansard “. Among other things, he said -
Suffice it to say, however, that substantial quantities of the grades of tobacco now stated to be unusable have been purchased at auction during the year.
In other words, for years the manufacturers have been purchasing-this quality of tobacco and using it, and substantial quantities of the same grades of allegedly unusable leaf have been purchased at auction this year. I presume that it has been used in manufacture and that the product has been advertised as good smoking material and has been sold to the Australian public. The Minister for Customs and Excise said also -
In the meantime, because some companies have not taken up the whole of their proportions of the usable leaf, they are not eligible for the concessional entry of imported leaf and as a consequence certificates have not been issued to them.
Here I emphasise the phrase “ usable leaf “. Apparently the Minister believes that the leaf is usable.
Dealing further with quality I mention South African tobacco. I am not expert on tobaccos, I readily agree. I smoke moderately and I enjoy a cigarette, but I am not an expert on tobacco grades and qualities and the like. South African tobacco is renowned for its poor quality. In 1 954-55 very little South African tobacco leaf was imported’ into Australia but in 1963-64 we imported almost 5 million lb. and in 1964-65 more than 31 million lb. Surely we have reached a situation in which the Australian tobacco manufacturers are seeking to buy the best quality Australian leaf cheaply and to mix it with poor quality leaf from South Africa. This is not good enough. I grant that some of the leaf produced in Australia is unusable. Some of the product in any industry is unusable. In the egg industry, the apple and pear industry and other industries some of the production never reaches the market, because it is not of good enough quality. But surely we should not accept a situation in which only the top quality leaf produced in Australia will be used while at the same time we import poor quality leaf bought overseas at low prices. This is not good enough. We have a responsibility to support the Australian tobacco growers and to make sure that the greater proportion of their crop is sold for use in Australia.
As I have said, in my view the cigarettes in the sample packets distributed by the Wills company, if a little top quality leaf had been blended with the allegedly unusable leaf, would have been of very good quality and the product would still have been all Australian. This brings me to the point at which I say that I believe that in future we should aim at’ a proportion of something like 80 per cent, or 90 per cent, of Australian leaf in tobacco products sold on the Australian market. I believe that it would be fair enough to aim at this. I am not satisfied that the leaf imported from other countries, is any better than Australian grown, leaf. I am certainly not satisfied that the leaf reaching this country from South Africa is even as good as- Australian leaf. I recall that only a couple of months ago the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr. Adermann), who is now absent overseas, said that he would like to see an expert comparison of the Australian leaf readily available here with the leaf that we are importing from South Africa. I too would like to see such a comparison. Let us have some experts determine the difference and tell us whether the supposedly unusable Australian leaf is not in fact as good as or better than the leaf imported from South Africa.
Some years ago when the proportion of Australian leaf required for a product to qualify for the rebate of duty on imported leaf was specified at 5 per cent, the manufacturers raised a great howl. They told us, for example, that Australian tobacco was not suitable. This sort of thing will always go on. Apparently it suits the manufacturers to buy tobacco overseas, ft may be that some of the tobacco companies can buy. tobacco from their parent companies or associated firms overseas at very low prices which enable them to make a better profit here or at prices that boost the profits of their associates overseas from whom the leaf is purchased. It may be that this is one of the reasons. But, surely, we have a responsibility to support the Australian industry. In my opinion the arguments which have been put up by the manufacturers do not ring true. I ask honorable members to bear in mind the differences in their arguments. One has said that the leaf is totally unusable, but another has said it is unusable in part. And then we had the classic example today when honorable members had a good smoke at the expense of W. D. and H. O. Wills and, apparently, enjoyed it.
The other matter on which I want to speak is in respect of quotas. The quota set out in the Bill is 26 million lb. I think it should be realised first of all that, as in any other primary industry, the producer in the tobacco industry faces many risks in producing his commodity. Many of these risks are outside the control of growers. I refer to drought, excessive rain and the sort of thing which is beyond the control of the ordinary grower. Consequently, it has not been possible for the industry to produce exactly 26 million lb., or for that matter any other particular figure which may be fixed as the quota, in any given year or in any year over a period of years. The production of tobacco in Australia will fluctuate. It always has. Last year 34 million lb. of tobacco was produced, and this year I understand only 23.6 million lb. was available for sale. This is a tremendous difference. The wide variation in these two years came about partly because so many tobacco growers have been forced out of the industry because of the chaos and low prices which have applied in recent times. In 1964-65 the crop in north Queensland was hit by unfavorable climatic conditions and fell well short of the usual production for that area. This helped to bring down the total production to 23.6 million lb.
But the point that I wish to make is that the quota is to be fixed at 26 million lb. If the tobacco growers can produce only 73 million lb. one year but can produce 28 million lb. in the next year, there should be some give and take in the quota. It should not necessarily be arbitrarily fixed at 26 million lb. for this year and kept at that level for four years. I believe that the growers should be given a fair go. If a disaster hit the industry and it produced only 15 million lb. in a year, I do not think the growers should suffer unduly if they produced a little more than the quota in the following year. I believe that allowances should be made for these situations. The tobacco growers are already making a sacrifice in respect of the grade and price schedule because although 26 million lb. represents an average of production over the last three years, the minimum price which is to be set is not an average of the price achieved over the last three years. In those years the average prices have been 140d., 134.8d. and 123.1 d. per lb., giving an average of 132.3d. By accepting 125d., the growers have made some sacrifice. I think this should be taken into account.
These are the points that I wanted to make in respect of quality and the quota. These are the two vital matters in the Bill. The other aspect is something that we will touch upon in Committee when the Opposition, through the honorable member for Lalor, will move an amendment for the purpose of ensuring grower control of the Australian Tobacco Board. Generally I support the Bill as an attempt to get some sort of stability in the industry. This industry has had a sad history which, as I have said, has been one of boom and bust. People who engaged in the industry have lost their livelihood, their savings - everything. I hope that this plan can bring about stability. As I said earlier, I believe that the manufacturers have been the nigger in the woodpile, but I hope that with not only their co-operation but also the co-operation of growers this plan will bring to the industry the stability which is sorely needed.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clauses 1 to 5 - by leave - taken together, and agreed to.
Clause 6. (1.) The Board shall consist of twelve members, namely -
.- So far as the Opposition is concerned and, I should think, so far as the growers are concerned, this clause- is one of the key features of the Bill. It provides the method in which the Australian Tobacco Board will be constituted. It provides that the Board shall consist of 12 members and then states how the members will be selected. The first member will represent the Commonwealth and, naturally, he will be nominated by the Commonwealth. It is proposed that the next member shall represent the State of New South Wales, that one member shall represent the State of Victoria and that another member shall represent the State of Queensland. I ask the honorable members to note that neither this legislation nor, so far as I know, any State legislation, specifies that the three members who are to be appointed to represent Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland shall be tobacco growers. Apparently Victoria may appoint as its representative to the Australian Tobacco Board an officer of, say, the Victorian Department of Agriculture. Victoria would be perfectly at liberty to appoint an employee of Rothmans of Pall Mall (Aust.) Ltd., Godfrey Phillips International Pty. Ltd. or W. D. & H. O. Wills (Aust.) Ltd. and confer upon him the task of representing the State Government of Victoria on the Australian Tobacco Board. On the other hand, I should imagine that it would be competent for the Government of Victoria to nominate a member of the State Tobacco Board who may be a grower, or who is a merchant. He could be anybody.
I point out this feature in the hope that honorable members will bear it in mind when considering who the other members shall be. The clause states further that one member shall represent tobacco growers in the State of New South Wales, one member shall represent tobacco growers in the State of Victoria and one member shall represent tobacco growers in the State of Queensland. It then states that there is to be one other member to represent tobacco growers. The Bill provides for the manner in which a member representing tobacco growers in a State shall be appointed. It states that if there is a State Board in the State, he shall be appointed by the Commonwealth Minister from among the members of the State Board on the nomination of the appropriate Minister of the State. If there is no State Board, he shall be appointed by the Minister on the nominataion of the appropriate Minister of the State. In the absence of any provision for an immediate ballot to elect the growers’ representative, we are prepared to accept this method of appointing members of the Board who are mentioned in the Bill as growers’ representatives. The other growers* representative is apparently a lone wolf, who will be appointed by the Commonwealth Minister. We have no objection to that.
I come now to the most extraordinary provision of all. It is that which states that there shall be four members to represent the tobacco manufacturers. On this Board of 12, we are to have one member to represent the Commonwealth. There can be no objection to that. He will probably become the chairman. Then there are to be three State representatives, one each for the States of New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland. They need not necessarily represent any part of the industry. As I have said, they may be State public servants, technical mcn, or indeed anybody at all. There is to bc only one growers’ representative from each S:ate. Each of these is to be appointed in the manner I have outlined - either on the nomination of a State Board, or, if there is no State Board, on the nomination of the appropriate Minister of the State. There is to be one further growers’ representative, who will be nominated by the Commonwealth Minister.
So we find that we are to have three State representatives, who need not represent any particular part of the industry. There is no requirement as to who they shall be. They will be the representatives of the State Governments. We are also to have three growers’ representatives, suitably nominated, and one further growers’ representative, making in all a total of four growers’ representatives. Then, lo and behold, we are to have four manufacturers’ representatives. There are only four tobacco manufacturers in Australia, and each of them is to have a representative on this Board. They will have an influence on whether the Board will be able effectively to carry out the functions vested in it by this Parliament and the State Parliaments. I emphasise that there are to be four representatives of the manufacturers, of whom there are only four in Australia, whereas the thousands of growers throughout Australia are to have only four representatives, three nominated from the States and one nominated by the Commonwealth.
Let us examine some precedents. We have a good one in the Australian Wheat Board. On that Board there is the Chairman, who is appointed by the Commonwealth. There is a representative of the employees. We all know whom he represents. There is also a finance member. He represents nobody in particular. There is a representative of commerce and industry. He represents a specific phase of our activities. Then there are two representatives of the growers in New South Wales, two representatives of the growers in Victoria, two representatives of the growers in South Australia and two representatives of the growers in Queensland. In all, there are eight growers representatives.
I ask honorable members to note that there is only one millers’ representative. Although the flour millers provide all the flour required for the whole of the Australian population, they will have only one representative on the Australian Wheat Board. Yet in the industry now under consideration - an industry which has been in turmoil, an industry in which, for the whole of its life, the growers have been at the wrong end of the stick - there are to be on the Board which is to deal with the problems besetting the industry four representatives to represent the only four manufacturers in Australia. If ever there was” an outrage, this is it. These manufacturers are only supplying smokes, after all, whereas the flour millers are supplying flour to the whole of Australia. Although there are some hundreds of flour millers, they have only one representative on the Australian Wheat Board.
The growers are well represented on the Australian Wheat Board. This is because a
Labour Government set out the composition of that Board. To be quite frank, I think the present Government made some alteration. As the production of wheat increased in Queensland, this Government gave the Queensland growers representation on the Board. I think an additional growers’ representative was given to South Australia. But no more representation was given to the flour millers of Australia.
We do not approve the proposed composition of this Board. We have been tolerant in our support of this measure, but we will not be a party to the sort of thing that is proposed in this provision. Therefore, we shall be moving an amendment, and I appeal to every member in the Country Party corner to support us. How can the Government possibly justify such an outrage? Just imagine having a representative of every flour miller on the Australian Wheat Board. Just imagine having on the Australian Dried Fruits Board a representative of every dried fruits packing house. Just imagine having a representative of every honey manufacturer on the Honey Board. .
-(Mr. Lucock). - Order! The honorable member’s time has expired. However, if he wishes, he may take his second period now.
.- I shall do that. I now move -
Omit sub-clause (1.), insert the following subclause - “ (1.) The Board shall consist of thirteen members, namely -
one member to represent the Common wealth;
one member to represent the State of New
It will be noted that we ask for only one more member than is proposed by the Government. We ask for 13 members. The Australian Wheat Board has 14 or 15 members. It will be noted also that we have no quarrel with giving representation to the States. Our amendment provides for that. We have also retained the provision for the nomination of a growers* representative by the Commonwealth Minister. Why he wants that, I do not know. We have reduced the number of manufacturers’ representatives to two and have increased the number of growers’ representatives from four to seven. We submit that in all the circumstances that is a fair cut up of the representation. I will admit that the Minister for the Interior (Mr. Anthony) is somewhat unlucky, in that he is in charge of this Bill in the absence of his colleague, but I appeal to him either to accept my amendment or to arrange for a postponement of the discussion in order that the outrageous state of affairs .about which we complain may be remedied. Our amendment is an attempt to remedy it. - Mr. FULTON (Leichhardt) [5.53].- I support the amendment. There are four growers’ -representatives on the Queensland Tobacco Board. Two of them represent t&% growers in north Queensland and two represent the growers in south Queensland. The two areas are thousands of miles apart. The climatic conditions, and probably the working conditions, of the two areas are totally different. For that reason, I submit that there should be two representatives of the Queensland growers on the Commonwealth Board, one to represent the growers of north Queensland and one to represent the growers of south Queensland.
What I have said about Queensland could apply equally to the other States and they, therefore, should also each have two growers’ representatives. This would give the growers some chance of making a reasonable living. The manufacturers are quite capable of looking after themselves and I see no reason why they should have a preponderance of the representation. I submit that Queensland has a particularly good case in that a precedent has already been established on the State Board, which, as I have said, has four growers’ representatives, two representing northern growers and two representing southern growers. If two representatives of the Queensland growers were agreed to for the Commonwealth Board, I would have no objection to giving the growers in the other States similar representation.
Sitting suspended from 5.56 to 8 p.m.
Motion (by Mr. McMahon) - by leave - agreed to -
That so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) making his speech on the motion to take note of the ministerial statement on Rhodesia without limitation of time.
Debate resumed from 16th November (vide page 2771), on motion by Sir Robert Menzies -
That the House take note of the following papers -
Documents on Rhodesia, 27th October 1964- 11th November, 1965.
As the Prime Minister said last night, the British Government - indeed, successive British Governments, Conservative as well as Labor - have done all that they possibly could to avert this evil day. The personal efforts of the Prime Minister of Great Britain, Mr. Harold Wilson, over the past few weeks have been unceasing and untiring, as compassionate as they have been ingenious, as resourceful as they have been sincere. No man could have done more; perhaps no other man could have done as much. But, as Mr. Wilson told the House of Commons last Thursday -
The Rhodesian Government were hell-bound on illegal and destructive action.
From Mr. Wilson’s own account to the House of Commons, it appears, incredible as it may seem, that at the very time he was discussing further proposals by the British Government with Mr. Ian Smith, over the telephone from London, the Rhodesian Government was actually in the process of drawing up its illegal declaration of independence.
I imagine all honorable members will feel contempt for the pathetic and impertinent plagiarism of the great American Declaration of Independence by which the former Government of Rhodesia chose to introduce its illegal proclamation. That the basic constitutional document of the United States of America, that great nation which today has written civil rights at the very head of its legislative programme should be used in self-justification, by a little group whose sole object is to deny every civil right; that the most brilliant exposition of the basic human rights of equality and freedom ever penned by mortal hand should be used to justify the very denial of equality and freedom; that democracy’s first great clarion call against oppression should be used to mask the intentions of those who would be oppressors; in a word, that a Smith should steal the mantle of a Jefferson, is more than hypocrisy; it is an obscenity.
For let there be no mistake or confusion about this: This is not an act of rebellion by a people seeking independence from a foreign power; it is an act of a minority seeking to perpetuate its own domination over the vast majority. Recognising this, it is clear that the British Government has no alternative but to seek to defeat this rebellion. To do otherwise would be to make a mockery of that whole great process of decolonisation and withdrawal from empire which has been the central fact of British policy since 1945.
Mr. Smith contends that his “regime” ; I must so describe it, for it is certainly not now a government - is being prejudged and condemned, not for what it has done, but for what it might do. He claims that it should not be assumed that the minority will use its power to oppress the majority or to resist the rights of the majority unless and until its future actions prove this to be so. But this defence will not bear a moment’s examination, and this is so for the reason that the act of unilateral declaration of independence provides its own selfcondemnation. It is not so much a decoration of independence as a declaration of intention. If those intentions are good, why then should the declaration ever have been made? What had happened, by last Wednesday, to make the unilateral declaration oi independence either urgent or necessary? Certainly nothing that the British Government had done or had failed to do. Certainly nothing that the African majority had done or threatened to do. Certainly nothing that the nations of the world had done or wanted to do.
Mr. Wilson has revealed, Sir, that at every stage of these prolonged negotiations - prolonged only by the inexhaustible patience and goodwill of the British Government and the British Parliament - and whenever agreement on any point seemed approaching possibility, Mr. Smith destroyed whatever hope there was of agreement by stating that the views of the two governments were irreconcilable. And Mr. Wilson has said that this attitude was, to him, incomprehensible, or comprehensible only on one assumption - that the Rhodesian government never intended to be reconciled but rather, in Mr. Wilson’s words, vere hell-bound on illegal and destructive action. It is against this background that we must
Judge the sincerity of the intentions of this regime. This is why, with the best will in the world, we cannot give its members the benefit of the doubt about their intentions. A man who wilfully sets fire to his house, threatening the house of his neighbours, cannot excuse himself by giving as the reason for his actions, that he intends to build a better one in its place.
The Prime Minister has, properly, emphasised the difficulties confronting European settlers in Rhodesia. Their title to their Rhodesian citizenship is a good one. It is as good as our title to our Australian citizenship, which is nothing more nor less than that we were born here, or have chosen to live here. This is the essence of nationality and citizenship rights in any country. But a just entitlement to citizenship does not imply, and does not endow, any rights to domination over others. The Unilateral Declaration of Independence is not an affirmation of citizenship; it is a demand for the right to dominate - the domination of a majority of black citizens by a minority of white citizens. Nothing that the British Government ever proposed impaired any rights of the European minority as citizens of an independent Rhodesia, but their domination would in due course have been diminished, and, ultimately, ended. That is why independence, so-called, ‘has been declared. It is a declaration against the diminution of domination.
On all these points we have, I am sure, a very large measure of agreement between both sides of this House. But I cannot pass without comment the Prime Minister’s reasoning against what he called the “ extreme view that the achievement of an African majority in Rhodesia should be indefinitely resisted.” He was right in saying that this view was intolerable but he then proceeded to give what seemed to me to be inadequate reasons for believing it to be a wrong view. The Prime Minister said that the view that the achievement of an African majority should be indefinitely resisted was, in the prevailing international political climate, quite impracticable. Of course, it is quite impracticable, but is this all that can be said? Is this the most important or the worst thing that can be said against such a view? Surely not.
This extreme view that the rights of the African majority should be indefinitely resisted is not only impracticable; it is wrong; it is evil. It is wrong by every standard of morality and by every tenet of democracy. Is our policy in New Guinea for instance, explained and justified simply by the fact that a contrary policy would be impracticable in the prevailing international climate? Is this all that we propose to do in New Guinea - to do whatever must be clone in practical terms of the prevailing international climate? If we remove morality and right from our policy, and base it simply on so-called practicability, then we cast ourselves adrift on a terrible and uncharted 5e;i of expediency. This allegedly tough t.-‘k about the impracticability of things - tha standard that something is wrong only because it will not work - appalls the Labour Party, and not least because of its disastrous superficiality. 1 am sure the Prime Minister did not give sufficient attention to the implications of his words. For there is nothing more certain in human history than this: The practical can never endure unless it is also moral. There is no lasting practicability unless there be a foundation of morality; and the ruins of empires and ‘he destruction of dictatorships all attest this fundamental truth.
But we are in agreement with the Prime Minister - as all of us are in agreement with Mr. Wilson - that there is a need for time. We must at the very least allow to the people of Rhodesia - European and African alike - the same right that we claim for ourselves and for the people of New Guinea, when the future of that Territory is to be decided. We may differ greatly about the definition of sufficient time. We on this side will say “ sooner “; the Prime Minister may say “later”. But the tragedy of the action of the Rhodesian regime is that it destroys all possibility of drawing up what the Prime Minister has called a “ timetable “. They do not want a dispute about the “ sooner “ or the “ later “; theirs is that desperate cry of “ never “. Therefore, travelling by different paths, the Opposition and the Government converge and agree on the proposition that this act of Unilateral Declaration of Independence must be condemned, and must be resisted. As a political act, it must be defeated.
We come now to two questions: By what means should it be defeated and what should
Australia do to assist in its defeat? The first thing that should be said is this: We have complete faith both in the sincerity and the ability of the British Government to handle this question. The Prime Minister has emphasised the legal and constitutional position of Britain in her relation to Rhodesia. Normally, I would be impatient with what might seem to me to be an excessively legalistic approach to great human problems. But it cannot be denied that on this particular issue, the strictly legal aspects of the matter provide a very sound starting point for the wider, more important human, political and moral issues involved. However, while we accept that the prime constitutional responsibility . rests with Britain, we must recognise and, indeed, welcome the rofe that the United Nations can and might have to play in this crisis.
The Prime Minister in his speech seemed to me to question the propriety of the activity of the United Nations in this matter. But the very document which Mr. Smith misquoted, and misappropriated, on his own behalf - The American Declaration of Independence -was written, as it states iri the first paragraph, because of “ a decent respect for the opinions of mankind”. Today, in the second half of the 20th century and for. the first time in human history, the opinions of mankind have their own forum, their own organisation, their own machinery for action and power - the United Nations Organisation. And the crisis in Rhodesia is a crisis not only for Britain, not only for the Commonwealth of Nations, not only for Africa, but for the world community. The world body, the United Nations, has every right and every duty to speak and, if necessary, to act.
In acting to defeat the Unilateral Declaration of Independence, we in Australia can exercise one or two or all of three types of sanctions - diplomatic sanctions, economic sanctions, and military sanctions. As to diplomatic sanctions, the Australian Government has done what it declared well in advance it would do - that is to refuse to give recognition to this illegal regime. Only South Africa and Portugal, of all the world nations, have chosen not to take this course. There are, however, two matters in this sphere that the Prime Minister has not dealt with. One is the matter of passports’, the other relates to citizenship rights. The British Government has stated that it will not recognise passports issued or renewed by the illegal Rhodesian regime. A full statement on citizenship rights is to be made soon. What is the position of Rhodesian citizens in Australia, or those seeking entry into Australia? These perhaps are not matters of central importance, but I would welcome clarification of its views on them from the Government. I mention this matter, not by way of argument, but to foreshadow some of the diplomatic, legal and constitutional problems that are certain to arise if the present emergency continues for any length of time. The Australian Government should be turning its attention to such matters now rather than wait upon events and circumstances as they arise.
The second form of sanctions that could be used against the Rhodesian regime are the economic ones. I was surprised to hear the Prime Minister say last night that ho and his colleagues have very great reservations about even economic sanctions. Surely it is plain that if we are in any way honest, in any way sincere about our intention to resist the Rhodesian regime, economic sanctions must be imposed. They should not be a matter for the qualifications with which the Prime Minister has hedged them. Without economic sanctions, ali that is left are diplomatic sanctions; the refusal to afford recognition that I have mentioned and that the Opposition supports. And refusal to grant recognition alone is hardly an action such as to defeat this regime, or even to bring its members back to the conference table, which we all hope to see accomplished soon. If a group of men, who seldom open their mouths without expressing their personal devotion to the Queen, do not balk at clear and open treason to the Queen, they are hardly likely to be much impressed merely by the refusal of the Commonwealth of Australia to recognise them. Diplomatic sanctions without economic sanctions are futile.
I agree that there are potential complications. There is the certain hardship that will be imposed upon African citizens, and the threat of retaliation upon neighbouring African States. Therefore, if we impose economic sanctions, they must be designed to have immediate results. “ If ‘twere done, twere best done quickly.” That necessarily means that an oil embargo must be imposed, for a modern community can no more exist without oil than the body can exist without blood. Australia itself has no power to impose such an embargo. But, the Australian Government should urge that such an embargo be imposed.
However, in practical terms, it is quite evident that the Government has imposed complete economic sanctions within its sphere of competence. It can do no more than it has already done. I agree with all that has been done, but I regret that the Government found it necessary to qualify its views, when what it did was so obviously necessary, and so obviously right.
The third possible type of sanctions are military ones. The British Government has declared that it believes the use of force will be unnecessary. But let this be noted: It has not said that under no circumstances will force be used. It has, I repeat, said that it believes the use of force can be avoided. It is striving mightily to avert the need for force. But the Prime Minister did nothing to help the situation by framing his particular objection to the use of Australian troops in the form of a general argument against military sanctions of any kind.
There are sound, specific and detailed arguments against the use of Australian troops in this particular situation, the first being that we have none to spare. There are equally sound, more general arguments against the use of Australian troops in any overseas operation, the first being that it is not in Australia’s interests to act as some sort of international policeman.
But the Prime Minister picks and chooses his arguments at will. Most of the excellent arguments he used last night could be equally used against our actions in Vietnam. Some circumstances may arise in which some sort of military force - in the broadest sense of the term - may have to be used in Rhodesia. I do not know; Mr. Wilson does not know. The Prime Minister does not know. But does the Prime Minister contend that there is no conceivable circumstance in which the use of force might be needed? He says flatly: “We will not contribute financially to the use of force “.
But supposing the best efforts of Mr. Wilson fail, and the choice then were between an African war and a United Nations peacekeeping force? Would Aus tralia then say: “ We will not pay one penny towards this force?”
– The honorable membell may say “ yes “, but then he belongs to the troglodyte era.
Why have we bound ourselves in advance? And, more immediately important, why has the Australian Government chosen to inhibit the British Government in this way, at this time. And why did the Prime Minister introduce a moral note into his speech only when he was protesting against the possible use of force.
However, we agree that every effort should be made to avoid the necessity of the use of force. And, it must be remembered that Australia might be asked to provide a peacekeeping force within the limits of our reserves if asked to do so by the United Nations.
I agree with everything the Prime Minister said about the suffering of the innocent with the guilty. May we hope that this note of reason and charity will be introduced in all our international dealings, and that just as Australia now declares that it will not bring suffering to the innocent of Rhodesia, we will try not to help to prolong the agony of the innocent of Vietnam by encouraging the opening of negotiations to bring peace to that strife-torn nation.
Sir, this House is agreed that the illegal and destructive action of the Rhodesian regime must be condemned. It must be opposed, it must be resisted, and it must be defeated. The specific actions taken to date by the Australian Government meet with the approval of this Parliament and the Nation. On what has been done, and on what we should do, there is likely to be basic agreement. But in amplifying the Prime Minister’s remarks of last night, and indeed, in generally agreeing with them, I trust that his eloquent exposition of the expediency of Australia’s policy has been expanded by my expression of the morality and humanity behind Australia’s actions, in this tragic and needless crisis.
– I am acutely aware of the dangers of allowing either sentiment or emotionalism to obscure the facts of this situation, or of saying anything which might in any way exacerbate the existing tensions. With this in mind, I disagree entirely with the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell). I think the example set by our own Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) last night might well be followed by leaders on the other side of the world as well as by the Leader of the Opposition. I regret very much that the Leader of the Opposition should have adopted a belligerent and bellicose attitude, which I think only makes matters worse. His speech reminded me of the words of Pope -
Damn with faint praise, assent with civil leer, And, without sneering, teach the rest to sneer.
I do not think that kind of approach helps this very delicate situation. The Leader of the Opposition referred to the American Declaration of Independence, but had the American colonists of those days been told that they had to hand over their country to the Red Indians, who were in the majority, I think there would have been a very different reaction. In other words on this problem, I believe that there is a wealth of difference between firmness allied with regret and playing to the gallery, which is often so obvious that it does not even convince the audience. I am also very mindful of the words of another famous poet who lived in the last century, Edward Rowland Sill, in “ The Fool’s Prayer “-
These clumsy feet,still in the mire, go crushing blossoms without end;
These hard, well meaning hands we thrust among the heartstrings of a friend.
I hope that nothing I shall say tonight will in any way worsen the already tense situation that exists and I therefore ask the indulgence of the House to refer far more closely to my notes than I am in the habit of doing when speaking. A little over three months ago I sat in the visitors’ gallery of the Parliament House of Malaysia when the Prime Minister of Malaysia, Tunku Abdul Rahman, introduced the bill for the separation of Singapore. I shall never forget that historic occasion - a full House and crowded galleries, the atmosphere charged with suspense. As the Prime Minister rose to speak a solemn hush fell over the whole of the assembly. He spoke clearly, deliberately and solemnly, in increased tones of sadness but with no bitterness whatsoever, concerning events whichled up to and finally caused that separation. I was vividly reminded of the scene that morning in Kuala Lumpur when last night our own Prime Minister, in a similar quiet but firm voice, announced the Government’s attitude to yet another crisis within the Commonwealth family - a crisis even more critical in it’s effects on world history. Once again there was sadness but no bitterness - an appeal to reason and restraint, not to rapid reprisals and racial revenge - an appeal for time to allow tempers to cool, compromise to prevail, enmities to be changed into friendliness and co-operation in the interests of all concerned, whether they be African, Eurasian or European.
Time was a factor that figured very largely in the problems of Malaysia. Mr. Lee Kwan Yew, the leader of the Singapore Government, and the Tunku both were travelling down the same road towards the same objective, a happy multi-racial society. The former, with the more sophisticated population of Singapore, wanted to go at 100 miles an hour. The Tunku, as the father of his people, so to speak, knew that the majority of his people could not travel at a faster speed than 20 miles an hour without danger to themselves and others. Most of them had just advanced from the rule of sultans to an embryonic form of democracy. They had to be given time to assimilate more modern manners, customs and ideas - time for the younger generation to graduate from the universities with new ideas and become absorbed into administrative positions. This was not the sole cause of the difference of opinion, but it was very largely responsible for it. And so the break occurred; but we all hope that one day in the not far distant future the two parts will come together again in the interests of the whole.
Last night the Prime Minister made a very eloquent appeal to a world wide audience for time for consideration and restraint in respect of the problems of Rhodesia. No doubt some of the decisions he announced were as distasteful to him and to the Government as they were to some members on both sides of the House. Perhaps we should remind ourselves that the essence of statesmanship is to know when to give way on the lesser in order to try, if possible, to gain the greater. Perhaps we would do well to remember, amid the acrimonious howls of hate and demands for the use of force that arose in the inharmonious halls of the United Nations, that one African leader, a neighbour of Rhodesia, the Prime Minister of Malawi, Dr. Hastings Banda, had the sober sense of realism to appeal against hasty action and for time for further discussion and compromise. Dr. Banda has had a very vivid and recent experience of the attempts of the Chinese Communists to stir up racial hatreds and to foment the greedy ambitions of certain individuals within the borders of his own country.
Rhodesia is not the only nation in Africa that needs time to establish the principles of a more sophisticated democracy, as out of 35 or 36 new African nations only 5 allow any freedom of opposition to the ruler and his party. When colonial discipline disappeared tribal discipline was often the only alternative. I say this in no spirit of criticism, but as a matter of realism. They, too, need time to change. No-one knows this better than Dr. Nkrumah, who has found it necessary to gaol or exile his Opposition members and his Chief Justice. Other people can praise or blame him - I do not propose to take part in discussing that aspect tonight - but having acted in this manner it is ludicrous for him to demand one man one vote in the immediate present for another African country, and demand also that it should be imposed by force. Even in the United Nations itself this principle has not been adopted in its Constitution, as a nation of 200,000 people has the same voting power as a nation of 200 million people. Furthermore, to entice citizens of another nation to Ghana and then send them back as trained saboteurs can hardly be designated as either a friendly act or an endeavour to right wrongs - if they are wrongs - by peaceful persuasion or cooperation. Twenty-eight of these young men were recently gaoled in Rhodesia after admitting their guilt, though one should add that some of them stated in their defence that having arrived in Ghana they were given no choice in the matter.
In his statement the Prime Minister gave in detail the five principles outlined by the British Government as a basis of independence. Apparently, as he said, the difference of opinion that occurred was more as to the timetable, and the rate and manner in which the 1961 Constitution was to be implemented, rather than over the basic principles enshrined in the document. Let me not start our examination of events leading up to the present crisis by blaming one side only. Successive British Governments and we ourselves are partly to blame for having allowed the winds of change to develop into typhoons of danger and destruction, if not disaster. Is it too late to work together to reconstruct the damaged fabric of racial amity and mend the rents caused by enmity? To carry the analogy of the winds of change further, after every typhoon there are thieves and rogues who seek to profit from the resulting confusion. They are present in Africa today.
Let us look for a moment at the situation through the spectacles of the Rhodesian Government. First, when the 10 years old Federation ceased to be at the end of 1963, Southern Rhodesia was the only one of three members which was not granted full independence. In neither of the other two nations are there free elections as we understand the term. Secondly, the 1961 Constitution does not allow racial discrimination and cannot be altered without the approval by referendum of each of the four racial groups in Rhodesia. Maybe there have been faults in the administration. If so, this should be one of the matters for further discussion. Furthermore, I believe one of the main points of disagreement between the British and Rhodesian Governments was that Britain wanted a third of the members of the Rhodesian Parliament to be voted for on the African roll so that the Constitution could not be altered without the consent of the African citizens of Rhodesia. Is the Rhodesian claim, which I shall now read out, correct? I quote from a Ministry of Information pamphlet which says - . . the entrenched clauses of the Constitution - including anti-discriminatory measures cannot be altered without the approval, established by referenda of each of the four main racial groups.
In any event, the desires of both Governments on this matter of principle would appear to be the same. If so, there should not be any great difficulty in determining this question of language and law. Thirdly, the Africans are not barred from registering to vote if they, like all others, have the minimal qualifications. Maybe the educational facilities necessary to obtain these qualifications have not been made available readily. I quote again from our Prime Minister’s statement -
What is needed in Rhodesia is a reasonable timetable, accompanied by a special educational campaign, to which all of us might well contribute something to fit the African voters for their ultimate authority.
How . true that statement is, Mr. Speaker.
At the time the 1961 Constitution was approved, the Rhodesian Government expected an immediate increase of 50,000 African voters and ran a “Claim Your Vote “ campaign. At the same time, Mr. Joshua Nkomo, the African Nationalist, said at a conference representing all parties and races -
We are to have a - new Constitution which is an achievement resulting from the pressure of the National Democratic Party - a thing never thought of in this country. We feel that the new provisions have given us a certain amount of assurance that the country’ will not pursue policies which mean that Africans would per- e petually be unable to control their country.
The Rhodesians claim that the Constitution has been carried out completely. Maybe we feel npt fast enough, but. here again there is a subject surely for co-operation, not crisis, and for discussion, not dissension. What caused Mr. Nkomo and other Nationalist leaders to go back on their words? -With all the forces of evil which thrive on battle, murder and sudden death, and with Mr. Chou En-lai, the Communist Chinese Prime Minister touring Africa on two separate occasions, with the slogan “Africa is ripe for revolution “, it is not hard to guess the origin of at least some of these evil influences. Why did the African enrolment not increase by the expected 5,000 under the new Constitution? Those whose trade is tyranny by terror apparently went into action. As one who has had experience of the tyranny of terror exercised in our own country in post-war days and during the 1949 strike on the waterfront, it is not hard to visualise what happened in Rhodesia, and not necessarily only by Communist pressures on dark nights and in dark corners of Rhodesia.
As I said earlier, it is a sad moment for this Parliament when the Government feels it has to take the actions outlined by the Prime Minister, who so aptly and ably ex pressed both his dilemma and distaste in the sentence -
My colleagues and I have very grave reservations about even economic sanctions.
Economic sanctions are to be applied. The United Nations is demanding action by force. One British newspaper says: “Never did Britain owe so much trouble to so few “. Charges and counter charges are increasing in intensity and, among the welter of confusion worse confounded, I find myself asking myself the question: “ Am I just a mixed up mortal or is there really any principle, logic or justice in the international world of today? Are we returning to the law of the jungle where ‘ the life of man ‘, according to John Hobbes, the 17th Century philosopher, ‘was poor, nasty, British and short ‘? “
Is there really any principle or logic in applying economic sanctions to Rhodesia in its crisis which I believe could and should be resolved by peaceful negotiation and cooperation when Britain and ourselves fall over each other to trade with Red China with which we are at war? Is the British Government acting on any principle by telling British firms which continue to trade with Rhodesia that they will be guilty of treason while the British and Australian Governments sell wheat, wooL chemicals, steel and such rare minerals as rutile - 5,000 tons from Australia last year - to Red China which helps that nation to provide materials with which to kill Australian soldiers ordered by the Australian Government to defend South Vietnam and Malaysia, the front lines of the free world of today? The fact that we are at war with this country is no figment of the imagination of our Government. Peking Radio announces this fact almost daily.
Is there one law for the Medes and another for the Persians? The United Nations is defied by the President of Indonesia and Dr. Subandrio on the terms on which West Irian was handed over to them. Both have ridiculed the idea of a ballot in West Irian, but the United Nations does not suggest economic sanctions or force against Indonesia. Perhaps the failure, if it does fail, of the 30th September coup may alter this situation. When Hungary revolted in 1956, was there any demand in the United Nations for “one man one vo;e” and a free choice of candidates? In mou
African nations where elections of a kind are held, there is no choice of candidate. If we are honest with ourselves when we survey the world around us, we must admit that despite protestations to the contrary-, expediency and the big battalions still determine the fate of nations. “ Ideals without a strong right arm are less than voices crying in the wilderness.” But let no man of whatever race delude himself that the Rhodesian crisis is an unimportant counter in the gams of international poker. There is not a man or woman, who is a true Australian, who does not share with the Prime Minister the hope that even at this late hour time will be given for reason and compromise to find a solution to the Rhodesian crisis where the faults are not all on one side. There are radicals on both sides and there are moderates on both sides, but the vast majority is moderate. If not, there will be a chain reaction of which no man can see or foretell the end. The economies of more countries than Rhodesia, and the wellbeing of more races than one, are in the balance.
Technically speaking, this crisis is an internal matter between Britain and Rhodesia. But those who would argue on this point would be woefully ignorant of world affairs if” they derive any comfort from this line of argument. The poet and prophet of the last century, Lord Tennyson, in “ Locksley Hall, Sixty Years Later “, foretold the horrors of war in this century with the words: “ The aerial navies dropping down their ghastly dew “. He proceeded to forecast the era - perhaps the present era - where so many: “Put the feet above the brain and swear the brain is in the feet “. Nevertheless he concluded with the age when war drums ceased their throbbing and we attained “ The Parliament of Man. The Federation of the World.” It is, perhaps, a ray of optimism showing through the gathering clouds of gloom.
May time be granted and reason prevail and through peaceful co-operation may a satisfactory solution be found to the Rhodesian crisis - a solution which will lead to greater happiness and prosperity, not only for all Rhodesians but also for all mankind.
.- Mr. Speaker, it is many years since the Government and the Opposition have been in such complete agreement on a decision in foreign affairs as on that announced by the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) last night. It is difficult to understand, indeed, how the honorable member for Chisholm (Sir Wilfrid Kent Hughes) can support the decision which the Prime Minister announced. The speech of the honorable member for Chisholm would appear to have been a complete apologia for Salisbury rather than for Westminster or Canberra. I want it to be quite plain that the Opposition supports the decisions which the Prime Minister announced promptly, fully and explicitly last night. Any differences that there are between the Cabinet and the Opposition on this matter are not to be found in the decisions which have been made already. There are differences in reasons or emphasis. There might be differences in future decisions. But on what has been decided already, there is no difference whatsoever.
My leader has expressed already our party’s regret that the Prime Minister disparaged the United Nations in some passages of his speech. It is sufficient to say that the British Government itself has initiated debate on this issue in the United Nations. Its action in the United Nations and in bringing the matter before the United Nations is fully supported by the other country with which Australia is most closely associated, the United States of America.
I said that there were differences between the Prime Minister’s statement and our attitude in the reasons for the Government’s decision. The Prime Minister, for instance, said that there might conceivably be a Congo situation. It ought to be stated clearly, because this is a very familiar argument, that, since the Congo was given independence five years ago, nearly 30 other African States have achieved independence. No Congo situation has arisen in any of them.
The Prime Minister also said that immediate adult suffrage would be impracticable, because it would lead to bad, because inexperienced government. One must state forthwith that the two other successor States to the Central African Federation, Zambia and Malawi, cannot be said to have bad governments. Inexperienced governments maybe, but not bad governments. In fact, amongst the best friends that the Commonwealth has in Africa are Doctors Kaunda and Banda. Again, the neighbouring State of Bechuanaland will soon be given independence with adult suffrage. It may have an inexperienced government, but are we to expect that this will be a bad government also? It is not true to say that Africans differ over the artificially created borders in this way. There is no reason to suggest that a Government of Zimbabwe would be worse than a Government of Zambia, Malawi and Bechuanaland, which are neighbouring States.
The Prime Minister said, thirdly, that economic sanctions would bear heavily on the Africans. It should be stated immediately that this is not an argument which Africans put. In fact, all Africans who are free to express views on this matter advocate the imposition of economic sanctions. The more drastic the economic sanctions, even to the extent of an oil embargo, the greater the effect on the Europeans, not on the Africans.
I stated further that there are differences between the Prime Minister’s statement and the Opposition’s attitude on the future decisions that may have to be made. The Prime Minister said that we will not, either physically or financially, contribute to the use of force. We all hope that the use of force will not be required in this situation. However, it completely undermines the use of sanctions if we say we will never resort to the ultimate sanction. By so saying, the Prime Minister has threatened to take the same attitude as France and the Soviet Union have taken in respect of peacekeeping forces. It is not so long ago that he and his Ministers were saying: “ No payment, no vote”. Are we now to take this attitude in the United Nations? If the situation arises that the United Nations decides that force must be required - the British Government has stated that force may have to be used in certain circumstances of violence or illegality - will we say that we will not contribute physically or financially? We in Australia do not help Britain or the United States and we do not help the countries with which we are most closely associated if in any respect we look reluctant in these matters. We are most effective when we are most co-operative with them.
The Prime Minister very properly said - this could be the principal solution of the matter - that a special campaign of education might be undertaken to which all of us might well contribute something. Indeed we could. When we consider that, per head of population, 20 times as much is spent on European education as on African education in Rhodesia, we see the full weakness of the argument that the Africans in Rhodesia are not fit to govern themselves.
The Prime Minister also speculated that there might be potential ruin for beleagured Zambia. This is a very real risk. Here is a field in which Australia can contribute. Australia is not without transport aircraft. Australia could contribute to an airlift in those circumstances and could help to reduce the possibility of such action against Zambia by announcing in advance its readiness to contribute to such co-operative endeavours.
Australia has three particular reasons for concerning itself actively and willingly in the situation that is the subject of this debate. The first is our interest as a member of the Commonwealth. The Rhodesian situation has been discussed at the last two Prime Ministers’ Conferences. It is the greatest issue concerning the members of the Commonwealth who have been admitted to it in the last 18 years. If the Rhodesian situation is badly handled, the Commonwealth will disintegrate more surely and more rapidly than it could on any other issue. If the Australian Government values the Commonwealth connection, and we believe it does, it should try as much as possible to show that we do in fact want to solve the Rhodesian problem with justice. We need to see that, as rapidly as possible, all Rhodesians, whatever their racial background, are given equal rights and equal opportunities in their country.
The next reason why Australia is involved is that we are members of the United Nations. I have long held the view that countries of our size and situation must at all costs promote international organisations. We must create and we must maintain the fabric of international law and order. The United Nations has been invoked in this matter by Britain, with the support of the United States and with the support of all the countries in our region. Clearly, we should aim to see that this matter is effectively dealt with by the United Nations.
Thirdly, there is a very direct reason why Australia should by example and by precept make her motives and her aspirations completely clear. For nearly 45 years, we have accepted international obligations in respect of the mandated, now the trust, Territory of New Guinea and for the last 20 years we have accepted similar obligations in respect of Papua. It ought to be made quite plain, beyond any misunderstanding or misinterpretation, to those who reside in Papua and New Guinea and to all the nations in our neighbourhood that we are not in any respect delaying progress or emancipation in the areas where we have a responsibility. I am certainly not urging any similarity between the Rhodesian situation and the Papua and New Guinea situation, but it is possible for other countries to insinuate some parallel. We ought to make it impossible to draw such a parallel and we ought to make it quite plain to all the countries in this region that our intentions in this area are consistent with our international protestations. At the last two Prime Ministers’ Conferences, the British Prime Ministers, both Sir Alex Douglas-Home and Mr. Harold Wilson, have reported to the other Prime Ministers on Britain’s progress in bringing its non-self-governing territories to independence. It is regrettable that the Australian Prime Minister has not taken the same initiative in respect of Papua and New Guinea. But, on an occasion like this, where, as members of the Commonwealth and as members of the United Nations, we have a direct role to fulfil, where we cannot remain silent, where we cannot abstain and where we cannot opt out, it is quite clear that we should express an attitude that demonstrates our good faith in our own trust territories.
When discussing timetables and programmes in non-self-governing territories we too often assume that Africans in those African countries in which there are dominant European minorities are in some way less fit to govern themselves than are Africans in other countries. I have cited the educational position in Rhodesia. Whose fault is it that the Africans in that country are not yet fit to govern themselves? There have been two generations of European dominance there.
I repeat: Why is it that we believe that Africans in the other successor states, Malawi and Zambia, are ready to govern themselves and that Africans in the neighbouring state of Bechuanaland will be ready to govern themselves this year, but for some reason Africans in Rhodesia are not ready to govern themselves? Where there is no European minority, apparently, there is never any such problem. We never lament the unreadiness of Africans in countries without European settlers, without European mine, managers or without a predominantly European public service. This problem arises only in Algeria, the Congo (Leopoldville), Kenya, Rhodesia or South Africa. European motives are therefore suspect when it is claimed that the African majority is not yet fit to rule. It so happens that this contention always seems to suit the situation of the European - the exotic - farmers, mine managers or civil servants.
As politicians we are aware of the temptation to assert an obligation to people who are our kith and kin, to show sympathy for people of European stock in the African countries. I must state a counter argument on the basis of numbers and geography: If we do not help the Africans in Rhodesia to secure justice at the hands of the Europeans there, those who suffer most, both economically and physically, may well be the Europeans who have chosen to remain and who have been allowed to remain in other African countries. If the Rhodesian situation exacerbates racial tensions in Africa it will be not only the Europeans in Rhodesia who will suffer. There will not only be an exodus of them. There will be suffering for all the Europeans who hitherto have remained as welcome residents or as experts but not as rulers in other African countries. There are just as many Europeans living in other African countries ruled by Africans as there are in Rhodesia. If we are to look at this problem in the context of the interests of Europeans we have to look at ‘be interests of all the Europeans.
The point I make in conclusion relates to the overall ideological issue. To put it bluntly, there is no Communist state in Africa. There is no Cuba in Africa. I have already mentioned some of the leaders in the countries which are neighbours of Rhodesia. It is essential that we show that our system is adequate to deal with the issues which stir Africans most deeply. We must show that we want to help in achieving a situation in which Africans are able to make decisions and enjoy respect in their own countries. It is true that Africans in South Africa have more affluence than have
Africans in any other country in the continent. It is true also that they have less hope than have Africans in any other country in the continent. We must never stress material advance at the expense of human subjection.
It is no longer possible for Europeans in the European heartland or in detached portions of it such as we have in Oceania to impose their political system, whether it is one in which there is a choice between parties, whether it is one in which there is one party but multiple endorsement as in Tanzania or whether it is one in which there is at least periodical endorsement of one set of candidates. We must persuade Africans to maintain or introduce our system. But if our system appears to be indifferent to their aspirations they will choose alternative systems. If that happens we shall have no one to blame but ourselves, because there are political, economic and cultural links between all the countries of Africa and countries in Europe which could be developed to their mutual advantage. It is essential that we show concern that everyone in Africa shall have equal rights and opportunities even if this appears to be to the detriment of people whom we regard as our cousins. We must convince Africans that we want every position in their countries to be within the reach of the present generation of Africans. We have in Australia no great domestic problem such as exists in the United States of America. We have no great colonial problem such as the United Kingdom has. We can be of the greatest assistance to the countries associated with us by showing that we want to effectuate these aspirations and that internationally, through the Commonwealth of Nations and the United Nations, we shall do our best to see that every man has equal rights and equal opportunities in his own country.
.- Mr. Deputy Speaker, I am afraid that neither the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) nor the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam) contributed much to help solve the problems in Rhodesia. I believe that we all are doubly grateful for the calm and detached expression of views that the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) gave us yesterday. It is all too easy to adopt a bellicose attitude, as honorable members opposite have shown today, when we are in a remote area and are completely unconcerned in the situation of the European element in Rhodesia. Those of us who come from rural areas and who have rural associations, particularly, I think, have a great deal of sympathy for those people in Rhodesia.
– Which people?
– The European people. They are endeavouring to work out their future. The great measure of prosperity that Rhodesia enjoys has been brought about by the efforts of many generations from the British Isles. I believe that we are indebted tq the honorable member for Chisholm (Sir Wilfrid Kent Hughes) who told us something of the political situation in the rest of Africa, particularly in those countries that have achieved selfgovernment. The Europeans in those other countries to which they have taken their principles of justice and fair play - the very principles that have produced in Anglo-Saxon countries the greatest measure of freedom known anywhere in the world - cannot fail to be deeply concerned when they see what has happened in some parts of Africa. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition more or less indicated that the self governing areas of Africa are a complete success, that they have won their spurs and that there is nothing further to worry about. I think we will have to see in a few years’ time what has happened in these countries. We wish them well. In many cases, especially those which formerly were British colonies, we have given them the institutions which are so successful in our own cultures. But when people who obviously have a better appreciation than we have in Australia see what is happening in those self-governing countries, no doubt they view the happenings in Africa with a great deal of concern because, as I said before, there are many generations of Europeans in that country.
– How many?
– About four generations. These are the people, with their children and their families, who have to make their futures in Africa. As the Deputy Leader of the Opposition pointed out, if we consider economic advancement alone, the standard of living in South Africa for the negro is higher than in any other part of Africa. I suggest that the economic standards of Africans in South Africa are higher than the standards for negroes elsewhere in the world. So many people lose sight of that fact. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition mentioned what can be achieved by African governments. I invite honorable members to consider, as the honorable member for Chisholm pointed out, what is happening in the political sense in the new African nations. I invite honorable members to consider the older countries where Africans have for many years had opportunities for government. I ask them to consider Haiti which got its complete independence from the French and self government in 1809. Consider Liberia on the west coast of Africa which achieved independence in about 1820. We should look closely at what has happened there. But it is not my purpose to make this sort of comparison; it should be pur purpose to put ourselves in the position of our fellow Europeans in Rhodesia. It is very easy to criticise.
– Why is it proposed to put sanctions on those people?
– The honorable member will have an opportunity to speak later. We in Australia are very remote from all this. As the Prime Minister has said, our obligation is not to interfere but to endeavour to help in whatever way we can to resolve these difficulties. I believe that by continuing with a thoughtful and calm approach to this matter, more can be achieved. The Prime Minister made the point yesterday - I think it should be repeated because it is an important part of the situation - that there was very little in dispute between the Prime Minister of Great Britain and Mr. Smith of Rhodesia. The Prime Minister said -
The Government of the United Kingdom indicated five principles as providing the basis upon which independence could be granted. These principles were -
The principle and intention of unimpeded progress to majority rule, already enshrined in the 1961 Constitution of Rhodesia, would have to be maintained and guaranteed.
There would also have to be guarantees against retrospective amendment of the Constitution.
There would have to be immediate improvement in the political status of the African population.
There would have to be progress towards ending racial discrimination.
The British Government would need to be satisfied that any basis proposed for independence was acceptable to the people of Rhodesia as a whole.
As principles, these appear, as Mr. Harold Wilston has said … to have been accepted by Mr. Smith. The real difficulties arose as to their application.
There was not so very much between them, but it is a question of phasing in a situation where the African has a greater and greater say in government. The Leader of the Oppositionsuggested that the Rhodesians have plagiarised the American Declaration of Independence. I remind the honorable member that when the American Declaration of Independence was proclaimed there were still slaves in America. This situation was not altered until the middle of the next century after there had been a war. In America it took a long time to make this progress. It should be remembered that even with this progress there remained citizens in America to whom these rights were not applied at that time. Consequently, I do not think that was an appropriate matter for the Leader of the Opposition to raise.
The situation in Rhodesia is a delicate one. At the moment the bellicosity indicated by the Opposition seems to be directed to this situatiton, but when it comes to the situation in Vietnam the blood of honorable members opposite seems to run a bit cold. In this instance it is against our own people. If there is any disorder and suffering, the Africans will suffer equally with the Europeans. The Prime Minister made it perfectly clear that it was not for Britain alone to decide these things. We in Australia have come in . and have followed Britain’s request in applying these sanctions. In Australia we are in a remote situation and we are detached from the problem. Any immediate effects of economic sanctions are slight from our point of view. I believe that our imports from and exports to Rhodesia just about balance one another at £1.9 million. Nevertheless, this is a situation which concerns us. We cannot stand aloof from a world situation or a world problem. Our obligation is to try to help but not to interfere. We have a special obligation because of our fellow members of the Commonwealth of Nations who are involved. This is all very important.
We have an advantage in that we can stand off and view the situation objectively. We should continue to look out for some possible action which might not be seen by those who are close at hand. However, we have a disadvantage in that we lack the close knowledge of the facts and feelings of the communities immediately involved. It is in that situation that, as I endeavoured to say, we should put our feet in the shoes of the people in this part of the world. In this respect full weight should be given to the warning by the Prime Minister against clamouring for immediate adult suffrage. This has not been our policy in Papua and New Guinea. We have advanced slowly in the direction of adult suffrage in that Territory. It was pointed out by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition that in the United Nations we must be careful of our reputation and the image that we produce there. I would add that we are subject to committees and missions which report on our suzerainty in Papua and New Guinea and that the last mission indicated that we were doing a pretty good job.
We must look to the future in determining what we say in this Parliament and what we do as a country. There is a great temptation to make bold and sweeping statements calling for extreme action. This temptation should be resisted. Such action will only add fuel to the fire. We should keep in mind the realities referred to by the Prime Minister. The one extreme is the action of introducing full adult suffrage immediately or within a few months. This would result in bad government because of its inexperience, and possibly economic disaster. The other extreme, that the achievement of an African majority should be resisted indefinitely, is plainly impracticable. In looking at what has to be done to remedy the damage that the illegal action of the former Rhodesian Government has caused, we must put our faith in moderation and reasonableness. The action for this country, outlined by the Prime Minister, is sound. We cannot do less; we should not do more.
.- I am grateful for the concluding statement of the Minister for Territories (Mr. Barnes) that he supports Cabinet’s policy. Having listened to the earlier part of his speech, I expected an announcement of his resignation. He made a very good case against the policy that is being pursued by the Government. Let me say to the Minister that I do not sit in judgment on Salisbury for its native policy. I have travelled 21,000 miles through Australia, as has the Minister, and I have seen Aborigines all over Australia. I cannot conceive that in many areas of Rhodesia there would be less educational advancement for natives than there is for Aborigines in this country. We are a nation of 11 million people, with 70,000 Aborigines. We do not have cause to fear Mau Mau or any violence. We have no excuse of fear. We are in a position of complete racial domination, and we have always exercised racial domination. We have here precisely the same discriminations in wages, opportunities, training and education as are being complained of in the policy of the Government in Salisbury. I cannot feel justified in putting myself into a position of “ holier than thou “ in relation to Salisbury; but there are certain inescapable issues that need to be faced.
I hope that the Minister for Territories will carry through the implications of what he has said tonight and support the proposed constitutional changes in this country which are being, advocated by the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth), who asks for certain guaranteed rights for Aborigines. The United Kingdom is pressing upon Salisbury the need for constitutional guarantees for native peoples there. The Minister has asked us to put ourselves into the position of the Europeans of Salisbury. Let us also put ourselves into the position of the native Africans. The South African Constitution, when enacted by the United Kingdom, had within it certain entrenched clauses to guarantee in perpetuity the right of Cape coloured people to the vote. That right was taken from them. This is known all over Africa. The whittling away of the Cape Coloured franchise, which was, as the British Government believed, strongly entrenched in South Africa-
– A very good thing, too.
– It was very good that these rights were taken away, says the honorable member?
– The honorable member is quite entitled to his opinion.
– I have been there.
– I have been to South Africa, too. I will not sit in judgment of South Africa’s native policy until I can see a markedly superior one in this country. But at the same time it must be remembered that the United Kingdom Government, having had that experience, wants to ensure that a future constitution for Rhodesia will with certainty guarantee expanding opportunities for the native people.
Secondly, the conflict between the United Kingdom Government at home and the white man on the spot is a very old conflict in British colonial history. I remind the House that in 1921 the white settlers of Kenya kidnapped the Governor of Kenya because they disagreed with the policy of the United Kingdom Government, a Conservative Government, which would not, in relation to the Kenya situation, think exclusively in terms of the interests of the European minority. The Government at home has always thought in wider terms than have the people on the spot. The people on the spot have always claimed to possess, as the Minister for Territories gave them credit for possessing a little while ago, a special experience of the natives. They feel that the Government at home is ignorant and that their view - really their interests - ought to prevail over the Government of the United Kingdom.
But the United Kingdom Government, in the current situation, has a number of considerations to bear in mind. If it were to espouse Salisbury’s racial superiority policy, abandoning Rhodesia to domination by a minority in perpetuity, it would place in jeopardy European communities all through Africa, especially in Kenya but also elsewhere. Do not let us forget that Rhodesia has never had Mau Mau violence. It has never had the kind of hostility that developed in Kenya, yet what we are now seeing in Kenya is the development of a sane racial partnership - an unbelievable change from the days of the emergency. No-one should approach the African situation witu an attitude of fear and despair.
It should be remembered that European empires have hit Asia and Africa as revolutionary forces. It is perfectly true to say that people in tribal areas, or feudal areas, had no ideas of democracy, selfgovernment or nationalism, but we have produced in them ideas of democracy, selfgovernment and nationalism. We Europeans, contacting old stagnant societies, have inevitably been a revolutionary force. What is happening in twentieth century Rhodesia is the development of these revolutionary concepts in the minds of the African peoples, “ revolutionary “ in the sense of values, not necessarily of violence.
I think it is perfectly clear today that the natives of Rhodesia look to Britain. When the Federation of the two Rhodesias and Nyasaland was imposed, very much against native opinion but very much sponsored by the European minority in Southern Rhodesia, it was ultimately to Britain that the natives looked for the breakup of that Federation, which they felt was an extension of the authority of Southern Rhodesian Europeans into Northern Rhodesia and into Nyasaland. They have looked to Britain for constitutional action in their defence ever since the dissolution in 1963 of that Federation, which they never wanted.
Mr. Wilson envisages the Governor in Rhodesia as the pivot of legitimacy and constitutionality and as the strongest card in a play for sanity. The Governor is a person to whom many Europeans in Rhodesia look with respect. They would hesitate to adopt a revolutionary or treasonable stance against the Governor who clearly represents the Crown and the rule of law. We should remember that in the absence of the Governor, many will turn to an alternative government in exile. The continuance of the Crown as a force above politics and for the rule of law embodied in the person of the Governor in Rhodesia is the one factor giving any real hope in this Rhodesian situation.
The natives of the old Federation of the Rhodesia and Nyasaland felt that the sole aim of that Federal State was to make the rich richer and the poor poorer and that this hopelessness would extend into the far future, denying any political power to them. Britain wants to make perfectly clear that that is not her aim, that the Crown protects all its subjects, and I think British policy so far has done those two things. Britain also wishes to make perfectly clear that the gibe that is now being made in Ghana - that if there is unconstitutional action by coloured people we spring to arms immediately but if there is unconstitutional action by Europeans we do nothing - is not a valid gibe. I am not saying there is an analogy between, shall we say, Aden and Rhodesia; I am perfectly aware that the Europeans in Rhodesia are not using violence. Nobody in Rhodesia is using violence. But there is unconstitutional action, the purpose of which is to set aside the just rights - actual or in prospect - of the majority. While this denial of right is not being expressed in violent forms, it remains perfectly possible for the authority of the Crown and of the Crown’s representatives to be the weapons to counter the unconstitutional action which is taking place in Rhodesia. The Governor represents the hope of sane, constitutional, non-violent development. If Mr. Smith succeeds in discrediting him, it may well cause the native people to lose hope. The main victim of discrediting the Governor of Rhodesia may well be the European minority, the interests of which Mr. Smith has particularly in mind. Nothing that puts pressure on Mr. Wilson to use force or that seeks to produce a crisis in Rhodesia is of any real ultimate value. At the same time, if the forces pressing in the United Nations for the application of force becomes strong, then Commonwealth forces, the forces of the Crown, unlikely to be resisted by Rhodesian Europeans, may well be better forces to use than the forces of strangers. If the situation develops to the point of United Nations armed action, I hope we do not utterly ban the possibility of any Australian troops, or other Commonwealth troops, being used, because as forces of the Crown they might well be respected in Rhodesia and not resisted. I am not saying that the situation is going to come to that, I hope it will not, but if there is to be a movement of forces into Rhodesia I would certainly prefer that they should be Com mon wealth forces and not some outside forces under the control of other authorities.
– And white forces?
– Yes. I think it would be much better if they were European forces under the circumstances, when it is mainly Europeans who are resisting any form of outside authority - Crown, Commonwealth, or United Nations. I think that is commonsense. The interesting fact about this rebellion is its particular stress upon loyalty to the Crown. But the Queen herself has given her own reply to the plea of loyalty to the Crown emanating from Salisbury. She has said that loyalty must mean acting constitutionally. This is one respect in which Salisbury might well take a leaf out of the book of Pretoria, because we should remember that the constitution which set up the Republic of South Africa is itself signed by the Queen, and there is a legal continuity there which is now nonexistent in Salisbury’s purported constitution. Illegality in Salisbury may mean that the Government in Salisbury will next be forced by the logic of its illegality to place the same kind of restrictions and boycott on the Chief Justice of the country as Mr. Smith’s regime is now apparently trying to impose on the Governor. Then a situation of illegality manifestly exists.
I agree with those who say that there are many African leaders of States who, having arrested their Opposition leaders and members, are not in a position to be critical of democracy in Salisbury. But by the same token it is quite disastrous that people like Garfield Todd and others in opposition to the Government in Salisbury should be placed under restraint. Surely these detentions without legal process begin to mean that Salisbury is not superior to States it regards as backward in the treatment of opposition; and resembles them in the suppression of news and information. It would be better if Salisbury had kept the standards from which it complains that others have fallen. Salisbury has referred to these failures of others in justifying the special position of Europeans. What the “Economist” said recently was very wise. Sanctions are not to punish. I fully realise that sanctions outlined by the Prime Minister last night do not constitute a kind of moral punitive expedition. Sanctions are not to punish, they are not to keep legal books straight, they are not to appease African, Commonwealth or world opinion. As the “ Economist “ said, their purpose is to restore constitutional government and the hope of constitutional progress and to defeat rebellion. That, I think, is the justification for them.
British methods have produced regimes like those of Kaunda and Banda. I believe that when the Deputy Leader of the Opposition spoke there were some interjections hostile to these regimes but they have been notably sane in international affairs and affairs in Africa lately. We should realise that in Rhodesia a general refusal to recognise the constitutionality of the Governor could be the ending of the last hope of a peaceful settlement. It is dangerous for a people to be cut off from world thought and world information. The Government of Rhodesia’s heavy censorship, about which we are learning from the news, is depriving the people of Rhodesia of the reactions of the world and of perspective on their own affairs. This is quite tragic. It wrecks valid judgment.
The last thing to which I wish to refer has to do with Rhodesian use of phrases from the American Declaration of Independence. There is a much closer analogy in the actions of Salisbury to the secession of the Southern States of America from the Union in 1 86 1 than there is to the American Declaration of Independence of 1776 because the secession of ‘the Southern States was an attempt to maintain the subordination of one race to another against a challenge that was coming from an outside authority that thought in wider terms than the local self interest. I am not saying that Salisbury is imposing slavery, as the Southern States were doing, but I am saying that there is some analogy between the Salisbury Government’s unilateral declaration of independence and the secession of the Southern States. In quoting certain passages from the American Declaration of Independence the Salisbury government omitted the following, also from that declaration -
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these Tights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.
I do not think that the British Government is unreasonable in the timetable it has set out for the native peoples in Rhodesia. It does act as if they were created as equal. The British Government asks that the Government of Rhodesia should be clearly giving the prospect to all the peoples of Rhodesia .that it will derive its just powers from the consent of all of them, and not just from the consent of a section of them. The British Government’s actions are far closer to the spirit of the American Declaration of Independence than are those of Salisbury. The Crown cannot reasonably be asked to be inimical to some Rhodesians. The dear idea in the British mind is that all the peoples of Rhodesia, all the Queen’s subjects in Rhodesia, are equal in future opportunities and that all of them are to form the source of authority that will give Rhodesia’s Government the consent from which it wilt derive its just powers.
.- If we could take the speech of the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) last night, add to it simply the expression of agreement by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) with the action that was proposed in that speech, and then take some selected passages from the . well informed and thoughtful speech we have just heard from the honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Beazley), I should be content to let the case rest and find no cause to speak further. However, other things have been said by the Leader of the Opposition besides the simple expression of agreement with the Government’s proposed action. I thought that the Leader of the Opposition spoilt an otherwise good speech by the flourishes he added to it. Some of those flourishes, I suppose, were due to his love of the vivid phrase. Some of them may have been due to the variety of opinion that he finds in his own party and the necessity to make a bow first in one direction and then in another. But it seems to me that the Leader of the Opposition, while expressing agreement with the Government’s policy, did not reveal that full understanding of the situation in Africa that one would have hoped. Although the defect has been remedied to a very considerable extent by the speech delivered by the honorable member for Fremantle I should like to make one or two remarks on that particular theme - the complexity and the variety of the situation in Africa.
We have to realise that basically, irrespective of the political contests that are going on now, Africa does present some very tangled and very difficult human problems. The aspirations of the people are not uniform. The progress of the people in standards of living is by no means uniform. The physical difficulties, the lack of economic opportunities, the difference of attitudes towards matters of political advancement are so great over that vast continent that if one just brushes them aside and does not think of Africa as a place of varied and complex problems one is over-simplifying the whole of the situation and doing less than justice to it.
Another factor that we must not overlook is that as well as these great difficulties that belong to Africa and the African people themselves, the whole situation is bedevilled by reason of the fact that Africa in recent years has become the theatre for great international contests. It is no news to members of this House that Mainland China should be spending literally millions of pounds a year and sending hundreds - perhaps thousands - of her emissaries into Africa in order to take advantage of the situation that is found in Africa. It is no news to members of this House that the other great centre of Communist activity - the Soviet Union - has been engaged ever since the last war in similar enterprises. Of course, it is well known to us that on the side of the United Kingdom and Commonwealth countries and the United States, similarly, in various ways, we, in attempting to give material and economic aid to Africa, have tried to influence the course of developments in Africa. So Africa is not just a place for Africans alone. It is a place in which great world contests are taking place. No event in Africa is an event isolated from what is happening in the rest of the world. These very sad happenings in Rhodesia, seen undoubtedly by the Rhodesian people themselves as dramatic local happenings, cannot be thought of by us simply as local happenings. They are happenings that are in danger of becoming tangled in much wider events and of worsening because they are so tangled.
The Leader of the Opposition seemed to me to show too great a readiness to condemn offhand the Europeans in Rhodesia. I do not know whether he intended to do so or whether it was an impression that he left by the way in which he presented his case. Without attempting to justify, excuse or uphold the action taken by the Smith Government, let us try to appreciate, as part of the situation, the fact that the Europeans in Rhodesia do face a great difficulty. Let us try in our imagination to put ourselves in their place and to think of ourselves as having established our homes there. Let us try to appreciate the sort of life we and our families might hope to have in the future and then let us try to envisage the situation in which they find themselves at the moment. In my view they have acted with very little wisdom. They have acted with great foolishness. They have acted in a way that has not, in my view, paid proper regard to the rights and the claims of others. But let us also recognise the simple fact that they have acted in fear. The Leader of the Opposition quoted with some approval the statement by the Prime Minister of Great Britain, Mr. Wilson, that these were small and frightened men. I do not accept that description in its entirety but I think it is much nearer to the truth than the other picture which the Leader of the Opposition then proceeded to give of Europeans who are big, bold and wicked men. They are in the shadow of fear.
I do not think the Leader of the Opposition was quite just and exact in suggesting that the only reason for this foolish Unilateral Declaration of Independence was a wish to dominate the black races. I do not think that is an exact assessment at all. The Unilateral Declaration of Independence was, in my view, the result of fear and an attempt to preserve, in conditions of fear, something that the Europeans thought precious to themselves. Having said that, I do not want to be thought to be pressing a case that the Unilateral Declaration of Independence was right. The Government’s view, clearly stated by the Prime Minister, is that it was wrong. But we must try to understand the nature of the action.
I think it has already been exposed, partly by the honorable member for Fremantle and partly by the honorable member for Chisholm (Sir Wilfrid Kent Hughes), that the historical analogies with and reference to the American War of Independence and the war in Vietnam, which were made by the Leader of the Opposition, were very inexact. The analogy with Vietnam is so thinly drawn that I find it almost impossible to follow. The Rhodesian case is not a case where an external power has made planned aggression against the security, defence and independence of another group of people; or where a Communist inspired plot has been made in order to remove the independence of one group of people and to unify the country without reference to that group of people. That is not the situation.
– Does the Minister still believe in fairies?
– This is not a fairy story. It is a demonstrably true story, denied only by the honorable member for Yarra and a small minority in the Labour Party which, contrary to the majority opinion of the Labour Party, still defends the Communist inspired plot of North Vietnam against South Vietnam. The only other point in the speech of the Leader of the Opposition about which I wish to comment is his statement that the Prime Minister had argued that the action taken by the Smith regime was wrong only because it was impracticable. The Prime Minister did not argue in that way at all. The Prime Minister was contrasting two extreme views and recounting that he had expressed to Mr. Smith his opinion about those two extreme views. The Prime Minister said that he had said to Mr. Smith that one view was bad because, if it prevailed, bad government and economic disaster would follow. Referring to the other extreme view - that the achievement of an African majority should be indefinitely resisted - the Prime Minister said -
This view, as i have repeatedly said, and as i said to Mr. Smith, was, in the prevailing international political climate, quite impracticable.
If honorable members read the Prime Minister’s speech with all fairness they will see that this argument was not part of the Government’s reasons for adopting the measures that it has chosen; it was a recital by the Prime Minister of a case he had presented in correspondence with Mr. Smith. I think the Leader of the Opposition was less than just when he tried to present the view that the only argument put forward by the Prime Minister in support of the Government’s action was that the Unilateral
Declaration of Independence would not work. Our views on the whole situation are no less profound and no less humane than those of any other party in Australia.
– The Prime Minis:cr forgot to mention that fact.
– He did not forget to mention it. It was not relevant to the case. I pass now to another point which I think is most important in this debate. Speakers from this side of the House have referred to what seems to us to be the supreme quality of the statement made last night by our leader. It was a statement made without rhetoric, with great calmness, great deliberation and great care not to exacerbate or stir up emotions on this very sad and difficult matter. I would echo something said by the honorable member for Fremantle^ - that in this situation we have to be careful about what we do. We must have in our minds the objectives. What is our objective? Our objective is not at this moment to punish or to take any extreme action. It is to try to persuade people to adopt a new point of view. We have to try to bring about a situation in which we can attempt once again to induce a more reasonable, more hopeful and more humane outlook on the problems of Rhodesia and its people. For the time being and in the present situation, we can see that the best hope of achieving this purpose is to support the Government of the United Kingdom and to demonstrate to the Smith regime and the people of Rhodesia that opinion do is not support them, that certain action is being taken to persuade them to have second thoughts, so that an alternative government may be found in Rhodesia by constitutional means, and then that government will once again enter into discussions which, we may hope, will lead to the future welfare of the country. We want to ensure for Rhodesia not a disastrous or hazardous future; we want that country to achieve something which will in the long run turn out to be for the good of the people.
So long as we have this hope, there is not so great a risk of so-called governments in exile springing up, or movements that might precipitate attacks resulting in bloodshed and suffering. So long as it is possible to adopt the approach I have outlined and so long as that approach is adopted, those
African leaders - and there are such leaders today - who among their own peoples are trying to follow moderate and helpful courses will find an opportunity of succeeding with those moderate and helpful courses.
Let us think not only of Rhodesia but also of Zambia and Malawi, the adjoining countries. Let us think also of the problems that face Doctor Banda and Doctor Kaunda,’ the leaders of those two countries. They are at this moment, I believe, trying to restrain their people and lead them in moderate courses, courses that may prove helpful and eventually good for most, of the people of that region of Africa. Will it help them if things are said or done which inflame passions, which encourage violence? So long as we continue on the course to which this Government has devoted itself, as revealed in the speech made last night, we do have a hope that violence and violent methods may be avoided. We still cling to the hope that the dreadful sufferings that would ensue from an attempt at an armed settlement of this issue will be avoided. AH of us who speak in this debate must keep our eyes steadily on the immediate objective, which surely is to return as quickly as possible to a situation in which we can start talking again, or in which the British Government, which has the prime responsibility in the matter, can start talking again with representatives of the Rhodesian people with a view to bringing about constitutionally in Rhodesia those progressive changes which will lead eventually to majority rule and to the general welfare and happiness of all the people of that country.
It is too dreadful to contemplate what might happen if we do not succeed, or if Great Britain is unable to succeed in its aim. There is nothing at this moment, in this week of our Australian history, that we can do more helpfully than try to contribute towards that end. There is nothing we can do that would be more harmful than, by angry words, excited gestures, intemperate charges or false analyses of the situation, to create those circumstances in which the slender hope we now hold would be completely destroyed.
.- I think the questions that most people - at least those outside this Parliament - would be asking tonight are: “What is the issue? What is the crisis? What is this situation in
Rhodesia all about? Why are we this evening discussing this question as a national question in the National Parliament? What has happened in Rhodesia that has made this issue so important for us here in Australia? “ The answer to these questions, I think, is that Rhodesia for a number of years has had a Government drawn out of only a small minority of its people. This Government has had certain powers set down in a constitution, but it has been subject to the Government of the United Kingdom because of the colonial relationship that existed between Rhodesia and Great Britain for a large number of years. In this situation negotiations were conducted for a considerable time concerning complete independence for Rhodesia. These negotiations were dependent upon, from the point of view pf the British Governments, Tory and Labour alike, which took part in these negotiations, an enlargement of the Rhodesian Constitituon so that there could be more representative government in that country. The crisis has come about because the Rhodesian Government was not prepared to make the concessions that British Governments, Tory and Labour alike, required it to make as a condition of obtaining independence. The minority Government of Rhodesia is now breaking away from the United Kingdom, as a result of the failure of these negotiations, because it will not allow United Kingdom Governments, Tory and Labour alike, to modify its racial policy. It wants to go backward in that policy instead of forward.
The Prime Minister of Australia (Sir Robert Menzies), who until recently has had little to say which might have encouraged the British Government, and which might have discouraged the Smith Government from taking the adamant stand that it has adopted, has now taken up a position in which he says, first, that if the Smith Government in Rhodesia declared its independence the Australian Government would not recognise that independence, and now, secondly, that the Smith Government having declared Rhodesian independence, the Australian Government will impose economic sanctions as far as it can against Rhodesia. This is a stand which, having in mind the background of the Prime Minister and what we might have expected from him. is a fairly strong one. But has he been supported by those who have spoken in this debate tonight? Was he supported by the honorable member for Chisholm (Sir Wilfrid Kent Hughes)? Was he supported by the Minister for Territories (Mr. Barnes)? Was he supported by even the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Hasluck)?
I suggest that the honorable member for Chisholm completely put the case for the Rhodesian Government and that if he were prepared to express his sincerity openly he would not be supporting the Prime Minister at all but would be against him. The Minister for Territories adopted exactly the same position. The Minister for External Affairs is a much more diplomatic gentleman who can use a large number of words but still leave his meaning difficult to ascertain. At the end of his defence of the position taken by the Rhodesian Government he said: “ 1 do not want to press the case that a Unilateral Declaration of Independence was right “. Having put the proposition that it was right, he found himself impelled to stress the point to the House that this was not the case that he was putting at all. He went on to say that this was not the “.Government’s position at all. He said that the Government’s position was that the Unilateral Declaration of Independence was wrong and, of course, he said to the House: “That is the position I am supporting”. This is what we heard from the Minister for External Affairs, a very diplomatic gentleman whose meanings are sometimes very difficult, if not impossible, to ascertain.
The honorable member for Dawson (Mr. Shaw) said a little while ago that he approved of the withdrawal of the entrenched clauses in the Constitution which guaranteed some political rights. He went further than the honorable member for Chisholm, the Minister for External Affairs or the Minister for Territories in saying that he agreed completely with the withdrawal of the political rights of the African people. There was no doubt about where the honorable member for Dawson stood, and I hope the electors of Dawson will not forget that when they come to judge him in a very short time.
I want to say something about what the position is in Rhodesia, because unless we understand this the whole debate on the question has no point. To begin with, what kind of society prevails in Rhodesia? First, the population of Africans in Rhodesia is 3,970,000 and the population of Europeans, 217,000. However, the 200,000 Europeans govern and rule and completely dominate the 4 million Africans.
– Why should they not?
– The honorable member is anxious to see a continuation of this minority racial domination. He, of course, represents the Country Party, where we sometimes find these expressions. What happens in Rhodesia is that there is an intense contest between the privileged and the underprivileged. A minority governs a majority, not as it would in Australia but in a segregated society in which the majority is black and the minority is white. The Minister for Territories says that in this segregated apartheid society, very similar to that of South Africa, which is better known to the Australian public, the people who dominate are those who know best. The assumption is, as expressly stated by the honorable member for Dawson, that they should go on doing so. This is a society in which the majority of 4 million is segregated by colour, employed according to colour, educated or not educated according to colour - not to be free and equal but educated to be suppliant, to be dead in spirit, to be not human at all.
One can see the type of society it is by looking at the occupational distribution. Figures show that in private domestic service there are 95,000 Africans and 310 Europeans. At the other end of the scale there are 257,300 Africans employed in agriculture and 4,590 Europeans. In this society, in every occupation the Europeans hold the key dominating positions. The Europeans give orders in a segregated apartheid society in which there is no possibility of any broad political progress, social progress or economic progress by the Africans. Indeed, the Africans are educated - they are brainwashed in a most intensive system of psychological education - to accept a subjective role. This is their position. If they endeavour in any way to make an effort to get out of this politically they are arrested and detained.
The Prime Ministers’ Conference referred to this. Our Prime Minister was present at this Conference. He agreed to the proposition that an appeal be made for the immediate release of all the detained or restricted African leaders as a first step to diminishing tensions and preparing the way for a constitutional conference. Further, an appeal was made that the death sentences passed on persons awaiting executions for offences under the Law and Order Maintenance Act should be respited. This was an appeal made by the Prime Ministers* Conference in which the Prime Minister of Australia joined, but to which there was no response by the Smith Government. Indeed, many people have been detained in the meantime, and a number of persons in addition to those sentenced to execution at the date of the Conference have been arrested, charged and also sentenced to execution. The one time Prime Minister, Mr. Todd, has now been subject to detention, not because he wanted full adult franchise but because he wanted to make some small step forward on the 1961 Constitution.
The issue, as was put by the Minister for External Affairs, concerns the degree of change. No-one is suggesting that there should be a complete franchise. What is being asked for by the African people is very little. Throughout the world from time to time the striking thing about people who are subject to rule by a minority is not that they ask for very much but that they ask for very little. The Rhodesian people, who have no record of turning to violence who have accepted as legal the position in which they are working, have asked for very little. They have not asked for majority rule or for complete adult franchise but for a position in which the 1961 Constitution was not a basis for independence but a basis for development before independence was granted. That this is so is clearly demonstrated. The point has to be demonstrated because a number of speakers who may follow it this debate will undoubtedly take the position that the 1961 Constitution was a basis for independence. We find ample evidence that this is not so. In the message from the British-Prime Minister on 18th October 1965 to the Prime Minister of Southern Rhodesia Mr. Harold Wilson wrote -
But I must make clear that I cannot accept your contention -
This was Smith’s contention - that the British Government have moved back in any way from their original stand. Both the previous administration -
That is the Home Administration, and I emphasise that point - and ourselves have made it plain that there would have to be an advance on the 1961 constitution.
The Smith Government was not prepared to make an advance on that Constitution. Further to that, in a statement that our Prime Minister made to this House on 21st October 1965 he made this point clear. He said -
I do not think there are many people, even among African leaders, who have strong views on this matter, who would demand an instantaneous creation of adult suffrage in Rhodesia. I think most people looking at the situation hope to sea steady progress - a phasing in of the ultimate majority rights of the native people. That has been my own view. It is a view I advocated in London and which indeed I pressed on Mr. Smith in a long letter to him when he was in London for these discussions.
But, of course, this development from the Constitution was not accepted by Mr. Smith and this, in fact, has been the reason for the creation of the present situation. On 21st October 1965 Mr. Wilson said-
Further, both we and our predecessors-
That is, the Governments in England before the present Labour Government - have made it clear to you that progress under the 1961 constitution has not yet resulted in sufficiently representative institutions to satisfy the British Parliament that the grant of independence would be justified.
We have also the statement of Sir Alec Douglas-Home that was quoted by Mr. Wilson. Not only did Sir Alec DouglasHome point out that there had not been progress but that there were distinct possibilities of regression. Mr. Wilson quoted him as saying -
It seems to me important that this should be done. We were not satisfied at the time that there were sufficient safeguards against retrogression in the position of the Africans and we were not satisfied either that the proposals before us for ascertaining the will of the people of Rhodesia were sufficiently defined.
There is no disagreement about that on the part of the British Tory Government or on the part of the British Labour Government, but the Smith Government has declared independence because it will not make concessions in the spirit of the five principles which were the basis of discussion. It will not make further progress either towards the enrolment of a satisfactory number of additional people, but more important than that, it will not make progress in changing the segregated society - the apartheid sort of society - over which it rules. That primarily is the issue that is involved.
Now, given that issue, what has occurred? The Government of Rhodesia has declared independence. A number of other governments, including the Government of the United Kingdom and the Government of Australia, have decided to apply a certain course of action, the most significant thing in which is the adoption of economic sanctions. I want to point out that the Government of Rhodesia did not believe that these sanctions would come. Mr. Smith did not believe that economic sanctions would be applied to his Government. I feel sure about that. From my own judgment, I want to say-
– What is the honorable member’s authority for that statement?
– My authority is Mr. Smith’s own statement. If the honorable member has a look at the memorandum “ Documents on Rhodesia “ that has been supplied to us, I think he will find that in four or five different places that is a valid interpretation to put on the statements made by Mr. Smith. I also believed that the Australian Government would not apply economic sanctions to the Government of Rhodesia. I must confess that I said so on Sunday. But sanctions have been applied. I think this action came as a very considerable shock to the Prime Minister of Rhodesia.
But I want to point out also - and I think this is a completely fair and valid interpretation of Mr. Smith’s own speech - that I believe that the Prime Minister of Rhodesia believes that these economic sanctions will not work and that he will be able to resist the application of these economic sanctions with the provisions he has made for them, with the possibility of the reprisals that he has indicated he will take. It is vital to make sure that the economic sanctions imposed do work. I have confidence that, the Prime Minister having taken this position, the Australian Government will do what is necessary to make our contribution to this objective. But I want to say this also: I believe the Prime Minister will not get any assistance from the great majority of honorable members who sit behind him. Their attitude as revealed in this debate is quite different from his. But I am quite sure that the right honorable gentleman will be able to look after this matter.
I think that the success of the economic sanctions imposed is of great importance in this matter because the alternative is force. The Prime Minister does not like the idea of force in Rhodesia. Perhaps this is the only place, as the Leader of the Opposition said, where the right honorable gentleman invoked any moral consideration at all in his speech on this subject. All should be against the use of force and should be against intervention in the affairs of another nation by any nation from outside. I think we should not be completely happy about the possibility of United Nations intervention, either. I believe that we should do everything possible to avoid the use of force in the Rhodesian situation. The success of economic sanctions is vital to this. If economic sanctions are effectively applied, force will not be necessary because the key constitutional situation in Rhodesia is that the Governor of Rhodesia is the constitutional legitimate government of that country. If economic sanctions are effectively applied to Rhodesia, the pressures upon the minority government of the country will be such that there will be a good chance of another government emerging which will be prepared to make the kind of concessions that the Smith Government was not prepared to make. If this government can be arranged then as the Government of Rhodesia by action of the Governor himself, there is the possibility of preventing the use of force in the country.
I go all the way with what the Prime Minister has said about trying to avoid the use of force. But I do not believe that there has to be a good deal more sincerity and strength of conviction in a good many places about the use of economic sanctions, or the use of force will become inevitable. In this respect, there are quite a number of things that should be noticed. The first is that it is impossible for governments to go on defending the status quo without being prepared to make the kind of concessions that were asked of the Smith Government unless force is going to be used. Force is going to be used by the African people or by somebody else unless these concessions are made.
-Order! the honorable member’s time has expired.
.- I hope it will not be considered impertinent if I begin my speech with a number of excursions in history on the Rhodesian question. With very great respect to some of the Opposition speakers, leaving aside their coloured and highly fanciful arguments, I submit that their historical sweep of the Rhodesian scene is manifestly inaccurate. I believe that no speaker has given point to that fact ‘with greater force than has the honorable member for Yarra (Dr. J. F. Cairns). The honorable gentleman said, among other things, that the United Kingdom has borne the colonial responsibility for Rhodesia. This ls the effect of the argument that he advanced to us. I want to say to’ him that this is palpably wrong. To begin, one must recall that it was only 1890 that some 524 men arrived at what is now the site of Salisbury. Those men were the components of the first column into Rhodesia sponsored by Cecil Rhodes. I know that this is a very harsh, a very cynical and a very sophisticated age in which we live. Nevertheless, Cecil Rhodes was a dreamer devout by vision led, and even though there may be some who hold that that is not the case, I think that that remains the considered assessment of history.
In 1890, these men arrived following discussions that had taken place stemming from the Rudd concession when Rudd, accompanied by two other Englishmen, Rochford Maguire and Frank Thompson, had done business with Lobengula under the Indaba tree. This has sharp relevance even in our present day because there is a heavy disposition in many so called well informed circles to want to dismiss summarily the way in which the native people of Rhodesia speak through their chiefs. Just as they spoke through their chiefs under the Indaba tree in 1880, so last year at Domboshwa did the natives speak through their chiefs. When last year they spoke through their chiefs at the Indaba, they vouchsafed the conviction that they were prepared and, they believed their people were prepared, to accept independence on the basis of the 1961 Constitution. But I punctuate that discourse by returning to my brief historical examination.
From 1890, through the Matabele war, until 1923-, what was Southern Rhodesia and is now Rhodesia was controlled entirely by the British South African Company operating under a Crown charter. In 1923, Rhodesia became a Crown self governing colony. I think this is of the utmost significance because, in a very real sense, Rhodesia has never been a colony as colonies are generally understood. So Rhodesia remained from 1923 up to the outbreak of the last war when complete independence was offered to the Rhodesian people. Their reply was: “ Let us finish the war.” I hope that no person will feel his feelings needlessly lacerated when I say to him that I find the utmost difficulty in restraining myself on hearing people speak of the treason of . the Rhodesian people. When I reflect upon the magnificent contribution that they made to the sum total of civilisation in two terrible struggles, I find it very hard indeed to accept that statement. But this is a place not without understanding. Even though that argument may not be completely accepted, I hope - indeed, I know - that it will be understood at least.
What is the flashpoint of this argument? I submit that the flashpoint of this argument is on the question of independence. It is very tempting to stray into the infinite variety of argument and counter argument that is to be found associated with this issue. But the central argument, and the flashpoint of the argument, I submit, is on the question of independence. When the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland broke up in 1963, the Rhodesian people saw Northern Rhodesia, now Zambia, and Nyasaland, now Malawi, achieve full independence and go straight into the Commonwealth Prime Minister’s Conference as full sovereign bodies. They looked around Africa and saw, as my honorable and gallant friend the member for Chisholm (Sir Wilfrid Kent Hughes) pointed out earlier this evening, a host of independent countries coming into being. They saw all of these countries going into the United Nations and other international organisations. When, as they were entitled to do, they considered the sense of international personality of these countries against their own, understandably they felt that they had a grievance, and they have sought to prosecute that grievance. This has now culminated in what is, according to any test of law, an illegal declaration - the Unilateral Declaration of Independence. I hope that those who are tempted to be quick to condemn these people will at least be persuaded to consider all of the relevant facts, not merely those facts that commend themselves for the sake of convenience or expediency.
On the question of independence, is there any honorable member in this House who would gainsay the opinion expressed only a short time ago by the President of Nigeria, President Azikiwe, that, of the 35 independent States of Africa, only five accepted political opposition? We admittedly have been reared in the Anglo-Saxon tradition and we understand parliamentary democracy. We agree because within a wide sweep differences are allowed to exist. But all of these countries have not be reared in the Anglo-Saxon tradition. I suppose the fundamental error of judgment that has been made with respect to Africa is that we have insisted on handing over to these people a Westminster style of government and have expected them to understand it, to work it and to maintain it. The simple truth - the melancholy, harsh, bitter truth - is that it has gone. Nigeria held elections only four or five weeks ago. I offer no condemnation of this, but ever since then the Nigerians have been arguing the toss as to who won the election. To us, members of the Opposition and members of the Government parties, this is something that we do not understand. Win or lose, we accept the verdict of the umpire, the people. But this is completely foreign to the people of Africa. Of the countries of Africa, only a mere minority today have any understanding of the fundamentals of a parliamentary democracy.
The Rhodesians today are reproached for their disregard of the rule of law and of the government at Westminister. When Kenya was granted independence in a hurry, it was granted on the basis that it would federate in a very short time with Tanganyika and with Uganda. That, of course, has completely gone by the board. Tan ganyika and Zanzibar are now Tanzania. This evening the honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Beazley) made a speech which my honorable friend, the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Hasluck), was kind enough, I submit with respect, to describe as one of moderation. When he said that Zambia and Malawi are countries that have been notably sane, I felt something of a shudder. I do not say this offensively, but I would hope that my honorable friend from Fremantle could be persuaded to read some of the plainly blasphemous statements that have been written about the political head of State of Malawi. I would hope that he could be persuaded to read of the terrible massacres of the followers of Alice Lenshina and the Lumpa church by the government in Zambia. Thousands of these people, peculiar no doubt to our concepts and our ideas, were killed.
When I think of Tanzania today, I think of the thousands of Arab Zanzibaris who were slaughtered, without there being any anxious protest meetings or marches upon the United Nations. I think also of the trade union detainees in Tanzania today. This has not been raised in any of the councils of the International Labour Organisations. For our part - all of us are implicated in this - there has been a shabby silence. The one compelling fact, I venture to say, in this whole dreadful business is that the world has been brought to the stage where it now accepts two desperately different values. Today, if we are to condemn the Rhodesians for what they have done, are we not to condemn the sheer genocide in Rwanda, when 25,000 members of the Watutsi tribe were slaughtered? Are we not to condemn mutilation and massacre in the Sudan? Does not this offend honorable gentlemen opposite as much as it offends me? I know it does. Are we not to condemn the outrage of the rule of law and respect for human values in Zanzibar? Of course we are. I implore the House - I hope the people outside the House may be a trifle affected by my implorings - not to be too swift to condemn, because the Rhodesians have seen this.
I turn to the 1961 Constitution. The honorable member for Yarra said that the built-in provisions of the Constitution have been deleted. With very great respect to him, I challenge this. The 1961 Constitution is a document that was approved by the British Parliament. It was negotiated principally by Mr. Duncan Sandys. For my part I do not share his views on a host of subjects. Nevertheless it was his handiwork. When Mr. Duncan Sandys went to Rhodesia he did not despise talking to the chiefs at the Indabas. Neither did Lord Monckton when, in 1960, he led the Monckton Commission into Rhodesia to examine the future of the Federation. Lord Monckton was not ashamed to consult the chiefs at their Indabas. This has been the traditional system of the Africans in Rhodesia. Even though it may injure our feelings to look at what amounts in a sense to a form of. discrimination, the essential fact is that there is no bar and no discrimination at all on the count of colour. One of the grievous mistakes that has been apparent in the debate in this country is that people have tried to argue that there is discrimination on the count of colour.
The 1961 Constitution was adopted. When Mr. Nkomo, the Reverend Sithole and all the African representatives signed it and agreed to it, there was jubilation everywhere. Mr. Nkomo said: “We can look forward now to the prospect of having an African majority “. Sir Edgar Whitehead said that no political party could possibly hope to win an election unless it had the support of the African people. These are not trifles. These are the statements of two political leaders of the day. But no sooner was Mr. Nkomo’s signature on the document dry than he went off to London. There he came under the influence of the High Commissioner for Ghana, a Mr. Armah, another extreme African nationalist. Mr. Nkomo was persuaded that what he had done was wrong and he repudiated his signature. He then set about the task of stirring up passion and violence in a host of places.
Opposition members say that there has been no Mau Mau outbreak or terrorism in Rhodesia. I feel ashamed that men in the National Parliament could be so ill informed. Have they never heard of the Zimbabwe African National Union and the Zimbabwe African People’s Union, the Z.A.N.U. and Z.A.P.U.? These are two terrorist-like organisations that do not stop at murder, that do not feel inhibited if lives have to be taken or petrol bombs thrown. This is the apparatus of the terrorist organisation that has operated throughout Rhodesia. This situation has been one of. the tremendous facts that the Europeans in Rhodesia have had to cope with, and they have endeavoured to their utmost to cope with it, Sir. I submit that as time goes by their efforts will be adjudged to have been considerable.
As one looks at the constitutions of other countries in Africa it is not out of place, I submit, to observe that none of them offers the same safeguards for human life, property, individual freedom and the advancement of all people as does the 1961 Constitution of Rhodesia. All the other countries that have recently achieved independence have embraced the one party state. This principle, to them, is the exemplar of political society. But it is foreign to us and completely unacceptable.
What is to happen now, Sir? I believe that a completely fresh initiative must be found. When the suggestion for a Commonwealth mission was last made it was rejected by Mr. Smith for a variety of reasons. I submit that the overwhelming reason was that he would not have sitting in judgment on him people who rejected parliamentary democracy and who applauded the one party state. Let me put it to my friends opposite: If they were in his position would they be prepared to accept as mediators in this dispute people who do not accept the tradition of parliamentary democracy? I believe that they would not. With the greatest respect and humiliation but nevertheless with the greatest of hope I put forward this view: I hope that it will be found possible even now to persuade Mr. Smith to accept a mission composed of representatives from three Commonwealth countries - two of the older ones and one of the new ones that has accepted an opposition party in politics - charged with the task of seeing whether the interested parties can get together again and restore political constitutionality to Rhodesia. I believe that the problem of what will happen if it is left in the present dreadful mess exercises the minds of all those to whom the Commonwealth of Nations has ever meant anything.
It was Edmund Burke who, at the time of the breaking away of the American colonies from England, said that magnanimity in politics is not seldom the truest wisdom. I hope that even if there is a temptation to be heavy handed and sententious in the expression of our views that temptation can be resisted. The motto of the Rhodesian people has been and still is: “ Sit nomine digna “. It means: “ Let it be worthy of the name “. I may stand alone, Mr. Speaker, but stand alone I will in contending that the Rhodesian people are worthy of the name and that their cause has been greatly misunderstood. I express the hope that it will yet be found possible for them to come back into full membership of the Commonwealth of Nations and to be accepted by the entire comity of nations.
– Mr. Speaker, the Opposition is in the happy position on this occasion of being able to say that it supports the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies). We support the views that he expressed to the House last night. I believe that it is to the Government’s credit that it has taken the decision that it has made. Everyone knowing the relationship that existed between the Australian Prime Minister and the gentleman who was Prime Minister of Rhodesia until he was dismissed by the Governor will know that this was a very heavy decision for the Prime Minister of this country to make. He did not make it lightly. I have no doubt that it was with a great deal of sadness that he rose to speak last night and that he did so because it was felt that the circumstances and events in Rhodesia were of so pressing a nature as to demand a serious step such as we in Australia have taken.
At the same time, one cannot help contrasting with the Government’s action the attitude of other honorable members on the Government side of the House who have spoken in this debate. The honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Killen) invited us to look at the history of Rhodesia. He led us to believe that if one were to consider the history of that country one could understand and perhaps support the disloyal action taken by the Europeans in Rhodesia against Her Majesty the Queen and her representative there. He referred to Cecil Rhodes in rather glowing terms. The honorable member said that Rhodes was a great man and that in his view history had adjudged him to be a great man. I am sorry to disillusion the honorable member. According to the books that I have read, history has not judged Rhodes to be the great man that the honorable member pretended him to be. I have here an issue of “Time” magazine which makes it clear that Cecil Rhodes was nothing more or less than a straight out colonial scoundrel. If he had lived today he would have been gaoled for misrepresentation, fraud and almost every other crime for which the law prescribes a penalty. Had he lived under today’s laws in the world of today he would not have got out of gaol had he lived to be 1,000.
What did he do? It is true that he did business with Lobengula, as the honorable member for Moreton said. I shall tell the House the kind of business this was. Rhodes first met Lobengula in 1888. As a consequence of his meeting he entered into an agreement with this illiterate African King that the King did not understand. According to what Rhodes told the King this agreement, on which the King subscribed his signature by marking a cross, simply gave to the British the right to dig for gold in the area over which the King had control. Rhodes, having got the King’s signature, if it can be so called, on the document immediately sent it to London for the agreement to be ratified by royal decree so that not only did the British gain the right to dig for gold but also, though it was never explained to Lobengula that the agreement so provided, what was known as the British South Africa Co. which Rhodes directed was given the right virtually to control the land and its people. Lobengula and his people finally rose in revolt against this fraud that had been perpetrated on them by this crook called Rhodes. In CO.1.sequence they were slaughtered and massacred in thousands. The King had to escape in order to save his life, though he died shortly afterwards.
So much for this wonderful man, Rhodes, and so much for the crocodile tears that the honorable member for Moreton sheds for people who have been butchered in other parts of Africa. As we know, the honorable gentleman’s feelings about people being butchered seem to fluctuate according to the circumstances in which they are being butchered and who they are. He was quite happy about 8,000 Egyptians being butchered in an unlawful attack on their country at the time of the Suez Canal dispute. In his view that was quite all right. Indeed, he seemed to think it was a good thing.
The honorable gentleman went on to say that last year the natives of Rhodesia again spoke through their chiefs in support of the 1961 Constitution. He had made the point earlier that there was nothing wrong with Lobengula’s signing an agreement to give away the whole of his territory to this crook called Rhodes, because the King had the right to dispossess the whole of his people as it had always been their custom to speak through their kings and chiefs. However, I am indebted to my friend, the honorable member for Stirling (Mr. Webb), who has been to Rhodesia and who made an on the spot investigation of what was happening there. He has provided me with a summary of the events of the conference to which the honorable member for Moreton referred when he said that last year the natives, through their chiefs, spoke in support of the 1961 Constitution.
– Would the honorable member like the full report?
– I have here an abbreviated report by a man who was on the spot. This is what the honorable gentleman said -
Mr. Smith has held a referendum based on the present A and B roll, and in addition the chiefs voted on behalf of about 3 million of their people. To ensure that the chiefs voted as he wished them to, he refused to let outsiders talk to them and prevented 170 of the 800 chiefs from voting because he feared they would vote against his wishes. An impressive demonstration was staged during the voting, by the Rhodesian Air Force, to scare them.
So much for this free choice made by the natives of Africa through their chiefs.
Something has been said about the great effort made by the white people of Rhodesia in two world wars - how magnificent it was and how greatly we are indebted to them for their contribution. Of course we recognise their efforts and of course we pay homage to the memory of the 9,000 Europeans from Rhodesia who fought for their king and for their country in the Second World War. We also pay homage - at least I do - to the 14,000 Africans from Rhodesia who fought for their king and for their country, for the right to govern themselves and for the other things in which we claim to believe. 1 do not know what the Prime Minister must have thought of the honorable member for Moreton tonight. At this point let me compliment the honorable gentleman on an excellent speech from an oratorical point of view. He did tell us later that he had quoted from Edmund Burke. To do the honorable gentlemen justice, I think Edmund Burke would be very happy indeed to quote from him. When the Prime Minister referred to the honorable member some few years ago as “ Killen the magnificent “ he may have meant it, but I am sure that after listening to him tonight the right honorable gentleman would have felt more inclined to describe him as “Killen the grand wizard of the southern hemisphere “ because the honorable member displayed the typical Ku Klux Klan attitude towards the coloured people of Africa.
– The Eric Butler attitude.
– The Eric Butler attitude has been mentioned. I invite my honorable friend to say why he made that comment unless the honorable member for Moreton has been associated with Eric Butler. If he has, I can understand quite readily why he adopts this Ku Klux Klan attitude towards the coloured people of Rhodesia. Let me remind the honorable gentleman that plenty of other coloured people rendered great service to the British Empire during the two world wars. People from the Indian continent rendered great service. Scores of thousands of them gave up their lives fighting for their king and for their country.
It seems to me that the honorable member for Moreton then made a grave error when he appeared to reject the idea of African self government in the continent of Africa because - so he said - only in 5 of the 35 or 36 countries which have been granted independence is there any form of Opposition. Let us examine that statement. Does it mean that when a country is not prepared to recognise an official Opposition we cease to give it any support and refuse to lend it any aid?
If this is true, where do we stand in relation to South Vietnam, where there is no Opposition? There has never been an election in South Vietnam since the Diem Government first took over in 1954, and there is not likely to be an election in South
Vietnam for a good many years to come. So if this is to be the criterion upon which we determine whether we support a country, we should be withdrawing our troops at once from Vietnam because in that country no form of Opposition is tolerated whether it is non-Communist, Communist or proCommunist. No Opposition of any kind is tolerated in South Vietnam. Nor is it tolerated in Thailand. Nor is it tolerated in Spain. Nor is it tolerated in any of the Arab States. So this is not necessarily an indication or a guarantee that we should reject the right of these people to independence.
I agree with something that the honorable member for Chisholm (Sir Wilfrid Kent Hughes) said about this. He said it could very well be that when a new country, such as these African countries, is given independence for the first time it may not be possible for some years for the people or for the government to be able to have an official opposition. I do not know that I would like to see it this way, but the honorable member for Chisholm has said that it is not possible and that the country could not be governed unless it had, for the first few years of independence, a oneparty or even a one-man system of government. That may be true. If it is true it explains, perhaps, why it is at the moment that there is not a fully recognised official opposition in some of these African countries.
The honorable member for Moreton talked about Lord Monckton going into Rhodesia, but has he ever heard of the attempt made by Lord Delamere to go into Rhodesia only a short time ago to explain to the Rhodesians that they had nothing to fear from independence and to say that he could speak in this way because of his own personal experience in Kenya? He said that in Kenya, where it had been feared that terrible things were likely to happen, they had not happened at all. It is true that the Government of Kenya did acquire thousands of acres of highland country from the European owners or possessors in order to distribute it to the land hungry tribesmen of Kenya, but the Government paid for that land and paid well for it. That land was never confiscated. But when Lord Delamere attempted to get into Rhodesia to explain the situation to the
Rhodesian people, Smith refused to give him and his delegation from Kenya visas to enter the country. This is the wonderful place with a wonderful government which the honorable member has praised. He has virtually said that we have no right to impose sanctions of any kind upon this country. I know it is true, as the honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Beazley) said, that we in Australia have not very much to be proud about in the way that we have treated our own native people, but at least we are making some effort now to give them the right to vote.
I support what the honorable member for Fremantle said about the amendment to the Constitution proposed by the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth) for submission to the people at the referendum which is to be taken shortly. I believe that the acceptance of the proposed amendment to the Constitution, as suggested by the honorable member for Mackellar, would be a real test of our sincerity on these things. I believe that if we are sincere about the sanctions that we imposed last night against Rhodesia we should demonstrate our sincerity in a positive and practical way by supporting the proposal put forward by the honorable member for Mackellar. However, this is something upon which at the moment I am speaking only as a private individual member of my party. My party has yet to make a decision on this. Naturally, I will abide by whatever decision it makes.
I want to turn now to something that was said by the Minister for Territories (Mr. Barnes). He said that the Rhodesian prosperity was due to many generations of British settlers, and then he seemed to go on to give the impression that all the plantations had been hacked out of the forests by the Europeans, that all the buildings had been erected by the Europeans, that the mines and everything else that we see in Rhodesia today that give the prosperity that he mentioned were all developed by the hard toil and sweat of the good old European settlers. Of course, nothing could be further from the truth. “Time” magazine had this to say about what is happening in Rhodesia -
A new party, built on a hard core of cattlemen, tobacco men and right-wing labor leaders, was on the rise; its platform was white supremacy or death and its founder was Ian Smith.
This, of course, is true. There is no doubt that Mr. Ian Smith is a man who believes in white supremacy and he is prepared if necessary to face death in order to get it. He has referred proudly to the fact that his father was a personal friend of Cecil Rhodes. He believed his father was one of the fairest men he had ever met and he has said of him -
He always told me that we’re entitled to our half of the country and the blacks are entitled to theirs.
That is to say, the 221,000 Europeans are entitled to one-half of the country and the 4 million blacks are entitled to the other half. Of course, this would seem to suggest that the whites are going to do all their own work and the blacks will look after theirs. The Minister for Territories said that these people in Rhodesia had set an example ot fair play. Let us see what they did. “ Time “ magazine states that in order that Rhodesia might flourish -
Cheap labour was provided by a hut tax, which forced the penniless natives to go to work for the settlers to pay it
The natives had to work to pay the hut tax and they had to work cheaply. They were not paid more than a miserable rate of wages but they had to get money to meet this tax. “Time” comments in this connection -
When moreland was needed, the natives were moved off, until in 1928 the officials decided something had to be done to protect them. The result was the Land Apportionment Act which set aside roughly half of the countryside as “native reserves “-but also prohibited the blacks from owning or even leasingland in white areas.
I want to say something about the action of the United Kingdom Government in dealing with this question of sanctions. The United Kingdom Government has been very restrained. It has given way on a number of things. First, the United Kingdom Government asked that there should be a referendum of the whole of the Rhodesian people. Later, the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom did not press this point for a referendum of all the people at this stage. He was prepared to settle for something less. Mr. Smith refused point blank to have anything to do with the propoals. Mr. Wilson refrained from egging African leaders into revolt by either overt or tacit assurances of military aid. It is to his credit that he stated clearly that there would be no military intervention at this stage.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
Debate (on motion by Dr. Gibbs) adjourned.
The following Bills were returned from the Senate -
Without Amendment -
Commonwealth Electoral Bill (No. 2) 1965.
Honey Industry Bill 1965.
Without Requests -
Honey Levy Bill (No. 1) 1965. Honey Levy Bill (No. 2) 1965.
Bill received from the Senate, and read a first time.
Motion (by Mr. Hasluck) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
.- On Thursday night last 1 had occasion to draw the attention of the House to the malpractices of a group of companies associated with the name S. W. Goodwin. Nothing puts the unscrupulous manner in which Mr. Goodwin is prepared to deal with people and their reputations in a clearer light than his comments on my charges about his hire purchase dealings. In Che Press on Friday last my actual statements were accurately quoted. As is recorded in “ Hansard “ I said -
Is the Minister aware of the terrifying paranoic methods used by this company in attempting to force clients to comply with its charges which, in two cases in my possession, amount to a gross total of about 13 per cent, and 16 per cent. flat on a five year contract?
Mr. Goodwin tried to make me out a liar. He was quoted in the Press as saying -
Doctor Mackay’s statement that interest rates charged by this company in two cases amounted to 13 per cent. and 16 per cent, flat was untrue.
He was reported later as saying -
I have lodged £1,000 with Messrs. Fifer, Lindsay and Walker, Chartered Accountants, which will be paid to anybody who can produce a hire purchase agreement with any of my companies for the purchase of any appliance on which interest at the rate of 13 per cent or 16 per cent, fiat per annum was charged for five years.
This is the technique of deliberately falsifying my statements in order to prove them untrue. I did not say that his interest charges were of that magnitude. My actual words were that the gross total of his charges amounted to 13 per cent, and 16 per cent. You see, Mr. Speaker, this man adds indecently high maintenance and insurance charges to the new price of his appliances. Then, after totalling these charges, which, of course, apply over a five-year period, he again goes over the whole field, charging his 10 per cent, flat, or whatever is the interest rate he claims. The final result cannot be denied, however, and I repeat the details of a transaction I have here before me.
A woman bought a set described - I believe improperly - as a new one, for she had had it for six months prior to that as a coin in the slot machine. Goodwin charged her £208 19s. When the cost of the antenna, plus maintenance and insurance charges, were added the total became £330. Interest was then added, to make the final price £375 - a rise of 64 per cent, on the new price and 13 per cent, flat over the five years. This same set, repurchased after it had been repossessed, showed a second hand price of £233. Its new price was £208. The same antenna, still on the roof and never removed, was again charged for at the full price. Then the charges for maintenance and insurance were added, to make a grand total of £440. This was on a set which was priced originally at £208. These are the facts, and all the camouflage of Mr. Goodwin cannot alter them.
Mr. Goodwin was defended in today’s “ Daily Telegraph “ by a Mr. O. Florin of Roseville, who said . that I was a mere demagogue who had conveniently overlooked the Reid Murray and H. G. Palmer crashes. If Mr. Florin had taken the trouble to read “Hansard” he would have seen that in point of fact I prefaced all I had to say by a fair and reasonable appreciation of legitimate hire purchase transactions, and a reference to “ some companies which had been careless and perhaps too lax in their methods “.
I make no excuse whatsoever for telling Mr. Florin, or anyone else, that if he charges fees as high as those charged by Goodwin on transactions, and if he behaves towards clients as Goodwin has done, then, in my book, he is a usurer and a scoundrel. It is high time Governments took a much closer look into this massive and vitally important field of national finance. The Palmer episode cries aloud for investigation, and it is a sorry day for Australia when a company like the M.L.C., among many others, can lend its name to gull investors into transactions which they have every reason to respect and accept as honorable and substantial because of the association of names. As a member of this particular life association, I believe that it ought to look again at its moral obligations in this case. Financial and company transactions are complicated enough today without the man in the street having to read every word and seek legal interpretations of the fine print on contracts which bear on or are associated with these great names. In any case, a contract is only as good as the people who enter into it. There is an obligation far beyond the legal one of the letter of the clauses concerned when names like those of banks and great financial insurance institutions are clearly and deliberately linked with the promotion of fund raising ventures presented to the public. I have in mind a typical advertisement connected with the A.N.Z. Bank. In the advertisement there are two large links and a small link of a chain. One large link bears the letters “A.N.Z.”; then “or” appears in brackets on the small link; on the other large link there are the letters “I.A.C.” which stands for the Industrial Acceptance Corporation. This has been done because the A.N.Z. Bank has a 21.7 per cent, holding in I.A.C. This, of course, is typical of the activities of banks and large companies in this field. If hire purchase is to survive - and I believe it can and should survive - then much house cleaning is needed. In relation to the terms of contracts, charges, deposits required, methods of repossession, and methods of recovery of money from defaulters, there is need for new legislation and, above all, new integrity. I sincerely hope this Government will play its part in removing the pall of suspicion and fear which has now descended on the investing and borrowing public, bedevilling our economic future. Millions of people today wonder who next will join the inglorious catalogue of Latec, I.V.M., Reid Murray, H. G. Palmer and the rest.
– I want to compliment the honorable member for Evans (Dr. Mackay) on his exposure of this rather doubtful outfit called Goodwins. I think that the Press of Australia which at times has rendered great service in exposing behaviour on the part of members of Parliament with which it has disagreed and which has often opened up rather shady practices on the governmental level, should give the widest possible publicity now to the remarks of the honorable member for Evans. If the Press of Australia is properly to perform its function as watchdog of the public it ought now to be telling the people in every State of the Commonwealth to beware of having any transactions with Goodwins Ltd. We had to raise this question in the Parliament on a previous occasion. The honorable member for EdenMonaro (Mr. Allan Fraser) had to raise it and the honorable member for Grayndler (Mr. Daly) referred to it. I also referred to it and, if I recall correctly, for some reason or other the present Minister for the Interior (Mr. Anthony) defended Goodwins Ltd. Goodness knows why he did it. I am sure he could not possibly persist in that defence after hearing the case put forward by the honorable member for Evans.
On one occasion I made some harsh remarks about the honorable gentleman’s previous occupation. I can see that he is now returning to his correct role by chasing the money changers out of the temple. I compliment him on this. It is long overdue. The Press ought to give publicity to what the honorable member has said. It can do so now without fear of any legal action. Very often, the greater the truth the greater the libel. I do not expect the Press to publish a warning to the public of Aus tralia against Goodwins Ltd. if it has to run the risk of a libel action, but it has every justification for loudly declaring to the Australian public, now, that Goodwins is a crooked company. It is a company that does not deserve any public support. It ought to be exposed for what it is, and the poor unforunate people who have been gulled into trading with it, as they have been in the past, ought to be told what they are leading themselves into. I think that the Press should tell them this. I know that the Press receives a considerable sum of money from Goodwins (Sydney) Pty. Ltd. in the form of advertising, but surely there comes a time when the Press has to measure its public responsibility against what profit it is getting from one of its advertisers. On this occasion they ought to do this in favour of the public.
I am reminded that some rather unusual defenders of Goodwins have sprung up. The honorable member for Macarthur (Mr. Jeff Bate), I seem to recall on one occasion made a most embittered speech against me, and even against one of his own colleagues who had the decency to stand up and expose this firm on that occasion. Why on earth a member like the honorable member for Macarthur cannot afford to pay cash for his television set is beyond me, but whatever favorable terms he might get from Goodwins, he ought to remember that he gets them because he is a member of Parliament and that the public at large does not receive these favorable terms.
For this reason I believe that we ought to face the facts as they were presented by the honorable member for Evans. 1 hope that the public will be told of the scandalous behaviour of this firm so that they can beware of the traps they can walk into if they continue to do business with it. I commend the honorable member once again for bringing this matter to the notice of the House.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 11.7 p.m.
The following answers to questions upon notice were circulated -
Stevedoring Industry: Woodward Inquiry. (Question No. 1459.)
– The answer to the honorable member’s questions is as follows -
Mr. Woodward’s terms of reference do not include these matters.
Stevedoring Industry: Woodward Inquiry. (Question No. 1458.)
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows -
Mr. Woodward’s terms of reference enable him to inquire into the measures which might be taken to improve efficiency in the stevedoring industry, increase throughput of cargoes and minimise work stoppages. He is not limited to consideration of any particular proposals.
y asked me Attorney-General, upon notice -
What (a) transport facilities, (b) travelling allowances, (c) travel concessions, (d) expense allowances, and (e) other concessions are available and payable to the Justices of the High Court of Australia?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows -
The following travel concessions have been granted -
a Law Society, Bar Council, or Industrial Relations Society, to be a speaker at its meeting, the fares of the Justice and travelling allowance at the prescribed rate are paid for the time necessarily occupied in fulfilling the acceptance of the invitation but not otherwise. If a Justice’s wife is also invited to attend, the cost of her fares is met,
y asked the Attorney-General, upon notice -
What (a) transport facilities, (b) travelling allowances., (c) travel concessions, (d) expense allowances, and (e) other concessions are available and payable to each Judge of the (i) Commonwealth Industrial Court, (ii) Federal Court of Bankruptcy, (iii) Supreme Court of the Australian Capital Territory, and (iv) Supreme Court of the Northern Territory, and to Presidential Members of the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows -
The rate of travelling allowance for each of the persons holding any one of the offices named in this question is £12 12s. per day, or £3 3s. per day when travelling by steamer or rail and the fare includes subsistence. Otherwise the same conditions apply in respect of each of these persons as apply in the case of a Justice of the High Court other than the Chief Justice (see answer to Question No. 1357).
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 17 November 1965, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1965/19651117_reps_25_hor49/>.