25th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. SPEAKER (Hon. Sir John McLeay) took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Primary Industry. ls he in a position to say whether an immediate advance of 20c a bushel will be made to wheat growers whose crop was delivered to Vo. 28 Wheat Pool? If he is not yet able to give this information, will he take prompt action to ensure that a further advance is made without delay? I ask this question because of the desperate financial difficulties being experienced by many growers as a result of the disastrous drought. Finally. I ask the Minister to remind his Cabinet colleagues that such a payment is not a gift but only an advance of payment for wheat produced and delivered to the Australian Wheat Board.
– The honorable member is associating financial assistance to meet the effects of drought with payment for wheat under the business procedures adopted by the Australian Wheat Board. The Government has stated its attitude to financial assistance to New South Wales and Queensland to mitigate the effects of drought. Any additional action that may be taken in this connection will be announced by the Prime Minister. The question of the advance payment for wheat is at present being considered.
– I address my question to the Treasurer. The Prime Minister, in his statement on the Government’s policy which was made in this House on 8th March, referred to measures to boost the rate of housing construction in Australia. He said that an additional $24 million was being provided by the savings banks for housing in the second half of 1965-66. He stated also that the Government is considering other measures to give further support to housing. I ask the Treasurer whether he is yet in a position to inform the House of the current position concerning those other measures.
– In answer to a question asked by the honorable gentleman in this House last week, I said that the Government was considering as a matter of urgency other measures to boost the rate of commencement of houses during the last quarter of the current financial year. As Chairman of the Australian Loan Council I wrote to the Treasurer or Premier of each State Government, as the case may be, on Friday and offered to support loan programmes to the extent of $15 million to be allocated during the next three months. I have now received replies from all the Treasurers or Premiers agreeing to my proposal and I hope to be able to make a ministerial statement on the subject immediately after question time.
Mr. BENSON__ I ask the Minister for
Trade and Industry: Is it true that several foreign companies operating in Australia have no Australian share content? Would the Minister be agreeable to the formation of an Australian-Japanese shipping company with 60 per cent, plus Australian content? Is the Minister aware that if big bulk carriers manned by Australians and flying the Australian flag are not available within, say, eighteen months, bulk cargoes from Australia will fall into the hands of foreign enterprise?
– I think it is a fact that certain foreign companies operating in Australia have no Australian capital at all. I am sure that the establishment of a joint Australian-Japanese shipping enterprise, primarily to carry the great bulk cargo which is now being generated by contracts for the sale of coal, iron ore, maybe bauxite, alumina and other minerals to Japan, would be welcomed by the Government. It seems to me a fair thing that the benefits of such a shipping line should be shared between the country which is supplying the cargo and the country which is producing it as cargo by purchasing it.
As to what the percentage of the Australian content in the shipping company ought to be, I would not want to be dogmatic about that point. Personally, I do not mind saying that a 50-50 deal that was sure of avoiding any question of deadlock would be reasonable in the circumstances.
But it is obviously a great advantage for Australia to earn exchange by participating in the very big freight component in the export of this bulk cargo. Indeed, the value of the freight would be equal to a very, very substantial proportion of the value of the material being exported.
– I desire to ask a question of the Minister for National Development. It relates to two aspects of oil exploration in Australia. Has the attention of the Minister been drawn by the holders of off shore leases to the fact that a condition decided upon recently by the Commonwealth and State Governments might tend to discourage the search for oil off shore? Is this correct? What is the percentage recently agreed to by the Commonwealth and State Governments in regard to royalties on oil? How does this compare with royalties in other countries?
– I am aware that there has been some criticism of the statement which was made by the six State Ministers for Mines and myself in the various parliaments last spring. As a result of this criticism, I invited the members of the Australian Petroleum Exploration Association to come to Canberra and to discuss their problems with State officers and the Bureau of Mineral Resources. The State Ministers for Mines and I recently had a meeting in Sydney. As a result of that meeting, we have decided on some relaxations and improvements. For example, we have agreed that instead of allowing oil explorers four graticule blocks, which would be about 100 square miles, we will now allow them a further block, representing 125 square miles all told or approximately 25 times the size of the Moonie oil field. Recently, I have had an officer of my department, Mr. Livermore, abroad. He has been discussing this legislation with representatives of countries in Europe and America. Wherever he has been those representatives have informed him that this is a generous - in fact a very generous - scheme. However, the proof of the pudding. I think, is in the eating. I am informed that at least four new rigs will be brought into Australia to drill off shore this year. The Broken Hill Pty. Co. Ltd. is contemplating the making of two rigs which will drill off shore at Gippsland. These will not be floating rigs. They will be platforms.
I have been asked about royalties. I do not have full knowledge of royalty arrangements in all other parts of the world. I can tell the House that the royalty in Australia will be fixed at 10 per cent., of which half will go to the States and half to the Commonwealth, . for the first twenty-one years. The royalty rate will be reviewed after that time. In the United Kingdom the royalty is at the rate of 12i per cent., but this is a longer period - 40 years. In the United States of America, the royalty generally is 16i per cent, for the life of the well.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Primary Industry. I preface it by reminding the Minister that there are now about 30 war service land settlement farms vacant on King Island and that settlers are leaving at the rate of one a fortnight. I now ask whether the Government has formulated any plans for using these vacant properties to strengthen the existing farms or for permitting exservicemen who failed to signify their desire for a farm within five years of discharge to take up vacant properties. If not, will the Government consider putting up for public auction farms that remain vacant, so that the economy of King Island will be sustained and so that the vacant farms will not revert to nature, as would otherwise inevitably happen in this region of high rainfall?
– I think we will be using a few of the vacant blocks to strengthen or augment those farms that have not been brought up to the proper standard, but I think the number used in this way will be small. As to the second question, concerning offering these farms to persons outside the scope of the legislation, this is a matter of policy and I will have to look at it. The honorable member also asked whether we will sell some of the vacant blocks. We will be submitting some of them at auction as soon as we find that they are not required for agistment purposes.
– Will the Prime Minister, during his discussions tomorrow with the general managers of the banks, consider making appropriate arrangements for lending money on a long term basis to finance works of a developmental nature, especially those concerned with water and fodder conservation, which are designed to increase the productivity and stability of primary producers, whether on farms or off them?
– We are all well aware of the interest of the honorable member for Gwydir in measures designed to improve the security of persons in areas gravely affected by drought. 1 point out to him that the discussions to which he has referred will follow on several talks that we have had in the Cabinet in relation to various aspects of the drought situation, and in particular the objective of having long term finance available, in the first instance and primarily for those who have been affected by drought but also as part of a general and continuing policy of long term financial assistance for rural producers. Whether it would be practicable for funds which we wish to see channelled to individual rural producers to be apportioned in part at least for larger developmental projects is a matter to which I would like to give some further thought. I would not wish to see the amounts which otherwise would be available for rural producers reduced by an allocation of portion of them to other purposes. It may be that funds should be available from general banking resources for the kinds of projects that the honorable member has in mind. In practice, of course, the larger developmental projects are in the hands of governments, and in this respect this Government has been very active. When I refer to this Government I include, of course, the government of my predecessor. I believe we can claim that our governments have been more active than any previous Australian government in advancing to the States the funds necessary for developmental projects, certainly in the northern areas of Australia and also in all other parts of Australia.
– Does the Minister for Labour and National Service recall that on 2nd December 1965 I asked a question relating to national service training covering migrant youths naturalised under the sponsorship of their parents, and that I was promised a reply after officers of the Department of Labour and National Service and the Crown Law Office had conferred? Is the Minister yet in a position to advise the House of any decision on this matter?
– I regret that, as I was in hospital at the time, I have no personal recollection of the honorable member’s question, but I shall certainly see what is on the files and let him have an answer as soon as possible.
– My question is directed to the Minister for External Affairs. Will he inform the House what steps are being taken by the United Nations towards restoring freedom to the many European nations that are still captives of the Soviet Union?
– I assume that the honorable member is referring to those nations, such as the Baltic States, which were totally absorbed within the Soviet Union something over 15 years ago. References in the United Nations of recent years have mainly taken place in the course of debate and have arisen in various forms. Whenever the opportunity for debate has arisen the Australian delegates have, of course, made clear their view that the human rights and liberties and the rights of self determination that are advocated on behalf of peoples elsewhere should also apply to peoples in these former nations. I think as a matter of reality I should express my own view - I think it is a sober assessment - that there is not the least prospect of getting a majority in any assembly of the United Nations, today to vote by way of condemnation of the Soviet Union or for changing the present situation.
– My question to the Attorney-General is prompted by the discovery of oil and, not so long ago. of natural gas, off the coast of Victoria. At what point offshore are the waters under
State control and at what point does Commonwealth control take over?
– That is a good question. I cannot give the answer. The reason I cannot give the answer is that the issue has not been resolved; in point of fact, it was for the purpose of avoiding resolution of that question that the States and the Commonwealth have come together to operate a joint scheme. The need for the joint scheme arises from the claim of the States that their power extends to three miles of territorial waters and beyond. The Commonwealth says: “ No, that is wrong. Our power extends offshore.” The purpose of the agreement is to do what is called “ mirror “ the legislation so that the same provisions operate by reason of State legislation as will operate by reason of Commonwealth legislation. It would therefore avail nobody anything to challenge the State legislation, for if the State legislation were held invalid the person concerned would still come within the ambit of the Commonwealth legislation, which is precisely the same and vice versa. The same principle would apply if the Commonwealth legislation were challenged. Therefore, it is known as “ mirror “ legislation. It is a co-operative system, and if our scheme proves successful we are unlikely ever to have a resolution of that question.
– My question is directed to the Prime Minister. Has the Government been considering the eligibility of migrants to be called up for national service training? If so, will he say what progress has been made and what difficulties are being experienced in surmounting our international arrangements in this matter?
– The legislation passed by the Parliament gave the Government the right to induct aliens into military service. In the case of British migrants no problem arises and they become liable for national service registration, but with alien migrants the problem is complicated by existing international arrangements or understandings between Australia and other countries.
– What is that about “ understandings “? What legal effect have they?
– I think the honorable gentleman is experienced enough to know that where a protocol arrangement or an understanding in the international sense exists, there are advantages which run both ways. For example, Australians who are in residence in other parts of the world are not, as a result of these arrangements, liable to call up in the armed services of the country in which they are residing.
– Naturalised Australians are.
– Yes; for example, in Italy and Greece.
– Does the honorable gentleman mean when they were originally citizens of one of those countries?
– If they were born there and have been naturalised here.
– All that the honorable gentleman is proving is that this is a matter of some complexity. I have stated some of the difficulties, not to declare the problem insuperable but to indicate that it is a matter which has required the careful study of our own Department of External Affairs and the Department of Labour and National Service which administers the national service scheme. This consideration is proceeding and, following that, there will be Government consideration from which a decision can be reported.
– I direct a question to the Prime Minister. If no state of war exists, despite the fact that national service trainees are to be sent to fight and perhaps die in Vietnam, will the right honorable gentleman state whether he considers that a state of defence emergency exists? If it does, is it correct that the Government will shortly issue a proclamation to this effect and extend the serving time of national service trainees from two years to five years under the provisions of the National Service Act which the Government amended for this purpose last year?
– The honorable gentleman is trying to create some atmosphere of uncertainty and apprehension in the Australian community. It does neither him nor his Party credit to pursue tactics of this kind. They are quite obviously for party political purposes. The position described by the honorable gentleman has not arisen. I pointed out yesterday that there is a limited participation by Australia in theatres in which military operations are occurring, and that that participation by Australia is either in discharge of our own commitments to our allies or in respect of obligations which we have held it proper for us to assume having regard to Australia’s general national interest, both in the short term and in the long term. When there is any aspect of policy in relation to these matters which the Government feels it desirable to announce or is in a position to announce, that will be dealt with in the appropriate way. There is no matter currently before us which calls for the kind of statement which the honorable gentleman has invited us to make.
– My question to the Treasurer follows a statement made by the Prime Minister last week when he said that it is desirable to provide the farmer with greater access to medium and long term capital for development purposes through his own private bank. As the terms “ medium “ and “ long “ are very loose and could be interpreted as being from as short as one year onwards, will the Treasurer seek as a long term category a period ranging from 15 to 20 years which will not hamper the applicant in his business?
– A good deal of thought has been given to the precise definition of the words “ medium “ and “ long term “. We have come to the conclusion that it is not practicable to define them in explicit terms, but I assure the honorable gentleman that, without being precise, we are thinking of long terms as generally involving at least 15 years.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for Trade and Industry. Will he supplement his recently released directory of overseas investment in Australian manufacturing industry by a similar survey for primary industry, property and commerce? Will he, for future information, establish a general register of overseas investment, as suggested by the Vernon Committee? Will he in addition, to complete the picture, act on my repeated questions to him and fulfil bis undertaking given to me by letter of 15th July 1965 to ascertain the financial loss caused to Australian export trade by export franchise restrictions imposed by overseas firms on their Australian subsidiaries and associates?
– The publication that came out a few days ago from the Department of Trade and Industry is the result of a periodic routine examination of certain investments in Australia, lt is not the first document of this kind; it is routine. As I stand here, I do not know whether the Department of Trade and Industry or the Department of Primary Industry would be the appropriate department to assemble information on the investment in primary industry, but we shall consult on this to decide first, which department has the responsibility, and secondly, whether it is necessary to have such a survey. The honorable member suggests that I have failed to answer a question he asked last July. If 1 have, I regret it and will try to correct it. But as he restated the question now, I would think it incapable of being answered. He wants to know what degree of loss has occurred as a result of franchise restrictions. One would imagine that business has been lost, but how the degree of loss can be calculated I do not know, because the loss depends as much on the buyer as on the seller.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for Civil Aviation. Has the Minister any information regarding an incident that occurred at Sydney airport this morning involving a Boeing 727 aircraft?
– This morning a Boeing 727 aircraft operated by Ansett-A.N.A. took off in the normal way and was cleared. About two miles out of the airport the pilot sent a signal intimating that No. 3 engine had failed. He was given a clearance to land and landed just a few minutes later. It was also reported shortly afterwards by a service station proprietor in Gardeners Road, Mascot, that as the aircraft passed overhead a number of small metal particles were showered onto his service station. We have found since that they are parts of turbine blades from the engine I have mentioned. Investigating officers from my Department are now carrying out full investigations. The aircraft landed without incident on its return.
– I direct my question to the Minister for Trade and Industry. Has a conference of importing and exporting sugar countries been held recently in Geneva? Was this conference held under the auspices of the United Nations? Was Australia, as one of the world’s principal exporting countries, represented at the conference? What was the purpose of the conference? Has the conference reached agreement on any matters? Has the conference been adjourned indefinitely with no decisions having been reached?
– A conference between certain sugar exporting countries and importing countries - a total of 16 countries - was held last week or the week before in Geneva. The Australian delegation was led by the Deputy Secretary of the Department of Trade and Industry, Mr. Campbell, who was the senior official at the International Sugar Conference last October. I was the leader at a conference last October in Geneva. The meeting which has just concluded was held under the auspices of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development. It was summoned by Dr. Prebisch, the Secretary-General of the Conference, and was the outcome of an idea canvassed in the concluding stages of the major conference at which 80 nations participated and which, I have reported to the House, failed to reach agreement. Whereas all previous international sugar conferences had concentrated on discussions of the commercial aspects of sugar the October conference concentrated largely on what might be described properly as political issues touching sugar and touching the general rights as claimed by the underdeveloped countries. It was not to a sufficient extent a commercial discussion, and the conference failed. However, it was agreed that sugar is too important an industry to be left with out some international arrangement, and it was proposed that we should have another general conference on sugar. However, to try to ensure that we would not have another conference that failed the Secretary-General was to convene it at a time when, in his judgment, it was appropriate for a conference to be held with a limited number of countries whose delegates could be expected to concentrate on the commercial aspects of an international sugar agreement and in due course advise the Secretary-General and their own governments whether in their opinion it was appropriate again to plan and convene a major conference under the auspices of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development.
This latter conference of 16 nations was called to discuss this issue. It was not a negotiating conference. It was not a conference at any time designed to come to any conclusions by vote, but was intended merely to proffer opinions to the Secretary-General. To that extent the conference has been successful. No-one at this stage feels that we could call another major conference and be sure of success. On the other hand, in the report to me there is a strong feeling that there is no need to be pessimistic about the outcome of an eventual international sugar agreement to replace the one that has lapsed. I would expect that later in the year governments would be considering whether another major conference should be convened.
– Has the Minister for the Army considered the many criticisms that have been made, especially by honorable members opposite, of the quality of the clothing and, in particular, the boots worn by Australian troops who are fighting for us in Vietnam? We have been led to believe that these articles are old and unserviceable and rot quickly. If he has considered this question will the Minister please inform the House as to the truth or otherwise of these allegations?
– I answered in general terms yesterday a question about clothing for our forces in Vietnam, but not specifically the matter that has been mentioned by the honorable member. I can assure him that the boots on issue to the Australian forces in Vietnam are the equal of those issued to any forces in any theatre, and especially in that particular area. Apart from the normal general purpose boot which, as I think the honorable member would know, was recently issued in a new design, our forces are issued with a flexible steelplated boot which has particular relevance to some of the conditions applying in Vietnam. The plates prevent spikes coming up through the soles of the boots. The issue of these boots began last November and all members of our forces there have at least one pair of this particular type of boot.
– I ask the Minister for External Affairs a question. When does the honorable gentleman propose to release, if he does propose to do so, the report which I understand he received more than two months ago from the Australian scientists who went to Paris more than three months ago to investigate the expected effects on the Australian mainland and Territories of the French hydrogen bomb tests in the Pacific? If the Minister does not consider it proper or urgent to release the report, will he give an assurance that there will not be an increase in radio-active fallout in our area or that whether any increase is called significant or not, no man, woman or child in this country will be harmed as a result of these tests? I ask finally: What was the latest action taken by the Minister to register the opposition of this Parliament and the Australian people to further contamination of the world’s atmosphere for the sake of Gallic glory?
– Professor Titterton, with the agreement of the French Government, attended some meetings in Paris to discuss precautions to be taken regarding the tests which the French intend to carry out in the Pacific. I have not yet received a written report from Professor Titterton. He was reporting in the first instance, I understand, to the National Radiation Advisory Committee, which is responsible for advising the Australian Government on these matters of safeguarding the Australian population but, indirectly, through my Department, I have received at second hand from Professor Titterton an oral report. The general effect of that report was to allay completely any immediate anxiety that harmful effects are likely to accrue to the Australian population or to any form of life in Australia as a result of these tests. As I have said, I have not yet received a written report. I understand that is in course of preparation and possibly in course of consideration by the National Radiation Advisory Committee. When we sent Professor Titterton to Paris we again indicated, through our Ambassador in France, that we deplored the fact that the tests were taking place. I might take advantage of this opportunity to say in this Parliament that the Australian Government deplores and regrets the fact that the French Government persists in carrying out these tests, but as it does persist in carrying out these tests, we are applying ourselves primarily to ensuring that no ill effects accrue to the Australian population.
– Will the Minister release the report?
– I would like to see it first.
– I ask the Minister for Labour and National Service whether there is any provision in the National Service Act which allows a national service trainee to be discharged in the event of a tragedy occurring in his family which would cause exceptional hardship to himself or to his family. If not, will the Minister investigate ways and means of remedying the situation?
– I presume that the honorable member is referring to somebody who has already been called up. If this is so, the matter would come under the jurisdiction of my colleague, the Minister for the Army.
– Will the Minister for the Army say when Gunner O’Neill was first charged and with what offences? Is the Minister aware that on 28th December 1965 an article appeared in the Melbourne “ Sun News-Pictorial “ headed “ Digger writes: ‘ It’s a sick war ‘.”? Does the Minister know that the article was based upon a letter written by Gunner O’Neill?
Can the Minister say that there was no connection whatever between the writing and publication of this letter and the charges levelled against Gunner O’Neill?
– I shall be asking the House for leave to make a short statement about this matter at the conclusion of question time, but, in view of the political nature of the question asked by the honorable member for Yarra, I think it might be appropriate to say now that, in evidence that has been given, Gunner O’Neill has said that he believes in the cause for which our people are fighting in Vietnam.
– Some months ago, in the course of conversation with commercial airline pilots operating in the Cape York area, I was informed that there are no night landing facilities or navigational aids for aircraft in the area north of Normanton-Cairns. Has the Minister for Civil Aviation any programme for the installation of such facilities at Weipa or Horn Island, the airport for Thursday Island, in the near future so that flying conditions in that area might be made safer, especially as weather conditions are frequently extremely bad during the storm season?
– A few weeks ago, 1 inspected airport facilities in north Queensland, including those in some areas of the Cape York Peninsula and the Gulf country. Following this inspection, arrangements were made for the provision of some additional navigational aids in the locality. At Horn Island, we shall be installing a nondirectional beacon. In addition, in order to provide facilities for night landing, we shall be constructing a power house there. Work on those facilities will start in the near future, and I hope they will be operational early in the new year. In addition, when the new airstrip at Weipa is positioned - I expect this will be in the not too distant future - we will install there a nondirectional beacon and distance measuring equipment and runway lighting. This, combined with the equipment at present installed at Cooktown and Normanton, will provide good navigational aid coverage from New Guinea down to Cairns. We have already approved the installation of a non-directional beacon at Groote Eylandt. Work will commence on this in the near future. These additions should provide all the facilities at present needed in the area.
Dr. PATTERSON__ I address a question to the Minister for Primary Industry. In view of the fact that the mono-culture sugar industry is now more dependent than ever before on overseas prices, particularly free market prices, and in view also of the fact that the Queensland Cane Growers Council has completely endorsed the need for a cane stabilisation scheme in Australia, will the Minister inform the House whether he agrees with the decision of the Council, and will he continue to use his good judgment - always in consultation with the industry, of course - to see what steps can be taken to give stability of income to this important industry with the minimum of delay?
– The Government’s policy with regard to the stabilisation of any primary industry is clear cut and has been stated repeatedly by me and by leaders of the Government. That policy applies to the sugar industry. The honorable member has referred to a motion relating to stabilisation which was carried by the Queensland Cane Growers Council. I point out that the Australian Sugar Producers Association did not carry the motion when it was submitted to that body. It has been the practice of the sugar industry organisations to combine and to be represented together when any matter is submitted to the Government for consideration. Trie honorable member and everybody else knows that my door is always open to the representatives of any primary industry who wish to discuss matters relating to stabilisation. There is a vast difference between my approach to this matter and his. This Government is not prepared to put itself in the position of dictating to any industry by saying that an industry must have a particular kind of stabilisation scheme. We want the industries concerned to state the kind of stabilisation schemes they want. The Commonwealth Government and the Queensland Government have placed the sugar industry on the highest level of consideration. At the recent conference overseas, no less persons than the Deputy Prime
Minister and the Queensland Premier associated themselves with representatives of the industry in putting its claims. That is indicative of the level of consideration at which this Government puts the sugar industry.
– I should like to reply very briefly to a question asked yesterday by the honorable member for Scullin in which he referred to questions that he had asked my predecessor on 31st August and 2nd September last year about the policy of life insurance companies in relation to soldiers serving in Vietnam. Yesterday, the honorable gentleman apparently overlooked the fact that the questions had been answered on 30th November last, the answer being recorded in “ Hansard “ at pages 3397 and 3398. I am advised that the position as there described continues to apply.
– by leave - Mr. Speaker, when discussing aspects of the economy in his statement to the House on 8th March, the Prime Minister (Mr. Harold Holt) referred to housing which had been described as a weak spot in the current situation. He mentioned the additional finance, estimated at $24 million, being provided by the savings banks for housing in the second half of 1965-66 and went on to say that the Government had under consideration other measures to support housing. We have, in fact, gone into the position of home building exhaustively, not only studying the available statistics and similar information but also taking the advice of many people and organisations connected with the industry.
The rate at which new dwellings are being started has of course dropped back considerably from the extremely high levels reached in 1964-65 when nearly 117,000 houses and flats were commenced. Yet in the December quarter it was still running at 100,000 dwellings per year, which was high by comparison with most earlier periods. Meanwhile there was a great amount of other building going on and there appeared to be very little spare labour in the industry. The Government attaches very special importance to home building as an element in the economy, this for several reasons. We need more and more homes for the increasing number of young people reaching marriageable age and also for the rising flow of migrants, many of whom come as family groups or are young people who will soon marry. There is nothing more discouraging to people arriving in Australia than to find housing difficult to obtain.
From another standpoint, dwelling construction is one of our largest industries and probably the most pervasive of all in that it goes on practically everywhere. It may not be generally realised that these days, as nearly as can be estimated, ex*penditure on dwellings, including alterations and additions, runs at close to $1,000 million a year. A good deal would have to be added to that for maintenance of existing dwellings and, of course, that is by no means the end of the story. New houses have to be fitted out with appliances and furniture and furnishings, and expenditure on these amounts to a great deal annually. The rate of dwelling construction thus has a vital interest for a very wide range of industries, trades and occupations.
The Government believes that dwelling construction ought to be kept up to the highest practicable level; by which I mean practicable in relation to the resources of labour, materials and equipment available at any time. It is no use trying to push things beyond that point. In fact it would be foolish because all we would get would be delays in construction, rising costs, and a drain of resources from other important activities. The view we reached was that it would be timely to make a certain further amount of finance available, and it appeared to us that the earliest and most certain effects would be achieved if this were done through the State Governments under the Commonwealth and State Housing Agreement. We therefore decided to make an offer to the States. We told them we would agree to support an increase of SI 5 million in the borrowing programmes for this financial year on condition that the share of each State in the additional amount was used wholly for housing purposes. The States have accepted this offer and will probably start to step up their home building activity at once. I should like to point out that the $15 million of additional expenditure will mainly be concentrated in the three months between now and the end of 1965-66. Taking this with the addition of $24 million of savings bank money in the current half year, it is plain that the level of dwelling construction is now being strongly stimulated.
I present the following paper -
Additional Housing Finance - Ministerial Statement, 16th March 1966- and move -
That the House take note of the paper.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Whitlam) adjourned.
– by leave - Mr. Speaker, this unfortunate case commenced when Gunner O’Neill went absent without leave when rostered for operational guard duty on 16th January of this year, by day from 5.30 p.m. until 7 p.m. and for the same night from 8 p.m. until 9 p.m. When the case was heard by the commanding officer, Gunner O’Neill was awarded 21 days’ field punishment and 21 days’ forfeiture of pay. The field punishment awarded involved reporting to the orderly sergeant at 6.30 a.m., 12.45 p.m., 4.45 p.m. and thereafter at hourly intervals until 10 p.m. Gunner O’Neill was also to wear field dress at all times and forgo canteen privileges, movies and stand down days. He was also required to carry out tasks or drill as laid down.
The field punishment was awarded to Gunner O’Neill on the morning of 17lh January 1966. On the afternoon of the same day he refused a direct order to leave his tent to attend a field punishment parade and later a routine administration parade. He was then placed under close arrest. The battery commander directed that the relevant instructions regarding restraint be examined and applied. When the Rules for Field Punishment are read in conjunction with certain provisions of the United Kingdom Army Act, it is clear that the attachment of individuals to fixed objects is for bidden. In the event, Gunner O’Neill- was secured by one hand being handcuffed to what is known as a star picket in a weapon pit which had cover to protect him from enemy action and provide shelter from the sun and which afforded privacy. Reports which have been published stating that Gunner O’Neill was secured to the picket for 20 days are incorrect. The total period involved was seven days. He was removed from the weapons pit each night and slept in a tent with one hand secured to his stretcher. I have now had an opportunity to study the proceedings of Gunner O’Neill’s court martial and in particular his own evidence on oath in which he stated -
The maintenance of discipline in the field is of the greatest importance as the lives of soldiers may depend on their response to the orders of their superior officers. At the same time it is recognised that commanding officers must observe the requirements of military law in the exercise of disciplinary control. This matter has been carefully examined in accordance with normal military procedures and the appropriate military authority, Brigadier Jackson, Commander, Australian Armed Forces Vietnam, has indicated that appropriate disciplinary action will be taken in this case as soon as operational circumstances permit.
I might add, in relation to the two charges on which Gunner O’Neill was court martialled, the proceedings were reviewed in the normal way by the Judge Advocate General. On his advice, the conviction on the second charge relating to failure to attend a field punishment parade was quashed, although the conviction on the first charge, dealing with failure to attend an administrative parade, to which Gunner O’Neill pleaded guilty, of course stands. In respect of that conviction the sentence has been reduced from 6 months to 90 days’ detention. The remainder of the original sentence directing his discharge from the Army stands.
I present the following paper -
Case of Gunner O’Neill - Ministerial Statement, 16th March 1966- and move -
That the House take note of the paper.
– Before moving that the debate be adjourned, Mr. Speaker, I should like to ask the Minister whether he would be prepared to table the transcript of the court martial of Gunner O’Neill.
– Order! I think that the Minister and the honorable member had better get together on that question.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Galvin) adjourned.
– I move -
That, in accordance with the provisions of the Public Works Committee Act 1913-1965, it is expedient to carry out the following proposed work which was referred to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works and on which the committee has duly reported to this House: - Construction of the Top Springs to Wave Hill Road, Northern Territory.
Mr. Speaker, the proposal submitted to the Public Works Committee involved the construction of a road between Top Springs and Wave Hill, at an estimated cost of $2.2 million for the transportation of beef cattle. The Committee has reported favourably on the proposal and, in addition, has recommended that the road be sealed at an estimated additional cost of $500,000. It is proposed to accept this recommendation. With the concurrence of the House in this resolution, the work can proceed in accordance with the conditions recommended.
– Mr. Speaker, I express my approval of the decision of the Government to proceed with this work and particularly its acceptance of the recommendation made by the Public Works Committee that this road be sealed. In the past, beef roads in the Northern Territory have not been built to the highest possible standard. The sealing of the Top Springs to Wave Hill road is a departure which can well be followed in future. This is a very important road. It feeds from the cattle country of the Victoria River Downs area to the meatworks at Katherine and also at Darwin. Many thousand head of cattle are transported over this road every year. Heavy vehicles are required to move the large numbers of cattle to these meatworks. Under the old conditions when the roads were constructed of dirt, a great deal of havoc was occasioned not only to the cattle but also to the vehicles, and a great deal of damage was done to the roads. I think that the sealing of this road will prove to be a very wise move. A considerable saving to the taxpayer could be achieved if the Government, when it constructs roads of this nature, proceeds immediately to. seal them. If a road in this country is not sealed immediately it is constructed, it rapidly deteriorates and the cost of reconstruction and rehabilitation is often as much as the cost of the original construction. The sealing of this road is a wise move. It must be commended.
I do not know what degree of priority has been allotted to this road in the scheme of beef road construction. The honorable member for Dawson (Dr. Patterson) said last night that there was a report on the priority system of beef road construction throughout northern Australia. If we had that report we would be able to visualise and appreciate the priority that the Top Springs to Wave Hill road has in such a beef road programme. But I do say that, within that scheme, this road will service a vast area of the cattle country of the North and in particular the Northern Territory about which we are speaking now. It could be that there are other roads in this priority group. We know that there are other roads which should be constructed in the Northern Territory as well to serve the beef cattle industry. Reverting to the road under consideration, I feel that the work should proceed with the least possible delay. The dry season is about to commence. The sooner work on this road gets under way the better it will be to take advantage of the dry conditions and the most favorabls weather for road construction in that part of the Northern Territory.
.- Mr. Speaker, I also express my approval at the recommendation of the Public Works Committee regarding the Top Springs to Wave Hill road. This road has often been referred to in the Northern Territory as the missing link in the Victoria River district. It is, of course, one of the most important roads in the south western portion of the Victoria River district serving a number of properties. It leads in from the Murranji Track to such properties as Camfield, Montejinnie, Wave Hill, Mount Sandford of Victoria River Downs, Inverway, Birrindudu and the desert blocks. All those properties are most important to the welfare of the Northern Territory and particularly with respect to keeping the meatworks at Katherine and Darwin in operation.
One of the puzzling features about this road is why it has taken the Public Works Committee so long to reach a conclusion in its deliberations. I think it is at least two years since this proposed work was referred to the Committee. Even though that may appear a long time, the most important thing is that the Committee has made a favourable recommendation for the construction of this road.
I am most pleased to see that the recommendation of the Committee supports the sealing of the road because in this particular area of Australia dirt roads just will not meet the requirements. The losses last year at the meatworks at Katherine are typical of what can happen if we do not provide sealed roads. I do not’ know what the exact figures are in this respect but they are very significant. They relate not only to this road but also to the road from Katherine to Top Springs, via Willeroo, which leads into the Top SpringsWave Hill road.
The other point I mention about this road relates to the question as to where, as the honorable member for the Northern Territory (Mr. Nelson) stated, this road fits into the beef road priorities in the Northern Territory. There is no question that it is a very high priority road. The Government has given the green light to go ahead with the Katherine-Top Springs road via the Willeroo road and it is pretty significant that this road should be constructed without delay also. While that may be so, we must remember that there are other roads in the Northern Territory. One of the most important of these feeds from the Stuart Highway to Borroloola and the McArthur River. But if the design and construction mechanism is ready to go, it would seem that the Wave Hill road should have a very high priority. My only reservation about it is that the economicjustification for this road is based on two factors. One is an immediate increase in turnoff. This comprises the turnoff of aged cows and younger cattle. This turnoff is dominated by the large station at Wave Hill. This property, I assume, would use this road for the transport of store cattle across to Helen Springs and for the transport of cast for age cows at Manbulloo.
The only thing that worries me is that the justification for the road is based on the increased turnoff which is highly dependent on these properties carrying out programmes of improvement. Now, I believe that the companies in these areas will go ahead and carry out improvements. But I do think that before the Government gives the green light for the construction of some of these roads, it ought to be assured that the properties will implement high levels of improvement, because $2.2 million is a lot of money for a small number of properties.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Debate resumed from 15th March (vide page 266), on motion by Mr. Harold Holt -
That the Housetake note of the following paper -
State of Policy by New Government - Ministerial Statement, 8th March 1966.
Upon which Mr. Calwell had moved by way of amendment-
That all words after “That” be omitted with a view to inserting the following words in place thereof - “ this House records -
its most emphatic opposition to the despatch of conscripted youths for service in Vietnam and the increased military commitment in that country, and
its disapproval of and grave concern at the Government’s failure -
to maintain the purchasing power of the Australian community;
to retain an adequate and proper Australian share in the ownership and development of our national resources, particularly in Northern Australia;
to alleviate the effects of the drought and take steps to rehabilitate rural industries and conserve water resources; (ti) to make adequate provision lot housing and associated community facilities, and
to submit to referendum the two Bills to alter the Constitution in respect of Aborigines and the Parliament which were passed last year and, in connection wilh the latter Bill, to disclose the related distribution proposals “.
.- Although the amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) does not include a specific censure of the Government, it amounts to a censure motion, and 1 am sure that members of the Opposition would be quite happy to regard it as a censure motion. Touching as it does upon so many major facets of the Government’s present policy and activities, and worded as it is, the amendment plainly amounts to a censure motion. I do not think there would be any worthwhile argument on that point.
The most remarkable feature of the amendment, to my mind, is that it has been moved by a member of the Labour Party and on behalf of the other members of that Party. Let me say at once, Mr. Deputy Speaker, that at long last you can wring out of me an admission of admiration for the Labour Party. I would never have believed that a party in such a splended state of disarray as the Labour Party is at present would have had the hide to move what amounts to a censure motion upon the Government. That the amendment has been moved in the present circumstances is a most remarkable fact, and apparently it is one that has virtually escaped the attention of the Opposition. I do not believe that it should escape the attention of the Australian people because behind any censure motion, or any motion or amendment that amounts to a censure motion, stands the proposition that those proposing it represent the alternative government. Here we see the alternative government sitting on the opposite side of the House today, in a splended state of dissension.
Peace, we are told, has broken out between the Leader of the Opposition and the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam). They are struggling hard to come to some arrangement whereby they can converse with each other. I am bound to say that for my part I do not accept some of the rather extravagant suggestions that are made as to how their relationships are being conducted. For example, I dismiss rather summarily the claim that they are talking to each other through the medium of the Telstar satellite. We have heard the Leader of the Opposition speak in this debate. We are waiting with growing impatience for the observations to be made by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, this wonderful man of destiny who has such a persuasive sense of vanity that he even sought to perpetuate part of his name by describing the executive of his Party as the witless 12. Is the Labour Party inhibited by such a statement? Are the members of the Labour Party embarrassed by it? Not a bit! They have launched forth on this censure motion. 1 think the people of this country should face the fact that the Labour Party regards its organisation outside the Parliament as being part of the system of government. There has never been any dispute about that. But now the witless 12 have referred the behaviour of the Deputy Leader of the Opposition .to the faceless 36, who are to meet on 25th March to consider the charge of gross disloyalty against the Deputy Leader of the Opposition. Twenty days, strangely enough, Mr. Deputy Speaker, span the period between the lodging of the charge by the Federal Executive of the Labour Party and the hearing of the charge by the faceless 36. I thought how strangely apposite it was to reflect upon the way in which the Leader of the Opposition and his Deputy have emerged more or less as Shakespeare’s two gentlemen of Verona -
With twenty watchful, weary, tedious nights; If haply won, perhaps a hapless gain; If lost, why then a grievous labour won; However, but a folly bought with wit, Or else a wit by folly vanquished.
Well, we will have to wait to find out whether the wit is going to be vanquished by folly on 25th March or whether the contrary will be the case.
The first and major part of the amendment deals with South Vietnam. Before I pass a few fleeting remarks on the major issue may I say that to me one of the singular features of the Labour Party’s attack on the Government’s policy of national service training has been the way in which the members of the Labour Party have waged a constant campaign of denigration of national service training. “Conscript” to the Labour Party is a dirty nine-letter word, and the members of that Party have tried to encourage the people of Australia to accept the proposition that there is something almost unwholesome about being a national service trainee. Patriotism, a decent pride in one’s nation - these are sentiments which presumably honorable members opposite discount. It is rather interesting, Sir, that they put themselves in this position, because the campaign they have waged can be described as a most despicable one.
I want to turn to the remarks passed last night by the Leader of the Opposition. He said -
We have always been an anti-conscriptionist Party and we are proud of it. When we cease to be that, we cease to be an Australian Labour Party.
He went on -
We have agreed to the imposition of conscription only once in our history.
I love the use of the pronoun “ we “ in that context. Let me prevail upon you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, to sweep back with me some 24 years and review the scene in this chamber at 5 o’clock on 11th December 1942. Those were terrible days for the people of this country. I will read to you some words spoken in this chamber on that day by a man who sat on the Government side - 1 know full well that five years hence no person at present sitting on this side of the House who votes for conscription will still be a member of the Parliament because the Labour movement will certainly have replaced him by an anticonscriptionist.
Who said that? The honorable member for Melbourne (Mr. Calwell), the Leader of the Opposition today. Yet he had the temerity to say in this House last night: “ We have agreed to the imposition of conscription only once “. Again I direct attention to his use of the plural pronoun. No person in those dark, desperate days was more flat-footed in his opposition to any form of national service than was the present Leader of the Opposition. Yet h’ invokes, as it were, the royal plural, saying: “We have agreed”. The honorable gentle man has not changed very much at all. But then he went on last night to say this -
We will never support the use of conscripts in overseas wars for the defence of any part of Asia. We will not accept any moral responsibility whatsoever in this matter.
Proud words to the honorable gentleman, but representative, I submit, of a strange and wretched doctrine - “ We will never accept any moral- responsibility whatsoever in this matter “. Am- 1 to understand from the honorable gentleman that no matter what appeal came out of Asia, no matter from what country it came, no matter in what circumstances the appeal came, the honorable gentleman would sit and say: “We have no moral responsibility in this matter “? One can only assess his attitude on the plain meaning of the words used. There is no ambiguity about them. The honorable gentleman says: “ We will not accept any moral responsibility in this matter “.
I hope that the Australian people will be given an opportunity to understand where the Leader of the Opposition - the alternative government - stands on this matter. Presumably one is entitled to put the view that he spoke on this occasion for his Party, although it is a rather hazardous business to try to find out when the honorable member speaks for his Party or when the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam) - this man of destiny - speaks for his Party. I thought when I listened to the words of the Leader of the Opposition last night that what he said was odd indeed. Then my memory was jerked into the realisation that this was a basic revelation of his essential philosophy towards these matters and represented no departure at all from his previous attitude. In the dark, desperate days of 1942 - on this occasion on 10th December 1942 - the honorable member had something to say.
– Was that when Menzies abdicated?
– The honorable member for Scullin intrigues me. I think he is one of the most intriguing pieces of anatomy I have ever met. It is perfectly clear that he has not the wit to understand what I am talking about, but I would have thought he would have the stomach to listen to it
In 1942 the present Leader of the Opposition said -
To me geography does not matter. Whether the compulsion is for the south west Pacific or for Europe, it is still military conscription for overseas service, and therefore, abhorrent to the traditional, democratic principles of this country, and something that should be abhorred and shunned.
Note the words: “ To me geography does not matter “’. Again one is driven to the irresistible conclusion, linking the expression of his philosophy with what he said last night - that the Labour Party will accept no moral responsibility whatever in this matter - that he takes the view that the people of this country should shun completely all activity hostile to the human race no matter where it occurs. I want to say only one thing about that: The nation that tries to live to itself will certainly perish by itself.
Let me turn now to the central thesis of the argument of the Leader of the Opposition, the one that he put to the House last night when he said: “ The war in South Vietnam is a cruel, unwinnable, civil war”. May I say to the honorable gentleman that I admit the cruelty of the war. I will not yield one ounce to him in my rejection of human cruelty, no matter what form it may take. I abhor cruelty as readily as does the Leader of the Opposition, but how real is it, Sir, to describe this as a civil war? Right throughout the debates upon Vietnam in this country the Labour Party has put emphasis upon one claim above all others - that this is a civil war. That is the line pursued by the Labour Party. 1 direct the attention of the House to the views of Ho Chi Minh. At least the honorable gentleman would not dub him a Fascist. This is what Ho Chi Minh had to say at the Third Congress of the Communist Party in Hanoi in September 1960 -
Dear comrades, the Vietnamese revolution is a part of the world forces of peace, democracy, and Socialism. The Democratic Republic of Vietnam is a member of the big Socialist family headed by the great Soviet Union.
Is there anything in that which would suggest that this is a civil war? Ho Chi Minh, the leader of the North Vietnamese, plainly identifies the fact that this war is part of the international Communist struggle. Some boofheads around the place may be disposed to reject the words of Ho Chi Minh, but I hope that all serious minded people will at least be prepared to recognise them even if they are not prepared to agree with them.
That brings me to the basic fallacy which, I submit, exists in the Labour Party’s attitude towards Vietnam and which exists in the attitude of all those who agree with the Labour Party on this issue. The Labour Party and those other people want to regard the struggle in Vietnam today as being, first, a civil war - which I submit is complete nonsense - and beyond that they want to keep on maintaining the thesis that this war should be considered in isolation. You cannot consider events in South Vietnam in isolation. I hope that honorable gentlemen opposite - some of them with an unrivalled knowledge of the works of Mao Tse-tung - would be prepared to recognise his thesis on the waging of guerrilla warfare. In an adumbration, it comes to this: You set out to isolate the towns and cities and to maintain strength throughout the country. By keeping up this activity throughout the particular country you are in - subsequently this has been projected to the world stage - you eventually destroy the cities. This is the view put by the Vice Chairman oi the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China, Lin Piao, reported in the “ Peking Review” of 3rd September 1965. I would imagine that to be a fairly acceptable authority for some honorable gentlemen opposite. It is put there in the plainest possible terms that Communist China regards “ the struggle of the Vietnamese people against United States aggression and for national salvation “ now as the ‘’ focus of the struggle of the people of the world against U.S. aggression “. So what is happening in Vietnam is the broad manifestation of international Communist aggrandisement in the world today. If the problem were to be solved from the Communist point of view tomorrow it would manifest itself somewhere else.
I have not time to follow all the various frolics of the Leader of the Opposition. The last one to which I would like to refer is the old bromide about pulling in the United Nations. The honorable gentleman has never once suggested how this should be done, but I want to put this proposition to him: He recognises the existence of the United Nations. Suppose the United Nations Security Council, under Article 43, said say to this country: “ Make available 40,000 servicemen to go into Vietnam for the purpose of intervening.” Let us further assume that that number of troops was not immediately available. Would the honorable gentleman then be prepared to accept national service trainees? I put that proposition to him. There is this great contradiction in the policy of the Labour Party: It approbates the United Nations when it suits it to do so, but if the Labour Party were ever put in the spot where it had to reject any provision of the United Nations it would do so with the utmost alacrity.
Finally, I want to say that the Labour Party is failing in its parliamentary duty principally because it will not recognise the fact that the members of the Communist Party in this country, or outside this country are sheer scavengers of human dignity and human liberty. If there is to be any retreat in South Vietnam, if there is to be an abandonment of the people of South Vietnam to those who run international Communism, and the problem disappears in South Vietnam, the question to be asked is: Who will be next? This is the question I invite honorable gentlemen opposite to answer. If South Vietnam disappears, whose liberty is then to expire?
Debate (on motion by Mr. Coutts) adjourned.
– I move -
Customs Tariff Proposals (No. 3) (1966).
Mr. Speaker, Customs Tariff Proposals No. 3, which I have just tabled, relate to proposed amendments of the Customs Tariff 1966. The amendments will operate from tomorrow morning. Amendments contained in Proposals No. 3 give effect to the Government’s decisions following receipt of the Tariff Board’s reports on -
Peanuts, peanut .oil and olive oil; and Glass grains (ballotini).
In the first-mentioned report, the Board’s recommendations on peanut oil, olive oil and other edible oils are of an interim nature. Following an earlier report on safflower oil the Government had accepted a suggestion by the Board that the long-term protection on these oils should be determined after a general review of the vegetable oil industry. It had been intended that this review would have commenced next year. In the present report the Board has again referred to the need for a full review of the vegetable oil industry. It has recommended that, in the meantime, peanut oil production be assisted by a bounty and by new protective duties on rapeseed and mixed oils. A variation in the bylaw arrangement which at present protects the local production of olive oil has also been recommended.
After considering the Board’s conclusion that the question of long term assistance for local peanut oil, as well as for local cottonseed and safflower oils, could be determined only after a general review covering all vegetable oils, the Government has decided that the general review should be held now instead of next year. In these changed circumstances, the Government has decided to continue the present form of assistance to the local production of peanut oil until the Board has again reported on the industry. Accordingly, the present duties are being maintained and bylaw concessions on imported peanut oil will continue for purchasers of local peanuts for peanut oil production during the interim period. A ratio of four gallons under bylaw to each gallon produced from local peanuts will continue to apply in respect of the drought affected crop harvested in 1965 and a ratio of three to one will apply to any subsequent normal crop. The Board’s recommendations on rapeseed oil and on mixed vegetable oils have been accepted. New rates of S0.40 per gallon general and $0,267 per gallon preferential are being applied. These new duties are in line with those on other vegetable oils for which rapeseed and mixed oils are substitutes. The Government has also accepted the Board’s recommendation on olive oil. Pending the proposed review, purchasers of local olive oil will be permitted to import one gallon of imported olive oil for each gallon purchased from local producers. There will be no change in the duties.
For glass grains, also known as ballotini, which are used mainly in reflective signs and which are now being successfully produced in Australia, the Proposals provide protective ad valorem duties of 35 per cent. General Rate and 25 per cent.
Preferential Rate. The balance ot the amendments in Proposals No. 3 are necessary to improve the translation from the Customs Tariff 1933-1965 to the new Tariff based on the Brussels Nomenclature which operated from 1st July 1965. These changes ensure a continuation of the duty position existing prior to 1st July 1965 and are in accordance with the undertaking given when the new Tariff was introduced last May. Details of the Tariff changes are contained in the summaries of Tariff changes being circulated to honorable members. I commend the proposals to honorable members.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Pollard) adjourned.
Reports on Items.
– 1 present reports by the Tariff Board on the following subjects -
Glass grains (ballotini)
Peanuts, peanut oil and olive oil.
T also present reports by the Tariff Board on -
Copper and brass strip, etc Garage and workshop test equipment, and Phenol formaldehyde moulding materia] (Dumping and Subsidies Act). which do not call for any legislative action. Ordered that the reports be printed.
Debate resumed (vide page 286).
.- We are debating an amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) to the motion proposed by the new Prime Minister (Mr. Harold Holt) that the House take note of the paper announcing the policy of his Government. The Press has decided to introduce an Americanism into the designation of the debate and has termed the Prime Minister’s speech as his report on the state of the nation. I imagine that the designation will stick and that we will be told that these speeches which will be delivered from time to time by the Prime Minister, whoever he may be, will be reports on the state of the nation. But the Prime Minister’s remarks were, if 1 may use the word which is frequently used in other places by him, bikini like. The important part of the speech is, like the bikini, in what is concealed. The Prime Minister has been at pains to use many pages of “ Hansard “ to refer to conditions in other countries and has made very brief references to the conditions that exist in Australia. Whilst I shall make some brief reference to overseas affairs, I am more concerned with conditions that apply in Australia and how the policy of this Government and the policy of the preceding Government have reacted disastrously on the great bulk of the Australian people.
First, the Prime Minister, in his 70 minute oration, spoke for a long time on the conditions in Vietnam. My leader has moved an amendment which embraces that part of the Prime Minister’s speech dealing with this matter. I shall state where I stand on this situation. We have been told that the number of personnel serving in Vietnam is to be increased from 1,500 to 4,500. After the Army has spent $2,700,000 in the last five years in advertising in the daily Press for men to join the Australian Regular Army, we find that Australia is unable to use its Regular Army personnel in sufficient numbers to meet the increased commitment in Vietnam. The Government has decided to use national service trainees, 20 years of age, who have been conscripted into the Services. They will be sent to Vietnam. These young men have never had a say in the government of their country. If they are under 21 years of age when they are serving in Vietnam, they will have no say in the government of their country. They are being pushed around by the Government but have no voice in the choice of the Government. Whenever the Australian people have been given the opportunity to say whether Australian men should be conscripted for overseas service, they have overwhelmingly said “No”. I believe that if the people were asked for their opinion on this occasion they would be more emphatic than they were on other occasions. The Australian Labour Party has challenged the Government to allow the Australian people to decide this issue, but the Government is not prepared to accept the challenge. It is not prepared to take the risk of giving the. people an opportunity to say whether they endorse the policy of the Government to conscript young men for overseas service.
As the war in Vietnam goes on the number of servicemen will be increased. With more men serving there, unfortunately there will be more casualties. The casualty rate in the Australian military operation in Vietnam has been very high. I support the stand taken by the Australian Labour Party on the use of conscripts in Vietnam. It is shocking for the Government to impose its will on these young men who, as I said earlier, have had no chance to express their opinion on any occasion in the choice of government. We know that the Government does not intend to allow them to express their opinion until, by age, they become entitled to enrolment and to vote under the existing laws of the Commonwealth. - One of the most important social problems in Australia is the lack of housing for the community. I listened attentively to the Prime Minister a week ago and to the Treasurer (Mr. McMahon) today. I have also read the remarks of the newly appointed Minister for Housing (Senator Dame Annabelle Rankin), who has made very many brave speeches on housing since she was appointed to the Ministry. I wish her well in her portfolio. I hope that effect can be given to the words she has uttered from time to time, but I am afraid that the Prime Minister is guilty of the very ungallant action of hiding behind, the skirts of a very charming woman. The Government’s policy on housing is disastrous. The Treasurer and the Prime Minister have admitted that the rate of construction of homes has fallen considerably. I believe that the Government’s failure to solve this important social problem and to improve the rate of home construction led the Prime Minister to select Senator Dame Annabelle Rankin as the Minister for Housing. Knowing what a vote catcher she is in Queensland, he hopes that his misdeeds will be forgotten because of the charm of his Minister. I accuse the Prime Minister of being very ungallant. He is being most unfair to this very charming lady. The Treasurer said that there was to be an infusion of money into home building, but the position will not be improved because the Government is not facing up to the situation as it should.
– The Government is leaving it to the private lenders.
– As my friend from Wide Bay said, the private lenders wi H provide the money for housing. Unfortunately, the banks are not generous when asked to make loans to people who want to purchase homes or to build them. A neighbour of mine in Young Street, Annerley has decided to buy a home. He is a young tradesman with a wife and three young children. He purchased a home on the outskirts of Brisbane for £2,100. His security is good. He is a good tradesman earning good money. The banks will not assist him by providing finance, but a private money lender has made money available to him at 12 per cent. Fortunately, this is a reducing rate. Interest at the rate of 12 per cent, on a loan for the purchase of a home would frighten anyone but the extremely rash, brave man that this young man is. Who would have thought that in these days the rate of 12 per cent, would have been charged? Certainly there is room for the Government and the new Minister for Housing to introduce a new housing policy and to improve the conditions of people who ‘ seek to buy a home.
The Prime Minister skipped over the very important matter of the change to decimal currency. In a speech lasting 70 minutes, he devoted only two paragraphs to this issue. The change to decimal currency provided an opportunity to manufacturers and business men to engage in profiteering, and they have not been slow to take advantage of the situation. Many, in an effort to preserve some sense of decency, decided a month or so before the change to decimal currency on 14th February to increase the prices of their commodities so that the prices would just fit into the new decimal currency scale. The price of an article costing, say, 2s. 3d. was increased to 2s. 6d., which is readily converted to 25 cents. The increase was attributed to increased costs of production, but frequently the price was increased merely to fit in with the new system of decimal currency. We have also the example of newspapers. The Brisbane “ Courier Mail “ did not reduce its price; and by referring to the old currency its present price represents an increase of 20 per cent. This is a nice sudden increase in the cost of a. newspaper. Originally it cost 5d. but now it is costing 5c, the equivalent of 6d. in the old currency. I have no doubt that in addition there would have been an adjustment in the cost of advertising. This type of thing has gone on throughout the country. Prices have been increased alarmingly. A type of brigandage has been practised by the business community, and the poor people who have been robbed are the workers, the farmers and the ordinary people in the community.
I witnessed a sorry sight in a Canberra shop at the weekend. It almost brought tears to my eyes, and if that can happen it must have been pretty bad. I was in a shop when a little child aged five years came in to buy, as she had been doing for some months, six little lollies for 6d. She tendered her 6d. and the attendant gave her five lollies. The little girl said: “ Miss, I always get six lollies for my 6d.”. The Business lady said: “ Ah, but they are now lc each “. So the little girl was robbed of a lolly in the name of decimal currency. Would not that make any member who witnessed such an incident wipe his eyes? I can see honorable members opposite laughing. They are enthusiastic about the greater profit the businessman can make from such happenings.
– If the honorable member had not been such a louse he would have bought her an extra lolly. Why did he not do so?
– I refuse to bribe the voters whether they are Mr. Fraser’s voters or mine. Unfortunately this soft of thing has gone on throughout Australia. The Commonwealth Government can, like Pilate, wash its hands of the matter. It has no hand in price control. However, the Liberal Governments that control four of the States are not interested in price control. The Premier of Queensland could not care less. He refuses to see deputations of trade unionists who are concerned with this robbery of the people that is being approved by the various Liberal and Country Party Governments in Australia. It is all building up and will react against this Commonwealth Government in due course. It is useless for the Prime Minister to imagine that he has the same degree of popularity in the country as his precedessor. I am sure that the people, when they have an opportunity of expressing their opinion of this Government because of what has happened in the few months that the Prime Minister has been in the saddle, will express their resentment in a definite way.
I was rather intrigued by the speech of the Minister for Defence (Mr. Fairhall) last night when dealing with the Government’s overseas policy. He spoke of Chinese Communists and said -
They were frightening words. I ask: Why are we feeding the Chinese Communists? Why are we clothing them? Our principle customer for wheat is Communist China. We are feeding the persons the Minister for Defence says are out to dominate the world. Some years ago at Port Kembla a group of waterside workers refused to load scrap iron for Japan. This was in 1937. They said: “ This will ultimately be used as bullets against Australian troops.” They were branded as traitors to this country because they refused to load the scrap iron A name was coined for the Prime Minister of the day who insisted on this scrap metal being sent to Japan. He was called “ Pig Iron Bob”. We know that the scrap metal did come back all the way from Japan to New Guinea and that it was directed at the heart of Australia. We know that the watersiders were condemned roundly for their stand and that the man who, as Prime Minister, used the whip on them was knighted and feted. However, this type of thing is still going on.
The Minister for Defence says that we must read and learn. Let the Government do something if it is really sincere in this matter. If it believes that Communist China has a hand in Vietnam, why is it continuing to feed and clothe the people of China? Let us be honest. Let us take the matter seriously. I think the Government is out for as much money as it can get for the producers of Australia irrespective of where the produce goes. It is up to the Government to take the people completely into its confidence and to be honest with them in these matters.
.- The honorable member for Griffiths (Mr. Coutts) made a couple of statements that call for some ventilation. First, he said that the Australian people always rejected attempts to send national service trainees overseas. Let us look at the history books. The only time previously in our history when national service trainees had an opportunity to be sent overseas was when the Australian Labour Party was in power. The honorable member seems to forget this. Secondly, he complained that national service trainees did not have a vote in the affairs of the nation. Did he, as a member of the Labour Party when it was in power, give national service trainees such a vote? Of course he did not. The Labour Party did not give them a vote. The honorable member concluded with a dissertation on our selling wheat to Red China. I should like to tell him of my experience when I was in Formosa, which is Nationalist China and which is not many miles from the mainland of Communist China. Questions were frequently asked about Australia selling wheat to Red China. Ministers in the Nationalist Chinese Government said that they had no objections to Australia selling wheat to Red China because while Australia was selling wheat to Red China and getting gold for it the Red Chinese had less to spend on guns. Members opposite can laugh as much as they like, but if anyone is affected by our selling wheat to Red China it is the Nationalist Chinese, yet that was their attitude to this question.
Last night, in replying to the statement of the Prime Minister (Mr. Harold Holt), the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) reminded me of a duck shooter who saws off the barrels of his gun so that he can pepper everything in sight in the hope that something might fall. I think the Leader might have been better served had he relied on a choke barrel and aimed at one thing in particular. It seemed to me that in his endeavours to win votes, or to win support from the people who sit behind him, he tried to cover all the hot political issues affecting the nation. I think his attempt failed dismally.
I congratulate the Prime Minister on his first statement as Leader of the Government. When one Prime Minister has held office for many years there is a danger that his successor will be forced to live in his predecessor’s shadow. It is obvious that our new Prime Minister, will not live in the shadow of Sir Robert Menzies. In some respects the statement made to the Parliament, and to the people, last week by the Prime Minister demonstrated a breakthrough in policy. He has presented to the Australian people a new image. I believe that, already, there is a new dynamism in the community. Sir Robert Menzies has a wonderful record of long service. One thing on which he may look back with pride is the record that not once in the history of the various governments which he led was there a breath of scandal about a Minister, a member of Parliament or the head of a Government department.
– There never has been any scandal about members of this House.
– The Leader of the Opposition has already made his speech. Sir Robert Menzies had an impressive physical appearance and a unique ability to marshal his facts. The Australian community was aware of his impressive appearance. I should like to recount an argument that I had one day with my five year old son. His mother had asked him to do something and he had refused. I came into the argument and said: “ Look son, Mummy said you have to do this, so do it.” He looked up and said “ You are not the boss”. I said: “Who is?”. He said: “God is”. That reply set me back a little. I said: “I must be boss after God”. He said: “No, you are not”. I said: “Who is?”. He said: “Mr. Menzies “.
The Prime Minister’s speech last week broke new ground in several respects. Unfortunately I do not have time to deal fully with all the matters that I should like to raise, but I hope that as the various matters come before the Parliament opportunity will arise for debate on them. I particularly congratulate the Government on its decision to introduce a Vietnam medal. I have always thought it incongruous that Australian troops serving in Vietnam should be entitled to wear only the General Service Medal with Vietnam clasp. The Government has made a wise decision which will meet with the warm approval of servicemen - this matter was mentioned by them to me when I was in Vietnam - the Returned Servicemen’s League and the general public.
I turn particularly to the subject of rural finance because this is a matter that has been of more than usual interest to me and to other members of the Australian Country Party. I am delighted that the Government is to make available $30 million for farm loans. It may be said that I have harped on this subject somewhat since I entered the Parliament but if I have done so it has been because I have seen the erosion of the banks from their traditional position as lenders to the farming community. This has not been necessarily the fault of the banks. Nevertheless, their position has eroded. I am grateful to the Research Director of the Australian Bankers Association for some figures which show conclusively that while in the past 10 years the volume of rural production has increased by between 75 per cent, and 100 per cent., the proportion of bank lending to rural industries has decreased from 23.8 per cent, to 21.8 per cent. On the other hand, the figures show that in the same period lending to rural industries by pastoral companies has almost doubled. The figures show also an increase of 350 per cent, in lending by life offices. There may be many reasons why the proportion of bank lending has declined in the past 10 years. Not the least of those reasons would be the lack of guarantee that the banks have about calls on their liquidity into the statutory reserve deposit. From time to time, calls have been made upon liquidity that have embarrassed the banks in their lending, so they have sought short term lending rather than long term lending in order that they may more easily meet their commitments to the statutory reserve deposit. I think that, on occasion, the banks have used this situation as an excuse to reject a reasonable application for finance.
I do not think they are altogether in the clear in this respect because, undoubtedly, it may be said that areas other than rural lending are more profitable for the banks. This is due to the fact that the manu facturer in secondary industry can take a market survey and ascertain the possibilities of the market. He can budget fairly accurately as regards his outgoings and returns. He is able to include in the price of his article the cost of capital borrowings. Therefore, he can operate on a short term basis, knowing that he can recoup his capital outlay and repay his borrowings. This field of lending is more attractive to the banking institutions than is rural lending. Whatever the reasons may be, the fact is that rural lending by the banks is declining compared with lending from other avenues.
What is most significant in this field is that the term of loans has been reduced. Take the case of a farmer who seeks a bank loan in order to develop land that has been unproductive for generations: The farmer may wish to bring the land back into production and to keep it in production for future generations. He will be asked to repay the loan in three, five or nine years. This is a ridiculous situation. You cannot be expected to repay capital borrowings in such a short time wilh income from land that has been out of production for so long. Such a policy is stultifying development. I know that a term lending fund was set up. I had great hopes that it would be of some advantage to the rural community. It probably has done some good, but on a very limited scale, because only 34 per cent, of the money lent from the fund went to rural industries. Rural industries are in a totally different position from that of any other borrowing sector in the community and they should be treated differently. First, rural industries sell their products on a world market. They have seasonal worries. They are not sure what the seasons will do to them. They do not know the price they will get for their commodity. Other sectors of the community which borrow money are better able to judge the price they will get for their product than is the farming community. Other sectors are better able to judge their turnover. I would suggest that rural lending should be completely divorced from other forms of lending In the banking sphere. I would hope that certainly within the Commonwealth Bank some consideration will be given to my remarks.
Very few details were given by the Prime Minister of the proposed rural loans. I have had letters and telegrams from responsible people in my electorate seeking details of interest rates and the period of the loans. I have received a letter from the President of the Victorian Division of the Australian Primary Producers Union, Mr. Royden Gerrand. He lives in my electorate. In his letter he congratulates the Government on providing $50 million for farm loans and asks -
Could you, on my behalf as State President of the A.P.P.U. please find put further details, such as -
He suggested 15 years -
He suggests 3 per cent. That is not the only letter I have received. I have had other letters and telegrams. It is important that the Prime Minister and the Treasurer (Mr. McMahon), who are to meet representatives of the banks tomorrow, should be aware of the views of the rural community on this matter. I think it is desirable that the Prime Minister and the Treasurer read some of the letters and telegrams that honorable members have received dealing with the Government’s proposal for rural loans. I hope the Treasurer will give consideration to this very important matter. The minimum term for a developmental proposition should be 15 years, and 3 per cent, is certainly a reasonable rate of interest when one gives thought to the significance of the development of Australia that can result from farm lending.
I turn now to deal briefly with a small passage in the Prime Minister’s statement relating to the planting of pine trees. It followed a statement which was made by the Minister for National Development (Mr. Fairbairn) some days ago, in which he said that $20 million will be lent to the State Governments for the planting of State forests. I applaud the decision the Government has taken in this matter, but I ask that it give some thought to encouraging private enterprise to plant pine forests. As an example of what can be done by private enterprise, I refer to Australian Paper Manufacturers Ltd. in Gippsland. I do not think anyone will deny that this is a very large and very efficient organisation. It has planted 1 55,000 acres of pine forests in the electorate of Gippsland. There are not many ordinary farmers in Australia who are able to plant trees, and not much encouragement to do this is offered to them. Yet in other parts of the world, farmers are encouraged to engage in tree farming as part ofa normal farming programme. There is legislation in Victoria designed to encourage farmers to plant trees. The Victorian Government is now making loans available for this work at the rate of £25 an acre, up to a maximum of £2,500, no interest being payable until after 121/3 years. This is very encouraging, and I should imagine it is the sort of thing that this Government would be happy to encourage, but we cannot hope to have tree planting on a large scale on private property whilst the taxation burden remains as it is. I believe that the Government should give consideration to the granting of tax concessions to encourage people to plant pine trees. Having grown a crop for 40 years and having, for all that time, kept fires out of it and kept it free from disease, it is most unfortunate, when the crop is harvested - it is a very short harvesting period - that, irrespective of the ability of the farmer to average his income over a live-year period, his taxation burden in respect of the crop is so heavy that he finds it was not worth his venturing into the project. I repeat that I hope the Government will give some consideration to offering tax concessions to encourage the growing of pine trees.
There has been a wonderful piece of news in the Press in the last couple of days. It relates to the size of the oil and gas strike in Gippsland. I had the pleasure of visiting the rig last year. The crew engaged on the project is keen and efficient. I also had several hours of discussions recently with the executives of Esso Standard Oil (Aust.) Ltd., in Sydney. Numerous questions are being asked in Gippsland about the possibility of attracting industry to that area as a result of the discovery of gas and oil. I know it is rather unfortunate, but the fact is that Esso is interested in the refinery at Altona and it would seem to be uneconomic to close down the Altona refinery and build another in Gippsland. The honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard) talked about this subject last night. But I do hope that Gippsland will receive some compensation by way of attracting new industries, lt is feared in the Gippsland area that the Lurgi gas plant will close down. This seems to me to be unavoidable. But who knows for what other purposes this plant could be used? There is no steel industry in Victoria. As Broken Hill Proprietary Co. Ltd. has a strong interest in this oil project, it may be that it will establish a pelletising plant at Morwell. The history of gas lines all around the world is that industry inevitably follows gas to the source. Despite the fact that, geographically, Gippsland is out on a limb in that it is not on the main traffic routes to Sydney or Adelaide, I hope that industries will be established down there and thus keep in employment those people who are now working for the gas and fuel corporation.
There is very little chance of the State Electricity Commission’s brown coal undertaking closing down, as was suggested by the honorable member for Lalor. That was just a bit of political nonsense put out by the honorable member. He probably has been in the electorate, seeking to spread this Sort of rubbish. The fact is that gas is too good a fuel to use primarily for the generation of electricity. Gas is used first as a domestic fuel and secondly as a source of fuel for light industry. There is no possibility of wasting good gas for generating electricity. Much can be said about the importance of the petro-chemical industries that will be established as the result of the discovery of gas. This discovery will mean great advancement for the State of Victoria. In fact, it will mean great advancement for Australia as a whole. Australia imports $240 million worth of oil every year, so any well that produces oil in Australia is most welcome. Gippsland wants industry, and all I hope is that Gippsland will get more industry as a result of the discovery of this gas.
.- I rise to support the amendment so ably moved and spoken to by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) and to express the strong objection felt by honorable members on this side of the House to the Government’s sending of conscripted youths to Vietnam. The Government’s action in committing 4,500 troops in this way is to be condemned. As has been pointed out already, although the present intake of national service trainees is 8,400 per annum, it is certain that this will be increased to at least 14,000 a year as time goes on. These lads will have no say in the matter. They will be taken from their jobs, without any thought being given to their future careers and indeed, in some cases, without any thought being given to their lives. Possibly many of them will be maimed as a result of having to serve in this theatre of war. They are 20 years of age. They are lads who are considered to be not old enough to vote but quite old enough to fight. Their names are drawn out of a ballot box. This is one lottery that no one wants to win. Actually, this Government is gambling with the lives of the youth of this country.
Some sections of the Press and other interests are sooling the Government on. So far as they are concerned, what the Government is doing is quite all right so long as people other than themselves are making the sacrifice. I wonder whether they would be so keen if the proposal from this side of the House that wealth be conscripted were adopted. The honorable member for Gippsland (Mr. Nixon) stated that when the Labour Party was in government during the last war it agreed to conscription. That is true. It did. It allowed youths to be conscripted for service as far north as the equator only, and the circumstances obtaining then were entirely different from those obtaining now. Only yesterday, the Prime Minister (Mr. Harold Holt) said that we were not at war at the present time. Apparently he does not treat this so called war seriously. If he did, Australia would be on a complete war footing; we would not be sending only our 20-year olds to bear the burden. The whole of Australia would be making some sacrifice.
The Government has failed to understand the nature of the war in Vietnam. Here 1 join issue with the honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Killen). The war in Vietnam cannot be treated merely as military aggression from the north. Who can deny that it is also a civil war? It is well known that the majority of the Vietcong are South Vietnamese. They are South Vietnamese civilians by day and Vietcong fighters by night. It is well known that those who are fighting on the side which this Government supports admit that there is no way of telling which is which and that therefore the policy is to shoot first and ask questions afterwards. We are told that we are fighting for freedom, self government and resistance to aggression. There is something new and ugly in the way in which, it is supposed, we are fighting for these ideals by dropping high explosive and naphthalene bombs on peasant villages and killing and maiming people whom we profess to be defending from aggression.
There is an increased disregard for noncombatants in this war. I do not deny that terrible atrocities are being committed by both sides. We are not responsible for what is being done by the other side, but we should have some say in the things that are being done by the side that this Government supports. After all, we are supposed to have higher standards in these matters than those on the other side. We have seen in Press reports and official documents not only reports but also photographs of the torture of suspects by the South Vietnamese. I know that this sort of thing occurs on the other side too, but we should not be committed to any side that adopts standards such as this. We should refuse to support a government that commits atrocities such as these. If we continue to support such a government, ve are just as guilty of the atrocities as are those who actually commit them. We on this side of the House condemn all atrocities regardless of which side commits them.
We on the Opposition side in this Parliament are not alone in our opposition to Australian participation in this dirty war, as it is described. The trade union movement of Australia is opposed to our participation and the Australian Council of Trade Unions has expressed opposition also. The World Council of Churches, with 214 member Churches, holds that no military solution to the war is possible and calls for a halt to the bombing. In the United States of America, 2,500 Protestant, Roman Catholic and Jewish clergymen, in an open letter to President Johnson, have condemned the war. This open letter appeared under big headlines in the Press which stated -
Mr. President, in the name of God stop it.
It is well known that the Senate Foreign Relations Committee is concerned about the situation. The “ Australian “, on 9th Febru ary of this year, reported some remarks that had been made by Senator Wayne Morse. The report was in these terms -
Senator Wayne Morse, the Senate’s most vocal critic of the Vietnam war, fired back at President Johnson’s Honolulu attacks on special pleaders who counsel retreat.
The senator, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said the President’s militant call to arms on Sunday made a mockery of his appeal to the United Nations to help end the war.
Senator Morse asked President Johnson who he was talking about in his Honolulu statement and in his reference to a group that had always been blind to experience and deaf to hope. “ Do you mean Pope Paul? “ he asked in a Senate speech. “ Do you mean senators who believe communism in Asia will not fall before weapons?
Do you mean the millions of Americans who voted for you in 1964 when you counselled them against expanding and elevating the war in Vietnam? “
The senator said it was the President and his advisers who were blind to experience and deaf to hope by putting their trust in the military, and equating the world’s problems with the false analogies of the !930’s.
Similarly, the Australian Government is blind to experience and deaf to hope because it puts its trust in the military. Honorable members opposite do not understand the nature of the war. We can never stop the spread of Communism by military means. Africa and Asia will be breeding grounds for it as long as the Western world allows their people to go hungry. We know that lavish aid has been given by the United States to South Vietnam, but the Government of that country has not attempted to solve the problems of poverty and unemployment that exist in that unhappy country. There has been strong resistance by the wealthy and the powerful sections of the community to improving the lot of the people. Unfortunately, we find ourselves on the side of the landlords and the wealthy and influential sections of the community in opposition to the mass of the people. We are lined up with those who oppose social and economic reforms. I do not say that the United States and Australia themselves are opposed to economic and social reforms. Indeed, we want them implemented; I am satisfied of that. But the Government of South Vietnam is not doing anything to implement reforms, and neither are the people who are behind that Government. As Walter Lippmann has pointed out, the Government of South Vietnam has never had the support of more than 30 per cent, of the people. Yet this is the Government at whose request we have committed 4,500 troops. And we are told that we are doing this in the name of freedom, self government and resistance to aggression.
We are told that we must contain China and that the Vietnamese war is a test of whether revolutionary wars encouraged by the Chinese Communists will be stopped. This is a myth. As Walter Lippmann has said, the true containment of China is possible only if her great Asian neighbours - the Soviet Union, Japan, India and Pakistan - are aligned together or are at least acting on parallel lines. All those countries are opposed to the action that we are taking in Vietnam. China appears to the United States and Australia as a big, angry giant rearing up and glaring at us while making threatening gestures. At the same time, we would like to believe that Communist China did not exist - except for trade. We close our eyes and say: “ We will not recognise you”. At the same time, we supply the Chinese with materials that can be used for war.
The Leader of the Opposition pointed out only last night that we are supplying wheat, wool and metals to China. He gave some interesting figures. He pointed out that between July 1960 and January 1966 Australia sold 11.2 million tons of wheat valued at $566 million to mainland China. Between July 1963 and January 1966, Australia sold 2.7 million tons of wheat valued at $141 million to Soviet Russia. In the six years ended with June 1965. we sold 180 million lb. weight of wool valued at SI30 million to Communist China and 255 million lb. valued at $158 million to Soviet Russia. These sales included wool tops. In the same period, Australia sold to Communist China 88,000 tons of metals, including bars, plate and sheet, valued at $9 million. In that time, Russia purchased from us 10,000 tons of metals valued at $1 million. The Leader of the Opposition stated that those figures were official and that they had been given to him by the Secretary of the Department of Trade and Industry. Much of that trade went to a country that we do not even recognise. This makes us hypocrites. We are not prepared to re cognise Communist China, but we are prepared to trade with it. The United States is at least consistent. It does not recognise China and it does not trade with her.
China is being truculent because of the way in which she is treated. For centuries, China tried peaceful and tactful methods in dealing with other countries. Because of her experience between 1840 and 1945, she decided to try other methods. In 1840, Britain attacked her. The Opium War was fought for the purpose of forcing the Chinese Government to sanction the importation of Indian grown opium into China. That country was then at the mercy of Britain. The years after 1840 were the years of China’s humiliation. Britain, France, Russia, Germany and Jap.in all grabbed bits of her territory. The foreigners imposed treaties that exempted foreign residents in the country from China’s jurisdiction. In the International Settlement at Shanghai, the gates of a public park carried the notice -
Chinese and dogs not admitted.
In the end, China realised that she could not hold her own if she did not adopt the West’s weapons. The Chinese have gone Communist. They now have nuclear bombs and because of this they have become important. They have adopted the standards of the West, which has helped to promote Communism in China, producing a result the reverse of that desired. The Western nations bullied China because she was defenceless and we are now reaping the whirlwind. China’s militancy is the West’s fault. Surely the key to improvement of our relations with China is an alteration pf our attitude to her, Mr. Deputy Speaker, by treating her as an equal and recognising her Government.
It is unfortunate that the United States of America should be the greatest enemy of China today. The United States, mark you, was the one powerful foreign country that did not take advantage of China’s weakness during its century of humiliation. Since China turned to Communism, the United States has been treating it as a delinquent child. This is infuriating to the Chinese. At present, the United States is keeping China out of the United Nations and is trying to destroy China’s foreign trade. Finally, the United States will have to come to terms with China. These two countries will have to co-exist for many years to come. The Australian Government should adopt an independent line and declare for the recognition of continental China as Britain and so many other countries have done. We should support the admission of China to the United Nations. China cannot be contained by the war in Vietnam. Sooner or later the United States and Australian troops will have to leave that unfortunate country. If South Vietnam goes Communist, as a majority of people appear to want, it would be a nationalist Communism. The aim would be to keep China out of Vietnam. This was the paramount aim of Vietnam and Korean foreign policy for over two thousand years. Under a regime similar to that in Yugoslavia, both countries could become effective neutral buffers.
The amendment proposed by the Leader of the Opposition seeks to censure the Government. It covers several matters, some of them closely related. The question of the state of the economy, which is part and parcel of this amendment, is causing grave concern. Unemployment, despite the fall that took place in last month’s figures - we are advised that the position is worse than what it was at this time last year - is causing concern. Housing approvals for January 1966 compared with January 1965 have declined from 7,412 to 5,933. This represents a fall of 20 per cent. Comparing the number of new nouses and flats commenced in the December quarter of 1965 with the number of houses and flats commenced in the December quarter of 1964, we find that there has been a decline of 11.3 per cent. Personal consumption expenditure in the December quarter 1964 was $3,136 million whereas in the December quarter 1965 it was $3,279 million. Allowing for the increase in prices of 4 per cent, registered on the consumer price index over that same period, we find that this represents an increase of only .6 per cent, in real terms. When allowance is made for the increase in population, the evidence shows a decline in real consumption per head of population.
This decline has been brought about by the real value of wage standards being permitted to decline. This applies to both margins and the basic wage. The result of the 1965 basic wage decision of the Com monwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission was that the worker was able to purchase less in that year with the basic wage than he could purchase in 1964 and 1961. This Government stands condemned for its part in approving the pegging of the basic wage. When it made its submission to the Commission through its representative, the Government said -
An increase in the basic wage at this juncture would be fraught with great danger for the economy and . . . there are at present such special factors in the economy and in the circumstances impinging on the economy which . . . make it inadvisable to allow price increases indicated in the consumer price index to be reflected in the basic wage.
This attitude was responsible for the reduction in the real value of wages which has reflected itself now in the present rundown state of our economy.
In addition, taxation was increased. This reduced purchasing power even further. The little people have been hit hard by this Government. We have only to consider the plight of the pensioner. Not only has the age pension been pegged, but, according io the Commonwealth Statistician’s latest publication, prices have gone up by 4 per cent. That was before the introduction of decimal currency which greedy business interests used as a further excuse to increase prices. We are advised that the cost of living has jumped by 7s. to 10s. a week since the introduction of decimal currency. The plight of the pensioner is a national scandal. Their poverty is appalling. This state of affairs is a reflection on our society. The aged are wondering whether it is a crime to grow old. Surely our pensioners are entitled ‘.n ask this question when they know that the existing pension does not buy as much today as it did in 1964. I think the Government should give consideration to increasing the pension now and should not wait to give consideration to increasing it when the Budget is presented next August. The pension ought to be increased now to help these poor unfortunate people.
Decimal currency has been responsible undoubtedly for increased prices. The increase in prices has been brought about by the refusal of the Government to adopt our proposal for a decimal currency dollar unit of 8s. 4d. instead of the unit of 10s. which has been adopted. The Opposition raised this subject as a matter of urgency, pointing out the disadvantages and price increases which would Row from making 10s. the basic unit instead of 8s. 4d. If our advice had been taken, no alteration in prices following the conversion to decimal currency would have taken place because 8s. 4d. is 100 pence and, therefore, if this unit had been used, 100 cents would equal 1 00 pence. In other words, 1 cent would be worth 1 penny. The present cent has a purchasing power of 1.2 pence. Therefore, something which cost 3d. before 14th February now costs the equivalent of 3.6d. Everyone knows that every adjustment of prices has been upwards and not downwards. The 10s. unit has increased prices on a huge range of articles such as bread, soft drinks, fares, beer, some groceries, overseas postage and many other items as well.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- Mr. Speaker, I have listened very patiently to the honorable member for Stirling (Mr. Webb). But as the honorable member is not a member of the party which is responsible for the security of Australia or which has the support of the people of Australia, he can speak with complete abandon and irresponsibility as he did today. In doing so, he extravagantly expounded the propaganda of the Communist interests, which I venture to say will be resounding very strongly in Hanoi and Peking.
– Is everyone who does not ap .ee with the honorable member a Communist?
– The honorable member can have his say, but I take the line of this Government. I refer to that section of the speech by the Prime Minister (Mr. Harold Holt) dealing with the commitment of additional Australian forces to South Vietnam. Like the honorable member for Gippsland (Mr. Nixon), I pay t compliment to our new Prime Minister on the forthright and courageous statement which he made a few nights ago. Mr. Speaker, I make my position abundantly clear by fully and unequivocally supporting the Government’s intention to increase Australia’s commitment in South Vietnam from 1 ,500 to 4,500 ~-in effect a task force group, approximately 30 per cent, of which will be national service trainees. Of course, the Opposition took the opportunity to be very critical about this proposal. I reject, for many, many reasons, the amendment proposed by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell), which objects to national service trainees serving in South East Asia. The Leader of the Opposition is well known for his objections to conscription. He is consistent in this respect. This is the consistency between his attitude in 1943 and his present attitude. We read that in 1943 he opposed conscription. Thank goodness that the Labour Government of those days contained men who were not prepared to accept his pacifist attitudes and overruled the opinions which he expressed. It appals me to think of the very dangerous situation of the lads who fought in the Pacific in the war against Japan. If they had known at that time that the present Leader of the Opposition was a pacifist and did not believe in supporting them in any way they would have been very concerned indeed. It was just as well that they did not know of his attitude. It was just as well also that we had the Americans with us.
All Australians should be concerned about the security of this country, and they must be very concerned about the attitude of the Labour Party, which provides our so-called alternative Government. Those on the Opposition benches who regard themselves as great anti-conscriptionists, such as the Leader of the Opposition and the members of the left wing - I am not certain what the left wing is - parade a line of Communism. In fact they are great socialists, and as socialists they are, of course, the greatest conscriptionists of all time. Their very doctrines enshrine their socialist objectives. Socialism, as it is known to those who faithfully follow its objectives, calls for complete conscription of everything, men and machines. These people want the land in which they practice or would like to practice their socialism to be under their complete control, but in their view conscription cannot be used for the security of Australia. So we hear noisy demonstrations by people associated with the left wing and by the arch-villains of the peace, the Communists - running down the Government and its efforts to preserve our country’s security by calling up lads for national service.
As I understand the position, neither the Leader of the Opposition nor his followers made any objection during the last war when hundreds of thousands of conscripted American lads came to our part of the free world to protect us from Japan. We do not hear protests about the conscripted American lads fighting at present in Vietnam so that our free way of life may be protected. Surely if conscription is good enough for a great and strong nation like America - and there is abundant evidence that it is - it should be good enough for Australia, which has the task of making itself as strong as possible, bearing in mind that it has a population of only about 11,500,000. If it is good enough for America to defend us so that we may enjoy the privileges and attractions of a free world, should it not be good enough for us to accept our responsibility to protect the countries of the free world as best we can?
What about our volunteers, the lads who freely volunteered in the early stages of the war against Vietnam? Are we to leave them alone to do the best they can without any assistance from other members of the community? Are we to tell their parents, their wives and families that these volunteers are to be left without assistance? I am glad to see that the Leader of the Opposition has returned to the chamber and can hear these remarks. What about the parents of the young American boys who are fighting in Vietnam? Surely they have feelings for the lads who, as a result of the conscription policy of the United States, are now fighting our battle. It would be some consolation to the dependants of those American servicemen if we could give an assurance that we are determined to do our share in the defence of the free world. Thank goodness I am a supporter of a Government which has already given such an assurance in large measure.
In the ranks of Opposition members there arc quite a few who demonstrate a hatred of America. They constantly seek to criticise America and never to praise that country. It is strange that we never hear from them any criticism of Soviet Russia or Red China. We remember how left wing members of the Opposition expressed stern opposition to the establishment of the United States communications centre at Exmouth Gulf, how they opposed support for the United States in Vietnam, criticised South Korea for sending troops to South East Asia, supported a “ Go home Yank “ attitude and were in favour of demonstrations against America wherever they occurred.
I recall a couple of years ago a gentleman on the opposite side of this House whom I held in high esteem when I learned that he was an ex-serviceman, the honorable member for Capricornia (Mr. Gray), standing in this chamber and saying that the American soldiers had come to Australia in the early stages of World War II as refugees. What a disgraceful smear to come from a man who in my view should have known better. I spent three years with the Americans - American conscripts as we are told they were and are - in the invasions which eventually led to the return of Macarthur to the Philippines. I was with them during the invasions of Wewak, Moratai. Hollandia and Leyte, the action in Lingayen Gulf and the campaigns at Brunei and Balikpapan. I was very proud of my associations with those fine American lads. They were not boastful in any way. They did their jobs without complaint and with tremendous efficiency. I saw these young American boys getting ready to go over the sides of their ships before dawn to be taken ashore in boats to hostile beaches. They never whimpered. They were there to do a job which manifestly involved the protection of Australia. I wonder if honorable members on the opposite side ever give a thought to the part that America and its young soldiers played in the war in which we were so ably protected from Japan. I wonder whether the irresponsible demonstrators and pacifists know what America has done in the past - or do they not take America’s sacrifice into any consideration? The left wingers and their ilk, with their anti-Government propaganda follow the Communist line without deviation. As I have said, they are always condemning America and persistently presenting the case for Hanoi and Peking.
I can well imagine the influence that Communists - such as Jack Hughes and Tom Wright - who have played such a leading part in the disruptions on our waterfront, are now having in the demonstrations against this Government’s legislation in respect of our war effort. No doubt they are behind these demonstrations in full measure. As a matter of fact, this seems to be an appropriate time for them to be active, as there does not appear to be as much industrial strife as previously. Unquestionably these Communists are behind the do-gooders, academics and others who, not knowingly, do things that are not in accordance with Australia’s best interests, because of the pressures behind them. I believe too that the Communists are behind the attempt being made, in some degree successfully, to sabotage the war effort by people getting hold of the lads who are called up and prevailing upon them to take certain action in an attempt to avoid training. This is sabotage of Australia’s war effort.
The hard facts of these critical times justify, in my view, and in the view of members on this side of the House, the Government’s intention to increase the size of the Australian force in Vietnam and the intention to use an increased number of national service trainees. It is plain, for all who want to see, that to carry out our minimum tasks - to ensure our security and to fulfil our obligations to our allies - we need a larger regular army in Vietnam than voluntary enlistment is giving us. I am no warmonger. I love peace, as do all reasonable people. But it is unrealistic to be a pacifist in this unsettled and turbulent world. On our strength and on our association with our powerful ally, the United States of America, depends whether the Australia we love so much - or which we say we love so much - will survive or be totally annihilated.
As we are well aware, the Western world has been waging a war of survival for the last 40 years. It has been waging this war during a time when politicians and spiritual leaders have failed to face up to the threats confronting us. There has been condonation of piecemeal annexation. Remember Hitler’s rape of Austria, remember Stalin’s annexation of the Baltic States, remember how China was allowed to go red. Remember, too, the Nazi and Communist victories achieved in a sea of human blood and an ocean of human suffering while the world looked on. At last America has decided that the aggression of Communism, directed to world domination, must be resisted. The stand by the United States of
America in South East Asia flows from this decision to resist. We are indeed fortunate that we have America to protect our true democracy and all that we hold dear. No wonder the Americans, who are anathema to Communists throughout the world, including Communists in Australia, are so objected to by honorable members opposite.
After listening to the puerile arguments of the Opposition against our war effort one would think that no danger faced Australia at the present time. The Leader of the Opposition said - I interpolate here to say: “ How irresponsible can you get? “ - that Australia does not face any threat of invasion from Asia in the immediate future. He said that China has no navy or merchant marine capable of attacking Australia.
– I said that. That is right.
– That shows the level of the honorable gentleman’s thinking. He considers that he is the Labour Party’s kerbside general or maybe its armchair admiral, whichever hat he is pleased to wear. Mr. Deputy Speaker, certainly let us work for peace, but at the same time let us be equipped to safeguard the way of life we have enjoyed for so long, with its freedom and its security, in the interests not only of our present community but also of the posterity who will follow us.
.- The Holt Government, the new Administration, ends its first 50 days of office today. We have witnessed 50 unspectacular days, 50 seemingly wasted days at the end of which there are no antidotes prescribed for the nation’s many ailments and no panaceas for the apparent pains that prevail around Australia at the present time. Disappointment and disillusionment are sweeping the country, and a great sense of despair is abroad. The rate of economic growth has fallen from over 9 per cent, per annum to a little more than 3 per cent. There is concern that the new Government shows no signs of urgency about the drought, for example. At a time when there is a 30 per cent, decline in farm income this Government fails to provide any ultimate answer to meet the great need for water conservation which is so apparent in Australia. Then, of course, there is no real indication of a feeling of urgency in regard to the housing crisis and the education deficiencies of Australia. While the Labour movement grapples with the great problems of education on behalf of the people of this nation, the guilty men who have prevailed in Canberra for 17 long years remain unapprehended. Many serious matters were left unattended to in the state of the nation speech by the Prime Minister (Mr. Harold Holt).
The Prime Minister’s statement is neither anticipatory nor forward looking. It involves no frank identification of problems and gives no far reaching answers. The Prime Minister said that he regards his Ministry as being on trial. The fact is that the new broom has not swept clean. At the end of the first 50 days the dirt under the carpet remains, and the establishment is grubby as ever. It is a fact that this new Government is on trial, and to the extent that the people of the Dawson electorate have been able to adjudicate they have certainly found the Government wanting. I congratulate the new member for Dawson (Dr. Patterson). It is refreshing to know that in Labour’s ranks there is now an effective voice for national development in this Parliament. The clear fact is that those who sit opposite have become a leaderless legion. The hand of the master has gone. I believe that it will not be long before the people take the opportunity - one will be available to them in the Kooyong by-election - to indicate even further displeasure at this Government’s lack of urgency in dealing with many of the things I have mentioned.
Defence is a topic which has been seriously neglected in this statement. It is true that some reference is made to defence supplies. The fact that on 19th February the publication “ The Australian Manufacturer “ called for a full scale inquiry on behalf of the Associated Chambers of Manufactures into the production of armaments; and the fact that Australian industrialists had not been given a share of the big business associated with the war in Vietnam met with a quick response, as anybody with an appreciation of these things would properly expect.
Then the Prime Minister referred to the new Vietnam medal. A statement on the clasp for the medal takes up some part of his state of the nation address. But there is no real analysis of the defence situation. Some tribute is paid to the British Labour Defence Minister, Mr. Denis Healey, who came to Australia a short time ago to talk about defence for the 1970’s, the start of which is only four years away, and for the period from 1970 to the 1990’s. It would be a wonderful thing for Australia if we had a government looking as far ahead as that. Mr. Healey’s representations in Australia concerned the east of Suez problem and the possibility that Britain might withdraw its forces from east of Suez. Yet nowhere in the statement is there indicated the slightest change of policy arising from this very real likelihood which was mentioned by Mr. Healey. The United Kingdam is moving steadfastly in its thinking away from Asfa and inclining more to the European Common Market area with its great trade and defence complex. If we look at the British Labour Government’s statement of 1966 on its Defence Estimates, the following important part should capture our imagination -
We have important military facilities in Malaysia and Singapore as have our Australian and New Zealand partners. Against the day when it may no longer be possible for us to use these facilities freely, we have begun to discuss, with the Government of Australia, the practical possibilities of our using military facilities in that country if necessary.
Is it possible that substantial changes of Indonesian foreign policy might result from the new internal position in which that country finds itself today? Would cessation of Sukarno’s confrontation policy with Malaysia hasten Britain’s departure from Malaya and Singapore, thus leaving a vacuum in respect of which there would be a great problem for Australia? The time will surely come, and in the near future in any event, when Singapore will cease to operate as a bastion of British and Australian defence. Yet we still have no declared intention to provide a major naval base or major air base in either Papua and New Guinea or anywhere in northern Australia.
The Australian Government’ is neglecting Australia’s defence at a time when it claims that our safety is threatened. The clear fact of the matter is that if Britain cut the percentage of gross national product devoted to defence by 1 per cent, by economies in Asia, the percentage of gross national product devoted to defence would have to increase in Australia by nearly 5 per cent., which is an almost impossible proposition.
Clearly, long term planning is necessary to meet such a likely eventuality. Clearly, we must take greater steps than we have done before to obtain value for the substantial amount of money that we spend on Australia’s defence. Substantial though the amount may be, it is very poor by world standards. One has only to look briefly and cursorily at our record in regard to defence expenditure compared with the record of other countries. Australia’s defence expenditure, expressed as a percentage of gross national product, remains at 3.4 per cent, at the present time. It has been much lower in preceding years. In Canada the expenditure is as high as 3.7 per cent.; in New Zealand it is 4.4 per cent.; in Germany, 5 per cent.; in France, 5.1 per cent.; in Sweden, 5.2 per cent.; in the United Kingdom, 6.7 per cent.; and in the United States of America, 8.9 per cent.
It is apparent to all that despite the great belligerency displayed by this Government, it has no inclination to back up these belligerent tendencies with the kind of defence expenditure that is provided in other part’s of the world. The fact is that we endeavour to obtain our defence provisions on the cheap. At the present time there is a great inclination to put the great defence burden right on the backs and the shoulders of Australia’s 20 year olds. When we express the figure pertaining to our defence expenditure as a percentage of gross national product we must be alarmed to know that in 1964-65, which was the last financial year, our figure dropped to as low as 2.9 per cent.
In 1951-52 our defence expenditure was 4.3 per cent, of our gross national product, and in the succeeding seven years it was 4.8 per cent., 3.7 per cent., 3.5 per cent., 3.6 per cent., 3.2 per cent., 3 per cent, and 3 per cent, again. Last financial year, as I have already mentioned, the defence expenditure expressed as a percentage of the gross national product dived right down to 2.9 per cent. Yet the Government professes to be concerned with the defence of the nation.
The present Prime Minister knows better and the Deputy Prime Minister (Mr. McEwen) knows better because each of them has served as a senior Minister in eight successive governments when the defence expenditure, expressed as a percentage of gross national product, exceeded that of last financial year. So it seems to me that this is the first matter which needs overhauling if honorable members opposite have any intentions about defence apart from sacrificing Australia’s young manhood and, apparently, sacrificing it where the expenditure is incapable of providing them with the support that they need.
There is wasted substance in our defence with such small or infinitesimal financial resources. The Government reaches the height of folly when it dissipates such a large part of its military resources in the civil war in Vietnam. According to recent public opinion polls the average Australian does not regard it as his patriotic duty to follow slavishly the United States with the Vietnam horror. The contention that honorable members on this side of the House - the Labour Party - are opposed to the United States is not true. We have made our position clear as recently as the last great conference of the Labour Party held last July. We said -
Co-operation with the United States in the areas of the South Pacific and Indian oceans is of crucial importance and must be maintained, subject to the understanding that Australia must remain free to order its policies in accordance with tha principles of the United Nations Charter and tha Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Who among Government supporters would quibble with that great Declaration? To make these unfounded insinuations against the Labour movement is hardly in the cause of ethics. Equally, it is untrue to contend that Labour is not concerned with the defence of Australia and would not conscript Australian forces in any circumstances. The Labour Government which prevailed during the last war was the first Government in Australia to introduce conscription.
If such a need arises again, it will show its preparedness to defend Australia by this and any other means that may be necessary. Gallup poll results show the change of public opinion on the Vietnam situation. Not long ago, His Excellency the United States Ambassador to Australia reported that a very large percentage of Australians supported the policy of the United States in Vietnam. Following the publication of his statement I was inundated with protests from irate people in my electorate who did not consider that the statement accorded with the facts. As is my bounden duty, I referred this expression of public opinion to the United States Embassy. I received a reply, which I think is worth relating. The reply was not signed by His Excellency the Ambassador but by the Counsellor of Embassy for Political Affairs. In a personal letter to me, he said -
I have been asked to acknowledge your letter of the 7th February addressed to Ambassador Clark concerning a statement about Vietnam which the Ambassador is alleged to have made. I believe it is necessary to be quite clear regarding what the Ambassador said and what he did not.
The Ambassador said that he believed 83 to 90 per cent, of the Austraiian people supported what the United States was trying to do in Vietnam.
The Ambassador bases his remarks on the fact that the statements of principle of all major Australian political parties supports United States policy. The letters which the Ambassador received and the recent gallup poll results provide support for that assertion.
The assertion is that 85 to 90 per cent, of Australians support the policy of the United States. The letter continued -
What the Ambassador did not do and what he did not intend to do was to discuss Australian involvement in Vietnam. This is a matter between the Australian people and the Australian Government in which the Ambassador did not intend to intrude, nor did he do so.
However, it should be noted that the latest gallop poll results showed 59 per cent, of the Australian people as favouring Australian Government policy, which is in itself a very substantial majority. lt seems that His Excellency had the figures around the wrong way. At first he said 85 to 90 per cent, and now he says that he is not far out anyway because a recent gallup poll, which apparently he is prepared to accept, showed that 59 per cent, of the Australian people favoured the policy of the United States in Vietnam. Of course, the figures have changed since then and it is now almost level pegging. The Australian community is evenly divided on this subject and, as a result of the Government’s determination to send large numbers of young Australian conscripts to Vietnam, gallup poll results in the next few weeks will show that fewer people support the Government’s policy. It will not be long before an overwhelming percentage of the Australian community rejects the Government’s policy. Australians are fast coming to the conclusion that the war in Vietnam has nothing to do with the defence of Australia. There are no Chinese military forces in Vietnam, but continued interven tion in Vietnam may impel the Chinese into active military involvement.
What can we best do to serve Australia’s defence interests? I believe it is necessary for the Government to seek the cessation of hostilities in Vietnam. We should pursue a policy of military neutralisation not only in Vietnam but also in Laos and Cambodia. When this is achieved, we should strongly advocate the withdrawal of all forces from this area. We should be anxious to ensure that voting rights are returned to the 30 million people of Vietnam. Who are we to say that these people have no right to choose their own destiny? I admit that it is quite likely that the people of South Vietnam would choose a Communist government. General Eisenhower said this soon after the Geneva Conference on Vietnam. He said something to the effect that he never thought that this would be so, but if there were a democratic election in Vietnam the National Liberation Front would obtain overwhelming support and a Communist government would be elected. Despite this, we still have to decide the moral issue. We must decide whether we will concede to the people of every nation the right to decide their own destiny. For my part, I stand on that position. The clear fact is that the 1954 Geneva Conference declared that there was to be a two year period of neutrality, that there was to be a cessation of hostilities for this period. All countries participating in the Conference set their names to a document that laid down this principle. But the principle was breached. The democratic election in Vietnam would have been an accomplished fact by now except for the unilateral intervention of the United States of America and subsequently of Australia. The result is that the Australian Government has now decided to send national service trainees to Vietnam.
We believe that the course of action adopted by the Government will not serve the defence interests of Australia. We are not at all impressed with the Government’s claim that it needs to conscript young men. The figures show beyond doubt that an adequate flow of volunteers was available for this purpose. If honorable members check the figures they will establish to their own satisfaction that in the year national service training was reintroduced the number of volunteers rejected almost equalled the number of people who are now being conscripted to serve in Australia’s military forces. We know the concern that is sweeping around Australia as a result of this policy. Even members of the Australian Country Party are concerned to learn that the owners of drought affected properties will not be able to employ these young Australian men to restore their properties when the drought has ended.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- We all look forward to the time when the world will be at peace and we can devote our resources to the development of Australia, the raising of the standards of living of the people of Australia and the assistance of the under privileged, both in Australia and in undeveloped countries. However, we know that this is impossible at the present time. The most populous country in the world, Communist China, has adopted a policy of international Communism. It is determined to subject all the peoples of the free world to the materialistic, atheistic policy of Communism. It wants to force the doctrines to which it is dedicated upon the peoples of the free world and to enslave them for the benefit of the ruling clique of Communist China. While this threat exists, we have no alternative but to spend a sub.santial portion of our resources upon our defence and upon the maintenance of freedom throughout the world.
To establish that the threat of Communist China exists, it is not necessary to do any more than read the statements of the Communist leaders. They have been quoted in this House and I do not propose to repeat them. Quite apart from the words of the leaders of Communist China, we have only to look at their actions - their unprovoked attack upon India, their attempts to subvert South Vietnam and their present threats to Thailand. Anyone who shuts his eyes to Communist statements and Communist actions is simply deluding himself. Today we are defending Australia by stopping Communist aggression in South Vietnam. It is much better for us to defend our country from this fiendish doctrine of Communism away from Australia - away from our own backyard. I believe that the most pleasing thing in the very excellent statement made by the Prime Minister was his reference to his talks with Mr. Healey from the United Kingdom and with the Vice-President of the United States of America. It showed in the clearest terms a realisation of the need for the United Kingdom, the United States and Australia to get together and formulate a common foreign policy. I believe that each of those countries and New Zealand realises that our defence depends not only upon ourselves but on one another. If we can stand united we can be the greatest force for peace that the world has ever seen.
The policy of the Communists is to divide the United States and the United Kingdom; also, of course, they want to divide Australia and New Zealand but we, being smaller, are less important in the eyes of the Communists. What the Communists fear most is the unity of the United Kingdom and the United States. The closer we can get to both of these countries, the more we can aid them and stand side by side with them, the greater chance we have of securing world peace and the greater chance the world has of securing peace. I should like honorable members to think for one moment of what would have happened had the attempted coup in Indonesia on 30th September succeeded. Everybody realises that it was just touch and go. The Communists of Indonesia, backed by the Chinese Communists, worked out a carefully prepared plan to a stage a Communist takeover on 30th September. They succeeded to the extent of murdering a number of Indonesian generals, but fortunately one general escaped and he, rallying the remaining forces of Indonesia, was able to defeat the attempted coup. As a result, Indonesia has taken action to rid itself, in part anyway, of this fiendish, murderous group of Communists who were backed by the Chinese Communists in attempting to take over the country. Had the attempt succeeded instead of being defeated, at this moment we would have had Communists on the border of Australian territory. Any Australian who does not realise the importance of backing to the full the United States and the United Kingdom in their attempts to stop Communist aggression in South East Asia is just putting his head in the sand and is blind to the realities of life. We had an extremely fortunate let off through the failure of the attempted Communist coup in Indonesia, and I trust that never again will we allow people in Australia to believe that we are safe so long as the Communists are not fighting in this country itself. We have to stop them now, and every time we allow them to take over another free country we are helping them to take over Australia.
The threat to Australia is so serious that no time can be lost in training every young Australian to defend his country, and in defending it he should defend it wherever it needs to be defended and not only within our shores. Therefore I wholeheartedly support the action that has been taken to increase the number of national service trainees and to send thom wherever they are required for the defence of Australia. Efforts should be made to go faster than we are going with our training programme, and from time to time we should send the maximum number of troops that we have available to stop the Communists in South East Asia, wherever they may attack.
In the few minutes left to me I propose to refer to the excellent reforms in our immigration laws announced by the Prime Minister. At present Australia has the most liberal immigration policy of any country. I believe that we can proudly assert it and explain it. We can prove to the world that it is the most liberal of all policies. At present there is no bar on the ground of colour or nationality. The guiding principle of our immigration policy is the ability of the intending migrant to be successfully integrated into this community. This is the policy that in substance has been followed for many years, but unfortunately it has had one feature that has led the world to believe that our immigration policy has been based on colour or nationality. At present there is nothing in our Act, regulations or policy that discriminates against migrants either on the ground of colour or of nationality. The actual facts are that the numbers likely to come into this country in future will not be very different in proportion from the numbers that have come in the past. But the image of our policy has substantially changed. The policy of the future will be that the Government each year will set the annual target it considers can be successfully integrated into the community, taking into account the economic circumstances of the time, the employment opportunities, housing opportunities and matters of that nature.
Having set that annual target the Government, or the Minister for Immigration, will, as in the past, make an estimate of those likely to come from the United Kingdom, from which country migration is free of any restriction. He will then ascertain by how many migrants we fall short of meeting our target. That number will be divided between the various countries from whom migrants come.
When a person seeks a permit or visa to enter Australia the guiding principle in granting his application will be his ability to be successfully integrated into the community. Keeping in mind this guiding principle in the selection of migrants, it may be said that anybody coming from the United Kingdom, speaking the same language as Australians, having substantially the same kind of religion as Australians, having a similar educational standard and a similar background, may be successfully integrated into the community. The people of northern Europe, on the other hand, speak a different language to ours. So they are not as easily integrated into the community as are people from the United Kingdom. But people from northern Europe have an educational standard similar to ours. Generally speaking, they are able to learn the English language within about five years. Bearing in mind our policy of allowing these people to apply for full citizenship after five years residence here, it could be said that, generally speaking, migrants from northern Europe are likely to be successfully integrated into the community.
When we turn to southern Europe we see that the general standard of education is not nearly as high as it is in Australia, the United Kingdom or northern Europe. Greater care must be taken when dealing with migrants from southern Europe to ensure that they are likely to be successfully integrated into the community. We cannot take everybody who wishes to migrate from Italy or Greece, but this is not because we have anything against those countries. In fact, we take more migrants from Italy than from any other country except the United Kingdom. On the other hand, more applications from Italians seeking to migrate here are refused than are applications from other countries, but this is not because we do not like Italians. We like them very much. The reason for the refusals is that the standard of education of these people is so much lower than our standards that we cannot in all cases be satisfied that the intending migrant will be successfully integrated into the community.
When we turn to the countries of Africa we find that in many cases 90 per cent, of the inhabitants are totally illiterate. So the number of Africans who may be successfully integrated into our community is very low. Their applications to migrate would be refused, not on the ground of colour or nationality, but simply because they could not be successfully integrated into the community. All kinds of friction would be caused if numbers of illiterate idle coloured people were allowed to settle in this country.
It is essential that our policy be understood by other countries. I am sure that the countries of Africa and Asia will understand why so few of their people are allowed to migrate to Australia when we explain our policy to them and tell them that it is not a matter of colour or nationality but simply a question of whether they can be successfully integrated into our community without causing friction. Educational standards in Asia vary substantially. The religion of many of the people of Asia is different from ours. All of these things must be taken into account when the Minister for Immigration, exercising the great authority vested in him, decides whether a person can be successfully integrated into the community. If time had permitted, I would like to have proved what I said earlier about migration. Our migration policy is now the most liberal of any country. Let us consider the migration policies of some Asian countries. The only people admitted for permanent residence into Indonesia - our nearest neighbour - are people possessing special qualities and techniques who can usefully contribute to national development. So our nearest neighbour refuses to admit just anybody.
Sitting suspended from 6.1 to 8 p.m.
.- I rise to support the amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell). He has correctly placed in their proper sequence and magnitude the various items on which the amendment is based. I propose to deal firstly with clause 2, sub-clause (a), which refers to the failure of the Government to maintain the purchasing power of the Australian community. At the present time we have a further episode of a continuous serial production, commonly known as the Australian basic wage application, being heard by the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission. The advocate for the Australian Council of Trade Unions, Mr. Hawke, had some very scathing and illuminating comments to make recently to which I fully subscribe.
The wage earners of this country are literally caught in a trap. We are a National Parliament in name but not in powers. This Government certainly does not take a national outlook on the rights and welfare of all the people, the wage earners in particular. As Mr. Hawke correctly pointed out, it is taking every conceivable advantage of an antiquated Federal constitution. On every occasion when the basic wage case comes up for hearing, when there is a further application made after the usual intervening increase in living costs, the Government sallies forth, abandons all pretence of impartiality and briefs counsel to appear on its behalf in opposition.
When the theory of relativity was first propounded by Einstein and subsequently applied, it was considered that in physics the only constant was the speed of light. The only economic constant of Australia is that the basic wage will be pegged, and the only moral certainty in Australia is that it will be pegged at a figure which is below the true, just and fair cost of living. Today the 40-hour week, which is of general application in Australia, and is the normal working week, is, in fact, a farce. Unless and until the average worker can obtain overtime to the tune of six or eight hours a week, he has not the slightest hope of maintaining his wife and average family of two or three children in anything like decent, civilised comfort.
Worse than that, we have the Government asking the Commission to exercise sub-legislative functions. What it could nut will not do itself - it could apply to the Australian electorate by referendum for the power to control prices, particularly prices associated with the cost of living - it asks the Commission to do for it. In the last 12 months, the average worker in Australia has lost, in actual purchasing power, at least £3 15s. a week. That is made up in this way. These figures were supplied gratuitously by this Government at the time of the Budget debate. The increase in indirect taxation, deliberately designed to curb consumption, amounts to £19 Ss. per capita. For the average family of five, that comes to a little over 35s. a week. The workers were denied another 15s. a week in the 1965 basic wage case and there has been an increase of at least another 15s. or 16s. a week in normal prices since then. With the deliberate cheating that has gone on associated with the introduction of decimal currency, they have lost another 10s. weekly. 1 make the total £3 15s. a week. In the United States of America President Johnson is exercising some excellent controls - controls of a quasi-personal nature which he calls guide lines - in relation to both wages and prices. Here, the only controls exercised are controls over wages. Those are the only guide lines we have in Australia. I do not say that I subscribe wholly to the Johnson technique, but here, as always, the scales are weighted very heavily against the worker.
I have the honour to represent the major steel producing constituency in Australia, and I am particularly alarmed at the impact of Japanese steel imports on certain forms of employment. For the first time in 30 years, it has been necessary for John Lysaght (Australia) Pty. Ltd. to appeal to the Minister for Customs and Excise to apply the dumping section of the customs and excise legislation. For the first time in 25 years, Broken Hill Proprietary Co. Ltd. is being under-cut by certain lines of Japanese steel on the Australian market. The types of steel to which I refer in particular are sheet, plate, hoop and strip. The rub is that the low priced Japanese steel is being made from iron ore which is at present costing Japanese companies about 25 per cent, more than will the iron ore they will be importing into Japan from north-west Australia shortly. So the competition will intensify. The figures are alarming.
We hear a delightful line of economic pap handed out by the Prime Minister (Mr. Harold Holt) in relation to stimulating the export trade. In the first four months alone of the fiscal year 1965-66, net imports of steel into Australia were valued at £6.7 million. This is at the rate of £20 million a year. John Lysaght (Australia) Pty. Limited, in applying for the application of the dumping provisions, finds itself in difficulty in that it is unable to prove what is the actual cost of production in Japan. Domestic prices in Japan are hard to obtain. They do not have the same listing as in Australia. I will come to that in a moment.
In 1963, Broken Hill Proprietary Co. Ltd. warned the Tariff Board that by 1965 Japan’s ambitious programme of steel production would create a considerable problem for the world steel industry. That problem has eventuated today. For last year, the total production of steel in Japan was 44 million tons. The Japanese home consumption of steel is of the order of 32 million tons. In other words Japan has an export surplus of some 12 million tons to dump on the world market. The sheet metal works of John Lysaght (Australia) Proprietary Ltd. at Port Kembla are the major works of that type in Australia. To my certain knowledge, over 1,600 men are employed there, and the jobs, the financial security and indeed the very existence of these men are threatened. It is true that there are other factors. It is true that the drought and the drop in the motor trade have had some effect on the position, but something has to be done to protect legitimate Australian industries.
One of the main reasons for Japan’s competitive advantage goes back to the year 1949. One critic said, and said quite aptly, that one of the most certain ways to prosperity in the modern world is to be defeated in a world war. Today we find that Japan, Germany and Italy all have economies which have boomed since the end of World War II. The real reason is not that they were defeated but that they started the postwar period free of the illusion that there was some sort of mystical prestige attached to the exchange value of their currencies. The defeated nations, in effect, have said that by devaluing their currencies they would give themselves a very great competitive advantage in price competition on the world market. If you want the proof of that, Sir, you will find it in a comment that was made by Professor Tsuru, a Japanese economist, who gave the Dyason Lectures in Australia in 1964. He said quite openly that the main reason for the rapid recovery of Japan after the war was the fact that she had pegged her currency in 1949 at 360 yen to the dollar or 1,008 yen to the pound sterling. Japan has kept its exchange rate at that level and by doing so has gained terrific commercial leverage.
This undervaluation of the Japanese yen has had far reaching disruptive effects on the Australian internal economy. Japanese manufacturers, of course, have a triple advantage. They have low real wages. They have all the advantages of economies of scale. In addition, they have the advantage of the undervaluation of the yen. The governments of other Western countries, unlike the present Australian Government, have reserved the right, despite the provisions of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, to impose discriminatory tariffs or quantitative restrictions on imports from Japan. Australia, of course, by its rigid adherence to the Agreement’s rule against discrimination, has produced some very serious and curious consequences. Japan’s luck is still holding, for the Agreement ensures that in Australia protective tariffs shall be so arranged as to enable only goods from countries with undervalued currencies to compete with local production. Dumping duties can seldom be applied to goods from Japan, the country of the undervalued yen. The remedy, of course, lies with the International Monetary Fund. One of its functions undoubtedly should have been to achieve the upward revaluation of undervalued national currencies.
It has been correctly said, Sir, that he who goes to sup with the devil needs a very long spoon. We in .Australia are starting to feel the real impact of the Japanese Trade Agreement. I know that the spokesmen of the Australian Country Party will come out like hornets in attack and will defend that Agreement. They do this because it suits their particular purposes. By the same token, we must consider the position that Australia may be in. We have just emerged from the economic tutelage of Britain. We are no longer merely a supplier of raw materials - a hewer of wood and a drawer of water. We are no longer a captive market for British manufactures. But let us not substitute Japan for Britain. Australian industry needs to be protected. We have not the economics of size. We have not the advantage of the technologies that the Japanese possess. Until we have gained in size and strength, we need the utmost protection.
The effects of Japanese competition can be devastating in my constituency. Notoriously, it is a district of low wages. The steel industry in general pays low wages because of the very high proportion of unskilled and semi-skilled labour that is employed. Because of the mushroom growth of the area, there has not been a corresponding growth of associated light industries that would at least enable the wives of steel workers to go out and earn some extra money to supplement the family budget. I do not advocate that they should have to do this, of course. The average man in the steel industry in my electorate today is in a pitiable condition. Overtime has been restricted. Indeed, it has been virtually cut out. As a consequence, steel workers are back on the completely inadequate earnings of the 40 hour week and retail business is suffering.
Most of the steel workers, because they came into an area of mushroom growth, were not able to obtain adequate housing and have had to commit themselves to mortgages beyond their financial competence to build their own homes. Many of them, lacking sufficient deposits, have had to put themselves in the hands of hire purchase companies in order to obtain second mortgages, and these have been subject to exorbitant interest rates. Anyone who wants to know the real position in my constituency should go to the office of the Public Solicitor in Wollongong and see there the stream of people whose wages have been garnisheed and whose furniture has been repossessed or who are in other ways being badgered by the usurers for the payment of money advanced on second mortgage at excessively high rates of interest. The prospect is appalling, and the worsening of the situation will intensify. If this Government and the Treasurer (Mr. McMahon) cannot ascertain the true cost of production, other forms of relief must be applied. I emphasise that strongly, Sir.
I now turn to another matter. Earlier today, I addressed to the Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr. McEwen) a question about the impact of restrictive franchises on Australian exports. He had some difficulty at the time in recalling the terms of a letter that he wrote to me on 15th July of last year. For the information of honorable members, I shall quote them. It stated -
You will recall that I undertook to have a further look at the question you addressed to me in the House on 11th May last concerning export franchise restrictions imposed by overseas firms on their Australian subsidiaries and associates.
As I said at the time, the Department of Trade and Industry has commenced collecting and analysing a great deal of information relating to Australian firms with overseas links.
I have delayed writing to you until the position regarding the study had become clearer. The job is turning out to be somewhat bigger and more complex than originally thought and it will be some months before the Department will be in a position to release worthwhile information. I have asked the Department to forward such information to you as soon as it is available.
The question that I asked today was part of a pattern. I compliment the Minister and his Department on the excellent survey of overseas investment in Australian manufacturing industry which has just been made and the results of which have just been published. But it does not complete the picture, for it does not deal with overseas investment in private property, in primary production or in commerce. More than that, it does not adopt the eminently sensible suggestion of the Committee of Economic Inquiry, or Vernon Committee, that there be kept a register of overseas investment. The coping stone of the edifice, which is needed to complete the picture, if I may change my metaphor, Sir, obviously is an honest and genuine attempt to assess the impact on Australia’s export trade of restrictive franchises. The Vernon Committee in a preliminary comment stated that the need for additional exports and the difficulties in the way of an expansion of rural exports placed the export burden more heavily than before on Australian manufacturing industry. The Committee added -
Under these conditions, any impediments placed in the way of Australian manufacturing exports are bound to aggravate an already difficult position.
The Committee went on to state that the Department of Trade and Industry had collected further information on this subject from some 700 companies on a confidential basis in 1961-62. Those 700 companies between them had entered into 1,100 agreements relating to the export of their products. Rather more than half of the franchise limitations were written into licensing agreements and the great bulk of these restrictions were imposed by foreign companies in the United States of America. The restrictions took various forms such as the restriction of areas of export and even of the volume of exports and in certain instances production was restricted to outmoded models of particular products.
Sir, how in the name of the Almighty is it possible for Australia with economic hobbles of that description ever to enter seriously into the competitive export trade? It is the function of this Government, and its bounden duty in the national interest, to investigate this matter and to provide these figures; otherwise it is a matter of economic absurdity to try to tell the Australian people that our export potential is a good one. There is sufficient manipulation already in the export price for iron ore on which this Government is relying so heavily. The Japanese are prepared to sell iron ore to themselves at cost to reduce Australia’s foreign exchange revenue and also to swindle this Government out of its legitimate income tax. Proper action should be taken in the matter.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- Mr. Deputy Speaker, the speech that the Prime Minister (Mr. Harold Holt) delivered last Tuesday week covered a wide field involving many matters of great importance. I congratulate the Prime Minister on a first class effort. His speech was presented under 14 different headings. It is not possible or necessary for me to deal at any length with all those sections of activity. I intend to devote my attention this evening to five of those subjects. I will deal with three of them briefly and refer to the other two at greater length. The five subjects that I shall mention are: Immigration, the visit to Vietnam by the Prime Minister, the Vietnam medal, economic affairs - under this heading the Prime Minister referred to the drought and the provision of long term finance for primary producers - and the additional Australian forces for South Vietnam. In relation to the fifth subject I shall refer to the struggle against Communism in South East Asia also.
The immigration innovation that has been announced by the Government will be welcomed by all Australians, I am sure. The Government’s policy will be of great benefit to non-Europeans who have lived in Australia for many years and who have been unable to bring their families here to join them. Also it will be of benefit to Australia, I feel, because we will be gaining from the education and skills of the non-Europeans who will be permitted to establish permanent residence here in the future. However, I feel that a great deal of misunderstanding exists about the immigration policy of Australia as it has been inferred or implied that Asians were banned from entering Australia. Of course, that is not true. We have approximately 3,000 Asians who are naturalised Australians. Finally, on the subject of immigration, I hope that we make further efforts to attract citizens of the United States of America to Australia to help overcome our tremendous population problem.
The decision by the Prime Minister to visit Vietnam is an admirable One. lt will be appreciated by the Australian people and also by the service men and women serving in Vietnam and by the Australian civilians who are in that country assisting the South Vietnamese. To my mind, it is a decision that underlines the personal courage and qualities of the new leader of our Government. I am sure that all members of the Government Parties were gratified by the promptness with which the Prime Minister announced his decision to visit South Vietnam.
The Government has decided to strike a new special medal for service by Australian servicemen in Vietnam. This is another decision that will have the full support of the Australian people. I am sure that it is pleasing to all members of this Parliament that the Government has seen fit to break away from tradition and to strike this well deserved medal. I am sure that it will be worn with distinction by our service personnel.
I refer now to the part of the statement by the Prime Minister that deals with economic affairs as it relates to the drought and to medium and long term finance for primary producers. This finance will be a great lift to all connected with Australia’s primary producing industries. No group of people is more delighted about the provision of this finance than are the members of the Australian Country Party who have battled unceasingly for many years for the introduction of this long term finance for primary producers. Other organisations have been active in this field also. I would not attempt to claim all the credit for the Australian Country Party, but there is no question that our Party both inside and outside the Parliament has worked untiringly to bring this matter to fruition. As proof of this statement. I mention that I looked up some correspondence that I had personally as a member of the Rural Finance Committee of the Australian Country Party in 1960. At that time I wrote to every bank and every major insurance company in Australia. The replies that 1 received on behalf of the Committee indicated the great need for the special provision of finance through some source other than the normal business of the trading banks. The replies indicated a certain lack of understanding of the need for long term finance. Virtually not one letter I received acknowledged the fact that there was a need for this type of finance. This would appear to point to a lack of understanding of the need for, or a refusal to accept the provision of, this finance, for business reasons.
We must be fair and say that the trading banks and the insurance companies are business enterprises and, therefore, it is their duty to invest their money as fruitfully as possible for the people to whom that money belongs. I refer to an interview that the Rural Finance Committee had with a representative of the banking companies in 1 960. This representative was asked whether he thought it desirable for primary producers to have long term loans. He agreed that it was very desirable but he stated also that to improve the conditions under which the banks could lend money for this purpose was extremely difficult. This was a further indication of the almost hopeless position as far as the trading banks were concerned.
I feel that the very important thing about this announcement of long term finance is the recognition of the principle that the primary producers of Australia need some separate fund through the trading banks for their purposes. If the trading banks will not agree to such a fund, it must be established by some other means. But this announcement recognises that principle. Also, it will enable us to have detailed and accurate statistics of lendings to primary producers which correspondence over the years indicates has not been available to anyone who is interested in these figures.
I come now to the decision to send additional forces to South Vietnam. We all know that these forces will include national service trainees. Surely no-one questions that this was an extremely difficult decision for the Government to make. Certainly no member or supporter of the Government enjoyed the necessity for this decision to be announced and to be put into practice. But the Government in its wisdom, in view of all the circumstances, decided it was necessary for Australia to increase its commitments. This meant that a certain number of national service trainees - in fact, the majority of them - would have to go to Vietnam. I hope the Government can see its way clear to eliminating the inequality resulting from the present call-up arrangements. If we have to call up an age group - and circumstances are such that this is necessary - then we should call up the whole age group. It appears to me that this would do away with the inequality that is now apparent and would do away also with the objectionable ballot system. Speaking for myself, I find the present ballot system a disagreeable one, but unfortunately no one has come up with a better alternative. Our American allies have declared themselves. Their young servicemen are participating in the war and it is up to us to play a significant part in this struggle. It has been said many times that if we do not support our allies we cannot expect support from them. We cannot have a one way partnership. If the Opposition had its way there would be no Australian forces at all in Vietnam.
– What is wrong with that?
– That, of course, would be a ridiculous state of affairs.
– Well, I just refer honorable members opposite to the opinions expressed by members of the forces serving in Vietnam and to the reports that have been brought back from extremely reliable citizens who have visited that area. Our servicemen there are satisfied that they are doing a worthwhile job. They are satisfied that the struggle against Communism is a real one and that it is necessary that we fight for the preservation of our freedom. I heard Brigadier Hall, Vice-President of the Returned Services League, addressing a meeting at Wodonga only last week. He gave glowing reports of the magnificent job our soldiers are doing in Vietnam. He spoke of the admiration of the United States forces for our soldiers and the respect in which they are held. They are acquitting themselves in keeping with the finest traditions of our fighting services. Brigadier Hall said flatly that he had deliberately sought complaints from our servicemen in South Vietnam and that he could not elicit a single one. Our men there are convinced they are doing a good job and we in this Parliament surely should support them.
The fifth matter I want to discuss is the struggle against Communism in South East Asia. The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell), who I presume is the chief spokesman for the Labour Party in this Parliament, did not concede that there was any struggle with Communism anywhere. Not by a single word did he denigrate Communism to any extent. He virtually asserted that there is no struggle against Communism, not in South East Asia, not in Vietnam, not in Laos or Thailand nor even in Australia. He ignored completely any possibility of such a struggle. Furthermore, he suggested that the Prime Minister (Mr. Harold Holt) had said that China is directing this war from Hanoi. He went on to ask, in the very next sentence, what evidence the Government has of the presence of Chinese troops in Vietnam. Nowhere in his speech did the Prime Minister mention that China was directing the war or that there were Chinese troops in South Vietnam. If the Leader of the Opposition is so naive as to believe that China must have its troops in the field if it is to assist in or direct the war, then I am very surprised.
I would like to refer the House to a newspaper article by Denis Warner which appeared in June 1963. It contained an extract from a letter written two years ago by Mao Tse-tung. It is headed “ The world ls his battlefield - Mao Is All For a Fight.” The article commenced -
Mao Tse-Tung is determined there shall be no peace in our time. . . .
Not since Hitler’s day have the leaders of any major Power so brazenly and so publicly set out their plans for world domination.
In the past, there was room for doubt about China’s intentions. There is none any longer.
– Who wrote this, Jim Killen?
– No, the letter was written by Mao Tse-Tung. The author of this article also said -
He believes the world is a great guerrilla battlefield in which the principles he applied with such genius against Chiang Kai-chek may be applied with equal success in Asia, Africa and Latin America for the isolation and ultimate destruction of the United States and its allies.
It is all right for the Opposition to interject; this is factual. The letter referred to was written by the President of the Chinese Communists. If honorable members opposite choose to ignore it, that is their problem. The important point, of course, is that we should understand the philosophy of Communism. I do not stand here as an expert on this subject but I have read works written by people who do understand it and whose writings make a great deal of sense to me. It is of vital importance that we in Australia, and people everywhere, should understand this philosophy, and I will make my small contribution tonight towards this understanding. Members of the Opposition have talked about negotiations with the Communists. This is quite ridiculous. How can we negotiate with people who do not deal in facts and who believe that lies or untruths are perfectly all right as long as they advance the cause of Communism?
The Leader of the Opposition and other speakers on his side of the House made great play on the differences that exist between various people in countries of the Western world, and between various people in particular countries, on the question of participation in the war in Vietnam. At least in the free world one can read about these differences. People are free to express their opinions. Most of the accounts of the differences have been exaggerated, particularly in regard to the United States. But what are the differences that exist between people in the Communist world with regard to the rotten tactics that the Communist Party uses in every country in which it governs and even in countries in which it does not? We do not have the opportunity to read of those differences. Any anti-government remarks that are made in places like Russia and China are made in secret and they are never published. It is therefore ridiculous to compare differences of opinion in the free world with differences of opinion .u the Communist world.
I have before me a book by Dr. Fred Schwarz. The title is “You Can Trust the Communists “, and the title is followed immediately by the phrase “ to do exactly as they say “. The writer makes it clear that you can trust them to do what they say, and that is to dominate the world. Various events that have transpired have made it obvious to all the world that there are differences of opinion in Communist countries. At page 105 of this book we find the following -
During his visit to the United States, Nikita Khrushchev was asked . . . : “ Mr. Chairman, I cannot understand, since the Communist Party proclaims itself to be the liberator of the working class, yet we see a mass exodus of workers to other countries following the Communist seizure of power. You have the example of three million workers fleeing from East Germany to West Berlin, and about three million fleeing from North Korea to South Korea and, as mentioned a moment ago, three hundred or so thousands of Hungarians braved arrest and death in escaping to freedom. Mr. Khrushchev, can you tell us of a single instance where, following Communist seizure of power, there has been a mass influx of workers from surrounding non-Communist countries into the Communist country? If the Communist Party is the liberator of the working class, why don’t we see this phenomenon? “
Mr. Khrushchev: “Is that all? Think it over. Drink your beer. Perhaps that will help you to find the answer to your question.”
The questioner then said: “That certainly is no answer, and apparently nothing will make you understand why millions want to escape from Communism “. Mr. Khrushchev said: “ I have told you I am not even afraid of the Devil “. That is just one extract from the millions of words in the thousands of books that have been written, but it underlines the danger of Communism around the world and also the conditions Which a Communist Government imposes on the people over whom it exercises its tyrannical power.
In the last few minutes at my disposal I urge the Government to devote more attention to educating the people of Australia to the dangers of Communism both at home and abroad. I should like to see our Cabinet Ministers appearing on television to explain this to the people of Australia. I should also like to see them enlist the aid of people who ‘have studied this rotten ideology.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- I rise to support the amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell). It may be timely for me to devote some time at the beginning of my 20 minutes to some of the remarks made by the honorable member for Indi (Mr. Holten). He spoke about the struggle against Communism. When he speaks of Communism it is well to remember that Lenin wrote: “ When the capitalists trade with us they will finance their own destruction “. I remind the honorable member for Indi that the Holt Government, like the Menzies Government, gives more generous credits to Communist China than it gives to India, a fellow member of the Commonwealth of Nations. The Government has given Communist China every assistance to obtain credit. Country Party members who get up and speak about China and the threat of Communism do not worry about Communist China when they are selling their wheat to feed Chinese soldiers and to feed the Vietcong who may be responsible for shooting down Australian youth. They do not worry when they sell their wool to China to clothe her Red soldiers. Honorable members opposite say the Communist threat is coming from the north. They do not worry about the metals being sold to China that could well be made into equipment to be used against our own forces. There needs to be more consistency on the Government side.
– What would the honorable member do?
– If the honorable member for Cowper really believes that China is a threat to peace in South East Asia, and the ultimate threat to Australia, does he think it is wise to feed the Chinese soldiers well and to equip them well in order to set them in the field to fight against conscripts from this country whom this Government is prepared to send into battle against them? That is the question honorable members opposite have to answer. It is not we on this side who have to answer it.
I remember requesting the then Prime Minister some 12 months or so ago - the Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr. McEwen) came into the argument - to arrange for the officers of the Department of Trade and Industry to have a talk with the officers of the Department of External Affairs. There is no doubt that we have very efficient officers in the Department of Trade and Industry. They know how to negotiate with the enemy. They can sit down with the enemy and arrange to sell our wheat, wool and metal. They trust the enemy. They will give him credit. But the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Hasluck) and the honorable member for Indi ask: “ How can one talk with these people? Who will talk with them? Who will trust them? “ Honorable members opposite can trust them well enough when it means a few pounds, shillings and pence or dollars and cents in their pockets, but they will not trust them when it comes to getting them to the conference table to try to bring about peace in this sorry world of ours. The lives of Australians are at stake. The Government will be judged on its consistency when it says that China is the enemy. If honorable members opposite are sincere in that statement they would not be doing the things they are doing. If they continue to do these things it does them very little credit.
– Trading with the enemy.
– If they are the enemy, honorable members opposite are trading with them and equipping them, perhaps to shoot down our own national service boys.
The amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition reads in part - “ this House records - (1) its most emphatic opposition to the despatch of conscripted youths for service in Vietnam and the increased military commitment in that country. . . .
The sending of 20 year olds to Vietnam is fast becoming a major issue in this country. It is not a question of the Regular Army being sent to Vietnam, but a question of the Government sending national service trainees. It is not prepared to give them a vote to elect the government of the day, but it is prepared to put rifles in their hands after a very short period of training. It should be remembered that ever since the national service scheme was suggested there has been a lot of shuffling by Government members on the question of what national service training would mean. The Minister for Health (Dr. Forbes), who is at the table, was formerly the Minister for the Army. We all remember that in October two years ago he told the Returned Services League in Tasmania that conscription was not the answer to the problem of the Australian forces.
– That is not true. Why does the honorable member say it?
– It is true, and the record shows it. Within a fortnight the then Prime Minister announced that national service training would be introduced. I do not blame the Minister.
– He said nothing of the kind, and the honorable member knows that he did not.
– He did. Let us check what was said, if we have to.
– Tell us something about the city baths.
– The Minister is getting very excited, but we all know that he said it was not in the interests of this country at that time to have conscription and that there was no intention of bringing in national service training. Within a matter of two weeks thereafter the Government announced that the present scheme would be introduced. When the scheme was introduced in this House, and some honorable members on this side suggested that the outcome would be that national service trainees might be sent to Malaysia or Vietnam, Government supporters were horrified at the thought. They were incensed that Opposition members should make such a suggestion. That was prior to the Senate election. After the Senate election the then Minister for the Army said - he was the first one to make it clear, I at least give him credit for that - that the boys might well go overseas. He said that they would be incorporated with the Regular Army and that if a detachment of the Regular Army was sent overseas they would probably go with it. This intention became crystal clear last May when amendments were made to the Defence Act and the National Service Act. These amendments made the Government’s intentions clear beyond any doubt, if there was a doubt. The Acts were amended to provide that in a time of a defence emergency the serving time of national service trainees could be extended to five years. The National Service Act was amended to enable national service trainees to soldier on in time of war. That was understandable. In time of war it would not be expected that the service of personnel in the defence forces would be terminated. But at the same time the Act was amended to allow the Government to extend the term of national service training in what was described as a time of defence emergency, which was defined as meaning the period between the publication of a proclamation declaring that a state of emergency exists in relation to Australia and the publication of a proclamation that the state of defence emergency no longer exists. In other words, if the Government considers that there is a state of defence emergency, all that it needs to do is publish a notice proclaiming that the emergency exists and the emergency will be. deemed to continue to exist until the Government decides to publish another notice to the effect that the emergency has ended.
What is the position today? We are not at war. The Prime Minister (Mr. Harold Holt) has made it clear that the nation is not at war. We have troops abroad fighting and being killed. Reports of casualties are coming through all the time. How do we describe the situation? It is not a time of defence emergency, so what is it? How close are we to a state of defence emergency? If at a time when no state of war exists and no defence emergency exists we are prepared to conscript Australian youth to fight and die overseas, what we will do if the Government decides that there is a state of war? I suggest, Mr. Speaker, that the present situation needs to be looked at more closely. Some months ago I asked the then Acting Minister for Defence, Mr. Hulme, what would happen if we did not reach our quota of recruits for the Regular Army. I asked whether in that event we would increase the intake of national service trainees and send large numbers of them overseas to replace and relieve the battalion now serving in Vietnam. I received a rather evasive answer. But it is quite clear now that it had always been the intention of the Government to conscript the youth of this country to serve overseas and it is doing so without seeing whether it is possible to raise a volunteer force to serve in Vietnam.
The honorable member for Indi told us about the enthusiasm among the troops in Vietnam. If there is so much enthusiasm one would expect a rush of volunteers to enlist for service in Vietnam. Yet the Government is failing to attract recruits to serve in that area. The fact is that on one hand the Government is trading with the enemy and on the other hand is sending our young fellows to fight them.
– Does the honorable member agree that China is the enemy?
– I do agree and that is why 1 am very much concerned. I agree with that, but I cannot understand why, when honorable members opposite agree that China is the enemy and the Country Party agrees that it is the enemy, and it will not come to the conference table, Australia continues to trade with that country. I agree with the Foreign Secretary in the United Kingdom Government, Mr. Michael Stewart.
– The honorable member should speak to his leader, in that case.
– But I want to know and I also have something to say. Like the honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Killen), I should like to know why the United Kingdom Government is trading with North Vietnam, lt is a strange situation when we can barter and trade with the enemy but at the same time engage in war with him. What the United Kingdom and the United States Governments do is their own concern. What the Australian Government does is our concern. We are entitled to ask questions of members of the Country Party about this position; they constantly raise their voices, as the honorable member for Indi does, against this great threat to Australia from the north. The honorable members who sit in that corner of the chamber are very vocal about it, but they are silent when asked to explain why they are prepared to feed the enemy, clothe the enemy and send materials to China which can equip the enemy to fight against our own troops. Good gracious, Mr. Speaker, our memories in this nation are short. I ask honorable members to take their minds back to a period before the last war when a man who until recently was the Prime Minister of this country earned a nickname because of our sales of scrap iron to another country. The Government at that time refused to heed the warnings that were given. Today the Government is still prepared to trade with China. Money is more important than lives to honorable members opposite. Consequently, I support the amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition.
Another point made in the amendment deserves great consideration and support. Be. ore sitting down I should like briefly to comment on water conservation and revert to a plea that I made when the estimates for the Department of National Development were last debated. I should like to know when the Government proposes ‘.o give some consideration to the use of nuclear energy for power and water desalination in Australia. New Zealand is now added to the long list of countries that have plans for nuclear power stations. We are waiting anxiously for something to be done in Australia. Although the matter is probably being considered by the Government time is running out. We ought to be in the field now.
The honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard) has spoken about natural gas. Natural gas is coming and it will be exploited by vested interests. I think that we would be wiser to conserve natural gas to be developed by our experts for use in petroleum products in an attempt to preserve our balance of trade and to concentrate on nuclear energy to supply power to the nation. Let us get the officers of the Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Authority moving on a scheme to develop the use of nuclear energy. We need to do things urgently in Australia. The Chifley Government started the Snowy scheme some 20 years ago. Now is the time for us to start the next phase of development in this country. I support the amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition.
– The honorable member for Kingston (Mr. Galvin) can scarcely accuse me of inconsistency. Much as we may regret it, whatever words we may apply to it, in my humble opinion we are at war and have been at war for a long time. When I came back from South East Asia in August last year and put a request to the Government for a service medal for Vietnam, every honorable member in this House was in favour of it. Service medals are not given when we are not at war. I congratulate the Government on now, rightly, giving that medal. I consider that we do not have to declare a state of emergency, but I feel that we must look at some of the logical consequences that follow from the fact we are at war. Surely we should review trading with the enemy, giving visas to Communists and others to visit enemy territory and allowing enemy propaganda centres to continue, such as the New China News Agency at 6 Queens Road in Melbourne which will report this little flutter of a demonstration outside Parliament House tonight so that it will be heard on the Peking Radio in its world news service at 6.30 tomorrow night. We must also consider such matters as the gratuitous distribution of enemy propaganda by our national broadcasting and television stations. I see that ABN2 in Sydney is again highlighting the interview with Ho Chi Minh, which it will show at 9.30 tonight.
This is a difficult world in which we live. Britain expects Australia to apply economic sanctions to Rhodesia. At the same time, Britain is sending ships to North Vietnam, with whom we are at war, as the honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Killen) mentioned the other day. I know the ships are few in number, but the principle is the same. Britain has the largest number of ships chartered to Peking, and 70 to 80 are flying the British flag. The Rhodesian Government has been declared illegal but, when Army leaders take over in Nigeria and Ghana, the British Government and the Australian Government immediately recognise them. I am not arguing whether the British and Australian Governments are right or wrong in doing this. Britain supports
Zambia. Zambia withdrew its High Commissioner from Accra in Ghana on 4th March. The British broadcasting station is working in conjunction with the Zambian broadcasting station, which sends psychological broadcasts to Rhodesians. It broadcasts such statements as: “ Kill these European lice when they are alone and out at picnics “ and: “ Slaughter their cattle or hamstring them and destroy and burn the crops “. No wonder people become confused, whether they are Australians or Britishers, when the words “ traitor “ and “ treason “ in this modern day seem to have no meaning whatever.
I turn to the amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell). I could not help but feel rather sorry for him last night. I understand his press secretary has resigned. I suppose it may only be coincidental, but it sounded to me as if the speech he made was very similar in its expressions of policy and almost in its language to speeches that have been delivered by Mr. Hartley, the Victorian Secretary of the Australian Labour Party.
– How silly can you get!
– It may be only coincidental. I looked at the calendar yesterday and found that it was 15th March. That of course was the Ides of March, a date, when centuries ago, Imperial Caesar, while walking down the streets of Rome, was warned by the soothsayer, “ Beware the Ides of March “. I thought that the Labour Leader, Caesar Augustus, was more fearful than fearless. He was a bit afraid that something funny might happen on the way to the forum of the Labor Executive on 25th March. He seemed to be looking over his shoulder trying to decide whether, amongst the throngs going to the caucus room, the “ Brutus “ Whitlam or the “Brutal” Witless had the majority. He decided finally that it was the latter, and then enunciated their internal and external policies. Tonight, I shall devote my time to external policies.
Firstly I desire to give my very warmest congratulations to the Prime Minister (Mr. Harold Holt) and his Government on the first policy statement that they have presented to the House. After a long period of hesitancy, caused mainly, I believe, by the Government’s false hope that Peking would abandon its plan for world conquest, the Government faced the situation. We have followed other policies in the past, but now the new Government has made a very realistic approach to the situation in our region of the world and to Australia’s responsibilities therein. Any competent observer, with a sound knowledge of and interest in this nation’s future security and prosperity, would agree with the Prime Minister’s statement. The previous delay in our defence policy has, of course, handicapped the Government, and I should think that most of the Ministers would admit that they must accept some responsibility for the delay. However, the Prime Minister’s new appreciation given in this House the other night was as refreshing as a fall of rain after a long drought. The amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition was based largely on the question of sending what he called conscripts to Vietnam. The use of the word “ conscripts “ is a despicable party manoeuvre in a time of national danger. These men are national servicemen. I know that the Leader of the Opposition shows political sagacity when he uses the word “ conscripts “. It appeals to the basest of human motives. It appeals to emotion and not reason. It is an attempt to undermine the morale of the families and friends of our national servicemen and other groups fighting for us in Vietnam today. Why does the Leader of the Opposition object to conscription? The Australian Labour Party has always said that no man has any right to earn his livelihood in Australia unless he joins a trade union.
– They call it economic conscription.
asked to carry the whole burden. Labour believes in one in all in. However, in this situation we cannot use all those who are liable for service, so we use the ballot system to select the part we can use. If Opposition members can tell me of any better method of selection than the ballot system, I will be pleased to hear it. The system of seeking volunteers was tried over a long period, but it failed because such a system always fails in a country that has a successful economic policy with almost overfull employment. The .situation today is such that any Australian who realises the position will naturally support the Government’s proposition.
The honorable member for Wills (Mr. Bryant) at Beaumaris on Sunday night referred to conscription in 1 966 as “ a monumental exercise in immorality imposed on the Australian people”. I do riot know what these words mean or whether he is an expert in immorality. I do not think he is. He also said -
The honorable member for Wills will excuse me if I cannot understand what he means by that conglomeration of words. I also doubt his sincerity. Let us apply these tests to his real leader, the honorable member for Yarra (Dr. J. F. Cairns), who has put forward the same arguments time and time again. Like the river, after which his constituency is named, they are ever flowing. They have been flowing from him for a long time. Early this month, the honorable member for Yarra spoke at a meeting at Mosman. I. think it was held in the town hall. He started with an excellent statement. He said -
I am a man who hates violence.
Are we not all men who hate violence? Later in his speech he became a bit worked up when interjectors started throwing questions at him. He was asked whether he was against guerrilla warfare. He said -
What is wrong with guerrilla warfare?
Everyone of us knows that guerrilla warfare is a cruel and dirty form of warfare; the fighters are in civilian clothes one minute and in uniform the next. But not content with this contradiction of his beliefs, he went further in answer to a question. He was asked -
If you were a member of the Government and Papua and New Guinea or Australia were attacked, what would you do?
Mark well his answer. He said -
If Australia or New Guinea was attacked, Australian forces should be used to defend the country and an appeal should be made immediately to the United Nations to arrange a cease fire. If this was unsuccessful, I would be prepared to call in American forces in an endeavour to bring about peace as quickly as possible.
In other words, he would call in American forces or draftees, as they call their national servicemen, to protect Australia and Papua and New Guinea, but for some reason or another, whether there is some magic about the equator line as compared with the 17th parallel, it is not the correct thing for Australia to support America in protecting South Vietnam. If anyone can follow the strange twists of that tortured mind I should like to hear from him. However, this highlights - brings into bold relief - the hollow hypocrisy of the amendment of the Leader of the Opposition.
I have great sympathy for the relatives and friends of those who are serving in Vietnam. Those of us who have been in the field probably have more sympathy than others. I have great sympathy for the Save Our Sons Association. I received a letter from one of its officials the other day and I replied -
I can understand and sympathise with your feelings but what you do not realise is that someone else’s sons in Australia’s front line today are protecting you from torture, rape and sudden death.
Some people do not look further than their own front gates. Australians have to look much further than that. This evening we witnessed a student demonstration outside Parliament House. About 30 or 40 students were involved. I have always had a high appreciation of the intellectual seat of learning in Canberra. However after seeing one poster bearing a crude remark about conscription - and I will not repeat it here because most honorable members probably saw it - I am afraid that my estimate must have been sadly astray. Why did they stage this demonstration? They hope that they will get their picture in the front page of a newspaper. They know that the only time the Tass Press photographer appears is when one of these demonstrations takes place. They know that a report of this demonstration will go to the New China News Agency of 6 Queens Road, Melbourne, and that it will be cabled overseas and will be referred to on the Peking radio world news tomorrow night.
These things have been happening. I draw attention to this because we are not taking sufficient notice of the psychological war, and we are losing it so fast it could be disastrous. Our defeat is being helped, aided and abetted by such speeches as were made by the Leader of the Opposition and other members who supported him in this debate. They probably do not do it consciously but unconsciously their speeches echo the Communist propaganda. We let the New China News Agency operate freely while we have soldiers in Vietnam and the left wing of the Labour Party steadily propagates, whether it knows it or not, the Communist line that this war is unwinnable. It is not. It is both necessary and winnable and at present it is slowly being won. Furthermore, I point out to those who feel kindly towards Red China that she is carrying on this psychological warfare in another area, namely, through the drug trade. Red China is the biggest dope pedlar in the world and she is seeking to undermine the morality and the morale of our younger generation. All in all members opposite can support Red China if they like, but the quicker they learn what is going on the better it will be for Australia.
I should like now to turn to defence expenditure. Unfortunately the Prime Minister in his statement did not draw attention to the consequences of the British White Paper on Defence, although he did so in a speech in Sydney on 24th February. Sooner or later Australians have to learn, and the sooner the better, that in effect Britain, like Rome of old, is calling her legions home from the far flung frontiers. She is withdrawing from east of Suez. How long this will take, I do not know. Mr. Mayhew, the Minister of the Navy who resigned, stated correctly that if she is withdrawing, her expenditure is too big, but if she is not withdrawing, it is not big enough. £;r David Luce, the First Sea Lord, stated when he resigned -
Without carriers it would be impossible for Britain to maintain an effective military presence east of Suez.
Britain is not building any more carriers. America is building three more carriers. Britain is withdrawing from Aden in 1968. Island bases will not replace Aden; they will be merely communication and refuelling bases. Britain is withdrawing from the southern part of Africa. This means that in the Indian Ocean Australia will have to play her part, small or large as it may be, in providing carrier based planes as well as land based planes, because if the Suez Canal is closed the only trade route to Australia will be via south of Africa. This means that the Simonstown base is important, and another base will have to be built on the west coast of Australia, backed by the industrial complexes of Australia and America. The whole of Africa south of the Zambesi will become important in world strategy, particularly Australian strategy.
I am not criticising Britain’s withdrawal. It may have been inescapable as a result of the sacrifices she has made in two World Wars. I do not agree with “ News Week “ which said that Britain was withdrawing in order to get more prosperity for her people. That is not the British character. However, the fact remains that she is withdrawing end it means that we now have to look at things in a different light and stand on our own feet. We must decide our own policies and cease to rely on Britain and the British taxpayer. We must pay our own way. I am sure that if Australians understand the position they will accept the challenge as they have accepted other challenges in the past. I might add a word of warning. It will need wider maps, a clearer perception and an unselfish courage and outlook if we are to preserve not only our own security and prosperity but that of our friends and allies in South East Asia whose security is allimportant to us. Other members have spoken of this fully and there is no need for me to enlarge upon it.
Thank God for America at the present time. Until the United Nations can provide a police force to protect the smaller nations and is ready to do so, somebody has to do the job. I am glad our Government has decided that Australia will stand alongside America, Korea and the other allies who are doing this work in South East Asia despite the fact that, in the words of the old song: “The policeman’s lot is not a happy one.” Finally, may I leave with members the words of Rajmohan Gandhi, grandson of that famous Indian Mahatma Gandhi, which appeared in his newspaper “ Himmat “ recently -
Freedom is not free. Its price has no ceiling nor can it be defended on the cheap.
.- We have been listening to the honorable member for Chisholm (Sir Wilfrid Kent Hughes). We have heard, in effect, the same old story as we have heard before. I feel that he would agree that his remarks would have sounded better if the gentleman he speaks so often about, Mao Tse-tung, had not been during the chill of early spring in China wearing woollen undies made from Australian wool and if his people had not been eating wheat produced in Australia; and, indeed, if his armed forces has not been using missiles and weapons produced from rut’ile mined on Australian beaches. I feel sure he would have been a lot more comfortable in making his speech had this been the case. The honorable member and I have the same aims of promoting and preserving democracy. This means, in my view, the containment of Communism, but it is obvious that we differ strongly on the means of achieving this. I regret that in years to come generations of Australians will have to live down the follies of today’s Government. Where people suffer from substandard living conditions and oppression, with no prospect of improving their con.ditions. no amount of armed intervention will prevent ‘their trying some other form of government which promises better things. For years in South Vietnam a series of unrepresentative regimes made no attempt whatever to change the old order of things. Some of today’s leaders in South Vietnam have frankly confessed to this fact. As a consequence, a large proportion of the people has chosen to change by force the type of government.
In other countries - India for example - the same process is under way. The people have been disillusioned by the degrading conditions under which they are forced to live. Their patience has been tried to the limit. Democracy must produce results, in India particularly, or it falls. It is performance in these matters that counts. Democracy must produce the goods. It must provide a better living standard for the people. If it does not, the people will reach for some other form of government that promises these things, notwithstanding that those promises may be false.
I wish only that the Australian Government was as ready to aid India as it is to send troops to South Vietnam. India’s need is great. In the short term it has an urgent need of food. I am glad that after some pushing and prodding the Government has seen fit to make a gift of food to India but India needs, in addition, technical aid for her farms and factories and capital to develop the country. It is important that these needs be met, because in my opinion India, together with Singapore and Malaya, is one of the last real bastions of democracy in Asia. In our own interests as well as those of humanity, we should help more. The honorable member for Chisholm has the same aims as I but we differ strongly as to the means of doing things. In my opinion, the honorable member has the wrong attitude but, to his credit, he is sincere and, at least, he is consistent.
One thing that has disturbed me in recent times has been the tendency among some Government supporters to deny other people in the community the right to hold and express views different from those of the Government. I believe that everybody in Australia has the right to express any view. Democracy thrives on debate and discussion. If Government supporters have not actually denied, or tried by restrictive legislation to deny, anybody the right to have a differing point of view they have sought to silence others with the cry of disloyalty and lack of patriotism. How inflated can your ego get? The view behind this attitude of Government supporters is that they are the only people who can be right. Such an attitude consitutes a danger to democracy itself. I defend the right of the Opposition - in fact anybody - to differ from the Government. Just as I concede that honorable members opposite sincerely hold the views that they express, they should give us the credit for being sincere about our views, notwithstanding that they differ from those of Government supporters.
We are debating a statement made by the Prime Minister (Mr. Harold Holt), which was widely billed as a “ state of the nation “ address. I certainly hope that the state of the nation is better than the address, because the address was surely one of the longest and most dreary statements that this Parliament has had to endure for a long time. I approve the principle that Prime Ministers should regularly acquaint Parliament and the people with the facts relating to affairs at home and abroad but the state ment that we are now debating did nothing but scuttle the Prime Minister’s endeavour to depict his Government as something new on the political scene. I regret that the Opposition is forced to look at the old faces and to hear the old voices and ideas. Having heard the Prime Minister last week I am convinced that the former Government’s laissez-faire policy of inaction and complacency will continue. As a document professing to be a review of the economic situation and of foreign affairs, the statement by the Prime Minister who for years was the Treasurer, was a complete and utter failure. No mention was made of a disturbing rise in consumer prices. Not one word was said about the sharp fall in motor vehicle sales or about the marked reduction in the consumption of steel. What was referred to by Sir Edgar Coles, Managing Director of G. J. Coles Ltd., as “ almost a recession in retailing “ likewise did not rate a mention; nor did the steady decline in activity on the stock exchange. If the Prime Minister is to make these state of the nation addresses, this Parliament and the people of Australia are entitled to a full and frank account of the situation. In my opinion the statement is certainly something less than that.
All of the factors I have mentioned, together with the matters conceded in the statement - the effects of the drought, the decline in home building and the substantial level of unemployment - add up to the inescapable conclusion reached by many leaders of business and industry in the community that action to stimulate internal demand and to increase consumer spending is necessary. This is action that I strongly advocate. The Australia and New Zealand Bank Limited recommends such a course of action. Unfortunately, the Prime Minister’s statement was long on words and short on action. Apart from a small increase in the availability of finance for housing, announced today, no action along the lines suggested is contemplated. Yet by doing two things the Government could bring about a higher level of economic activity and right some of the injustices which now bring hardship to several sections of the community. The two required actions, as I see it, are to reduce indirect taxes on household items and to increase pensions paid to service, widow, age and other pensioners. Every average family, every pensioner and every other person unlucky enough to have to live on a fixed income or superannuation is aware of the continual rise in prices and living costs. For many people it is a desperate struggle to make ends meet. The average housewife has one comment: Where will it all end? Up and up go prices. In the 12 months ended December last the consumer price index rose by 13s. a week or 4.3 per cent, which is a higher percentage rise than in the case of the gross national product, where the increase was only 4 per cent. Since last December the snowballing effect of the drought, allied with rises associated with the conversion to decimal currency, has boosted prices enormously. I predict that the next consumer price index figures will reveal the greatest rise in decades. It is of no use the Government’s saying that the conversion to decimal currency has not resulted in increased prices. It has. Fares, milk, bread, daily newspapers and so many other every day needs have increased in price since the introduction of decimal currency. The Government stands condemned for failing to safeguard the public, particularly those people unable to help themselves, such as the elderly and infirm living on fixed incomes and pensions.
The general rate pension has not been increased since August 1964. Anybody who denies that the position of general rate pensioners, which was precarious even in 1964, has not deteriorated almost to starvation level is, ostrichlike, hiding his head in the sand. Prices, rents, and local government charges for water, sewerage and general rates are reaching astronomical heights and are far beyond the means of these people. A few days ago, I visited an old lady who has been forced out of the family home in which she has lived for about 40 years. She has not been evicted in the sense .of being moved by force, but she cannot pay the municipal rates, including sewerage and water rates, as well as buy the things that she needs in order to live - the meat, bread, milk and so on. This is a tragic state of affairs- It surely requires immediate action. Something must be done urgently to alleviate the plight of pensioners and other people on fixed incomes. Surely no one could pretend that a pension rise would be inflationary - that terrible word that our former Treasurer and present Prime Minister was so careful about and that he worried so much about. Every cent of that rise would be spent on the essentials of life - on milk, bread and so on. As I said before, in the interests of the economy, and certainly in the interests of those who are suffering an injustice, pensions should be lifted. Likewise, a lowering of indirect taxation could benefit the community. Revenue raisings by taxation have been at a satisfactory level and receipts from loans have been higher than expected. Already this year the Commonwealth has raised $442 million in loans, against the Budget estimate of $420 million - an excess of $22 million in loan funds. So the Government has the means to take positive action to stimulate the economy, and it certainly should do so.
I want to say something now of the drought which has plagued Australia in recent times. There has been, of course, a marked reluctance exhibited by the Government, as the drought has progressed, in accepting its responsibility. The measures in operation up to now have resulted from the Government being probed and pushed into action and, of course, from complaints made by the States which have been affected. The magnitude of the drought, and its effects, have been wide ranging indeed. On a national level, the drought has meant a substantial loss of export income - a loss which we can ill afford. After all, our trading accounts have for years been balanced only with the aid of moneys borrowed or invested from abroad.
In New South Wales and Queensland alone, estimates indicate that 15 million sheep and 1,500,000 cattle have been lost in this drought. Obviously this loss of farming capital and, of course, of farming income, and the reduction in the demand for farming needs such as machinery and the like, have been reflected in the general economy. Other industries, even other primary industries not directly affected by the drought, have been hit, for instance, by drastic rises in fodder costs and so on. A classic example of one such industry is the poultry industry, an industry which has been through difficult times. It has had to face a rise of something like 15 per cent, in feed costs in recent months. That has been a big blow to this industry.
On a local level, towns in drought areas are severely depressed, with direct and indirect financial losses bringing severe reductions in business activity and employment. For the farmers and graziers directly affected, the drought comes as a personal tragedy. Because of the widespread national effects, the quickest possible return of these farmers and graziers to production is essential to the nation. Whether they can recover and, if so, how soon they can recover depend upon two things. The first, of course, is rain, with a good follow up at the right time. Naturally, the Commonwealth’s jurisdiction does not reach as high as this. lt is obvious that when Tain falls, as it has, fortunately, in some areas, the farmers will need finance to re-stock, to renew pastures and generally to rehabilitate themselves.
The new measures to be taken by the Government, as announced in the Prime Minister’s statement, have been hailed by Government members. I ask: What is there to cheer about? What do these measures constitute? They constitute loans - loans to farmers who are already in hock to the limit with their stock agents, their wool firms and their local storekeepers. Their credit is exhausted. To the farmers who have watched as their properties have dried up into dust and as their stock have died in hundreds and thousands - some have been forced to leave their properties - the Government offers loans that will hang a burden of debt around their necks for many years to come. It offers loans at interest rates calculated to make massive profits for the banks and other lending institutions - the Elder Smiths, the Goldsbrough Morts, and so on - interest rates which will make every farmer and grazier think twice before applying for the loan. Of course, for some, the prospect of this burden will be the last straw.
Having regard to the urgency of the situation, having regard to the fact that it is imperative in the nation’s interest to restore lost productivity, I ask: Why is not a greater proportion of drought aid provided by direct grant? Why cannot the Commonwealth recognise the desperate plight of the stricken primary producers and their incapacity to shoulder more debts? Why cannot the Commonwealth be more generous in circumstances such as these? And, for the remainder of the finance needed, why cannot the Commonwealth provide money - at, say, 1 per cent.? Surely we do not have to use the private banker’s approach in financial transactions like these at times like these. Many primary producers face ruin. Why should the Commonwealth permit, or even aid, the banks and the big pastoral agencies to make added profits? I notice that the Reserve Bank made £23 million profit last year. Of that profit, £500,000 was made in the rural credit section. I hope that accounts for the years to come will not show profits extracted from the drought stricken and, in many cases, poverty stricken farmers.
I fully approve - in fact I have urged it in this Parliament before - the establishment of long term low interest loan development funds for the farming community, but it seems to me to be terribly wrong that the taxpayers’ money, or money loaned to the Commonwealth by the people, should be lent out at commercial rates of interest in circumstances like this. The restocking of our farmlands as they recuperate after rain is vital. I believe that the community, bearing in mind the effects upon it as a whole and the benefits which would flow, would not begrudge the sort of action I have been advocating here tonight.
I have only two or three minutes left. I want to refer to something that is of importance to this country. Indeed, it will be of increasing importance to the generations of Australians to come. I refer to foreign investment. In his statement, the Prime Minister gleefully noted the rapidity with which foreign financiers are visiting this country. Despite warnings from the Opposition, from even the Country Party and, of course, from many leaders of finance and industry, he still, in his own words, “ looks forward confidently to this inflow continuing strongly “. He also said - our rate of growth has been greatly assisted by the savings of others who bring new industry, new techniques, new equipment and new skills to us.
If the Prime Minister and Government applied this test to all new capital I am sure the Labour Party would be happy. I refer to the test of new industry, new techniques, new equipment and new skills. This would mean selective control. If that test were applied, we would not permit the introduction of speculative capital, which comes in purely to make profits and gives us nothing in return. But I am afraid that so far as the Liberal Party is concerned, it is an open go.
And what of the Country Party? Here is a mystery indeed. The Leader of the Country Party (Mr. McEwen) makes forthright statements on foreign investment outside this House. He says that it is like selling a bit of the farm every day. But, of course, that is outside the House. When he returns to the House he is a different character altogether. He is a sort of split political personality, a sort of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde character. When he returns to the House he becomes the Deputy Prime Minister, not the Leader of the Country Party, and he then follows Liberal lines. His attitude then is: “ As the Prime Minister has said . . . “ I do not know whether the time will come when we will hear a speech outside from the Prime Minister, after which he will come into the House and say: “ I was speaking as Leader of the Liberal Party, not as Prime Minister “.
I do not know what the Country Party feels about this. I have noticed that one of its members, an aspirant to Parliament, Sir William Gunn, was the agent for the sale of 15,000 square miles of country - a little bit of the farm - in Cape York Peninsula. That was a little bit of the farm to which the Leader of the Country Party refers. It was sold to foreign interests - American interests. That is certainly selling a little bit of the farm, and I think this aspect of our economy ought to be looked at by the Government. A change of attitude is certainly needed.
.- Mr. Speaker, we are debating the statement presented to the House by the Prime Minister (Mr. Harold Holt) on Tuesday of last week. This statement falls into two parts, one of which deals with foreign affairs and the other with domestic matters. The honorable member for Bendigo (Mr. Beaton), to his credit, has just dealt only with domestic affairs. These, of course, are important, but in the short time available to me I propose to concentrate on the subject of Vietnam because I believe that this is the most important matter before this Parliament and the Australian people at the present time. I agree with the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) that the crucial test of our policy is national security. I should like to quote what he said on this point. These are his words, taken from a speech that he made in this House on an earlier occasion -
The overriding issue which this Parliament has to deal with at all times is the nation’s security. All our words, all our policies, all our actions, must be judged ultimately by this one crucial test; what best promotes our national security, what best guarantees our national survival? It is this test which the Labour Party has applied to the Government’s decision.
I hope that any party represented in this House would apply that test. I believe that what the honorable gentleman said is absolutely true. In his reply to the Prime Minister’s statement, he set out several reasons why Australia should not be involved in the warinVietnam.Hesaid,firstofall,that thisisanunwinnablecivilwar.Iwantto take hisarguments onebyoneand deal with them. First, there is the statement that this war is unwinnable. It is difficult, of course. Does this mean, therefore, that we should not take part in it? I suppose that during World War I when the Allies were thrown back to the Marne, or when the Australian as well as British troops hud to evacuate the Dardanelles, or when the Frenoh stood at Verdun or during the disasters of 1917 many people may have thought that that was an unwinnable war. But did we surrender? We certainly did not. So I say that merely because a war is claimed to be unwinnable that is no reason, firstly, why it should not be won and, secondly, why hope should be abandoned.
In World War II, we suffered the disaster of Dunkirk and later, in our part of the world, the disasters of Singapore and Pearl Harbour. Did we then say: “ This is an unwinnable war. We shall abandon it “? We certainly did not. Although victory seemed dubious at that stage, we fought on. There still echo down the pages of history, as they have done for more than 2,000 years, the battles of Thermopylae, where 300 men stood against thousands, and of Marathon. Indeed, the pages of our own and more distant history are full of instances of wars that may have looked unwinnable. But the fact that a war may seem unwinnable is no reason to abandon the fight. So the argument that we should not be in the war in Vietnam because it is unwinnable is not, I believe, one that will appeal to Australians. Indeed, courage, endurance and pertinacity are virtues that will be honoured, I hope, as long as this nation survives, because without them it will not survive.
This is not then, I say, an unwinnable war. But there are more cogent reasons for believing this than I have already given. The South Vietnamese forces now number about 300,000 regular troops as well as some hundreds of thousands of territorials. The Americans already have 215,000 men in their forces in South Vietnam and another 20,000 will follow shortly. Korean, Australian and New Zealand forces also are there. The logistic problem, which has been the great problem in recent times, has been overcome. The Americans have complete air mastery and fire power of enormous proportions. Against this, the Vietcong have about 80,000 regulars, about 120,000 guerrillas and about 18,000 administrative and support personnel. These figures have been stated by the Minister for External Affaairs (Mr. Hasluck). 1 believe that when one looks at these figures alone and relates them to the circumstances, the idea that this is an unwinnable war is not tenable even though, for other reasons, the position may look difficult and it may seem to some members opposite that we should abandon the contest.
I believe that this war has three fronts. The first is the military front. I have said a little about that. The second is the social and economic front, if one chooses to adopt that description. The third is the psychological front. Each is very important and I want to deal with them in turn. I have touched lightly on the military front. Let us now look at the social and economic front.
– That is the most important of all.
– Of course, it is also important to have troops. When an enemy is shooting at one it is always valuable to have something with which to defend oneself. This is not just a matter of economics. It is something that those who have been engaged in military operations appreciate. I can well recall being in Greece when the enemy had superior air power. It would not have helped in the least if a great deal of slum clearance had been going on in Sydney, f turn to the Baltimore speech of President Johnson, since we are talking now about the economic side of the war. This speech, I think, represented a notable landmark. He made it clear that’ the Americans were prepared to provide vast sums - I think he mentioned a billion dollars - for the improvement of the economic conditions of the people of South East Asia, including North Vietnam. This policy was again enunciated, clarified and enlarged on in the Declaration of Honolulu. As honorable members will recall, this Declaration set out the purposes of the Government of South Vietnam, the purposes of the United States Government and the joint purposes of both. I should like to quote a few words from the statement of the purposes of the Government of South Vietnam. The Declaration stated -
Here in the mid Pacific, halfway between Asia and North America, we take the opportunity to state again the aims of our Government. . . .
I shall not quote all this declaration of the purposes of the Government of South Vietnam.
– Which one?
– My friend is very funny. There have been a number of Governments in South Vietnam. I am referring, of course, to the present one, which is led by Air Vice-Marshal Ky.
– Will its purposes bind the next government?
– I suppose that the policy of the present Australian Government with respect to Vietnam would not bind a Labour government. That is the disaster of the situation. I shall say more later about the changes of government in South Vietnam. Better still, I shall answer the honorable member at once and then come back to the theme of my remarks if the honorable gentleman will allow me. There have been maybe eight Governments in South Vietnam.
– The honorable member has missed some.
– Perhaps there have been nine.
– There have been 11.
– There may have been 11; there may have been 14. I do not know. But not one of the Governments of South Vietnam has sought to treat with the Vietcong. There has not been a single political figure of any consequence in South Vietnam who has sought to start a parley with the Vietcong. There may have been changes of government, but the policy has been absolutely consistent from start to finish. Those people who claim that the Vietcong represent the will of the people of South Vietnam overlook the fact that the succession of Governments in that country has never for a moment deviated from the line of implacable opposition to the Vietcong. I may add, by the way, that I had the privilege of meeting Air ViceMarshal Ky and his Ministers. I do not know whether the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Clyde Cameron) has had the same privilege. I found among them youth, vigour and determination to achieve these purposes that are stated in the Declaration of Honolulu, though I met them months before the Declaration was made. What South Vietnam needs, of course, is youth, vigour, enthusiasm and idealism. This is what I believe these leaders have. However, I will pass on from that little interlude.
I think that it is hardly necessary for me to quote what was said in the Declaration by the United States of America because we all recall very clearly that great emphasis was placed upon the economic and social welfare of the people of South Vietnam. It may be worth mentioning at this time that it has been a point of policy with the Vietcong - those people whom so many on the opposite side of the House seem to regard with great favour - to eliminate all the government leaders in the villages. The Vietcong slit the throats of school teachers or any officials of the government who serve to bring peace and order, educa tion and medical aid to the villages and people of South Vietnam. Their throats have been cut systematically. I will not quote figures in this regard because statistics are dull. Honorable gentlemen will be aware of them. But, to summarise I counted in an official document that village, district and other government officials in 1964 who were killed, wounded or kidnapped in pursuance of this deliberate policy by the Vietcong numbered 1,728. The number of other civilians who were killed or wounded through the bomb outrages, which have been part of the system of terror pursued by the Vietcong, was 11,753. The Minister for External Affairs mentioned similar figures relating to last year.
I would like to say a word about what is happening on the psychological front. This follows upon something that was said by my colleague, the honorable member for Chisholm (Sir Wilfrid Kent Hughes). He has quoted in his valuable “ Intelligence Digest” which he sends to some members of this Parliament the ways in which Peking Radio has represented the various little demonstrations in this country and the United States of America against the policy of the United States Government and our own. The honorable member for Chisholm rightly said that these little demonstrations which are put on are of no consequence to us. We know that. We have seen them here. But these demonstrations are blown up in Hanoi and Peking as representing tremendous opposition to the policy of the American and Australian Governments. Indeed, what Peking Radio is trying to do quite deliberately - and these demonstrations whether wittingly or unwittingly are helping them - is to defeat the free world - to defeat America and to defeat us - by this subversive propaganda among our own people and to sustain the morale of their own by suggesting that Washington or Canberra will crumble before internal pressures. This is a serious business. I am glad indeed that the Prime Minister - I congratulate him on this - is going out in this place and into the market place to battle for the truth of the policy that the Government is pursuing. Unfortunately, I have not time to quote the extracts that the honorable member for Chisholm has given from Peking Radio. But this is how these demonstrations are being used.
The war in Vietnam is being represented by members on the other side of the House, particularly by the honorable member for Yarra (Dr. J. F. Cairns), the Leader of the Opposition and others, as merely a civil war. They say it is an unwinnable war and that it is a dirty war. I have mentioned something of the dirtiness of the war proceeding from the Vietcong. Some honorable members opposite say that it is merely a civil war and that therefore we should not be involved in it. That is the argument they put forward. If I had time, I should like to quote from the statement of Mao Tse-tung and others. My friend from Hughes (Mr. L. R. Johnson) shakes his head as if to ask: “What does it matter what Mao Tse-tung says? “ I think everybody who is aware of the ramifications of the international communist conspiracy, and particularly Peking propaganda, knows that the war in Vietnam is regarded as part of a whole strategy to overthrow the free world. They know that the line from Peking is that these wars of national liberation, so called, wars of subversion in the countries around the border of China, of course, and in underdeveloped countries generally, are the means whereby the Chinese Communists hope, in the long run, to destroy the free world. The Vietnam war is not a little local war a long way from Australia that has nothing to do with us. It is part of a worldwide Communist conspiracy. We ignore this at our peril. I repeat “ at our peril “. I have not time to make these quotations. I pass on to the matter of conscription.
I can see nothing undemocratic in sending conscripts selected by lot to Vietnam. It is the first duty of every citizen ina state to defend that state. All his rights, ! privileges and everything that he has depend upon one thing - the security of the state. Therefore, it is the duty of every citizen to play his part in the defence of the state according to what he can contribute. There is no reason why we should rely upon the willing few, very often people upon whom the duty falls far less heavily than upon those who choose not to go if they have a choice. It indeed is democracy that all citizens should have this responsibility. Someone may ask: “ Very well, but why should only some be called upon? “ The answer is a fairly obvious one. If the Government needs only some to serve, it does not send all. Another duty of a citizen is to sit on a jury. If only so many hundred jurors are required, all members of the community who are bound to be jurors if called upon, are not sworn in. Naturally only those who are necessary for the job are used. The state is entitled to call upon all those who can best do that job.
Now, we have called upon 20-year olds. They have been selected by lot. Nobody has suggested a fairer way of selecting them. These people are referred to by honorable gentlemen opposite as mere kids. They are not. They are called up for two years. Yes, they are 20 in the first year and 21 in the second year when they go abroad. These are the people who can best do this job under the conditions of jungle warfare. I speak from personal experience. An honorable gentleman opposite smiles at that remark. But I can speak from personal experience because I was one of the volunteers in the last World War. I volunteered at the age of 34, at a time when I had three small children, because others did not come forward. Honorable members opposite call that democracy, do they? I was two years older when I came to jungle warfare in New Guinea and on the Kokoda Trail. I can say that jungle warfare is for younger men - the kind of fit young men who can play football and all the rest of it. It is not a job for men of 34, still less if they have young families. What is just and what is right and proper in democratic theory, in practice and in morality in every way is that those who can best serve the state should be called upon to do so. There is no fairer way than to select them by lot. This’ is not to say that one does not have sympathy for their friends, relatives and mothers - of course one must - but if a nation is to survive it must have the will to live. We must be prepared as a nation to accept these responsibilities.
.- Whenever the honorable member for Bradfield (Mr. Turner) speaks in this House on the Vietnam issue we hear the same old jargon. The honorable member spoke once again about the war that is going on in Vietnam. I think that what most Australians want to know at the present moment is whether Australia is really at war in Vietnam. Has Australia declared war against the Vietcong or North’ Vietnam? On every occasion that the Prime Minister (Mr. Harold Holt and the Minister for Defence (Mr. Fairhall) have been asked whether Australia is at war in Vietnam they have replied that we are not. But we hear Government members talk about the great war that is going on in Vietnam. They tell us that we are not at war in South Vietnam. Everybody knows that throughout Australia’s history and particularly in World War I and World War II, when Australians have been asked to de. end their country or some other democracy they have always risen to the occasion. They have always volunteered and have gone overseas and done their duty. On this occasion we cannot get enough volunteers because the people of Australia know that the war in Vietnam is not a war in which we should be involved. “ The Government is not sincere in sending young conscripts to fight in the bottomless pit of Vietnam against the Vietcong. Australians should keep their noses clean and keep out of this war. How can this Government claim to be sincere when it supplies wool, wheat, rutile and other commodities to Communist China? The Government says that China is supporting North Vietnam in its struggle against the South or that it is supporting the Vietcong. Yet this Government is supplying China with food and with wool to make clothing and with rutile for the manufacture of equipment. I do not believe that this Government is sincere. Nobody can convince me that it is good policy to feed one’s enemy, and at present this Government is following a policy which involves feeding and supplying a nation ^ which it claims is our enemy.
How do we explain the situation to the mothers of the young conscripts whose names are drawn in the lottery of death? Incidentally, what is the procedure with this lottery? Certain birth dates are selected but are not made known to the public. The authorities then select persons of the required age and born on the designated dates, conscript them for national service and send them to fight in the jungles of Vietnam. How can anybody know exactly what process is fallowed in selecting these trainees? I do not know how it is done and I am pretty sure that a great many other people are in similar ignorance. I believe that if birth dates are to be drawn they should be made known publicly. I think the Government has been pulling the wool over the eyes of the Australian people. It may have been using this device to ensure that the numbers of trainees are spread evenly throughout the country, so that no more will be called up from certain suburbs or towns than from others. This is the kind of practice that could be indulged in, and nobody knows that it is not being done now. Nobody can possibly be sure until the selected birth dates are made known.
The honorable member for Bradfield said that not one of the successive governments of Vietnam had attempted to conduct negotiations with the Vietcong. The fact is that most of those governments have been controlled by professional soldiers, and I believe that the professional soldier has an outlook similar to that of the professional salesman. Whenever there is a war on the professional soldiers have good jobs, and I believe that what most of them are interested in is ensuring that they continue to have good jobs. As long as there is a war in progress they know that they will be looked after.
I do not want to go into too much detail about the situation in Vietnam because the subject has been covered today by a great many other speakers. Naturally honorable members on the Government side will support the policy announced by the Prime Minister on behalf of his Government. I believe that the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) last night clearly set out the policy of the Labour Party in regard to this question and we of the Opposition wholeheartedly support that policy. The Leader of the Opposition gave the facts concerning the policy of the Government. He showed that it is an insincere Government. He pointed out that while on the one hand the Government condemns and criticises China for its action in Vietnam, it then holds out its hand for the money that China pays for the wool, wheat and rutile that Australia sells to her. This reminds me of an earlier incident in Australia’s history when a government led by the former Prime Minister condoned the sale of pig iron to Japan. At that time the waterside workers. whom this Government is always out to condemn, refused to load the pig iron because they knew that the country to which it was going was an aggressive and warlike country. Although the waterside workers were condemned on many occasions for this refusal, the fact was that many of our soldiers subsequently were on the receiving end of this pig iron, and they got it for nothing. It was returned in the form of bullets, bombs and shrapnel. A similar policy is being followed by the Government today. Although the former Prime Minister received the Order of the Thistle and titles such as Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports, he is still known to many waterside workers in this country as “ Pig Iron Bob “.
I said previously that this Government is feeding the enemy, but again I ask: Are these people the enemy? Are we at war? If so, why has not the industry of this country been conscripted or nationalised for the purpose of improving our war effort? Nationalisation has been resorted to only in respect of the poor 20-year-old conscripts. These young fellows will be taken into the Army, trained and sent into action in Vietnam. We know that the constant cry of the troops who are there at present is: “ When are we going to be sent home out of these Vietnamese jungles? “ They know that the main battle is not with the Vietcong but with the jungle itself. That is the enemy they are fighting at present, and they will be glad to be released. They want to come home and it is pleasing to see that they are to be sent home. I believe that Australia should keep its nose clean and keep out of the war in Vietnam. The Government has no mandate from the people to send conscripts overseas and I believe that the reaction of the people to this policy of the Government will be shown at the next election. I am sure that the Labour Party will give the people the facts concerning the actions of this insincere Government.
There is another question that remains unanswered in the minds of many Australians. Recently the Vice-President of the United States visited Australia and the Prime Minister said that he received first hand information about the talks in Hawaii between President Johnson and Air Marshal Ky. I would like to ask why Australia was not represented at these talks. This country is supposed to be an ally of South Vietnam and of America. Our forces are serving in Vietnam because Australia is a member of S.E.A.T.O. I may say that Australia, New Zealand and America are the only three members of S.E.A.T.O. which have forces in Vietnam at present. If Australia is an ally of these countries, it should have been represented at the talks at Hawaii. We should not get our information as second hand. If the Government has committed our troops in Vietnam we should at least have a voice in talks such as this so that we may know what is going on and whether there is any intention to engage in peace negotiations. I believe that we should retain our policy of negotiating for peace. We should continue to try to get all interested parties around a table to talk things over so that we may eventually have peace.
As the honorable member for Bradfield has said, Air Marshal Nguyen Cao Ky has stated that he is opposed to peace. He does not want peace in South Vietnam because he knows he cannot control the people of that country. They do not want his regime; they are looking for a democratic Government. That is something that was promised to them by the Geneva Convention of 1954. The memoirs of former President Eisenhower disclose that he had been told by all his advisers that if there had been a general election in Vietnam in 1956 a coalition Government under Ho Chi Minh would have been elected. The result was that no democratic election was allowed to take place in Vietnam. This has been the cause of the struggle. It was not until 1960 that the Vietcong was formed to try to liberate the people of South Vietnam. This was done because of the persecution of the people under many of the governments that had ruled that country. These are the things about which he people of Australia ought to know & a great deal more.
Wars have been going on since time immemorial, and many of them were started in order to solve the economic problems of the countries concerned. Many people make a lot of money out of wars. Everybody must be alarmed at the articles that have been appearing in the Press recently about the black marketeering and profiteering that is going on in South Vietnam. We have read about the open sale in the markets of Vietnam of commodities intended for the troops. This week we read of the execution of a millionaire who had been convicted of profiteering. We have heard stories also of Americans who have been sending vast amounts of money to America as a result of profiteering and black marketeering in South Vietnam. lt is marvellous how things happen. When the Prime Minister made the announcement that Australia was increasing her commitments to Vietnam he informed the House that America required Australian industries to supply goods and equipment to American forces in Vietnam. We remember that on a prior occasion, when the Government announced that Australia was to send troops to Vietnam, the present Prime Minister, who was then Treasurer, made a hurried visit to America to obtain dollars. Again we find that with an increase in our commitments Australia is to get some orders for the supply of goods to American troops. I think it is another case of trading Australian diggers for dollars.
Prior to the escalation of the war in Vietnam and the announcement that America had decided to increase the number of its troops in that area, America had many internal problems, one of which was unemployment. At that time approximately six million people were unemployed in America. Today, as a result of the escalation of the war in Vietnam, 30 million people are employed in some way manufacturing goods needed for the war. The prices of the shares of many firms manufacturing war equipment have risen considerably, while the unemployment figure in America has dropped to one and a half million. Honorable members will note that as a result of the escalation of the war in Vietnam America has been able to solve one of its great economic problems. We on this side of the House know that Australia is going to have some economic problems, and we sincerely hope that the Government’s reason for increasing the number of troops in Vietnam is not an attempt to solve some of these problems in advance. It is simply marvellous how much money can be found to finance a war.
I should like, in the few minutes left to me, to deal with one of the great internal problems that confronts Australia. I do not refer to the drought. Everybody knows that the drought is going to affect the Australian economy to a great extent. I wish to speak of the big problem of housing which affects many people in this country. A large number of industries are affected by the position in the building industry. The other evening the Prime Minister in his speech referred to only one great national problem. He spoke of the aid that Australia would give to countries overseas - a lot of charity. But I believe that charity begins at home and that we ought to be giving soma charity to the Australian people. The Prime Minister said -
A substantial additional amount of finance, estimated at £24 million, is being provided by the savings banks for housing in the second half of 1965-66. The effect of this has yet to show up fully. We have under consideration other measures to give further support to housing.
Today the Treasurer (Mr. McMahon) followed up the statement of the Prime Minister by informing the House that the Government would make finance available to the State Governments to the extent of $15 million under the Housing Loans Agreement Act. This money will be of some assistance, but when divided among the States it will not greatly relieve people on the long lists of home seekers. Many people have to build through a housing commission, but as a result of the grant announced today only about 1,200 homes will be built. The Commonwealth and State Housing Agreement was introduced by the late Ben Chifley, specifically to assist low income earners, but this Government has diverted the money that should have been available to these persons into other fields. Money can be found to fight wars but we cannot find money to look after the welfare of the Australian people. The wage earners in the low income group represent one section of the community which is in dire need of better and cheaper homes.
Pensioners, because of this Government’s policy and its failure to make money available to State housing commissions, are forced to live in slums. Because of the high rentals charged for rooms many pensioners are living in a state of poverty. Last year 80,000 home seekers were on the lists of the housing commissions of the various States. There has been a sharp increase in the number of applications for housing commission homes in New South Wales. Last year the increase in the number of applicants was the highest since 1945. These applications represent the needy cases who are unable to purchase homes because of the high cost of construction and the exorbitant interest rates. The number of new applications received last year by the New South Wales housing Commission was 18.000, the highest for many years. This represented an increase of more than 2,000 over the previous year. In New South Wales last year the Housing Commission completed only 5,400 dwellings. This means that only one sixth of the present applicants will receive a home; the rest will have to wait for between five and six years.
I should like to refer to the incomes of some of the applicants for the homes. The figures show that 84 per cent, earned under $50 per week, or £25, a week; 31 per cent, earned between S40 and $50; 16 per cent, earned between S3 6 and $40; 9 per cent, between $30 and $36; and 23 per cent, earned under $24 a week. In other words, 23 per cent, earned under £12 a week. These are the people who are depending on the New South Wales Housing Commission for homes because they are unable to save the money required for a deposit. The honorable member for Bennelong (Sir John Cramer), who appears to speak as a member of the Real Estate Institute of New South Wales, has stated that there are plenty of houses for rental and for sale. We know that a certain number of homes are available for rental and for sale, but that the people who own them can afford to keep them empty. On the other hand, the people who require these homes cannot afford either to rent or purchase them. I could cite the case of a young couple who came to me. They intended to purchase a home through a big developer.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- The honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Devine) represents an electorate in the State of New South Wales. It is a fact that Sydney, in New South Wales, has the worst housing record in Australia. The main reason is that until last year New South Wales suffered under the rule of a Labour Government. That is the plain reason why the housing position in New South Wales is in its present difficult position. I repeat that New South Wales is the worst State and it is because a Labour administration in that State was in office for a period of some 20 years. The honorable member, like most honorable members on the Opposition side, devoted much of his time to speaking about the troops in Vietnam. The Australian troops in Vietnam have a saying “ I’m all right Jack “ and they apply it to the Australian Labour Party. They say that the Australian Labour Parry’s slogan is “ I’m all right Jack “ because the Labour Party does not believe in fulfilling the obligations which Australia has entered into and which are its duty to fulfil as a great and powerful and wealthy nation in the Asian sphere. Australia is a very lucky country. It is a fortunate country. It has never been invaded and has never suffered a civil war. Spokesmen for the Opposition continue to refuse to recognise that other countries which do suffer vicissitudes of this nature need our help, our guidance and, at times, our military strength in order to put the situation right.
I was impressed by the speech made by the Prime Minister (Mr. Harold Holt) last Tuesday night. It was his first speech to this House as Prime Minister. I was especially impressed by the final words of his speech, which were -
We commit ourselves to the tasks ahead with enthusiasm, with our hard work and our devotion.
The Prime Minister is aided in this sincere statement by being the leader of a loyal band of supporters on this side of the House. He is aided by the goodwill of (he majority of the Australian people, by a highly efficient public administration and, not the least, by the fact that only recently the Vernon Committee has furnished a report to the Government on the economic state of the nation. The Vernon Committee’s report was debated earlier in this session and I do not intend to devote much attention to it at the present time. I want to say simply that the importance of the Vernon Committee’s report will be brought out when the Committee’s findings are evaluated and criticised by the best academic brains in Australia. When we have a proper critical appraisal from these qualified people of the recommendations of the Vernon Committee, then we will have the best guidance possible for future courses of action in the direction of government policy in Australia.
It is quite obvious that certain sensitive matters do require close consideration and analysis. I refer particularly to the tariff and to our migration programme. One has a very strong and close bearing upon the other for this reason. In 1929 we had another committee which looked into a particular aspect of the Australian economy. That was the Brigden Committee which looked into the operation of the Australian tariff. It stated that the main advantage of a tariff in Australia was that it permitted the wealth earned by our exports of wool, wheat, meat and mineral products to be spread more widely through the community to allow us to diversify our industries and to build up a larger population. In recent times, as everyone knows, our terms of trade have gone against us and we have been able to maintain a favourable balance of trade only by importing capital from overseas.
It is my belief that we need far more overseas capital from countries which are exporters of capital than we have received so far. Last year we exported a certain number of goods and imported a certain number of goods and our deficit on current account was $784 million. Our capital inflow for the year was $490 million. That left us with a total deficit on current account of $294 million. That means that we are supporting our migration programme by the importation of capital from overseas. Unfortunately, owing to the operation of the tariff and its relationship with the migration programme, a great deal of that investment has gone into industries which do not add to the wealth of Australia. They in fact add to the number of houses that have been produced, the number of domestic appliances that have been produced and the number of goods that are used for domestic consumption, but they do not add to the productive wealth of Australia. What are we to do about this? Are we in fact to cut back our migration intake in order that we may devote more of our finances and more of our capital resources to the development of our productive resources in Australia, more to our defence effort and more to maintaining our standard of living? Or are we to invite more foreign capital to come into this country so that we can maintain our standard of living, so that we may maintain our importation of people with skills to build up our numbers and so that we may maintain our rate of development and our defence effort? I believe that that is our only course. Any other course of action would be disastrous to Australia because I have firm faith that Australia has resources which can be tapped only by a rapidly increasing population and a rapid increase in our wealth.
If we are compelled to import more capital, how do we go about getting it? We have double taxation agreements with the United Kingdom and the United States of America. We give investors from those countries the same privileges that accrue to our own domestic investors here in Australia, yet we need more capital than they are prepared to supply. I suggest that it is time we had a close look at arranging a double taxation agreement with Japan, our great trading partner, in order that that nation, which is a capital exporter at the present time, should be able to enter into joint ventures with Australian concerns and should be attracted towards Australia to help to develop some of the great natural resources of this country.
I suggest also that the States be advised of the value of inviting private financial institutions in other countries, particularly the United States of America and the United Kingdom, to embark upon the construction of public utilities in Australia. This is primarily a matter for the States. Each State has the opportunity to invite foreign capital to build toll roads, bridges and dams and to generate electricity on a franchise basis, as is done now in the United States. The private concerns would make a profit and after a due term would pass the asset to the State for the general use of the public free of cost. We have already done this in a very small way in Australia. The Hornibrook Highway in Brisbane was constructed in much the same manner. It is now a public undertaking; originally it belonged to a private concern. There is no reason at all to my mind why we should not augment our available capital, especially for this type of spending, by inviting private concerns, banking institutions and the like in other countries to come into Australia to help us to construct better communications, to help us to generate power and to help us to build dams and bridges on a franchise basis. We could then devote the resources that we have and that we can attract in other ways to more productive uses, and we would be able to maintain our high rate of immigration and our high rate of growth.
I urge the Prime Minister to bring this suggestion to the notice of the State Premiers when he meets them at the end of this session. I believe that only by bringing more capital into Australia can we guarantee to continue the rapid rate of growth that we have been able to sustain up to the present time. We must develop Australia fast. We must develop it in terms of quality. We must make Australia a strong and powerful nation. The populations of other countries are growing at a rate equal to or even faster than Australia’s is. In relation to them, we will always be a small country. It is up to us here and now to develop Australia as quickly as possible and to make it strong so that it can stand on its own feet in the future, despite whatever threats may face it. I was impressed by the Prime Minister’s expression of his confidence that our greatest years have yet to be. Those are my own sentiments.
Opposition members are interjecting. They criticise the Prime Minister’s belief that our greatest years are yet to be. This is the attitude that is always adopted by the Opposition. It looks back and has always looked back to the depression years, to the old conscription years of 1916 and even further back. In the whole of its history, the Australian Labour Party has never looked forward. I am at this time attempting to look forward. I have made a suggestion which could be constructive and which could help us to make Australia a great and powerful nation, the greatest and the most powerful nation in the Asian sector. I put this suggestion sincerely, Mr. Speaker, through you to the House and to the Prime Minister. I suggest that the Prime Minister ask the Australian Loan Council at its next meeting to seek the introduction of private capital into Australia for the construction of public utilities on a franchise basis. This is a way of bringing capital into Australia that will not destroy Australian enterprise but will contribute to the wealth and power of Australia.
– The main burden of my attack upon the statement of the Prime Minister (Mr. Harold Holt) will be levelled against the Government’s decision to send voteless boys to fight in Vietnam. These boys will be compelled to give their lives in a war that does not officially exist. Australia is not officially at war with the Vietcong, with the people of South Vietnam or with the people of North Vietnam.
– Or with China.
– Or indeed is it at war with China, although, listening to the speeches of honorable members on the other side of the House, one would be entitled to believe that China is a country with which we should be at war. One would imagine that China constitutes a very serious and immediate threat to us. We find that the Australian Country Party, following its usual form of consistency, or inconsistency, is holding the Government to ransom. Perhaps the Government does not need to be held to ransom. The Australian Country Party says to the Government that, unless it keeps on sending to China the weapons of war - I do not mean only rifles but wheat, wool and other items that are so vital to a successful war effort - it will not support the Government. So the Government, which prates so much about the Chinese enemy, willy nilly continues to grab whatever money it can from the Chinese Communists in return for the wheat, wool and other items that it sells. I notice that the honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Killen) agrees with me. But why does he not get up and tell the Government about it instead of sitting there with such an inane look on his face and without making a comment?
We should try to understand a few historical facts about Vietnam. The North and South Vietnamese are not two different peoples at all. They are the same people. Ethnically they are the same. They have the same culture. They speak the same language. They were turned into two separate peoples when a manmade boundary at the 17th parallel was fixed by the Conference at Geneva in 1954. Nobody can say that we are fighting in Vietnam to uphold democracy, to uphold the rights of the trade union movement, to uphold the principles of habeas corpus or to uphold the other great principles of civil liberties. We are not. None of these principles exists under the Government of Ky nor did they exist under the 9 or 10 governments that preceded him. The Government of South Vietnam is the most corrupt, most despotic and most anti-democratic government that could be imagined. Yet the Australian Government intends to send our boys to give their lives in defence of this corrupt military junta that passes for a government in South Vietnam.
This, as President Johnson said, is a cruel and dirty war waged against the local inhabitants in- support of a corrupt, cruel and ruthless military dictatorship. Even the best friends of Ky could not describe his Government in any other way. We are not fighting to uphold democracy or the principles of civil liberties. In fact, the people our national service trainees will be compelled to engage in mortal combat do not constitute a military threat against this country or against the United States of America. Nobody in the United States or in Australia will seriously suggest for a moment that the people of Vietnam are likely to invade this country, that they are or have been aggressors against this country or that they are ever likely to be a military threat to us. The only ground for intervention in the civil war in Vietnam is based upon the belief that China is about to commence a southern thrust through that part of Asia and, unless we send our national service conscripts into Vietnam to stop it, this thrust will eventuate. But how . can the Government possibly put that proposition seriously when at the same time it is sending wool, wheat and certain metals to China which it says is a potential threat? The Government cannot have it both ways. It should be consistent.
Not all Americans agree with the American Government’s solution to the problem of the Communist threat in Asia. Senators Wayne Morse, Fulbright, Mansfield and Gruening, great writers like Walter Lippman, great scientists like Linus Pauling, and many great American thinkers believe the Americans are treading a dangerous and slippery path and are engaged in a war that cannot be won. If the war in Vietnam is to be won at all it has to be won on the ideological, economic and social fields. There is no military solution to the war. Eventually our Government will come to realise this.
If we were to kill every Vietnamese man, woman and child and leave standing in the field only 500,000 or 600,000 American and Australian troops, it would not be a true victory. It would be a pyrrhic victory which would turn to ashes in our mouth. We cannot win this war unless we attack the causes of Communism, and we will not do that, because the military juntas we are upholding are, in fact, the causes of it, and we would have to remove them to deal effectively with the factors that are causing people to turn to Communism.
One must say for the Americans that they are consistent in their attitude to Red China. They believe that China constitutes a threat but, unlike our Government, America gives effect to its belief by refusing to trade with China. I am not advocating that we should stop trading with China; I merely draw attention to the Government’s own inconsistency. If the Government believes, as it says it does, that Communist China is a threat to Asia and to us it ought at once to stop trading with China. It cannot have it both ways: It seems to me that the Leader of the Opposition was perfectly right when he said that this Government was concerned mainly with trade.
Our first involvement in the Vietnam war was the outcome of negotiations between the present Prime Minister and the United States Administration following a White House announcement that United States capital outflow to Australia was to be restricted. The present Prime Minister went to Washington and subsequently announced proudly that he had succeeded in persuading the United States Administration to ease its restrictions on American capital outflow to Australia. Sir Robert Menzies followed this announcement shortly afterwards with the announcement that Australian Regular Army troops would be sent to Vietnam to become direct participants in the battle there. It was properly described by my inimitable friend the honorable member for Grayndler (Mr. Daly) as a diggers for dollars deal. It was a pay off for the United States capitalists at a time when too much foreign capital was already coming into
Australia and when more than SOO manufacturing companies were completely controlled by foreign investors and another 750 were effectively controlled by them. The trouble today is that Australia is paying dividends to overseas investors and keeping itself poor, making it virtually impossible to maintain its balance of payments.
The second step in the Government’s involvement in Vietnam has been the decision to conscript voteless national service trainees to fight in a war that has not yet been declared a war. The second step springs from a motive that is even more indefensible than the one that’ produced the first step. The first step was the result of a diggers for dollars deal. The second step was nothing better than a diggers for dividends deal, which I will prove presently. For months now the Australian capitalists, who back this Government, have been wanting to cash in on the blood money in Vietnam. The Australian Chamber of Manufactures has publicly declared that it felt aggrieved that they had been left out of the rich profits that were to be had from the supply of arms and equipment to Australians and other troops risking their lives in Vietnam. It made public statements to this effect: “ It is not fair. The American capitalists are getting all the profits out of this war and we are not getting any. Our troops are over there being slaughtered but we are getting none of the profits. Can’t you do something about it?” So the Government said: “Let us see what we can do. Perhaps we can make another deal for you by which you will get dividends from the profits of the slaughter in Vietnam in return for some more conscripts, some voteless boys, who will be sent there “. What happened? Along came Vice President Hubert Humphrey to Canberra and conferences took place. The Press announced that they were for the purpose of making a deal under which the Australian Government would conscript national service trainees in return for Australian capitalists getting a share of the profitmaking in Vietnam. This Press speculation proved correct. I asked the Minister for Defence (Mr. Fairhall) a question last week about this and he said it was perfectly true. He said, in effect: “I am very happy to announce that we have made an agreement under which Australian capitalists will now share in the boodle to be obtained from the supply of arms and equipment to Vietnam. No longer are the American capitalists to be given the sole right to exploit this rich market “.
I believe that it is entirely wrong that the Government should be in a position to conscript voteless boys to fight in the jungles and paddy fields of Vietnam in return for a shady deal with Australian capitalists in order that they might make profits out of war. Subsequently came the Government’s announcement that the United States Government had agreed to the proposal, and the agreement was signed, sealed and delivered. Everybody was happy, except the mothers and fathers of the conscripts who were to be made pawns in the game and who were to be the ones to pay the price for the profitmaking deal that was made for the Government’s wealthy friends.
Why has not the Government declared a state of war in Vietnam? This is a pertinent question. One reason might be that once a state of war is declared there would be a demand by the public for profit control, prices control and control of capital investment. There would be a demand by the public, when they knew about this shady de] involving diggers for dividends, for private industries to be commandeered so that arms and equipment could be supplied to Australian troops in Vietnam on a non-profit basis. No-one has the right to profit from risking the lives of other people. Of course, the Country Party would then be in the position where it would be forced to release its pressure on the Government for the continuation of sales of wheat, wool and other materials to Communist China. The Government does not want an actual state of war. It wants the circumstances that follow a state of war to apply to the boys and the manpower of Australia, but it does not want the consequences of a state of war to apply to its wealthy capitalist friends. The Government refuses to raise a finger against the owners of property, or even to limit their profit from the war. I believe a strong case can be made out for a 100 per cent, profit tax on profits made from war. If we could take the profits out of war we would not have so many lobbyists running around trying to get this war maintained and extended.
The Government makes a deal on behalf of Australian capitalists which will result in rich dividends in return for the lives of voteless youths, but it has no mandate for this. It has no mandate to conscript national service trainees for overseas service in time of peace. This was not a proposal that was put to the Australian people at the last Federal election. The Government dare not put up such a proposal now and it did not dare put it up then, because no party could win an election on such a proposal. No country has ever given a government a mandate to introduce conscription. This Government would not get it, and if the Government can be forced to fight the next election on the issue of the conscription of voteless boys it will be defeated; make no error about that. We won the Dawson by-election because we were able to seize upon an issue that was big enough to make the people of Dawson change their party allegiance. The issue of conscripting youths for overseas service is one that affects, not just the people of Dawson, but the people of every electorate in Australia. When this Government’s action becomes the issue at the next general election the Labour Party will be swept to power because the people will not tolerate this action. The longer it continues, the more the people will be opposed to it. The gallup poll shows that there is a growing opposition to the conscription of national service trainees for service overseas in time of peace. In December last year 52 per cent, of the population was opposed to sending national service trainees overseas. That percentage has now increased to 57 per cent. Today 57 per cent, of the people oppose the sending of national service trainees overseas in time of peace. In December last 37 per cent, of the people favoured sending national service trainees overseas. Today that number has declined to 32 per cent. This trend will continue so long as the war continues.
The Government must take stock of the situation. This is the first time in Australia’s history that voteless boys have been dragged from their homes under the lash of conscription and forced to die in a war that has not yet been declared. Labour is pledged to the principle of extending the vote to 18 year old boys. A citizen who is called upon to throw away his life for his country is morally entitled to vote for his country. Conscription in peace time cannot be condoned without a specific mandate from all of the people, including the eighteen year old youths who will have to shed their blood. No government has the right to lay violent hands on the sons of Australian citizens without a specific mandate to do so.
The Government says that it proposes to give national service trainees a vote after they are conscripted. We demand that they be given a vote before they are conscripted so that they may have some say in whether conscription shall be their lot. Apprentice. ships are being interrupted by conscription. Careers and university courses are being ruined. The lives of parents are being tortured by anxiety born of the unauthorised action of a government that has grown contemptuous of public opinion and become drunk with power. The Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Hasluck), who is the man chiefly responsible for the present situation, sits fast asleep on the front bench. He has now awakened drowsily to look at me through blinking eyes. He wonders what it is all about. He has been fast asleep while I have been making a plea on behalf of voteless boys.
Conscription has become a substitute for a proper review of the voluntary system. The voluntary system has failed because the Government has failed to provide proper pay, allowances and repatriation benefits for servicemen. National service trainees are entitled only to the meagre benefits provided under the Workers Compensation Act. People who go away on active service and who return must be satisfied with a war service loan that is no longer adequate to meet the costs of purchasing a home. Servicemen who are maimed must struggle to obtain repatriation benefits under a warped application of section 47 of the Repatriation Act, the onus of proof being placed, not on the Government but on the applicant. Men are expected to volunteer to risk their lives under conditions which industrial workers would never accept. While owners of capital have the right to deny the use of their capital without exorbitant profits, national service trainees, are forced to give up their lives in what has been described as an unwinnable war. They do not ask for any profit from what they have to give, but they want justice. It is because they are not getting justice that the voluntary system has failed. Any country with a voluntary system which cannot supply the number of men that Australia has committed to South Vietnam stands condemned as not doing its job for its people. The rights of man begin with the prime right of a man to own his own body. No man or group of men, whether it be a press gang or a government, has a moral or God-given right to take possession of another’s body and force that body into mortal combat with people in a foreign land without a declaration of war. 1 challenge the Government to test its proposal in a referendum in which the youths who will be coerced and dragged into this undeclared foreign war will be given a say in what is to become of their own bodies.
.- We heard tonight from the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Clyde Cameron) one of his frequent efforts at personal abuse ‘and abuse of sections of Australian society. It is totally unnecessary, as I see it, for an honorable member to single out individuals and comment on their expression or whether they are asleep. Let us face it: The honorable member asks for all of us to be asleep when he carries on with some of his socialistic dogma. I thought he gave himself away clearly tonight when he referred to commercial people in this country in words of some abuse and with some evidence of hate. Frequently, the Opposition urges that we should do more to encourage trade and more to improve our balance of trade. But what happens when we have a useful outlet for trade? The honorable member for Hindmarsh abuses manufacturers in scurrilous fashion as though they were behaving disloyally. If there is anything disloyal in this matter as it strikes the honorable member, it is, of course, basic. He does not agree with commerce. He does not agree with people who work to set themselves up to trade because be is a violent socialist. I will say this for him: He is sincere in this, and there are too few on his side of the House who stick sincerely to their beliefs. I would ask: Where are the Labour men of years ago when I was a small boy? Where are the lean jawed, big people who travelled the length and breadth of the land crusading sincerely for something in which they believed? The present members of the Labour Party have been in opposition for so long because they have lost their beliefs. They have nothing on which to pin a star.
They have no positive beliefs with which to go out into the countryside and crusade. In the present situation, the Opposition has frantically clutched at something which it thinks it might be able to get away with. Hitherto, it has had nothing on which to base a convincing argument to the Australian public. It is frantically clutching at a straw, trying to take advantage of the fact that Australia is in many ways still not part of the world - still a little inclined to be isolationist in its policies and thinking, as was the United States of America until quite recently. This attitude on the part of the Opposition explains quite a bit.
If I may depart from that thought for a minute, I would like to refer to some of the remarks made by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) in this debate. I think these are at the core of the new method of thinking which the Opposition has suddenly discovered. The Leader of the Opposition said that the traditional role of Labour has always been anti-conscription. That statement is a fallacy for a start, as anybody who has studied the history of these matters will know. But I believe that now we are in some ways hearing the truth. Where are the high-falutin remarks of the honorable member for Yarra (Dr. J. F. Cairns)? Where is the ideological thinking with which we have been berated by the honorable member for Yarra in terms of how we should learn to get on with the Asian people? All this highly mythical moral thinking has now gone overboard and we now have laid before us the bare truth that the excuse for all this hullabaloo is that the Labour Party is traditionally against conscription.
I believe that one of the really poor things ever to happen in this country - this matter goes back to the First World War and was a point well made by the honorable member for Bradfield (Mr. Turner) - was that volunteers were allowed to bear the brunt of defending Australia. One of the great things to have happened in recent years has been the realisation by more and more people that this situation has been unfair. We have heard a lot about the freedom of the individual and about national service trainees who are sent overseas having no vote. Society has always been that way. I think it was the honorable member for Bradfield who pointed out. for instance, that the first responsibility of a citizen is to protect his society. I maintain that we are in this chamber tonight to legislate, to put into effect laws which will ensure that society and every individual within it has some protection. If I might strike a quick simile, may I say that the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Clyde Cameron) sometimes makes me feel that I would like to hit him over the head with a mallee root. I do not expect that that would make much impression on him, but the point is that society protects the honorable member from being hit over the head with a mallee root by me. And this should be so. The point at issue is that society is protected by its laws. The freedom of the individual will always be qualified, so that, in effect, there will be actual freedom for operation at a level. This, I think, is basic to any argument on whether we should or should not defend this country properly and send troops, in this case, to the theatres of limited warfare in Malaya and Vietnam.
I see that the honorable member for Kingston (Mr. Galvin) is with us. I was interested to hear that whereas he agreed that China could to some extent be considered a menace to our country, he was at complete variance on this question with the honorable member for Hindmarsh. So if we throw these little matters backwards and forwards as debating points, let us remember that they are debating points. And there was very little sincerity behind some of the debating points I heard made by some members of the Opposition tonight. I think the basic mistake in the reasoning of honorable members opposite is that they refuse to accept that today we are involved in the concept of a limited war - that we are involved, to a degree, in police action. I am thinking now more of the theatre of war, if we consider it in that light, or the theatre of operations in Borneo than in Vietnam.
Speaker after speaker on the opposite side tonight has made the point that either we are or we are not at war. Honorable members opposite seem quite unable to grasp that the local conditions that apply today should not be allowed to escalate into a full scale war. They seem completely unable to accept that it is very desirable indeed that we should be operating at this particular level. I support everything that the honorable member for Chisholm (Sir Wilfrid Kent Hughes) said tonight. 1 think he made an excellent speech on this point. If we consider whether we should be involved in a limited war, then 1 think we have also to consider whether this type of armed action has ever achieved anything at all.
Once again, the memories of honorable members opposite are very short indeed. They forget the lesson of Munich in the last war. They forget that it is of no use appeasing, appeasing and appeasing. They forget that armed force to a limited degree has solved the situation in Malaya. It is remarkable to those who visit Malaya to see how Communism has been pushed back. A handful of people who were causing great confusion were finality rounded up or pushed further and further north until they were no longer a menace in Malaya. They are no longer a factor to be considered when thinking in terms of police force activity in that area. We can look also to Taiwan, which has been stabilised by the force of American arms. Cyprus, Cuba and Korea are other examples of what can be achieved by this type of action. We are apt to overlook this. It is of no earthly use the Leader of the Opposition rising in this House and saying that we are involved in a war which cannot be won and that the Labour Party will have nothing to do with it. That attitude shows completely outmoded thinking. It is like hiding one’s head in the sand. It is the sort of thinking which Australia, as she advances as a nation, cannot afford any longer.
I am very pleased to note that the action of this Government, and indeed of the new Prime Minister, in this regard has been definite. There has been no shilly-shallying. May I add, at the risk of being critical of another country, that there has been no prevarication or doubt such as exists in New Zealand. A certain decision has been made. We believe that, in the interests of this nation, this type of defence action must be taken. We are very fortunate to have America as an ally, with her resources and her interest in this area and also a determination born of being morally right.
I had the very good fortune about three weeks ago to be in the Malaysian area.
While there I had an opportunity to look over Air Force and Army establishments and in particular the naval base at Singapore. I found the sheer immensity of these establishments to be amazing. I do not know how we could possibly duplicate these facilities on Australia’s shores. No doubt modern thinking could achieve a rationalisation of the mammoth facilities that exist in Malaysia but I repeat that I was amazed at the sheer extent of these facilities. I shall not describe them fully tonight; probably this is not the time to do so. May 1 say, however, that it would seem to be very much to Australia’s interests if Britain could be persuaded to retain Singapore as a base for as long as possible. If there was any degree of assurance that Britain would retain this base, it might pay us to subscribe a certain sum towards annual maintenance and running costs.
One thing we must consider very carefully is the fact that Britain’s aircraft carrier force is not young; its life is limited possibly to the early 1970’s. Whether Britain will regard it as being worthwhile to remain at this base much beyond then is problematical, lt is perhaps worth noting that, if the Americans had a base as near to the strategic area as Singapore is, possibly they could put their existing force into that area with only one third of the number of ships at present employed. In other words, in any thinking about the location of a base very many factors must be taken into account. Not the least of them is that, if we were to duplicate the Singapore base in Australia, we would have grave problems in the percentage of effective patrol time that naval vessels could spend in the area that we now regard as being strategic.
Perhaps I may point out that at present Singapore has a very grave problem in providing job opportunities. I gather that 50 per cent, of the population is under 21 and the population bulge is rapidly reaching such proportions as to make it necessary for Singapore to have a great deal more secondary industry if its economy is to remain viable. I believe that discussions on this point have already taken place between President Lee Kuan Yew and Australian Government officials. I regard this matter as grave, because without a continuance of the stability that now exists in the Singapore area, our defence thinking would have to be re-oriented to a considerable degree. I hope that the Opposition will at least agree that it is desirable that an adequate flow of trade with this area be maintained. I believe that we could perhaps help Singapore by establishing there plants to process Australian primary products. We might do well to accept a responsibility for this kind of activity.
I could hardly believe my ears when I heard an Opposition member say this evening, as I understood him, that Australian aid to countries in South East Asia should cease or be reduced and that we should start thinking of ourselves a little more. I can only hope that his words were not meant in the way that they sounded to me. I regret the sort of attitude that he seemed to be adopting. We would give ourselves away completely if we were to adopt that kind of insular and petty thinking.
Let me say finally, Mr. Speaker, that in my view there are very strong moral arguments, as well as arguments of other kinds which have been put so capably by previous speakers this evening, in support of the proposition that we should do what we can to protect any nation that is under threat of being overrun whether by invading armed forces alone or by an invading army combined with the infiltration of some detrimental political concept. I sincerely believe that we are adopting the right course by maintaining troops in South East Asia. I hope that the people of Australia will be sufficiently broad in their thinking to realise the utter necessity of this course. It seems to me that we can go too far with the line of thought that South East Asia does not concern us. 1 believe that history proves conclusively that if one is not opposed to a concept one will be taken as being in favour of it. This is exactly the sort of position into which, I believe, the Opposition has too frequently drifted, as has been pointed out by previous speakers on this side of the chamber. The Opposition has allowed itself, perhaps unintentionally, to be associated with activities and organisations that are not conducted in the interests of this country. May I take the matter a stage further and say that if members of the Australian Labour Party are sincere in their declarations that they are attempting to overcome Communist influence at trade union or any other level they should, in my opinion, think very seriously of putting an active group into the vacuum left in the trade union movement in the field that was once filled by the industrial groups. If members of the Labour Party are sincere in their claims, they must show the people of Australia that they are determined to have an individualistic policy of their own but not necessarily one that follows the line to which they adhere at present.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Duthie) adjourned.
Motion (by Mr. Fairbairn) - by leave - agreed to -
That Mr. Malcolm Fraser be discharged from attendance on the Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs.
That until such time as Opposition members of the House of Representatives are nominated to serve on the Committee, Mr. Bowen be a member of the Committee.
That the foregoing resolution be communicated to the Senate by message.
Bill returned from the Senate without requests.
Motion (by Mr. Fairbairn) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
– I wish to raise a few matters relating to the answering by Ministers of questions on notice. The questions that I have under consideration are those listed on Notice Paper No. 145 for the House of Representatives. From a study of this document I have found that there are 29 questions still outstanding. They date from 27th October 1964. Even allowing for the time that a Minister must spend in his department and on various affairs of state, it is unfair that members of this Parliament should have to wait so long for answers to important questions. In the intervening period there have been lengthy parliamentary recesses. There has been plenty of time for the information to be collated. It is almost inexcusable that the Ministers concerned have not answered the questions.
The first question, which is question No. 728, was directed to the previous Prime Minister, Sir Robert Menzies, by the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Clyde Cameron). I do not know why the previous Prime Minister did not answer the question. There was plenty of time for him to do so. Similarly, a very simple question was asked by the honorable member for Hindmarsh of. the Minister for Territories (Mr. Barnes) on 10th November 1964. The Minister has had plenty of time to run around the Territories and other places. Surely he could have taken 10 minutes to answer the question.
– Read the question to the House.
– The question reads as follows -
What is the name of the officer or what are the names of the officers responsible for compiling his replies to questions Nos. 731, 732, 739 and 740 on the subject of labour conditions for indigenous workers in the Territory of Papua and New Guinea?
This is not an exceedingly difficult question, even for the Minister for Territories. It seeks information which he could easily turn up, and he could then furnish it in answer to the question. But the question has not been answered yet, although it was placed on notice on 10th November 1964. The honorable member for Hindmarsh asked question No. 797 of the same Minister.It is as follows -
Why did he not give a direct answer to questions Nos. 731, 732, 739 and 740 concerning labour conditions for indigenous workers in the Territory of Papua and New Guinea?
The Minister is present in the House. I should like him to tell the House why he has not answered the questions which have been asked by the honorable member for Hindmarsh. Does it mean that they are not going to be answered? Does it mean that the Minister is dodging his responsibility in this regard? Is the information available? Why does not the Minister tell the Parliament why answers to these questions have been outstanding for 15 or 16 months? The Minister for Territories is smiling. I can understand why the previous Prime Minister used to be worried every time the Minister came to the table to answer a question off the cuff. The Minister has bad plenty of time to answer these questions on notice.
On 17th August 1965 the honorable member for Stirling (Mr. Webb) asked a question of the Minister for Civil Aviation. On 1st September 1965 the honorable member for Stirling addressed a question to the former Treasurer. On 15th September 1965 the honorable member for Barton (Mr. Reynolds) directed a question to the Prime Minister. Those questions are still unanswered. Then on 21st September 1965 the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam) asked the Prime Minister a question concerning a letter that had been written by the then Minister for Supply regarding the wool prices referendum, wherein the Minister, in the face of a Cabinet decision, advocated a “ No “ vote at the referendum when it was the Government’s policy to ask for a “ Yes “ vote. The question is still unanswered because the former Prime Minister did not want to have a head-on clash with the Australian Country Party on that particular issue. This was deliberate evasion of the question because the Government knew that the answer would embarrass it and also the Country Party and the Minister concerned.
On 28th September 1965 the Deputy Leader of the Opposition asked the Prime Minister the following questions -
This was after a Public Servant, Dr. Patterson, who is now the honorable member for Dawson, was blackguarded in this Parliament by an honorable member who is interjecting now and other members on the Government side. This was because the honorable member for Dawson, who now sits with great honour and dignity in this House, nominated when he was a Public Servant for selection as the Labour Party’s candidate. Government members opposite blackguarded him and he was dismissed from the important position which he held in the Commonwealth Public Service. The electors of Dawson have shown what they thought of that action by the Government. At the same time as this was happening, Sir William Gunn, while he was still head of the Australian Wool Board was running from one end of the country to the other as a candidate in a preselection ballot conducted by the Country Party. There is one kind of treatment for a person who nominates for the Labour Party and another kind of treatment for the person who nominates for the Country Party. I warn the Government that in the preselection ballot for the Australian Capital Territory, a member of the Commonwealth Public Service has nominated for selection as the Liberal Party’s candidate against the present member for the Australian Capital Territory (Mr. J. R. Fraser). If that Public Servant wins the preselection ballot, will the Government treat him in the same way as it treated the honorable member for Dawson? I hops not, because we on this side of the Parliament believe that a man is entitled to his political convictions.
We now know why these questions upon notice are not being answered by the Ministers. The Government is vulnerable. It has weak spots on this particular issue. I point out tonight why the Government will not answer these questions. Let us see whether the Public Servant who has nominated for selection as the Liberal Party’s candidate for the Australian Capital Territory will be treated in the same way as the honorable member for Dawson was treated if he gains a victory in the preselection ballot. We will see what the judgment of the Government is like on this question. At least the Government should be decent about this and own up to the fact that it practises political discrimination in answering such questions because it knows it is vulnerable on this point. I say this to you, Mr. Speaker: Government members must feel great shame as they gaze on the honorable member for Dawson knowing that they sought to destroy his career in the Public Service and knowing also that the people of Dawson endorsed his point of view and rejected this discrimination by the Government against a Labour man. If this is not the case, why does the Government not answer that question, notice of which was given on 28th September.
Why does the Minister for Civil Aviation (Mr. Swartz) not answer another question o. which notice was given on 30th September 1965? A question asked of the then Prime Minister, Sir Robert Menzies, by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition has been on the notice paper since that date also. Another question addressed to the then Prime Minister was placed on the notice paper on 13th October. No wonder the Government wanted a new Prime Minister. Evidently Sir Robert Menzies did not have the time to answer these questions. Other questions, of which notice was given on 20th October, 28th October and 10th November, Terrain unanswered. The members of the Government who are now interjecting never submit written questions for the notice paper. They always ask their questions. This is because they cannot put their questions in writing as lucidly as members of the Opposition can. That is why all these questions on the notice paper have been asked by members of the Opposition. We inquire into what the Government is doing. We do not sit here dumbly and endorse every proposal put forward and never ask a question about it.
A question addressed to the Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr. McEwen) has been on the notice paper since 24th November 1965. I can understand why this question has not been answered. Most Ministers are rarely in the country. If they are here possibly they are in and out of their offices so often that they have not time to get round to answering questions. A question upon notice was directed to the Minister for Social Services (Mr. Sinclair) on 25th November. It remains unanswered. There are other questions of which notice was given on 26th November, 1st December, 2nd December, 3rd December, 7th December and also 10th December of last year. On the 1 0th December I” even asked the uncle of the honorable member for Dawson - Uncle Charlie - the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr. Adermann) the following question -
What was the consumption of butler per head of population in Australia in each of the last ten years?
I have been waiting for the best part of three and a half months for the Minister to find the answer for me. Coming to a matter dear to the hearts of members of the Country Party, I asked the same Minister about margarine and I am still waiting on the answer. This shows what is happening, Mr. Speaker. I have not time to run through all of these questions but you can see that the Ministers are either incompetent or they are withholding information from members of the Opposition. I ask the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Mr. Freeth), who is at the table to take my message to the Ministers concerned and ask them to satisfy the curiosity of members of the Opposition on important national subjects.
– I rise to speak on a matter of critical importance to one of our major industries. I’ refer to Newcastle disease which has broken out in the poultry industry in all States of Australia except South Australia. As the Minister for Health (Dr. Forbes) said in the House yesterday in answer to a question that I put, the form of this disease is a mild one. There are no visible symptoms and the diagnosis of it is only by a serological test which will find antibodies in the blood of the birds which have recovered from the disease. Whilst this disease is widespread in New South Wales and is spreading into the other States, there is no evidence that it has any economic effect on growth, production or mortality. I have sought opinions from leading veterinarians in New South Wales and Queensland and I have 14 telegrams confirming these views. They also said that this disease will spread and cannot be stopped for the reason, as I have said, that one cannot tell that the birds have it. These veterinarians include two senior lecturers at universities, a pathologist and men in practice.
Whilst this disease is causing no loss to individual farmers, because of the embargo that has been put on between the States, it is liable to cripple the meat industry .ti New South Wales. In the short term, it is going to have a very vital and serious effect on this important industry. In New South Wales alone there will be a loss of about 25 per cent, in production. Before the embargo, each week New Sou:h Wales sent to Victoria about 116,000 processed chickens, 25,000 processed hens and 4,000 turkeys. That trade was worth about $ 1 6 1 ,000 a week or S8.5 million on a yearly basis. In addition, there will now be a loss of some $96,000 per week to the stock feed industry of New South Wales. In regard to eggs, trade with Victoria totalling 2,000 cases a week, which is worth $32,500 a week, has been lost. So far as our exports overseas are concerned, shipments to the islands comprising 400 tons of processed chickens, which are worth some $360,000 a year, are liable to be lost while the embargo is on. This is going to cripple the New South Wales industry. It will cause a depression in the industry and unemployment.
One company that I have been in contact with has estimated that it may have to put off 65 people. This is serious. This industry in New South Wales has made tremendous progress in recent years. It has grown up without outside assistance. The poultry that it is producing are almost equivalent in value and meat production to American birds. This is a remarkable achievement by a young Australian industry. To show the value of this industry to New South Wales, its total investment is worth some $60 million. About $4 million has been invested just in genetics and breeding to produce better birds for layer and for meat. The industry employs about 5,000 people and it is facing a production cut of about 25 per cent.
The long term effect of the embargo on trade with Victoria is not going to fall on New South Wales. New South Wales is facing its crisis today. The long term effect will fall within Victoria because the Victorian industry has one major breeder and two minor breeders. Victoria consumes about 20 million chickens a year and only 1 million are bred there. About 13 million additional birds are grown in Victoria but they come from breeding stock in New South Wales and this source has now been cut. In addition, there are the imports of processed chickens, numbering about 5 or 6 million each year, which I have already mentioned.
If the embargo continues the Victorian growers may profit over a very short term of perhaps a couple of months, but in the long term they will be depressed because they will not have available to them the better class of breeding birds from New South Wales that form the basis of their industry. These veterinarians I have referred to are prepared to be named. Their names are in this telegram and are available to any honorable member who is interested. They have proved that the disease will come in, but if the embargo is kept on for 12 months, as the Victorian Government has announced, the industry in Victoria will be put back some two or three years. Then when the embargo is lifted the Victorian growers will face competition from the better birds that can be produced at a lower cost in New South Wales. This will be the long term effect. Consumers in Victoria will have to pay higher prices for their chicken meat.
I raise this matter because I question the moral right of a State Government to cripple the industry of another State by using a device such as this embargo, particularly when, as the evidence shows, the disease will spread to that State, and particularly when the disease has no economic effect on the industry. The disease cannot be diagnosed in a particular bird until after the bird has recovered from it. The presence of the disease cannot be detected by mortality in flocks. It occurs to me that perhaps we should consider some national quarantine plan so that a disease such as this that comes into this country may equally affect the whole of an industry. This is an important industry and it is facing a crisis. I sincerely hope that the Victorian Government will take a further look at this question and lift its embargo, not only for the immediate benefit of the New South Wales poultry industry, but also for the long term benefit of the Victorian industry.
.- I rise to support the honorable member for Robertson (Mr. Bridges-Maxwell). It was prudent for the Governments of Victoria and South Australia to impose an embargo when this disease was found in a mild form in New South Wales, but after the first scare and when it was found that the disease existed in such a mild form I think tolerance should have been extended on behalf of the poultry industry of New South Wales, which will suffer a severe loss if the Victorian authorities do not relax their present attitude.
Newcastle disease in a mild form has never been eradicated anywhere in the world and it cannot be handled in Australia by this form by quarantine. As the honorable member for Robertson has stated, the presence of the disease is not known until after the birds have been cured or have thrown off the virus. It has also been proved conclusively that it does hot affect humans in any way whatsoever. The effect of the embargo on the New South Wales industry, which, of course, has the largest poultry industry of any State, will be very severe unless tolerance is shown.
– Can the honorable member say how the birds get Newcastle disease at Blacktown?
– I think the disease may have come originally from Queensland. It has been found that Newcastle disease in a mild form does exist or has existed in Victoria.
The restrictions could seriously affect all sections of the industry and the economy generally. It is surprising how many people and industries depend on the poultry industry. The embargo placed by Victoria on the importation of broilers and eggs is having a serious effect on many industries including the processing industry, the breeding industry, stock feed manufacturers, the drug and chemical industries, the transport industry and manufacturers of building materials. So we point out to the Victorian authorities that quarantine cannot improve the situation. We ask them to show some tolerance in this matter because eventually their attitude, if not changed within a reasonable time, will seriously affect the poultry industry in New South Wales for the next eight or nine months. We ask the Victorian authorities to relax their embargo on the importation of broilers and eggs from New South Wales.
.- I support the remarks made by the honorable member for Robertson (Mr. Bridges-
Maxwell) and the honorable member for Mitchell (Mr. Irwin). The honorable member for Robertson has been the very distinguished secretary of the Sydney University Poultry Industry Research Foundation. He has a profound knowledge of the poultry industry and is well qualified to advise the Parliament and the people of Australia on this matter. Newcastle disease has broken out on three Victorian farms. The disease, therefore, is common to both Victoria and New South Wales. Section 92 of the Australian Constitution provides that trade, intercourse and commerce between the States shall be absolutely free. The word “ absolutely “ has a tremendously wide coverage. But here is a case in which the application of any restriction under this section of the Constitution is complete nonsense because the disease is common to both Victoria and New South Wales.
I understand that the Health Departments of the States have agreed that quarantine restrictions on the interstate movement of commodities should be invoked where necessary. The Minister for National Development (Mr. Fairbairn) who is at the table might remember a restriction that was placed some time ago on the movement of certain agricultural products between the States. I seem to remember that he was involved on one occasion in moving produce across the line. I think he got the goods through.
– Was it contraband?
– No. The article in question contained vitamin C in great quantities.
If Newcastle disease is common to both States and the Victorian Government invokes quarantine or other restrictions to prevent trade, intercourse and commerce between the States, it is prostituting the provisions of section 92 of the Constitution. Section 92 was placed in the Constitution by the founders to make sure that there should be free access between the States. How can the Victorian Government sustain a restriction against imports from New South Wales of meat chickens, eggs, poultry and so on if Victoria has the same disease as has been alleged to have been found in New South Wales? This restriction will also cause heavy damage to Victorian producers because, as the honorable member for Robertson (Mr. Bridges-Maxwell) has said, 13 million meat chickens or day old chickens are imported into Victoria to be fed and bred and grown in that State. In other words 13 million out of 14 million-
– Not now.
– The honorable member for Gippsland says: “ Not now.” 1 do not know how his chickens are getting on or whether or not they are coming home to roost. This restriction at the border will inflict a heavy burden upon Victorian producers as well as upon New South Wales producers who now have their cold stores chock full of meat chickens. They have hundreds of thousands, or millions, of birds growing for this market. They have day old chickens ready for the market. A representative of the firm of A. A. Tegel Pty. Ltd. of Camden toured the world getting facts about the best methods of growing a good meat chicken. The firm will now be debarred from sending chickens to Victoria. It has day old chickens ready for despatch but they cannot go there. This represents a serious hold up in the industry, and I appeal to the Victorian Government to do something about the matter.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 11.42 p.m.
The following answers to questions upon notice were circulated -
b asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows -
b asked the Minister for Labour and National Service, upon notice -
As his Department is currently advertising in Western Australia for private accommodation for overseas migrants, will he arrange for the establishment of more Commonwealth hostels?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows -
There is a strong demand for workers in Western Australia. The special efforts made to increase the inflow of migrant workers to help meet it have led to the Graylands Commonwealth hostel being subjected to some temporary strain. Hence the temporary arrangements to which the honorable gentleman has referred.
Plans are in hand to increase the capacity of the hostel by some 200 additional beds as quickly as possible. Other means of facilitating the flow of migrants are under discussion with the Western Australian authorities.
r asked the Minister for Social Services, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows - 1 to 3. The question of extending the field of eligibility for supplementary assistance, as suggested by the honorable member, will be considered when the whole field of social services is reviewed in connection with the preparation of the next Budget. During this review all relevant factors will be taken into account.
son asked the Minister for External Affairs, upon notice -
Have any peace overtures been made on behalf of the Vietcong or the Government of North Vietnam; if so, when, where, in what form, and to whom were they made?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows -
Neither North Vietnam nor the Vietcong has made peace overtures and Hanoi has firmly denied reports that it has put out “ peace feelers “. Hanoi has insisted that “ the only correct way “ to settle the Vietnam problem is to carry out its “ Four Point Programme “ requiring, among other things, that the internal affairs of South Vietnam be settled in accordance with the programme of the South Vietnam Liberation Front (Cf. “Veitnam - First Half of 1965 “ pages 45-46, published by the Department of External Affairs and available in the Parliamentary Library). North Vietnam and the Vietcong have consistently and emphatically rejected all efforts by the United States and other Governments, and by many world leaders, to arrange for discussions which might lead to a peaceful settlement of the conflict in Vietnam.
son asked the Minister for Social Services, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows -
This provision applies generally, and in particular to pensioners in benevolent homes. Its purpose is the protection of the pensioner and it does not involve discrimination against Aborigines. In its application in the case of an Aborigine, the Department of Social Services is guided by the advice of the State Department responsible for Aboriginal Welfare.
Indonesia. (Question No. 1S74.)
n asked the Minister for External Affairs, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows -
r asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows -
No funds or institutions were removed from the list contained in section 78 (1.) (a) during these financial years. However, under sub-section (3.) of section 78, gifts made after 30th June 1963 to the United Nations Appeal for Children or the Australian National Committee for World Refugee Year are not deductible. Under sub-section (4.) of section 78, gifts made after 30th June 1964 to the Australian National Committee for the Freedom from Hunger Campaign are not deductible.
It is relevant to any consideration of these figures that international aid statistics do not generally take account of the quality of the assistance provided. Australian aid is all in grant form, whereas much of the “ aid “ of most donor countries takes the form of repayable loans which often carry a relatively high rate of interest and which are, sometimes, repayable over quite short periods of time. For this reason, it is believed that the type of assistance provided by Australia to developing countries is generally doubly welcome in that it does not add to the recipients’ debt-servicing problems.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 16 March 1966, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1966/19660316_reps_25_hor50/>.